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If Arteta fails that just might be for the best

By Tony Attwood

The Online Gooner came up with an interesting phrase just recently which rather intrigued me.  “From the outside, our manager seems like a dictator without the wins or pedigree to match it.”

It must be me getting even more stupid than I’ve always been, but I’ve never quite seen dictators as people who have pedigree.

But wanting to find out what it was all about I read on, not least because I was promised “a few reasons to be cheerful at Arsenal.”

The “First Reason to be Cheerful” was that we won’t be distracted by European games.   And yes that is true.  But the Europa games do have one benefit – the chance to give games in the first half of the competition to up and coming youngsters.    There is of course no FA Cup in the first half of the campaign, so the Europa fills in for that, and I am not sure not having it “will allow us to keep our players fresh.”

But they suggest, “There is a chance we will lose a couple of the matches, but we will win a couple too, and that is exciting.”

Now that is interesting because during the final two thirds of last season we lost five out of 24.   21% of our games.  To improve on that we really are going to have to be good.

Here are the Premier League results for the 24 games of the season.  We could have done better but we would have had to do a lot better to catch up Manchester City.

P Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Manchester City 24 20 0 4 62 20 42 60
2 Arsenal 24 14 5 5 43 21 22 47
3 Manchester United 24 13 8 3 43 21 22 47
4 West Ham United 24 13 5 6 41 28 13 44
5 Chelsea 24 12 6 6 29 22 7 42
6 Leicester City 24 11 6 7 42 33 9 39
7 Liverpool 24 11 5 8 32 23 38
8 Tottenham Hots 24 11 4 9 43 31 12 37

So I was starting to think there was some interesting thinking going on behind this article, when the next sentence hit me like a bullet

“Arteta has been at Arsenal for longer than our last manager was, but Arsenal’s fortunes have not changed in that time.”

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And that is really, really, really weird.  Like really weird.

It is of course true that Mr Emery had a run which was marginally better than the one that Mr Arteta had in the last 24 games of this last season.  It started with the win over WHU on 25 August 2018 and ended on 3 February 2019 with a win over Huddersfield.  It contained 15 wins, 5 draws, 4 defeats.

The run from Mr Arteta to the end of last season was slightly worse.  14 wins, 5 draws and 5 defeats.  So yes Mr Emery knocked up one more win.  That was good.

But… what brings us hope at this moment is that this last run of results from Mr Arteta was in the last two thirds of last season.  But Mr Emery’s run collapsed after that defeat at Southampton on 16 December which started the crumbling was part of a run of 10 games in which we won five, lost four and drew one.

So the point is, Mr Arteta finished the season with that run going and so still full of hope.  Whereas when Mr Emery left it was getting hard to see where the next points for the Premier League were coming from.

If we took Mr Emery’s last league games he had just gone five league games without a win when he was removed.  Whereas Mr Arteta has just won all five of his last league games.

And the basic rule of directors is, you keep the manager when he’s winning and get rid of him when he’s losing.  (Unless you are the directors of Derby County and you have Brian Clough as manager, in which case you do the opposite – which is what Online Gooner seems to want to do).

But the writers then continue saying, “while we have been waiting for a Wenger-Dein type relationship to bring us back to our glory days, we haven’t just seen it yet.”

Well, that is true in that Mr Arteta didn’t win the double last season, but he was picking the club up from rather a poor place.   When Mr Arteta took over the league table look a bit like this.

Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Liverpool 15 9 5 1 37 20 17 32
13 Arsenal 16 6 2 8 16 19 -3 20

But when Mr Wenger took over, Arsenal had just finished sixth in the league.

Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Manchester United 38 25 7 6 73 35 38 82
2 Newcastle United 38 24 6 8 66 37 29 78
3 Liverpool 38 20 11 7 70 34 36 71
4 Aston Villa 38 18 9 11 52 35 17 63
5 Arsenal 38 17 12 9 49 32 17 63

And to do a bit of like for like checking, when Mr Wenger took over we had just finished the league with a points per game figure of 1.66.   When Mr Arteta took of we had a points per game ratio of 0.80.

So Mr Arteta took over a team in a far worse state, and won the FA Cup.  Mr Wenger performed his miracles, but by taking over a team already in a much better position.

Thus having got this all rather tangled up around the neck region, the writer feels free to say, “Arteta gets to have his own players this window and he has pre-season to shape the team in the way he wants.

“The alternative will be him getting the sack, which might just work out for the best.”

And how can that be?  Mr Arteta has carried out the biggest tactical revolution since the early days of Mr Wenger – which means the biggest in a quarter of a century.   And these fine results are not just in the past, but in the games running up to the time we stopped playing at the end of last season.

And the writer says,

“The alternative will be him getting the sack, which might just work out for the best.”

How can that be?   If Mr Arteta gets the sack, there is every possibility that the next manager won’t fully appreciate the no tackling revolution that Mr Arteta has introduced, which is the first effective way we have seen of Arsenal players avoiding ceaseless yellow cards and fouls against the team.

The new manager will still be faced by the extraordinary referee issues that we found last season (Shocking Ref Stats Show Outright Bias (2020/21 review) and will have to work out a way of getting round that.

Now we know what Mr Arteta did, because the figures have been published here time and time again – he cut down on tackling.

I won’t publish the whole table again because everyone has seen it so often, but basically this shows the tactical change for Arsenal.

Team Tackles 2019/20 Tackles 2020/21 Change Fouls 2019/20 Fouls 2020/21 Change Yellow 2019/20 Yellow 2020/21 Change
Arsenal 584 456 -22% 421 345 -18% 86 47 -45%
Leicester 742 681 -8% 418 416 0% 41 61 +49%
Liverpool 550 526 -4% 331 396 +19% 38 40 +5%
Man C 514 498 -3% 361 361 0% 60 46 -23%
Man U 580 551 -5% 433 452 +4% 73 64 -12%

Yellow cards needed to be cut because they were destroying our campaigns, and they came down from 86 to 47, and this was achieved by facing the refereeing approach we saw.  

Tackles down 22% to take fouls down 18% to take yellow cards down 45%.   And of course it wasn’t just Arsenal.  Manchester City were playing the same game, but starting from a much better position because Mr Arteta and Co had been working on the same plan at Man City.

For me, that GoonerNews article really gets it wrong, because it just takes a few points and doesn’t look behind the scenes. There is no logic, no consideration of the wider picture, no analysis of the stats.  And that’s what we get.

“The alternative will be him getting the sack, which might just work out for the best.”

Yep, and goat cheese on Pluto is rather fine at this time of year.

How newspeak took over football and stopped proper debate

2 comments to If Arteta fails that just might be for the best

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    Let us hope Arsenal will carry over their last season tackling revolution in the PL into the campaign of next season. And upgrade the revolution to the next level of it. But not sit on it to become complacent to not be thinking they’ve found a lasting solution to the PGMO match referees anti-Arsenal carding order in the PL next season.

    For, that was last season in which Arsenal succeeded to get one big success over the PGMO when they came up with the tackling revolution that gave them immeasurable success in points accumulation earned that left the PGMO anti-Arsenal match referees who are refereeing Arsenal games in the PL dumbfounded, dismayed and in utter disbelieves to not know how they will stop Arsenal from continuing to win. A late agenda against Arsenal that the PGMO under the guidance of Mike Riley was unable to accomplished as Arsenal won 5 times in a row garnering 15 points in the process before the season campaign came to an end.

    The seasons are not the same. Next season will be different from last season. Therefore, Arsenal should be on their rear guard ready to deploy their upgraded tackling revolution PGMO booking foiler into action in their PL matches next season. So that with this in place, Arsenal will go to the highest point of the League campaign next season that is unimaginable by many Arsenal haters they can get to.

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    Let us hope Arsenal will carry over their last season tackling revolution in the PL into the campaign of next season. And upgrade the revolution to the next level of it. But not sit on it to become complacent to be thinking they’ve found a lasting solution to the PGMO match referees anti-Arsenal carding order in the PL next season.

    For, that was last season in which Arsenal succeeded to get one big success over the PGMO when they came up with the tackling revolution that gave them immeasurable success in points accumulation earned that left the PGMO anti-Arsenal match referees who are refereeing Arsenal games in the PL dumbfounded, dismayed and in utter disbelieves to not know how they will stop Arsenal from continuing to win. A late agenda against Arsenal that the PGMO under the guidance of Mike Riley was unable to accomplished as Arsenal won 5 times in a row garnering 15 points in the process before the season campaign came to an end.

    The seasons are not the same. Next season will be different from last season. Therefore, Arsenal should be on their rear guard ready to deploy their upgraded tackling revolution PGMO booking foiler into action in their PL matches next season. So that with this in place, Arsenal will go to the highest point of the League campaign next season that is unimaginable by many Arsenal haters they can get to.