By Sir Hardly Anyone
So here is the story. Arsenal were crap last season, appalling in every department, missed Europe for the first time since the Bronze Age and were lucky to crawl into 8th. could have been relegated.
Which is what the media wanted. Lots of buying. Except when it happens we are told, ‘Exceptional’ Ben White should be joining a bigger club than Arsenal, because… well because Arsenal are useless. And we know that because… the media is telling us every day.
So the story is repeated, because it would look really silly if journalists started agreeing that actually Arsenal were the second best team in the league across the last two thirds of last season, both in attack and defence (oh, yes, and on points and goal difference too).
Currently the more reasoned commentaries suggest Arsenal are looking for a defender, a midfielder and a No 10. No mention is made of the youngsters who were starting to look rather good last season and who delivered the goods, and are now one year on and one year better.
And so out of nowhere these journalist chappies start finding other stories, which is a relief. Stories like Man United have won just FIVE of 14 matches at the beginning of last two seasons. Sir Alex Ferguson’s title-winning sides never started so badly…
At least we never have to listen to tales of how good Arsene Wenger was with his 10 League and Cup trophies, since the media regularly told us he was terrible. And now because they have set up the narrative that we are now as doubly bad as we were in the Wenger era we can be subjected to
So if chapter one was Arsenal need to change the entire team, chapter two tells us our players are not as good as we think, anyone we buy will be disappointed when they get to Arsenal, and it will be disaster all the way.
What this evolution of the story means is that none of the media, large or small, has to face that incredibly annoying realisation that in the last two thirds of last season Arsenal were better than every other team in every major parameter (points, goals for, goals against, goal difference) except Manchester City.
Until we get this rather surprising headline: Arteta’s already achieved his main goals for transfer window due to double swoop (
Now the Star is not normally known for insight, or come to that anything that gets close to reality but what they say is fascinating:
“Both Tavares and Lokonga are 21, vital to Arteta’s plans as he looks to lower the overall squad age – with similar deals on the way. Arsenal are on the brink of announcing a deal for Ben White, further lowering the age of the squad.”
And why lower the age of the squad? That is because of the old dogs and new tricks thinking. Arsenal last season were faced by an onslaught from PGMO which decided the club should be refereed primarily by a tiny cabal of refs who were known to hand out cards against Arsenal at far higher rates than anyone else.
In response Arsenal adopted a radical new approach in which tackling was cut dramatically, in order to cut yellow cards.
So Arsenal were overseen by 14 referees and got on average 1.24 yellow cards per game. Some obviously would give Arsenal more yellow cards than average, some fewer.
And here is the list of referees and their average yellow cards…
|Yellow cards against Arsenal per game
|1.24 cards per game
The refs in brown gave Arsenal above average numbers of cards. And four of the five refs who really laid on the yellows against Arsenal were refs who oversaw Arsenal for almost half of the games between them.
Yes almost half of Arsenal league games were handled by just five refs, and four of them dished out way over the average number of cards Arsenal got.
Arsenal responded by cutting down on the tackling dramatically, and thus were able to stop the yellow cards rising even further. Instead Arsenal’s overall yellow card level went down by nearly half.
And now we are buying younger defenders who can learn to play the New Arsenal Way in defence. Which makes sense – unless you write for a newspaper that denies that referees had any influence on games, and denies that Arsenal were actually second in the league for the two thirds of the season where they got the new system working.
Thus the simple fact is that Arsenal’s radical transformation has to be ignore, to avoid highlighting the way PGMO selects card waving referees for Arsenal games.
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