Media suddenly realises it wasn’t Arsenal who were awful last season it was…

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.

So now,

Mikel Arteta and Edu want to improve the spine of Arsenal’s fragile team as part of a squad shake-up, with several more new arrivals set to follow 

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

‘Exceptional’ Ben White should be joining a bigger club than Arsenal, 


“Villa felt that…” – AVFC journalist drops big inside claim on Emile Smith Rowe

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 (Daily Star).

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…

Referee Games overseen Yellow cards against Arsenal per game
1.Michael Oliver 5 1.40
2.Martin Atkinson 4 1.00
3.Chris Kavanagh 3 1.67
4.Craig Pawson 3 2.33
5.Andre Marriner 3 1.67
6.Paul Tierney 2 1.00
7.Anthony Taylor 1 0.00
8.Jonathan Moss 1 2.00
9.Kevin Friend 1 2.00
10.Graham Scott 1 2.00
11.David Coote 1 0.00
12.Stuart Attwell 1 0.00
13.Lee Mason 1 0.00
14.Mike Dean 1 3.00
Average 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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6 Replies to “Media suddenly realises it wasn’t Arsenal who were awful last season it was…”

  1. Hi all,
    Interesting update to the discussions on the media’s Arsenal narrative.
    I read recently that Arsenal are seeing by far the most betting activity on “teams to place in top 4”, which suggests that there are a lot of punters out there who are taking advantage of the negativity, but seeing a more positive direction of the club, no doubt based on the strong last two-thirds of the season. Odds a month ago were as high as 15/2 (!), but now down to 11/2.

  2. This is what has to say about our new signing:

    By Aaron Catterson-Reid

    Arsenal have finalised the signing of Albert Sambi Lokonga from Anderlecht on a long-term deal.

    “His ability to read the game is a standout strength, often snuffing out danger and cutting out passes between the lines. Throughout the 2020/21 campaign, he averaged 1.8 interceptions per game, something that could be bettered by just five midfielders in the Pro League, out of players to play a minimum of 1,000 minutes in the division.”

    So this trait could would fit perfectly with Arteta’s new approach ?

    But he goes on to say:

    “Furthermore, Lokonga is also an accomplished tackler, registering 1.6 tackles per game in the league, more than any Arsenal midfielder managed last term, incredibly impressive considering he is still just 21 years old.”

    Well he’ll have to cut that nonsense out strait away because as we know, when it comes to Arsenal, what’s seen as a perfectly good tackle in Belgium is often as not a nailed on card in the Premier League !

    And here’s another trait that could prove troublesome:

    “His 183cm frame permits him to come out on top of most defensive duels, often making use of his notable upper body strength to shrug opposition players off the ball in the middle of the park, something that will serve him well in the fast-paced environment of the Premier League”.

    It might of been something that ‘served him well’ in Belgium, in the PL it’s much more likely to see him constantly pulled up for fouls.

    Lets hope our new man learns very quickly just how differently he will be referee in the PL.

  3. Matthew Campbell

    “I read recently that Arsenal are seeing by far the most betting activity on “teams to place in top 4″”

    It doesn’t surprise me, after all as Tony has pointed out so many times, for the last 2/3rds of the season we were top 2. Transpose that form to an entire season and a top 4 finish is highly likely let alone 13/2. But as we all know things are never that simple, if they were we would all be millionaires and bookies would be out of business. Alas we are not, and the last time I looked bookies were still holidaying in the Caribbean.

    Never the less back on the 27th of June I took 66/1 ew (top 2) on us to win the premier League. We are still 66/1 with my bookie. According to ‘Oddschecker’ it does look as if we have shortened a tiny bit but not much.

    In all honestly do I think we can win the premier League or even finish top 2 ? No. But betting is all about value and 66/1 is way way too big a price.

    If I use Horse Racing as an analogy, when you bet on horses the 2 main things you look for are the historic class of the horse, and perhaps more importantly how it ran last time out, especially how it finished a race, for example was it ‘running on’.

    In both these parameters Arsenal score highly. Class wise, history shows Arsenal are top 4, despite running under par for a few seasons. But as they say, form is temporary, class is permanent. As for last time out, despite a terrible start, hitting the first 3 fences and toiling towards the back, Arsenal finished ‘like a train’. In racing circles they would of ‘gone in a lot of peoples note books’.

    Using that analogy with regards to Arsenal we should not be 66/1. That is ridiculous. Yes we are outsiders to win the PL, but more like a 25/1 chance than 66/1, but we look, in racing terms, ‘nailed on’ for a top 4 finish, more like 4/1 than 6/1 or 7/1.

    In my humble opinion both bets are value at the current odds.

  4. Hi Nitram.

    I agree exactly.
    There’s plenty of value there, and I’ve got money on the exact same 66/1 E/W bet that you have, as well as the top 4 bet.
    Not banking on winning, but I’m happy that, if things go the way I think they will, I’ll have a (nearly) free season ticket for the 22/23 season!

  5. Mathew

    Did you get 3 places for your ew? I only got 2 and that seems the norm and a p1$$ take. But I didn’t have to bet so more fool me, but still, 2 places in a 20 runner field is a bit stingy.

  6. Yep – only 2 places. Seems standard in football league placings EWs. Don’t know why….

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