A complete lack of an exit strategy is causing Arsenal havoc

By Sir Hardly Anyone


That headline comes from HITC, and I mention it from the off because it makes the assumption that Arsenal has something to be forgiven for.   This, remember, is the club that won the FA for a record number of times the season before last, and last season instituted the most dramatic change in tactics that we’ve seen since … I am not sure when.  I was tempted to say “since the early days of Wenger” but I think it is actually far more radical than that.  For this was a tactical change aimed, in part at least, at nullifying the years of what we might call the “curious behaviour by the referees association”.

But the media, instead of celebrating this extraordinary achievement, continue to blame Arsenal for incompetence – when their behaviour has been anything but.   And they do this, I believe, for one very good reason.  When the media launched the current anti-Arsenal campaign in the early days of last season, the writers who joined in didn’t plan an escape route.  For these are not people who study statistics.  Arsenal sank to 15th, so it was disaster all the way, and long before the depths of December they had started to attack.

However to have any chance of success Arsenal needed to deal with the way certain referees (the ones that tended to handle three or more Arsenal games a season) and they needed it quickly.  It was Mr Arteta who was brave enough to risk not only his managerial career at Arsenal, but probably his entire managerial career for years to come, if not forever, by delivering it.

What he did was reduce the number of yellow cards from 86 in 2019/20 to 47 in 2020/21. If you think we are making this up, take a look at some of the data on our Key Data Tables page

But if you don’t want to pop there, here are three lines of Arsenal data.

Season P W D L F A GD Pts
2019/20 38 14 14 10 56 48 8 56
2020/21 38 18 7 13 55 39 16 61
2020/21 last 24 games 24 14 5 5 43 21 22 47

Clearly we did much better in the last 24 games of last season – and we did this in part by cutting our yellow cards virtually in half.

Now the media has chosen not to mention that story at all instead just saying we had the season from hell, and therefore we need to sign new player after new player.

But now some in the media are realising that more and more people are reading the statistics that we have put in our articles.  They can’t suddenly reverse everything they have said, so they are stuck with their “Arsenal need to buy” articles for the rest of the summer.

As a result we get sentences like this from the Mirror, “Mikel Arteta is ready to shift his summer transfer focus to finding a long-term successor for Bernd Leno.”    But there is a subtle change here – because they speak of “long-term successor” – and of course every player has to have a long term successor.  Until now it has been “Leno out”…but that’s slightly different.

Not everyone gets it though.  The Star still comes up with Arsenal’s five remaining transfer goals after Ben White medical early next week

While the equally unrepentant Talk Sprout gives us Arsenal told to up bid for Sheffield United keeper Ramsdale as transfer questioned and Inside Futbol offers Arsenal Not Prepared To Go To £30m Up Front For Target .   Each headline now has an element of backing off, suggesting the deal might not happen.

Yet the journos are still stuck – utterly refusing to acknowledge the statistics which are gaining wider circulation but needing to back off.   And indeed even the Daily Star has noted  that “fans have been confused by this [the move for a new keeper] with many refusing to believe he is a major upgrade on Leno and the stark £30m fee that is reported being a slight concern too.”

The Star also notes that “a creative player may not be Arsenal’s top priority at the moment,” perhaps even managing to recognise that we have Smith Rowe growing in ability day by day.

I even heard one commentator on Talk Sprout yesterday saying that Arsenal could challenge for the league.  Of course the others laughed at him, because Arsenal’s absolute failure is official Sproutian policy, but even to have one person mention it shows that the tale of the reconstructed defence and the reduction of yellow cards is getting through.

I suspect the tales of Arsenal’s imaginary failure of last season will start to diminish.  They won’t talk tactics to beat the referees because they never admit PGMO bias, but Arteta’s transformation might be called “canny” and talk of replacing Leno with a player who is banned until November on drugs charges, might now just fade away.

How newspeak took over football and stopped proper debate

4 Replies to “A complete lack of an exit strategy is causing Arsenal havoc”

  1. Great success in reducing tackling and yellow cards. Still many of the cards which are awarded seem dubious when compared to the referee treatment of other teams.

    I wonder how we can now overcome the referee approach to handball, offside etc?

  2. We bring in enough good overseas players, lets bring in foreign referees also and get rid of the sh*t English incompetent tw*ts

  3. If we do well this coming season, my suspicion is that if we are given any positive press at all, it will be in the form of, “Arsenal improve because they brought in the players we said they needed” or “Arsenal creep into the top four after disastrous few years but still not good enough”.

    I don’t for one minute think the club, the manager or the players will be given much credit for any improvement even if it is blindingly obvious (unless, they achieve for England too). It’s just not what the media want to report. Let’s face it, some outlets still gave the invincibles some stick for the number of draws we had that season. (Just like I heard the bloke who sits behind me once criticising the team because he thought we should have won a game 8-0 that we actually won 6-0; never happy.)

    The media may be forced to acknowledge there has been an improvement if we were to, say, finish in the top four but they will always find a way to do it with a negative slant; they always do.

  4. When we wont immediately pay whatever ridiculous figure a club puts on the head of a player we are looking at, we get the ‘too slow’ ‘too tight’ ‘dithering’ ‘incompetent’ headlines we always get.

    But when others do it it seems they’re either ‘Playing hardball’ or ‘Prepared to play the long game’.

    This from the Sun today regarding Kanes possible move to the bottomless pit of money:


    -Now champs are playing hardball on £160m fee.

    Manchester City are ready to play the long game in their bid to sign England captain Harry Kane.


    It’s nice to know that when it comes to a club with a bottomless pit of money, and whom because of that could actually afford to pay double the ‘eye watering’ £160m Daniel levy has asked without blinking an eye, it’s all well and good. If we do it, it’s incompetence.

    Also within the same article it says:

    “…..United have not made a move yet and must now decide if they are willing to let their rivals land him.”

    So no screaming headline such as ‘UNITED DITHERING MEANS THEY ARE SET TO MISS OUT TO LOCAL RIVALS’. Oh no it’s just a decision not to bother.

    The 2 totally different ways these events, either real or imaginary, which is neither here nor there actually, are reported.

    Arsenal = Incompetent.

    City and United = making sound, informed, calculated business decisions.

Comments are closed.