By Tony Attwood
“The writer clearly believes there is a media conspiracy against Arsenal…” That was a comment made recently in relation to the article here which basically summed up the various statistical analyses we have been presenting through the summer.
Issues such as the dramatic decline in yellow cards that Arsenal picked up, the repeated use of referees for Arsenal games, and their number of yellow cards, the linkage between fouls, tackles and yellow cards, the comparison of tackles made by and against specific teams… and of course the difference between the first third of last season and the last two thirds.
The relationship between all that data and analysis and the media is simply that the media doesn’t mention most of those analyses, although a few commentaries about Arsenal’s success in the latter two thirds of the season have popped up of late.
But just as there has been very little commentary on the impact of the empty stadia, and the research undertaken at LSE on how this influenced results, so there has been little commentary on the dramatic changes in Arsenal’s performances last season.
Yet the issues raised by all these statistics remain important because what many in the media are commenting upon is Arsenal having a real problem, the solution to which is the buying of more and more new players, while getting rid of many of those who performed so excellently in the last two thirds of last season. The statistics all significant progress was made towards resolving Arsenal’s problems by last Christmas, and that the buying a lot of new players could be calamitous.
Which leaves us with just one issue: why is the media so strongly interested in putting forward the point of view that Arsenal have a major team problem which has not been solved, and for which the only solution is more and more purchases?
I’ve often suggested that the most simple reason is a lack of research. As when the Express ran the story saying that Arsenal’s season started brightly but fell away at the end – the exact opposite of what actually happened.
Stories have to be written, deadlines have to be met – for example in the case of Football.London, one new Arsenal story on average every hour. Ploughing through all this data, analysing it and writing it up takes time (as those of us working on Untold will attest, since we’ve been doing it all summer).
So one reason the media doesn’t follow our approach is simply that they have got themselves committed to regular publishing. Publishing transfer rumours (and as you will have seen, over 110 players have been tipped to be coming to Arsenal this summer) is a lot easier than analysing statistics and then writing articles about what is found.
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A second reason is that the football media tends to copy the football media. Occasionally one steps out of line, as with the Mail’s stories about Manchester City, but mostly, they all do what the others do when it comes to football, the approach of each other is followed. And that approach is of course, that the key story, indeed the only story, is transfers.
Now multiple transfers in and out of one club can only be justified if it is claimed that the club is seen to have been doing badly. So to accommodate that story, the massive improvement in Arsenal’s performance in the last two thirds of last season is ignored, and the failure to make it into Europe for the first time in 25 years is seized upon. Again, one media outlet follows another. It’s not a conspiracy. If anything it is laziness.
The third reason comes with the desire not to suggest anything is wrong with PGMO and its referees. I would certainly argue that our figures on referee selection and performance for last season must at least raise some questions that need to be answered but the media simply won’t touch this. Only they can explain why.
Equally, they won’t touch the research from LSE that we have so often looked back to, which showed the bias in refereeing. It was a remarkable piece of research, and to find commentators then suggesting that the lack of crowds had no effect on results, was odd in the extreme, even for football.
So, as we approach the last few pre-season friendlies I think we’ve given a fair outline of the facts and figures. Obviously some would much sooner impute the sanity of the writers rather than examine the facts, but in football it was ever thus.
And the articles that emerged from them….
- Amazingly, in 2020/1 the more clubs tackled, the more goals they let in!
- How Arsenal’s 40% decline in tackling over the past five years has sparked the revival
- The Great Arsenal Untruth: does it matter?
- As football supporters we are being brainwashed.
- How viral lies about Arsenal are amplified
- Arteta’s 10 greatest triumphs with Arsenal
- If Arteta fails it might be for the best
- Does it matter that the media spread lies about Arsenal every day?
- Arsenal’s 2020/1 season upgraded from woeful to disappointing
- Media suddenly realises it wasn’t Arsenal who were awful last season
- How the football media face up to the giant spaghetti monster in the sky
- Making up statistics about the Arsenal is ok… until someone bothers to check
- How the media decided that Arsenal’s biggest story didn’t fit the agenda
- Arsenal keeper to be replaced by 8 year old who has never played football
- The complete lack of exit strategy is causing Arsenal havoc
- How is tackling changing in the Premier League and how is it affecting clubs’ position?
- Arsenal have been given more red cards in the last 10 years than any other PL club
- The new positives emerge
- The curious case of how the media treats Manchester City and how it treats Arsenal
- Arsenal fouls dropped by 22% last season: did it help?
- Which clubs foul more than they are fouled
- Arsenal v Wimbledon for the first time since the split
- Chelsea are tackling with near impunity: the tackles / fouls / cards table.
- Arsenal contract error means Saka can walk for just €50m. Or maybe not…
- According to refs, Arsenal’s fouls are twice as bad as Liverpool’s this season!
- What do the first five games tell us about the rest of the season?