By Tony Attwood
One of the arguments often made against articles published in Untold Arsenal is that the data that we have doesn’t prove that something odd is happening, or that something is amiss with the way in which football works.
And generally speaking I agree. We don’t have the resources to prove that anything is wrong. What we can do, and indeed what I think we do rather well, is point out that there are quite a few things in football that look rather odd, and which the mainstream media and most blogs choose to ignore. And then wonder why they choose to ignore them.
A recent example was the Leicester City and Aston Villa tackling and fouling records, and the sudden change in Leicester’s tackling and fouling situation after we raised their issue last year. That change could have been a coincidence – of course it could. Nothing was proven. Leicester’s strange tackle / foul / yellow figures change as they slip down the league followed that story.
Likewise the Aston Villa “fouls against” numbers were raised by Untold because they look very odd and because as far as I know, no one else is taking any notice. So we did.
The same is true with the fact that the media did not pick up at all on Arsenal’s extraordinary transformations during last season – from being the 5th worst team in the league over the first third of the season to the second best team in the league in the remaining two thirds. Or the simultaneous drop in yellow cards from one season to the next by around 40%.
Indeed we even ran a series of articles on the way in which certain topics are specifically excluded from debate (see the “Gaslighting” series listed on our home page).
But this again is not to say there is any sort of conspiracy going on – it is how the media works everywhere.
I was reminded how this works elsewhere last week, when the oversight committee of the House of Representatives in Washington DC, released details of a phone call last December made by President Trump to the acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen, in which the President said, “Just say the election was corrupt + leave the rest to me and the R congressmen.” (The notes were taken by Richard Donoghue, Rosen’s deputy, who was also on the call.)
Those notes strongly suggest that the President was trying to influence an officer of the law into saying what he wanted him to say. The issue barely raised an eyebrow although it is profoundly against the constitution. The law officers uphold the constitution and the law, not the wishes of the President. But few seemed to think it a big story.
When it comes to football that’s what Untold is about, and what it’s name suggests… trying to tease out issues that no one else wants to talk about.
And most of the time we just find odd facts and figures, and certainly not proof of corruption. Just things that don’t look quite right.
Here’s an example
On 6 February 2020 we published “How a club can commit the most fouls, but get the fewest yellow cards” with a follow up article on 26 February “What is the relationship between fouls, tackles and yellow cards?”
Those articles found that Leicester had a foul given against them every 2.08 tackles. Other clubs got a foul against them after far fewer tackles. Indeed Leicester had to commit nearly twice as many fouls as any other club to get a yellow card. 9.48 fouls for every card in their care compared with Arsenal on 4.32. (And as the charts show, Arsenal in these figures were fairly mainstream; it was Leicester that was the outlier).
In short as those two articles showed, Leicester had either invented a new form of football, or else they were being treated much more leniently by referees than any other club.
I thought that was quite a story but I was unable to find any other outlet of any description taking up this point. OK, it was a bit technical, and a bit high-brow (in that it involved numbers), but even so….
Instead what we get are endless stories about transfers which as this morning’s little article showed, can be 97% inaccurate, but no one bothers about that.
Thus my point is simple. There are some incredibly odd things going on in football, which are never being noted in the media and which really could do with an explanation. Yet the nonsense of transfers that are never going to happen is covered in depth every day.
As another example take the case of Arsenal matches repeatedly being handled by referees who give Arsenal players multiple yellow cards, while referees who don’t show the cards nearly so much were frozen out. It doesn’t prove PGMO are corrupt, nor does it prove that there is a media cover up conspiracy going on. But I think the figures are interesting, so we run them.
And that’s what it comes down to. We find these odd facts which no one else wants to examine, and we ask a) why are these facts happening, and b) why is no one else reporting them? The conclusion is not a conspiracy but a simple recognition that the media tends to follow the same path all the time, and avoid stories that don’t fit the general outlook.
That’s why we are called Untold – we cover the bits the rest of the media ignore. I find some of those things rather interesting, and I hope you do too. Especially this summer when we seem to have found quite a few oddities.
The statistical enquiry of 2021
- How tackling is changing in the PL and how it is affecting clubs’ position in the league
- Making up statistics about Arsenal is ok… until someone bothers to check.
- New fouls and yellow card data suggest refs are reacting to club ploys.
- Arsenal keeper to be replaced by 8 year old who’s never played football
- Arsenal v Wolverhampton: their problems with fouls and cards, and the team
- Arsenal v Wolverhampton: the club that gets cards at over twice the rate of Arsenal
- Arsenal v Wolverhampton Wanderers: where will each team finish?
- Arsenal v Lens: what we found, what we felt, what they did
- Arsenal v Lens: the team, the home/away form and the strange coincidences