Is there an anti Arsenal agenda, or are we actually awful?

by Tony Attwood

My point is that news is selected to fit an existing agenda.   Which raises the question: is there an agenda always to show Arsenal in a bad light?  And if there is such an agenda why does that agenda exist, and where come from?

The notion that there is an agenda in football that the media work to does not in any way mean that there is a deliberate ploy by the media to conspire against Arsenal – although of course many people who don’t like what Untold writes accuse us of putting forth a “conspiracy theory,” as a simplistic way of putting this argument down and projecting an intellectual integrity.

The approach however is well known to psychologists, and in psychology the approach is called “gaslighting”.  If you are a regular reader you may recall earlier discussions on the topic.

In essence it means that a person or group of people or indeed a whole society sees a particular issue as undebatable, obvious, there for all to see, and thus it is not even worth considering.

It is an approach that can be found in many relationships that are not working, where one person complains about the other’s behaviour, and the second person, rather than discuss the behaviour in question turns the whole subject around to say “you’re always moaning.”  The debate stops before it even starts.

There are clearly issues that the media will not debate in English football, such as the notion that spending large amounts of taxpayers’ money in supporting the FA, and through them Fifa, is wrong.  Or the possibility that the organisation of refereeing in the contains elements within it that are corrupt.

The point is not that there is corruption or that what the FA is doing is wrong, it is that the debate doesn’t happen on a wide scale because the mainstream media will not accept that the topic exists for debate.  Anyone putting forward such ideas is just trying to find excuses for the poor performances of his club (in our case Arsenal).

Thus the debate never happens because the question is dismissed as an issue that is not worthy of debate.  

Gaslighting has also been used to stifle the debate of the number of tackles, fouls and yellow cards that are dished out in the Premier League.   In this regard we first spotted something odd was going on when we saw that Leicester were undertaking tackling on a scale totally out of proportion with any other club, and yet were getting fouls given against them in anything like the same level as other clubs. 

As we said in that debate “Leicester had this amazing set of tactics which took them to near the top of the league, and then suddenly their tactics changed, the number of tackles collapsed, the rate of fouling escalated, AND NOBODY (apart from Untold) THOUGHT IT WAS WORTH COMMENTING ON.”

And the reason for that was that the notion that a club could get away with something like this was deemed impossible – therefore the answer had to be that our figures were wrong.  So there was no debate outside Untold.

One of the factors that came out of this was the investigation into issue of referees being 98% accurate, which has been often put out by PGMO.  No evidence was ever put forward for this, and in fact when investigated both by ourselves and by a blog written by Liverpool supporters it was found to be completely wrong.  However beyond that no one picked up on the issue.  It was not an issue for debate.

Since publishing that series on gaslighting in football we have found many other areas of interest that are simply not available for discussion.   The takeover of the African confederation by Fifa, the plans by Fifa to start a Super League for Africa, the legal battles between Fifa and the Swiss authorities, the use of English football clubs as a means of money laundering, the statements by Uefa that match fixing was now out of control… these are not issues that can be debated in the English media because they are unthinkable.

Thus the problem is getting worse.  The denial of the notion that Arsenal changed dramatically last season, having a brilliant last two thirds to the campaign, is extraordinary.  The total refusal to consider the way Arsenal cut their yellow card level in half last season, is another example.  Yet these are important aspects of the way the game is evolving.

This does not mean that these should be the key topics that we debate all the time, but rather it highlights the fact that all the way through last season and into this season, the media were presenting 2020/1 as a dismal failure for Arsenal, when in fact it contained the most dramatic turnaround in form ever seen in the Premier League.  Yet it was a turnaround which could be plotted and explored statistically.

So we have this whole range of topics which are simply not available for debate.   Another is the fact that several clubs in the PL have sold their grounds and are now renting them back at interest rates of over 15%.  Another is the fact that PGMO continue to run refereeing in the Premier League is a different way from refereeing in the rest of Europe.

And just as when one partner in a marriage refuses to discuss her or his behaviour and instead blames the other for “always moaning”, the debate is ended.  And it rarely ends well.  Gaslighting is not a conspiracy theory, it is a way of stopping debate.

I’ll continue in the next piece.


25 Replies to “Is there an anti Arsenal agenda, or are we actually awful?”

  1. Just to put some perspective on things for the doom mongers which seem to believe Arsenal are the worst club since history began, as of today (Sunday) the club with the most shots this weekend was the club which played without it’s three first choice strikers.

    Get a grip people, ignoring the fact that the media had it in for us as, quite blatantly did the officials, to claim we didn’t try is a complete nonsense. I bet many of you are the same people who shout “shoot” every time a player gets within 40 yards of goal but are now moaning about something else because we did.

    Give it a rest.

  2. Is There An Anti Arsenal Agenda, Or Are We Actually Awful?
    Well, a little of the former and a lot of the latter

  3. I feel that Arteta has gotten ahead of himself. During his first ,half season’, he set up the team to its stregths resulting in positive results and two trophies. However, since then he tried to play the Pep or Barca way without the full compliment of top quality players. This resulted in some very disjointed performances. He tried his best to get the players to play but one can see the lack in confidence in the team, movement were slow and uncomfortable. He maybe a good coach but as a manager not yer definitely.

  4. Get out of that conspiracy cocoon people, the biggest problem with Arsenal is Arsenal. Let’s be honest with ourselves, in the last five years, a major part of our choices in terms of players have been mediocre. We are indecisive in our decisions and when made, unsure of the outcome. Arsenal as a football club must decide, I guess they have decided but we the fans have refused to see signs, what they are in the EPL for. Are they in for trophies or financial returns?
    The mere fact that the coaching crew is looking at shipping out half the team tells a lot about what we have been in the past. It is this same team that they are willig to ship out that we are claiming anti Arsenal agenda against. I recall a statement that was made by Pirez after the Champions league final lost against Barca. He did say then that if Arsenal continued with the trajectory they were going then, the club will not win any major trophy. I dounbt that they have since then. The biggest problem with Arsenal today is the inexperience of the management team and coaching crew. Both sets are leaning on the job and their education is compounded by the frugality of the owners. So let’s wake up to our inadequacies and forget about all the unnecessary statistics that have added no value to your trophy chest. How many shots did Leicester take to make it into CL last season?

  5. The “second place over 2/3 of last season” argument has sustained me for weeks now. But Friday’s performance wounded my confidence. KC makes a good point. But so does Mikey. I hope to feel more optimistic by next weekend, and to have my optimism justified.

    Gaslighting is widespread in many fields. Media coverage of international affairs is one.

  6. We are awful. We may have won 5 in a row at the end of last season but not one game was convincing. We play average at best. The team is no better than under Emery. What happened to the pressing game we were supposed to play? What happened to Aubameyang who is clearly disinterested? Pepe is just average. So he scored a few goals before the end of the season. I’m afraid it comes under the category of every dog has his day. And Odergaard was just average too. It is so poor, as bad as anything I can remember in the 50myears I have been an Arsenal fan.

    Don’t blame the Kroenkes, the money has been there. More than Leicester by a mile.

  7. I entirely agree with you; there is a peculiar conspiracy, certainly by the sports media, to mock Arsenal at any and every opportunity and if all else fails to gloat over every poor performance. However, with that said, we really don’t help ourselves do we?
    When we agree to play meaningless pre-season ‘friendly’ games against two of our biggest domestic rivals and lose players as a result of the underlying enmity that any fool should have realised was always going to be there, whose fault is that?
    When we have just put in an entirely toothless performance against a side widely believed to be the primary candidate for relegation this season our manager explains that our two front teeth were missing because they were, ‘Not feeling well’.
    This is an entirely unacceptable statement and simply offers bullets for our detractors to fire back at us.
    Yes, I agree that Sky Sports and others are shamelessly anti-Arsenal, but when we allow a minority of social-media loud-mouths, led by the biggest narcissist currently not on TV, to dictate our managerial appointments – and effectively sack the greatest manager in our history without any thought to continuity – are we not simply asking for all that we get.
    When a man of the managerial stature of Gary Neville (played 16 won 3 and never kept a clean sheet) is able to correctly criticise our transfer policy as a joke, haven’t we brought that on ourselves by the seeming intent of our current manager to oust anyone with seniority or gravitas in favour of more easily-manipulated minds . . . and all without any apparent forethought for quality replacements.
    When we take our most promising and talented goalkeeper since David Semen and flog him to a mid-table team, leaving the club without a single capable option or sensible back-up, what does that say about our management nous, transfer expertise, and decision-making skills?
    Right now we have the most promising crop of young talent coming through that I can ever recall – and I go back to Billy Wright – but as another famous Scouse detractor once said; ‘You don’t win anything with boys’. Hansen never got over being a yard short of Mickey Thomas on that fateful night in 1989, but he was right; boys can’t do it alone, and our current manager needs to understand that management is not about simply clearing out anyone with experience and opinions and then dictating to and manipulating the young minds that are left. It’s about getting the best from a collective and that includes people who might actually have the temerity to disagree with you.
    We will probably always be the butt of media bias and North-West envy, for a multitude of reasons, but until our management learn not to manufacture bullets for these people to fire, we can have no real defence.

  8. I think Arsenal are actually awful at the moment. We have to face it. It’s a reality at everything our club should excel.
    If a club had been that good over final 2/3 of last season, we would at least expect it to have a good opening game. It didn’t happen.
    The next two matches in the PL will clearly show where we stand. We could be ranked in the relegation zone with 0 pts. That’s worrying.

  9. Maybe it’s about time you stop all this conspiracy theory nonsense and focus on what’s actually wrong at the club, the ownership. Do you think Utd weren’t ridiculed when Moyes flopped after Ferguson, or Liverpool pre-Klopp, or Tottenham (permanent)? The mocking of Arsenal is part and parcel of the social media narrative – in England we call it ‘banter’. It’s up to Arsenal to reverse hearts and minds with their performances on the pitch. This club deserves to be mocked at present because it’s decision making on multiple levels is not befitting it’s history and stature. Focus on the REAL problems, not after effects.

  10. Most of what is reported across all media platforms is either opinion or rumours with little credibility, balance or substance but are regurgitated endlessly & misinterpreted as fact.

    I thought that for a team with a front line (with the exception of Pepe) with an average age of 21; and a mid field and back line that had never played a competitive game together, the team weren’t that bad on Friday. Add to that a possible penalty in Arsenals favour at 1:0 and a blatant foul on Leno for Brentford’s second goal ….on another day, with different decisions, it could have been a very different outcome.

  11. @Ukesox, @Mickey,

    right on, I was amazed at the youth of the team. Moaners can always come and whine like cry-babies. To me the youth of our squad is just a harbringer of better days to come.

    Any other club would be commended for that. Guardiola boasted in the Guardian winning with Barcelona with 8 academy players.

    And then, well, we’ve lost all chances on this single game. So why don’t we accept the fact and enjoy the rest of the already lost season ? No more stress, nothing worse can happen. Right ?

  12. Out of the ‘Big Six’ we’re the easiest target to laugh at.

    We should be walking with our heads high because we didn’t suck uo to Jimmy Savile, we didn’t tap the phone of Milly Dowler, we actually stood for something in football, but there’s people who believe what they read and repeat what they read.

  13. Agree with Ukesox about the blatant foul on Leno and a possible penalty.
    Not to worry. Come end of season,the bees will be buzzy fighting relegation

  14. Pete I am very sorry to see that I have not been able to explain my views in a way that you can understand – all I can say is that I absolutely don’t think there is a conspiracy theory that is relevant here. Indeed the approach I have outlined many times (known to sociologists and psychologists as “gaslighting” specifically rejects conspiracy theory.
    There is a whole series of articles (there’s an index on the home page of this site) which goes to great lengths to explain this, but I will keep on trying to show that my view of the current situation utterly rejects the conspiracy theory approach.

  15. TM – I’m sorry, but I don’t understand your point when you say, “If a club had been that good over final 2/3 of last season…” There is not “if”. Arsenal were that good. All you have to do is check the results of Arsenal and the other clubs. Or if you can trust Untold, use our figures. All the stats we use are published in

  16. Afam there is no belief in conspiracy theory here. You and others constantly telling us that we believe in conspiracy theories is the nearest thing there is to a conspiracy theory . Why you keep on suggesting this when we go to such lengths to explain that there is no belief in a conspiracy theory is beyond me.

  17. Andrew the fact of five in a row was merely a part of a run of 21 games in which we were the second best team in the league. Quite why you want to single out five, I don’t know, but all it does is weaken the argument you keep trying to put forward

  18. Tony, you as a journalist know that bad news sells. And Arsenal keep feeding bad news to journalists.

    All the negative press will stop as soon as Arsenal start getting decent results on a consistent basis.

  19. Sammy The Snake
    Our success or otherwise is irrelevant as far as the press is concerned
    The negative treatment by the press was just as bad when we were winning trophy after trophy in the early Wenger years.
    Surely you remember the constant ‘I didn’t see it’ nonsense Arsene had to put up with, the never ending focus on our red card tally etc etc.

  20. Just saying, but this “woeful” team (according to the BBC), without their three first choice strikers and their best midfielder had more shots than any other club. Moan as much as you like but if you want to be taken seriously opinions from amateurs are worth nothing when facts are indisputable.


    a) I doubt very much that you had anything in common with Arsenal before they started winning things, hence you decided to latch on to glory

    b) being able to spell the name Pires might have afforded you a gram of credibility.

    c) Supporters support; the clue is in the name………..

  21. Is there an agenda, the article asks. An anti-Arsenal agenda?

    I’d say it starts and ends with the hard concrete fact that the Frenchman, le Professeur Arsene Wenger, with his squad of ”N*ggers” and ”P**fters,” went undefeated in the World’s Toughest Premier League and you can’t defeat that, you can’t write it out of history because the results came out every week, so the only thing you can do with it, it’s there, is spend your life taking the piss out of Arsenal at every opportunity, with every mishap, every mistake, until the fact of the unbeaten season has disappeared from memory.

    Compare the treatment of Arsenal with how England makes national treasures out of Wimbledon semi-finalists, Olympic gold medalists, Eurovision winners.

    Imagine if another club team had done it! Imagine the TV documentaries! A season without being beaten in the planet’s toughest football team competition.

  22. Mickey
    The amazing thing regarding us having the most shots on target is we have done it with, according to the experts, no creativity in our play.
    I may be wrong but in order to have a shot you (more often than not) first have to create the chance to get the shot away.
    I agree our shot quality needs to improve but the fact we are getting shots away is cause for optimism.

  23. I found this on a referees forum:

    Quite interesting – it has all the video evidence as well.

    Mikael W14 August 2021 at 10:59
    OT: some assorted clips from yesterday evening’s PL opener, Brentford vs. Arsenal, handled by Michael Oliver [VAR: Christopher Kavanagh].

    3′ – Tackle incident

    21′ – Ball out of play before 1-0 goal? (APP?)

    31′ – Penalty area incident (tripping)

    54′ – Deliberate stamp (if so, sanction?) or bad luck?

    55′ – DtR management

    73′ – Fair duel with the goalkeeper before 2-0 goal?

    77′ – Challenge incident

    +94′ – Penalty area incident (tripping)

    It is quite noticeable who is on the receiving end…

    I wonder why I do not watch the Premier League – with refereeing this bad etc…..

  24. 3′ and 77′ – both tackles from behind. Dangerous play, particularly the foul on Tierney which could have caused ligament damage.

    31′ – Definite penalty

    55′ – Oliver should have carded the Brentford player for failing to retreat 10 yards. Should the free-kick have been moved 10 yards further forward?

    73′ – The goalkeeper was being held by no. 18. It happened again later. Oliver took no action.

    94′ – Luiz conceded a penalty and received a red card for the same thing last season.

    Great examples of the rules being applied in different ways for different teams.

    PGMOB at “work”

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