Arsenal v Chelsea: leaderless, clueless and visionless Arsenal (report)

By Bulldog Drummond

Mikel Arteta sent Arsenal sack warning   Metro

Twenty months down the line, the manager still has no vision and Chelsea’s visit is unlikely to be played in a full Emirates (The Guardian)

Those two headlines give us a summary of what the media think – and indeed each is understandable in its own way.  The Metro report is by an anonymous reporter named as “” while the Guardian’s report is by the columnist of the year for sports journalism in 2019 Jonathan Liew.

Even Liew’s opening sentence “On Sunday the Emirates Stadium will finally be at full capacity for the visit of the European champions, Chelsea,” is probably wrong – certainly there were still tickets on general sale yesterday.  

Oh but hang on – the next paragraph begins “The overwhelming likelihood is that Arsenal’s first game back with a full stadium will not, in fact, take place in a full stadium.”    So “At full capacity” and “not… in a full stadium”.   There must be a subtle difference in there I guess.  I can’t see it, but still… Clever buggers these journos.

It would be tedious in the extreme to examine every line of the subsequent diatribe but just try this, “These days losing 2-0 to Brentford on the opening day brings only shrugs.”

Actually what it brought was a large amount of questioning as to

a) what had happened to our three main centre forwards, none of whom was playing (one injured as we knew, while two had tested positive, but we were not told).

b) why when four players are taken out of a squad by the virus the game cannot be called off

c) why it took so long to tell the supporters.

Anyway, we are then told “The long years of apathy and disillusionment are upon us.”  Which really shows us that Mr Liew (temptation to shorten his name by one letter quickly overridden by editor) hasn’t got a clue.

So here’s the boring bit, repeated for the billionth time.  Last season Arsenal introduced an extraordinary new tactical approach which meant that in the end the moved from getting 86 yellow cards in a season (more than anyone else) to 47 cards in a season (fewer than anyone else).   And amazingly once they had the tactic sorted (which took the first third of the season) Arsenal’s results in the final two thirds of the season had it placed second in the league, with the second best attack and second best defence over that 24 game period

P Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Manchester City 24 20 0 4 62 20 42 60
2 Arsenal 24 14 5 5 43 21 22 47
3 Manchester United 24 13 8 3 43 21 22 47
4 West Ham United 24 13 5 6 41 28 13 44

So how does that possibly equate to “”The long years of apathy and disillusionment are upon us.”?????

If it does, it deserves an examination and explanation, but Mr Liew is either so arrogant or so ignorant that we won’t or can’t tell us.

So what we have here is a manager who has undertaken one of the most daring and extraordinary tactical revolutions in football since Mr Wenger’s early days.  And Mr Liew speaks of “the culture of mediocrity, the lack of a clear transfer strategy, a squad stuffed with highly paid players nobody wants.”

A total, never before seen, tactical revolution that took Arsenal from 15th in the league in the first third of the season to second in the league across the last two thirds, playing in a way no one has seen before and all he can says is “a squad stuffed with highly paid players nobody wants.”  (He also clearly never looks at the Football Observatory rankings either).

In one sense I shouldn’t be saying this because someone might tip Mr Liew off.  He won’t change his stance on Arsenal but he might notice what happened with Man U last weekend.  

Last season in the tackling division Manchester United were near the top of the tree with 14.5 tackles per game (and as we saw all the way through last season, tackles mean fouls mean the chance to give a yellow card – depending on the referee you have … refs in this regard are not all the same, as the stats reveal).

So 14.5 tackles a game last season – putting them in the top five tackling clubs.  In their first match this season – eight tackles!  The lowest of any club.  Even Arsenal were on one more with nine.   In that opener Man U were running at 55% of their tackling average of last season.  Arsenal were at 75%.  Compare this with the likes of Chelsea, Everton, Manchester City and above all West Ham who have gone in the opposite direction.

(If you want to go back and check any of the figures from last season they are all on our Key Data Tables page.   Last weekend’s tackle analysis is here.)

The fact is Mr Liew’s piece is total opinion.  The facts don’t back him up, so he omits them.  The fact we lost with our entire forward line missing.  Does that tell us what happens in the rest of the season?  I suspect not.  Mr Liew doesn’t know, because he doesn’t do the underlying stats. 

The article is in fact the perfect example of Gaslightling and should be preserved for that reason, although probably nothing else.

What the opening game means and a perfect piece of gaslighting

When it comes to commenting on commenting on Arsenal, gaslighting seems to dominate



2 Replies to “Arsenal v Chelsea: leaderless, clueless and visionless Arsenal (report)”

  1. The problem with modern journalism is that the kids are cocooned and never have to get to deal with a reality they haven’t already written about, or read about, until they are in a crisis. The sharp edges of someone else’s experience, the sense that things here don’t add up and have to be investigated,these do not intrude in their lives.

    Kids come out of school, go to university, come out with a degree, go to a School Of Journalism, come out with a grade in journalism, go straight into a newspaper.

    People read what gets written and some readers believe what they have just read describes reality.

    If you were going to make a Netflix documentary series on the Brentford Arsenal game you would focus on the state of mind of Arsenal players when they realised the game had to go ahead even when they had four members of their squad out with Covid.

    Consider all the implications of that.

  2. “The fact we lost with our entire forward line missing”…..whilst still managing to create more goal scoring chances than any other team in the premiership!!

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