By Bulldog Drummond
According to the BBC, “Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta praised his side’s “fight, determination and brotherhood” after the 10-man Gunners frustrated Liverpool in the first leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final at Anfield.” Of course it wasn’t a fair battle, according to the Corporation’s headline because “Liverpool miss Salah & Mane”. Ah, of course Arsenal had no injuries, or players away, or anything like that. But Liverpool missed two players.
Mind you they also say on the same page, “Eight-time EFL Cup winners Liverpool had lost home advantage for the second leg after a Covid outbreak in their squad saw the planned first meeting in north London postponed until 20 January.” But actually, that is untrue. They lost home advantage in the second leg through an utterly unprecedented and world-beating set of false-positive results in their testing for the virus. Still no explanation with evidence on that one and we are not publishing any more explanations that don’t come with fulsome statistics explaining the world beating false positives in Liverpool.
The Sun, previewing the game tonight has the extraordinary headline “CAR BLIMEY Arsenal vs Liverpool: Live stream, TV channel, team news, kick-off time for EFL Carabao Cup semi-final second leg”. Quite what Car Blimey means I am not sure. Is it a Liverpudlian expression, or a misprint for what the Sun assumes (wrongly) is cockney slang?
Besides, a cockney is a person born in the sound of Bow Bells, but Arsenal’s ground is four miles from St Mary Le Bow church, and I’m sure even the loudest of the bells can’t be heard four miles away – at least not unless the traffic is very quiet and the wind is blowing directly from the south. Which is very unlikely.
All of which makes the Sun’s prediction for the team also seem unlikely (not least because their commentary says Smith Rowe is still unavailable) but here it is anyway
Tomiyasu White Gabriel Tierney
Lokonga Smith Rowe
Saka Odegaard Martinelli
Pain in the Arsenal offer
Chambers, Holding, Gabriel, Tierney;
White, Sambi, Saka, Odegaard, Martinelli;
Chambers, Holding, Gabriel, Tierney;
Saka, White, Lokonga, Martinelli;
Meanwhile there is a load of chitterchatter from Opta, that lovely statistics company that has utterly failed to realise that measuring tackles, fouls and yellow cards is rather a good way to see what is happening in football. We commented a little while ago on this in the article “Liverpool adopt a level of fouling not seen before.”
But no, Opta don’t like that so instead they tell us that “Arsenal have won just one of their last 17 matches against Liverpool in all competitions (D8 L8) and have failed to score in their last four against the Reds, having only failed to score in four of their previous 50 games against them.”
You’ll notice a certain negativity about Arsenal here, which is ok if Opta balanced it with comments about fouling, but no. They continue, “Liverpool have reached more League Cup finals than any other team (12) but have lost the second leg of each of their last three semi-finals in the competition, losing 1-0 each time in 2014-15 vs Chelsea, 2015-16 vs Stoke and 2016-17 vs Southampton.”
And it gets worse as “Under Jürgen Klopp, Liverpool have scored more goals against Arsenal in all competitions (43) than they have vs any other opponent.”
There are moments of positivity, such as “The first leg between Arsenal and Liverpool was goalless at Anfield, only the second time in the last 17 seasons the first leg of a League Cup semi-final ended 0-0. In that instance in 2017-18, Arsenal drew 0-0 away at Chelsea before winning 2-1 at home in the second leg to reach the final.”
And also “Arsenal striker Eddie Nketiah has scored seven goals in five League Cup appearances at the Emirates, averaging a goal every 46 minutes at the stadium in the competition, and is Arsenal’s leading scorer at the Emirates in the League Cup.” But nothing about the fouling. Which is interesting when you consider just how often people hold up Opta as the great god of statistics.
In case you are interested in what Opta won’t ever tell you, here is the list of fouls per game for Premier League teams in order of the fouls committed by team per game and then showing the fouls against that team by others.
|Position||Team||Fouls committed by Team per game||Fouls committed by Opposition per game|
|4||West Ham United||9.36||8.00|
|9||Brighton and Hove||10.00||9.10|
So here’s the question. Why does Opta and the Premier League produce so many other statistics but not this one? Besides, why do teams not like to foul Liverpool? Only West Ham suffer a smaller number of fouls on their players per game. It’s nothing to do with the way referees react to fouls on West Ham and Liverpool players is it? I mean like, tackle a Liverpool player and it is given as a foul and you get a yellow card. That sort of thing. If not, what is the explanation?