By Tony Attwood
We’ve used the winter break to examine a few regular old chestnuts that the media and others put forward day after day. So what have we found?
We started out by noting that although everyone was making a fuss about us not having a striker, we were not in the lower half of the table in terms of goals scored as some seem to be suggesting. We are the seventh highest-scoring club in the league – three more goals would make us the fifth-highest scorers. Obviously, we’d like more goals but losing Aubameyang (who had scored two goals fewer than Smith Rowe by the time he left) was hardly a goal-scoring disaster.
After that, we noted a problem that the league still has with referees, as witness the ability of West Ham to sail through the season comparatively untouched by cards and referee whistles.
Then we looked at the initial three stages of Arteta’s plan. Wrest control of matches back from PGMO, bring in a new young defence that could become the core of the team for years to come, and cut the wages will.
We also noted how Saliba has really come to life on his loans out, and how he could be a very valuable addition to the squad when he returns.
Plus we wondered if managerial and player changes in a club actually work. The answer turned out to be, most of the time, no – especially if you are Leciester. They cost a fortune, but the benefit is variable and often negative.
Next, as the media have tried to put the blame on Mikel Arteta, there was the issue of Aubameyang’s behaviour before he came to Arsenal. Revelations show that the media were quite wrong to suggest Arsenal couldn’t handle him. No one could.
After that, we considered the financial reason why Aubameyang went on a free transfer. It turns out the financial side of the deal was not as simple as some suggest and it really was a very good idea to get him out without a fee.
All of which made us wonder Do managerial and player changes work? We compared Arsenal and Tottenham and found that changes can work, but not that often – especially for Tottenham.
So then it was time to see what changing the manager does to a club, and here again Tottenham turned up as we found that they had more managers than anyone else, but also fewer trophies.
We also compared transfers and current player values. Do transfers guarantee a more valuable squad? Not really. But just as that story was being debated we took a look at whether Saka really was going to be sold – or actually leave on a free. The answer is no.
Pulling it all together.
Pulling everything together we asked how far away Arsenal are from being a top spending club.
Which more or less means we have indeed looked at all the issues the media has been kicking around during the winter break. All except for injuries.
Unfortunately, I can’t find a chart showing the number of days each club has had with players injured or ill. But Premier Injuries did publish just such a list on 4 March 2021 which showed Arsenal in 19th place with 357 days lost. Which was about one-third of the number of days Liverpool players lost to illness and injury.
Most media stories knocking Arsenal single out an alleged or assumed Arsenal fault, and in virtually every case the media had the situation wrong, either by deliberately printing false facts or by leaving out vital evidence.
The notion that the solution to a club’s problems would be to buy more players and get a new manager, ignores every single strand of evidence available.
Rather, Arsenal are following a very reasonable approach. Buying players doesn’t guarantee an improvement on league position but it most certainly can help take the club up a place or two if you get it right. Buying young players means that they are likely to develop into better players, or if they do want to move on, be sold at a profit.
And here’s the key point. The reason the journalists who write all this stuff about how wrong Arsenal have got everything don’t work for a football club, is that quite simply they are wrong in virtually every premise they make. If anyone ever was stupid enough to give football journalists the chance to run a club, the club would be sunk without trace – and probably in a matter of weeks.
Mind you this doesn’t slow down the anti-Arsenal media mill, quite simply because they don’t care. Here are the headline as I write this…
- Klopp told Saka can solve Liverpool’s crisis as Salah comparison made
- Arsenal’s transfer misery as Liverpool and Chelsea put Mikel Arteta’s woes into perspective
What the Mirror has done today is taken our story from yesterday Just how far away are Arsenal from being a top spending club? and re-written it as the “Arsenal transfer misery” story.
But we can still have a laugh, for they add, “Manchester City have gained £604m from outgoings in the last century.”
That would be 1900 to 1999 then. Some of those players must be getting on a bit.
Football starts again on Thursday. Thank goodness for that.
- A stroll in the park; National Rail lunacy at the station. Arsenal v Bodø/Glimt
- Arsenal v the team that will present a giant toothbrush to our captain
- Arsenal squad for Europa League game
- The abuse of female footballers is appalling, but there is a wider context
- Why Arsenal v Glimt might be tougher than the game against Tottenham