By Tony Attwood
They’ve been anxious to do it for some time, finding that Arsenal have been on the same number of red cards in the league this season as almost half the clubs in the Premier League, but finally they got their desire and Arsenal are back on top (taking alphabetical order into account). Here’s the list of number of red cards in the league this season…
|Rank||Club||No of red cards|
|8.||West Ham United||2|
Of course, there will be a lot of chit-chat about cards awarded in cup matches, but having Arsenal on the same number of reds as the likes of the much-admired and truly-loved Manchester City and West Ham, was never going to last, and so the additional card duly turned up last night.
Do refs have to stop play and tell players they have been carded? Well, I thought so, but seemingly not, play is allowed to go on, and then the card comes out retrospectively. Although it was somewhat refreshing to see that even some of the media felt that was all a bit weird, stretching PGMO rule playing just a little bit further than seemed comfortable.
The Guardian’s headline is “Gabriel bundles Arsenal past Wolves despite Martinelli’s remarkable red card“ while the Telegraph offers, “Arsenal battle to victory at Wolves after Gabriel Martinelli shown strangest of red cards.”
In the Mail we have “Martin Keown blasts ‘PEDANTIC’ referee Michael Oliver for sending Gabriel Martinelli off for two fouls in the SAME passage of play… and praises Arsenal for channelling anger to seal win at Wolves”
Only the Mirror deviates a little, and even then they recognise that the event was downright odd, with “Bruno Lage blames “strange” decisions after “better team” Wolves beaten by Arsenal” although in typical Mirronian fashion there is nothing in the text that follows that really tells us what the strange decisions were. Although I guess we know.
At least the BBC gives us a certain amount of balance with its headline Gabriel scores only goal at Molineux. “That,” as someone once said, as Tony Adams raised his arms to the heavens, “sums it all up”.
But the main point was that the red card gave the media yet another excuse to avoid the key issues, which shows Arsenal with the sixth-best attack in the league and the sixth-best defence in the league. Not perfect but since the defence is totally new this season, and we have the youngest team in the league, that does give me a reason to be cheerful for the future.
And that current form issue that we were featuring ahead of the game proved its validity as a predictor once again. Not a perfect predictor of course because all runs come to an end some time, but still one of the better predictors of the next result that there is.
Across the last six league games played by each club, we are still in second place, and although our goal tally has slipped a little we still have the best attack in the league over the last league six games (equal with two other teams) and the best defence in the league, equal with one other team.
Wouldn’t you think that was worth a mention somewhere? But no, apart from here, I am not sure where you will find that.
What makes this so extraordinary is that throughout the winter break the media had one theme when it came to Arsenal. The transfer window was a disaster and Arsenal were on a slippery slope.
And yes maybe we do need some more attackers (although I am doubtful that we need more defenders) but really, just how desperate is this form of raging journalism, when we are the top-scoring team in the league across the last six league games?
And incidentally, there is not something quirky about the last six Premier League games – if we went to the last seven the results would be even better… Here they are…
|11 Dec 2021||Arsenal v Southampton||W||3-0|
|15 Dec 2021||Arsenal v West Ham United||W||2-0|
|18 Dec 2021||Leeds United v Arsenal||W||1-4|
|26 Dec 2021||Norwich City v Arsenal||W||0-5|
|1 Jan 2022||Arsenal v Manchester City||L||1-2|
|23 Jan 2022||Arsenal v Burnley||D||0-0|
|10 Feb 2022||Wolverhampton Wanderers v Arsenal||W||0-1|
… and we are sticking with six because we have been running this all season (as you may recall since I got the table wrong the first time we ran it – although unlike most of the media I did apologise).
But no I won’t change things now and start doing the last seven. Six it will stay. Here is the actual table for the last six games…
|4||West Ham United||6||4||0||2||12||7||5||12|
|8||Brighton and Hove Albion||6||2||4||0||9||6||3||10|
Oh, and just to deal with one other bit of knocking copy. It is said in some quarters that we’ve had a very easy run of games in the last six so the table is misleading. Actually no, because three of those six Arsenal games have been against the teams sitting first, third and fourth in the last six games table.
But of course, the media have been saying all winter that we need more players, so that makes it rather embarrassing for them. Or at least it would if they were able to feel embarrassed.