By Tony Attwood
There is a screamingly funny and utterly lunatic article in the Guardian this morning, in its regular post-weekend series “Talking points from the weekend’s action”
It is by Tim de Lisle (author of “How to Write Well”), whose profile on Wikipedia reads, “De Lisle is a feature writer for The Guardian, focusing on cricket and rock music. He is the editor of the magazine Intelligent Life, is the rock critic at The Mail on Sunday and also edited the Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack in 2003.”
Now you may notice that there is not much mention of football therein. Or to be exact, no mention at all of football at all. So it is funny that the Guardian picked him to write the “Talking Points” article, although it does explain how the article includes this…
“Now that there’s a clear bottom three, the race for fourth ought to be the most interesting thing about the Premier League. There’s just one problem: the contenders don’t seem very bothered. Spurs have lost three games on the trot, Manchester United have become draw specialists and West Ham’s only win in four is a meagre 1-0 against Watford. Chelsea, who led the table on 1 December, have slumped so badly that they may yet join the dogfight. And so could Wolves, who suddenly have four wins in five. They are now above Spurs. The same goes for Arsenal, whose winner at Molineux on Thursday was their first goal since New Year’s Day. If any of these clubs can go on a decent run, they’ll find themselves in the Champions League.”
Reading that, and having no other information on the subject you might well be inclined to think that Arsenal, like much of the rest of the top eight teams in the league, are in a slump, going nowhere at all, and indeed as likely to slip into the bottom six in the league as stay in the top six.
Which would make a peek at the form table, made up of the last six league matches of Premier League clubs, come as something as a shock.
|6||Brighton and Hove Albion||6||2||4||0||9||6||3||10|
|7||West Ham United||6||3||1||2||10||8||2||10|
So Arsenal is a contender, and yet “the contenders don’t seem very bothered.”
Tottenham (whom the Guardian, with obvious familiarity and support invariably call “Spurs”) have as the article points out “lost three games on the trot, Manchester United have become draw specialists and West Ham’s only win in four is a meagre 1-0 against Watford. Chelsea, who led the table on 1 December, have slumped so badly that they may yet join the dogfight.”
And I think this is what happens when a) a part of the media has a clear anti-Arsenal agenda, and b) it brings in a person who is not a specialist in football matters to write about football. (Indeed, why would you ever do that?)
I doubt anyone will have told the poor sap to “knock Arsenal”; rather he would have simply picked up the fact that this is what the Guardian does, whenever reporting football.
So “the contenders” don’t seem to be very bothered. (Present continuous tense, please note, meaning, “in recent games leading up to the last and going forward”). Arsenal have the second-most points in the last six games, the most goals scored, the second-best defence, and the best goal difference. And “don’t seem to be very bothered.”
Now I do get regular correspondence asking why I have this “fixation” with the media. Yet it is palpably obvious to me that the media does influence how some people think – because we see hundreds of blogs all the time copying their message: Arsenal are useless, incompetent and going nowhere.
I feel that by pointing out that this is simply a media agenda, just as not criticising the PGMO is a media agenda, it may help a few people realise what is going on. Our pieces such as Are clubs and the media trying to unsettle Saka and force a transfer? try and point out what the media is up to.
Here is the league table as it stands.
|4||West Ham United||25||12||5||8||44||33||11||41|
To overtake West Ham and get into fourth, we must win one of our three games in hand. To overtake Manchester United we need one draw in our two games in hand over them. As for the mighty and much beloved (by the media) Tottenham Hotspur, who have played the same number of games as we have, we simply have to keep doing better than they are.
And yet, as the Guardian chooses to say, “the contenders don’t seem very bothered”.
It’s a funny ol’ game, this media business.
- Arsenal v Tottenham; the team and some rather jolly recent history
- We are running out of referees, and the reason is the PGMO.
- Arsenal v Tottenham: the key fact the media won’t to tell you – and why they won’t
- Arsenal v Tottenham: different clubs, different managers, different successes
- Arsenal v Tottenham with clubs now getting more cards than they put in tackles!