By Tony Attwood
This is the first part of a short series that pulls together the evidence which reveals a significant conspiracy against Arsenal set up and wilfully maintained by much of the media. In it I take a look at what has happened in terms of media reporting of Arsenal, how it has warped the general understanding of what Arsenal has achieved, and also, why so much of the media has bought into this story.
Of course I do understand that it is perfectly possible to explain what has happened in terms of laziness, gross incompetence and ignorance by a range of journalists and bloggers. However, that argument is somewhat reduced in its effectiveness when one recalls that many of the people involved in the on-going assault we have seen against Arsenal, are really quite intelligent, and must have been fully aware of what they have been doing.
Also I must acknowledge that some (but not all!) of the arguments, data and table in this series has been presented before, and I do hope you will excuse my presenting it again, but it seemed to me helpful to the understanding of the thesis explored here if everything could be gathered into one series, rather than leave you (assuming you are interested o course) endlessly referring back to previous articles.
So, to begin…
Most people would agree, I think, that buying in new players and possibly even changing the manager, simply on the basis of the first three games of the season, when the squad was already undergoing major changes in defence and was affected by an outbreak of illness among several of the senior players, would have been a pretty damn stupid thing to do. Especially when the last two thirds of the previous season had been such a spectacular triumph in terms of results, and achieved through such a clever tactical ploy as cutting out tackles.
But the Arsenal manager determined to bring in various players to reshape the defence in the opening weeks of the season, while more and more and more transfers were demanded in August by the footballing media as they ignored two simple but highly relevant facts.
What we can now see is that the first match of that infamous run of three defeats contained only four players who were to become regulars in the first team lineup as the season developed. So, given the patchwork nature of the team for those first three games, and the fact that the newcomers were still getting used to each other, or not even on board yet, it makes sense to see how Arsenal performed after those first three games.
In fact, taking out those first three Arsenal and looking at every club’s last 19 games (in other words, for Arsenal, all the league games after those first three), Arsenal are shown as the third-best performing team in the league. We have gained five more points than both the billionaires of Chelsea and the third lowest-scoring team in the league Wolverhampton, nine more than West Ham (always the media’s darlings), and 12 more than the now derided Manchester United, and those eternal hopefuls, Tottenham Hotspur.
Thus, as noted in the last article, if we look at the league table for the last 19 games we can draw the reasonable conclusion that things are going ok. (In case you missed it, here is the top of the league table for last 19 games with data from TWTD)
|6||West Ham U||19||5||1||3||16||13||4||2||4||15||12||6||30|
Of course, it can be argued that this table is artificial given that we have actually played 22 games, so that is what should be included in the league table. “One can,” I am told, “do this sort of thing for any club by artificially starting the count at a moment advantageous to that club.”
But that misses a key point. Based on those opening three matches the journalists, broadcasters and bloggers became united in claiming that Arsenal desperately needed to buy new players. The club’s management (Arteta and Edu in particular) were grossly incompetent, it was said, failing to buy the right men, failing to renew contracts, and just generally failing.
Yet that league table above shows that with the newly formed defence we didn’t need a totally new team. To have started buying in new forwards could have totally upset all the work that was done last summer in reconstructing the defence. Yes Liverpool and Manchester City have scored many more than Arsenal, but we are only two goals shy of Chelsea in attack, and way ahead of everyone else. We can improve – but it’s crazy to try and change everything at once.
Besides, we have been making real progress over last season, even if we take into account those first three games of the current league season all of which were lost. Here is the comparison chart for the first 22 games last year and this year.
So there has been a small general step forward. But that eight-point improvement hides something much bigger and much more important, as I will cover in the second part of this series, later today.
- How the vendetta against Arsenal is run with a total disregard of the facts
- Nothing is gained by teaching a parrot a new word. The tragedy of English football.
- Outrageous attack on Arsenal as recent games give boost to hope of top four finish
Today in Arsenal’s History: 15 February 2015: 85 years after beating Middlesbrough in the cup Arsenal did it again
- Everton v Arsenal: a happy video, line-up and what the league table will look like after
- Everton v Arsenal: Injuries, points needed for 4th, and Arsenal the first to 100?
- Everton v Arsenal: extraordinary figures seen in the last 6 games table
- Everton v Arsenal: how this referee treats the home and away team
- Everton v Arsenal and the oddity of referee behaviour