This is the concluding part of the series on the media conspiracy against Arsenal. Previously…
- The media conspiracy against Arsenal. Part 1: How it unfolded.
- Conspiracy, laziness, or stupidity. Part 2 How the media missed the big Arsenal story
- Is there really a conspiracy against Arsenal? Part 3: Ownership, laziness and repetition
- The evidence of a conspiracy against Arsenal: part 4: Conspiracy, simplicity and false predictions
Lay off the proof, stay clear of the facts
In 2019/20 Arsenal got 86 yellow cards; more than any other club. In 2020/21 Arsenal got 47 cards – only three clubs got fewer. How did such a dramatic change happen from one season to the next? Did the club just sell one troublesome defender? Did referees think that their propensity for carding Arsenal more than every other club had been rumbled, and so decided to lay off the club?
Or did Arsenal change their style of play? Was it that Arsenal were a seriously dirty team in 2019/20 that deliberately sought to break up the opposition play through fouls, or was it that referees had decided to yellow card Arsenal because they “needed to be taught a lesson”?
These are in fact very important questions because of the way some clubs avoid yellow cards. West Ham for example, are in their second year of getting far fewer yellows than their play might suggest – and yet on this topic the media remain utterly silent. Which is odd given the vast amount of time and space consumed debating games.
And while we are asking, why did no one other than Untold write up the topic. After all carded defender, after all, will always be much more cautious in his tackles. Yet I can’t recall any review of yellow cards in the Premier League other than ours. Just as no one looked at the fact that in 2019/20 Leicester committed almost the same number of fouls as Arsenal but got half the yellow cards that Arsenal received.
But then, really bizarrely, after we pointed this out, the following season Leicester’s level of fouling stayed the same but their number of yellow cards went up by half. (And it wasn’t due to an injury – we looked into that suggestion).
And that wasn’t all. After they started getting penalised for fouls like everyone else Leicester sudden started getting penalties. Indeed they received nine penalties in 13 games. If that rate had continued, Leicester would have been given 26 penalties by the end of the season – far above the previous record for penalties in one season. This article gives a summary of what we were finding.
Now my point is not that Leicester were cheating. It was just that they were doing something very unusual, and the media were not reporting it. Just like Arsenal constantly getting the same referee. No one else touched it. That and other data from last season was summarised here.
This situation in which football journalists move as a herd, all ignoring certain issues while analysing others to death is odd. Is it because they copy each other, or because they are lazy, or because (and this is much more sinister) some of the things we discover (like Leicester’s ability to tackle with impunity) raise issues about referee competence that the media don’t want to face?
The fact is that there are all sorts of issues that the media en masse refuse to touch. As a result no one is holding the League and its referees to account. And as a result of that Arsenal and some other clubs are changing their style of play to find their way around these issues.
This they are doing, and doing well, as the league table for the last six games, and all the games since the first three games both show. As for the reporting, with no one else picking up on the story, in the end it is just down to us.
Indeed all of this has been found by a tiny group of fans who think its important. Can you imagine how much more there is to find if some serious investigative journalists took up these and other issues? But they don’t; no more than they have taken up the issue we’ve highlighted about the terrible way young players are overtrained, tricked, and then cast aside when injured, with the FA and league turning a blind eye to it all.
And this is the main point. Not that there are some corrupt practices going on that people don’t seem to notice until we make a fuss. But rather the fact that football journalism is acting in the opposite way from the way good journalism acts.
Good journalism looks at odd situations, investigates, publishes and holds authority to account. It does it in politics, with the police, with big corporations, with local authorities etc. Perhaps not as much as some of us would like, but it does it.
Yet with football, the media utterly and totally refuses to investigate anything curious or dubious. Instead it makes up its own childish stories about a player from one club interesting another club with 95% or more of these stories never happening. While little Untold is reporting a really weird situation relating to fouls, yellow cards, penalties and the like.
Why is that?