There is no end to the way the media will manipulate Arsenal’s position

By Tony Attwood

There is no end to the knocking of Arsenal that the media will do and certainly no end to the abuse and misuse of statistics (including simply making them up) that they will indulge in.

Consider for a moment, if you have the time, the headline from the Mirror which reads “Arsenal are in danger of seeing history repeat itself should Mikel Arteta fail to learn from Unai Emery’s mistakes, as the Gunners suffered another Premier League setback.”

The article that follows says,

“History suggests that the notion Monday night’s Palace loss was merely a bump in the road is a dangerous line to take. In truth, Arsenal are at risk of allowing history to repeat itself by squandering a promising pursuit of a top-four finish and allowing fierce rivals Tottenham to steal a march once again.” 

By chance our How well are Arsenal doing in Arteta’s second season, compared with previous managers? analysed where the team was at this point in the season, and then where it ended up.  So the data is available and published, and easy to look up.

The table within that article looked at where Arsenal was in the league after 30 games, in order to compare that position with where we are now.

Now, prodded along by the gibberish in the Daily Mirror, composed by Michael Gowler, I’ve taken that little chart and extended it.  Here one can see the position in the league after 30 games (in the left column) and see who was the manager, where the club ended up at the end of the season and whether we went up or down.

So if we look at the second row we see that after 30 games we were 10th, our manager was MA (Mikel Arteta) and that at the end of the season (signified as “End” in the penultimate column – I like to spell this out for the sake of the Mirror) where we ended up and what the change was. (+ means we went up a place and – means we went down a place).

Pos Season/mgr W D L F A GD Pts End Change
5 2022 MA 17 3 10 45 36 9 54
10 2021 MA 12 6 12 40 35 5 42 8 +2
11 2020 UE/MA 9 13 8 41 41 0 40 8 +3
4 2019 UE 18 6 6 63 39 24 60 5 -1
6 2018 AW 14 6 10 55 41 14 48 6 0
7 2017 AW 16 6 8 61 39 22 54 5 +2
3 2016 AW 16 7 7 48 30 18 55 2 +1

Now if for a moment we look at the change column you will see that in the six last seasons only once has Arsenal ended up lower at the end of the season, than where the club was after 30 games.

Thus when one considers the line “History suggests that the notion Monday night’s Palace loss was merely a bump in the road is a dangerous line to take,” really is nonsense.  History suggests the opposite.  History (on average across the last six seasons), suggests that Arsenal will end up one place higher on average than it is at after 30 games.

Put another way, history suggests we will end up fourth.

Of course just because we ended up two or three places higher in the league than we were at, after 30 games, does not mean it will happen, but merely says that on the basis of history it is most likely that we will.

What the Mirror says is that history shows that the opposite is true, which is quite wrong.

It is rather like that strange article we cited the other day saying that the defence has improved this season when in fact it hasn’t.

Now if it were to be suggested that this is a trivial matter I would agree, but the reason I raise it is because this appalling drip-drip-drip approach of the Mirror knocking the club at every turn, does influence some people, who for reasons best known to themselves believe all this nonsense.

What is even more annoying is the fact that last season Arsenal did the most dramatic of turn around of the Premier League era – something we charted week by week and which is analysed in full in last season’s Key Data Tables article.

But if you don’t want to trundle off and read everything in that summary here is the key issue…

The first 14 games of the 2020/21 season v the last 24 games.

14 games is an interesting dividing line since it took us up to Christmas Day.  Here is how the league table looked on entering the holiday season and what happened thereafter…

Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts PPG
15 Arsenal first 14 games 14 4 2 8 12 18 -6 14 1.00
2 Arsenal last 24 games 24 14 5 5 43 21 22 47 1.96

Yes after 14 games Arsenal were 15th.   Then if we measured the remaining 28 games, across that period Arsenal were second.  PPG = points per game showing in the last 24 games we earned fractionally less than double the points per game of the first half of the season.

At least the Mirror didn’t at that point try to tell us that the last two-thirds of the season had been a disaster but there is clearly no end to their perfidious behaviour.  Remember if it is in the Mirror and is about Arsenal, it may well not be true.

One Reply to “There is no end to the way the media will manipulate Arsenal’s position”

  1. On a personal note, I refrain from ever forecasting Arsenal results, especially based on past (even recent) form,

    Perhaps I am superstitious, but I have said previously that I wish that Samuel AA would not predict results, – typically usually a 3-0 or 4-0 Arsenal win. I also wish that others would not predict wins, because that increases the risk and scale of disappointment. I always hope for a win and I never predict either a win or a defeat.

    I am sure that I am not alone in being superstitious – the recurring example, which has just been demonstrated yet again – is the poor results which follow the Manager of the Month award.

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