The ten things we really learned from the 2021/2 season



1: We have by far the best song in football, ever.

The choreography was perfect – which is not something you often hear in relation to Arsenal.  But it was.  At the final moment just before kickoff when we thought the next thing we would hear would be the opening blast of the referee’s whistle, the club played “North London Forever” and the whole crowd (except the visiting supporters and those in the boxes) joined in.  It was a huge sound, a magnificent sound, and a brilliant, moving start to the game.

I can’t imagine anyone would be silly enough not to make this a permanent feature.  It is relevant, it is unique, and it is ours.

2: Replacing the whole defence in one summer is a gamble and a half

And not just replacing them all but doing it within the youngest team in the league.

In the end, we had the eighth-best defence in the league conceding 48 goals whereas in 2020/21 we had the third-best defence in the league conceding 39 goals.  So £150m spent, and we conceded nine more, which was not good.  On the other hand, they are the youngest defence, and really we don’t need to tinker with them anymore.

In fact, 48 goals was the same as we conceded in 2019/20 so taking it that this young defence will get better has to be a core belief.

Alarmingly we got 60 yellow cards this season whereas in 2020/21 it was 47.  Sorting out the disaster of 2019/20 when we had 86 cards was part of Arteta’s great step forward, so seeing the number rise up by 28% is indeed worrying.  Sorting the card problem out last season gave Arsenal that brilliant last two thirds of the season, and we can’t let that triumph slip away.

3.  Players scoring in double figures

At the end of the 2017/18 season Amy Lawrence, who wrote virtually all the Arsenal stories for the Guardian at the time, notoriously announced that Arsenal’s disaster was that the club had only two scoring in double figures.  It took Untold Arsenal to point out that only one club had more than two such players.

I’ve no idea what Ms Lawrence thinks now of that ludicrous, deliberately misleading statement, but maybe she will recognise that this season once again we had three players scoring in double figures: Saka, Smith Rowe, and Eddie.

Of course in the end, what really matters is the number of goals scored, and having only the fifth-best attack in the league explained why we couldn’t get into the top four this season.  So if, as suggested everywhere, Eddie is leaving, we need someone who can continue with the double-figure goal scoring.  And if that becomes 20 goals rather than Eddie’s ten, so much the better.

4. Ødegaard is a superb captain

He is the link between the manager and the team, the two constantly talking through the games of which he played 36.  Only Saka, Gabriel, Ramsdale and White played more.

5: The media will not touch the issue of the referee crisis even with overwhelming statistical evidence.

The disparity between home wins and away wins, and the fact that it reversed during the period when no crowds were allowed in the stadium, plus the academic research which showed how crowds affect refereeing judgement, was the nail in the coffin of PGMO.   This season’s figures showing that the majority of PGMO referees have reverted to favouring the home team since crowds returned also will not and indeed cannot be discussed by the media.  Bsically it seems to be down to us.

6: The club is learning from its mistakes

Gunnersaurous came back for the last game of the season.  I don’t know if the same guy was inside the costume, but at least having the kiddies on the pitch kicking goals was a tiny step in the right direction.

7:  The FA is untouchable

The Euro final was one of the biggest organisational disasters in the history of football this century, but the FA sail on unmoved and uncriticised.  If the body isn’t overthrown following that fiasco, nothing will do it.

8:  You can’t replace the whole defence and put out the youngest team in the league and get top four.

We nearly got there but it was too much too quickly.  But next season…

9:  We need to break the bad run ritual.

We had four rotten spells in the league this season – five if you count the two defeats in May.   But if just one of those defeats had been a victory we would have been fourth this season.  If two of them had been victories we would have been third.  We just need to stop those runs – or at least make them two-match runs rather than three-match runs.

10: VAR is a disaster

It takes far too long and disrupts the game.  Yes, let us have VAR, but it must be possible to do it much more quickly.

12 Replies to “The ten things we really learned from the 2021/2 season”

  1. I suggest that the issue with VAR is not the question of how long a check can take, although I agree that that is often unsatisfactory, (as is the occasional delay before a check is initiated, as with the Iwobi handball yesterday), but the lack of consistency and transparency in its application.

    Why are some incidents checked and not others? Why are some checks shown on TV and not others?

    My conclusion is that the fault lies not with the system, but with the people who operate it and the fact that they are still following the same Riley agenda as the officials on the pitch.

  2. VAR should have been collaborative from the start. A twelve month, perhaps two years, examination of data and incidents from top-level professional football conducted by referees, clubs, fans, until a consensus emerged where all three entities could agree on the ruling that had been reached. Once there was this common, worked through agreement, then it could be introduced.

    It didn’t happen. Instead, like John L says. Riley got another bow for his arrow. The informative, educational heart beneath VAR is nowhere to be found.

    One point to be added to your list – Bukayo Saka has earnt himself a holiday. He goes from the final of the Euros to a ten month football season without a break.

  3. @ Zedsaunt

    My understanding is that many leagues in Europe introduced VAR before we did and they learned quickly how to work it well…..because they wanted to do so. Riley’s lot took longer to introduce it; made no attempt to learn from the experience of others; still can’t/won’t operate it consistenetly, efficiently or effectively.

    VAR is not the problem the officials and their boss are 100% the problem.

  4. it’s bitter pill to swallow as they finish above us once again plus losing CL place to them was a double blow but that’s the reality we have to face. About the match, even tho it was a good performance, it’s against the team mix of 1st and fringe players that couple of days ago find themselves safe for another season in the PL and nothing to fight for. it use to be our pride to have players from Arsenal competing for golden boot with Auba last winning that honor in 17/18 season. i believe Bukayo goal tally will increased next season but that doesn’t hide the fact that Arsenal need a new striker if Laca or Eddie choose to leave the club. just a friendly reminder, no need to give transfer news/rumors much attention as it only will drive people mad for no reason

  5. Jerry Quy is no longer the sole wearer of the Gunnersaurus suit. Having been inside since the suit was first created he was a victim of the staff losses during the Covid crisis. A lovely man, I still see him at our ladies matches and had him behind me at the Spurs game played at the Emirates a month ago. Iunderstand that the suit duties are shared by a number of different people now.

    Of course as I haven’t actually seen him get into or out of the suit I don’t have any conclusive proof that it isn’t a real creature and this article from ESPN three years ago may well have the true story of our mascot. It’s worth a read and you (plus any youngsters in your households) can decide which is more likely to be right

    https://www.espn.co.uk/football/arsenal/story/3929187/gunnersaurus-the-untold-story-of-arsenals-mascot

  6. different topic – it’s sad to see club like Bordeaux fall from grace and congratulation AC Milan for winning the Scudetto. i remember so much abused were thrown at them by fans when they first hired Stefano Pioli as their head coach. it was so satisfying to see, when they managed to proved so many people wrong. they also investing and recruiting smartly in the transfer market

  7. Why do the Mirror keep referring to Mo ElNeny as a “contract rebel”? As far as I can make out, he has always been willing to sign a new contract.

  8. I think we had a good season, a definite improvement on last season and we only failed to get Champions League because of the incredible generosity showed to Spurs by Riley and his lap dogs.

  9. Mick, I agree completely.

    The referee of our recent game with Spurs effectively gave them a 4 point advantage over us. Then this was followed up with the penalty gift which produced their 1-0 win over Burnley.

    Before our game with Spurs, I predicted that they would be given a penalty and that we would receive a red card. I watched the game with my brother-in-law, who is a Leeds fan with no particular liking for Arsenal. He was outraged at the cheating which decided the result, even more than I was (after all I well knew what to expect and wasn’t surprised when it happened.)

    Let’s hope that they get well stuffed in the Champions League, where PGMOL rules do not apply.

  10. The Daily Star is the latest in a long line of publications that doesn’t really seem to have got the hang of the journalism lark. Fortunately, in this case, the story’s intent seems to have been to discredit Cavani. Eagle-eyed Twitterers were soon able to set them straight.

  11. Tony I agree with your points and won’t rehash any arguments. However, one point about the 2021/2022 I think you missed is the lack of activity in the January window. Perhaps the team might have withstood the later injuries with some reinforcement. Of course injuries and lack of reinforcements led MA to play Elneny, who I rate, and brought Nketiah back in the fold. Two positive developments. On the whole this was a positive season of entertaining football. Eagerly awaiting the new season.

    I’d like to thank you and all the other Untold Arsenal contributors and all the supporters who take the time to read, absorb and comment. It’s always a pleasure to read and understand the different points of view. This a great space for Arsenal supporters and even supporters of other clubs who come here.

    I appreciate the time you put into research so that you make fact based articles. Especially considering the time you must put into your business and Untold Dylan!

    So cheers to you and yours. You keep writing and we’ll keep reading. Up the Untold Arsenal!

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