- Arsenal’s opposition in the coming season: West Ham
- Arsenal’s opposition in the coming season: Manchester United
- Arsenal’s opposition in the coming season: Chelsea and the notion of progress.
- Arsenal’s opposition in the coming season: Tottenham
- Arsenal’s opposition in the coming season: Leicester City
By Tony Attwood
Last season, It wasn’t just a bad start to last season: it was a start that allowed the howling dogs at the door to savage Arsenal. Various claims about it being the worst start since the building of Stonehenge (or something like that) meandered across the newspapers,
And they did so knowing (as surely someone must have told them) what happened In 2011–12, Arsenal made their worst start to a season for 58 years, but recovered to not only to get a top-four finish but to overtake Tottenham.
But Arsenal’s worst start stories are what the media loves, irrespective of any reference to the truth. Here are some…
But here’s a thought. Irrespective as to whether it was the worst start in 2 years, 39 years or 118 years, what happened after that?
Of course, we know what the whole season gave us – we finished fifth and got into the Europa. Which must have meant we were quite good in the remaining 35 games, compared with other teams.
And it is an interesting question because supposing, just supposing, Arsenal continue to do just as well, as they did in the 35 games after that poor opening of the first three league games. And in doing this let us not forget the controversy. Finding covid sweeping through the ranks, Arsenal asked for the Brentford game to be postponed. That was refused.
Later Liverpool did ask for a postponement and it was revealed that Trent Alexander-Arnold was the only Liverpool player to actually test positive for Covid.
And yet the game was called off – according to the media on the grounds that the club had under 14 first team players who were fit to play.
The Mirror sought to explain this discrepancy away on the grounds that the other players had false-positive results to their covid tests. So what does this mean and what were Liverpool playing at?
A false positive in this case arises when someone who does not have coronavirus, tests positive for it. All medical tests produce false positives simply because the measurements are quite difficult to make and no test is 100% accurate. Of course, if you are measuring the number of legs people have, looking for people with three legs you tend to get very few false positives, but seeking a virus is more difficult.
So a false positive rate refers to the people who are not infected but get positive results. Dr Paul Birrell, a statistician at the Medical Research Council’s Biostatistics Unit at the University of Cambridge, said on the BBC, “The false positive rate is not well understood and could potentially vary according to where and why the test is being taken. A figure of 0.5% for the false positive rate is often assumed.”
Now let’s see what the Liverpool figure means
If you tested 1,000 people at random for Covid-19 in early September, for example, data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) infection study suggests you should have expected one of them actually to have the virus.
With a false positive rate of 0.8% – you would get one false positive among each 100 positive results.
So Liverpool had false positive rates unlike any other club and indeed unlike any other part of the population before or since.
It’s an interesting point because it shows that Arsenal were not dreadful at the start of the season – they were coping with the real effects of the pandemic, with no support from the League, and not using the Liverpool FP tactic of seeking a postponement.
But let’s go on. What happened in the remaining 35 games of the season? This table cuts out every team’s first three games and counts all the rest. Here is the table…
|8||West Ham United||35||14||7||14||50||46||4||49|
|12||Brighton and Hove||35||10||15||10||38||41||-3||45|
Of course this is not the final table everyone quotes – but it is a table reflecting a real set of events. The last 35 games of the season.
In this table Arsenal came third. And this is why I think we will do rather well in the coming season. It will be rather like the last 35 games of last season.
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