By Tony Attwood
There is a really interesting piece on SportsMole – a site we often quote when it comes to the prediction of the teams for a game. It opens…
“Barring an early EFL Cup exit to Brighton & Hove Albion, defeat to Manchester United at Old Trafford and a somewhat disappointing draw away at Southampton, the start to the 2022-23 season has been a better one than many Arsenal fans could have ever envisaged.”
Now I don’t get that. If someone had said to anyone at Untold that Arsenal would go out of the League Cup in the first round they play in, and would lose away to Manchester United and draw with Southampton, but otherwise be winning match after match and before the break for children’s playtime would be five points clear at the top, we would have universally smiled and said, “If it happens, the drinks are on me”.
So what is this “Barring” business about? We’ll happily take a couple of defeats (one in the league cup) to be in this position.
And later, “News of a serious injury to Gabriel Jesus has already led some Arsenal fans to concede defeat in the title race – similar to the 2007-08 season, when the Gunners fell off the pace after Eduardo da Silva’s horrific leg break…”
But let’s consider this and see if there are comparisons… Remembering at this point that before the season began every single major news outlet that we could find which was doing a lunatic “supercomputer” prediction of the outcome of the season, predicted Arsenal to come fifth. At best.
So now, returning to the comparison of Gabriel Jesus and Eduardo,
The league table, before the outrageous, insane and in any arena other than a football pitch, utterly criminally assault on Eduardo, read…
The assault came in the third minute of the match on 23 February 2008 so obviously, Arsenal had no chance of buying in a replacement player. Also, there was talk of him being out for nine months, not the matter of weeks we are talking about with Gabriel Jesus – although of course with injuries one never really knows.
But the big issue was nothing to do with who would score the goals. Eduardo was a great player, but not the key goal-scorer. That was Adebayor who scored 24 goals in 32 league starts that season. The issue was the utter brutality and mindless violence of the assault on Eduardo that caused even the media to take a deep breath and wonder just how far their anti-Arsenal propaganda was being taken when players could behave like this.
Martin Taylor was the man who was guilty of the violent assault and what was awful in the aftermath was that Steve Bruce claimed that Taylor didn’t even deserve a booking. Sepp Blatter on the other hand was so outraged by the incident that he ordered that Fifa’s disciplinary chairman should review the matter. That happened and Fifa requested that the League increase Taylor’s punishment from the standard three-match ban because of the sheer violence involved. None of us was surprised when the FA refused to act. This was, after all, an Arsenal man we were talking about.
And of course, our focus has always been on the incident and Eduardo, but it is also interesting to look at what happened after that. The game against the disgraceful Birmingham side that employed Taylor without remource ended in a draw, and it was the first game in a run of eight in which Arsenal only won a single match in the Premier League
|23 Feb 2008||Birmingham City v Arsenal||D||2-2|
|01 Mar 2008||Arsenal v Aston Villa||D||1-1|
|09 Mar 2008||Wigan Athletic v Arsenal||D||0-0|
|15 Mar 2008||Arsenal v Middlesbrough||D||1-1|
|23 Mar 2008||Chelsea v Arsenal||L||2-1|
|29 Mar 2008||Bolton Wanderers v Arsenal||W||2-3|
|05 Apr 2008||Arsenal v Liverpool||D||1-1|
|13 Apr 2008||Manchester United v Arsenal||L||2-1|
By 13 April 2008 the table, instead of showing Arsenal five points clear now had Arsenal languishing in third, nine points behind.
So was Eduardo really the linch-pin within the team that was five points clear after 26 games?
I don’t think so. It was the appalling nature of the assault on the player which led to whole team to realise that they really were playing against maniacs who knew that with the refereeing system that was in place, there was nothing protecting them from career-ending tackles.
Before the assault Arsenal were scoring 2.07 goals a game. In the games after the assault Arsenal scored 1.25 goals a game. With a lack of referee protection and maniacs at large on the pitch, everyone became much more cautious.
The similarity between Jesus’ injury and the mindless assault on Eduardo is false. We can of course, often draw parallels with the past, but not this one. It gives no insight.
The Gabriel Injury Crisis and the players we are signing
- Gabriel injury: why no replacement is needed
- It never rains but the journalists want Arsenal to drown in a mess of their own making
- The 40 players coming to Arsenal and the 6 most predicted for this January
- How the value of Arsenal’s squad has increased more than any other club this season
- Arsenal’s 25 man squad, and how it will accommodate the under-21s as they move up.
- The great injury conundrum: how can Arsenal cope, and how are other clubs suffering?
- Arsenal Women – the Season Preview – part 1 Introduction and Hopes For The Season
- Why the media’s new statistical analyses of football is just a trick to stop you noticing what’s going on
- Yesterday’s game: how Arsenal won, and where the journalists got things wrong
- Brentford v Arsenal: past exploits and the Arsenal team news