by Tony Attwood
Apparently, it is all Arteta’s fault. He rages too much, shouts too much, points too much. That at least seems to be the view in some journalists, but as ever what they are doing is pushing their own failings onto Arsenal.
For if any people in football rage, shout and point too much it surely is football journalists with headlines like “Mikel Arteta rages at ‘scandalous’ penalty calls as Newcastle dent Arsenal’s title hopes”.
A dent? Last season after 17 games Arsenal were in fourth place 12 points behind the leaders (Manchester City), 11 points behind the club in second place (Liverpool), eight points behind the club in third place (Chelsea). Arsenal’s goal difference was 30 worse than Manchester City, 34 worse than Liverpool’s and 26 worse than Chelsea’s. And now a goalless draw against a team with greater wealth than even PSG is a dent?
In reality (something rarely noted in football journalism, Arsenal are three points better off than Manchester City were after 17 games last year and have scored the same number of goals as Manchester City last year.
And when Manchester City lost to Tottenham or Crystal Palace in the first part of the season was there such rampant criticism of their manager or indeed any single aspect of Manchester City’s game? No of course not.
The fact is that Newcastle United are doing well, in the league, and are doing well for Newcastle United. But they have only won half of their games this season. 44% of their matches are drawn.
That is what they play for, that is what they do, and it must be incredibly frustrating for their supporters to be seeing so many draws.
Instead, the media speak of Arsenal being “starved off success for so long” (I think that was meant to be “starved of” but I guess proofreaders are in short supply in the professional media these days – I can’t believe the journos have to proof their own writing as us bloggers do).
As a result of this starvation “desperation will become a driver or a deterrent come the business end of the season. That is something Arteta has to ponder.”
What total bollocks. Arsenal who incidentally had two-thirds of the possession last night have won four FA Cups in the last nine years. Leaving aside one-off match trophies like the Community Shield and the Super Cup, Liverpool have won three in the last nine years, Manchester United three. Chelsea and Manchester City have done better, we know that, but this story telling of Arsenal “starved of success” is nonsensical. Even in our worst period in decades, we are the third most successful team.
Newcastle United is, like Manchester City, a club funded by a state. That’s perfectly within the rules as they stand, and undoubtedly Newcastle will use this money to good effect in due course and get titles and cups just as Manchester City have been doing. Some may think that will make football better, but I am not quite sure how that works.
The richness of the owner is becoming the new way to evaluate football and of course, on this basis, Newcastle are top of the league, Manchester City second, Chelsea third and Arsenal fourth. Newcastle hasn’t had time yet to spend its money and build a team based on that funding but when they do, I am sure we will see the effects. But what is amazing is that the club whose owner has only a quarter of the money that the Manchester City owner has, is giving Manchester City a run for its money.
But to return to the match, a draw might well be disappointing this morning, but Arsenal had over twice as many shots as Newcastle, plus four times as many shots on target, double the number of shots from outside the box, double the number from inside the box, and double the accuracy of shooting, as Newcastle. I know which side I would sooner watch.
No wonder the journalists had to focus on Arteta. To focus on the football would be to recognise that despite all their cash, Arsenal can still readily outplay Newcastle. It bodes well for the future.
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- Luton Town v Arsenal: Grim football, fewest goals, lowest possession rate