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By Bulldog Drummond
One of the more curious things about today’s game between Arsenal and Manchester United is that in the predictions made by newspaper columnists last summer neither of these teams were tipped to be in the top four, come the end of the season.
In fact according to the increasingly ridiculous and out of touch pundits, who are of course still out there punditing away with the same absolute lack of any sense of what is actually going on, Arsenal should, according to their predictions, neither club would hardly be worth mentioning, let alone making the highlight of the weekend’s TV football.
And this is because if any of the pundits had been right, today’s game have been a rather uninspiring game between 5th and 6th in the league which is where the scribblers predicted Arsenal and Manchester United would end up. The clubs of yesteryear would be the theme.
Instead it is first against fourth, and the best that the anti-Arsenal reporters will be able to come up with is an Arsenal win will leave the club 11 points clear of United. A reverse result will take Manchester United leaping up (clubs always leap) up to third, five points behind Arsenal.
It is of course the game between first and fourth. And I should add, a win for Arsenal will leave the club 17 points above Tottenham, the club that the pundits tipped to come in the top four once again this season. An 8-0 win for Arsenal would give the club the same number of goals as Manchester City, although the comparative poverty of City’s defence compared with Arsenal’s, means that only two goals will be needed to put the clubs on an equal goal difference.
In fact only one of the four clubs predicted by the pundits to come in this season’s top four is actually in the top four at the moment: Manchester City. The rest are currently lying 5th (Tottenham) 8th (Liverpool), and 10th (Chelsea). They might of course improve in the final 18 to 20 games of the season, and indeed Arsenal, Newcastle United and Manchester United might all fall apart, but it seems a little unlikely.
As for Tottenham, the media’s favourites, they are lying 12th in a table based on the form across the last six games. In fact over the last ten games the almighty loved and admired Tottenham with their unsponsored stadium and all its debts, are lying 14th with just three wins, one draw and six defeats.
Of course we should not scoff, but the scoffing does illustrate the point. Two and half years ago Arsenal had a plan, and have made it work. The media ignored it, but it worked.
Of course being wise after the event is what the media is very good at and we get that with today’s Telegraph headline “Mykhaylo Mudryk’s sparkle cannot hide how far Chelsea and Liverpool have fallen” is very much a case of being wise long, long after the event.
What caused the media to be so far off track (at least this far, and of course Untold could end up covered in egg if matters change dramatically in the second half of Arsenal’s season) is their insistence in seeing a football season as a unified fact. But as we have shown before, two seasons ago Arsenal’s campaign was anything but unified – lying 15th on third of the way through the season, during which the club utterly re-wrote its defensive approach, if one looked at the league table for the last two thirds of the season, Arsenal were second.
Indeed just how bonkers this is getting comes with a piece in the Express under the heading “Tottenham make first move as ‘expensive offer’ for Arsenal target Nicolo Zaniolo rejected”.
Poor Arsenal getting it all wrong again. Except Tottenham have reportedly made some complicated offer via a loan that was rejected. And as the report goes on we hear that “A Spurs deal for Zaniolo could become [reven more] complicated, however, as managing director Fabio Paratici will likely be leading negotiations as the former Juventus chief has strong contacts within Italian football. However, the Spurs chief has been named as his former club have received a 15-point penalty for allegedly using falsified capital gains”
That is in fact a nice understatement : the man in question has been suspended for 30 months in Italy from all football related duties. He really has been a very naughty boy.
So, we’ve got Tottenham unable to get their deal, and yet this is presented as an Arsenal failure, and Tottenham’s managing director has been tried and condemned which is presented as ‘being named’.
At least the Mail managed to get it right with head headline
“Daniel Levy faces full-scale management crisis at Spurs with 30-month ban given to managing director Fabio Paratici by the Italian FA for his time at Juventus likely to also apply to the Premier League while concerns persist over Antonio Conte’s future.” I never thought we’d be praising the Mail!!!
It’s a funny old game.
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