The media against Arsenal FC
By Sir Hardly Anyone
On 15 December 2021 Arsenal were 15th in the table. Now, a little over two years later, well, you know where they are.
That rise of 14 places across a period of just over two years is extraordinary, and indeed is the biggest rise you will find in any club between these two dates. As for who else has moved and how unusual Arsenal’s rise is, here’s the table from 15 December 2021 showing at the end where each club is now and what the change is in two years and one month.
|7||West Ham United||12||6||2||4||20||15||20||16||-9|
|16||Brighton and Hove Albion||12||2||4||6||15||21||10||6||+10|
|19||West Bromwich Albion||13||1||4||8||10||26||7||Ch|
Now you might think that some time might be given to celebrating the success of Arsenal, rising up 14 places and asking how the clubs that have risen have done it..
You might also think that time could be given to pondering what on earth went wrong with the likes of Liverpool, Leicester, Southampton and Everton.
But no, Arsenal’s success in rising 14 places up the table in the space of two years and a month is, as often as not greeted with sneering. Take, for example, this article from the Guardian in which the theme is set with the opening lines, “The Gunners’ most recent league title came in the 2003-04 Invincibles season, offering absolutely nothing to point and laugh at – but boy, oh boy, did they make up for it in the following years.”
In other words, Arsenal are a club worth laughing at for their achievements since 2004. And just to remind you Arsenal won the FA Cup five times in those years, and reached the Champions League 12 times to conclude a run of consecutive Champions League appearances which has only ever been exceeded by Real Madrid.
Yet the article speaks of, “The relentless decline of the late-Wenger era” as if no club having had mega-success has ever had a rebuilding process. With Liverpool currently sitting in ninth and Chelsea tenth that is a bit silly.
So it goes on talking of, “The endless disquiet ringing around the Emirates Stadium, a world-class sporting venue utterly devoid of joy!” Except I suppose those four FA Cup wins, including one, as I recall from having been there, by four goals to nil.
Yet the piece goes on, “Specialists in failure!”… “For the best part of two decades, sure as night followed day, Arsenal would always find a way to Arsenal it up.”
To be fair the piece does mention Arteta’s cup win by saying, “When he first returned as manager, Mikel Arteta appeared set to fit seamlessly into this rich tapestry. He won the FA Cup – Arsenal’s traditional port in a storm – before the waves of a familiar narrative began crashing down on his head.”
But what really happened? In 2019/20 Arsenal were the league champions… in terms of yellow cards with 86! It destroyed the campaign. Arteta changed the entire defending system in order to cut this in half, but that is not mentioned because… the background statistics to that affair, covered in depth on this site, raises questions about how PGMO and its employees hand out yellow cards.
Of course, the article is meant to be funny, but its ultimate achievement is once more to derail any attempt to look at what really happened in terms of Arsenal with its rise from being the most yellow-carded team, and the team 15th in the league, to a team which across two thirds of the season was the second best in the league, and is now top.
In desperation, the piece concludes, “Spurs are doing a nice job filling in for their rivals, playing soul-sapping football in a gleaming stadium to groaning fans. From fostering title aspirations of their own, their supporters are now left hoping Arteta’s mob let the Premier League trophy slip through their fingers, delivering the greatest pratfall of all just when we finally didn’t expect it. After all, this is still Arsenal we’re talking about. Right?!”
My point is not so much that this is just a very silly piece, but rather that it continues the story that Arsenal always cock it up, Arsenal don’t deserve success, Arsenal are the masters in failure.
But above all it shows that journalists can’t or won’t do any proper analysis. That rebuilding of the defensive approach that I mentioned, in order to cut yellow cards in half, has never been touched on, probably because it brings into question just what PGMO was doing. Plus talk of Arsenal’s change then, and it brings up Leicester’s situation and that interesting statistic which you might recall…
Oh no we mustn’t go there because that suggests the referees were doing something very, very strange. And of course there is a desperate need to avoid any talk about how the journalists last summer got their predictions so long. But even with that desparation, stopping to this sort of journalism – it really is a new low.
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