Why Arsenal need to get their awful defence sorted, and why Uefa / FA are doing a good job



By Tony Attwood

There is a piece on the Daily Mirror website  in which they say, “Ex- Arsenal ace Emmanuel Petit has labelled Gunners central defensive duo Gabriel and William Saliba as “average” and claimed their form has drastically declined since the start of the season.”

Now as I recall both players played the whole 100 minutes against Aston Villa yesterday, and Arsenal won.  And I note that ahead of today’s games that left Arsenal two points clear at the top of the league with a game in hand.

But more than this, if I have understood matters correctly “central defence” is to do with stopping the opposition scoring goals.  So if that is the case perhaps we might have a look at the league table from the point of view of defenders to see just how bad Arsenal’s central defenders have become.

And this actually turns out to be something more than a passing jest at the expense of the Daily Mirror, for the “goals against” table shows something rather interesting.   As it happens Newcastle United have by far the best defence in the league this season having conceded 35% fewer goals than Arsenal.

Newcastle have let in 15 league goals in 23 games, while Arsenal have let in 23 – the same as Chelsea.   Of course, I do appreciate that if this realisation slipped into the hands of the Daily Mirror they would not quite get to the 35% deficit stage, but they would probably run the headline, “The shocking truth about Arsenal’s defence” (or “defense” in you are in the USA)..

But it is very interesting that the number of goals conceded thus far don’t have much to do with the club’s position in the league, as the first column shows.

Chelsea are 10th, but have the third best defence.  West Ham are 18th in the league (a relegation position indeed) but have the fifth best defence in the league.  As for the mighty Tottenham Hots, if the league table were based on goals conceded they would be in 14th!   Here is the current table before today’s games based on goals against.


Team P W D L F A GD Pts
4 Newcastle United 23 10 11 2 35 15 20 41
1 Arsenal 23 17 3 3 51 23 28 54
10 Chelsea 23 8 7 8 23 23 0 31
2 Manchester City 24 16 4 4 60 24 36 52
18 West Ham United 22 5 5 12 19 27 -8 20
3 Manchester United 24 14 5 5 38 28 10 47
8 Liverpool 22 10 5 7 38 28 10 35


Which made me think – what about goal difference?  Does that tell us much if we built a table around that concept rather than the number of points.

Actually the GD table comes out looking much more like the points table than the table built on goals conceded does.


Team P W D L F A GD Pts
2 Manchester City 24 16 4 4 60 24 36 52
1 Arsenal 23 17 3 3 51 23 28 54
4 Newcastle United 23 10 11 2 35 15 20 41
3 Manchester United 24 14 5 5 38 28 10 47
7 Brighton and Hove Albion 22 10 5 7 39 29 10 35
8 Liverpool 22 10 5 7 38 28 10 35
5 Tottenham Hotspur 23 12 3 8 42 35 7 39


So yes, the table on goal difference is similar to the actual league position, which shows us that any discussion by the media based primarily on attack (as all the discussions of Tottenham in praise of their centre forward are) are fundamentally misleading.   Mind you, if Tottenham’s management and ownership are indeed just focussing on one of the two factors rather than both, that could explain how poor their season is, compared to all the media’s forecasts last summer.

But anyway, this is the Daily Mirror, and indeed a quick look at its football coverage overall suggests that what the Daily Mirror is reporting is consistently a load of bollingbrooks.

Indeed, “The Fourth Estate appears to have become abandoned, derelict and forgotten – a bleating flashing computerised withering of freedom of expression and public right to know things.”   And that is not one of my comments but comes from a newsletter which compares what happens on social media with what the established newspapers are doing.

And yes one can see it, most especially over the way the media reports football.  As has been mentioned before (see for example Why Fifa, Uefa and the media hate super league and what is likely to happen).

No blame is attached for Uefa, Fifa or the FA for anything.  They are all doing fine organising their jolly competitions, often aided by the support given to them by the Court for Arbitration in Sport.  Rioting and violence from unticketed people at Wembley and the violence of the authorities on the other at the European Final at Champions League final in Paris, is not the fault of Uefa or the FA.  Of course not – all they did was choose the venue, stage the match and ensure that security was in place.

So of course, because everything is fine with Uefa and Fifa and indeed the FA, it is vital that anything (such as the new Super League proposals) which seem to overthrow them is a disgrace.   After all, the last thing football needs now is proper organisation and administration so we can all watch the game in safety.

11 Replies to “Why Arsenal need to get their awful defence sorted, and why Uefa / FA are doing a good job”

  1. What? What happened with this article? One sentence I am engrossed in stats and defences next it is the usual tirade against EUFA et al
    Did someone photoshop two articles together by mistake!

  2. I think that there is a clue to what is going on in this article in the title. It sort of acts as a preparation for what is to come, which is what many titles do, pointing out the main topics of discussion therein.

  3. Fear not Mr. Attwood, I’m sure that you will one day have your wish of a UEFA alternative… Untold European Football Alliance.

  4. It is interesting to see Manure suddendly looking like future champions if you read the so-called press.
    Glad we played them twice and beat them well the second. Others will lose feathers.

  5. I would have thought anyone watching the last few games would agree Arsenals defence has been average?
    Against City, average would have been kind. Not sure why you disagree? Fingers crossed they recapture their first half of the season form?

  6. @ rob25

    Yep that’s the way to do an in depth analysis, just look at one game out of the season lol

  7. @Mikey. Why an in depth analysis when Petit was talking about the defence in the last last few games, not the whole season. Keep up!

  8. So let me get this straight – Arsenal were denied a win against Brentford because the PIGMOB’s man was allegedly absentminded and ‘careless’ ?
    Or was he a cheat , corrupt , callous , or just him doing what he was supposed to do . I would have assumed that they would have move mountains to get at the truth of it all. All we got was some molehill movement !

    I hope that the club sue them morons and get back those points , for their stupidity . We are entitled to them !
    We got docked 2 points in 1990-91 for some argy bargy with United . So fair is fair .

  9. You’re right Brickfields, there’s got be be something to go with that:

    Here’s a really basic one:

    It’s not a rolling ball

    It’s not a rolling ball

    Arteta says the refs a prick (c***)

    We’re f***ing Arsenal

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