Leicester City F.C. Proves Arsene lied

Its the new stick used by the malcontent to beat Arsene with. They are turning Leicester’s miracle season from their success to Arsenal’s and Arsene’s failure. “Arsene said we couldn’t compete with oil money” they squeal with glee. “George, this destroyed your argument that we needed oil money to compete” my own personal hoard of following halfwits screech at me on Twitter.

Well they would be right, had I, Arsene or anyone else said that. The problem for them is, we didn’t say that. Or anything remotely like it. In fact here is exactly what I said on this very blog last July.

There have been studies done that show an 85% direct correlation between spend and success, across all major leagues. This isn’t my opinion, it is fact. It may be a sad fact and one we wish didn’t exist, but a fact it is and being a fact, we have to acknowledge it and until it changes, accept it. In simple terms that leaves you a 15% chance of beating the odds. So yes, it can be done. Again I ask though, not why Arsenal ‘could’ be the team to do it, but why they ‘should’ be the club to do it?

People will point to Atlético Madrid as an example of how it can be done. Yes, but they are the 3rd biggest club in Spain and have done it once in 20 years. That is 5% of the time and within the previously mentioned 15% window.However that simply proves the maths, it does not mean they (or anyone else) should be expected to do it. Just that its possible. No one is saying its impossible.”

So there we have it. A correlation of 85% between spend and success means that 85 times out of 100, money wins. For the slow of learning, it doesn’t mean 100 times out of 100. The debate has never been whether its possible to compete with less money, but rather how much of a disadvantage it puts Arsenal (or any other team for that matter) at.

If Leicester do go on and win the title, it will do nothing more than confirm that it is possible, but as I said, that was never in question.

The fact is that since Roman and Mansour tipped up with their ill-gotten gains, they immediately made it (this is simplistic) 85% more difficult for teams that can’t match their spending, to win the league. No one was making it up. Chelsea, and City have won it with United being the only team that was able to have a squad that matched their’s on cost. Only those three clubs were able to pay the wage bill that allowed them to compete for the League Cup and Champions League.  The two exceptions, so far, have been Leicester and Liverpool, coincidentally both teams that had/have no interest in any competitions other than the league itself. I’m not imagining this, it happened. Honestly, its in history book now.

If we glance across The Channel we see that PSG are 21 points clear after 24 games. Is anyone going to tell me this is down to anything other than “oil money” ?

The rarity of what Leicester are doing does not show how easy it is to do, the very opposite in fact, it proves how difficult it must be.

People will say “if Leicester can do it , why not Arsenal ?”  Well the truth is there is no reason why it should not be Arsenal. That said,  you must accept then that any team can do it. Not just Arsenal. Why should Arsenal be the one club that should have been expected to do it?

So let all the malcontents climb back on their perches and wait until they can find their next stick.



Arsenal – Good result, hesitant display


Good evening Positivistas,

With an early kick off, a windy, wet day on the South coast the safe collection of three points with not too much difficulty is the result all of us were looking for. We slide into third place behind champions elect Leicester and Spurs, a week of preparation for the blockbuster seven days hence.

Of today’s game ?

That was certainly not a ‘classic’ Arsenal performance or even, if I am being honest, much of a game of football at the unfortunately named “Vitality” stadium. We started the better than the home side it has to be said, a little sharper and quicker. We imposed that quality with two chances and two excellent finishes, and then settled back to see out the next 70 minutes of the game. For much of the second half however our play seemed hesitant and we were not quite convinced what we were about. A third goal would have killed the game but we seemed reluctant really push for it. It may be I was not the only one eyeing-up next Sunday’s fixture long before the official end of today’s game.

I thought our back five put in a good display today. Cech never put a foot or hand wrong on an afternoon where the ball was affected by the weather. Kosc and Gabriel were solid, but for one nasty first half slip by the Brazilian with Hector saving his arse, and Nacho put in his usual 93 minutes of concentrated professional effort.

Going forward Ramsey played well and kept going for the full distance when others we clearly flagging. Flamster was generally good even though he was fortunate to stay on after his chien lunatique first half effort. The Ox was better and can satisfaction in a well taken goal. Sanchez looked generally out of sorts – not like himself at all – I suspect illness.

For the Cherries they were lively enough all over the park without ever piercing our defensive shield. It was not until the very end that Cech was really tested. Loads of effort and probably, when someone shows me the stats, loads of possession, but no guile, no cunning. Just the same offensive approach recycled time after time for 93 minutes. Commiserative pat on the shoulders for Smith, Arter and Ritchie but their best player in red and black for me was Pugh who might just have turned it. AFCB have enjoyed a good run of results recently and they should not be disheartened by defeat today. I remain convinced they won’t go down.

No doubt somewhere someone is preparing a petition on Mr Friend. As you may have noticed recently if people want to post links to these petitions on here I am content allow them through the filter. I thought the referee was really rather good today, and helped by two sets of players who did not feign injury or roll around (very much).

Onwards to next Sunday from a solid if unexciting foundation today. I saw no injuries or obvious knocks. Arsene is clearly being cautious with Sanchez and Le Coq as they pick up first team action again. We are scoring again which is a relief and the finishing of both goals was good quality.

Enjoy your Sunday and we shall meet later in the week.

(Snap of Mesut sucking his thumb from the Guardian in case you wondered – odd lad)


Arsenal Versus Bournemouth: DNFTT


I stepped from solid ground and plunged into the vortex that is Youtube. As I swirled and plummeted farther and farther from reality my original intention of a harmless browse through a couple of football related videos became a distant and unreachable shore. Each link I clicked, each clip selected automatically for me by one of those dreaded algorithms about which we hear so much these days, sent me spiralling, Alice like, down one rabbit warren after another.

I eventually found myself watching a pleasant and largely unremarkable video of a wind turbine shot with the aid of one of those remote drone mounted cameras. The only thing of real interest was the middle aged chap seen taking his ease at the top of the two hundred foot high tower.

It transpired this was none other than Brother Joseph Byron who carries out routine maintenance on the turbine which provides power for the Rhode Island abbey and school of which he is a member. He also enjoys just sitting up there, catching a few rays while taking in the views, and marvelling at the work of his governor. It’s become a bit of a habit, he probably quips. None of this is anything more than background to the thrust of my argument, but I do believe you prefer a little context rather have me plunge headlong into some Arsenal related theory without any sort of helpful preamble.

It wasn’t the video or the Benedictine Brother’s vertiginous meditational perch which had me rubbing the chin and set the brow to furrowing. The frown which slowly creased my otherwise perfect complexion deepened as a result of reading the comments accompanying the short film.

Bear in mind the name, place of residence, job and length and preferred shade of brown of the brother’s tunic and scapular were all a matter of public record and referred to with helpful links by many commentators. This did nothing to prevent a horde of what I took to be mentally unsubstantial individuals falling over each other to be the first to shout FAKE! They protested in lengthy detail that any fool could deduce that the whole thing had been badly cobbled together using cgi. They listed with precise timings all the tell tale signs and howled that the entire thing was nothing more than a set up.

It wasn’t. It was obviously, rather dully and very plainly and easily verifiably real. Not the kind of thing anyone would bother faking in the first place and it had been pointed out by sober, unimpaired commentators that the man was genuine, the incident authentic and here, in fact, was the proof. Still they came. Fake! False! Set up! Surely no one can fall for this obvious trickery, here’s why, listen to me, I know what I’m talking about – and on and on.

I asked my son who being a ‘young person’ is therefore more at ease in this world than I. He shrugged, informing me that these people don’t care whether what they’re saying with such authority is rubbish and can be easily disproved. They are all over the internet, he said, and do not discriminate upon which topic they choose to vent. They either just want you to argue with them and get angry or they are simply shouting ‘Hey everybody, listen to me, don’t I sound clever?’.

Stop me when any of this begins to sound familiar.

I couldn’t help thinking of all the pointless, fruitless arguments had online by Arsenal fans. How we too make the mistake of assuming these are normal sentient beings who genuinely believe the things they say are honest, valid arguments or bear repeating. The reason we end up clutching our temples and imploring the world to tell us “Are these people for real?” is because no, not in any understandable sense, no they are not.

The wall of inhibition which prevents us standing up in a public space and spouting gibberish just to gain the attention of those therein gathered is stripped away on the internet and like a crack fuelled rhinoceros on a foreign holiday who has just sat on an exposed mains cable they run amok wanting nothing more than to be noticed or argued with.

When you realise this contagion is everywhere and unstoppable, not limited to football and certainly not to Arsenal, you realise that, far from fighting the good fight, taking up arms against these pitiable creatures is not only encouraging them it is fuelling their egos and filling them with satisfaction. My advice would be not to engage with them any more. You won’t convince with reason nor convert with persistence, they are not listening and do not care. You’re better off coming to Positively Arsenal, having a cup of tea and enjoying the company. Think of us, if you will, as the snug bar in a picturesque country pub and social media a kind of open air lunatic asylum.

So never mind that all of yesterday’s results were treated as opportunities to vilify the manager. Think of the tweets and Facebook posts as nothing more than the howls and yabbering of unfortunate souls trapped in the insanity and purgatorial nightmare of deranged, uninhibited and meaningless lunacy. You certainly won’t achieve anything by debating with them or quoting them on my timeline.

Today the real football returns. Today we have The Arsenal, not that mildly diverting sideshow put on by our rivals, and today we have the opportunity to take advantage of Man City’s dropped points. We travel back down to the south coast to see if we can do the double over Bournemouth. Despatched with some aplomb in the final fixture of 2015 the Cherries were fortunate to get away with a two nil defeat. A similar scoreline and performance today will suit us very well.

When we played Bournemouth at the Emirates we were reeling from a terrible result at St Mary’s and needed a solid display to help us bounce back. Many of us hoped the return to winning ways would be the start of a profitable run. Given the inconsistency of our rivals had it turned out that way we would, by now, be leading the field by some distance. Sadly we find ourselves back in a similar position today. An indifferent run of results has seen us slide from the top and suffer the unspeakable ignominy of watching second rate sides like Spurs go above us in the table. If ever we could do with a performance of style and confidence and a result to match, today is the day.

What of our opponents? Since playing us in December they’ve drawn two, lost only once and won four times. Two of those victories have been against lower league opposition in the FA Cup, their most recent league result a 2 -1 away win at the expense of Palace.

There is only one point between the sides in the current form table with Arsenal ninth and Bournemouth tenth, and if such statistics can provide any sort of guide to today’s match then a close game may well be in order. Obviously I hope not. I want to see an imperious Arsenal blaze back into match winning form but I’ve been offering up sacrifices and flagellating myself in a penitential appeasement of the football deities hoping for this mercurial performance for so long now that I’m getting a little tired of wishing for it.

Will it come today? Perhaps. Hope may be springing a little lower than in previous weeks but it still springs nonetheless. Alexis, our talismanic little battery powered bunny has had a couple of games to get himself back into his groove and the rest of the lads will know that now is the time they need to convert a few of the many chances they create.

We have been through, if not dark, then at least a gloomy few weeks, but the dawn may be upon us. As Brother Joseph can no doubt attest, there are many steps on the way to the top and the higher one ascends the harder they become. The view from the summit will surely be reward enough, we just have to have faith that we can climb farther and faster than those about and above us. Today would be a rather good day to begin that climb again.


Arsenal – Error Code 24

Good Morning Fellow Positives,

I suspect I would be hard pushed to find many Arsenal fans who would regard last night’s result, as opposed to last night’s performance, as anything other than a disappointment. Two points we might reasonably have expected to collect went unclaimed, the single point sparse recompense.

I might however gently point out to those likely to submerge into long term grief that the single point leaves us just two points behind everyone’s title favourites Citeh, and just five behind the still scampering Foxes. Admittedly the result also places us behind the Neighbours which I appreciate would test the patience of St Monica, but a temporary arrangement I am sure.

The reason for optimism immediately practical. Citeh and Leicester meet on Saturday, and the following weekend we play the Foxes and Citeh take on Spuds. Certainly the arrangement of results require us to take our chances, with wins in both games against Bournemouth and against Leicester, but do that and we could be on the same points as Leicester, in front of Citeh and Spuds. Admittedly the results would have to fall for us the right way but that would depend on a bit of luck. Even without a bit of luck and already tight race for the title is likely to further bunch up in terms of points.

The key theme of theme of luck, providence, good fortune etc. leads me neatly ( well I think neatly) into last night’s game and the review of events.

I thought we played well last night. The opening phase of 15 minutes or so Saints came out and put us under pressure and I assume were looking to snatch an early goal before retreating behind what is a well organised defence. Koeman is no idiot and he knew he was in for a difficult evening. When that initiative failed we gradually took control and, as we all saw or heard, created openings in the visitors’ defence. We were not quite at our best but still effective despite Saints disrupting our midfield by being quick into the tackle and roughing us up. Where we did break through, and create clear goal-scoring chances Fraser Forster got his foot, arm, hand, shoulder* (tick box as appropriate) in the way.

Half time came and went and it did not seem conceivable that with the pressure we had imposed that eventually we would not break through and yet, and yet…….

From 60-65 minutes onwards we stepped up the urgency and the speed of our play while Saints engaged in some blatant timewasting that led to the predictable 6-7 minutes of time added on. During that final, frantic half an hour we created goal scoring chances on Southampton’s goal every minute. Shot after shot and headers poured into the opposition and yet again Forster managed to leap and claw every on target effort away. One important point should be made is that where Arsenal have failed to score earlier in the season a lot of the problem came from shots that went high and/or wide of the target. Not last night.  The official statistics say ten shots on target. I am surprised, it seemed like more, much more.

And so eventually we ran out of time. The visitors, who looked exhausted in the final few minutes, celebrated. They will not earn a point in a harder game all season. Credit to Forster, excellent display of keeping and while the pure goal keeping art was absent from some of his saves, he had the occasional flashes of luck that gave his side the result they were evidently delighted with.

For us I thought both full backs were magnificent all night. I thought Mesut and Alexis were excellent. I thought Koscielny was a leader all over the field.

So onwards to Bournemouth, Sunday lunchtime. Let us bring Arsenal’s footballing destiny back into our own hands.


Enjoy the week.


Arsenal Versus Southampton: Feast Day

To be precise it’s the feast day of St. Joan de Lestonnac who was, by all accounts, an all round good egg and particularly nice to children, the abused, those rejected by religious orders and widows. There have been many miracles reported to have taken part in and around the vicinity of her tomb and as such it is perhaps appropriate we play the Saints on her special day. Arsène and Arsenal were written off as dead and buried after the defeat at St Mary’s a few weeks ago and yet, miraculously, neither seems to have managed to remain among the expired.

Lazarus like the team has continued to roam the earth in a post deceased state. Somehow the failed tilt at the league title is still on and even more amazing the team is ahead of Tottenham despite everyone saying how much better they are. Truly we live in a time of wonders. Jack Wilshere was reported to have gone and joined the choir invisible on Sunday only to roll away the stone on Monday and Mikel Arteta’s long since defunct legs were seen moving in a most unlikely and agile fashion.

Can this age of marvels continue? Can Arsenal rise up and vanquish the bogey team of the South Coast? Will we see Aaron, Alexis and Mesut back in their supporting role with Larry at the apex or has Joel done enough to keep his place? If the preferred attacking threesome are indeed reunited will Mo and Coq reprise their nascent performance as the Vieira and Petit for a new age? Or will the Ox continue to show us his versatility by slotting into the Santi role?  Will I end a sentence in this paragraph without a question mark?

It’s rather splendid to have such conundra upon which to ponder isn’t it? The cavalry which George anticipated has definitely arrived; witness the fact that Arsène was able not merely to have certain first teamers warming the bench against Burnley but to rest them altogether. Oh, by the by, if you wonder at my use of condundra rather than conundrums I did waste a lot of time researching the appropriate plural form. The Grauniad notes and queries debate on the subject was hugely diverting. I recommend you follow that link – it’s far more entertaining than me straining the limits of my creativity here.

The last time I previewed a league match my theme, if such a lose collection of disparate and fanciful thoughts can be so described, was revenge. I knew lightning couldn’t possibly strike twice and that with eleven men  on the pitch instead of having to play with our centre back sent off we would surely exploit home advantage and show the most hated team in the land who was boss. That didn’t turn out so well and I am naturally hesitant, one might almost say timid if not downright bloody terrified to return, like the fabled dog to its vomit, to such a motif or theory today.

However there is no denying that as with Chelsea we have unfinished business with Southampton. Try denying it, privately, to, as it were, yourself. You see? Didn’t work did it? The Saints tucked us up like a kipper in a most inhospitable way the last time we were their guests and such behaviour surely merits no bonhomous, polite and considerate reciprocal behaviour now we are the hosts. I would like very much to see the boot firmly on the other foot and preferably connecting with the ball immediately prior to it entering the visitors’ goal.

I suggested pre Burnley that someone is due a good spanking, six of the best, trousers down. We’ve seen it before. A run of disappointing results followed by a sudden blood letting and tonight would be the perfect night. Redress the damage done to our goal difference at St Mary’s and put the fizz back into our jizz, to coin a phrase.

With Tottenham facing a potentially awkward trip to the far flung kingdom of the East Angles, Leicester entertaining the entirely unpredictable but never dull Jürgen Klopp road show only Man City are positively predicted to profit from this evening’s entertainment. The table might get even tighter by nine thirty this evening. There is in fact every chance of us seeing a three way tie with everyone boasting 47 points – but of course with a season such as this one absolutely nothing can be taken for granted.

What of our opponents then? How have they fared since poking us in they eye in a most unfestive fashion on Boxing Day? Well, they promptly lost to West Ham, Norwich and Crystal Palace before going on a three game winning spree at the expense of Watford, West Brom and Louis’ Flying Circus. They are second behind Spurs in the form guide a whole eight places above us. Ronald Koeman talks up their defensive resilience saying

“We believe in our qualities and we play out of good organisation, that’s always difficult for the opponent to beat Southampton. That’s the reason why we have some good results in the last few weeks and we like to continue with that. We had a great result at home against Arsenal not so long ago. They will try to show they are the better team, but we know it’s not so easy to beat Southampton.”

but I’m more concerned with their attacking abilities. I sincerely believe that with Aaron, Alexis, Larry and Mesut we have the guile and skills required to unlock the most resolute of defences, it’s whether we can be sufficiently alert and astute to nullify their threat on the counter. This is where the return of Le Coq is so important. His extra pace and the way he harasses and irritates the heck out of the opposition is vital to buying time for the rest of the lads to resume their starting positions manning the thin red line. More than that his interceptions often put us back on the attack after losing the ball which alters the balance of play so quickly, a perfect scenario for our fast thinking attacking players.

Three points and a barnstorming performance would suit me down to the ground. I’m giving up my radio show to watch this one, a move which has, in the past, met with less than unmitigated success, so I think I’m due a visit from the football fairy tonight. I do appreciate the line which all Arsenal blogs are supposed to toe is that the three points is all that matters – but come on. We aren’t train spotters. We don’t watch football for numbers, we watch for the thrills, the clenched, nervous sphincter, the groans and shrieks and the roaring around the house like a gorilla with a Carolina Reaper up its jacksie. We crave excitement and artistry and total football, so yes of course if things don’t work out I’ll take a 1 – 0, but I’m in the mood for something a little more spicy tonight, go on Arsenal, make my day.





Arsenal Behind Tottenham Says The Data

It seems like ages but it was only six months ago that the good and the great in both mainstream and social media declared that Arsene was either deluded or senile for deciding to not sign an outfield player in the summer transfer window. The rags who are supposed to be “fair and balanced” did not disappoint with the usual outlandish reporting.

The Independent, 1 Sep 2015:

Gunners fans devastated as they become only team in top 5 European leagues not to sign outfield player 

They went on to quote twitter postings from a number of so-called “gunner faithful”:

It would be inconceivable that we don’t sign anyone before 6pm, right? I mean, INCONCEIVABLE? – Piers Morgan, 1 Sep 2015

The Daily Mail reporting  focused on the antics of the Arsenal Supporters Trust who took the usual step of releasing a public statement reflecting their lack of faith in the manager:

We urge the board to now open a full review into its arrangements for scouting and purchasing players. – 2 Sep 2015

The Telegraph left it to the appropriately named JJ Bull (and Callum Davis) to report that:

Arsenal fans are left to rue another non-eventual window which leaves them short in attack and leaves question marks concerning their strength in depth for the season ahead.

By now most of you are well aware of my strongly held conviction that most of the reporting on Arsenal by the mainstream media is designed to fit a negative narrative towards our club in general and the manager in particular because it has proven to be commercially successful to prey on the fickle emotions of the fanbase. The majority of the latter have been conditioned to believe the club must overpay for success, as achieved by City and Chelsea, without regard to the well known risks of the club crashing and burning. Unfortunately much of Arsenal twitter and bloggers simply accept the falsehoods of the mainstream media, re-echo it uncritically, in their drive to build readers and followers.

Six-months after all that wailing and gnashing of teeth about the lack of signings, apart from the fact the club is now 3rd in the Premier League, there is sufficient data to demonstrate that the fear-mongering has been grossly off-the-mark. The web site WhoScored.com has a ranking of the best 300 players in the Premier League and it makes interesting reading and analysis.

The key critieria in making their ranking is Goals, Assists, Yellow cards, Red cards, Shots per Goal (SpG), Pass Success percentage (SP%), Aerials Won and Man of the Match (MotM). Apart from MotM, which I regard as quite subjective given it depends on the opinions of the adjudicators, I think this is a fairly objective measure. My analysis focuses on the top 100 players only. The following are my findings.

Top 100 players Sorted By Club vs League Position

Club No. Plyrs Lge Pos
Tottenham 11 4
Arsenal 10 3
Manchester City 8 2
West Ham 8 6
Leicester 7 1
Southampton 7 8
Liverpool 7 7
Watford 5 10
Everton 5 12
Stoke 5 9
Manchester United 4 5
Crystal Palace 4 11
Chelsea 4 13
Bournemouth 3 16
Sunderland 3 19
Aston Villa 2 20
Swansea 2 15
West Brom 2 14
Newcastle 2 18
Norwich 1 17

It is self-evident from the table that, after 23 games, in general the top teams have the highest number of top-100 players league-wise. I did a statistical test which indicated there is an 85.3% correlation between the number of players a club has in the top 100 and their current league position.

No surprise to those of us who have closely followed the rebuild of this squad, AFC is currently sitting 2nd in the number of top-100 players. Arsene was reviled by the yellow-media for affirming he had, with the addition of Cech, sufficient quality players to win the title. The above table informs us that his assessment was spot-on.

Surprising to me, at least, that top of the charts was our North London rivals with 11 players in the 100-best.  Surely this mid-season superiority over Arsenal justifies the making of a triumphant DVD. On a more serious note, the data confirms a growing quality in their squad making them a real threat in the title chase.

The other significant observations:

  • Leicester being 5th in top-100 players in contrast to being top of the league.
  • United with only 4 top-100 players but currently holding onto 5th position, in comparison to say West Ham with 8 in the 100-best but lower at 6th in the league.
  • Chelsea with a similar number of top 100 performers as United but 8 positions lower in the league.

Delving deeper in the data, WhoScored gives each individual player a numerical score ranging from 1 to 10 based on the criteria they used to do the rankings. I analyzed the numbers to arrive at the following:

Club’s Top-100 Players Ranked by Average Score vs League Position

Club Average Score Lge Pos
Leicester 7.40 1
Arsenal 7.34 3
Manchester City 7.28 2
Tottenham 7.22 4
Everton 7.22 12
Watford 7.17 10
West Brom 7.16 14
West Ham 7.15 6
Southampton 7.15 8
Manchester United 7.15 5
Crystal Palace 7.15 11
Aston Villa 7.15 20
Sunderland 7.14 19
Swansea 7.10 15
Liverpool 7.09 7
Stoke 7.09 9
Bournemouth 7.09 16
Norwich 7.08 17
Chelsea 7.04 13
Newcastle 7.02 18

Significantly Leicester goes to the top of the table reversing position with Tottenham. A statistical test revealed a mere 68.2% correlation between the Average Score and League Position. I concluded this was a fairly useless statistic.

Hence I went further and gave the average score a weighting based on how many players each club had in the top-100 to generate the following:

Club’s Top-100 Players Ranked by Weighted Average Score vs League Position

Club No. Plyrs Avg Score Weighted Lge Pos
Tottenham 11 7.22 0.79 4
Arsenal 10 7.34 0.73 3
Manchester City 8 7.28 0.58 2
West Ham 8 7.15 0.57 6
Leicester 7 7.40 0.52 1
Southampton 7 7.15 0.50 8
Liverpool 7 7.09 0.50 7
Everton 5 7.22 0.36 12
Watford 5 7.17 0.36 10
Stoke 5 7.09 0.35 9
Manchester United 4 7.15 0.29 5
Crystal Palace 4 7.15 0.29 11
Chelsea 4 7.04 0.28 13
Sunderland 3 7.14 0.21 19
Bournemouth 3 7.09 0.21 16
West Brom 2 7.16 0.14 14
Aston Villa 2 7.15 0.14 20
Swansea 2 7.10 0.14 15
Newcastle 2 7.02 0.14 18
Norwich 1 7.08 0.07 17

This table suggests, rather conclusively, that the greater the number of players a club has who are functioning at a “top-top” level then it is more likely they will achieve a higher league position. In fact the correlation factor is 85.6%. This is almost equivalent to the score derived from the first table which ranked position by Number of Players a club has in the top-100.

By weighted score, Tottenham and AFC, in that order, are clear leaders. With City a distant 3rd, there is a suggestion they may have overachieved in terms of league position but with Aguero returning to form after an injury spell their player average could rise in a hurry. In the case of Leicester there is a suggestion that with only 7 players functioning at a top-level that their League position is overstated. Who knows?

I would be cautious making any predictions with these scores but it is fairly conclusive that to date the Arsenal squad has been very competitive compared to those who spent “gazillions” supposedly reinforcing their squads last summer. Once again, despite the detractors, there is further proof that Arsene Knows Best.

Before concluding I wish to share with you the players who have made the top-100 cut for AFC:

R Name Goals Assists Yel Red SpG PS% AerialsWon MotM Rating
2 Özil 3 16 2 1.3 87 0.1 5 7.72
5 Sánchez 6 1 3.8 79.9 0.8 3 7.60
8 Cazorla 3 2 1 1.6 90.3 0.1 1 7.52
13 Koscielny 3 1 0.7 86.5 2.7 2 7.42
18 Coquelin 3 0.4 91.5 0.8 7.37
24 Ramsey 4 2 1 2.7 86.4 0.6 1 7.30
30 Monreal 2 1 0.2 84.3 1.9 1 7.25
55 Bellerín 1 1 0.2 85.8 1.2 7.14
75 Cech 58.6 0.1 2 7.04
96 Giroud 12 2 2 2.7 68.3 2.3 6.99

Going into the run-in, the only member of that group currently injured is Santi Cazorla. In contrast Alexis Sanchez and Francis Coquelin have just returned from the physio-room, rested and raring to go. Without worrying whether our rivals are healthy or not, the upcoming weeks is surely an opportunity for our club to lay down a marker by performing to the very high levels we saw between October and November.

As always I leave you with a quote from an investment adviser:

Unlike the media, which thrives on emotion, in the silent statistical world, there are no headlines. There are no narratives. No excuses. No hope and no despair. Just data.


Arsenal – Better half a donkey than half a camel


ElnenyGóðan daginn Positivistas,

Another Sunday morning, another FA Cup victory to ponder. On seeing the starting line up I admit a little quiver of nervousness crept in. Multiple changes of personnel from what would be regarded as our PL starting eleven at the moment, a start for young Iwobi, two returners from two months out through injury in Alexis and Le Coq, and the debut of a player who no one had heard of five weeks ago. And not just the starts but looking at the bench Mesut and Aaron had been given the weekend off to catch up on those long delayed DIY jobs that had been on their to-do list for months. Yes I felt just a twang of concern.

Needless to say my worry was misplaced and swiftly set aside by a strong opening with Arsenal controlling the ball and pinning back the custard shirted/rhubarb shorted opposition in their own half.

The Ox was at number 10, pulling the strings, constantly busy, running at the opposition, trying to slot THE PASS through to Olivier. Alexis was doing what he does, bouncing like Tigger, after a long sleep. Le Coq showing absolutely no sign of rustiness as far as I could see and the way he was getting stuck into tackles there was no hesitation that can crop up after a player is seriously injured in a challenge. Credit to Iwobi all afternoon who tried to play his game. He is still raw but was not put off by the physical approach of the opposition and the lack of time he was given to play.

On 19 minutes we took control of the tie through Chambers excellent finish that curled into far corner. Any strike with the outside of the boot that beats a keeper from the edge of the box deserves praise and I see in the media we have a multiple Samba theme. I am sure you will all have seen in on television from several angles. The nice thing was the time Callum takes in choosing how to hit the ball, and where to place the shot. That is a really very confident finish from such a young player.

Just after our opener there was a big roar from the Arsenal fans in the West Stand lower as Tomas began to warm up. And picked up round the stadium. He has been away far too long.

There followed another 25 minutes when Burnley, to their credit, did what they had to do and forced their way back into the game. They played two strikers throughout the game and Vokes and Gray were ever eager to pounce on any error along our back line. I was also impressed with Burnley’s centre back by the name of Michael Keane and their full back Darikwa, both comfortable on the ball. As is our style we fell victim to a little carelessness with the ball in defence, and the visitors struck with what was a very good header. As the half finished however we were back in control.

Ten minutes into the second period the tie was effectively over. Having stuck to the job of defending in depth and in numbers Burnley were unable to cope with the speed and movement of first the Ox and then Alexis. The Chilean’s finishing was efficient and unstoppable. Once in front there was no chance of our allowing Burnley back into the game. It would have made life smoother to have converted one of our many chances for a third but Gabriel and Kosc policed Burnley’s strikers carefully and Ospina did not have a busy afternoon. And what our Colombian keeper did have to do, particularly when called on to deal with crosses, he did impeccably I should say.

And so to mention the man we have all been waiting for Mohamed Elneny. I was not sure what to expect and the reports of him being a holding midfield player seemed to be accurate as, in the opening few minutes he and Le Coq both patrolled a narrow corridor in the centre of the pitch. No disrespect to our East Lancashire cousins but that did seem slight overkill. After that little defensive phase however Mo spread his wings and popped up all over the pitch, at various points taking on Ramsey’s job on the right wing. He is a big man, with big hair, who is not going to be easy to knock off the ball. He was calm, he tackled cleanly, he stayed on his feet. We have a BFE I’d say.

Great to meet up yesterday with the chaps.

Enjoy your Sunday, 5th round draw tonight. All the usual suspects are still in it. I fancy a big game.









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