Countering The White Flag Brigade at The Arsenal

After the disappointment of not winning at home vs Liverpool, there was the expected emotional reaction by many pundits and fans who have concluded after the first three games of the season that Arsenal cannot contend for the title.

1-Win, 1-Draw and 1-Loss and we are already out of the runnings.

In this rush to judgment various justifications are offered. The most popular thesis is we lack a world class striker, ergo we shall fail to score goals. To back up this argument there is a virtual panic over our goal-scoring so far. I will admit that after three games the figures (compliments of Squawka) are ugly:

Total Goals Scored 2
Avg Goals Per Game 0.66
Total Chances Created 49
Shot Accuracy 44%

The implication, by those already running up the white flag of surrender, is at the current rate Arsenal will end the season with only 39 goals and a shot accuracy that will barely surpass Aston Villa’s infamous strike rate of 44% in the 2014-15 season.

Obviously these pessimistic projections are nonsensical and unrealistic for a team of Arsenal’s quality, unless you are a blatant fear-monger. Whilst not every pundit or blogger goes to these extremes, on a repetitive and consistent basis, the fear is being sown that we do not have the strikers to score enough goals to win games. As would be expected, hopefully by readers of this blog, the record speaks a totally different story.

Just take the past three years, which by the way, concurs with Giroud’s arrival at the club and assumption of the role of main striker.

2012-13 2013-14 2014-15 AVG
Total Goals Scored 72 68 71 70
Avg Goals Per Game 1.89 1.79 1.87 1.85
Total Chances Created 461 404 470 445
Shot Accuracy 48% 54% 52% 51%

The figures demonstrate that based on Total Chances Created we are consistently a 70 goal per season team. Furthermore with our non-world class strike force we have a team which will consistently score from 16% of chances created.

Yet there is very little attention in the press, and obviously none can be expected from the fear mongers, to the fact that so far this season Arsenal is creating chances at the rate of knots.  For the season-to-date we are creating 16 chances per game which, if the rate is maintained, will total 620 for the season. If we sustain our 3-year average conversion rate then we should score 99 goals for the season. Rosy projections obviously but the figures suggest we should exceed Total Goals Scored if we sustain our average. Any professional forecaster would probably plump for a figure somewhere in the middle and project 84 goals for the season.

Arsene Wenger is obviously not in panic mode.  In his pre-Newcastle presser he made the following observation:

“Maybe we are not firing on all cylinders at the moment. By definition, the finishing is a little bit cyclical and it goes in cycles. Finishing qualities come and go and you do not always know why, but certainly at the moment we want it so much at home that we’re trying to force it a little bit.

Somebody needs to remind the White Flag Brigade it is still August. The race has just started and far from decided. We are 8th in the tables, ahead of the defending champions by goal difference. The team is creating chances at a mega rate. History guarantees that as sure as night follows day the goals will come. Roll on Newcastle.

Postscript: Almost a full hour after I signed off on this blog and submitted it for publishing, a story appeared online by Jeremy Wilson of The Telegraph here which was directly sourced from the club and not made on background under the cloak of anonymity, where Wenger made it clear he is concerned about the speculative attacks on the club which are not fact based.

The only thing I want is that when people have opinions, it is documented and worked out before … especially when it is football specialists.”

Without trying to ride on Wenger’s coat-tails, I must admit some satisfaction that Positively Arsenal is one of a few blogs that has been trying to use publicly available data to counter some of the damaging, baseless propaganda that is put in the public sphere not only by the club’s adversaries (PL rivals, greedy-agents, self-serving journalists, etc) but by its own (ex-players turned pundit, Arsenal bloggers and podcasters). Given the easy access to the internet, it only takes a few minutes of research to unearth tons of information proving that Gary Neville, Thierry Henry, Jaime Carragher and company are often talking a load of bollocks and simply giving comfort to the malcontents (George) and those suffering from dysphoria (Andrew Nicoll). We have said it often, on this and another blog which many of us once frequented, that this mindless negativity affects the team, especially in our own stadium. Now we have confirmation by the boss:

“What is a concern is that it puts pressure on players. I love that they [former players] go on television, but what I would like is for them to help people to love football even more. The first mission is to educate people. That is fantastic because the guy can explain things that the guy who has not played at the top level can understand and to get people to really love the game. Some do it very well. The other way I don’t like so much.”

I think he has given us more than enough reason to do our little part in countering the narrative of the White Flag Brigade.

43 comments on “Countering The White Flag Brigade at The Arsenal

  1. Excellent evidential-based counter to the nonsense broadcast without effective rebuttal on Monday night.

    Neville and the largely incomprehensible Carragher exposed Henry’s lack of broadcasting experience in a reputational attack on the club which was as cynical, unpoliced and frankly despicable as that perpetrated by his old gang of thugs in the infamous 50th Game. See the previous day’s post (if you missed it) for the comments that describe some of my and others’ views towards Neville which I’m not repeating here.

    One of the best things to emerge on Monday Night off the pitch was @GeoffArsenal’s coining of the phrase featured in the main title of this blog. The White Flag Brigade, mobilised by those with an anti-Arsene and anti-God-knows-what-else agenda neatly encapsulates a distinct group of fans easily panicked like a nervous horse at a fireworks display. The hysteria gripping some is gleefully fuelled by others – at least some of whom should know better (yes, that includes you, Gary) with little recourse, as Shotta so expertly highlights, to the ‘facts’ or any ‘evidence’.

    The accelerant currently fueling the online meltdown is the lack of signings which, combined with the club’s disappointing start in terms of points and performance, has been seized upon by ‘critics’ as reason to jump up and down. Despite this same team having one of the best performance records of 2015 so far.

    And the anti-Arsenal mob are throwing everything at these last few days in order, later in the season, to be able to say the lack of signings, highlighted by them at the time, is the reason for any future failing and that Arsene should go.

    The media would love Arsene to leave and for Arsenal to drop down the league – to ‘do a Spurs’, if you will – if only to clear the way for their high-spending pet clubs to have a clearer run at things.

    Sadly for all of them, and for the reasons marshalled by Shotta, in addition to sheer squad strength, this is unlikely to happen. We may not win the league but we will certainly be up there come May and Arsene simply is not going anywhere. His hunger, desire and ambition for the club is as monumentally fearsome as it has ever been.

    Besides, I have a sneaking feeling the club may yet sign a big name, and that will really set the cat among the pigeons, see the white flag rolled up and send the AAA scurrying back under their damp, dark stones.

    Even without squad addition, the effect on the team of Neville’s little rant will, likely as not, provide its own season-long accelerant to the fire of motivation of a group of already high-achieving players now on a hair-trigger to make the critics eat their words.

    So cheers for that, Gary.

    Liked by 6 people

  2. What a superb piece Shotta…..

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Apparently Gary Neville is correct. Arsenal should finish below West Ham and Stoke. In the absence of Per we have the shortest team in the EPL and only Newcastle have a shorter midfield than Arsenal.


    It’s interesting now that there seems to be a plethora of data available for hacks to ‘bolster’ their work.


  4. Here’s an interesting tweet from Glen Greenwald @ggreenwald

    @medialens I’ve never encountered any group more driven by group-think and rank-closing cohesion than British journalists.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Georgaki – Thanks for your kind words. I followed your link to Tweedale of the Telegraph, who seems to have been tasked by his editor to keep the Gary Neville nonsense going. Apart from conveniently glossing over the fact that any team would initially struggle if their first choice central defenders are unable to play a competitive match vs a big rival, it begs the question, in what sport outside of basketball and volleyball is height an issue. Is it an issue in football? If it did is then how come Barcelona and Spain have dominated club and international football with their band of little men.

    Rather than trying to give cover Gary Neville’s baseless opinion, he should be reminding him of the last time his beloved Manchester United tried the big physical approach vs the “little men” of Barcelona in the 2011 champions league final. (I think that was Neville’s last season at United and missed the game because of injury.)
    A midfield and forward line of six relatively diminutive players (Messi, Villa, Pedro, Iniesta, Xavi and Busquests) completely destroyed them with their technical superiority. The power and height of Ferdinand, Vidic, Valencia, Carrick and Giggs were made impotent. Final score 3-1. According to Wikipedia: “Barcelona outplayed Manchester United, controlling 68% of possession and having 22 attempts on goal compared to United’s 4.” Somehow the lessons of that game has been lost on Neville in his capacity as a pundit; spouting drivel in his rush to bash Wenger. I fear for England if, in his capacity as an Assistant Coach, this is the kind of thinking that is influencing his decisions.

    Liked by 6 people

  6. While ARSENAL have a poor shot accuracy at the moment, our Shotta’s accuracy is bang on as usual.
    Excellent again Shotta and more weight behind the argument against ex footballers being pundits just because their ex footballers. With all the massive technology at their disposal it is pathetic some of the things they discuss.
    Come Wednesday night I’m sure their will still be many white flags flying

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Andrew

    In my haste to say my bit the other day about Neville, I started typing away without reading the other comments.

    Had to laugh a little ,later on, when I realised (a) you’d already covered lots of what I had to say and (b) I’d unintentionally revealed myself as someone who doesn’t always read what others have said before asking those others to have a look at my thoughts.

    Bad internet etiquette that, I reckon. Anyway, was a good post from you and clearly we have similar opinions about Neville and co.

    Talking about bad etiquette, or a fair bit worse than that, I noticed our twattish media tried causing their usual trouble for Wenger yesterday, only in much worse taste than usual.

    Last night, I read an article in the telegraph about Wenger’s thoughts on punditry, saw that when he was asked if he specifically meant Carragher and Neville he replied ‘No, I mean in general’.

    Moments later, I saw the links from John Cross and others titled ‘Wenger slams Neville’, then minutes later saw a tweet from a journalist, who I believe may have been to Gary’s father’s funeral that day, saying how unfortunate it was Wenger had chosen to talk about Neville on such a day.

    This is how these people operate. Even on a day like that, they couldn’t stop themselves from twisting things, they couldn’t take Wenger at his word, couldn’t help themselves slipping in an outright lie to try make things more sensational. 20 years he’s been putting up with these c***s and he still treats them decently.

    I had reservations about putting money in John Cross’s pocket by buying his book, so last night made my mind up for me.

    Liked by 7 people

  8. The inability amongst the self declared Experts and Super Fans to acknowledge what all can see and hear: that the footballers at AFC are aggressively targeted on and off the pitch in a manner incomparable to any other sporting institution does their credibility no favours (alongside all the other mindless gibberish)

    As Andy Townsend would say when supporting any and all opponents against The Arsenal in his broadcasts:

    “Get In (Shotta)!”

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Crossy’ll be gutted he didn’t tip his snout in the trough before other parasites.

    Heard him on the radio the other unload the following condescending tripe:
    “Having the Window close after the seasons starts is exciting for the fans, it’s like another trophy (I’m not making this up!)…”

    I’ve yet to meet a Football fan who thinks having UEFA bend over backwards for special agents is a good thing. But I’ve heard plenty of petty plundits and desperate hack dwarves peddle that shite.

    Sorry George but you’re mate sounds or comes across as a bit of a plonker Tbf I’m not one to talk, but still…’nice for the fans’….is he taking the berties?


  10. per and kos not in training today


  11. Perhaps Cross is correct?

    We have seen a vocal minority who proclaim that they are against Modern Football spend an inordinate amount of their time worrying about overpriced transfers, budgets and *gulps* and net spend.

    The certainly seem to like talking about transfers. More then the football.

    If these Groaners’ constant groaning didn’t have an undeniably negative effect the Home atmosphere this contradiction would be too funny.


  12. Good points raised, Shotta, and excellent contributions to the comments, Rich and ArsenalAndrew.

    It’s amazing when supposed professional journalists/pundits/writers prattle tripe as gospel only to sustain a given narrative rather than flow against the tide, especially when there is clear ‘evidence’ to the contrary. The path of least resistance is what makes rivers and men crooked.

    Falsehood, no matter how oft repeated, will never become true.

    Liked by 4 people

  13. you can see the game the journos play and of course one that is lapped up by idiotic AAA and WOB, Wenger says Coquelin has best defensive stats in europe, and the headlines falsely claims “Wenger says Coquelin best defensive midfielder in Europe”. Its this game of twisting what is actually said or meant to suit the agenda,

    I love the phrase the white flag brigade, it so suits them, especially when some them like to use the phrase “French surrender monkeys” to describe the team they claim to support.

    Liked by 3 people

  14. quote ‘iDibs

    Falsehood, no matter how oft repeated, will never become true.

    oh so true, but the problem is that so many fail to understand this, or in truth don’t want to understand this as it does not suit their soundbite type of posting.

    arsenal have £200M to spend on transfers(a person with even a modicum of common sense knows this is far from the truth)

    Benzema, Cavani, Pogba, Stones, ah heck with it, all players are available (the most juvenile of logic and one i says emanates from computer game Football Manager)

    we don’t like to sign players (never mind we have signed 23 in only four years)

    Wenger loves to leave deals to the last minute (never mind that we rarely sign players on deadline day, the vast majority are signed well in advance – of the last 7 players signed only Welbeck was a deadline day deal, all the others way in advance of DD, — Alexis, Debuchy, Chambers, Gabriel, Cech, Ospina)

    of course anyone pointing out this to the bloggers on the sites that like to promote these sort of falsehoods, soon gets at best attacked as an AKB, or at worst banned

    Liked by 5 people

  15. Stop the Press: A failing on my part was not giving credit to @GeoffArsenal, a twitter legend who stands up for Arsene and Arsenal, for coining moniker, the “White Flag Brigade” to describe the fear-mongers and nervous-nellies. As Bob Marley famously sang “who the cap fit, let them wear it.”

    Liked by 2 people

  16. arsenal pay £100K to Ipswich for 14 year old striker



  17. this is someone who claims to be a “die hard Arsenal supporter2

    Edwin.com ‏@bbizzythekkidd 4h4 hours ago
    @bundy_s i wish we lose every game until wenger leaves. I hope we lose 4 or 5-0 tomorrow and and the same goes for that game against stoke

    really what can one say.


  18. I was mistaken earlier, Koscielny did in fact take part in training today, so a chance he plays v Newcastle

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Cody Edrington ‏@CodyEdrington 15h15 hours ago
    John cross:
    Wenger bad in market
    Coquelin not good enough
    Giroud is a donkey
    Emirates is a library

    Please buy my Arsenal book. Thx

    Liked by 5 people

  20. The French players will be excited with the game against their fellow expats, Koscielny will want to play.
    Debuchy could get the nod for this game.


  21. An invigorating read, from Shotts and Positivistas.

    As I said at the start of the week it is perfectly ok with me for Neville to express an opinion in relation to Arsene strengthening the squad by adding a tall, strong midfielder. He may be wrong, as the example of FCB’s slaughter of Manyoo indicates. If tall strong midfielders were the key to football success then logically Stoke would have been in Pot One last night. He may be correct in that the past two PL winners have been well stocked with tall, strong midfielders. I do not ‘know’.

    What I certainly do know is that AW is an exceptionally experienced and successful PL manager and will have weighed up the pros and cons. He is unlikely to have chosen the route he has for trivial or through half formed reasoning.

    Neville is paid to think up and express ideas and themes and it is a hard heart that denies a man his means of earning a living.

    What is not acceptable is the personalisation that attached to the opinion, arrogant, naive, etc. Insulting for the sake of being insulting, creating smoke to avoid any actual scrutiny of his own proposition.


    Liked by 4 people

  22. Excellent Shotta.

    Luca Modric never won ths UCL Trophy with Real Madrid, did he? Cos he’s too lightweight.

    “If tall strong midfielders were the key to football success then logically Stoke would have been in Pot One last night”. – I’d like to tweet this on AndyNicoll’s behalf.

    Liked by 4 people

  23. anicoll,

    The thing is, there is actually a reasoned argument to be made by Neville there. He could say ‘While i know you can win the ultimate prizes with small technical players, including against the best England has to offer, the premier league is a different proposition’

    He could then have talked about either the attrition of the premier league in the long term, or about the simple fact that the refereeing differs.

    However, they tend to avoid those issues like the plague. There can be no suggestion that there might be something wrong with the way premier league games are refereed, certainly not while Arsenal are the team being discussed.

    Who, in that context, wants to draw attention to the fact that in the biggest competitions of all, where the top referees officiate games between top teams from countries other than their own, the standards are very different from here.

    Doesn’t even matter if different is better or not, they just can’t go there in the arguments they make. Neville, like Sky itself, can basically never allow thoughts to wander to the issue of the impact of refereeing on the outcome of premier league games and destinies

    The whole ‘could Barca do it in Stoke’ line of thinking ignores the fact that should Stoke ever get themselves into the champions league, and meet Barca there, the normal special tactics they sometimes use to try gain an advantage would quickly flounder.

    They wouldn’t win free kicks when Bardsley two foots someone. Charlie Adam wouldn’t be allowed to get anyone in a headlock. Crouch wouldn’t be given an elbowing amnesty for the day. And any player who injured someone terribly with a ridiculous challenge would get the 8-10 game ban which is the norm everywhere but here.

    They’d probably end up playing like Shawcross did in his England appearance vs Sweden, i.e not very scarily and not to great effect.

    Liked by 8 people

  24. would love to know what their agenda is, just a shame the sheeple in our own fanbase lap it up without any analysis.As for our ex players, with one or two honourable exceptions, they are amongst the worst offenders when it comes to knocking the club. A shame they dont talk to Bob Wilson a bit more often
    Was pleased that Wenger mentioned Coqs impressive stats on the official site, and equally pleased he is willing to stick his neck out and give such a player a chance. He doesnt look like a player we need to replace to me.
    As for scoring goals, I sense we are going to give someone a real hiding…its coming, you know it is!

    Liked by 1 person

  25. anyone care to dissect this from Gary Neville

    I will say that he himself blows holes in his own argument in the space of two adjacent lines
    Line one
    “Only once against Manchester City last season have I felt that Arsenal adapted for the strength of the opposition with Cazorla and Coquelin at the heart of midfield. It’s whether this can become the norm.

    Line two
    “I was describing the style, the philosophy; how they play – come what may, despite the evidence that suggests those methods won’t take a team to the pinnacle.”

    the article

    Gary Neville says Arsenal don’t have enough strength, power or pace to win title:

    “We cannot be blind to the hard facts of football over 30 or 40 years. Pure football has never prevailed, though I would be delighted to see it happen for Ozil, Ramsey, Sanchez, Giroud and Coquelin, who together can summon a great deal of technical ability but not much pace, power, height or strength. Giroud cannot challenge the space behind defenders. Coquelin is the only one amongst those who has any true defensive intelligence.”

    “I was asking Thierry Henry why there has been this big change from power and pace in the team to what I would call a wholesale emphasis on the more diminutive, technical footballer.

    “The definition of insanity, they say, is making the same mistake over and over again. My point was that the one black mark over Arsene Wenger is the change in the profile of players he has signed. I used the phrase “arrogant or naïve” – and the headlines that followed were all about arrogance. I was in no way trying to be disrespectful. It was more a statement of fact. If you refuse to change your ways – and those ways don’t take you to the top – naivety certainly comes into play. Only once against Manchester City last season have I felt that Arsenal adapted for the strength of the opposition with Cazorla and Coquelin at the heart of midfield. It’s whether this can become the norm.

    “I was describing the style, the philosophy; how they play – come what may, despite the evidence that suggests those methods won’t take a team to the pinnacle.

    “In my broadcasting life I hate to make wild statements. I like to protect my credibility and to speak what I see as the truth. I certainly don’t want to be seen as an embittered ex-pro sticking the knife into one of the great managers the Premier League has seen.”


  26. So Cazorla and Coquelin countered the strength of the Man City midfield, but yet on Monday night he was critical of Wenger playing Cazorla and Coquelin as a midfield duo cos they are not big or strong enough

    of course the AAA and WOB will lap up this latest article from Neville and all nod in agreement of how right he is and how they are right

    the AAA and WOB


  27. Bennacer cleared for his Arsenal debut

    Arsenal Under-21s: Macey, Moore, Bola, Kamara, Bielik, Pleguezuelo, Reine-Adelaide, Sheaf, Mavididi, Hinds, Iwobi
    subs: Huddart, O’Connor, Bennacer, Willock, Eyoma


  28. Wolfsburg have confirmed that they have an agreement with Man City for the sale of Kevin de Bruyne


  29. Fantastic stuff Shotts,and a brilliant post from Andrew as well,I agree with all of it.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Arsenal U21’s 2-0 up, took the lead through Hinds in the 14th minute and got the second on 15 minutes through Mavididi, Reine-adelaide heavily involved in both goals


  31. Rob Parritt ‏@rob_parritt 20h20 hours ago
    AFC Twitter

    Slate Arsene for years due to not playing a destroyer…

    Arsene finds DM, plays him now fans want a DLP…

    Can’t win.

    Liked by 2 people

  32. Half-time: Arsenal Under-21s 2-0 West Ham United Under-21s


  33. U21’s 5-0 up, Mavididi, Kamara and a Sheaf penalty with the second half goals

    Bennacer our summer signing from France made his Arsenal debut as a sub with ten minutes to go.


  34. Full-time: Arsenal Under-21s 5-0 West Ham United Under-21s

    Hinds, Mavididi (2), Kamara, Sheaf(pen) the scorers


  35. just over 2000 at the game


  36. seemingly Wellington Silva having a fine game for Bolton v Blackburn, he got booked in first half for reacting to a foul on him, and a couple of Blackburn players booked in second half for fouls on Wellington


  37. a little fun quiz for you all, well actually just a one question quiz

    What is this team?

    Hoyte Cygan Keown Clichy
    Edu Parlour
    Wiltord Kanu Reyes

    the only clue I will give is, if needed, the number of league games played

    Stack (0)
    Hoyte(0+1) Cygan(10+8) Keown(3+7) Clichy(7+5)
    Edu(12+17) Parlour(12+10)
    Wiltord(8+4) Kanu(2+7) Reyes(7+6)

    the only other player I could have included was Bentley (1) at the expense of Hoyte, but I thought it best to put players in their position


  38. Invincibles


  39. I bet Dobson is gutted after his defection to the hammers haven’t seen his name mentioned in any of the early reports. While his way forward to the first team may have been blocked his development would have been better and once he did leave he would of been a higher calibre.


  40. Wenger made the following comments about FFP and Arsenal’s problems in the transfer market, and the idiot whingebags among the white flag nodding dogs go into full on attack

    Wenger said: “FFP is gone, I have seen the signs coming from UEFA for a while now. I thought for a while it would happen but now it is not possible.

    “What’s happened is the clubs threatened to go to civil court – not only through sport.

    “That brought a lot of insecurity in the decision making of UEFA so they started to soften the rules a little bit.

    “Now it looks like the last decision about Paris St-Germain in July and then Manchester City has opened the door completely.

    “We continue to run our business with the resources we create. We can always recreate the resources and they can put a hundred or two hundred on top. It is always like that.

    “Maybe it will change here one day. I’ve said to you all the time it is not a shortage of money. At the moment it is a handicap to us because we have the resources, just a shortage of players.”


  41. wenger did suggest that one day AFC might also go down the route of an owner adding one hundred or two hundred million pounds to what the club make itself.

    Arsenal’s position, he said, was “exactly the same. We continue to run our business with the resources we create. We can always create the resources, and then they can put a hundred or two hundred million on top. It is always like that. Maybe it will change here one day.”

    but again Wenger said we have enough money now, but that there just is not enough quality players available.


  42. a_o_b yes that was our back up 11 to the invincibles, I do wonder what the AAA would have to say if our back up 11 was as poor as that lot.


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