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|
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|
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|
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:
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.