41 Comments

Arsene vs Pep? As Some Arsenal Bloggers Lose The Plot

jimmy-in-glasses

Fresh after the Gunners win over Southampton last week, my roving eyes caught a blog that made we weep for everything that is Arsenal. Rather than using his blog to provide his readers with an insight into what Arsene is trying to achieve, the blogger used his headline and more than half of his subsequent prose to praise the manager of a rival team, writing giddy odes to his tactical brilliance.

“Pep Guardiola did something that I have always wanted Arsene Wenger to do: he bested Mourinho tactically.”

“And then I watched Arsenal. Maybe I shouldn’t watch Arsenal after watching a tactical masterclass like the one that Guardiola puts on.”

What would drive someone to crown Pep as king after a mere 4 weeks in the most ruthlessly competitive league in the world? Arsene Wenger went 16 years toe-to-toe with the most successful ever British coach, Alex Ferguson, the manager of the flag-bearer of English football, fought him to a draw in his 1st nine years. At the time Wenger had the players to compete and only fell behind when the club had to forego spending on the squad to focus on paying for the club’s new stadium.

During Arsene’s barren years Pep was given the chance to succeed with one of the members of the duopoly in Spain and thereafter had a similar gig at Bayern who are the colossus in German football. Fair play to the Spaniard for his brilliant success at both clubs but he and his sycophants will be badly mistaken if they think he will have a similarly easy ride in the PL where clubs like United and Chelsea can match his spending as well as acquire managers with comparable acumen. Not the least in the competitive landscape is Arsene and Arsenal who have closed the gap in financial resources and have 20 years of consistent success in the PL despite failing to win the PL since 2004.

But our blogger above and his cohorts, according to our “greed and despair” model (see Fear and Despair vs The Arsenal), find it easier to prey on their readers by sensationalizing Arsenal’s slow start to make predictions of doom and gloom.  Underlying the doom-mongering is their wistful desire that Arsene may be somehow eased out of his position. Not surprisingly the data tells a completely different story. (By the way 20 years of Wenger has provide us with a richness in numbers that is unparalleled among current EPL managers; 760 matches in one league across different eras and circumstances. When he retires my role on this blog will be redundant.)

I reviewed the 20 year history of Wenger’s teams to compare 1st Half of season performance vs 2nd Half. The summary statistic below is quite benign. It suggests under Wenger we have consistently averaged 74 points over a season with a relative evenness between 1st Half and 2nd Half . The data suggests there is no statistical difference in either points or league position.

Year 1st Half – Pts 1st Half – Pos 2nd Half – Pts Final – Pos Diff in Pts Diff in Pos
20 yr Mean 37 3 37 3 0 0

However, as you my regular readers are aware, the Wenger years must best be divided into two eras; Highbury vs Emirates, i.e. years with money to spend vs years without.

Highbury Years

Year 1st Half – Pts 1st Half – Pos 2nd Half – Pts Final – Pos Diff in Pts Diff in Pos
1996-97 36 2 32 3 -4 -1
1997-98 33 6 40 2 7 4
1998-99 32 5 46 1 14 4
1999-00 36 4 34 2 -2 2
2000-01 35 2 35 2 0 0
2001-02 36 2 51 1 15 1
2002-03 39 1 39 2 0 -1
2003-04 45 2 45 1 0 1
2004-05 41 2 42 2 1 0
2005-06 33 6 34 4 1 2
Mean Avg 37 3 40 2 3 1

Viola! In the years with money to spend Arsenal was not only a very competitive team, averaging 2nd place in the league, but most importantly we were a “2nd Half of the season team”. The club tended to become better as the season rolled on, showing over ten years an average three (3) point superiority in the second half. But what is most striking, in two of those three years when AFC came 1st, 1998-99 and 2001-02, the club battered its opponents in the 2nd half of the season, increasing its points haul by 14 and 15 points respectively.  There were only two out of those ten years that AFC had lesser points in the 2nd half of the season.  Eight out of ten years the club either maintained consistency or kept improving.

So there is a clear historical pattern by Wenger, when he had money, for his teams to generally improve as the season wears on. Yet we have a blogger who claims to “discuss Arsenal in a rational and calm manner” choosing to make Pep’s battering of a rival manager, who was then losing his 12th game in 30, the occasion to slaughter the boss of his own club and to opine that his club is not worth watching. Isn’t this the definition of “irrational behavior” as I discussed in my previous blog Lucas Perez: Another Eduardo-type signing!

So what of the later era? What does the data tell?

Emirates Years

Year 1st Half – Pts 1st Half – Pos 2nd Half – Pts Final – Pos Diff in Pts Diff in Pos
2006-07 33 4 35 4 2 0
2007-08 44 2 39 3 -5 -1
2008-09 23 3 32 4 9 -1
2009-10 41 3 27 4 -14 -1
2010-11 36 3 32 4 -4 -1
2011-12 36 4 34 3 -2 1
2012-13 33 5 40 4 7 1
2013-14 42 1 37 4 -5 -3
2014-15 42 1 33 3 -9 -2
2015-16 39 1 32 2 -7 -1
Mean Avg 37 3 34 4 -3 -1

Obviously a clear and sharp drop-off compared to the Highbury era. Not only has the average total points fallen from 77 to 71 but there has been a constant decline between the 1st and 2nd Half of the season, from 37 to 34 points.  Seven out of the ten years AFC’s points accrual went backwards, as much as 14 points in 2009-10. In contrast to Highbury, instead of our league position improving from 1st Half to 2nd Half, seven out of ten times it deteriorated.

Now there is a statistical glimmer of light in this data for Arsenal fans. Over the past ten years the average difference in league position between the 1st and 2nd Half of the season was a -1, with only two of the ten years showing a negative swing of two positions or more. As is well known, in the heat of competition Wenger and his teams have made every effort to qualify for the champion’s league. Furthermore the data demonstrates, without need for headlines, that over the past three successive seasons AFC has consistently improved its final league position despite a relatively large negative swing in points between 1st and 2nd Half of these seasons, ranging from -5 to -9.

Clearly if the club can reduce the negative swing of the past ten years and even resume the Highbury pattern of dominating in the 2nd Half of the season, then Pep or no-Pep Arsenal should be contending for the title.

As I previously tried to make the point in my prior blog Now Mr. Wenger Is The Inferior Manager, no professional investor would bet against Wenger’s consistency. To the contrary they would take advantage of the annual emotionally-driven, doom-mongering predictions that Arsenal will finish outside the top-four and take a position against the plebs. I am sure the book-makers play that game as well, posting odds that will induce many punters to bet against the Arsenal. No doubt they have been laughing all the way to the bank.

Now that Manchester United is imploding under Mourinho’s ineptitude and offensive cowardice, despite showing “ambition” and spending £150 million “early” in the transfer window, who is still willing to go all-in with Pep after 5-games into this new season?

No doubt many of you are familiar with that Jamaican cult classic movie and the theme song by Jimmy Cliff; “The Harder They Come, The Harder They Fall.”

Data source: http://www.statto.com

41 comments on “Arsene vs Pep? As Some Arsenal Bloggers Lose The Plot

  1. Excellent stuff for an early morning read. Cheers Shotta. Now back to sleep for a bit.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Good read but in actual fact we won the league in 1997-98 not 98-99 when United won the treble. Also the table is incorrect, saying we gathered 73 points when it was actually 78 so your point about the team doing better in the second half of the season when winning the league becomes invalid.

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  3. I felts a sense of despair after reading that your blogs on PA will be redundant at some point in the future. That’s a double whammy we don’t deserve.

    Long live Shotta….

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Quite right GP. Take Shotta’s cold, hard, reasoned analysis away and what do we have left?

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  5. I’ll find a job for him, Even if I have to manufacture one, I’m no Wenger.

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  6. We actually won it in 1997-98, not 1998-99

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  7. Cracking stuff. (I reckon you’ve robbed us of a few points in 2008-9, though. Maybe given us Spurs figures for 1st half of season?)

    Apart from having our best squad in a long while, there’s real reason to hope we’ll do better with injuries as well. Both should help us in the 2nd half of the season. We look set to be able to rest people with slight knocks and even cope with the loss of a player like Ramsey.

    Must admit City have surprised me a little so far. A number of their players seem improved and they’ve been playing lovely attacking football and not looking troubled much at the back.

    But…we still have to see what happens when something occurs to make players and manager question themselves.

    I felt sure in one of their early games, when they were leaving giant spaces for countering, that it wouldn’t be long before they get caught good and proper. Still seems likely that’ll happen soon.

    At the moment it seems confidence is sky high for them and they’ve a virtuous circle going where high confidence is leading to good results, higher confidence,etc.

    We need that confidence checked. September might not do it, but October, with Spurs, Everton, Barca, Saints, West Brom, may well do.

    Get through that with,say, Kolarov looking comfortable at cb and I may let out an ‘oh oh’.

    Just noticed their wins so far are against the current bottom four and the Scaredy one.

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  8. Fascinating series of blogs Shötta-you are the Stätto king! Each one adds a certain slant of light on AFC thats outside of the usual pool of thought. Great stuff-long may they continue.Cheers!
    ps smooth and nice write- up from A5 yesterday.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Our man Shotta is on fire!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Well done there… well written.. enjoyable… factual content… well laid out… whats not to like.

    Once again well done. Am just glad AW continues to ignore the moaners and sign up to the arsenal course as long as he can still work.

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  10. “He’s done it again
    He’s done it again
    Shotta Gooner
    He’s done it again”

    Another shrewd review of the data. I think young Erik above who I came across in the pending filter is a little harsh but at least he read the tables and produced the points figures.

    02-03 was a fascinating season, it was the win at Trafford Park in the FA Cup with Jeffers, boots flying and our Manc opponents in tatters, but by reason end they had a nose back in front of us. But for that we would have had a treble of consecutive league wins.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Fantastic stuff from Stew, Andy Nic and Shotta – apologies for being late to the party, and thanks to one and all. I’m struggling to see the games at the moment: work and family duties have gone a bit mad, and I’ve not even properly caught up with replays etc. The only game I’ve actually see was the Liverpool one, so am now in a quandary as to whether staying away is good for the team. Rest assured, I shan’t be taking any chances when it comes to Chelsea on Saturday!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. People are falling over themselves to praise Pep, but City has only faced Stoke, Bournemouth, Sunderland, West Ham and United. I’m not trying to down play the fact that they are playing well, but teams like Stoke and West Ham are playing well below last year’s level. I have a feeling their balloon is going to pop soon. Against Bournemouth, for example, they spent a lot of time hoofing it up field. I’d be interested to see what they do against a well organized Watford, for example.

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  13. Shotta should be allowed fix up a couple of typos before some WOBs use those to argue against the Articles overwhelming logic.
    Andy, George?

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Guys I am so busy today I will be unable to fix any typos until late this evening (local time). Pulling the data from Statto.com took a lot of time which I don’t have right now. We all know how the game is played; to avoid admitting the data is telling an inconvenient truth, those with a lying agenda will find one or two data points to dispute. I stand 100% behind my findings.
    Remember my quote from the movie, The Big Short: “Truth is like poetry and most people fucking hate poetry.”

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Let the Pep licking continue…. It’ll be fun when we beat them. At least this time it wont be its only pep when we do.

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  16. To be honest Shotts I was not going to correct any typos as the point you’ve made is not spoiled by the odd typo – as you say a formidable catch in the statistical net.

    If you took it straight off statto.com I’d have a double check on 08/09 as well

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  17. As per the last few seasons I expect the Arsenal City contests to be the best football matches in the league as far as the football is concerned (Eric – that does not mean the most dramatic etc. etc. etc.)

    Best squads of footballers.
    Best managers in the league though MP was hamstrung after the owners fooked up their management and along with Yaya’s missing cake, poor spells of fitness for Aguero (poorly managed hammy recovery but I guess the unemployed Dutch physio Chap has been strangely silent on Aguero and Messi etc all being rushed back by their clubs from strains…) and KDB, it all led to a bit of a disintegration on the pitch for the Petro Club.

    So they’ll be stronger this season. And hopefully so too are the Arsenal. Certainly having the kind of subs available on the bench that weren’t available for the Liverpool game (although it was really the two injuries scuppered hopes for fresh legs and that fourth equalising goal), it looks like AFC are stronger.

    Fingers crossed the squad is strong enough to cope with the expected pgMOB ‘surprises’ (Birminham ’08, Stoke ’10, Norwich ’15 etc.) we’ve all seen enough evidence to know what the drill will be unless the pgMOB have decided to rescue their credibility (with the incongruous and strange variation with pelanties for AFC from 15/16 to 16/17 so far I’m happy to guess that someone looked at the pelanty difference for first versus second and picked the phone to their gaffer:”er, boss, I think we might need to, um, you know, try to be a little less obvious? We don’t want to go the same way as the horse racing, not just yet?”

    Come on the Arsenal.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Fins at 3:11pm
    Football could go the the way of WWE which is totally fixed, but what is more probable is becoming like boxing where most punters still foolishly believe “may the best man win.”

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Boxing, the less said about that ‘sport’ the better!

    At least you have the natural element, a bit of greenery, with the horse racing.

    I’d prefer watching some pumped up nags over some pumped up clowns anyday.

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  20. Firstly, A5 & Steww, thanks for the weekends musings.
    (I’m not intending to understate their awesomeness).

    Shotta, this article is wonderful, as are the rest in this series.
    These beautifully written, factual, data based pieces are gold to me.
    The comparisons between Highbury and the Ems/points betw. the two halves of the season – magnificent.

    I couldn’t help thinking/comparing certain (many) matches in relation to season’s where Arsenal dropped off the pace during the 2nd half.
    In my view these ‘drop-offs’ were engineered by “them”.

    There’s the famous “Greatest ever Prem game”, BBC, where against Newcastle, Arsenal managed to concede goals during the 2nd half, inc. a Toite ‘screamer’ to level the match at 4-4. There was a YouTube video showing the “odd” ref decisions, like v Persie being sandwiched and phatphil awarding a free kick to Newcy. How about Barton bending Diaby’s shin with his studs, followed by another Newcy player pushing Abu about, followed by PhPh sending Diaby off? Then bogus penalty(s)? after which Kevin gitface rabbit punched goaly WS1 in full view of the lino- no action taken!
    Of course there’s no video.

    There was Deano’s supposedly stella performance at Birmingham. 07/08. I’ve always carried the mantra, Watch out when Arsenal lead by 5 points, but of course that’s turned out to be incorrect. Instead, Watch out when Arsenal are playing well.

    I can’t make up my mind which matches to choose from 10/11. Well, not from the Prem.
    In Europe though, the standout game for ****ries must go to Barca:

    On March 8, 2011, Busacca was the referee of the second leg of the FC Barcelona vs Arsenal FC Champions League round of 16 match. Considerable criticism was levied towards him when he showed a second yellow card to Arsenal striker Robin van Persie for striking the ball immediately after an offsides whistle was blown, presumably for time-wasting. This changed the match and prevented Arsenal from qualifying to the quarter final. Additionally, he showed delibarate bias in the awarding of five yellow cards to Arsenal and none to Barcelona, despite the match being evenly matched in terms of fouls committed. Robin van Persie commented after the match the sending off was “a total joke”.

    Retirement and subsequent ventures

    It was announced on 14 July 2011 that Busacca had taken up the position of Head of Refereeing Development with FIFA, retiring from active refereeing duties in the process.

    Busacca is a devout Catholic and was crowned Switzerland’s non-smoker of the year in 2006.

    from: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massimo_Busacca

    During season 15/16, once twas established Arsenal might do well, some clubs exercised their right to kick the shit out of Arsenal (KTSOOA).
    Norwich, shove Alexis into the concrete camera pit. WBA, injure Santi & Coq. DeBuchy injured twice, without punishment for the offenders.
    And don’t talk to me about not given penalties, cos that’s a whole article (which, thanks for asking, but I ain’t gonna write about that. I’d slash my wrists half way though).
    Vidic blatant handball. Theo chopped down. Kuyt da blatant. Noooooooooooooo!

    Interestingly, despite years of trying, I can’t find full game videos of the above matches. I especially want Barca Arsenal 2011, where Barca players had their hands around Arsenal player’s necks, and kicked and kicked and screamed – till van P was sent off.
    Shezza had his finger broken – early doors, and Manu Alu had to come on – and done well initially, perhaps throughout?
    Even the Arsenal Player doesn’t have “controversial” full matches, although last season, years of full matches were available. (I can’t find the previous season’s full matches anymore, only highlights).

    So whilst my long bleatings above are factual (and are merely the tip of the iceberg), they could perhaps be deemed as “emotional”, certainly by yer Erik types, what?

    The plundit/bollockocrasy along with the twatteratti and majority of blogs in my view cannot have failed to see the outrageous patterns of “otherliness” relating specifically to Arsenal and I therefore condemn them back to the club’s they like. Not Arsenal.

    So, the factual, data based, lesser emotional articles are a Shotta in the arm for me.

    Thank you.

    Liked by 5 people

  21. Southampton, 15/16, Three illegal goals allowed.

    I mean: Come ON!

    Liked by 3 people

  22. Ranty: You have the memory of an elephant. Some injustices are so painful, as human beings, we have no choice but try forgetting them. Newcastle 4:4. Jeezus!
    Anyway Barton is still up to his usual at Rangers. The club just suspended him for 3 weeks.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Just watched the best of Iwob at Hulli clip on Arsenal player. Oh my, oh my, oh my word… Boy do we have a player to relish…..

    Liked by 1 person

  24. But hail the Barton. He’s a sage-full a,la twatteratti and has done stints on MOTD.
    He’s competing with the likes of Merson, Wilkins, James, Shearer, Owen, Murphy et al, who all have one thing in common. Slag. Off. Arsenal.
    Imagine, there’s a radio program that has a daily feature dedicated to slagging off Arsenal.

    Anyway, sorry, this is Positively Arsenal. I’m grateful for you allowing me here, and even more grateful to read the articles, comments (and one-liners from our leader). (“Arsenal are lovely, discuss”).

    Actually, I’m gonna look for those podcasts from about 3 years ago. PG and another guy spoke with their beautiful regional accents (accents are only regional if they ain’t cockney, innit, like?), and there was a kindness and calmness in George’s voice and deliberations that has not only stayed with and endeared me further to PA, but has seen me begging him to make more. That voice also belies the fact he’s a headkicker (his once used term), and twatters the twats of the twatteratti, on twatter.
    (You’d be forgiven for thinking not that into so-shall meedja).

    Arise PA and all who sail in her (it).

    Liked by 3 people

  25. TEAM NEWS: GIROUD, GABRIEL AND JENKINSON

    Arsène Wenger has given an update on the latest team news ahead of Tuesday’s night’s trip to face Nottingham Forest in EFL Cup action.

    Here’s what the boss had to say when he previewed the trip to the City Ground:
    Gallery: Arsenal prepare for EFL Cup third round

    on the latest team news…
    Everyone came out of the Hull game well. Giroud is still not available – we will see at the end of the week if he can join in [ahead of the Chelsea match].

    on Gabriel…
    He has a chance to play against Forest.

    on Carl Jenkinson…
    He is improving, he is not quite back in full training yet.

    on Aaron Ramsey…
    He is still out – I don’t think he will be ready for the weekend either.

    Copyright 2016 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to http://www.arsenal.com as the sourc

    Read more at http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/20160919/team-news-giroud-gabriel-and-jenkinson#qXXTM60hR40LLrV2.99

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  26. CHRIS WILLOCK AMONGST 10 YOUNGSTERS TO TRAIN WITH ARSENAL FIRST-TEAM PRE-NOTTINGHAM FOREST
    willock

    Arsenal held their final training session ahead of tomorrow’s EFL Cup tie away to Nottingham Forest, with several youngsters in attendance.

    Matt Macey, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Gedion Zelalem, Krystian Bielik, Ben Sheaf, Chris Willock, Stephy Mavididi, Josh DaSilva, Reiss Nelson and Emile Smith-Rowe all trained with the senior squad. The latter is set to be part of the Arsenal U23 squad for the game against Everton tonight.

    With regards to first-team players, Mathieu Debuchy is back in full training after injury, while Emiliano Martinez, Granit Xhaka, Mohamed Elneny, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Rob Holding, Gabriel, Chuba Akpom, Lucas Perez and Jeff Reine-Adelaide all trained.

    Danny Welbeck, Per Mertesacker, Carl Jenkinson, Yaya Sanogo, Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud are all still out injured.

    Posted in Uncategorized on September 19, 2016 by Jeorge Bird.

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  27. Everton ‏@Everton 42s42 seconds ago
    FT: @Arsenal U23s 0-5 #EFCU23. A five-star display from the Young Blues! Dowell, Walsh, Niasse and Dyson (2) on target in a convincing win!

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  28. Emile Smith-Rowe becomes the first player to be born this millennium to play for the U23s.

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  29. I hope to see Gabriel tomorrow night – in all the recent transfer hysteria he had been forgotten about without ever doing much wrong.

    Liked by 2 people

  30. well anicoll the back 4 is likely to come from this 5 – Debuchy, Holding, Gabriel, Gibbs and Bielik, with if needed Maitland-Niles or Sheaf outside chance of being used at rb

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  31. “Wayne Rooney holding midfielder”

    There may be an abbreviation that could describe my reaction to the above comment but I’m not sure if I’d be doing myself any justice.

    I’m fairly sure that if we’d been on another blog at the time when we all laughed at the Horror (for Utd) involved in Rooneh signing that contract that the usual candidates would’ve started Groaning. It’s 2016, we are lucky to be witnessng such refined plunditry. Positively Partdrige-esque. Beyond satire!

    Fuck my football boots. Either Murphy has been chomping his way through the mushroom harvest or as alleged he is just another plundit/hack/skiv who answers first to a special agency/agent.

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  32. Hardly a five star performance from Everton it was basically men against boys with some very big scouse U23s playing against U18s.
    This wasn’t helped by an old fat ref who never really got to grips with the tackles just after the ball had gone or the digs in the back, he even had the cheek to book two of our lads when they fought back. Reiss Nelson who I think is still only 16 played centre midfield I think for the first time and although he was far more skillful than anyone else on the park it was the big lumbering Tom Davies of Everton who ran the midfield. Whenever Nelson did get past him Davies just clipped his heels accepting free kicks when he had to.
    Although you would expect Everton to win such a game the shame is none of their players look like they will ever make it at the highest level. This is the premier U23 league and one of England’s top clubs are still relying of Physicality will we ever learn.
    The positives we can take is our players all kept going right to the end and Reiss even nearly scored in the 93rd minute.
    Everton did have one skillful player Dave Henen a winger who caused us lots of problems but they took him off.

    Liked by 2 people

  33. Bravo Shotta, thought-provoking points, all well made and hard to argue against in the round.

    Sad to say it still profoundly irritates to hear Arsenal fans – bloggers or otherwise – falling over backwards to give credit to the latest new kid on the block, simultaneously denying even the smallest crumbs of credit for the guy who has overcome the kind of odds few can even dream of.

    One feels like sitting back and letting events speak for themselves. The weekly criticisms of the great man become ever more petty, ever more irrelevant as the marginalisation of those who refuse to see the truth of the club’s development condemn them to a credibility vacuum few would wish on their worst enemy. Their only hope is to big up the next best thing and hope and pray they succeed ahead of our own players, manager and club.

    The nature of Shotta’s fantastic series of articles has simply been to make all of this seem ever more obvious. As the club develops in one direction, the long-term prospects of the club’s detractors sink ever further into the mire of misjudgement.

    Pity really; who’d have thought so many could get it so wrong.

    Liked by 2 people

  34. yeah ian, Reiss Nelson will not be 17 till December, and Emile Smith-Rowe is also still only 16, and is the first of our lads born in 2000 to make it to the u23 team. None of our starting team is over 18, the oldest was Bennacer who turns 19 in December. The oldest player in the squad tonight was Tyrell Robinson turned 19 a few days ago.

    Liked by 1 person

  35. ian you should read the jeorge bird match report for tonights game, you might like to comment on his view of the game, as it seems very much at odds with yours.

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  36. I think Tyrell was only in there to make up the numbers as he is looking for another club. I wonder if that’s our youngest ever reserve side even most of the U21 sides ive seen where older. I think considering the massive jump in development physically between the sides the team done well tonight. It was certainly unfortunate to conceed goals at the start of each half. I think overall Gatting would have seen the game as a positive.
    The other interesting thing is with all the regular U23s left out the line up at forest could be very young as well and maybe not as experienced as people were predicting.

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  37. I expect few youth will start v forest, but the subs could all be youths. Some reports that Martinez will start in goal, which would be odd, with Ospina available.

    I would not be surprised to see

    Ospina
    Debuchy Gabrile Holding Gibbs
    Xhaka Elneny
    Maitland-Niles Reine-Adelaide Oxlade-Chamberlain
    Lucas

    subs: Martinez, Bielik, Sheaf, C Willock, Zelalem, Mavadidi, Akpom

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  38. Ian
    Good to hear your perspective. Very welcome to balance things out.

    I’m surprised anyone can feel serious disappointment or concern about tonight’s game : 8-10 of our better and more experienced players were absent for an obvious reason; another 4-5 who could play are out on loan.

    Much more important than that,though : 3 of our starters on Saturday were players who joined us as youth players. I think that should buy us a hell of a lot of credit and trust that we know what we’re doing.

    Add another three as viable starters- Gibbs, Szczesny and Wilshere- and I’d say that’s excellent work.

    Occasionally I see people come pretty close to saying , ‘yes, getting players in the first team is good, but bloody hell, what about the youth results! Not good enough. A real concern I tell you’

    We’re not quite in Messi, Xavi, Iniesta, Busquets territory, but we’re doing pretty well.

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  39. FK² ‏@fkhanage 6m6 minutes ago
    Tomorrow’s back-pages dominated by stories of the ‘crisis’ at United. Mourinho alienating players and causing unrest. It’s a slippery slope.

    Liked by 1 person

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