Gooners: Trust The Unbiased Data, Not The Mainstream Media


In my last blog, less than a week ago, I called readers’ attention to the mainstream media’s deliberate lack of attention to Arsenal’s statistically significant 13 game unbeaten streak. After the club’s thrashing of Stoke last Saturday, some of us may have expected a change in tone, some token appearance of even-handedness and fairness. Such naivety and illusions were once again met by a wall of silence and indifference as the media decided that Chelsea (sorry Manchester City – you messed up), is the financial behemoth who, under a young, telegenic coach, will sweep all before them in the Premier League.

A sample of the Sunday-Monday headlines on their web sites tells the story.

According to the BBC:

Costa Secures Chelsea’s Ninth Straight League Win

The Guardian is equally on point:

Costa Strikes Again As Chelsea Extend Winning Run

Surprise, surprise ESPN FC has almost the same headlines:

Costa Keeps Chelsea’s Run Going

How the mainstream media manages to maintain such uniformity in messaging is something that never ceases to amaze me. My only explanation is based on personal experience. As someone who works in a relatively closed field similar to journalism, where the few members of the profession socialize in a fairly incestuous circle, it has been my observation that one learns very quickly “to go along to get along”. Sooner or later one learns what is acceptable or not to the powers that be. One unconsciously acts and reacts in a manner and fashion similar to all the other members of the herd, which seems to be the case with football journos. Readers may have an alternative point of view.

Back to my theme, according to the English press, Arsenal going 14 games unbeaten merits Zip. Nada. Zilch.

Readers of this blog know that I have provided 20 years of Premier league data to demonstrate that, under Wenger, a 9-game and over winning streak by Arsenal is highly correlated to Premier League title success.

Is Chelsea’s 9 game winning run equally correlated? According to Goal.com (here), it certainly is. Based on stats provided by OptaJoe, they noted that this is the fifth time, a record for the PL, that Chelsea have gone on a nine game run and that …

“….they also won nine games in a row in 2007 and 2005 – on their way to the title.”

They then present a table which is supposed to prove their point (click on the link above).

On closer analysis I found the data is either riddled with bias or irrelevant to a season by season analysis. I had to rework it and add relevant information for your benefit.

Date Last Game Team Winning Run  League Pos
18-May-02 Arsenal 13 1st
20-Aug-02 Man United 12 n.a.
4-Mar-09 Man United 11 2nd
20-Sep-09 Chelsea 11 n.a.
20-Apr-14 Liverpool 11 2nd
12-Sep-15 Man City 11 n.a.
3-May-98 Arsenal 10 1st
31-Dec-05 Liverpool 10 3rd
15-Jan-06 Chelsea 10 1st
18-Aug-93 Man United 9 n.a.
20-Mar-04 Arsenal 9 1st
15-Oct-05 Chelsea 9 1st
9-Apr-06 Man United 9 2nd
7-May-06 Liverpool 9 3rd
18-Apr-07 Chelsea 9 2nd
11-Dec-16 Chelsea 9 TBD

In four of the years listed by Goal the supposed streaks overlapped two seasons which I designate as not applicable (n.a.). Out goes one of their so-called Chelsea record-making sequence of wins. United and City are also inappropriately credited in one case each of a  season- long winning streak.

Looking at the unbiased data, only Arsenal, under Wenger, has a consistent history of turning all winning streaks during a season into titles. Chelsea has done it two times out of three and the fate of their current sequence of wins is still to be decided. Poor old Liverpool has had some good runs but has never turned them into titles. Note Manchester United under Ferguson was never about winning streaks; it was a maximizing the points at home and never losing on the road.

Either the media is innumerate, as Goal evidently is, or they totally disrespect and underestimate the managerial history of Arsene Wenger. Because only a foolish or biased journalist would ignore how Wenger has made this team resilient and consistent in their performances so far this season. For all his Premier league opponents this is an ominous sign.

So what of Chelsea’s current streak? Is it all it is made out by the press? It certainly is noteworthy but looking at the data there is need for pause before premature predictions of glory.

Chelsea 12 1 2 33 11 22 37 2.47
Arsenal 10 4 1 36 15 21 34 2.27
Liverpool 9 4 2 37 20 17 31 2.07
Man City 9 3 3 32 19 13 30 2.00
Tottenham 7 6 2 24 11 13 27 1.80
Man United 6 6 3 20 16 4 24 1.60

Several things are obvious about Chelsea’s advantage over Arsenal:

  • Mere 3 points difference.
  • A 2.47 PPG is historically unsustainable. In the past 20 years the avg PPG for first half of the season is 2.19. It increases to 2.32 for title winning teams. Only one team has had a season-ending PPG above 2.47 and that is the great Chelsea team of 2004-05 which ended at 2.50. That team had the likes of Robben, Duff, Gudjohnsen, Drogba, Cole, Cech, Makelele, Terry, Carvalho, Gallas, and Ferreira either starting or coming off the bench. Who sees similar depth in quality and quantity currently at Stamford Bridge?

There has been a lot of push-back, even among my dearest colleagues at PA, to my assertion that the unbiased data is very predictive. The last three years has seen a progressive improvement in the quality of the Arsenal squad and in league position.  I am yet to do a club by club comparison of results this year vs last year. But there is evidence that AFC is pounding those mid and lower level teams who they are expected to beat instead of dropping points as they did last year. AFC is also winning league games post Champions League fixtures rather than struggling for a draw if not losing. This is due to being able to heavily rotate the squad and not experience a drop in quality.

As I keep repeating, given the predictability of AFC’s performance and the resulting data, there is no reason to rely on hope and there is no reason to be in despair after a setback. The unbiased data is predicting a 1st or 2nd place finish in the league this season. Given the qualitative importance of Wenger as one of the pre-eminent football coaches in the world, this is a decisive advantage in AFC’s favour as the League enters the decisive homestretch next year.

45 comments on “Gooners: Trust The Unbiased Data, Not The Mainstream Media

  1. I am more a Naploeon man than a statistics man as you know Shotta – and over the past few weeks and after a predictably violent opening to his season in which he missed two deserved red cards the French Emperor is Diego Costa. Take the Spaniard out of the Chels line up and the picture will look very different, both backwards and forwards.


  2. Bayern Munich….I am beyond surprised to the extent I had to pick myself up off the floor before posting this

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Boring, boring Bayern – boring, boring Bayern – ffs Uefa sort out this dull nonsense

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Going on this draw, if we had finished second in the group, would have been Barca.
    Just wish they would do something to stop this repeat fixture thing going on.
    Seems the football Gods smile on Leicester…again….in relative terms of course

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Chance of us drawing Bayern today one in six

    Last year we drew Bayern in the group stage so arguably, as Pot one seeded group side the chance of that was 1 in 6

    Two years back R16 so chance roughly one in six

    Three years back R16 so again roughly on in six.

    So the chance of Bayern coming out of the hat yet again to play us was almost 1300/1

    They must be as bored as I am

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Definitely a fix this UEFA draw. Is something going to be done about it? The powers that be will do anything to stop Wenger.


  7. I just noticed that a key paragraph in my blog is missing. Something happened when I was doing last minute edits. I am at work and cannot fix it until 1 or 2 hours time.


  8. image: http://www.arsenal.com/assets/_files/scaled/696×392/nov_16/gun__1478172200_wenger711.jpg
    Arsene Wenger

    With Shkodran Mustafi ruled out for the next few weeks with a hamstring injury, Arsène Wenger was asked about who could replace him at Everton.
    Read on for the manager’s response, while he also discusses the link between sport and politics and Alexis and Mesut Ozil’s futures.

    on coping without Mustafi…
    It is a challenge, because we had a good defensive stability but we have Gabriel, we have Holding, who can come in for him. Overall, I am confident that both can do well, but that’s one of the tests we have. We have had many tests since the start of the season, players like Cazorla who have suddenly moved out of the team and we have managed to deal with it and that’s another challenge.

    on Gabriel’s English…
    I must say It’s still not perfect. But he’s wanting always to do well. He has adapted very well to the right-back position and I think it helped him to lift his level of confidence. Hopefully he can come in and do well.

    on Alexis and Ozil’s futures…
    What my head and my heart is telling me is: don’t talk about it anymore!

    on his own future…
    My head and my heart tells me not to talk about that too! We are all focused on targets that are of course this season. We don’t have time or energy to think about the rest. I’ve told you many times that I want to do as well as I can for this club for as long as I’m here.

    on Pep Guardiola wanting six substitutes…
    Six is maybe too many. We’ve had that debate many times in Europe. You don’t want to stop the flow of the game too much. We thought about it. When you play extra time in the Champions League, we had that debate and it’s not easy because you have to reduce the substitutions then. You cannot have six substitutions. We see it in pre-season games. When you change player after player, sometimes you sit together before the game and say, ‘If we make the changes let’s make two by two or three by three’. He has a point. It’s good to think about it but it really has to be a bit sophisticated to improve it.

    on the government legislating with the FA…
    My reaction is that football and politics should not deal together. Football is a very special activity that should be ruled by football people. Our target is to be adult enough to rule our own activity. I don’t agree with that. When you look at the history, when sport was linked with politics, it was not always for the benefit of sport.

    on if understands the politicians’ frustration…
    I don’t really know what their frustration is. Football is a sport that has values. You are journalists that love sport, I’ve worked in sport for many years and what we all want is that the values of our sport are respected. I’m not involved in how to manage a federation on a daily basis. I don’t know how difficult it is. Apart from the fact that England has not won the World Cup or the European Championship, I don’t see that there is a crisis in this country.

    on if he was surprised by Man City’s result at the weekend…
    It looked like Leicester had come back to their old selves. They had a strong start – when you’re 2-0 down away from home after five minutes, you know you have a mountain to climb. That can happen to anybody.

    Read more at http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/20161212/wenger-on-mustafi-guardiola-alexis#xiDsd88viIhwwxQh.99


  9. Feb 4: Chelsea v Arsenal (Premier League)

    Feb 11: Arsenal v Hull City (Premier League)

    Feb 14: Bayern Munich v Arsenal (Champions League)

    Feb 18: FA Cup fifth round

    Feb 25: Southampton v Arsenal (Premier League)

    Mar 4: Liverpool v Arsenal (Premier League)

    Mar 7: Arsenal v Bayern Munich (Champions League)

    Mar 11: Arsenal v Leicester City


  10. I suppose if we beat bayern we will get barca in the last 8

    Liked by 2 people

  11. What I don’t like about drawing Bayern is the fact that they play in a pony league and will be able to rest their players before facing us. Hopefully they will not be allowed to run away with the league and will be forced to play their big names.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Sniper ‏@clockendsniper 8h8 hours ago
    Total games/losses in all comp in 16/17

    Spurs P23 L6
    Man U P25 L5
    Man C P25 L5
    Liverpool P19 L3
    Chelsea P18 L3
    Arsenal P24 L2

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Correction made. Note this key paragraph was missing from the original:

    Is Chelsea’s 9 game winning run equally correlated? According to Goal.com (here), it certainly is. Based on stats provided by OptaJoe, they noted that this is the fifth time, a record for the PL, that Chelsea have gone on a nine game run and that …

    “….they also won nine games in a row in 2007 and 2005 – on their way to the title.”


  14. Gainsy: As Pep is now finding out, succeeding in a one or two-team “pony league” in Spain or Germany is a far different kettle of fish than the PL.

    Anyway why the wailing and gnashing of teeth about Bayern? Sooner or later you have to beat the best to win the goddamn Champions League

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Maybe I’m just too ignorant to grasp the significance of a fourteen game unbeaten streak vs a nine game winning run as it pertains to winning the league, but considering Arsenal went unbeaten for the whole season and 49 in total, the 14 game unbeaten run( four draws included) seems less significant to me than a 9 game winning run by a manager in his first PL season.

    Mountain out of molehil expression comes to mind.


  16. As I said earlier the form of Costa has been pivotal in the Chelsea charge to the top.

    I saw in the Times this morning that the ugly bastard picked up his 4th yellow card this season against us in September. Since then however, eight/nine games, he has been angelically behaved. If he can manage another four clean games will not be suspended before the ban limit extends to 10 yellows.

    Who would have thunk it ?


  17. Are we suggesting he was just acting as a twat, rather than being one Andy?


  18. Trust Tom to agree with the mainstream media and to disparage Arsenal’s unbeaten run. Now if it was Man City or United, no doubt there would be endless newsprint and gigabytes of data, celebrating their consistency, that would make most mountains seem like hillocks. Like the mainstream media, a two-faced hypocrite.

    Liked by 3 people

  19. I am not sure – someone has got inside that the mind that is Diego Costa and persuaded him to keep himself under control – maybe Conte, maybe some one else.

    My guess is if you have a nutcase in the side who is causing himself or the team damage ( ie Costa) the club will send him off for psychotherapy/counselling/anger management in just the same way they’d send him off to an orthopaedic expert for a dodgy knee. We would just never hear about it.

    Hopefully though the leopard will revert to type in the near future and give some poor unfortunate opponent a good old fashioned Spanish stamping.


  20. Chuba Akpom was in first team training today


  21. Arsenal’s Tyrell Robinson in on trial with QPR and scored the winner for their u23’s v waford u23’s


  22. 12 minutes in and its 2-1 to lfc

    wilson opened the scoring after 1 minute, then mavadidi leveled for afc, then wilson scored from a penalty to put lfc ahead again. soft enough looking penalty award


  23. mistake by johnson and Ojo makes it 3-1 to lfc


  24. Haha Shotts!!

    A nine game winning run which coincidentally stats just after getting spanked by that senior old has been that set the aforementioned winning streaks your friendly stalker attempted and failed to downplay.

    Sometimes I think the comedy value must be intentional, no?
    It’s too funny for school!


  25. Senior < senile old scrooging has been


  26. As an Old Dirty Bastard once warbled

    “Oh baby I like it raw (data)…”


    Sánchez (11′ minutes), Walcott (14′ minutes), Özil (40′ minutes)



    No injuries or generous FKs to non-fouls required (think of these kind of calls as the inverse to the uncalled hacks that ended at AFC: Arteta’s career, Debuchy’s, nearly Sagna, the F Word’s, etc. etc. etc. a long list!)


  27. HT: Liverpool u23’s 3-1 Arsenal u23’s

    lfc the better team so far.


  28. After finding a photo of Shotta yesterday, I today find he has been moonlighting for four four two here’s the link
    Ed good to see Chuba back although I was hoping he might play now


  29. Ed my streams gone down and i cant find another on e have you got a link


  30. FT: Liverpool U23’s 3-2 Arsenal U23’s

    Mavadidi with the 2 Arsenal goals


  31. sorry a_o_b just seen your request for a stream, I had put up a link to a stream before kick off, but it for some reason does not seem to have appeared and when I tried to post it again i got a duplicate post message.
    Anyway the stream I had kept pausing for a second or two at a time and it was a real annoyance

    for me arsenal midfield were poor in the first half, improved a bit in the second half, Bielik and Mavadidi and maybe to a lesser extent Bola, the only man able guys in our line up, the rest too easily pushed off the ball and overpowered. Willock, Nelson and Reine-Adelaide never imposed themselves on the game, Jeff once again left me feeling he just does not do enough for a guy with such obvious talent, several times today he was just far too easily shrugged off the ball.
    Macey could have done better on the first goal, and maybe was a bit unlucky to have a penalty given against him, firstly most refs would have given him a freekick for the attacker banging into him as he tried to catch the cross, and then it seemed to me the other lfc attacker just threw himself to the ground for the award of the penalty. Johnson made a bit of an error for the other lfc goal.
    Mavadidi took both his goals very well indeed, the second one especially impressive.


  32. any reason Zelalem didnt start


  33. the AMN and Bennacer partnership has been preferred recently and Jeff is getting the AM spot.


  34. Thanks Shotta.


  35. Thierry Henry is an awful cunt, last season he went out of his way to undermine Giroud, and now he is doing the same thing to Walcott. Why are our ex players such cunts to the club.


  36. Eduardo, TH is a well known ego-maniac, so I think your answer lies therein.


  37. yes passanel, but pv4 and petit also never miss a chance to take a pop at the club, the manager and players, we have a few others who do too

    Liked by 1 person

  38. Thanks shotta.
    I do believe Arsenal will do well this season.
    Let’s look at a target of 40 points from first 19 games of the season, which looks very achievable.
    We do have tougher away league games in 2017 and of course the fixture computer always ‘randomly’ (yeah p, right) sandwiches the R16 dpgames of the UCL with some of the most difficult league games possible, oar for the course with us.

    Bayern Munich again?!?! that’s the way it goes when Spanish or German teams cannot play their own clubs in this round, it stacks the dice against Arsenal.

    Liked by 1 person

  39. A bad weekend for hipster footballers who love those clubs with jump up and down managers and trendy tactics. Dortmund, Atletico, Wolfsburg all slipping down the league tables.

    Liked by 3 people

  40. costa is well behaved because he is scoring and they are winning. he will surely relapse when chelsea starts droping points.

    its high time we beat bayern! this arsenal team can beat any team and bayern will lose this time around. it is true that they are not going to be easy to beat but i’m sure bayern will also be weary of playing us.

    Liked by 1 person

  41. On the topic of our ex-players, I must point out that Bobby Pires seems to get along with the team, manager and indeed, the club very well. I think Ray Parlour too. The way Romford Pele defends Arsene when maligned is just beautiful to watch.

    Let’s not forget the good ones when we talk about Henry and his type.

    Liked by 4 people

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