Over a week has passed since the West Brom defeat and the lamestream media cannot conceal their continued delight. After 12 years of lurid predictions of Arsenal’s demise, knowing full well the impact of paying for a new stadium, they are going ape-shit on the probability Arsenal may miss out on a Champion’s League place.
This week Graeme Souness was given top billing in almost all the English rags.
“Arsenal usually falter in February or March, then reach the top four with a late run in April and May, but I don’t see it happening,”
The Daily Mail on March 21st predicted Arsenal will finish 5th behind Chelsea, City, Tottenham and Liverpool (in that order).
ESPN has been in full click-bait mode since the loss to Bayern Munich as exemplified by a recent headline:
“Nightmare for Arsenal as Tottenham could cancel St. Totteringham’s Day”
Since West Brom the corporate media has done very little by way of serious analysis to verify Wengers’s post match observations:
“We didn’t create enough. We lost Sanchez in the second half, he was very dangerous in the first. He came out in the second half and he couldn’t move any more. In the first half he was a guy who created a lot.
“It leaves us in a unique situation that we’ve never had before. We face big problems to regroup and find resources to sort out the problem. We need some togetherness. We face some serious challenges. The City game at home is a big game for us.”
Instead we are treated to the sorry spectacle of failed ex-mangers and mentally challenged pundits advising the club to terminate the services of, by far, its most successful ever gaffer. Among them is Chris Sutton whom the BBC gave a podium to spout:
“He’s been selfish. I’m surprised Steve Bould doesn’t get hold of him and say this is the reality.
“He’s taking the club backwards. They have just accepted mediocrity.”
Positively Arsenal’s @BlackburnGeorge gave a fitting rebuttal to both Sutton and the BBC in his recent blog telling them to “Get in the bin!”
So is Wenger correct that we are in a unique position? All but the mindless pundits have to admit he has a point. Souness himself acknowledged that traditionally Arsenal has a bad run in February or March, which, by the way, usually coincides with trying to compete on three fronts (PL, ECL and FA cup) while having key players out due to injury. As usual don’t expect any acknowledgement of either fact by the corporate media. It would mean giving credit to a manager who has repeatedly proven success comes primarily from teaching players to play intelligent, progressive football, not by overspending and corrupting the Premier League via foreign oligarchs and Arab sheiks as well the clique of special agents who launder the cash.
For the benefit of PA readers, I have researched the data to identify any unique characteristics about this year’s team. To assist I relied on whoscored.com. They in recent years have provided detailed team statistics using both the offensive and defensive data to arrive at an overall rating for each PL club. For the second time in 8 years, Arsenal this season-to-date has a sub-7 rating, exactly 6.98. In comparison the seven-year mean and median is 7.06 and 7.04 respectively. The difference may seem insignificant but, over the past eight years, teams with a sub-seven rating are grimly fighting for 4th place in the premier league. Not to be overly pessimistic, Arsenal ended with a 6.94 rating in 2011/12 and finished 3rd in the PL. But that was an outlier.
Drilling down in the data, the club this year is generally below the seven-year mean in some key defensive and offensive stats.
|Shots pg||Tackles pg||Interceptions pg||Fouls pg||Offsides pg|
Defensively AFC is making nearly two (2) less Tackles per game and similar drop in the number of Interceptions. Quite frankly that data surprised me. So there is something to the frequently made observation that Coquelin, in particular, is making less tackles and interceptions this season compared to last. Furthermore this deficit has not been covered by the other central midfielders. Obviously less tackles and interceptions provide more attacking opportunities for the opposition. No wonder, of all the top-6 teams, so far this season Arsenal has the second highest number of goals against (34), second only to Liverpool (36).
|Shots pg||Shots OT pg||Dribbles pg||Fouled pg|
Offensively AFC is below its seven-year average in two of four categories. Shots per game is down by one. This, by the way, is part of a general trend as in 2009/10 AFC was firing 17.4 shots per game, the apogee. Most importantly, the Shots On target per game is down by 14% from the mean of 5.8 to 5.1 this season. This has not had a disparate impact as the Gunners remain the third highest goal scorers in the league behind Chelsea and Liverpool, but only just.
Months ago I did a blog using the unbiased data to show that under Wenger, both at Highbury and the Emirates, Arsenal has been the most consistent club in the league. The club’s average position over the past 20 years has been 3rd with an standard deviation of one (1). It is highly unusual for Arsenal to swing 4 places in league ranking, i.e. from 2nd to 6th. Based on the time-tested statistical laws, such diversions from the mean are temporary and short-lived. Unlike the lamestream media who have a political interest in casting Wenger’s prudence in a bad light and to prey on the emotions of fearful Arsenal fans, those of us with some grasp on reality have no doubt Arsenal’s league position will revert to the mean. While one cannot guarantee how soon this reversion will take place it is a 95% probability. In the mean time my advice is don’t put any money on 5th.