Self Censorship at The Arsenal?


It’s hard being a contrarian on Arsenal Twitter these days. Like any strict, self-regulated community, there is a stridency among a majority of posters that demands and enforces conformity. It punishes dissent via the block, unfollow and mute buttons for committing any of the following heresies:

  • Not vocally supporting the new manager
  • Criticizing any of the mooted new signings

Instead of summer hostilities between the former WOBs and AKBs, which usually reach boiling point during transfer season, both sides for their own reasons are currently wishing and hoping for the new manager, Unai Emery, to succeed, bigly. Obviously the ex-WOBs are delighted that their bête noir, the cheapskate, deluded, out of touch, omnipotent (choose your epithet) Arsene Wenger is now gone. Should Emery succeed, it will be a ringing endorsement of their long-held claim that the club was being held back by the former manager.

On the other hand, it seems to me, the so-called AKBs are on the defensive, not wanting to be seen as mindless acolytes of the old gaffer, fearing they will give credence to the years of repeated taunts by the anti-Wenger crowd that they support Arsene FC rather than Arsenal FC. They too are just as wishful and hopeful that the new manager, who seems to be as modern and progressive as the old, will be able to overcome all the external and internal obstacles that held the club back.

WOBs, AKBs and the Middle-Of-the-Roaders

Strange and as incongruous as it may seem, former WOBs and AKBs are now locked together, singing the same tune; leave Emery alone and he will succeed.

Let us not fool ourselves. While there appears to be two extremist camps in the Arsenal fanbase, there is definitely a large, if not larger, middle-of-the-road contingent which often takes one side or the other depending on results. It wasn’t that long ago, for example, we had the experience on the opening day of a new season at the Arsenal stadium, with the transfer window still open, that a majority were in uproar demanding the club spend some “facking” money as the club was losing to Aston Villa. The fact that Arsenal eventually came 3rd or 4th that year, qualifying for the Champion’s League, at a time when it was still struggling under the stadium-related austerity, stands in sharp contrast to the £200 million spent on transfers these past two years while coming 5th and lately 6th in the Premier League.

So conventional thinking has concluded that leaving Emery alone, rather than the relentless attention to the every move and statement made by Arsene Wenger, is now a guarantor of success. The underlying assumption is the belief that the Wenger years, particularly the most recent, were a failure which Emery must avoid. The problem is this hypothesis is not fully supported by the facts.

Note the “unbiased data”, on which we should rely, is diligently avoided by the mainstream media and most of its cohorts on twitter and in the blogsphere, who are now bloviating with optimism and goodwill towards Emery.

Take a gander, below, on some key performance metrics for the last 11 years of the Wenger era.

Year Played Won Drawn Lost  GF GA  Win % Loss %
07/08 58 36 15 7 113 52 62.1% 12%
08/09 61 33 16 12 113 55 54.1% 20%
09/10 55 33 8 14 116 63 60.0% 25%
10/11 58 31 13 14 113 55 53.5% 24%
11/12 54 31 9 14 96 67 57.4% 26%
12/13 53 29 12 12 105 60 54.7% 23%
13/14 56 37 8 11 99 57 66.1% 20%
14/15 56 35 11 10 109 53 62.5% 18%
15/16 54 28 12 14 91 59 51.9% 26%
16/17 55 35 8 12 121 65 63.4% 22%
17/18 57 30 10 17 108 70 52.6% 30%
Mean 56 33 11 12 108 60 58.0% 22%

Main points:

  • Wenger achieved an average win percentage of 58% across all competitions never falling below 51.9% and going as high as 66.1%.
  • 52% was good enough to qualify for the champions league up to 15/16. But in 16-17 a 63.4% win rate and a FA cup was apparently not good enough for some in the club hierarchy as evident in Wenger’s 2-year contract, which in retrospect was putting him on notice.
  • In 17-18, the win percentage was 52.6, not the lowest historically, but it was marked by the highest ever GA, a total of 70, compared to an average of 60 GA over the 11-year period.
  • Wenger’s loss percentage while averaging 22% increased by a dramatic 8 percentage points between 16-17 and 17-18 coinciding with the highest ever GA of 70 in the latter year.

The GA seems to be the key. As Finsbury, a long-standing and frequent contributor to Positively Arsenal has repeatedly argued, Wenger’s biggest challenge in 17/18 was maintaining or recreating the defensive stability he had achieved during the four year reign of Mertsacker-Koscielny, which was one of the premier central defensive partnerships in club football. The 2016-17 season-long loss of the BFG and his subsequent relegation in 17-18 to a mere squad player combined with Koscielny’s well publicized chronic Achilles injury coincided with a growth in GAs from 59 in 15-16 to an unheard of 70 last season and the dramatic increase in losses from the average of 22% to 30% over the last two seasons.

Based on the facts as presented, surely it is reasonable and necessary for us to ask Mr. Gazidis and his rising number of busy-bodies (Mislintat, Sanllehi and a Marcel Lucassen who is to become Director of Football Operations on August 1st) the following questions:

  • How will the signing of Lichsteiner, a 34 year-old injury-prone right back, improve and stabilize Arsenal’s central defensive partnership?
  • In a world where a Virgil Van Dijk costs £70 million, how do Arsenal plan to replace the retired Mertsacker and an ageing injury-prone Koscielny?

At a time when mainstream media, Twitter, Facebook and Google are doing their best to censor and block non-conforming points of view, it is frightening the level to which Arsenal-twitter has engaged in self-censorship to not rock the boat during this transition to new management. Apparently Ivan and his team are now omniscient and omnipotent. They have free reign, without any challenge by fans, to give Emery any players they deem necessary, because, to paraphrase managerial genius Tony Adams, coaching is over-rated, what matters is the director of football and those who do player recruitment.

So “keep schtum”. Don’t rock the boat. It will all work out in the end. Hmm.

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386 comments on “Self Censorship at The Arsenal?

  1. 3-1, salah penalty after VAR awarded it

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Bernd Leno has become our second summer signing, joining on a long-term contract from Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen.

    We spoke to our new goalkeeper on Tuesday – and you can watch his full first interview by pressing the ‘play’ button above. Alternatively, read on for the full transcript.

    Bernd, welcome to Arsenal. How does it feel to become a Gunner?
    It feels very good. I’m happy, I’m proud to sign for Arsenal. For me it’s a dream to play for Arsenal.

    What was it about Arsenal that made you want to come here?
    I think the history of the club, the fans, the quality of the club and of the team is so good. I’ll try to help the team to come back to the Champions League and to win some trophies. Arsenal belong in the Champions League.

    When you think of Arsenal, what’s the first thing that comes into your head?
    I remember many things, like Thierry Henry, Jens Lehmann, Highbury and Alexander Hleb too. I remember him at Stuttgart and then he played at Arsenal. For me, it’s the same story now. There are so many things that I can remember of Arsenal.

    How did you feel when you first heard of the club’s interest?
    I was excited and proud too, because Arsenal is such a big club all over the world. In Germany, Arsenal are so famous and when I heard it, I was a little bit nervous but at that moment it was clear for me: I wanted to sign for Arsenal.

    It’s a new era for the club with Unai Emery becoming the manager. I’m sure he’s spoken to you already – what impressed you about him in those meetings?
    Of course Arsène Wenger was always the coach at Arsenal but now it’s a new chapter for the club. I spoke to Unai Emery and he said that he believes I’m a good goalkeeper, and that he wanted me to join. For me it was clear that the club and the coach wanted to sign me, so I’m happy that all the people at the club said that I’m a good goalkeeper.

    Copyright 2018 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 source.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Shotts,
    This silly old romantic feels that there’s have been some logic to keeping an ’04 squad member around. And the German fitness coach although a new arrival has a record that is outstanding and I’ve appreciated him helping the old gaffer manage Ramsey and others who have similar issues so well.

    On the departures, to mitigate, perhaps many were coming to the end of their cycles too. Boro was always going to join AW on the French bench. But as above, I hope that Pires sneaks his way into the first team coaching set up.

    IG seemed just as pleased with the Rwanda sponsorship deal as he did with his new manager. I found that to be strangely reassuring.

    I hope that they’ve given the new manager the right ingredients to help him adapt to the club and league. As with Pep recruiting Arteta ahead of other suitors some of that’s also down to the new manager/coach too and not just IG.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Jack Wilshere is leaving Arsenal

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Arsenal confirm Wilshere is leaving

    Liked by 1 person

  6. not many of them left now, just Jenkinson and Ramsey. CJ very likely to be let go and Ramsey still to sign a new contract

    Liked by 1 person

  7. all gone in the last year

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I’m gutted for Jack and for Lens for that matter it’s certainly and end and a start of a new era. Leno is a top quality signing though

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I wonder did AMN signing a new deal and being told he would be getting more game time this coming season factor into Jack changing his mind about staying.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Sampdoria’s President said tonight that they have sold Torreira for €30M and that they will use the money to strengthen their squad. He said that they took a chance on him when they signed him for €3M and that it has really paid off

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Sad to see Jack go, always loved watching a fully fit Wilshere play.
    I am sure , as usual, there are good reasons on both sides, can only wish him the best.
    The club has been through incredible change lately, guess this is one big reason why Wenger is no longer with is, I doubt if a fully in charge Arsene would have ever sanctioned such change in so short a time. In his own words, he was a man of evolution rather than revolution, what has happened at the club recently is perhaps somewhere north of revolution.
    Can only appreciate some fine players recently gone, and back those who remain and soon to join.
    Back the team fully, but do I wonder if we have become the slightly nastier, more ruthless club some suspected post Wenger. Still, onwards and upwards, time stands still for nobody, seize the day, and other cliches

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Wilshere may be the best teenage midfielder I’ve seen – well definitely in the flesh. Without speculating if he could have done more to make the best of his talent, because I don’t know, it’s clear to me that injuries robbed us of a great player here.

    I just don’t think it’s possible to spend that amount of time without kicking a ball and playing in a team at 19 and still become a great player. It seems like such a vital period, when the body is still growing and brain developing.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Positively Arsenal (Blackburn George)
    ‏ @arseblagger
    1h1 hour ago

    We haven’t let Jack go, he has chosen to leave.He was offered a contract, the club has not discarded him under some new revolutionary regime.

    58m58 minutes ago
    Replying to @arseblagger

    not only was he offered a contract he even accepted it, but changed his mind when told he would have to force his way into the starting 11

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Seems natural to me that he wanted to know where he stood and at this stage wants to be a first 11 player or at least have sufficient hope he can be; but also natural that, unless we wanted to bullshit him, we couldn’t reassure him about that.

    In other words, and supposing there’s no important piece of the puzzle missing, the end result was fairly inevitable. I feel it’s possible he even knew in his heart we could not give him those reassurances and, ultimately, knew it would be a huge battle for him to win a first 11 place going forward or get the amount of key minutes he wants.

    Much of that depends on how he feels in his body, including whether it’s feasible to push on any physically. You’d think if he felt there were fitness improvements ahead he might have fancied the challenge of forcing his way into the team.

    We don’t know important details, but it could be that he deserves credit for seeking, in his mind, his best shot at making as much as possible of his career from this point.

    I’ve no idea what that platform would look like. Two around him in midfield with excellent legs, certainly. An understanding coach. Being the main man creatively. A good deal of freedom so he is not relied upon heavily for interceptions or chasing back. But skilful, technical, imaginative players normally rely on skilful technical players to consistently play well.

    Who knows. There’s no obvious ideal home. Question now is whether he goes somewhere with a serious chance of being a main man, or whether one of the big money boys thinks ‘free, English, affordable wages, capable of wonderful skill; injury record not so bad last couple of years and just maybe we can improve fitness (easier to hope when you don’t have full info sometimes)’

    Former most likely but could easily be latter.

    Best of luck to him of course. Hope he can avoid big injuries and produce many moments of great skill in future. I’d love him to try his luck abroad but can’t see that happening.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. The Wilson suggesting, as many others have done that Torriera is close.
    Other reports we have all seen suggest soyuncu and maybe a winger who maybe on a free, with the thinking mans defensive signing from Dortmund already a done deal to be announced early July, something to do with the German clubs trading?
    Ok , so who are we selling?

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Good balanced statement from Jack. I’m sorry to see him go, but it was becoming obvious that it was going to happen. After such a long period of stability it feels a little unsettling, and there’s probably a lot more change to come. I foolishly anticipated a more gradual transition but come the start of the new season there will probably be very little of the old squad left.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. One worry with loss of English players is seems likely they are invaluable in helping the younger English talents we have settle in first team environment.

    Still got Ramsey, Welbeck, Chambers and Holding, and Maitland-Niles now fully fledged first team squad member as well. He could really help the youngsters. Definitely pushing it a bit in terms of continuity, and maybe with people with a big connection to the club who can try cultivate similar feeling in newcomers.

    Sure need Ramsey to sign on. Confident of Xhaka’s leadership and personality so perhaps he can play a big role. Mesut hopefully an inspirational figure in his own way, too. Also Kos of course.

    Questions, questions. Really is a hell of a lot of change

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Russia v Eygpt
    Once again Sergio Ramos was the MOM for me

    Liked by 3 people

  19. I said I was not going to get into the debate about the team with so many weeks before pre-season. But I see a certain amount of trepadation amongst some of the fan base.
    I assure you fear not, this club have had a tradition of doing their business behind closed doors, getting ‘T’s’ crossed and ‘I’s’ dotted before letting everyone else in on it.
    Nothing has really changed.

    When Arsene was getting pelters about playing foot-volleyball on the Copacobana no one knew what was going on, then ‘Boom!’ Alexis.

    Jens Lehman comment is classic Jens,
    Did you not watch Arsenal when he was playing for the team ?
    The guy did not need Twitter to make people know he was annoyed , now it is easier.

    In all honesty(And I mean in all honesty) who in the group of 11 players were going to take the team to the next level?

    I say not ‘ONE’
    None of them

    Cazorla on of my favourite Arsenal players in 50 years of following this club is 33 (34 in December lol)

    Alexis ? He either needs the team to be built around him(Chile) now that in his mind he is a ‘Difference Maker’ or he lands in a ‘Super’ talented team (Barca).

    It is sad to see many of them go on a personal attachment level (I will follow all their careers) but for Arsenal it should have been done to some of them years ago, could have kept Mr Wenger in the job.
    Some of these guys did not commit as much or were not as dedicated as Mr Wenger and that annoys me more than them leaving.

    I called for it before and I am not sad it has happened

    Barcelona legacy of the 21st century was created by Johan Cruyff he left Barca in 1996.

    Ever player that comes through the Hale End Academy will have the Wenger stamp on him or her.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. So Emery wanted Jack to stay. I don’t know what Wilshere expected as regards playing time but of course he wasn’t going to be first choice. I can fully understand him wanting to leave. I would hope he turns up in Italy or Spain where he can play without being ‘tackled’ all the time. The style of play in the Serie A would really suit him. Maybe Sampdoria to replace Torreira? It’s possible. Some rumours linked him with Sampdoria earlier and even Juventus. All the best to him.

    But does this mean we’re going to buy another midfielder? If we wanted Wilshere to stay, and he’s not staying, then presumably we’re one man short. Some rumours around Ever Banega, but not sure how credible those are, or if it’s just a story because Emery used to coach him.

    Anyway, really hope we announce Ramsey’s new contract next.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Shard from the new manager’s opening press conference he was clear and forthright in answer to a question on Wilshere. His tone changed, he was stern. Sounded like he was ready for JW to leave then.

    Rumours of chronic tendinitis in one of Wilshere’s knees might have been a factor in this process if true.

    Still. It’s very sad.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Pretty staggering how much we have lost due to injury in the last decade or so. Diaby, Eduardo, Rosicky, Cazorla, Jack, Arteta all heavily hit, literally in some cases.

    Liked by 3 people

  23. Jack Wilshere with the ball at his feet will always make me smile
    He scored one of the most memorable goals I have seen ever at the Ems
    Thanks for the memories

    Liked by 3 people

  24. BK

    It was the hack from McNair that finally did for Wilshere. Not even a red, although he was the last man too (a red regardless). No guesses who the gentleman with the sanction by his own employers no less was behind the whistle.

    Will Arsenal fans have the footballs to simply acknowledge and admit what we all saw, that Wilshere was kicked off the park?
    Or was his problem that he “held onto the ball too long”? LOL!

    As Wilshere himself said: “when you play for the Arsenal you get kicked more”, no complaining no groaning, just a simple statement. Sure other players like Ronaldo have mentioned such too, as a problem stemming from “game management”. We all understand that too, reflected in the national team’s inability to even select or trust their own best midfielders going back a fair while now. Carlton Palmer!

    Why is there self censorship amongst the glittering blaggers on this topic?

    Liked by 1 person

  25. No player leaving will ever hurt and be more devastating than Liam Brady

    So I just can’t get too down because when you look at what is left , I am super optimistic.

    Liked by 2 people

  26. Hunter was bang on this particular subject matter/topic.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. That dreadful challenge by McNair was not even called a foul by Dean and barely a mention from the Sky mob either. A deffo straight red

    Liked by 1 person

  28. I’ll say it again Rui Patricio is FREE contract singing

    Liked by 1 person

  29. A Jorge Mendes client is never free Wwwb.

    Liked by 3 people

  30. Shard

    Liked by 1 person

  31. I don’t think anyone can say our new manager wanted Jake to stay. If Jack’s statement is correct then he was offered considerably less playing time. I don’t think there was much chance of fighting his way back in the team if like he said he got the impression the manager didn’t have him in his considerations.
    It seems Jack has done a U turn suggesting the recent meetings were very negative.

    Liked by 3 people

  32. You don’t save those!

    Liked by 1 person

  33. He watched it from such a short distance away and just…..

    Liked by 1 person

  34. Football has this powerfull draw


  35. Vamos Peru!


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