I am BACK in New York after spending some time in the very beautiful Savannah. I highly recommend if you are ever in Georgia, what a place.
Back home, I was again pondering the weirdness of the criticism that continues to rumble around the new regime. It doesn’t come from serious people, but it is always shocking to me how fucking atrocious internetters are when they’re let loose with bad data.
Comparing Unai Emery to Mikel Arteta is, firstly, a very dumb proposition barely 11 games into his tenure. It’s so dumb, Liverpool fans actually did it when Jurgen Klopp took over from Brendy and started a #KloppOut campaign off the back of it.
This tells you two things.
1. Don’t replicate Liverpool fan behaviour
2. Don’t play the data game unless you are really fucking sure you have a robust argument.
Here is the math for the Spurs fans that were up in your Whatsapp groups with the ‘analysis’ of Arteta courtesy of Champagne Charlie in the comments.
You’re comparing Emery’s point average in a 13 game sample to Arteta’s 8 games. Won’t bother rehashing the old ‘sample argument’ that was brought front and centre with the embarrassing xGA stats previous, will just illustrate with the following:
11 points in 8 games = 1.38
We win our next game = 1.56
We win the game after that = 1.7
The state of trying to pull trends in data with fluctuations like this 😂😂
Also, just like to remind you that Emery was operating with 12 months in the job and 150 mil of talent to supplement HIS football ideology. Mikel Arteta by contrast is picking up pieces mid season.
Another swing, another glaring miss.
Data points you ‘should‘ probably like.
We’ve kept 3 clean sheets on the bounce, 5 in 11 (with two games that we went down to 10 men) with a hodgepodge of teenagers, players we thought were dusted, and plenty of non-defenders mucking in. We can celebrate that. So when certain types say ‘I don’t see an improvement’ ask them if they ever felt like they were watching a team that was tough to break down under Emery, or if they ever felt like they were witnessing something even close to competency when it came to Arsenal defending.
You might also ask who the only team in Europe is to be undefeated in 2020? It’d be Arsenal. Again, not a totally electric statistic because we’ve drawn a lot of games, but when you add in further context, like, say, ‘Emery oversaw our worst start in 30 years and Arteta started in late December’, it starts to feel saucier. Low Scoble rating for sure, but we’re definitely spicier than a Heinz Ketchup at the moment.
Sure, there are lots of things we’d all like to see improve. We’re still making mistakes in dangerous places, our attack is hardly Liverpool fluid, but if you are out here complaining we’re not champions elect form at the moment, you’re a fucking idiot. I’m really sorry to be so blunt, but I absolutely mean it. That Liverpool thing didn’t happen overnight, I can assure you.
Additional areas of improvement to point towards.
You might not like Mustafi, Xhaka, Ozil or Luiz… but you cannot argue their performances have dramatically improved. Shkodran Baresi looked like he’d rather snort a Wuhan sneeze than play a few weeks ago, now he’s operating at a very, very good level of football. Granit Xhaka keeps getting better, I’ve been a vocal anti-advocate of him, I called him a mistake terrorist, but he’s doing well. David Luiz looks reborn, a frizzy-haired warrior. Mesut Ozil is slowly but surely feeling his way back into elite-level football. It’s not a longterm solution, but however you chop it up, players that were once deemed bin-worthy are now delivering hardworking performances. Even players we liked but thought were ill-suited are upping their levels… remember when we assumed Torreira was too small to hack it in the league? That Dani Ceballos was a write-off because his hair was too neat for the UK? It’s great that these players are showing their true colours now they are motivated and fired up about the vision.
‘The Uncoachables’ was such a ridiculous excuse, cooked up by the Emeryista, who still weirdly fetishise a manager about as sexy as a septic cock ring. No elite-level player is uncoachable. Sam Allardyce has made a living training bags of rotten potatoes to keep clean sheets. Hardly a shock that Arteta can make World Cup winners look a little better.
Finally, the kids. You can’t knock ’em. They are stepping up to the plate, learning hard lessons, and rarely hiding. To repeat, Ceballos looks like he might have a future, Guendouzi is a mess but he’s learning from someone that won’t tolerate his drama, Saka looks absolutely elite, Gabriel is inconsistent but taking praise from nobodies like Ronaldinho, and the others are showing they have teeth. Not perfect, but at least they are getting game time and a proper chance under a proper coach.
Moaning we’re not he complete package is such a base strawman argument. No one ever thought we’d be where we needed to be in 2 months. However, we’re starting to get better results, we’re hard to beat, and we’re slowly but surely finding our way in attack. We’re doing all of this without a proper preseason. We were in a process under Emery that wasn’t ever leading to a better Arsenal. That has all changed. Under Arteta it’ll be bumpy, but we’re heading in a direction that’ll take us places. We will need a good summer, lots of hard work, and a good start in August, but I don’t think we’ll be making excuses in May 2021. Unless we fail, then I’ll be blaming hair pills and dry grass for our problems.
Anyway, let’s keep it positive.
We have a chance to show our mettle at home against an Everton side that will give us a very good game at the weekend. Carlo has his players focused, better structured, with bit more bite to their game. He’ll be desperate for the win this weekend, but so will Arsenal. Our club needs momentum, win that game and the next 8 look far more attractive, drop points and it’ll feel like a miserable step back.
I’m still looking for more fluidity in attack. I don’t think we’ve cracked it by a margin, but at this point, I think it’s more about repetition and muscle memory than anything else (with this squad). We need a few sexy goals and a real ‘wow, this is the future’ performance to start the ball rolling there. A simple improvement would be finding the target a little more often. I think the type of chance we’re creating is improving, but some of the shooting has been less than ideal… and from players you expect more from. Imagine me as the coach?
‘Erm, guys, could you try and shoot the ball at the actual goal. Thank you.’
Right, big game tomorrow, fingers crossed we smash them and the Gypsy King deals with the Bronze Bomber. x