Am I going to advertise a friend’s start-up in the first paragraph? Yes I am.
Alfred, early Arsenal Opinion co-host, and also one of my best people, has an app called Anyone. You can call elite people for advice. It’s very cool. Anyway, he’s come up with an ‘of the internet’ idea for ThanksGiving called Thanxiety.
Anxious about Thanksgiving chat -> Thanxiety
You go to this website when the conversation is running low because Grandma is struggling with the nuance of xG over Thanksgiving and it gives you a whole bunch of questions fielded by smart people to help you. I absolutely LOVE it. It has humour, good insight, and it looks great.
Onto the next point.
Honestly, the xG conversation has been SO painful. Data in the hands of learners is such a weapon.
It’s staggering to me how many people are like: ‘But didn’t you have a different opinion on xG 3 years ago’
With a totally different situation. xG is a great tool, but not always.
Oh my word, let’s cover this off with a great comment from Leedsgunner in the LG comments last night.
Context + Eye Test
For those belittling Pedro for not backing Emery when he was stalling around 5th, may I suggest a measure of introspection is needed.
Emery needed to go after he lost the UEFA Europa League Final to Chelsea (no, let me rephrase that he was humiliated by Chelsea). For whatever reason, only known to the board, Emery was kept on until the following December.
He needed to go because he had no plan and no vision. The players looked like they were going through the motions. We looked like we were treading water.
Was he treated unfairly? Maybe. Could the board backed him and showed him patience… sure. Plus, it could be argued that Arteta should have been fired when he lost to Emery last season in the Europa semi finals… but the board didn’t.
Still doesn’t change the fact, under Emery, we looked like an abandoned ship without a captain.
What has Arteta given us?
Yes, he has made plenty of mistakes but at least now we have a vision we can understand. The momentum has shifted back in our favour. It looks like he is learning from the mistakes. We are again, a ship with a captain- who goes where he wants to go.
In the end, I think it all worked for the best.
Emery is clearly happier in Spain and we are in the fight again… and I’m excited to see where this new project youth leads us. More importantly it looks like the players, his players back him.
Emery, never seemed to convince his players fully to back his vision…
Emery’s xG was shocking AND it qualified what the eyes were seeing.
xG is an agenda tool. Did I have an agenda against Emery? I did. Why? Because I knew what was going on at Arsenal. It wasn’t a guess. Players didn’t rate him. He communications skills were terrible. People at the clubs said ‘it just isn’t Arsenal’ when he was there. Those issues were always going to manifest on the pitch.
But ultimately, xG is ALWAYS an agenda tool.
If results look lucky, xG can qualify (Emery)
If they look unlucky, xG can qualify (Potter / Klopp @ Dortmund)
When an xG statement is made, a coach has two options, ignore it, or rectify it so the correction doesn’t fuck them.
What did Unai do? Nothing.
Did he ever recover? No.
Did Arsenal pull his deal in the summer because they probably looked at an Understat table or watched a game? Maybe.
This Mikel Arteta issue is VERY different.
Firstly, we have data flexing from December 26th to now. We have accrued the 3rd most points in the league. What does that tell you? That this run of 10 is nice, but it isn’t a blip, it’s just part of a longer pattern of unspectacular consistency.
Secondly, our xG has been soiled by some shocking results that aren’t par the course. Remember, even with that Liverpool loss, our defence since it has been rebuilt is still the 3rd best over 9 games.
Thirdly, the new team that has been built is only 9 games in. Scott over at CrabStats is an awesome analyst. He has the data you don’t get from mainstream sites. Check out this game state xG he has.
xG difference at even game state and no man advantage.
Arsenal is 3rd best when we are level with the oppo. We are a club that scores early. So this means our data is skewed because if you score early, the game changes if you sit back, which we do. Are we secretly the 3rd best team in the league? NO. But this is a prime example of why xG saying we are worse than Notts County might be flawed.
Scott’s data basically says, this season is a messy bitch, and it’s really hard to ascertain how good we are right now.
AMEN! This is a new team. They are young. We don’t have a large enough sample to be drawing DEFACTO conclusions from. EXACTLY where things should be… except? We have the 5th most points in the league to keep us feeling like we’re at least kind of on a decent path.
I spent too much time trying to explain to people that don’t know how to open a PDF that not all data is equal, not all situations are comparable, and the power of stats changes depending on what the situation is.
If you watched Leicester and Spurs and you thought we deserved to lose, then you are an analyst that doesn’t understand the eye test. If you think we should have pure consistency with the youngest team in the league, you don’t understand context in football and you have to sit these conversations out. If you think we’re about to have a 14 game stretch like we did at the start of last season, you clearly aren’t keyed into why that happened.
That guides me in nicely to our chat with Colin Lewin. I interviewed him with Johnny yesterday and it was excellent times. He’s an incredibly humble guy considering all the amazing things he’s achieved in the game. He called it perfectly: ‘We’re not as good as you think when we are on a great run, and we’re not as bad as you think we are after a loss.’
Outside that pearler:
- We discussed some of the harder injury issues he had to deal with (Jack, Abou, and Aaron Ramsey)
- We spoke about the role of a Chief Physio and how that integrates with a wider system of performance
- We talked about building out a high-performance center
- We talked about what a ‘deadline day medical’ means
- We also talked about his LewinClinic.co.uk practice and what it does for elite-level athletes (me) and weekend warriors (you)
Big thanks to Colin and my brother-in-law Lee for messing up his ACL and getting paired with Colin to fix it (Lee is a BIG Arsenal fan, so it was his dream way to get injured. He loved it so much, he injured himself again (true)). If you’ve messed yourself up and you need elite talent to help fix yourself, remember, go to the LewinClinic.co.uk first.
Ok, let us know what you thought of the pod and I’ll see you in the comments.