Thought I’d go a little hard at the title this morning just to crystalise some of that sweet, sweet victimhood we’ve all been feeling of later with regards to the referees.
Since Arteta took over at Arsenal in 2019, we have averaged a red card every 65.4 fouls. The bleakest in the Premier League. We’re getting the worst kind of punishment almost 50% more frequently than the second biggest victim behind us, Bournemouth (and they haven’t played a lot of Prem games over the past 2 years).
Burnley, renowned for being absolute brutes, have received one red card since Boxing Day 2019.
Can you remember many really bad fouls by Arsenal? I can’t. I can however remember plenty from Burnley players. I can also remember horror tackles from Kane, from Mane, and there are plenty of big moments that go unpunished elsewhere.
Why are Arsenal treated like this?
Do the refs have this statistics to showcase their odd bias against Arsenal?
Is anyone willing to explain the data anomaly beyond ‘that’s just the way it goes’?
We’ve committed the 2nd least fouls since Arteta took over, yet we’ve been given the most red cards.
Manchester City have to commit almost double the fouls to pick up a red card.
Who is accountable for this?
The same people that don’t have to answer to anyone over the shocking fact that a Black or Asian ref hasn’t run a Premier League game in 10 years.
What is PGMOL doing to address literally any major issue? Nothing. Because the people in charge are so inept, so protected, so comfortable, they can’t even get the decisions right when they have the benefit of VAR.
Are you really begging me for MORE numbers that suit my agenda?
Ok, Arsenal has the lowest wage bill for about a decade. It’s down to £87m.
That is quite outrageous and should give you a bit of realism when you are trying to quantify just how good our season has been so far.
Wages correlate to league position, usually. Though that idea has been blown up a bit by how bad United has been and how good teams like Brighton and Leicester have performed. Our wage bill has been a bit of an anomaly because we’ve been giving average players superstar money (Arteta part of that issue, no doubt). Those ‘superstars’ played under Emery but they spent most of their time this season benched or loaned out.
Where do we stand now?
Out the damn picture… that’s where.
We’re barely Europa League right now.
Point here? Our wage bill is that low because young players don’t get paid mega money. Why? Because their output isn’t the same as mega experienced players like KDB and Salah. So when people say age doesn’t matter… do remind them, it does. It really does. Saka, ESR, and Odegaard and doing great things, but they are babies compared to what the biggest clubs have at their disposal now. The fact that we expect them to deliver to BIG club level shows how good they’ve been and how much we love them… but don’t take it for granted.
A lot of people were up in my mentions yesterday telling me that IT WILL BE FAILURE if we don’t make the Champions League this season. William Gallas is agreeing today (who the fuck cares what he has to say?).
My push is on framing. It will be an outrageous success if we make it this season, it won’t be a ‘we need to talk’ failure. Talk about the opportunity, don’t catastrophize the yet-to-be-missed stretch goal.
The people pushing that are the folk desperate to tee up a reason to be a ‘standards’ bore on the internet.
Some folk pulled me on this pivot: ‘but what about Wenger, you pushed for him to be gone for getting top 4?’
It feels like a snappy retort, but let’s be real here, Wenger was here 22 seasons. He went from Premier League Champion to Top 4 merchant when there were only 4 big teams in the league. There comes a point when you have to use your Champions League advantage to make a move on the league or qualify beyond the last 16 (we failed to do that once in our final 7 seasons in the comp. In 19 attempts, we only went past R16 stage 6 times). Arsenal stagnated. Top 4 became the goal but there was no ambition beyond that. Standards slipped. The culture disappeared. No one’s job was under threat. We eventually slid into expensive oblivion and it’ll take 5 years to exit it.
What we’re doing now is different. We are year one of a rebuild. The average age is 24 compared to Liverpool and City at 27. When our squad is that old, we will be competing for major honors, until then you have to live in reality, this project is doing things the hard way, so there will be bumps.
Arsenal are at the start of their cycle, 5 of our starters were bought in the summer have just 19 matches of game time under their belts. The story should be ‘fuck, these young players AND young manager are doing really well’ versus the painfully shocking version that I keep reading of ‘we’re only doing well because everyone else is shit.’
Now, for anyone parroting that line… please, look no further than Antonio Conte for evidence of why that is a nonsense.
— Daily Hotspur (@Daily_Hotspur) February 16, 2022
One of the most successful managers of all time, complaining AGAIN that the level of the Premier League is really high and Spurs fans need to be realistic. Specifically, he calls out Arsenal and West Ham as a problem, but he goes one step further… he cites Brighton and Wolves.
Why is he doing that?
- Because the Premier League has never been richer
- It has never had so many top, top managers participating
- It has never had the strength in depth at every club like it does now
- It has never been more competitive
Remember all those people calling time on our season because Conte had landed at Spurs? Well, those people are now pivoting to ‘everyone is shit so if we don’t make it, it’s because Arteta isn’t right for the club.’
If we don’t make it this season, it’s because getting top 4 these days is really, really hard for a squad with limited experience. You don’t have to believe me, but you really do have to listen to Conte. He took the job thinking Harry Kane and Son would be enough, now he’s back in the dugout, he knows how tough things are going to be and he’s trying desperately to temper the expectations of fans who thought he was a cheat code back to the elite. He doesn’t need money, he genuinely thought he’d be able to work a miracle at Spurs, now he’s trying preserve his rep because he fears that won’t happen.
Top 4 is well and truly on, we’re in the mixer, but you can’t discount the clubs that are in the mixer with Arsenal. United still has a chance, Spurs are still good enough and experienced enough to go on a run, I wouldn’t rule out West Ham either, Wolves are also close.
The Premier League ain’t what it used to be. You can’t just hire Jose Mourinho or one of the other rockstars and think there will be instant success. It’s too hard for that these days. I suspect when Klopp leaves Liverpool, they will dip. I suspect when Pep leaves City, they will find it tough. Chelsea hired a rockstar and they are nowhere near the Premier League this season, they could well be pulled into the top 4 race if they are not careful.
That Arsenal are where they are after that start is all about how good this team is. We have kept the best clean sheet record in the league, we’re really, really tough to beat, we’re getting better at scoring goals, and we have been very consistent for a whole year.
Matt Kandela, elite voice on The Arsenal Opinion Podcast said ‘Have we moved from Trust the Process to Trust the Progress?’… I would say YES.
It’s looking good, but remember, this team is young, this league is hard, and we’re still going to need an awful lot of luck to hit our targets this year.
Enough propaganda for you? I hope so. See you tomorrow. x