re: Arsene bashing post City by Terry Barry
I find all this Arsene assassination stuff hard to stomach. He’s become the go-to sitting target whenever things go wrong for Arsenal. Then there’s the ‘the team wasn’t up for it’ jibe – again the blame is put on to Wenger on his supposed failure to motivate the team for a Cup Final – A Cup Final FFS and his selection of (too) nice players – as though being intelligent is somehow a negative!
I would much prefer a more dispassionate and unbiased route to assembling an explanation for the outcome of Sunday’s very disappointing game at Wembley. My plea is for some fairness and greater accuracy in carrying out such a task.
In order to do this let’s put on our scientific white coat and examine the facts. What are the explanatory variables which affect a team’s performance? I see 3 main explanatory variables.
1. COST OF ASSEMBLING A TEAM
There is a vast discrepancy between the resources of Manchester City and Arsenal. A team owned by Sheikh Mansour who bought the club in 2008 and has since accumulated annual losses of £535 millions. Since 2008 he has invested £1.21bn (2015/16) into the club. City Football group who own City own 6 clubs in 4 continents and employ 240 players.
I can’t find comparable figures for the Arsenal but it can be safely assumed that we are not in the same league when it comes to the amount of resources invested. If we look at the league table for the amount each club has spent on their current squads (as at September 2017) we see an interesting picture.
1.Manchester City £774m
2.Manchester United £712m
We can see here that this – surprise, surprise – broadly mirrors the positions of the top 6 in the league as we speak – with some anomalies around the Arsenal and Spurs positions!
It appears Marx was right with his economic determinism – money invested in players seems to be a big determinant of outcomes in terms of points accrued. In this context Man City have spent nearly twice as much as the Arsenal on their teams – is it any surprise that they have a better team. Indeed, you would expect them to whip the arse off the Arsenal before a ball is kicked – wouldn’t you? Imagine if Arsene had been able to spend an additional £400m on his team – who would you have with that – what a team we would have!
As a footnote it should be pointed out that the Arsenal did well to beat Man City and Chelsea on the way to winning the FA Cup last season and winning the champions v cup winners trophy (Community Shield or Super Cup?) at the start of the season.
2.A TEAM’S FORM
Coming in to this game it was self evident that there was a huge gulf between the form of each team. Man City have lost only 1 league game and were 27 points ahead of Arsenal in the league. Arsenal have been through a traumatic season largely around the Sanchez saga which I believe had a significant negative affect on the team’s performance.
The two replacements for Sanchez have hardly had any time to adjust to the new club and one of them was cup-tied for this game. The team lined up in a barely experienced format (the first time) – with insufficient time to become prepared enough for such a test. Injuries too have not been helpful with Lacazette out and Ramsey clearly not match fit yet either. We lost Monreal early on too. It goes without saying that we also clearly miss Santi massively.
In contrast Man City had everything’s going for them.
All these factors add up to a huge gulf in form and preparation prior to kick off.
3.DECISIONS AND LUCK
It would be fair to say that we have not had our fair share of luck when it comes to referee decisions this year. I think that is indisputable.
I am in no way defending Mustafi’s behaviour with the first goal. It was ridiculous to be standing in front of Aguero and his reaction to stand there appealing for a foul was pathetic but in my opinion it was technically a foul on him because the replay showed that Aguero looked at Mustafi before the ball reached them, and gave him a firm and sneaky shove from behind which Mustafi could not see coming. In that sense Aguero clearly fouled Mustafi and made it 1-0. A ludicrous goal to concede which would not have happened if Mustafi had been positioned properly – however on other occasions the ref would have blown for that and there would have been no soft goal conceded.
I think that put a dent in the players’ confidence and gave a lift to City – up till then it had been pretty even. The second goal was a killer and whilst I think the off side claim was rather weak I think Kompany’s goal was rather fortunate if not lucky. After that it was game over.
I note that Jack believed Fernandinho should have been Red carded — maybe a fair point there – he’s a sneaky f**ker (Fernandinho) and gave Jack a hard (dirty) time!
Against City to stand half a chance you need everything you have to be in place and ready to go and you also need some luck with referee decisions (and ricochets) to go your way.
Although describing the contest in David and Goliath terms would be going too far – clearly there were a number of a priori good reasons to think that Man City were the hot favourites to win the game on Sunday even before a ball was kicked. The extra £400m invested in players, the lack of form of Arsenal versus the City flying high, the undercooked with little time for preparation for Arsenal, combined with injuries to several key players, added to the unevenness of the contest. The bookies had Man City at 2/5 and Arsenal at 40/17 – which says it all.
I think we all feared the worst before kick off but being such optimists and believers that Arsene and the lads could once more conjure up a little Wembley miracle for us – we travelled readily in hope and perhaps with unrealistic expectations.
Up ’til the first goal it was a fairly even game – the goal was a result of a foul – after that and the second rather lucky goal we just crumbled whilst Man City grew in confidence. We’ve all been there in whatever sport we’ve played or watched. 2 nil becomes 3 nil as the final nails are hammered in. Against a very good City team – in all reality and putting aside our hopes and dreams of pulling one out of the bag again – this result should not have been such a great surprise – for all the above reasons!
There’s the explanation for the result and I haven’t mentioned either manager’s names once! So – given the explanation why Man City won and Arsenal lost – why on earth do all the journos jump on Arsene’s back and stick the knife in! Why do they accuse the players of not being up for it, a quite ridiculous view. There’s not one mention of the 3 key explanatory variables I’ve set out above – it’s all ‘Arsene out’ and ‘the players weren’t up for it’!
It’s just not a rational or fair explanation as to why we lost but rather it fits a certain narrative and the demand for the sensational very conveniently. Life was never meant to be fair and since when should facts get in the way of a good headline or quote from ex-players demanding Arsene’s head!
The band wagon rolls on – we need time to get this new forward line working properly and we need more investment in the team in midfield and defence but please above all – can we interpret games and results more fairly and realistically and not always through ‘Arsene out’ glasses – put another £400m into the team first and if it then doesn’t work against City then maybe – just maybe – you can begin to start to criticise the manager – until then – come on you Gunners!