Why do Arsenal fans judge different players by different standards?

Why do we judge different players by different standards? by JT1

Now that most of us have calmed down a little since the weekend I thought I would ask the above innocent question and hope that somewhere amongst the anticipated abuse some of the more sensible posters will have something useful to say. I am keen to be educated. I see after the WHL fiasco that the usual suspects are being panned again, both the “old faithfuls” like Ozil, Giroud and Mertesacker etc and also “chart re-entries” such as Ramsey featuring heavily. I see some saying Welbeck should have started ahead of OG. I see some calling Theo a talentless “whippet” whilst others insist he should have started. I see Kos have a mare but Mertesacker’s name still comes to the fore. I hear it was one game too far for Santi – but after the event. I heard we would not miss Alexis but everyone changed their mind – after the event. And so it goes on.

Anyhow, I want to talk about style versus substance and why some players are venerated and others are prone to frequent ridicule and criticism. When certain players don’t feature in a match there is always a convenient knee-jerk reaction contending that X or Y would have been game-changers etc. The fact that this can never be proved makes it a doubly effective way to pan the manager and others. In essence, every time we lose, the manager should have picked someone else. You would think that stats would back-up these arguments but the reality is something quite troublesome to me. Two players that regularly come to the fore in this regard are Tomas Rosicky and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (I know he is injured – but his name always crops up when he doesn’t feature). Two players that I would wager would come out top, or near the top, of any Arsenal fan popularity poll. Indeed TR has gone one stage further and has pulled off the commendable feat of achieving near-cult status.

I also want to include Jack Wilshere in this for slightly different reasons, primarily because he cuts through this board like bad Marmite in terms of his ability/worth etc. I will say now that AOC is my favourite Arsenal player and not one ounce of my being has any adverse feelings towards TR7. He joined us on the cusp of being world class but in my opinion his 8 year contribution has been sporadic and slightly underwhelming. He has a highlight reel to compare with anyone – but that is how I feel he is viewed and assessed by the faithful and the converted, his high points and not the overall contribution. However, and this is the nub of the matter, consider the following Premier League stats since Mesut Ozil (“weak”, “not physical enough”, “defensive liability”, “poor attitude”, “not up to it”, “waste of money”, “appalling body language”,”panic buy”, “liability” etc etc etc) arrived at the beginning of the 2013-14 season:

Mesut Ozil: 8 goals 11 assists 35 appearances (ie: he has not yet effectively completed a full PL season of stats)
Tomas Rosicky: 3 goals 2 assists 36 appearances
Alex O-C: 3 goals 3 assists 35 appearances
Jack Wilshere 4 goals 5 assists 33 appearances

Even more alarming, it took Ozil less than a season to all but match TR7’s 6 season PL haul of 9 goals and 11 assists (in 120 appearances) stretching way back to 2009/10. The comparison is made more stark if you listen to the throng of detractors telling you how poor Ozil has been. If you want to talk about other stats relevant to an attacking midfielder then last season he beat ALL three on ALL six other key stats (90 minute metric); possession, total passes, pass completion, chances created, successful passes, key passes). All these players are attacking midfielders whose job is to score and/or create. If the productivity is not there then you need at least be casting a Vieira-esque stamp of authority and influence over a game to justify selection. How is one an untouchable hero and the other a big fat zero to a good portion of the fan base. How does that work? Is it solely to do with sweat and endeavour and perceptions about attitude?

I conclude that fans, as humans, often base their opinions on selective criteria and those opinions are often more about emotion, style and endeavour rather than end product. The “warrior” players will always have a place in their hearts and if a player’s demeanour does not scream commitment, blood and thunder then they are ultimately doomed regardless of their real world contributions.

Is it coincidence that the Arsenal players that do have records showing numbers and end product, at least at some stage of their careers, are the ones most criticised (eg: Giroud, Ozil, Walcott and Ramsey) and others who do not have such comfort regarding end product and stats get the love; presumably for trying harder (Rosicky, Wilshere, Oxlade-Chamberlain and latterly Campbell). Or are they just contrived arguments to have a pop at Wenger? There is thankfully one notable exception to all the above; Santi Cazorla who ticks both boxes. All fans, both the objective and the emotional types, can celebrate his contribution – at least of course until he has back to back bad games.


Tags Giroud Ozil Ramsey Rosicky


  1. its why Wenger is the manager and none of the fan experts, especially arseholes like BSM, Le grove, She Wore, Arsenal Action

  2. The Ox is poor.

    Great pace and strength but it just ends up in lost possession or weak efforts on goal.

    Even with this he makes things happen so imagine if he improved his distribution and ability in front of goal!

    Ozil for me has not done enough. And I don’t mean in his defensive contribution. Someone with his undoubted talent must do more..it comes with the territory. Santi for me is the better option ahead of MO.

    Ramsey has to pull his finger out in a big way. Again the talent is there..

    Jack, oh Jackie boy. Promised much but he is turning out to be another over hyped prodigy. For me there are a whole host of players in and out of AFC that offer more than he and are by far more effective and rounded players.

    Wenger needs to see these things and change them. Perhaps he is and it just isn’t working..

    1. If we strengthen correctly we could have loaned ox n wilshire for the first half of the season and signed a top dm and fwd. We even turned cesc down to push wilshire and ramsey.if we got cesc we could have got rid of two out of;Rosicky,diaby,loaned jack

      Cavani/action Jackson Martinez
      Khedira /schnederlin/song loan
      could have been pushed through in the summer

      1. Agree. Would have shipped out Jack to bring the Fab back..

        Guess AW has faith in his new breed and not his old proven one. I admire the loyalty in a way but I just think he has lost the ability to make the right decisions. Too many what ifs..

  3. It is about expectations versus results. Why do people love Sanchez and love to hate Ozil? Both have similar price tags, and both arrived with high expectations.
    The difference is, Sanchez works his butt off and delivers on expectations (Goals and assists). Ozil has had a purple patch recently but barring that hasn’t come close to delivering on expectations, not to mention his lacklustre approach to the game.

    Regarding Rosicky, our expectations are considerably lower. He is old, costs us very little, yet he comes on and gives 110% every time and brings a sense of calm to the team. We are therefore more understanding when he doesn’t assist or score in every game, and we appreciate his efforts. He is probably the closest thing we have to a Gerrard/Lampard due to our stars (Fabregas, Nasri, Van Persie etc.) leaving the club at early ages, we therefore love him for hanging around and not jumping ship like so many before him.

    When it comes to Jack, we have seen what he can do, therefore we expect that from him. His inconsistency combined with his off-field antics contributes to a lack of patience on behalf of his supporters. Well at least that is how I choose to rationalise it. Is it fair? Probably not.

    It was my hope that the presence of Sanchez would be a good thing for Ozil, as last season it was almost a case of him and the rest. At least now he has someone of similar talent to help carry the burden of expectation. That combined with the 3 month rest has had a lot to do with his current rise in performance in my opinion. The distraction of Sanchez should hopefully prevent us from heaping too much pressure on the poor guy. It isn’t his fault that we paid 42.5mil for him. Di Maria isn’t worth what Man U paid for him, that doesn’t mean that he isn’t a good player, but the expectations of a player are normally correlated to the price tag of that player, and if they are paid more than they are worth, then they will never give us what we want.

    If Ozil cost 20mil, we would be loving him, and would probably fall in the mould of a Santi Cazorla cult hero.

  4. Why did we drop a fit Walcot for a not match Welbeck. I am just asking myself. Can anyone tell me please.

    1. Personally I wasn’t too disappointed with Welbeck’s contribution. He performed better than I expected coming for an injury.

      Did he wonder further forward too much? Did he not provide an outlet for our attacks? Did he stick to the by line too much? Wasn’t he replaced much earlier in the game? Yes/maybe.

      I for one am happy his back, they were worse players on that pitch than him who played the full 90!!! I feel the manager wanted to give Theo some protection or probably bring him on as an impact sub. The manager see’s playing almost everyday in training so he must have seen something there too.

      Hope that answers your question. PS: We have another game to look forward to tonight, time to put the spurs game behind us, nothing will change that result currently.

    2. Walcott had played a lot since coming back from a long term injury. Welbeck created the goal and took Rose on physically, something Walcott would not have done. Was also surprised to see Welbeck picked ahead of Walcott, but we ended up better off as a result.

  5. I would love Diego here but he doesn’t speak a word in English and he is very happy we’re he is. From his perspective arsenal would be a sideway move.

    1. Complete nonsense on the sideway move rubbish. Our infrastructure is better, players are better, more fans, more money, higher profile, even closer to his homeland. We are indisputably career progression in his book.
      If Simeone valued his own abilities he would move to Arsenal in a heartbeat. And I bet all I own at the end of Wenger’s contract , if he’s offered the reigns he’ll grab them with two hands.

  6. Interesting points. I’d expand further to ask why we scrutinize every member of the team twice over, and then the medical team, before ever landing at Mr.Wenger’s door.

    Why is our manager off limits for scrutiny? He’s our best ever manager, he revolutionised English football, he deserves the biggest statue of them all outside Emirates and a stand named after him….but I’m sorry, he’s still in a position where his input must be questioned.

    When I look at our squad compared to the rest I think we’re a schneiderlin away from being as good as City or Chelsea’s. So why are we so far away from them in reality? Management. It’s not just Wenger, it’s his team. When he leaves, so will about 15 members of staff; 15 new faces with fresh innovation, styles etc. That’s what we require to thrust us well and truly up to the heights this club is capable of achieving.

    Time to stop looking for excuses in players, pitches, ref decisions, medical teams, luck. Look at how the clubs most important man compares to the more dynamic/successful teams in Europe. Wenger’s CV this decade is beat by quite a number.

  7. We NEED a Top Striker

    Giroud and Welbeck are good backups, but not in the class of Costa, Aguero, Lewandowski, Suarez, Benzema, Cavani, Jackson Martinez, Bendtner

    1. Haaha!!! Lord Bendtner.

      I agree we do need a top striker though from the list provided I wonder who we might actually get:

      – Costa – With Chelsea, that’s a no no.
      – Aguero – With City, that’s another no
      – Lewandowski – Why would he leave Bayern at the moment
      – Suarez – Cant see him been sold anytime soon
      – Benzema – Him and Madrid are a perfect pair right now, cant see him leave
      – Cavani – maybe or maybe not. It depends whether Wenger does actually consider him, whether we are willing to meet his price tag and wags
      – Jackson Martinez- The hype about him has come down I wonder how his performing now. His age might be something to look at too
      – Bendtner – haaha, good one

      I think we need to freshen up “our transfer targets” or WC ST dream signing as funs, the current list looks abit outdated. Maybe the upcoming youngsters such as Laccazete, the Dybala’s etc should feature more.

      Whose willing to aid us scout, Leo? anybody?

      1. If I could pick two players to join us I’d have Schneiderlin and Draxler as striker. Kid’s 6’2 and his game is explosive.

  8. Good article, it’s about time someone pointed out how much emotion clouds fan judgement when the stats say the exact opposite.

  9. Here’s a stat for ya: 10 years 1 Cup

    And another: 2 years and 3 months until Arsenes contract expires.

    Roll on..

  10. I think that this article is yet another example of how obsessed football has become with charts and stats and so making comparisons between players. Sure Rosicky comes in a very limp 2nd to Ozil if you trust these numbers. However if you watch them play then Rosicky is out of sight Do these stats tell you if a man has heart,if he has courage,conviction and inspires those around him. I guess not. So maybe we can use our eyes and trust our judgement. It is the performances of our Manager that more worries me. We walked right into a trap at the Lane.Pochetino knew exactly how we were going to play,Playing deep as we had done at City,so he advanced the play using a high line thus ensuring that all the play would happen in our half. We couldn’t play because we had no space and also we had no pace up front to worry them. It was a simple but very effective tactic What did he do to even the battle up. Nothing. He might have spotted this straightaway and brought on Walcott, maybe Akbom as well.We could then have moved out of our own penalty area. That’s my armchair theory anyway.

  11. football is all about thoughts and counter thoughts..wenger is a good manager..but hes not tactically flexible..we never switch tactics in match…we always see it out even if its not working..we saw what spuds were doing,why not adapt??..maybe because we were winning by halftime..pace was the way out since they were playing a high line..but noooo.. we had to wait till late in the game to bring on walcott and rosicky..

  12. Is high time we stop blaming the manager. Our players should play every game as if it is our last. Fight, fight, fight, and fight.

  13. There’s a key factor you often miss when looking at stats. The contribution to the stats of other players. I say this from experience and watching football all my life but often the most important roles are those NOT directly influencing the major facts. Sometimes the most important factors are when you press, the off the ball movement and the ethos you bring to the team. Some players (Alexis) brings all this and the stats. Some like Ros or Ox contribute to the team press and team movement. Not necessarily do they always get the tackle or the assists but they actually get the team involved. It’s a fine line.

    Ozil for all his good points CAN NOT DEFEND. It’s a fact you accept and you have to compensate for. Ox etc. can. They can actually fight in the trenches and help the rest of the team push back. It’s more complicated then stats. That said, my only real issue is overloading with players who can’t defend. Welbeck/Theo/Ozil are all liable as wingers. Too many of them = danger defensively. That said, they also open us up going forward. It’s complicated.

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