Arsenal have ‘less resilience’ than Liverpool or Manchester City

Looking at the Arsenal data, it seems they really do need to score first to win. Plus, briefly laughing at Chelsea and more on blue cards.

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Let’s all laugh at Chelsea
I’m writing this just after Lerma’s screamer so admittedly this whole email will look ridiculous if Chelsea come back and win 4-1 etc.

Anyway with that being said, with all the absolute shite and horror in the world today, I can’t for the life of me figure out why more attention is not given to the absolute hilarity of Chelsea’s situation. It’s so so funny. Every aspect. The fact their Bond villain owner was forced to sell the club against his will, to be taken over by a cartoonishly American owner with the footballing knowledge of a sausage.

It really gives me life looking at Noni Madueke strutting around with a headband on him. Or 100 million man Enzo with his pastel white teeth, when this generation of Chelsea fans were raised on powerhouses like Ballack and Lampard. I could go through the whole squad but I don’t think it would do anyone any good.

Anyway just let it be said that one Arsenal fan is really really enjoying this.


Some time later…
Don’t care.. still funny…

READ: Chelsea finally take the risks that might make them a Pochettino team


Worried about Arsenal’s lack of resilience
A bit of cheeky data extrapolation for ya:

A great report from the F365 editor – Arsenal are eight points clear at top of Premier League table that is the mark of champions – might be a little narrow in my view, as a Gooner, I feel there are some causes for concern:

While Arsenal leads the league in terms of % of games when scoring first

1st – Arsenal, 75.00 % (P 24, Scored First 18)
3rd – Man City, 65.21 % (P 23, Scored First 15)
8th – Liverpool, 54.17 % (P 24, Scored First 13)
(TOT 2nd, BRE 4th, NEW 5th, WHU 6th, AVL 7th)

The winning % when scoring first in games shows that other teams are slightly more clinical even though Arsenal is scoring first more often?

1st – Liverpool, 92.31 % (12 W, 1 D, 0 L)
3rd – Arsenal, 83.33 % (15 W, 2 D, 1 L)
5th – Man City, 80% (12 W, 3 D, 0 L)
(AVL 2nd, MUN 4th)

Among the top 3 this means the points per game when scoring first:

1st – Liverpool, 2.85
3rd – Arsenal, 2.61
4th – Man City, 2.60
(AVL 2nd)

Arsenal are far behind the other 2 in terms of % of games won when NOT scoring first:

2nd – Man City, 50% (P 8, W 4, D 2, L 1)
3rd – Liverpool, 36% (P 11, W 4, D 5, L 2)
10th – Arsenal, 17 % (P6, W 1, D 2, L3)
(TOT 1st, AVL 4th, MUN 5th, BHA 6th, WOL7th, WHU 8th, BOU 9th)

Losing when conceding first accounts for 3 of Arsenal’s 4 losses so far this season. We really need to score first to win, and have less resilience than the other 2 in the title race. However our recent turn in form is worth another look at these stats when 30 games have been played.
Munaf (Nwaneri Now) Gooner, Canada


Love the Starboy
Saka scored his 50th Arsenal goal at the weekend. He’s still only 22. Blimey.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London


Talking blue cards
Let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water when it comes to blue cards and sin bins. Scriv O’Scroob absolutely nailed JN on a lack of science in his, frankly childlike rant on their possible introduction. So how about we start a more civilised discussion for once?

First let’s look at the reasons for the sin bin idea. A few parts to it I guess. Firstly there’s the idea that there’s a transgression above a yellow and below a red which warrants a more befitting punishment. Is this true? Well we often hear commentators and pundits talking about ‘orange’ cards for such occasions so I guess we’ve got something that fits the bill. However, I’m not convinced that the occasions I’ve heard this used cover the situations that Blue cards will be used for.

Blue cards seem to be for two specific instances which many might seem to be problem areas: abusing the ref and cynical fouls. Are these actual problems? Well it depends who you ask but the referees are actually concerned about this their wellbeing at all levels of the sport and it seems that the trial of blue cards has had a positive impact at grassroots level, though I’ve only seen this from an IFAB board member so perhaps there is more investigation required. If true, however, this is surely a big tick in the pro Blue card column, no? Everyone wants better behaved footballers, right?

The other use case is a little trickier. The subjectivity involved rings alarm bells. Is it just for shirt pulling? Or tackles too? If the latter what if it’s a genuine attempt to play the ball? Is this even that big of a deal? Answers on a postcard.

Then there’s the effect on the game. I get Ange’s point. Yes you will get one team trying to waste time (not something you can be blue carded for I don’t think) but you will surely also get the other team pressing and trying to make their advantage count. As happens in rugby and it’s good fun.

I’m not sure it’s right for football (because Our Game is special and couldn’t possibly learn from other sports) but I can see benefits to it. It would be good to read if more experience from its use at lower levels to see how it affects games and the behaviours it’s trying to correct.

It’s certainly not without merit enough to have a foul-mouthed rant (as much as we enjoy them) about the people who are implementing it and how they’re destroying the game.
Ash Metcalfe


…I enjoyed Scriv O’Scoob, Reading’s email in response to Johnny Nic’s column on blue cards (which was also fun). It was well-reasoned and thoughtful, but acknowledging the author’s concerns without addressing them was a bit disappointing. Not that I blame Scriv; Johnny Nic himself failed to develop them adequately. If that sounds vague, it’s because I’m going about this mail in a roundabout way.

Do I wish Newcastle could figure out a way to defend better? Absolutely! But I also acknowledge that the 90 total goals scored for and against us in the league make us its most entertaining side to watch, love us or hate us. We’re so daft because in possession we defend with a three that includes Big Dan Burn, who is an absolute hero, but fundamentally unable to cope with top-flight wingers who are able to avoid being bodied up by him.

With the blue card rule as it’s been presented in effect, Newcastle would have to play very differently. We commit as many “cynical” fouls as anybody, and if that resulted in going down to ten men for 10% of the match, we simply couldn’t defend in the high-risk way we’ve been doing.

Burn would either be benched or a part of a central three, responsible for double teaming with Botman or Schar, because he’s already too slow to be on-on-one against so many attackers, especially on the flank. Trippier and (presumably) Livramento’s defensive responsibilities at would be much greater when 1:1 defending is so risky, and a central midfielder might even have to be stationed near the center circle in possession. That doesn’t leave much for attacking.

I think the rule will hurt most clubs about the same, but also make pace the must-have primary attribute for a central defender. I don’t dismiss the whole idea of blue cards – indeed, I’d have just given yellow cards bin time – but I definitely think the rule needs more examination.

If they come with a ten-minute binning, blue cards are going to fundamentally change the product on the field, and that product is remarkably tasty right now. The Barclays has been fantastic this season, apart from VAR interruptions and occasional VAR implosions. With 763 goals scored so far, it looks likely that last season’s record for most goals scored will be broken, and possibly by a lot. Do we want to really mess with that?

For what it’s worth, I’d suggest that a shorter binning could be better: three or five minutes, perhaps; sides cope with the lower end of that scale every time a player is treated on the sidelines. I’d also point out that yellow cards for dissent seem to be having an effect on the pitch this season. Maybe we should see how that pans out before we start throwing harsher punishments around?
Chris C, Toon Army DC


…As much as blue cards appear to be controversial, it is an entirely reasonable position to suggest that two things football needs less of are cynical fouls and dissent, so it is totally understandable that the authorities want to reduce the amount of these things in games.

Considered like this, it’s baffling that managers don’t want this sort of thing punished. Much like fighting in ice hockey, I don’t think they’re actively encouraging their players to commit cynical fouls and argue with officials, but they’re more than happy to reap any benefits that come from slowing the game down with an egregious breach of the rules. If they, as the people ultimately responsible for their players’ behaviour, encouraged them to play the game properly and cut out this sort of thing, there would be nothing at all to punish, whether with existing cards or newly invented ones.
Ed Quoththeraven


It’s a no from me…
I am with Johnny regarding the Sin-bins. Leave it alone would you. The game seems to be changing so fast these days, where the rules of the game literally change mid-season. Remember a few years ago when Ole’s Utd kept getting penalties, so they changed how they apply the rules mid-season?

I saw recently that VAR has improved mistakes by something like 15-30%, which is pretty good. I’ve long believed that games of such magnitude and financial importance should not be decided by a referee’s mistake, failure to see or failure to act. Still happens mind, but at least it’s trending in the right direction.

Sin-bins do not do this for me. I think maybe in a sport like Rugby or hockey, the one man down rule can certainly make an impact, but not one as drastic as you would see in football.

I can already imagine, 5 mins into Utd vs Villa, Casimiro makes the tackle he did yesterday, and gets a booking for it. He rightfully protests as he never touched the guy, but with sin-bins, those complaints could end up with ten mins off. I could also imagine Dalot then complaining furiously and also getting sent off for dissent (Like that time he got two yellows in a minute for it).

So five minutes in, you can have 9 man Utd up against Villa. Utd sit back with two lines of four and Villa. Turns out the goal had a handball in it, but the man who handled it didn’t score, just set up the scorer, so the goal stands. Impassioned, Utd players complain and 2 more get sin bins – Shaw and Maguire.

So we are less than 15 mins in, Utd are 1-0 down, with 7 players on the field. 3 of the back 4, and their defensive midfielder are all off. We watch Villa attack and attack with Garnacho and Rashford as full backs, Mainoo partnering Varane at CB, and with that they score again. By the time all four are back on the field, Villa make it 3-0, decide to sit back and run the game out.

Is that a game worth watching? Does it show us who was the better side? Does Casimiro telling the ref he’s blind for missing something make Villa worthy or deserving of a 1 man advantage? Why should an attitude issue towards a ref benefit the opposition? What’s the limit on total players sent? What if 6 players get sent off? Are we just expected to watch ten players play heads and volleys vs 4 defenders and a keeper? Who goes in goal if the keeper gets one?

This, like that time they loosened penalty rules, is a poorly thought out plan that is being rushed out way too soon. Like Johnny said, Football used to be simple. The only complicated part growing up was explaining the offside rule, now that’s 2+2= 4 compared to what’s followed.

Those who make it complicated rarely get congratulated.


Annoying football arguments
Reading the mailbox today, and most other days, again got me shouting at my screen to som of my football argument annoyances. Those things that fans throw at each other usually when their team has lost or in a poor run of form which if actually analysed are for want of a better word ‘stupid’

For example

  • ‘If it wasn’t for Utd’s home form last year they would have finished outside the top 6’. Well last time I looked all of the other teams were allowed to play well at home
  • ‘If the keeper hadn’t made all those saves it would have been a different result’ – Again are keepers not allowed to play well?
  • If we hadn’t hit the post 20 times this season we would have finished ‘x’ places higher’ – True but that’s just inaccuracy. Ultimately its the same as hitting the corner flag 20 times.
  • If VAR hadn’t rules those goals out for offside it would have been closer – No clarification needed (aside from the Diaz goal in that 1 freak occurrence)

Sure there are loads more. Anyone…anyone? No just me!!
Angry Mailbox Reader, Staffs
PS – Where does Gary Neville keep all his coats as he has a new one every week!

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