“Don’t believe the truth”, say Oasis on the front cover of their sixth studio album.
Numbers are often thrown out to defend this or that point of view, proving this or that opinion undoubtedly right.
If football were an exact science, then I would have stopped watching it since a long time – or never had any interest in it.
There are many things which can’t be measured at all – like Mesut Özil’s deep impact on a game, some might say – and these things make football so interesting and exciting; our favorite newspaper, the Daily Mail, tried to prove to us Gooners that the Club hasn’t made any steps forward compared to last season – based on the fact that we had the same amount of points we had at this point last year, (and that was before our win against Burnley, by the way…)
Let alone that fact that we just thrashed Liverpool at the Emirates and we were sitting two floors higher than last year – when Matt Morlidge wrote his article – what the Daily Mail did is proving that anything can be upheld by numbers – depending on how you select them.If you ignore the fact that we scored seven goals more than last season and conceded four less, then you can say nothing really changed since last year; if you ignore that we turned around our record against big teams, losing only to Chelsea so far and not getting any of the royal battering we got away from home, then no leap forward has been done.
Compared to last season at this stage, we are second in the league, we scored more and conceded less and proved on the pitch that we can match any of the so-called top teams in the league – this sounds like improvement, to me.
Of course, it’s not enough to win us the title but we are the most serious challengers to virtual winners, Chelsea.
That role should have been that of Manchester City, Liverpool or Manchester United when the season started, not ours; as usual, we were written off when the season was about to start, the pundits saying that even our place in the top four was in danger because of our rivals’ better players, better managers, better fans and more ambitious plans.
Once again, we let the pitch do the talking, and today we are second in the league and in a very good position to end the season on a high.
We can have regrets because we lost points in a very silly way earlier in the campaign, but overall we are today a better team compared to last season: we are more fluent and more unpredictable going forward and quite steady at the back; we have plenty of options in each area of the field and our bench never seemed so strong; we replaced players like Lukas Podolski, Bacary Sagna, Lukasz Fabianski and Yaya Sanogo with Alexis Sanchez, Mattieu Debuchy, David Ospina and Danny Welbeck – which should tell a lot about the Club’s ambitions and willingness to improve.
We can debate whether this season’s improvements are sufficient or not but we can’t deny that we look better compared to this time last year.
Personally, I am not happy with the way the team looked – slow, unfit and not organized – during the first months of the campaign, and definitely not happy with the fact that we waited until January to get a third senior centre-half; I agree that the World Cup had an effect on our start of the season and injuries did not really help, but if we had to play the likes of Per Mertesacker and Mesut Özil while they were blatantly knackered it’s because Arsène Wenger could not complete the team properly.
There is plenty to debate about the direction the Arsenal is going to or whether the manager and the board are doing enough to make sure we will win another Premier League title; instead, the Daily Mail picked up partial numbers to prove the Arsenal is going nowhere, in the exact moment we moved to second spot in the league and looked to be threatening again after years of struggles.
This is the main reason why many tabloids and especially this one can’t really be taken seriously.
Mathematics is not an opinion, they say.
Unless you carefully select your numbers, ignore part of data and post everything online…
If you really master this art, you can even say that Hector Bellerín is faster than Usain Bolt.