More fun with statistics, plus Arsenal in for another Toure?

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Lies, damn lies, and Arsenal Stats

The blogoshpere is all atwitter (see what I did there?) about the dot com’s article detailing Arsenal’s supposed statistics.  Ahhhhh, I’m calling bullshiat on this.

I don’t trust statistics that are so obviously false. Denilson completed 164 passes all year? What the hell? Here’s a chalkboard showing that he completed 117 passes… in two games. 164 passes all year would equal less than 5 passes per game. Now I don’t know what kind of fools they take us for, but everyone knows that every Arsenal player completes more than 5 passes per game. Almunia probably completes more than 5 passes per game.

Or how about the stat that Song supposedly had only 17 tackles all season? Hmmm…. Here’s two games where he made 21 tackles and won 17 of them.

So, I have no idea what’s up with those stats, where they got them, who compiled them, how they were defined, or anything. I just know that they are utter garbage.

I mean, who would believe that Adebayor was offside only 43 times?

Lies, damn lies, and football economics

The other day I put up that “transfer anatomy” handout, you remember, the one with the little bit in the corner that shows how much teams have spent over summer transfers?

Right, well yesterday the folks who audit football clubs’ accounts released their findings of last year’s accounts and we got two major stories out of that research. First, Chelsea spent £172m just in wages in 2007. And second, the accountants found that Liverpool lost £43m during the 07/08 fiscal year.

These three things are related, I swear!

What this shows, to me, is that a club, that isn’t Chelsea, has to make a choice: they can either pay high wages, or they can spend a lot of money in the transfer window.  Which, in my mind, utterly destroys the simplistic “Arsenal need to spend” argument.

So, look at the first link there where you see that Tottenham spent £47m in transfers from 2004-2007. I’ve always wondered how they could afford to do that and still report profits, considering the much smaller fan base than Arsenal, the fact that they don’t have a billionaire owner, no European football, and they have a mediocre sized stadium and don’t charge much for tickets. They can afford to do that because they basically pay half the salary that Arsenal pay. Arsenal paid £100m in salary in 2007 and Tottenham paid £50m.

Now, ignore Chelsea and Man U — they spend what they want irregardless common sense, I mean Chelsea is coming close to £1bn* spent over the last 6 years.



So, ignore them, they are a reality distorting black hole of a cunt.

Instead look at Liverpool and you can see a serious problem. Liverpool have spent nearly £100m in salary every year and nearly £90m in the transfer market. The other lode stone is that they have a £300m debt that Hicks and Gillette piled on the team when they bought Liverpool.

The point here is that Arsenal and Liverpool have a very similar financial situation; both clubs have large debts (albeit for different reasons), both clubs have large wage structures, and yet Arsenal have saved money every year and Liverpool have borrowed and spent.

And now, the crows are coming home to roost and Liverpool’s debt is due, evermore. I’m not suggesting that Liverpool won’t find someone foolish enough to become a partner with Hicks and Gillette and then they’ll fail. Instead, I see this as a test case. See, Man U has a huge line of credit that they can’t even make the interest payments on due, I believe, next year, and I think what happens here, this year, with Liverpool will be indicative of what will happen with Man U next year.

The second thing I’d like to take away from this is that yes Arsenal are being fiscally prudent by not spending large sums in the transfer market but what I wonder about is the huge wage bill. Who, exactly, are we paying all this money to? Sagna? Clichy? Almunia? Bendtner? Song? Denilson? Nasri? Walcott? Those are the majority of our starters there folks, and they must be making damn good money if our wage bill is £100m.  Furthermore, I have to wonder if any of these players would be willing to take a modest pay cut in order to bring in some more players? They all talk about bringing someone in, but I’ve never once heard them say “I’d take a pay cut if it would help, because I want to win a trophy for the fans.”

And the last thing I want to bring up is just how important Wenger is in all of this. Yes, he’s set this wage scale which is stifling our transfer ability but just the fact that for four years he’s kept Arsenal at a very, very high level of play, all the while helping to manage the books and keep Arsenal fiscally sound for the long term is, I think, going to go down in history as one of the all-time great managerial feats. Compare these 4 years to Rafa Benitez, who’s constant clamor for transfers makes me wonder if he won’t get lumped in with Hicks and Gillette as the three reasons why Liverpool’s future is so uncertain.

I think this gives us all a bit of perspective on why Arsenal spend the way they do and what is likely to happen this summer with transfers. Which is to say, very little. Given our history, what I’ve shown you of the finances,  and the fact that Wenger is increasing our wages yet again (I mean, van Persie did have 10 goals this season, that’s worth another £1m or so a year) I would expect there to be just a little left over in the kitty for transfers. In fact, selling before buying is very likely.

That said, what I’d like to see is the point where the board feel like they are comfortable with the amount of cash in the reserve (at last count over £100m) and they start spending some of these annual profits that you and I are generating for them.  Maybe this year is the year? All signs point to an even bigger windfall over last year, when they netted more than £20m in profits. We’ll have to wait and see, I guess.

Daily Transfer Rumors (The Poop Scoop)

Ah, I love the smell of last year’s rumors trotted out as this year’s signings! Supposively**, Arsenal are again interested in Udinese defender Christian Zapata, which is probably a bunch of crap considering that the player is both confirming and denying that Arsenal are after him.

Meanwhile, the perennial “Yaya to Arsenal” story has risen again.  The player himself has insisted, repeatedly, that he does not want to play for Arsenal. But that isn’t stopping the World’s Least Reliable Newspaper from printing quotes from Yaya saying

It’s true that it would be great to play for a big club with my brother,that would be fantastic but you never know.

Well, if the Sun is reporting it, it must be true.

Meanwhile, in the “Players who are not leaving or coming in” department, Stephane M’Bia is heavily linked to Everton now. I will update the Players Who Didn’t Sign For Arsenal page if there’s confirmation of him signing for Everton. Also, I want to be the first to break the shocking news report that Andrei Arshavin IS NOT re-signing with Zenit St. Racistburg, it turns out that he just likes practicing with his old teammates. This is really a remarkable story, it’s one of those X player is not signing for Y team stories but it’s at the level of ludicrisness that the only equivalent would be Science News printing a story like “Scientists refute the notion that the sky is brown.”

Finally, the Vermaelen saga drags on. I’m starting to think there might be some truth to this story and Vermaelen is the “commanding” center back that Wenger seeks.


That’s it for today, see you tomorrow!

*add up their wage bill at an average of £150m from 2004-2007 = £600m, then add in another £150m in transfers and you get £750m, so sue me if I add a bit of hyperbole.

** unlike irregardless, supposively is not a word


  1. Something is seriously wrong with those statistics, for example its says RVP made 10 assists this season, well according to the Premier League statistics he made 11 assists in the league alone… maybe they were drunk while writing this? I tend to think that maybe tackles and such are a per game average? I really dont know.

  2. “Irregardless” is one of those “moronic” words. By that I mean some moronic people, e.g. my ex-boss-British-expat, use it so many times that the like-wise-moronic people who edit dictionaries put it in. Its about as intelligent as saying “I aint got nothing.” So Tim… stop using it!

    But its good to see at least 1 “top 4” club in the BPL is using common sense with their spending. Being a Bayern supporter, the Schadenfreude of the possibility of seeing ManUre go down due to blind financial spending weighs heavy with glee.

    Tim you touched on a spot of football that really doesnt make headlines all that much with Tottenham, their spending and keeping ticket prices down. Now Im not saying Tottenham is a model to emulate but Bayern hasnt raised ticket prices in years if memory serves correctly. This may be a bit off topic but Energie Cottbus (Bundesliga) got their asses handed to them at 1 match this season and the club gave a full refund to all their supporters with an apology. Again Energie Cottbus isnt a club to emulate for success but it is one for class and for their respect to their supporters.

    Another good blog Tim. Hopefully Arsenal can crack the top 3 this coming season… and I mean that sincerely!

    Wieder und immer Bayern!!!!

  3. i never look at stats. its so misleading. one of the most laughable stats is “interceptions”. now if you are a midfielder or a defender with a high number of interceptions does that necessarily mean you are excellent at reading the game? turns out for a lot of these statistical sites, if you are playing a crappy team and their players misdirect a pass onto your instead of their team mate (something our denilson was doing quite frequently in the early part of the season), that could also count as an “interception”. stats simply never say the whole story and we should look at them with a grain of salt.

    as far of arsenal’s huge wage bill goes, its because we pay our players in the youth academy more than anyone else. we also have more players, coaches, and staff in our club (if you combine 1st team and the youth team) than anyone else. this is a fact. i dont remember where i read this, but it was good source and considering how much emphasis we put on developing players from scratch, it’s not hard to believe. not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing. proponents will probably say that its better for the long run while opponents will argue that we should tone down the youth program and use some of that cash to “upgrade” our 1st team. point is, this undertaking was decided both by the board and wenger when we were planning the move to the emirates. but while the wage bill is high, it enables us to keep our costs in the transfer market low.

  4. Optimist, pessimist, and Scotch Mist which is where most of these statistics come from. What shall we have, the goalkeeper that plays two matches, and lets in six. Did we lose both games draw both games, draw one/lose one, draw one/win one, or win both games?

    If irregardless is acceptable then gardless must be acceptable too.

    As for Yaya joining his brother, I think maybe it’s a typographic error, and should read Mama, who is older and more experienced, which I thought, is what we need.

    Amongst all the shite that is bandied about, I see no mention here of the demi-god Tony Adams, and his strange utterings. Perhaps all that sauce in his younger days as finally taken it’s toll. He could block, he could tackle, he could head off the line, score from a set piece, put on a fierce face, but never pass …….. a breathalyser test.


  5. Supposively, one of the benefits of having high paid youngsters is that their sale value is thus higher. I mean for those that wont make it to the 1st team

  6. Aye, Tony is yesterdays news, in more ways than seventeen.

    If we are looking at profit and loss, has the ‘Le Boss’ ever sold at a loss?


  7. The true reason our wage bill is so much higher than it should be is because we pay our players post-tax. Meaning, if we say Adebayor earns 80k a week, that’s how much he receives after his salary is taxed. Meanwhile if Lampard makes 80k a week, that’s how much he receives BEFORE it gets taxed, so we are paying Adebayor much, much more than the 80k figure which we know. This is due to when we signed Andres Limpar way back in 1990. Limpar was making less with Arsenal post-tax than in Italy so we now arrange contractual agreements that make it so that people take home a net salary rather than a gross one.

  8. I’ve seen the Yaya comments a few times now and wonder why no-one’s called total BULLSH*T?

    he says, “It’s true that it would be great to play for a big club”…

    So what the f*ck are Barca???

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