Welcome to November or as Arsene Wenger sometimes calls it “Mars Bars” – on account of all the leftover Halloween candy that his players eat on the bus.*
November is the month which Arsenal traditionally take the fewest points per game (in Premier League play only). I don’t know the exact number (1.58?) because it’s an unimportant stat. It’s like one of those “Huddersfield hasn’t beaten Arsenal at home since 1921” stats: utterly meaningless because it’s not like the same players have been playing one another for the last 100 years.
Breaking with tradition I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the ignominious November record will be smashed to pieces! Arsenal face Man City, Tottenham, Burnley, and Huddersfield and while the average fan thinks that’s a tough schedule I can see the Gunners getting 7 points there, which will take our PPG to 1.75!
Seriously, the whole “month points” thing is as ridiculous as the now-annual “Arsenal would have won the League if the League was held from January to January” thing. The League isn’t contested from January to January and if it were I doubt Arsenal would have gotten so many easy points in the spring. Also, that would be a really long season. And it would be utterly nuts to have a summer break – though it would give Arsene a great excuse not to buy any players.
But Arsenal kick off November in the Europa League, hosting Red Star Instant Yeast on Thursday before making the long trip to Manchester to face the only team that is actually in Manchester, Man City. After that we get another internationalism break – which will give us all time to contemplate the impending end of humanity while we waive colorful pieces of cloth and pretend that we are special due to the utterly random longitude and latitude of our birth. I was born 39th parallel north and I have great pride in my 39th parallelness. I can’t stand those 40th parallel north people and how they are all “yah sure you betcha” while eating jellied fish or whatever they do up there.
Where was I going with this? Oh yeah, Europa League. Tell me you don’t love the Europa League? Seriously. Wenger is playing a bunch of youngsters, the opposition fans are.. colorfully rowdy, and the games are as unpredictable as riding a bull. I love seeing Jack Wilshere and Ainsley Maitland-Niles play – or Joe Willock and Freddie Nketiah. Strap me in coach, I’m hanging on for this wild ride!
If you have 12 minutes today please watch Arsene Wenger’s pre-match presser with Rob Holding. It’s great fun. Especially the part where Wenger says that this is the most unified and focused squad he’s ever worked with. You know that he’s not lying because he follows that up with “I am really honest when I say that. You cannot say that any player, in any competition, has gone a little bit easy. the focus of the team has always been exceptional.”
I mean, maybe the team is unified and hungry, he’s hungry – he tells us that literally every day, and I have no reason to dispute the claim. I do, however, think that maybe, just perhaps, a little bit, the game against Liverpool wasn’t completely, you know, unified, focused, and with 100% all the players giving everything to the team. I don’t want to just complain or bring up old wounds, nor do I want to get into that whole “body language” thing, but that Liverpool match was about as disjointed and half-arsed a performance as I have seen from an Arsene Wenger team. But hey, he’s the one in the locker room not me so I’ll take his word for it.
Anyway, there’s a big match today between Tottenham and Real Madrid and the predictron gives a slight edge to Real Madrid. I’m calling it a close win for the Spaniards. By the way, the predictron went 0-3 on Sunday and despite the name this formula is kind of unpredictable right now. I think it’s because this season’s data set is soooo small and wild variations occur among player stats. For example, Alexis is polling quite low at the moment because he’s not finishing at the rate we expect from a top striker (17%). But if he scores a couple of goals over the next few weeks, his rating will go way back up, which will (in turn) increase the likelihood that the predictron will predict a win for Arsenal. That’s a bit of a glimpse into how that works!
Right, well, here’s to an easy win by Real Madrid over Tottenham Hotspurs in total defiance of mt model! See you all tomorrow.
*No professional athletes eat candy these days. As an aside, I looked at my bag of leftover chocolates from Halloween and wanted to know which one had the fewest calories per gram. It’s York Peppermint Patties at just 3.7 cals/gram. Most of the others have well over 4.5 calories per gram and several of them were 5 calories per gram. Twix was a surprise at 5 calories per gram. They always seemed lighter to me!