What’s Weak this Week: Week 10 stats

I just spent the last three hours fixing my database and besides having completely lost my mind (I don’t need it) I think I’m ready to write about the first 10 games of the season. All stats below ONLY count through week 10, only use Premier League data, and I use a home-brewed expected goals formula (a nice balance between amber malt and hops; not too sweet, not too hoppy, not watery, but also not a flavor bomb – a very drinkable ale) and while it’s kind of simple it correlates well to actual goals.

Under/Overperforming teams

Using expected goals versus actual goals it’s probably no surprise to learn that Crystal Palace is the most “unlucky” team this season. They have an actual goal difference of -17 but an expected goals difference of just -3. Most of their “bad luck” is down to bad finishing. They have created 16 big chances which should have seen them score 7 goals but they have a League low 12% big chance conversion rate and are 2nd worst in the League even getting big chances on target with 44%. The League average for big chance conversion is 46% and 68% of all big chances are on target. Palace have also only converted 3.45% of their shots in prime – these are shots in the 18 yard box right in front of goal – where the League average is 25%.

Liverpool and Arsenal are 3rd and 4th most underperforming teams in the League but for exactly opposite reasons. Liverpool because they have conceded 16 goals where we would expect them to concede just 12 and Arsenal because they have scored 19 where we expect 23.

Liverpool’s problem is both that they have conceded a ton of big chances (18) but also that the opposition have managed to get 88% of their big chances on target. The League average for big chances on target is just 68%, so while their save percentage is fine, they just allow too many on target. The other odd wrinkle with Liverpool is that 16 of the 18 big chances they have allowed have been in away games. And while they have played Man City and Tottenham away, they have also conceded 7 big chances to Watford and Leicester.

Arsenal, meanwhile, create plenty of Big Chances (tied for 2nd most with Man U (30), but well behind first place Man City (45)) they have the 2nd lowest big chance conversion rate at 26% – if the scored at the League average rate they would have 5 more goals to the good and might even be considered title contenders this season.

This is entirely down to Alexis Sanchez. Like two years ago, the Chilean is in a scoring slump with just 1 goal from 25 shots. Sanchez has taken 15 of his 25 shots outside the box, which is a recipe for a los scoring season (those shots are scored at a 3% rate). It could well be that playing every day for the last three years has finally worn him down. That’s OK, because Arsenal could use a guy to get the ball to Lacazette, who is an actual goal scorer.

Manchester United are literally the most overperforming team. They have only allowed 4 goals this season, all of them big chances. I haven’t seen this kind of stat in 10 games since I started doing this three years ago. Moreover, it’s not like United are keeping teams quiet: they have conceded 100 shots already, 6 more than even Arsenal who are typically called soft. And they aren’t all shots from distance either. 31 of their 100 shots conceded were shots in prime (31%). Compared to Man City who have allowed just 13 shots in prime, which is 20% of their total, United look like they could be in for a big crash.

I also have Chelsea and Burnley down to “revert to mean”. Chelsea played well above expected goals last season and are at it again this season. They have allowed a “top 6 leading” 121 total shots. What’s keeping them afloat is that unlike United – who are relying on a 70% SiP save rate from de Gea – Chelsea have only allowed 10 big chances. Tied for 3rd fewest. They need Kante back, stat, if they want to keep overclocking this defense.

Meanwhile Sean Dyche has the British press boiling over his season so far but I wouldn’t put much money on them staying in the top 10. Their main problem is that they have already allowed 182 shots – and they are decent shots as well with an expected goals against of 17.25.

Their trick is that they block shots. A lot of blocked shots. Dyche took a page from Claudio Ranieri’s book and is trying to block shot his way to a championship. 67 blocks in the first 10 games. But even if you remove those 67 shots, Burnley are still living very close to the edge: they have allowed 16 big chances but the opposition have only scored 6; they have allowed 27 unblocked shots in prime and the opposition have only scored 6. That accounts for 3 more goals that they should have conceded and there are another three from long range shots – they haven’t conceded a single goal from distance this season.

But even if they do keep the block party going, the real big problem is that they can’t score. Right now, they are on track for 38 goals in a season and in the modern era that is relegation fodder. In 1992-93 Arsenal scored 40 goals in a season and finished 10th. They at least had Ian Wright (right right) who helped Arsenal to the cup double on his way to 30 goals that season. Burnley have a couple of guys with 3 goals each at the moment. But hey, if you want your Arsenal back, you could just follow Burnley. They seem to have the “boring boring” thing down pat: they have three 1-0 wins, three 1-1 draws, and a 0-0 draw. Plenty of chances to sing “one-nil” during those matches.

Man City are ridiculous you guys

Man City have taken the most shots (185) and conceded the fewest (65). They have the most big chances (45) and scored the most (24). They have also allowed the 2nd fewest (9) and have conceded the joint fewest goals from big chances (3).

Guardiola’s team were doing this exact same thing last year but the difference this year is that they are slightly overclocking the finishing: 53% of big chances and 41% of shots in prime.

Arsenal have no chance against City at home tomorrow. Arsenal’s entire season record is lashed to 5 wins from 5 home games. In away games they have 1 win, 1 draw, and 3 losses. For City, the only points dropped were to Everton where City had their lowest expected goals output of the season with 1.62. Arsenal’s lowest expected goals for was 0.59 at Liverpool. Even if Arsenal play for the draw, they will need to score first to get a point from this fixture. Arsenal could come out attacking a surprise the Citizens and then try to hang on for the Tottenham-style smash and grab for the next 80 minutes.

Wenger has never beaten Guardiola in an away game, losing 15-5 on aggregate over 5 matches. The good news is also that Wenger has only failed to score against a Guardiola team once in 11 tries.

Qq

66 comments

  1. Hey, great post, I can be critical (often about presumed negativity), but this is exactly why I come to this site regualy, because it it fast,accurate,understandable and brilliantly written,
    This srticle uses statistics in the corect way, over a sufficiant recent period and reaches logical conclusions which are not too dogmatic to be patronising.
    There is another reason I visit it has to be said the standard of repliers on here is extremly high, some knowledgable, elequant posters, who whether I agree with or disagree with, nearly always enhance my view on the situation.
    Thanks for taking the effort to post 👍😎

  2. Just when everyone is convinced it can’t be, it often is, so I’m going for Arsenal upsetting the form book, the odds and the stats and coming out 1-3 winners, with Alexis putting himself in the shop window by reverting to mean on conversion and Lacazette continuing to convert like the thoroughbred he is. I’m also hoping Wenger goes for Ramsey on the right, in place of Ozil, with Elneney or Coquelin in the middle but, if not, Ozil has got to offer something defensively.

  3. Rarely do players who are the subject of transfer interest put in an eye catching performance against their new would be clubs.
    I think Sanchez will struggle today to continue the trend.

  4. Laca on bench. Alexis as strikes. Ramsey on right wing. Wenger reverts back to back 4. Xhaka Coq midfield.

    1. It’s not a back 4. When City have it in our own half, it looks like a flat back 5. When they have it in their half, we are pushing up and pressing them well with each defender marking someone and preventing the pass in to feet. When we have it in their half (which is rare) it’s really just a back 2 with Kos and Coquelin and sometimes Bellerin, everyone else is getting up the pitch. But they are not pushing up very high, terrified of the speed of the front 3, so there is a big gap between attack and defense and so when the forwards turn it over the City players have half the field to play combinations and get their counter started.

  5. City are going to score three against us. I’m not saying they’re going to win, I’m just saying that they’ll put three past us. Obviously, we have to hit them with four.

    My prediction. Also evidence, perhaps, that I should never run a betting shop.

  6. foolish team selection. why would you have two center forwards who are both better than alexis on the bench but not start them? either lacazette or giroud, i don’t care, but not alexis leading the line.

    i like coquelin getting the start; makes the midfield more solid. likewise, i like that debuchy is on the bench. hopefully, he can stay fit and force his way back into the team; he’s better than he gets credit for being.

    1. I don’t think the lineup is that bad (personally I’d play Lacazette, and probably someone other than an out-of-form Coquelin in midfield, but I can understand the thinking). What’s bad is playing that lineup in a 3-4-3, with Coquelin, a midfielder who can’t pass under pressure to save his life, playing at the all-important central CB position.

      Just watched the first half, and saw Tim say on twitter that Coquelin hasn’t been so bad and he’s been cleaning up messes, but equally, his inability to keep the ball when it’s switched to him in central defense and he gets pressured, has meant we’ve been under more pressure than we ought to have been.

      I’ll predict 3-0, but it could get uglier than that. We haven’t been terrible, and yet we still look about fifty times more ragged than they do. It’s a difference in class in coaching, obviously.

      1. I knew someone would say it was about coaching. But I think a very big part is confidence. See how our passing suddenly came alive once we scored, and theirs fell apart? Confidence has that effect and Arsenal are constantly having their confidence attacked.

        By the way, we showed great mental strength today to get back into the game against a fantastic City side who got the rub of the green with some big decisions.

        1. Our passing came alive for about 3 minutes. And that was also in large part because they were stretching the game, leaving gaps behind because they knew we’d leave gaps for them and they could score the killer third (even if when it came it shouldn’t have stood).

          It’s obviously coaching Shard!

          Take a look at their first goal again: they score after we unnecessarily cough the ball up, right after having won it back, on the edge of our area. The player that coughs it up is Alex Iwobi, one of the most technically accomplished players at pass-and-move football in our squad. Yet he plays a tentative, sloppy, weak ball, and City immediately nip in.

          Do you really mean to tell me that Fabian Delph and Kyle Walker and (for that matter) Sterling and Stones and Fernandinho and Sane and Otamendi are markedly better naturally gifted footballers at pass-and-move football than Alex Iwobi (they might be better footballers for other reasons, obviously)??? Yet time and again City work it out from the back with precision, rapid-fire, intelligent passing. There was NO REASON for Iwobi to make such a basic mistake, even though he was under pressure. Obviously any player can make a mistake, but this was not a one-off occurrence. The whole team was doing it. Our passing, our first touch, our individual decision making with the ball, and the supporting movement of teammates when one of our players had the ball, were all sloppy sloppy sloppy!!

          This happens EVERY TIME we play a team who presses us. There was no lack of effort on our part today, and no little skill. The players were trying, and (despite obvious flaws in the balance of the side that have still not been addressed) the players are good. Yet we’re let down because both with and without the ball the other team is prepared way better than we are.

          1. I agree we were very unlucky in the decisions for the second two goals: the third was obviously offside–close, but not nearly so close, as, e.g., Lacazette against Stoke–and the more I see of the second, the more it looks like shoulder to shoulder to me, and therefore it’s at best “extremely soft” as they say.

            But does anyone really doubt that, in all likelihood, they would have gone on to score the goals they needed even if those two hadn’t stood? They were opening us up at will.

          2. Ok. I’ll have to watch it again. I think we’ve become a little better under pressure than before, but obviously we aren’t very good still. I wasn’t negating coaching (or quality of players) as an issue. But I think confidence plays a huge part in it. Obviously that’s an intangible, and good coaching will also lead to more confidence in players’ abilities. But there it is.

          3. PFo

            See, that’s a maybe. They were definitely the better team, who in all likelihood would have won the game regardless. What cheeses me off is not finding out. A better team getting 2 (or 1) goal worthy calls their way. Come on. That’s not an insignificant advantage to be just brushed away by essentially using the cliche ‘the better team won’. Next you’ll be saying the decisions ‘even themselves out’ or something.

  7. City on the counter are truly frightening. When they break it’s like watching Arsenal v Napoli in CL from a few years ago except every single week.

  8. So your record signing, most natural finisher and leading goalscorer sits out two of the biggest games of the season.

    For a goal-shy forward, Alexander Iwobi.

    Oh Arsene. Only you.

    1. It’s conservative, but not crazy.

      What’s crazy is Coquelin in central defense. Play 4-3-3 with him in midfield where all the danger is, Arsene.

      1. Starting Coquelin is a good move against City; he brings exactly what you need to stop quick, tricky opponents. I suspect he put in in as a CB because Coq is so poor in possession, City would’ve hounded him into too many errors.

        1. But they did that from CB too. You have to have composure playing as the centermost defender in a back three, and Coquelin has/had none of it. And normally I’d say Coquelin is a good bet in these sorts of games (in midfield!), but he’s been in very bad form of late.
          Also, if you put Coquelin alongside, say, Xhaka and Wilshere (not saying I’d have gone with this, it’s just an example), then his being poor in possession doesn’t get exposed so badly. But you put him next to Ramsey and Xhaka (one is too far forward 90% of the time, and not great keeping possession in tight situations, the other is good in possession but too slow so vulnerable to the press) and it’s a disaster waiting to happen. The only way it makes sense to start Coquelin at all in that lineup is to have him and Ramsey play a very high press themselves, to avoid us having to build too often from the back. Otherwise, it was always going to be a disaster. Putting him in CB was just as bad, probably worse.

          1. I don’t agree. I thought he did well there. The pressure that came, would you trust any of our players to pass the ball out in such a situation? I thought he did the right thing by clearing it.

            On the other hand, I blame Petr Cech for the pressure on us playing out from the back. He seemed to continually pass it to a player still under pressure. Almost like by playing at Chelsea for so long he doesn’t know how to find the open guy. And also, I don’t think he’s good enough with his footwork to be a genuine option to play the ball back to.

            Not that I’m saying Cech is terrible. He made some fantastic saves today, though he should have saved that De Bruyne shot. I think we need a GK with better distribution though.

          2. Just need some young blood in that defense in general. I like Chambers and Holding but worry that neither are quick enough for the way Arsenal like to play and they don’t win often enough on 1v1 which is huge if you play CB for Arsenal.

          3. “I don’t agree. I thought he did well there. The pressure that came, would you trust any of our players to pass the ball out in such a situation? I thought he did the right thing by clearing it.”

            And therein lies the problem. I think there were probably better options to playing him there, but I agree that many/most of our players would have struggled to pass the ball out in those situations. So they either need to be coached better to do so (like e.g. City), or we need to buy some better players, because WE’RE GOING TO BE PRESSED LIKE THAT IN MANY MANY GAMES THIS SEASON AND WE STILL DON’T HAVE A CLUE HOW TO BE COMPOSED IN THOSE SITUATIONS.

          4. IT’S BECAUSE THEY KNOW WHICH PASS WE ARE GOING TO MAKE BEFORE WE MAKE IT

            Whoops, sorry, left my caps lock on by accident

  9. Seems like AW was trying to shoehorn as many of his most technical players as possible into the team today and it’s probably because he intended them to weave patterns though City’s pressing game. In the first half this worked once or twice and when it did, we go decent chances out of it, but when it didn’t work, the transition opportunities also led to City’s best chances.

    Overall, I thought Arsenal played a pretty good first half. de Bruyne’s goal was ridiculous individual skill but we gave them enough chances that 1-0 is not unfair at all. Arsenal had several opportunities that broke down because we weren’t incisive or direct enough in crucial moments. As many have said, we have too many creative minded players and not enough direct ones on the pitch right now. Personally I would’ve gone with Welbeck in this game (and Arsene may well have if he was available) and used Sanchez as my one creative player and probably sat Ozil in favor of Walcott or Lacazette.

    1. Lacazette, sure. Welbeck, sure, but he was injured. The idea that Theo Walcott would have been anything but a complete waste of space in this game is silly.

      1. Why? He tends to score in “big” games because there is more space for him to use. Check his record.

  10. Your leading striker and most natural goalscorer… scores!

    In a game where you need goals to beat City, who will create chances and likely score against you, as Tim’s stats show. What was Wenger hoping to do? Nick a nil-nil?

    Sorry, that tactic made no sense. Looks like, in tying to outsmart Pep, he over had an over-think and outsmarted himself.

    You can’t be a free scoring side like City by blunting your firepower.

    1. Or maybe he scored because he came on and gave the City defense something new to worry about, with a change in formation too. But no, let’s go with the explanation that shows Wenger in a poor light.

      1. One silver lining was that our press was pretty good. City were forced backward time after time and we should’ve made more of the few times we won the ball in their half.

      2. Gosh. You get so touchy on Wenger’s behalf.

        Call me pernickety, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to suggest that we should start our main striker, leading goalscorer and most natural finisher in the biggest game of the season.

        1. Suggest away. But there’s no right or wrong here. By the way, I would have started Lacazette instead of Iwobi too. But I’m not the manager and instead of saying or indicating it’s a stupid decision, I can try and see the logic in it. Which I do.

  11. A performance you can call creditable from Arsenal, and some things broke against us, but overall City were much the better team and didn’t look in danger of losing this one.

    Arsenal doomed by predictability and over-elaboration in possession and defensively by not being able to match City’s speed and quickness on the floor. The over-elaboration was of a different flavor than we are used to seeing; it was not a succession of meaningless passes, rather an individual’s repeated attempts to dribble through the entire City squad. Sanchez by far the most guilty but pretty much every Arsenal player had a go at this.

    The best part of this game from an Arsenal perspective by far were the first 10 minutes and you wonder if we had scored first if this game ends up different. I don’t think so; I think in this current iteration our ceiling is not high enough to beat a Guardiola team away from home.

    1. Doc,
      Agree with most of that, but I’d just add that the “over-elaboration” on the dribble, doesn’t come primarily from overconfidence or wanting to overplay, but from panic at being pressed. Too many players not getting their heads up, and too many players not having enough passes when they did get their heads up or not being confident enough to play quick, firm passes to teammates right away when they were open. We just need to be better in possession against the press, end of. Some players (e.g. Coquelin) may just not be good enough to play that way, but others (e.g. Ramsey, Bellerin, Ozil, Iwobi, Alexis) clearly are good enough but aren’t being prepared properly.

      The obvious proof of this last claim: if Pep Guardiola had become our manager in the summer (or even better, last summer), and had this exact same Arsenal squad to work with, we’d have passed the ball far better under the exact same pressure today, even with that same 11 on the field. Can anyone really doubt it?

      1. I thought Ramsey had a poor game in general today, but that might also be because of how much ground he was forced to cover (I haven’t seen the stats but City were running us into the ground) I also blamed Ramsey (without knowing it was him) for the first goal for his half hearted attempt to press De Bruyne allowing him to play the one-two and get free for the shot (which Cech should have saved)

        No I don’t doubt the bit about Guardiola. That’s kind of his thing. But would that have won us the title? I doubt that. Guardiola has worked with some elite talent at every club he’s been at. Without that level of talent, flaws show up in his game too. I mean, Arsenal, for all their inability to play under pressure, really could have scored a couple of goals today.

        1. I’m with PFO on this one, despite his anger issues today: didn’t think the talent level was that different out there. They were younger and a lot quicker and yes, better organized in both phases.

  12. At least it wasn’t the blowout I was expecting. Sterling and Ramsey should have scored as well. We made it hard work for them in spells.

    They look unbeatable right now but somebody needs to take these guys down to preserve our Invincibles bragging rights!

  13. Do not want to see Coq in front of Xhaka again!
    $h*ttY looked ok, nothing great.
    Our mid’s could not move the ball forward with speed, Sanchez was fouled way to many times without a card, and he coughed it up to many times.
    Liked the look at the end with Jack in.
    Onward and sideways.

  14. I thought we played well, and City are still a better, a very good, team. No shame in losing to a better team. To beat a team like that you need some things to go for you. When you get a penalty decision like that go against you, and still get back into the game, only to have an offside goal scored against you, then it becomes impossible.

    Apart from a short spell of intense pressure right before De Bruyne scored, I though we dealt with City fairly well.

    Further on ref decisions, the breakaway that Sterling messed up came from a foul on Ramsey, and we could have had a breakaway in the second half but it was called a foul by Ozil. And TV showed no replay. Just like when Alexis was through on goal against Swansea and the ref called play back for a foul by Lacazette (rather than on him) and no replay. This no replay is an old trick going back nearly a decade to cover referee ‘errors’. I don’t think Clattenburg was cheating today. But decisions went against Arsenal, and that in a large part is the cause of this defeat, and even more, the cause of my annoyance. I can take losing to a better team. I do not like watching refs decide games.

  15. ClaudeIvan
    I’m with you on this one.

    Of course hindsight is always 20/20 but if you’re not playing your best goal scorer in a game when you know you will need at least few goals to win, then you are asking for trouble.

    Sure Arsenal had some close calls go against them and might consider themselves unlucky, but City wasted some clear chances too.

    Penalty decision , no problem with it at all.
    You can’t claim incidental contact and Sterling going to ground to easily when Monreal initiates the contact and falls down himself.
    Would Arsenal be getting that call is another question entirely.

    The only real gripe of course was the Silva off-side call , but questions have to be asked of Xhaka for stoping playing even though he couldn’t have posibly seen the rest of the Arsenal defensive line, and was in position to close Silva down.

    1. Bad offside call and bad football by Arsenal to stop playing. I would’ve been furious if the penalty call had not been given, had that same play been at the other end. Still, it’s one I’ve seen go both ways. We can feel a little disgruntled about those things but I think City would’ve found a way to win by 2 goals regardless.

    2. I agree. Poor play by Arsenal to stop playing. Everyone knew he was offside though. Even Silva himself hesitated to touch the ball.

      Penalty. It’s the sort of decision that Arsenal are used to being called against them. I didn’t think it was a penalty in real time and not on replay. But I can understand why others will disagree.

      1. I don’t need to “check his record.” I’ve watched every game he’s played for Arsenal for years and years now. I know he’s scored in *some* big games. I also know he’s a borderline useless footballer who, even when he scores, often contributes to a poor attacking performance from us because he can’t hold onto the ball or pass it to save his life. If you can’t see this, then I’ll just say, charitably, then you and I see the game very, very differently.

        He should be done at Arsenal. He’s probably the most one-dimensional footballer at any of the top 6 clubs. He’s symptomatic of the shameful stagnation of this club. He obviously should not have started this game.

        1. I take it this was your Walcott riposte 🙂

          To me he is a niche talent but a useful footballer, even this latter day version of him. I like how his presence scares back lines into dropping deeper and I liked the defensive side of his game that he started to show last year. That version of Walcott could’ve changed this game for us. I think he would’ve given a legitimate option for play behind the defense and that would’ve led to more balanced build up play. Lacazette does a lot of that too and I prefer Alex over him, but I don’t think Walcott is useless.

      2. I thought it was a penalty in real time (or at least a “you’ve seen em given,” moment), but definitely not on the replay. Shoulder to shoulder. Very soft.

        I don’t really believe in ref bias against us (and Oliver has been good to us with big calls in the past), but I honestly cannot IMAGINE getting that call if it was, say, Alexis being blocked off by some big brute like Gary Cahill.

        But think we would’ve lost comfortably anyway. It’s just annoying to not know what would have happened if those calls had gone our way. It feels like we’re always fighting an uphill battle in these sorts of games to begin with, it’s frustrating when on top of that it feels like the opponent gets an unfair advantage.

    3. You can make contact if it’s shoulder to shoulder, and that’s the way it looks to me on the replays. He doesn’t shove him from behind, and he doesn’t really trip him up .

      I think it was a terrible call, and I think we would have lost (and would have deserved to lose) anyway.

  16. Shard
    How can you “say everyone knew he was off” side when Xhaka had his back to the entire Arsenal back line and Silva was off by less than three feet.

    Defenders moving up and attackers running in the opposite directions, it takes split second to cover this much ground.

    Xhaka couldn’t have known and that’s why he was so pi$$ed off because he’s going to hear from Wenger about it in private.

    1. I already said it is poor play. But as to how Xhaka knew. Sometimes, you just do when you’re playing. You’re not supposed to stop because like today, the linesman may not always call it. (and of course, you can be wrong, even if you’re looking right at it) I can’t explain how you know, maybe it’s spatial awareness, maybe it’s reading body language. It’s a split second thing and he wasn’t looking. I still think he knew Silva was offside.

      1. The linesman who’s only job is to spot the off-side and sees the entire defensive line right in front of him got it wrong , but a midfielder in a defender’s position , who has to react to the movement of two or three opponents, set the line ( since he’s the closest to the action), and sees no other defender behind him at the only moment it matters, … somehow knew .

        Maybe the part of the reason you get so annoyed by all this is because you talk yourself into knowing things you couldn’t possibly know.

        1. Heh. Maybe I’m weird. But there’s times you know things. Explaining how you know them is a later job where you’re supposed to make sense of it to explain it. When I played sports (when I could) there were things you didn’t have to see to know.

          But that’s not important anyway. You picked on a statement about ‘everyone’ knowing, and I kept with it because I think Xhaka did know just like Monreal knew (or maybe because of that) and just like Silva knew. I agreed with you that he shouldn’t have stopped playing, just like Silva didn’t stop. It doesn’t mean Arsenal deserved to have a goal given against them.

          But why I get annoyed is because I hate watching games go to the ref to decide. It goes against the essence of sport for me. All this City would have won anyway is nonsense. We don’t know. That’s why we watch the game. The contest. It sucks when it’s not even handed, and while everyone likes to be ‘fair’ and brush off any conspiracy theory about refs and Arsenal, I think that ‘bias’ (both unconscious and conscious) is real, and the only real study done on it (regardless of what you think about Untold) agrees with my feeling and observation.

          But if it were FOR Arsenal, it would still annoy me. It really ruins my enjoyment of the game.

  17. So angry about that missed offsides call. Especially after we were robbed with the phantom offsides called on Laca earlier in the season.
    Not going to demean my team by saying City was going to win anyway because it was not a foregone conclusion. Yes City looked better overall, but after Laca was put on we seemed to have seized the initiative.

    Side notes: Cech is never going to save a penalty is he? But he had great save to reject Jesus.

    I liked seeing Ozil enraged at the end.

    1. I don’t say games are foregone conclusion lightly and we did put up a fight but our away form + their form in general + Guardiola vs. Wenger + their spending vs. ours + our locker room issues and wantaway players… Just too much going against us in this one to hope for a win. The bookies agreed: 4-1 on City win vs. 12-1 on Arsenal. That said, I still hoped for a win because I’m naive like that.

  18. Playing to the whistle is not as staightforward as it sounds. Sometimes an offside is so blatant, that players stop, in expectation rather than hope. It’s quite common in football, and I see it most in Serie A. I don’t blame Xhaka in that situation. I blame the linesman for buggering up a routine offside call. I’d note as well, Monreal’s really pathetic attempt to block the pass.

    There’s no getting around the fact that we were unlucky. I don’t have an issue with the penalty per se. What frustrates me is the lack of consistency. Stones does that to Sanchez at the other end, and I’ll bet the farm that it’s not given. In a league where it sometimes seem that you have to hack a player’s leg with a chainsaw to get a pen, than was the definition of soft.

    But for those big calls and playing our best team at the start, who knows.

    1. Agree with this (and Shard’s claim that everyone “knew” it was offsides; it just felt that blatant, even in real time).

      Still think we should have played 4-3-3 from the start, with the back four we finished the game with, and probably Jack (though Iwobi or Elneny or Coquelin or even AMN would all have been ok) tucked in alongside Ramsey and Xhaka. In that light, leaving Lacazette out didn’t feel that egregious (though I never would have done it myself) since I could kinda see the logic: Iwobi helps strengthen the midfield if he drops in deep, like he did quite often against Chelsea. In the end, he rarely did that, he was poor in possession when he did (I though he was playing his best right before he was taken off, ironically), and anyway the 3-4-3 with Coquelin at the back was always a disaster waiting to happen against this City team. With all that in mind, and the dodgy ref calls, you’ve gotta say we didn’t embarrass ourselves, which, sadly is what it’s come to with this once great club (and Lacazette: what a finisher!).
      It gives me no pleasure to say it, but: Wenger out.

  19. I wonder what wphld have happened if Ransey hadn’t bundled the keeper into the goal. He wasn’t looking assured.

    Arteta sure made a great choice of who to apprentice under. I don’t know if it was offered to him, but passing on Everton to continue learning at Pep’s knee looks brilliant.

    On that note, does anyone recall how well Pep defended our combinations around the box in the past? Because it looked like they knew where we were going to pass before we did. That’s the first time I’ve seen that. I wonder if Arteta helped in drilling them.

    I think the bigger problem is that we are not a naturally direct team. If the opponent doesn’t think we will create space at the top of the box for a drive or shot then they don’t have to honor it and can cheat on the passing lane. The only player who is a threat to directly attack the goal is Sanchez and we’ve been getting him the ball out wide where two or three players can collapse on him, instead of closer to the center. Both create space, but when Alexis is closed out wide he has to chip it into the box. Without Giroud that’s a losing proposition. I think that if Alexis were attacking from the top he’d have a chance of getting it to Laca.

    I love Laca as a finisher, but I don’t understand why he isn’t getting more touches in the box. I wish football journalists would ask about things like that.

  20. Disappointing. Not inevitable but just true to form, so an unsurprising result.

    And, as most would concede, a fully justified one. Irrespective of your view on the penalty (and mine is that it was nailed on) and the fact that the third goal was off side, City clearly deserved to win – they looked better, created better chances and overall…seemed better coached.

    In his post match analysis on BBC’s Match of the Day 2, Alan Shearer contrasted the City and Arsenal presses and made the point that City’s was far better drilled and executed, whereas ours looked like we’d given it a couple of days in training last week: it wasn’t coordinated, wasn’t instinctive and wasn’t as effective. I’m sure the possession turnover stats will bear this out.

    Wenger was found out by one of the best today. And I’m sure Guardiola would be able to get our players playing better, as most have the technical ability to play his game (with the possible exception of Theo! But I agree he brings other qualities to the game, tho’ possibly not on current form).

    My hope that Alexis might choose today to revert to his conversion rate mean was (rightly called) wrong but my fear that Ozil would fail to step up to the plate proved depressingly accurate: another invisible, risible and petulant performance: when the going gets tough, our Mesut doesn’t get going.

  21. We do seem to get a bad deal in these games against City don’t we. Last season there were two offside goals for them, but even worse was the game in December 2013 when we were being well beaten 5-3 and got two quick goals back (by Theo & Bendtner I think) which were both unfairly ruled out, and to rub the salt in we had to endure a penalty following a blatant dive to lose a game 6-3 which should by rights have been a five all draw.
    Roll on the video ref. (comming this season in the FA cup)

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