John Berger 3-3 Vitality

“Publicity is different. It appeals to a way of life that we aspire to, or think we aspire to, but have not yet achieved. A publicity picture suggests that if we buy what it is offering, our life will be different from what it is.”

“Scene after scene show us this different life.”

“Not only will our home be different but all our relationships will become radiant because of our new possessions.”

“But we can only achieve such radiance if we have money.”

“And so publicity also works on our anxieties about money.”

“Urging each of us to scramble competitively to get more, Making money appear as if it were itself magical.”

“[Publicity] promotes the illusion that a man’s ability to consume is directly related to his sexual virility. According to the rules of the dream, those who do not have this power, those who lack glamour, become faceless, almost non-existent. Publicity both promises and threatens. It plays upon fear. Often the fear of not being desirable, of being unenviable. It suggests that you are inadequate as you are, but it consoles you with the promise of a dream.”

Words: John Berger, Ways of Seeing Episode 4.

RIP John Berger
RIP Arsenal’s season



  1. Yeah, this is sad. People would think that RIP Arsenal season is a bit too premature, but usually they see this result as an isolation. RIP Arsenal season meant not only a loss of believe that Chelsea as a leader won’t drop as much point as we need to catch them and also for us to catch them on the way by beating all of the top 6 (how can we? We’re not even contesting until the 70 minutes against Bournemouth). Our best bet at winning will probably be at the FA cup again, and even then we still need to beat one of the top 6 on the way. I hope there will finally be a light at the end of this season.

      1. Yeah, I read it. The last one is the most heartwarming one. Good luck on that and may it be an enjoyable moments.

  2. I am sorry if you were carrying hope with you Tim but our season ended with Santi’s injury.

    1. I don’t think it’s Santi absence that was the cause. It was the unorganized plan that we do in our match. It’s the absence of the consistency of our performance that mirrored our win against Chelsea. Santi or no Santi, I think we could do much better if we could replicate that plan against Chelsea on a consistent basis.

    2. I don’t really think the season is completely over with nothing left to play for. It’s just a joke. A rhetorical device. The title race ended, that’s for sure, but Arsenal have plenty left to play for: 4th place, FA Cup, get to the next round of the Champions League for a change, play well enough to convince Alexis to stay (not sure if this is possible), season ticket renewals, me taking Avie to see a match.

      Plenty left to play for.

      1. You are right. Wrong choice of words on my part. By season I meant the title but yeah we definitely have to try and get 4th at least and go as far as we can in the cup tournaments. Do you really see us going past Bayern though? I don’t. So maybe FA cup is our best hope.

  3. Tah. Alexis is not Arsenal. Not only will we not die, we will continue in top 4 – unless we change coaches.

    While I am loathe for him to leave, he is not as good as he thinks himself to be. If he was, he will actually carry the team to the title or at least to within touching distance a la Suarez. This team is a much better team than the liverpool team that Suarez almost hoisted to the summit of the epl.

  4. I can’t feel to sorry for Sanchez.
    He’s been good for sure but his failure last season to hit the heights of the previous year played it’s part in ensuring we finished 2nd not 1st.
    And if himself and Ozil are going to hold Arsenal to ransom for huge wages, they can’t complain if that outlay means we don’t have enough to spend in other areas.

    Are we hoping for a Spurs win tonight, just in case, or are we more concerned with top four now?

  5. Good grief. I read the comments here then went straight to Google to see whether Alexis had signed a pre-contract agreement with Pep Guardiola.

    Everybody calm down. He needs to too, to be fair. I do wish he’d stop acting like only Ozil is good enough for him. He’s a fighter, though. And it should worry us that he clearly thinks that not enough of his teammates are.

  6. Alexis Sanchez having a record year
    Alexis Sanchez comes out in the public and says “put your trust in me”
    Arsene Wenger almost immediately changes the team’s identity and shunts Alexis Sanchez to left flank duty
    …to fit in Olivier Giroud
    No one really talks about it because Giroud keeps scoring
    Alexis still scores so there is not an identity problem
    …yet our change in identity brings about a tremendously awful run in form

    but Giroud scores…but fixture congestion…but injury list…but Alexis scores and assists…but…but…but

    As a coach myself, I know the one thing to develop and the one thing to guard is team identity. Who you are and how you want to do it. I love Wenger. Where is the plan?

    I wonder if patterns of play have changed since moving Alexis. As I watch they appear to have changed. Maybe some analysis would help.

    1. We were poor against Everton and Man City even with Alexis up front, so we can’t blame it all on bringing Giroud back in.

      But I agree with you that it’s a significant step backwards in our ability to play dynamic football (and to get the best from Sanchez) to bring Giroud back as the regular starter, and I also worry that his goals will mean Wenger will keep starting him, and that they’ll also mean he gets a free pass from the press and fans for doing so.

      This would be a huge mistake.

      We’re probably too far back to win the league, of course, but there is A LOT of football still to be played, and things can change quickly. What we need is to go on a winning run, and we need to at least take a significant number of points from the hard games against the other top 6 near the end of the season. Our chances of doing either are seriously dented if we revert to depending on Giroud. Yes, he scores goals, but that’s the beauty of having him in the squad as a plan B option, either for park-the-bus opponents like Palace and West Brom at home, or for the last 20-30 minutes of games in which we’re trailing.

      After last night, lots of fans are complaining “why couldn’t we have played that way for the first 70 minutes??” The blindingly obvious reply is “because Bournemouth weren’t protecting a 3-0 lead for the first 70 minutes!” At the end of games that teams are winning or (in most cases) drawing against us, they’ll drop deep and defend. This is because (a) they inevitably get tired, and (b) they have something to protect. Even great pressing teams like Liverpool and Spurs tend to tire in the last 20 minutes, and certainly lesser teams like Bournemouth and Everton will do so, and it’s at that point that our greater quality can show (for the record, I still think we’ve got comfortably better quality than Liverpool and Spurs, but Wenger really hasn’t figured out how to deal with the collective high press). We can camp out around the edge of their box and work the ball around until we find room for a dangerous cross, like we did last night, and Giroud is then at his most dangerous. He’s almost impossible to keep quiet forever in those situations.

      The problem that so many people seem unable to grasp, is that in order for Giroud to get in those dangerous situations, we actually have to get the ball up the field and camp out around the opposition’s area! And more and more teams, like Bournemouth, are simply overrunning us further up the pitch and not letting us work the ball forward for sustained periods of times. In these cases, Giroud becomes less than useless, with his sloth-like pace, his entire lack of movement, and his propensity to cough the ball up too easily (for every brilliant left foot flick, there’s two times the ball bounces off him to no one, or he fails to execute a routine pass). The second problem is that more and more teams are not merely neutralizing us with the high press, they’re blowing us away, so that by the time they tire in the last 20 and we should be in the ascendancy, we’re behind and chasing the game.

      In short: Giroud should stay as plan B. Alexis should stay as main striker (Lucas should also get a look in as wide forward, swapping regularly with Sanchez).

      1. For the record, I do not blame Giroud, I think Giroud is exactly what he is; a very capable striker who shouldn’t be who we build an attacking or a defensive identity around. The game at the highest level where clubs like Arsenal have the talent to compete for 4 trophies (or should) is about quick transitions now and the modern target playing number 9 is not who you build your identity around in my opinion. This is not the fault of Olivier Giroud, it is who he is and no one can debate his goal scoring record.

        I blame Wenger if blame needs to be explained and I am sensing you agree. Wenger as the manager sets up the team and sets up the training environment so he is the one who develops identity. It all appears wishy washy to me at this point. We go through the same machinations every season. I had hope this season because he finally looked to build around Sanchez at the start with a different style of play and for whatever reason he deviated and since then our results are poor.

        People look at the goals and the game as a whole but as a coach we need to look at the patterns of play and our identity has changed since this one personnel change and I think the goals scored and the goals against have shown a different identity on the field as well. I do not think we know who we are at the moment and knowing who you are is what determines how you do. I also think Alexis is probably as dogged as ever to get the job done but privately thinking “are you kidding me?” Why would he stay?

        So in quick sum, for me it has nothing to do with Giroud, more to do with Alexis, and most to do with Wenger developing and producing a team identity that can actually win a league.

    2. My analysis is simple: every coach in the League has a plan for the season, they don’t just simply go “oh no, we are weak on corners now, let’s practice defending more corners.” They have a plan set out for every single practice session and a plan for how they want to play football. They don’t just wing it and adjustments are generally rare. You do see adjustments at times, Chelsea made a major shift after losing to Arsenal. But I guarantee Conte re-wrote his entire season training schedule and items he wants them to work on through out the year.

      Why does it feel like Wenger doesn’t have a plan? Or maybe he does but I just can’t tell what it is. I’ve had this feeling before and Tim Stillman even wrote about how Wenger seems to just try stuff and see if it works, that’s how we got Coquelin as a regular starter. I’ve heard a number of theories on this but nothing has ever satisfied. I don’t know. It just looks like we go from week to week, guessing at lineups and whatnot.

      1. If you look at the timing of shifting Alexis it happened when Theo got injured. It also happened when we as a team got played off the park at Man City. Also didn’t help that Ozil got sick. I am not saying changes shouldn’t be made, they are inevitable, but decision making means making the correct changes and the results don’t speak kindly.

        In short one can only wonder if Alexis would have stayed central if Theo doesn’t get injured. I personally would have kept him central, there is still Iwobi and Ox and Perez at the time. I am not saying there isn’t a plan, all I am saying is he scraps the plan the moment there is trial. He even went on record as saying he gave up too soon on Alexis up the middle the first “experiment.” What I would say is this; know your identity, recruit for your identity, train your identity, and keep your identity. I could go way deeper into that but I will just say that I do not think he does that. Other managers do make changes, the very most successful managers change within their identity. Wenger has been successful, I love and appreciate what Wenger has done for The Arsenal, but it can also be argued he hasn’t won the title in a decade…

  7. Not only is the title push done, so is Wenger.

    Barring a Champions League/FA Cup double, does he really want to sign on for another rebuild project circa 2012-2014? Especially considering that it’s not inconceivable that we finish out of the top 4?

    Sanchez, Ozil, Ramsey, Wilshere, Gibbs, Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Monreal, Mertesacker, Giroud and Cazorla all have unresolved contract issues coming due. Arsenal are not a stupid club that will let any of these players run down their deals when there is good sell-on value. Sanchez will take the money in China (he’s won everything he needs between Barca and Chile), Ozil will hold the club ransom for a big pay raise a la Walcott a couple years ago, Wilshere will force his sale by refusing a new deal. Mertesacker is likely to go back to end his career in Germany and Gibbs and the Ox will be tempted by offers elsewhere. Cazorla is on the decline (two major injuries in two years), as is Monreal.

    This all adds up to major rebuild for another title push maybe in 2019 or 2020. Does Wenger have 3 more seasons in him? I think not.

    I think this was THE YEAR for Wenger. But he didn’t foresee a massive Chelsea resurgence or Liverpool on the rise. Sure technically it’s not over yet, but Chelsea could be 11 pts clear by tomorrow and Mou Utd is just a point behind us.

    1. Last year was the year. We were so close. All the underlying stats showed that we were the best team of that first half. Then the collapse. I don’t know if this team has been able to recover. It sure looks like Özil hasn’t.

  8. Too much rest not helping Chelsea who are down 0-2 and much now fight for an Arsenal type come back.

  9. last season was THE season for Wenger and it didn’t happen for us but it did for Ranieri and Leicester.

    John Berger was a a Great Man and he passed last week at 90 I think. His seminal work was published in 1972.

    Wenger is a Great Man. I hope he lives to be at least 90 if not more. His last great work was in 2004.

    His faded glory has not been able produce what’s necessary for the club even after the austerity period.

    What else is there to say? We are long past the need for a fresh perspective and a new era.

  10. Spuds doing a us a favor even as they push us out of the top four. The race for the title is not over. Cheslea are favorites, but have City and Spuds written off their seasons? I don’t think so and unless someone can explain why being 8 points behind is so much worse than being 7 points, I don’t see why we should either.

    Chelsea will drop points. They play Leicester and Liverpool before they meet us. A loss and a draw on their part along with a solid run by us through mid-table opposition puts us in striking position. This is not over.

    The question is not are we good enough to win the league, because the talent is there, rather are we consistent enough to pull it off? At our best we’ve been unstoppable. We’ve frequently managed to pull the rabbit out of the hat and snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Other times we’ve looked uninspired. I wonder whether that is Wenger’s achilles heel. He doesn’t push the players the way Mou does; he doesn’t burn them out like Mou, nor does he get the consistency that Mou demands.

    I think he’s waiting for one of the players to step up. Unfortunately, our best players either don’t have the personality (Ozil), aren’t in the right position (Cech/Koz) or don’t have the standing (Xhaka) to call people out and lead.

    Sanchez leads by example. But he’s not a leader. Frankly, I’m a little sick of his public complaining on the pitch. If he really thinks he deserves superstar money then he needs to either lead the team to overachieve or literally put it on his back like Suarez did for Pool.

    1. Title race is long over. Now is the fight for at least 3rd to avoid playoff matches. Focus on the FA Cup and throw away the CL.

    2. I agree, but there’s going to be a lot of people informing you that you’re deluded for still holding out hope. Of course it’s a long shot, but there’s still HALF THE BLOODY SEASON LEFT!

      And on the result today: I know we didn’t want Spurs to leapfrog us into third, but they’re only above us by one point now, and we have better (and more good) players than they do. They haven’t finished above us in 20+ years! If we think our chances of either the title or the top four are significantly hindered because Spurs now have two more points than they would have done if they had drawn today, then we’re defeatist cowards and don’t deserve to be in a title challenge. All this to say, I’m happy they won and at least now we’re one more point closer to Chelsea, and our goal to be at the top of the pile, than we were this morning or, for that matter, than we were after we beat Palace and the world seemed relatively rosy for an Arsenal fan. Yes, we threw away two points yesterday, but we’ve ended up 1 point closer to the top after these fixtures. Plus, the psychological blow to Chelsea of having their long unbeaten run ended (short of our record!) should not be underestimated. The rest of the league has now been reminded that Conte isn’t a demi-god and his team, and they’re super sexy 3-4-3, aren’t unbeatable.

      Look, I’m not saying we’re going to win this thing, or even be close come April. But rooting for Chelsea to get a draw against Spurs today, even though that would have meant the gap to them stayed at 9 points, simply so that we have an easier route to finishing above Spurs and securing top four, when there’s HALF THE SEASON STILL TO PLAY, is absurdly defeatist. We want to be as close to the top as possible, period. The other teams between us and Chelsea don’t matter, especially as they’re only 1, 1, and 3 points above us. We can make up those gaps when we play each of them in the games to come (or in any number of other ways). And if we’re scared of those teams finishing above us, and in particular have no confidence we can get positive results against them when we play head to head, then of course Arsenal have no business even thinking of the title. But it was always the case that for us to win the title this year, we’d have to get mostly wins and draws against the other top six. That was true even before the losses to Everton and City, given how well the top 6 is playing against the smaller teams. And it was always the case that that meant this team would have to perform significantly better than it has done, particularly against the big teams, over the last half dozen years. The recent setbacks have knocked our confidence in this team and have revealed that some of the same weaknesses remain. But why would we have ever doubted that those same weaknesses remained in the heady days of October? Surely us Arsenal fans are not so naive these days. We know this team is flawed, but flawed teams can put long unbeaten runs together, and long unbeaten runs are what win titles. So it remains an unlikely but real possibility that we can win this title. We have the quality. But in order for that to happen we also need Chelsea to drop points, which is why the best result from today’s game was a Spurs win, as nauseating as that sounds.

      1. Rooting for a draw isn’t defeatist, it’s wanting all the opposition around you to get the least points possible in order to maximize your potential outcomes. I want all of them to draw each other. That is the minimum number of points for Arsenal to make up in order to finish above all of those teams. Any win gives 1 extra point to the winning team.

        Put another way: if every team in the top six wins 1 home and loses 1 away, they each have 5 more points than if they drew all those games. Simple.

        1. Of course I agree that ordinarily the best result from these matches is a draw, but not when one team has a 9 point lead against us. We need Chelsea to drop significantly more points than we need the other teams to do so (and games against the other top 6 are more likely than most to yield dropped points for them, even if it would be better for us if that dropped their points against small teams), so it’s worth Spurs gaining two extra points in this scenario in order for Chelsea to get none.

          1. Nope. Because see we don’t just have to catch Chelsea. What happens if all the other teams keep pace with Arsenal as Chelsea collapse in some 6 game losing streak? Arsenal are in 4th. This is why Man U are on a 6 game win streak and still in 6th.

            You don’t just have to catch Chelsea, you have to beat every team above you.

          2. I still disagree, Tim, but unfortunately I’m on daddy duty today with my 15 month old son (well, not unfortunately, but you know what I mean) so I don’t have time to reply in defense right now.

        2. I always want our opponents to draw against each other but Chelsea needed to lose yesterday even if it’s only for the psychological boost that their rivals (including us) got. There is also the small matter of keeping our 14-game unbeaten run record intact.

          1. “Psychological impact”

            I don’t believe that top athletes at top clubs with top managers suffer this as much as some other clubs. Clubs whose names rhyme with “PARSENAL”.

    3. Wise words. Sifting through the negativity and found this. This is where I stop reading. Can’t start 2017 on a negative note. Cheers man!

  11. This is looking like our hardest top 4 fight yet. Forget Spurs. United are hitting their groove. It’s going to be a long 5 months.

  12. Chelshit losing absolutely the correct result for us. Last year we would have lost the Bournemouth game. There are still 18 games left. Spuds couldn’t finish above us even last season when they were dead on to come second. Judge us in May.
    We Gooners have too much anxiety for our own good. Lose 2 games and draw one game, and all seems lost. There is still everything to play for. If the season were counted over 20 games, why play 38? I can’t wait for the weekend and the next Arsenal match.

  13. on to alexis’ reaction to the defeat, it’s normal. arsenal had a bad day and failed to get a result they desperately wanted. it’s a tough place to win and arsenal were dynamite to not lose after being down three goals with twenty minutes to play. for me, there’s nothing to read into alexis’ reaction except he has a strong desire to win. every team in the world has these types of games. it’s nothing.

    the fundamental problem arsenal have is the lack of leadership on the pitch. while everyone was going on about how arsenal’s season would not fall apart with the loss of santi cazorla, i was clamoring for people to understand how significant the loss of not his technical wizardry but his leadership would prove in difficult matches. his technique is an obvious asset but the direction of a senior player in tough games is what arsenal seem to miss.

    leadership is not so much trying to pump people up but having that savvy veteran on the pitch who’s had dozens of tough scraps over a long career and knows how to win these kind of games. he’s done it more than everyone else and people defer to his experience. he’s that guy that will be aware enough to tell hector to be mindful of the back post runner. he has the authority and moral courage to tell mesut to do more defensively. that’s what arsenal miss about santi/arteta/mertesacker most. i warned everyone this would likely happen with the loss of cazorla. time always tells.

    1. Enough with this canonisation of Santi nonsense. You and NYCGunner make him sound like a combination of Messi and Iniesta. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a fabulous player, but we have played many a crappy game with him fit, firing and in the side. I do think the Santi effect is vastly overstated by some gooners.

      I love Santi, but prior to finding his groove spot, he’d been an attacking player who contributed precious few open goals, assists or key passes.

      This Saviour Santi narrative fuels the notion that individual players are irreplaceable. They’re not. We’d better get used to life without him because he’s 32 and has had 2 major long term injuries in 2 years. The question for me is why we have 4 or 5 players competing for a single spot, and Coquelin being the lone specialist in his.

  14. Not that Mou would ever sell to Wenger but with us down to two fit central midfielders, Ramsey not showing any signs of improving his defensive awareness, Cazorla possibly crocked for the rest of the season and by extension done for his career, Coq’s limited ability in possession, and Wilshere probably in the shop window, would anyone want Schneiderlin in this window?

    1. I like Schneiderlin. I wonder what he and Xhaka would be like together. Not sure that would work. Though I do think he’s a decent all rounder. I don’t know. It’s a tough call.

      I’d probably buy him just because I know that Xhaka is going to get hurt/dropped here soon.

      1. yeah, with coquelin’s injury, it looks like arsenal might miss your favorite, elneny.

        1. I wouldn’t say we would miss him.

          I think anyone would be an excellent replacement for Elneny.




          My daughter.

          (I’m being aggressively dismissive of him, of course my daughter wouldn’t be a good replacement. She’s not as good a defender as me.)

          1. that’s harsh. i think he looked quite good in his last game against palace.

            you can put me in that category with your daughter. i might be able to trap, pass, and communicate, but with these raggedy knees, i have about 1.3% mobility of an actual soccer player; hence my love affair with this blog and coaching.

          2. Ha! Hopefully you can tell I was being way over the top. Obviously I don’t hate him that much.

  15. I absolutely agree with Tim that it’s not just Chelsea that we need to catch, it’s also Liverpool, City and Tottenham. It’s not about discounting the chance for Arsenal to win the title with still half of the season to go, it’s expecting the rest of the contender to not rest on their laurel and let us run away with the title.

    It’s interesting though, is there any medium between discounting Arsenal chance to fight for the title and discounting the rest of the contender to actually fight for the title? Like, I can’t believe people ridicule Tottenham chance just because some happenstance in the last day of the season. If we think like that, there absolutely no chance for us to win the title too looking at our performance last season.

  16. A draw between chelsea and spurs probably would have been the best result points wise, but chelsea grasping a point from a losing position and keeping their run going would probably have been a good psychological boost for them.

    They might have some doubts now and, if they stumble, the gap to 1st gets significantly smaller.

  17. I guess what I basically wanted to say was that the chelsea defeat might be the best result if we don’t want them to just run away with the league.

  18. I have found the comments interesting. But look, we’ve heard this record before, and it ends on the same song no matter how many times you play it. Even if other teams collapse mightily, Arsenal aren’t the kind of team to take advantage of it. I’ve lost count of how many times over the last decade Arsenal have failed to take advantage of rivals dropping points. It’s just not in our DNA.

    I think a realistic target this season is the same target that’s been realistic for years now: fourth and maybe a domestic cup if you’re feeling happy. Now, normally I would add “finish above Spurs” to that, but they are terrifying this year. My money is on them finishing above us in second or third, and this, to me, is the only thing that kind of bothers me about this season, or will bother me.

  19. Ok, my son is taking a nap, so I can give my reasons for disagreeing with Tim about the Spurs-Chelsea result.

    Of course, we need to finish above all the other teams ahead of us, not just Chelsea. But the gap to second is 3 points, whereas the gap to Chelsea is 8, and would have been 9 if they had drawn. (In a bizarre scenario in which the gap to second is 3 points but there’s, say, 7 or 8 teams between us and second, then I agree at that point the number of teams matters, since it becomes increasingly unlikely we’ll have a better record than all those teams by the end of the season. But there aren’t 7 or 8 teams between us and the 3-point gap to second. There are 3, two of which have worse squads than ours, and the other of which has a defense which is something of a shambles, whereas the team that has the 8 point gap is also the team that looks the least likely to drop many points in the second half of the season.)

    Here’s the way to think about it, I think. Of course the optimal result for us of all the games in the six team mini-league is for each of our rivals to draw against each other each time. So our default position at the beginning of the season should be hoping for draws, draws, and more draws. But we know that’s not going to happen every time. Sooner or later one or more teams is going to start winning these games, and, if they also win their games against the lesser teams (and all 6 teams are looking pretty strong against the lesser teams this year), they’ll open up a gap between themselves and everyone else, which is what has happened.

    Now, at some point, if the gap between this team and the rest (not just us, but all the other teams as well) becomes big enough, and the number of remaining games becomes small enough, AND IF we only care about winning the league so that 2nd for us is as bad as 4th or 5th (obviously this last condition isn’t the case, since we still care about being top 4, but I think Arsenal fans could be forgiven for having a win-or-bust mentality this season, after all the years of disappointment), THEN there will be a point in the season when we have to hope this team (Chelsea) loses rather than draws games against our rivals (e.g. Spurs). The logic here seems inevitable. The only question is what point in the season do we start to think this way.

    To see what I mean, consider the extreme case: the point in the season where if Chelsea gain a point against Spurs it’s mathematically impossible for us to finish above them. Then, given we only care about winning the league, we will obviously want Spurs to win, even if that result makes it slightly more likely that they’ll win the league rather than that we will. Next take it a step back from here: suppose there’s only a handful of games left (I don’t know, say 5 or 6), and while Chelsea gaining a point won’t mathematically guarantee they finish above us, it’s now becoming very, very unlikely that we’ll close an 8 point gap on them. Again, if we have a champions-or-bust mentality, then we should still want Spurs (who will only go 1 point above us if they win) to beat Chelsea, especially considering that this fixture is likely to represent one of our best chances for Chelsea to drop maximum points. There’s also a threat that Spurs might pip us for the title in this scenario, but all we’d need is to make up two points on them (or 1 plus goal difference), which, given that we’d almost certainly have to win all our remaining games if we’re to catch Chelsea, would only require Spurs to draw once in the remaining games. (Basically, I think it makes sense to think that that one dropped point of Chelsea’s is of greater value to us than two dropped points for Spurs would be, since (a) Chelsea are better than Spurs, and because (b) Chelsea dropping that point elsewhere (in addition to all the others we’d need them to drop) seems less likely than Spurs dropping two points somewhere along the road.)

    At this point, the argument should be clear: if our goal is to win the league or bust, there is a point in the season where we should all adopt my view (wanting a team with a big lead, in this case Chelsea, to lose) over Tim’s view (wanting them to draw) in these big games. The only remaining question is when that point is. I think we’ve reached that point in the season, given how strong Chelsea look, given the size of their points lead, given the weaknesses of the other sides (not saying the other sides aren’t good, just don’t look as strong) and the fact that they’re all closer to us on points than they are to Chelsea, and given the psychological dimension in play, i.e. the blow to Chelsea of losing versus digging out what would have been a tough away draw. Others might disagree that we’ve reached that point, but if they would have preferred a draw because they think a draw is necessarily always better for us, or because they’ve given up on our title chances completely, then I think that’s a mistake.

    1. “Of course the optimal result for us of all the games in the six team mini-league is for each of our rivals to draw against each other each time.”

      Ok, thanks!

      1. Optimal result at the beginning of the season. But we’re not there any more. We’re in a scenario with Chelsea way ahead.

    2. +1 to pFo’s well elucidated defense!

      One thing to note though is that winning the league is not the only important thing. To take a leaf from your book, imagine Chelsea are ahead by 12 pts and a massive goal difference advantage, 4 games to go. We’re tied w/ Spurs on pts for 4th and they also have a massive goal difference advantage. Weve got 4 easy games, and Spurs have 3 easy games and Chelsea. I’d rather take the slight reduction in probability to win the league (from slim to none) than lose the large probability of achieving our other goals (finishing in the top 4, finishing above Spurs), so I’d want a Chelsea win there.

      TL;DR: even though winning the league fulfills all our goals, at the same time we want to optimise for succeeding in our other goals in situations where we don’t win the league.

  20. Chelsea have let in 6 goals in their last 14 league games. Arsenal have let in 7 in their last 5. There is no way we are catching them. We are in a fight for a top 4 finish. I think I’ve read this book before.

  21. the turn around game is #24 against Chelsea, if provided Arsenal won the next 3 games and Chelsea won 1, draw 1 and lost 1. We are 3 points away from the top. Simple.

  22. Tim, this was a real special post, since I was such a fan of Berger’s work. I found the relation of images with text, something that Berger touches upon several times during the first part of Ways of Seeing, particularly outstanding. I loved the way in which the context of Berger’s words alongside the ones of Arsenal completely converge. They do not have a real relation together but, as Berger paraphrases from Benjamin, they match up. One of your best posts. Well, this and the Shakespeare rewritings.

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