Written by Camberwell Gooner
The final weekend before the Premier League kicks off is over, and all that separates us from competitive football is five long days of work (or daytime TV, depending on your current situation). We’re coming to the end of the Worst Pre-Season Ever (copyright), our squad is paper-thin with no real sign of reinforcements, and Rooney is not just a big-mouthed, balding granny shagger, he also believes that coming back from 2-0 down represents a “footballing lesson”.
Last season, Arsenal’s pitiful descent into the abyss of fourth place when second could have very realistically been achieved, is better than well documented. It’s been discussed, documented, dissected, deconstructed, denounced and, finally, flagellated to within an inch of its life and left to rot on the slagheap round the back of the old coal mine. Meanwhile, Arsenal are the naughty dog slinking back into the house, tail between its legs, after laying a steaming turd (last season’s performance) on the herbaceous borders in the back garden. And some fans have taken on the role of the fuming, green-fingered owner who has administered serial beatings to said hound with a rolled-up copy of the Sun, while others are the sympathetic wife defending Rover – even though this is the SIXTH time he’s done it.
So we’ll leave that smelly dog mess where it is, or better still, bury it so that it can nourish the azaleas…and I have no idea what the flowers represent. (Note to self: ease off the metaphor. It’s getting tired now.)
The Guardian’s season preview booklet thingy is out and for me this is the light at the end of the tunnel, the sign that the very silly season is almost over and we can all enjoy a good few months without its nonsense and our own repetitive navel-gazing. Some of the stats make for some interesting reading, so I did a very quick, extremely dirty and utterly unscientific comparison of Arsenal against other top clubs to see if I could glean anything of note, a sparkly diamond in the rough if you like. My eyebrows were raised more than once during my ‘research’ (and not in the disapproving, “Good God! What perfectly abominable behaviour!” sense, more in the, “I say! Corking stat old chap!” way).
I said myself that in the latter part of last season our attack became stale, slow and predictable – a bit like Old Twitchy’s speech patterns after too much ale, but I actually found that…….
We led the league in shot accuracy with 47.5%, followed closely by Liverpool with 47.2%, ranging down to the Spuds with 41.6%.
We also had the highest pass accuracy (83.7% compared to Liverpool with 77.2% and the others close to us around the 80% mark)
……but hit the woodwork more than anyone else (22 times, The Chavs running us very close with 21, then the others no more than 14 times). Which means we’re the most accurate shooters, but still need to be, er, more accurate.
Even though we scored more than most (72 times to be precise, and you’re probably not that bothered about the other clubs’ stats in this area…what’s that? You are? OK then. As we all know, the Spuds are constantly breathing down our necks and soon to replace us as the biggest club in North London, and they’re well on their way to doing this, scoring a whopping 55 league goals last term. Sorry Spuds, not even close. Now get back in your box. Thwack! *twats them with the Observer – no supplements removed*).
I’ve intentionally left out a lot of other figures as they don’t tell us anything we didn’t already know (and they’re kind of dull), but it’s not hard to see that we’re quite a bit better than the baying, pitchfork-wielding, firebrand-waving mob would have you believe. And before people start lighting Molotov cocktails and sharpening their gardening tools, would they please read my disclaimer below:
- I don’t think we’re the best in the league.
- I know last season sucked ass over and over again.
- I agree we still need more signings.
- I’m just as worried as others are about our tough opening fixtures.
- I’m not a Wenger apologist.
- I do think the board have feet of clay.
- I do wonder how good Gazidis actually is.
We kick off on Saturday. It’s a new season. It’s the Barcodes away. And we owe them a hiding. Let’s all get behind the boys. We Are The Arsenal. Come on you reds.