There has been an ongoing debate on this site over the role ‘luck’ plays in the outcome of Arsenal’s games.
I seem to be a lone voice as I refuse to accept the ‘luck explanation’ when things don’t go our way. Luck is not a mathematical term it is a human superstition, an emotional response we use to explain an event that didn’t go the expected way – or more accurately the way we would have liked it to go.
The basic mathematics cannot be ignored. The larger the test sample the more accurate the result – hence the oft repeated statement that over 38 games everything evens out and the best team wins the Premier League. This is tantamount to saying that luck has nothing to do with it.
If we lose we often comfort ourselves by saying we were ‘unlucky’ because of the choice of referee, or several of our shots have hit the post, or the opposition striker’s shot took a deflection to beat the keeper as happened against Everton etc etc. If we win it is because we play superb football. Well I subscribe to the latter theory but do not accept the former.
I use the word luck as we all do – as a colloquialism. Watching your team play football is an emotional rollercoaster and we all say and do things in the heat of the moment that perhaps we may not really believe in hindsight.
Mathematicians will calculate random variation and can define probability. These are proven formulae that have nothing to do with luck. Since luck as a definition has no mathematical basis it has to be discounted when analysing outcomes. The club does not employ a ‘luck coach’, instead we spend millions investing in analytical technology that will give us the information that will maximise performance. We don’t send the players onto the pitch with a lucky rabbit’s foot down their shorts (not so lucky for the rabbit!) we send them out with a tracker that records their every movement.
What the management and the players have to do is to prepare and deliver in matches in such a way that the random element we like to call luck is less likely to affect the outcome. Often this will come down to ‘fine margins’ as chas has observed – and that is where the art of winning lies (if winning is all you desire) It is in setting the team up in a way that means that the fine margins will go your way more often than not. That involves everything from selecting the players and the manager, training, coaching and match preparation, to the performance on the day.
I think it is pretty obvious that playing fabulous football ranks right up there with ‘just winning’ in Arsene’s priorities, and I applaud him for that.
Even so, Arsene Wenger’s win record is the best in Arsenal’s history (I’m sure GN5 can produce statistics to prove this) – is he a lucky manager or a very good manager? The answer is obvious, I don’t need to trot out the Arnold Palmer quote to reinforce the point.
So by all means let’s all believe in luck when it helps us deal with things we don’t want to accept, but let’s not fool ourselves, luck has nothing to do with it.