Is Guendouzi really lightweight, Mesut really lazy, Mustafi an accident waiting to happen?

One of the topics of discussion from the Arsenal Toon game was Matteo Guendouzi and how different spectators see different things when watching his performances. This brings me to ‘confirmation bias’. Basically we choose what we want to see and, one would imagine that in terms of football fans, this phenomenon is positively viral in its contagion.

Here’s the Wiki definition of the term …..

Confirmation bias is the tendency to search for, interpret, favour, and recall information in a way that confirms one’s pre-existing beliefs or hypotheses. It is a type of cognitive bias and a systematic error of inductive reasoning. People display this bias when they gather or remember information selectively, or when they interpret it in a biased way. The effect is stronger for emotionally charged issues and for deeply entrenched beliefs.

Back to some specific examples. Mattteo Guendouzi is still ten days away from not being a teenager anymore. Before coming to Arsenal he played a handful of games for Lorient in his debut season of 2016/17 (Lorient were relegated). He featured 21 times in the following season in the French second tier and Lorient finished 7th. So far this season he has made 34 (23 League) appearances across all competitions for a top 6 EPL side.  This is just background and may or may not be of any significance.

Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

What do you think the answer to the question is, ‘Does Guendouzi get caught in possession more times on average than Granit Xhaka or than Lucas Torreira?’ The answer is probably that for central midfielders, they all get caught a similar number of times – it’s the nature of the position to a certain extent, especially as the high press is the current fashion for every Klopp, Pep and Wagner.

How about ‘Does Guendouzi make more misplaced passes than the other two?’ Their pass accuracy percentages are 87.7, 87.6 and 85.2. Matteo top, then Lucas followed by Granit. Granit plays twice as many long balls per game which probably accounts for part of this difference.

Is Mesut lazy? If so, why does he clock up so many k’s over a season. (2016/7 season figures given just because they were handy)

2016/7 season

Is Shkodran Mustafi an accident waiting to happen? Does he launch into ‘flat on his a*se’ tackles at every available opportunity? If this is the case, why does he top the stats for tackles for the whole Arsenal squad?

It’s not so very far back that Aaron Ramsey was always slated on Arsenal blogs across the world for slowing the game down, being ponderous on the ball and indecisive when it came to the crunch. Now that he’s leaving, he’s suddenly become the best player since Zidane and absolutely crucial to Arsenal’s team play. Where does the truth lie? Somewhere in the middle, maybe?

Many Arsenal fans (well, it’s probably true for all fans of other teams, too) like to have their favourite players and also the ones they just can’t bear to see on the teamsheet. AdeBarnDoor was a prime example, Walcott another. What I find difficult to understand is that if you make up your mind that a particular player is pants, what do you do when they have a good game? Do you celebrate any goals they might score?

My particular strongest confirmation bias is against refs. Why are they all against us? Don’t they like the red and white shirts? Are they all from the North West? (Most are, as it happens 🙂 ). I realise that a lot of the time it’s irrational, but hell, I’m blowed if I’m going to stop doing it. I love it.

Anyway, enough of this waffle. All I’m saying is that we all see what we want to see and have our own multitudinous confirmation biases going on in our heads every time we watch a game.

After all, that’s where varying opinions come from and is partly what makes blogging or shooting the breeze in the pub so popular.




23 Responses to Is Guendouzi really lightweight, Mesut really lazy, Mustafi an accident waiting to happen?

  1. Brilliant Chas, must admit I try hard to say things as I see them, but find an urge to offer balance by maybe taking the counter view when someone is being overly negative/positive.

    On Ozil we are currently hearing a lot of confirmation bias from pundits, how many times in commentary on Monday did Smith or the lead commentator say “now he has upped his work rate”, “he is now buying into Emery’s plans” etc etc. Personally I do not think I saw much more work rate on Monday night than Ozil normally puts in, but then I didn’t think he was particularly lazy.

    However on Mustafi, he may well lead the team in tackles, but Lloris leads Spuds in saves however this season has committed some costly errors of judgement that has cost his team, similarly with Mustafi I think it is a brain melt that seriously affects our view of him, and if he could remove these crazy moments then he would be a great asset.

    The player that perhaps suffers most from this confirmation bias is Nacho Monreal, for me he has been one of our most consistent performers and I would put him as first name on team sheet, you never hear fans rave about him because a lot do think that he is not good enough, didn’t cost enough or was a desperation purchase.

  2. TT says:

    Well, for the record here is my take:

    The refs are not bias, they are just bad, and so we react to the bad calls against us. But everyone gets really bad calls. I mean English referees are really terrible, across the board.

    As for the players, the game has got more complicate over the years and is more of a team game than ever. One player can be marked out of the game and a team can play tactics that really nullify the strengths of one individual, or they can overload and target a player so he looks terrible.

    If you watch on TV you never even see anything off the ball. Even if you are at the game it is tough to read a game at this level with so much going on. I think fans are genuinely giving their opinion, It is just the vast majority of fans don’t have the knowledge to read a game, so it isn’t surprising they come to the same opinion.

  3. LB says:

    Firstly Mesut can do no wrong — bias moi?

    Ok jokes aside, Guendouzi is still a teenager? Incredible, we debate him as though he is a seasoned player; he is getting stronger every game and wow what a player we have there.

    Mustafi: great back up but who would play him ahead of a fit Kos and Big Sok this Sunday?

    Oooh, last one Torriera does not lose possession, I honestly do not know the stats but I am always impressed at how carful he is with his passing.

    Things really are looking good and that really is a good post.

    And by the way Mesut has upped his work rate, not just how many yards he covers but in different parts of his game. Put simply, he is now on side and has brought into Emery’s way of doing things.

  4. chas says:

    Here you go, LB. 🙂

    Lucas Torreira

    Possession (lost, exc clearances) – 7.5 ave per game – 291 Total
    Possession (lost, player dispossessed) – 0.6 ave per game – 24 Total

  5. Godonga says:

    Great post. My only confirmation bias manifests when I hear the so called pundits and commentators always slandering Arsenal and its players not because we not good enough but that we are the sight of envy.

    The worst is when you hear the pundits say Arsenal will not make it into top four despite their run in looking easier than the Chavs, Mancs and Spuds. This, on a night when the Mancs were slaughter to the Wolves, they still have to face the Chavs and Spuds still to play the favorites Shites!

    Ridiculous. They do not hate Arsenal, they envy it. Look at poor Levy spending 1 billion to build a replica of the Emirates that Wenger built for just 300 000.00 pounds! All that for a mere 1800 seats advantage! What a confirmation bias that is!!!

    Gunners in Africa!!!!,

  6. Big Raddy says:

    chas. Another cracking post.

    Confirmation Bias? Of course, it is the foundation of my enjoyment of football.

    Let me ask you this … do you think any Spurs players would get into AFC’s team? My answer is a definite No (well, maybe the Dane). Why? Because I am biased and believe any man wearing the skinny cock is worse than hi AFC equivalent.

    I like GIE’s comment and agree but perhaps I have confirmation bias

    The commentators influence people perception which is particularly evident in the case of Ozil.

    With Mustafi, I don’t believe I am biased. I think he is a decent squad player and our 4th best CB, but will be 5th when Mavro gets some PL experience, and for a man who cost over €30m I expected better.

    Douzi: Has wonderful potential and his energy levels are early Ramsey-esque but at present I see a lad who makes the occasional and costly poor decision. If we can keep him, he will be the hub of the team in the 2020’s.

  7. Big Raddy says:

    Godonga. Great comment.

    Gunners in Denmark

  8. chas says:

    Haha, my favourite line so far is GIE’s “Lloris leads Spuds in saves”.

    There was me thinking it was going to be Vertonghen. 🙂

    LB’s ‘Torreira does not lose possession’ and BR’s ‘yeah I have confirmation bias but I’m right about Mustafi and Guendouzi’ were both a close second. 🙂

    Gunners in Nottingham

  9. LBG says:

    Great post Chas and of course I refute that you have always suggested ” confirmation bias” is my middle name!!
    I expect most would agree with the massive difference one “sees” live at a game compared to watching on the box.
    Mustafi is the classic “impression” man, resulting in condemnation whatever he actually does overall at the game. This leads me to my comments earlier in the week. Having been at the game on Monday, and wanting to refute an “impression” given as to Ouzi’s failings, I watched him carefully and recorded all participation. However, I did the same for two other players who I feel over time I may have been super critical of. – Ramsey and Mustafi. For this reason I was able, “in my eyes”, to refute errors made by Aaron, named MOM by several, compared to Ouzi.
    On Monday Mustafi made six passes that were ill advised – either in the case of three because they were close ( but not actually) intercepted by opponents and produced a loud response of dissatisfaction from the crowd, or in the case of three that resulted in the receiving player being unable to collect the ball and it being lost. Two of those led to two injuries ( A. MN and Sokratis) to our players as Geordies went through man and ball.
    Don’t know if that means anything relative to the debate……but in conclusion, tackle numbers aside, I believe Mustafi is about the 7th best CB at the Club!!!!

  10. LB says:


    Thanks for putting Torreira’s stats up the problem is I don’t know what they mean. Do they confirm what I think or is he just as bad as the rest?

  11. chas says:


    You’re right, it is all a load of cobblers.

  12. chas says:

    Highlights from last night’s Wolves v Man U game….

  13. chas says:

  14. GunnerN5 says:

    Nice one Chas,

    I guess we are all guilty of forgetting that Guendouzi is still a teenager and unfairly judge him as a seasoned professional. He is already a very good player and I feel he will be a long time first team write in for Emery.

  15. GunnerN5 says:

    Word press just ate my comment…………..

  16. GunnerN5 says:

    Then it shows up?

  17. GunnerN5 says:

    Wolves away is a very scary looking fixture.

  18. Big Raddy says:

    So do all 5 of the away games.

    Already bored by the hyperbole about the new WHL. What they are not mentioning is that is will be full of 60k muppets

  19. chas says:

  20. chas says:

  21. Big Raddy says:

    Morning All,

    Love Fat Sam tucking into the Fray Bentos 😀

  22. Big Raddy says:

    No-one around this morning , so I have written a whimsical throw away post which thankfully will be read by the Valiant Few…

    There is a New Post

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