Almunia; Dead Man Walking? ….. and the real stats

August 18, 2010

Since two writers have submitted posts giving their particular angle on Manuel Almunia, we have decided to publish them both to demonstrate how views can contrast and stats can prove anything!

A view on Almunia written by 26may1989

What must be going through the mind of Manuel Almunia? We’re all frustrated and annoyed that the new keeper Wenger is after hadn’t been secured before the season’s opening, but I guess the point of this post is to try to look at this situation from Almunia’s point of view.

Whatever we think of his ability to be our first choice keeper, and I am very much of the view that he doesn’t have what it takes technically, Almunia has consistently shown himself to be a man of dignity and modesty. Unlike his predecessor, Jens Lehmann, or the man who has led the defence in front of him over the last two or three years, William Gallas, Almunia is a genuine team player. He has also undoubtedly improved his game over the last few years, and while not good enough, is not nearly as bad as many would claim.

But he and we know the reality. Almunia is the footballing equivalent of a dead man walking. It’s now a matter of record that Arsenal have officially bid for at least one other keeper, Mark Schwarzer, who would be an improvement on Almunia but not dramatically so. Whether or not Schwarzer joins us, Almunia knows his days as first choice are numbered, and quite rightly it seems he would leave Arsenal rather than resume duties as a back-up keeper.

However, we went into last weekend with a tough and difficult opening match depending on Almunia, a man who can only feel undermined and threatened by what has happened this summer. There’s no point whingeing about the situation, it is what it is now, and it’s obvious Wenger didn’t want this situation to have come about any more than we did. I just hope Almunia’s professional pride enables him to put any feelings of frustration and alienation to one side – he may even be motivated by a degree of defiance.

I feel for Almunia being in this situation but I also believe he has the strength of character to give his best for as long as he’s Arsenal’s number one.

What the stats say by GunnerN5

Most of us have agonized over our goalkeeping for several seasons,  really since the much maligned Jens left us, boy how we would like him back now. This chart shows just how  bad our main man Almunia really was last season.

Unfortunately the complete range of stats cannot be reproduced in the chart above, but the decisive conclusions are as follows:

Almunia was 17th in saves per shot at 87.8% and 8th on amount of goals allowed at 31. What is really surprising is that our defense only allowed 254 shots against Almunia in his 29 games. This (among this group of keepers) was the 5th lowest amount for the season and the lowest shots against per game at only 9. To the writer this indicates that our defense was not as suspect as perhaps we thought and that our goalkeeping was worse than thought.

If, for instance, Almunia had  the same save % as Van der Sar at 94.1% (5.9% allowed) then he would only have let in 15 goals and we would, have most likely, won the league.

I know stats are simply stats but this chart really shows just how bad Almunia was and although Fabianski and Mannone are not shown they were no better.

Hart, Schwarzer and Given were all better than any of our lot!!


To Think, Two Irishmen Could Have Won Us The League!!

May 12, 2010

If ifs and buts were pots and pans The Arsenal’s cupboard would be full to the brim and I’m about to add my own set to push it to bursting point.

This season’s Premier League was more exciting than most, I don’t think anyone will argue with that. However, it has also been distinctly average. Chelsea were the best of a bad lot, there is no two ways about it. They had the best squad on paper but often times turned up as if they had the game already won and ended up losing to the likes of Wigan – hardly the sign of great Champions.

Manchester United are not a patch on their former great teams. Rooney carried the weight of the team (as he will do with England) that for a finish his body broke and he could do no more. Nani is an overrated acrobat, Carrick is a hyped up English player (again) and Giggs and Scholes are coming to the end.  They hung on in the title race by virtue of Chelsea dropping points – a bit like us really…

Thing is with the signing of two players Arsenal would not only have hung on till the last month, I actually believe we would have won it.

Meet my pot and pan.

"Richard, I don't want to be the pot"

"Richard, I don't want to be the pot"

Now, we’ve all known for some time that Shay Given had been wasted at Newcastle United. He gave them many years of his career with little to show but lucky for him a goalkeeper normally has a longer career and he could move on for another challenge. Like most players that would be the Champions League. Now what team that constantly hovers around the Champions League could have done with  a top ‘keeper over the last few seasons?

Congrats you win the Tupperware, it is of course Arsenal.

Watching Flappy One and Flappy Two flap about in goals all season was a joke. To make it even worse its not like this is a new problem. Many, many, many of us said at the time that Shay Given should have been signed. He had been a top player for Newcastle for years and with them heading for the Championship he was always going to seek a top team. Despite their riches, Citeh had to fork out relatively little to get their man.

Just as at Newcastle, Given often saved the bacon of the City defenders this season. It must be a sense of deja vu for poor Shay to see such a mediocre bunch of defensive players in front of him. Imagine how much happier he would have been at Arsenal and how much happier we’d be to have him?

City’s defence was an insult to the deepening economic crisis. Kolo Toure was past his prime – we knew that. Lescott was carried for many a season at Everton by the talented Jagielka – he got found out. If I wrote down how much they cost together I might vomit…

The hilarious thing is that Citeh made way for these two by selling my pot because he didn’t have a “global” name.

Yes, Richard Dunne might not be everyone’s favourite player but I think the guy is a class act.  Before the desert dollars, Dunne was City’s best player and as soon as the money came he was dumped. He reacted though as the best do – by having the season of his life. Villa may have fallen away towards the end but Dunne was immense for them throughout the campaign.

Along with Vermaelen, he has been one of the buys of the season – now imagine if both had been in the same team with Shay Given behind them!

Not alone would we have two experienced players, we’d have had two players who know each other very well through playing for the Rep.Ireland, a Rep.Ireland whose ship Trapattoni has really steadied.

Arsenal’s problem this season wasn’t our inability to score goals, it was our crass stupidity at defending that cost us so we ended third with no silverware.

Imagine the signing of an Irish pot and pan could well have changed all that!

Now the question must be asked as to who this season’s pot and pan will be…