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

April 3, 2019

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.

Thoughts?

chas

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Shkodran Mustafi – give the man a break!

March 28, 2019

This post was prompted by yet more whingeing from Arsenal fans about Mustafi after a failed block in a friendly in Dubai, for heaven’s sake. 

Shkodran Mustafi signed for Arsenal from Valencia in August 2016 for a reputed fee of £35m. In his first two seasons under Arsene Wenger he played 26 and 27 games respectively, missing a few games in both with hamstring and thigh muscle problems. For quite a while now, he has been the whipping boy of the Arsenal fans and many were hoping to see the back of him at the end of last season.

With the long-term injury to Kos, this never looked likely to happen. Under Unai Emery, Sokratis had been bought from Dortmund in the summer and Rob Holding chosen to fight for a first team place in preference to the unlucky Calum Chambers, who was sent out on loan to progress his playing time.

Looking a bit gormless isn’t a crime

Almost undetected, Herr Mustafi has become an invaluable part of the Arsenal squad. Unai Emery chose him to be the regular partner of Sokratis at the start of the season. When Papa was injured in October, Rob Holding stepped into the breach to partner Shkodran and quickly looked to be maturing into the role very nicely indeed. Rob’s injury in the away game at the Old Cowshed has been absorbed by the gradual return of Captain Koscielny and by Papa establishing himself as a no-nonsense old school defender who can adjust to the rigours of Premier League football.

Throughout these upheavals, and aside from a hamstring in December which kept him out for 7 games, Mustafi has been a constant in the Arsenal defence. Admittedly part of that has been down to the shift to a back three to allow Sead Kolasinac into his favoured left wing back position, but even so, Shkodran has never baulked at his opportunities to pull on the red and white (or pistachio!) shirt of the mighty Gunners.

His 24 appearances are testament to that. So far he has played 1987 minutes of Arsenal League season, the 5th highest.  Can he really be as terrible as everyone makes out? Let’s take a look at some of his other stats.

Shkodran makes on average 3.4 aerial duels per game which is the highest for any Arsenal player. He also tops Interceptions at 1.9 p.g.  and Clearances 5.3 p.g. These are not the stats of the completely incompetent player we see described all over the Arsenal blogosphere.

How about his passing? Is it the accident waiting to happen constantly mentioned on twitter. Well, it’s surprising to find out that he’s third on the list of Arsenal passers at 1319 in terms of volume, a hundred less than 2nd placed Torreira. Yes, a fair few of those have been sideways or back to the keeper as the team attempts to implement Unai’s ‘playing out from the back’ policy, but his pass accuracy is 83% and according to the official stats he hasn’t made any errors directly leading to a goal.

His tackles made and fouls conceded per game are both 4th in the list and he sits on 6 yellows, the same as Torreira, 2 behind Xhaka and 3 behind our imperturbable Greek. Have we paid for his perceived tendency to launch himself into reckless challenges? It appears not quite as much as his reputation would have us believe.

Yes, he may end up on his backside on occasion and the odd pass may go astray but all players make mistakes. The odd lapse shouldn’t discount the other 98% of a player’s overall performance. Can anyone remember when Koscielny was coming under constant criticism for not being good enough in his first couple of seasons?

Shkodran played in one of our best performances at home to Liverpool, was subbed on 70 minutes in the thrilling home victory against the spuds with Arsenal pushing for the win and he also scored the first goal away at Man U.

Yes, our first choice centre back pairing has become Kos and Papa in a back four but don’t rule out a few more starts for Mr Mustafi in the run-in – especially if we go to a back 5 to make room for the Bosnian battering ram.

Here’s Mustafi’s bullet header from the away game in Cardiff back in early September.

This season Unai has relied on the German Albanian enough for him to have started 80% of our League games. In a reasonably successful season so far for the Club, can we really say Mustafi hasn’t earnt his money as a decent squad player?

I suppose what I’m getting at is, regardless of what may or may not happen in the summer, please cut poor old Shkodran some slack. He may well yet play a crucial part in this season’s finale as we seek a CL place, be it either through the League, or via the Europa Cup.

chas


Arsenal master Bate Borisov 3-0 – Player Ratings

February 22, 2019

Mesut to start – thank funk for that.

First Half

In need of a goal, the team started really well. Wobbly had a chance to shoot immediately. Only a few minutes had gone when Bate scored – in their own net, the defenders confused – not realising that, since it was Auba crossing the ball, nobody would be in the middle.

Frustratingly the foot then came off the pedal. Either that or Bate realised that an away goal was their best chance and upped their game. One in the side netting and then one off the line cleared by Lichtsteiner. As usual Arsenal allowed the poorest of opposition good chances.

Gradually we regained superiority. Xhaka had a cracking pot shot. Just before half time and after a succession of short corners which produced diddly squat, Xhaka planted one into the perfect spot for Shirley to fool the defender and then get in front of his man, bulleting a close range header for 2-0. Superb celebration from the master carpenter!

Second half

After a bit of Keystone cop defending in the first few minutes after the break and a few heart flutters, the result was never really in doubt once that half time malaise had worn off.

Papa majestically finished off another Granit corner launched right into the mix. Shirley put the goalie off and the big Greek planted the ball into a gaping net with the back of his swede.

Auba struggled to find a goal but he could have played all night and not scored. Saving them for Southampton on Sunday, I hope. Mesut scuffed a relatively simple volley with the goal at his mercy but the three goals would have to suffice, and they did.

Conclusion

Job done. Relatively straightforward in the end. Bate had two decent chances to get the away goal they craved but we really should have had more to show for such dominant superiority. An OG and two headed goals from corners from 22 efforts on goal did prove enough to put us in the last 16 though.

The draw for the round of 16 is today at 12 noon GMT. There are a few teams we’d  miss ideally, though we’ll have to beat some good teams if we’re going to win it, no doubt.

Ratings

Cech – nowt to do … 7

Lichtsteiner – looked more like his experienced professional self against the Belarusians … 7

Mustafi – excellent header – relatively untroubled throughout and even showed some composure on the ball … 7

Koscielny – class again – hope his injury isn’t too serious … 8

Monreal – battled manfully – love his commitment to the cause … 7

Xhaka – available throughout – passing excellent – went a little anonymous when moved forward to accommodate Torreira but two assists and plenty of great work – loved how he defended Nacho from the thuggery near the end… 8

Guendouzi – enjoyed himself – he’s going to be some player if he continues progressing at this rate … 7

Ozil – class – his movement is incredible – mind you, the opposition weren’t up to much … 7

Mkhitaryan – a bit lightweight – he really should be able to shine in these sort of games … 6

Aubameyang – poor Auba – a goal was never going to come, nevertheless he competed well and came deep when nothing was fed to him in the area – the dink over the keeper near the end should have ended up in the back of the net … 7

Iwobi – always a threat, just lacked that killer final ball …7

Subs

Sokratis – he was good enough that Kos wasn’t missed and he also popped up with the decisive third … 7

Torreira – not sure why he was brought on for Matteo, contributed little of note – a run out, I suppose … 6

Suarez – late sub to give him a run also – inconclusive … 6

Managers

Emery – got the job done – picked Mesut for a game against lowly opposition and it was the right decision – lovely heartfelt goal celebrations … 8

Wagner – should go back to Huddersfield … 6

chas


If it wasn’t for bad luck, we wouldn’t …

January 29, 2019

Much of the pre-match attention will focus on the tragic loss of Sala. In a sport dominated by brusque masculinity it is rare to hear someone speak with as much dignity and emotional honesty as Neil Warnock. Hats off to the chap (henceforth known as David Wagner). I know Arsenal will handle the event with the tact and grace we expect from our club.

images-5.jpeg

Chapeau

I appreciate Mr. Wagner the man but certainly not his footballing philosophy. Wagner/Warnock knows his teams don’t have the skill sets to compete so he instills them with aggression, shit-housery and an ability to PTB. All of which we will witness this evening.

As you would expect the prime reasons for Cardiff being in the relegation zone are an inability to score goals allied to an propensity to concede. They have scored only 19 goals, second lowest to Huddersfield, and conceded 44, second highest to Fulham. Mr. Wagner has problems. Thankfully, David is used to the relegation battle and I wish him luck in keeping Cardiff in the PL, hopefully at the expense of some Northern team of cloggers.

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Mr. Emery. These are our 3 Best Players

We go into this match with a skeleton crew of defenders. Two lost in our last match. With both Bellerin and Holding on a gap year and the young Greek lad still in the treatment room we are down to bare bones. It must be awful if Mustafi is the first name on the teamsheet 😦

There is the possibility that Koscielny may play with a mask – he can be our be our Lone Ranger with Monreal as Tonto and Mustafi as Silver (only the older reader will get that joke!)

Elneny can play central defence. A chimp can write Macbeth.

No problems upfront, just a selection. Does Mr.Emery play an attacking team or continue with the midfield diamond? You know my opinion. We are at home against a team in 19th who have picked up 5 points on the road, scoring just 6 times. It is a night to unleash the attacking talents in the squad.

I would like to see Iwobi start, alongside Ozil, PEA and Laca. Drop Ramsey and Wardrobe and Nacho playing left of a back 3. This requires Iwobi to cover much ground but the lad is young and will love running about on a chilly night in London.

We need a win after the confidence draining result last Friday and with a trip to Maine Road on Sunday.

Let it be So

COYRRG


Emery’s Bermuda Triangle

January 7, 2019

Prompted by my Bros to expand on my criticism of Dick’s current tactics evident at the Fulham game, I offer another controversial effort for the perusal of AAers the world over.

I qualify what I am going to say in advance with the facts that…….

  1. We have lost Holding for a long time.
  2. Have not had Kos (and may never have the old Kos) for  a long time.
  3. Have missed an Improved Hector and reliable Nacho in recent weeks.
  4. Let alone had no chance to see the other Greek God, Mav, who I think could prove in the future to be the solution, together with Holding, to Dick’s Bermuda Triangle.

To explain:- Dick has regularly opted recently for the following three players in the vital “central triangle of defence”, and it is here he is making his mistake. Mustafi and Sokratis as CBs, with Xhaka in the central holding/receiving slot.

I will start with the CBs (without really needing to for anyone with eyes).

Sokratis has got guts, is committed and occasionally is in the right place at the right time (See fourth goal against Fulham). But good enough for us as a CB? Nah!

Mustafi is dog’s poo (thought I’d do your job for you, ed). Positionally poor, rarely wins a header as he is a short arse, slide tackles late and nowhere near the ball. Good enough for us as a CB? Nah!

Now, given this criticism, Dick has doubled the problems in his triangle by allowing Xhaka to play at the top as holding/receiver of passes from these two! Xhaka is in my eyes massively overrated. Sure he can spray long balls, but only when the oppo back off, and these long balls are rarely “dynamic” in their effect. (He is no Alonso). Under pressure he shovels poop, and under real pressure, he makes potentially disastrous passes. (He is no Gilberto). He cannot tackle really, and is regularly booked for this (lack of) “skill”. (He is no Kante……or for that matter, Terrier). And much of this slaughtering criticism is because he is not quick enough of thought or limb.

Sorry, I seem to have been a little scathing!

Does he deserve a place in the starting eleven? Well, for the moment my answer is ‘yes’. But play him forward of Terrier and Ouzi (alongside each other and in front of the defence). Both of these two are better at the job required there and, will shore up some of the defensive frailty currently evident. “For the moment” for that is the position I advocate for A M-N in the future, and then it could be bye bye Xhaka for me.

My view, sorry if you think I am still drunk with joy from my recent Birthday.

Written by LBG

Mustafi or Holding – who partners the Greek Colossus – Poll?

October 16, 2018

Morning all, fellow suffering Gunners.

Back to me poll do-da to help fill the gap.

Pretty sure we’d all be pretty close now after 8 league games to picking Unai’s starting XI.

I’m by far and away the most knowledgeable on this site when it comes to attacking football, but beyond useless when it comes to defenders, so although it appalls me to admit this, I need your help.

My interest in defenders goes no further than Tony Adams, although I’m aware that when it comes to the overall defence, continuity is vital as it’s the misunderstandings that lead to more let-ins than anything else.

Sadly, and hopefully only for now, I’m having to leave Laurent out of the equation and just hope he makes a full and speedy return. He would make the poll irrelevant.

So, here we go. Same as before,  4-2-3-1. Difference today is that I’m insisting Sokratis is a starter, so you’re picking the other CB. Does Holding have a real future? If so, and it’s a close call between him and Mustafi, would that swing it? I have no idea.

mickydidit89


Away form to Continue?

October 7, 2018

A trip to The Cottage is full of nostalgia. Cosy ground by the river, no longer owned by that clown Al-Fayed (now owned by a Pakistani American) and managed by a chap from Serbia, Fulham are a fine club

A family club (whatever that means).

They have some decent players as well … the wonderkid Sessegnon, the powerful Mitrovic, the speedy and very expensive ex-Chav Schurrle, a very good Italian MF named Seri. They are a decent team who have yet to find their feet in the PL.

If you need to know more, read GN5’s excellent post from yesterday.

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I expect a tough game this lunchtime. We returned from a very long Spursday trip to Baku  late Friday morning and had only a day to prepare for this one, though many players were rested for the Qarabag tie.

The team almost picks itself with only the Holding or Mustafi selection in doubt. My hope is that Emery rewards Holding with a starting  role but I suspect he will give the shirt to Mustafi (AWTH).

Oh … I forgot. We still have the Ozil & Ramsey quandary. I much prefer Iwobi to play instead of Aaron but think we will see a repeat of the early subs with Ramsey starting but not finishing the game.

My Team:

Leno

Bellerin    Mustafi    GB   Monreal

Ramsey   Terrier    Xhaka

Ozil

Lacazette    PEA

As usual we will have a very strong bench.

Much is being made of the possible 9. Given we have yet to see a solid consistent 90 minutes in any of our victories it is proof that good fortune remains important in a fledgling managerial career. Had our opposition taken the many chances on offer we would be discussing Emery in a very different manner.

Should be an entertaining game and, if we can score early, a positive result.

COYRRG