"Aw, people can come up with statistics to prove anything, Kent. Forty percent of all people know that."
- Homer Simpson, Homer the Vigilante episode
I haven't read much Arsenal news in the past few days, and so it's a bit depressing to click on newsnow. It's the same old shit since last week - we're facing a clear-out, we're broke, we're rich, we're investing in youth, we're keeping faith in youth, our youth is crap, Denilson is the 16th best midfielder in the Premier League...
Gooners are firmly divided about Denilson. He doesn't contribute much on the creative side of things, he doesn't impose himself on games, and he doesn't tackle like a rabid dog on Ritalin. And yet, the stats tell us he's the 16th best midfielder in the Premier League. Denilson detractors say that Denilson's stats are the result of him passing backwards and sideways, and not the result of any special talent on his part. Denilson supporters look at the stats and say... stats don't lie.
Traditionalists tend to dismiss stats as bookish nonsense, the domain of nerds who were kicked off the pitch as kids and who've held a grudge against the more sporty types ever since. Traditionalist prefer to see what a player can do on the pitch, and not what stats get plugged into a computer program.
But still, stats don't lie. Denilson intercepts the ball. Denilson keeps the ball safe and makes the first pass a safe pass. It gives our players a chance to transition from defence to offence. It starts off the offensive move. It's no use hitting a speculative, first-time slide-rule pass if there's no one ready to receive it. Denilson's safety first play gives our team time to regroup. Which is good, as far as I can see.
Then again, if we can get this man, I'd much prefer him to Denilson.
And I'm just thinking about the Barcelona team that are now, officially, the best team to have ever played football in the history of Earth for all time. There are three ex-Arsenal players (Henry, Hleb, Sylvinho). There is one Arsenal triallist (Yaya Toure), and one Arsenal target (Eto'o). And I'm thinking about how good OUR side could've been if we'd keep some players, bought some others....
But you know, such is life.