Sunday, May 31, 2009

Lies, Damn Lies and Actim Stats

"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. 


Vertino Aleci said...

ahhh! the name gareth barry frightens me. He isn't the worst but he isn't that good either I don't think. He is the quiet man that keeps things ticking over (denilson style) and can play LB and CB if needed (song style). I don't know whether that is what 3we need. But if you have couple of great midfield wizzards like iniesta and xavi, you could stick busquets and we will look world class..

with regards to the your previous post comment, for me playing attractive football (or the attempt of doing so anyway) weighs far more than winning the actual trophy. The last trophy we won against utd, it felt great at the start but after a bit it kinda felt hollow because I know we were outplayed. it was such an attritional performance for the whole game, I hate that. But hey thats just me

weg said...

I was thinking along those lines myself at the beginning of the season, but I got turned around December. We played some truly awful football without Cesc and Theo. Without Cesc and the Owl, I don't think our players have it in them to play sexy football.

And if there's only thing better than thumping Man Utd in a cup final, it's a jammy win on penalties. The sweetest fruit and all, you know.