By Tony Attwood
On 23 January 2022 Arsenal had a goalless draw at home against Burnley. ESPN opened their account with the statement, “Arsenal lost ground on their bid for a top four finish with a 0-0 draw against bottom of the table Burnley at the Emirates on Sunday.” The feeling was that Arsenal were not progressing fast enough, and there was talk of Arteta being sacked as manager.
After the game Arsenal were sixth in the league, an improvement on the position of 10th that they had after 21 games the year before, and the year before that but nowhere near the positions of between 1st and 6th that they had held after 21 games in the six years before that.
And indeed it is interesting that although all the emphasis was on buying a new striker, Arsenal had scored more goals after 21 games than in the last two seasons. Not enough, obviously, but an improvement.
Indeed a look back at the last ten years would have shown anyone willing to look that it was not impossible to move up two places to the “not a trophy” position of fourth and thus re-enter the Champions League.
The problem of course was that everyone was predicting that an easy win over Burnley would indeed take us up to fourth, and obviously, that did not happen, but winning the one game in hand Arsenal had over Manchester United would still have taken the club up to fourth, although Tottenham winning one of their games and drawing the other will knock Arsenal back to fifth.
Untold Arsenal called for calm and faith, but others thought that a signing was needed. The Mirror, never a newspaper to give hope to Arsenal wrote, “Arsenal are continuing to push hard to sign in-form striker Dusan Vlahovic this month, but Fiorentina manager Vincenzo Italiano has warned them off the Serbia international”. They also said in a separate article that “Arsenal are set to extend Mikel Arteta’s contract with club chiefs impressed with his progress,” which it turned out they were.
But at the same time, as part of its constant attempt to portray Arsenal as a club that does not know what it is doing, we were also told by the Mirror that “Arsenal have been warned they are set to make a mistake in the January transfer window as they prepare to bring in reinforcements.”
Indeed it was worse than that as Arsenal awere “told they’re signing the wrong Brazilian after visit from Arthur Melo’s agent.” Worse again, Arsenal fans were advised that the club was about to lose Martinelli apparently, as Liverpool were going to sign him.
Untold Arsenal however did pick up on a trend that would become a central part of their approach – that of not getting yellow cards, and published this list…
|Brighton and Hove Albion
|West Ham United
Figures from Premier League’s official site.
Untold Arsenal on the day noted that there “does seem a huge investment in time and energy by the Mirror to bring us news of Arsenal’s hopeless pursuit of the wrong players alongside awful indiscipline. One might ask, why is it all so important to them to show Arsenal to be abject failures at everything? Is it just to ensure no one mentions Man United’s 44 yellows?”
It is also interesting to note on this day a comment on Untold Arsenal from regular commentator Nitram which questioned why the media went one way with Arsenal and another with Chelsea. You can read that here.
And that commentary is particularly interesting given what happened to Chelsea in the subsequent seasons.
The Mirror, it seems, offered no apology for its awful prognostications and recommendations.