Searching the Stats: The League Cup Final

Objectivity

Its at times like these that it is vital to remain objective as a football fan. It is at times like these that it is impossible to remain objective as a football fan. It is important to note that we were on a hiding to nothing on Sunday, and that even a side like Man Utd, enjoying their most productive season since Ferguson left, would have been considered severe underdogs against Man City. That is how good Guardiola’s men are.

The first reaction to the league cup final for many Arsenal fans was to blame everyone in sight, as per usual. The players, then the manager, then the board, then other Arsenal fans for not sharing the same beliefs as them about the players, manager and board.

This all culminates in a meltdown among Arsenal fans, and leads to abominations like Arsenal Fan TV, which keeps the misery of the weekend circulating around the internet with their outlandish opinions and lack of volume control.

No one will argue with the notion that the players on the pitch underperformed, massively. Some hugely important players struggled to make an impact, while others were simply unable to keep up with the league leaders. Arsenal started brightly, but after a poor error at the back gave Aguero the lead, and our Mr Consistent, Monreal, was forced off early on, we were unable to get ourselves back into the game.

Another Crucial Injury

The loss of Monreal was evident. A man who puts everything on the line for the club every single game, unconditionally. Much like Flamini in his latter years, but with genuine quality to match. He has contributed to six goals this season in the league, but more importantly racks up an average passing success rate of 90.6% each game and wins 2.1 aerial duels every match.

As strong as Kolasinac is, he doesn’t have the same intelligence going forwards, averaging only 78% successful passes per game. He also, despite his physical prowess, only wins 1.8 aerial duels each game, somehow lower than the diminutive Spaniard.

The loss of Monreal coincided with Arsenals lack of attacking flair. However, this is not to say that we did not create chances. It should be noted that 80% of Arsenal’s shots came from open play on Sunday, compared to just 41% from City. Of course, they enjoyed much more possession and attempted more shots on goal, but the first two of their goals came directly from set pieces.

Retribution

What needs to be remembered is that City are the best team in the league by some distance, and some Arsenal fans seem to think that the miracle at Wigan could be easily replicated at the weekend. Arsenal are a 6th placed side, that is the extent of the squads’ ability. Man City are the most likely team to challenge for the Champions League since 2012. They are streets ahead, and there is no team in the world that should be disappointed with a 3-0 loss to them.

This isn’t a political post, this doesn’t shift blame from the manager or individual players. We didn’t deserve to win the game, but to suggest that the players didn’t try, or that Wenger picked the wrong players, or that luck had no impact whatsoever (particularly in the first half), is nonsensical.

Any team can lose 3-0. This weekend it happened to be us. Keep your chin up, support your team, and if we play like we did in the first half, with 60,000 chanting at the Emirates on Thursday, we can get some much needed retribution.