Walcott: I’m better than Henry, Bergkamp, Pele and Jesus!
Headlines are designed to grab your attention and a certain amount of sensationalism is acceptable and often expected especially online where competition for clicks is fierce.
One of the worst type of headlines are the ONES with RANDOM words in all CAPITALS written with the SOLE aim of grabbing your ATTENTION with inciting BUZZ words and PROMISE of professional OBSERVATION of why WENGER is GOOD or BAD or needs to LEARN TACTICS or how he is going to SPEND a MASSIVE amount of money on STRIKER / DEFENSIVE MIDFIELDER / MOUNTAIN GOAT (delete as applicable). Those headlines are often warning signals that what you are about to read is a load of drivel full of about as much insight, truth and intelligence as the average urinary tract infection.
However, the ones that annoy me more than anything are ones like are featured on the back of the Mirror newspaper this morning which leads with the headline BETTER THAN THE INVINCIBLES and the subheading of Walcott: Our attack is superior to Wenger’s famous class of 2004.
The problem with this headline is it infers Walcott has claimed the current Arsenal team is better than the Invincibles which is a stupid thing to say (he didn’t say that) and the sub-header is written in such a way it looks as though Walcott has specifically said this attack is better than the 2004 attack which is a lie.
I have deliberately, and ironically, written today’s headline to point out my issue with what the Mirror has done. By putting a colon after Walcott’s name I am attempting to convince whoever reads the headline that Theo has said what followed (in this case he is better than Henry, Bergkamp, Pele and Jesus) and that my article contains the details of why he would make such a bold and asinine claim.
Anyone who has watched Theo Walcott develop over his time at Arsenal will know that he is a sensible person and wouldn’t say something as unbelievably stupid as claiming this attack is better than the attack the Invincbles boasted, full of players at their peak.
Headlines like this are emotive and cloud the judgement of the reader in most cases. They go into it thinking Walcott is an idiot and leave with much the same impression as their anger at such “heresy” has blinded them to the truth of the words.
The original quotes from Theo are intact and unaltered however the suggestive tone of the piece is not in keeping with the true intent of Theo’s words.
What Theo actually said, to Arsenal Player, was this:
When I came, it was Pires and Ljungberg, Bergkamp, Thierry and Reyes – that’s some attacking force as well. I think this squad probably does beat it, but we need to prove it first
He specifically refers to the players who were in the team when he joined and it is an important distinction. When Theo joined in 2006 the team was much less potent than the team of 2004 and each of those players was in the process of winding down their Arsenal career.
What the Mirror has done is apply the force of nature performances of a team all hitting their peak at just the right time to a team mixed with old and young with different pressures and abilities and lead the reader to believe that the Henry, Bergkamp, Pires and Ljungberg of 2006 were the same players as two campaigns prior. They were not.
If reported properly this could have been an article about the belief at Arsenal in their quality and desire to show it. A positive post the supporters could get excited about because who doesn’t want to see our attack sweep teams aside? Hearing or reading Theo say he believes we have the ability but they have to do more to prove it would buoy the fans. We want our players to believe in themselves but we also want them to be honest with us and Theo saying they have to prove it is being honest. It’s not Bendtner-esque rodomontade. It is Szczesny-esque self-belief.
Theo has a point though. In 2006 our main creative and attacking players were Henry, Bergkamp, Reyes, Van Persie, Pires, Fabregas, Ljungberg and Hleb who scored a combined 75 goals, 33 of which came from Henry with Van Persie second on 12 and Pires a close third on 11. They played a total of 58 competitive games that season reaching the final of the Champions League, the semi-finals of the League Cup and exiting the FA Cup in the fourth round to Bolton.
Our comparable players in this squad are (in no particular order or direct comparison) Alexis, Özil, Walcott, Ramsey, Cazorla, Giroud, Welbeck and Chamberlain. So far they have a total of 47 goals after 33 competitive games (including the Community Shield and Champions League qualifiers) and the minimum amount of games they have left to play is 19 depending on how they fare in cup competitions. If they only play 19 more games they will have played 52 games and based on current figures they will finish with approximately 74 goals which is almost identical however over a 58 game season they would finish with 82 goals.
So in that sense Theo is right, this team could be better, or at least score more goals, than the team he joined in 2006 and it is worth noting that those figures include Walcott who is yet to score so technically this team is a man light so anything Theo adds will increase the predicted number of goals.
The 2006 team made a total of 332 appearances between them with an average of 41.5 games per player in a 58 game season and the 2014/15 team have made a total of 164 appearances so far which is 20.5 games per player after 33 games which over a 58 game season is 36 appearances per player.
What this tells me is despite injuries and making fewer appearances on average this team is on target to out score the 2006 team by a fair margin. If this team played as many games on average as the 2006 team with their current average of 2.29 goals per appearance (47 goals with an average appearance total of 20.5 equals 2.29 times by 41.5 appearances from 2006) then they would be on course for 95 goals – a full 20 goals more than that team.
Theo is not the delusional dreamer he has been portrayed as by frankly what are downright lies in terms of headlines and sub-headers and he has a real case for his claims that this team could be better than the star-studded team he joined as a wide-eyed 16 year old 9 years ago.
Once again, factor in the fact that Theo is yet to score and balance out what goals other players may lose from him playing and add back in what we know him to be capable of and we have a core group of 8 players easily capable of scoring 100 goals or more in a season.
What a time to be an Arsenal supporter.
Thanks for reading! Please comment on this post, subscribe by email, share with friends and follow me on twitter (@thedanielcowan). Please check out the official NLIR Facebook page http://facebook.com/northlondonisredblog for news, views, freebies and more.
Don’t forget to tune into the funniest Arsenal podcast around “Goonersphere Podcast“
Advertise your business here! Click here for details .