Happy New Year to you all. Despite my recent focus on building our YouTube channel (thanks to the assistance of many of you on this blog) every now and then am triggered by the writing bug especially when I observe another bout of insanity sweeping into the fanbase.
Following our recent loss to Manchester City, with Arsenal performing brilliantly, until Bernardo Silva flung himself to the ground to earn a penalty, totally independent of Granit Xhaka holding unto a bit of his shirt, you would have expected the the fanbase to maintain a siege of the PGMOL demanding a clean-up of their abject refereeing standards. But you and I thought wrongly.
Instead, the narrative in social media became dominated by extremists, who decided this was an appropriate time to vilify and demonize Granit Xhaka. Apparently he is responsible for not only the ineptness of the referees but the consequent rash decision-making of Gabriel which earned him a red card, effectively ending any hopes we had of winning the game.
Completely lost in the shuffle was the 95.8% in Passing Accuracy for Granit against the best team in the league. This level of passing was by far the best of anyone in an Arsenal shirt. The passing stats led me to thinking that Granit’s presence was critical to our overall performance, something the extremists refuse to acknowledge. So I decided to dig a little deep in the data and compare how since last September Arsenal performed in the EPL with and without Granit.
Lo and behold the data.
Obviously Granit is not solely responsible for the recent improvements in Arsenal’s performance but his speedy return to the first team in November coincided more goals scored and less goals conceded.
Why isn’t this highlighted in both mainstream and social media? Instead Granit Xhaka appears to be the favorite scapegoat whenever things go wrong? Why?
I decided to make this the topic of our latest YouTube podcast with Blackburn George and Ehab. We dug into the issue deeper with more facts and data and a good dose of ‘opinionating’. Take a listen and remember to Like and Subscribe to our YouTube channel.