What makes Joey Barton Joey Barton? What is the teleological explanation of the being that exists before us both in games and on Twitter? Did God make him this way or was it us? Unfortunately, Joey Barton might not even play tomorrow as Arsenal travel to Loftus Road to play Queen’s Park Rangers and so it could prove that our pantomime villain is once again set free.
In a sense, a being set free despite his numerous transgressions is the teleology of Joey Barton. People make excuses for him, therefore he is what he is. We made him, in our image, so that he could punch Gamst in the chest or knee Arshavin in the back and get off scott free.
Footballistically, Joey Barton is an average midfielder who excels at playing long balls and crosses and in nearly every other measure is mostly crap. For a center mid, his passing percentages are diabolical. And before you say that he’s a wing player, he’s been deployed 21 times as a center mid this season. The fact that Arsenal was linked to Joey Barton this summer was proven once again to be a creation of Joey Barton’s mind as Arsene Wenger once again, today, categorically refuted the notion that Arsenal targeted Barton for a summer transfer.
But Joey Barton isn’t really a footballer any more. What he does on the pitch is always overshadowed by what he does off the pitch. Benched for their match against Sunderland, Joey was up to his old tricks making “5-1″ gestures at the Sunderland crowd, lording over them with his glorious win, when he played for another team. He acts out like this because we feed him in the social media outlets like this blog and Twitter and the newspapers. I mean, the press asked Arsene Wenger today if he meant to buy Joey Barton this summer. If that doesn’t prove to you that we are the raison detre of this man’s existence nothing will.
The problem is that as much as I’d like to never talk about him again, it’s nigh impossible at this point. Despite his benching against Sunderland I fully expect Barton to play and as a result of his team fighting to escape relegation coupled with his long-standing hatred of Arsenal I also expect that there will be sparks. Meaning that no matter how much I want to stave the beast, I probably will feed him.
His manager, “Sparky” Hughes also has a long standing hatred of Arsenal and when manager of Manchester City the dustups with Wenger were notorious. He’s dusting up with other managers now as well and saddled with a team that is worth a pittance compared to the team he rode out on at height of his managerial career Hughes will certainly resort to form: kick, throw, punch, and hit an absolute ass-load of long balls in to Bobby Zamora or Jay Bothroyd.
If there’s a silver lining it’s that Helguson and Faurlin are both out injured for QPR and that Koscielny is back for Arsenal. Helguson averages a league leading 4.5 aerial duels won per game and Faurlin is 13th in the League in accurate long balls per game with 6.2. Meanwhile, Koz is Arsenal’s most dominant aerial defender and he will have his hands full no matter who he plays.
QPR are 5th in the League in long balls per game and with Arsenal coming to town will probably not have much choice in terms of possession other than to hit long balls. With that said, wouldn’t it be hilarious if it was Arsenal who got the early goal, defended, and played the long ball tactic while QPR gets all tiki taka?
One Arsenal tactic that I’ll be looking for is long balls played out of defense to Bacary Sagna. He’s been on a tear of late winning a boatload of headers but almost all of them have been midfield headers, coming in from Szczesny. Targeted as he has been as an offensive outlet, it’s no surprise, then, that his being back in the team has directly caused the revitalization of Theo Walcott’s season. Rangers will be severely tested down their left flank by both of them as Sagna looks to get a goal on his 200th outing for the Arsenal.
Arsenal are riding high at the moment and should they extend their win streak to 8 games (knock on wood) it will be the first such streak since 2004. The wonderful thing about the streak so far is that the team are really starting to gel and look happy both on and off the pitch. Arsenal are at such a feel-good moment in the club house that they have even put out a pretty funny video about Jenkinson’s teammates ragging him for his mohican haircut. Personally, I can’t wait for the intervention of the team on Gervinho, maybe that video will come out if and when Arsenal win 10 in a row.
And finally, not to bring you down or anything but, the referee tomorrow is Mike Dean.
You probably just had the exact same reaction that I did when I read that this morning. Something along the lines of “fuck me.”
Dean is notorious in Arsenal circles for a number of odd stats that follow him around. First was the fact that before the 5-2 win over Tottenham, Arsenal had won just one of their last 13 matches refereed by Mike Dean. Then there’s the fact that he is head and shoulders the League’s most liberal referee when it comes to penalty decisions, having awarded 12 pens so far this season. Yet, oddly, Dean hasn’t awarded Arsenal a penalty since September 2008. Dean has awarded in total 67 penalties in the 170 matches he has refereed since that match. One pen every 2.5 games. Dean has refereed 15 Arsenal matches in that same span and awarded just 3 penalties: one pen every five games and none to Arsenal.
Another odd fact? Arsenal haven’t won back to back games refereed by Mike Dean since… they beat Chelsea 2-1 in 2008. Dean’s next game after that aforementioned Blackburn game.
Right… The game is on Fox Soccer Plus at 7am tomorrow morning and I will provide picture updates in a separate post, I hope. See you then.