What if Arsenal’s defenders didn’t make so many mistakes?
We would have won the League in 2013!
What if Cesc had never left?
We would have won the League in 2012!
What if the club had spent £100m?
We would have won the League in 2011!
What if Arsenal had beaten Birmingham, Blackburn, Sunderland, Wigan, West Ham, and Burnley?
We would have won the League in 2010!
What if Arsenal had allowed 13 fewer goals?
We would have won the League in 2009!
What if Martin Taylor hadn’t broken Eduardo’s leg?
We would have won the League in 2008!
What if Arsenal never moved away from Highbury?
We would have won the League in perpetuity.
All of the above imagined facts are true. As Opta published today, if Arsenal had not made as many defensive errors as they did last season, the North London team would have won the League.
This “what if” moment is a favorite pastime for all sports fans especially after the season is over when one has time to really digest what went right and especially what went wrong that year. In a ways I guess re-imagining the season allows us all to play armchair coach, armchair general manager, armchair sports psychologist, armchair physical therapist, and armchair sports writer for our favorite team. It allows us to escape the reality of our dreadful existence within the fantasy of a fantasy of a sports team.
In Shakespearean terms we re-imagine the games and the season as Hamlet had the troupe put on the play within the play in order to snare Claudius and Gertrude. Except here the play is already a play and so re-imagining it is the play within the play within the play and who we want to trap depends upon our point of view.
Interestingly, no one counts “offensive errors”. I could think of a number that would have changed a number of games and probably won us the League but the defensive errors are always more glaring, perhaps, and Arsenal’s first half of this season was replete with them.
Thomas Vermaelen led all outfield players with 6 and Bacary Sagna wasn’t far behind with 4 but a little more context is needed here to understand those errors. Sagna was just returning from injury and as a result he made all four of his individual errors between 10 November 2012 (Arsenal 3-3 Fulham) and 13 January 2013 (Arsenal 0-2 Man City). After that match, Sagna remained error-free in the League for the rest of the season.
But Sagna didn’t get much help from his teammates in that period either, making 14 errors all totaled in just 11 matches. In fact, Arsenal were basically all over the shop in the first half of the season making 31 errors in the first 22 matches and just 8 in the last 16. Thus, between January 23rd (Arsenal 5-1 West Ham) and the end of the season, Arsenal would only make 8 defensive errors total: with 2 of those by Szczesny and 1 by Andre Santos.
Sagna and Koz on everyone’s radar
There has been a lot of talk among the bloggers that this year might be the first year in a long time that a prominent Arsenal player isn’t the target for Man City/ManU/Chelsea/Barcelona. Some are joking that’s because we don’t have a prominent player but those jokes aren’t stopping the Sun and the Daily Mail from linking Arsenal players to various and sundry world superpowers!
Podolski was the man yesterday and today, The Sun has decided that Laurent Koscielny is a target for Bayern Munich. Perhaps he is. Maybe Pep Guardiola is interested — after all Koz had a great finish to the season and has shown himself to be a terrific professional in terms of working on his weaknesses: he came to the league looking frail, he built his upper body, etc.
But I don’t think Arsene is going to let Koz go just yet and to be fair to the player I highly doubt he will be interested in a move yet either. I get the feeling that Wenger respects this young man and that Koz feels he has unfinished business after the loss to Birmingham in the League Cup final. I’m putting this down to “grasping at straws” by the Sun. They must not have filled their quota for Arsenal transfer stories. Though, I would be willing to change my mind if the author, “ANTONY KASTRINAKIS” is willing to give up the name of the “Arsenal Insider” who fed him the quotes.
The other player linked out is Bacary Sagna and I’ve made it abundantly clear that I would like him to stay. He’s gotten over his injury nightmare and while he may have lost a step he’s still one of Arsenal most important passers in midfield and a reliable header of the ball on defense. Not only that but he can slot in at center half when needed and his experience is important in terms of bringing on the youngsters. I hope he signs a new deal and see all this talk about him maybe leaving (in the more reliable L’Equipe) as pressure on the club to give him one last bumper contract.