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Watford v Arsenal: How helpful and accurate are these journalists’ commentaries?


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By Bulldog Drummond

In this little piece we look at a few current headlines concerning Watford v Arsenal and consider if they are actually worth publishing or merely a load of blather.  In each case we consider the writing against four fundamental criteria: the headline, importance, discovery of new facts, and truthfulness.

1: What Unai Emery has told Arsenal coaches about returning star Rob Holding (The Metro)

And what they tell us is that according to The Athletic, Emery has informed his Arsenal coaches that the 23-year-old will have to fight to win his place back in the side.

Rankings out of ten.

  • The headline: 1  It seems very unlikely that Emery would have wasted his breath telling his staff such a fundamentally obvious fact.
  • Importance: 0.
  • Discovery of hitherto unknown facts: 0. Everyone has to fight for their places.
  • Likely to be true: 5 Emery might have said it to Holding, but Holding must have known that anyway, and whether he said it or not is neither here nor there.
  • Total score: 15%.   Verdict – not worth the effort.

The story from Sport Witness is that “The Egyptian midfielder [Mohamed Elneny] has revealed he spoke to Arsenal teammate Mesut Ozil before deciding to join Besiktas earlier this month:  ‘Mesut is an amazing man. He is a person that I really care about. We had wonderful moments together at Arsenal. Of course, I spoke with him before my decision to come to Besiktas. Mesut knows the country very well. He advised me to join Besiktas. After I completed my move to the club, I called him and invited him here’.”

  • Truthful headline: 0.  Completely untrue.  The quote is actually about which club to join, not saying “you should move”.
  • Importance: 2.  If you follow Turkish football it is interesting, but as a story on an Arsenal blog less so.
  • Discovery of hitherto unknown facts: 0. Mesut is Turkish originally and it was clear last season that Mohamed Elneny was not on the new manager’s radar.
  • Likely to be true: 5.  Quite possibly Mesut and Mo had a chat.   So what – it is hardly news.
  • Total score: 17.5%.   Verdict – not worth the effort.

3: Arsenal players confused by Unai Emery’s tactics, writes Alan Smith

Writing in the Standard ex Gunner and now aggressive critic of all things Arsenal (since he was sacked from his job of writing for the club’s monthly magazine for being hyper-critical of players) goes on another attack saying,

“On the evidence so far, something needs to change. Because as well as Arsenal played going forward in the second half against Tottenham, that midfield offered scant protection to a back four in need of plenty. Every time the visitors sprang forward they looked really dangerous, encouraged by loads of space in the middle ground.

“Maybe it is down to a lack of understanding. I have heard whispers, after all, that some of the players find their manager’s instructions confusing, that they do not really know what he wants them to do. If so, that does not bode well. A clarity of purpose is essential.

“My mate and former Gunners team-mate, Paul Merson, did make me laugh when he referred to “Unai Wenger”, arguing Arsenal do not look much ­different under the Spaniard than they did during those shapeless latter days under Arsene Wenger. In fairness, Emery’s rearguard will probably look a lot different in a month or two, once Hector Bellerin, Rob Holding and new-boy Kieran Tierney become available. You would hope that the unit can grow ­steadily stronger to cope much better on the back foot.

“I thought the studious Emery would have made improvements long before now. For someone who spends untold hours personally cutting up video of the opposition to show his ­players, you would have thought we would have seen a more organised reaction to ­losing the ball.”

  • Headline: 0.  No evidence provided to show that the players are confused.  We have had four games, of which two were against two of last season’s top four. Whispers heard does not warrant “Arsenal players confused.”
  • Importance: 0.  Smith himself was hired as a centre forward by Arsenal and for his first three games for Arsenal in 1987 looked as lost as an extraordinarily lost thing who was rather lost – and he was the only new player in the team.  It takes time for a new player to settle down, especially with several joining at once and several out injured, and Smith himself was joining a very settled squad, not one being totally re-arranged.
  • Discovery of hitherto unknown facts: 0. We know that Merson says silly things, which even Smith acknowledges is bonkers given the changes that will come into the defence.  “Improvements long before now” is equally daft – he brought in new players in the summer and they are settling in.
  • Likely to be true: 0.  It is just complete nonsense.  New players have come in and 75% of the defence is injured and he is talking of making “improvements long before now”.  There is no connectivity between any of the concepts within the piece for any sort of truth to be considered.  It would be worrying if the man was a real journalist, but as a football journalist I suppose this is par for the course.
  • Total score: 0%.   Gibberish.

So it is our first attempt at putting a value on the reporting of various websites and thus far they have not actually done very well.  We’ll have another go anon.

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