Friday, 4 March 2016

Nobody knows what is going on.

Almost all professionals trade to some extent on being an expert. Your plumber says he’s been in business for twenty years. When hiring a lawyer, you would look at what field they specialise in.

And so too with football. Pundits get hired on the basis that having played the game at a high level makes them well-qualified to talk about football. Even I make some claim to expertise or gravitas by writing on my Twitter bio that I’m a season ticket holder.

The truth is, despite all these claims to expertise, nobody knows what’s going on. Nobody has a bloody clue. Vladimir Putin’s former advisor Vladislav Surkov aimed to turn Russian politics into an ever-changing piece of theatre where everybody was perennially confused, in order to suppress opposition.

While I don’t think anything so Machiavellian is going on with the Premier League, any analysis seems obsolete within a few days. Over and over again, I’ve written half a post, left it a few days, and the second half I planned to write appears nonsense in the wake of recent events.

The latest received wisdom – and I myself was saying this the other night – is that the new TV deal has equalised the Premier League and that explains this season’s results. I’m yet to hear this view questioned even once, and I must admit I’m more than a little skeptical. I do wonder how many people saying that would be happy to bet their own money at Evens on next season’s champions having 83 points or fewer.

I find this season very odd, but I’m really unconvinced that it will bleed into next season. Because for all the TV deal might have evened things out a bit, it does nothing to explain the rapid decline of Chelsea, Man City and Man United. Or Leicester’s rise to the top. But then, I really don’t know. I feel doubtful voicing any opinion with confidence anymore.

The bizarre thing is, amidst all the odd storylines, Arsenal are having a very Arsenal season. Of all the four teams who were at the top of the betting before the season began, Arsenal are the only team which are a shorter price to win the League than they were when the season started. It’s almost like we’re hoist by our own petard. Such is the decline of Chelsea, City and United that to not win the League feels like a travesty. And yet we’re still doing pretty well – while taking almost all the criticism. Maybe it’s because I support the team, but I’ve heard nothing like the level of criticism directed at Arsenal pointed towards City, a team which hasn’t won back-to-back League games in god knows how long.

A very bad week hasn’t killed our title chances. We have no midfield and yet if results go our way, could quite possibly be favourites for the title on Saturday night. I’d expect our forwards to come back into form, for us to take at least some of the great chances we continue to create. But I really don’t know. And I don’t think anybody does.

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