Özil’s Good PR & Which Seven Go To Raise Funds?

While their input on the German stage is waning and causing ill-feeling with some supporters – underpinned by racist leanings – there’s no doubt that Team Özil is on the ball as far as Arsenal are concerned.

Or for the pre-season, at least. #1ö returned to training ‘early’, ostensibly because everyone told him how good training is under Unai Emery. For good, read different. Because it’s different, it feels good. As many former players commented, the double sessions are nothing unusual. However, because of the coach’s different ideas, the tasks are new. And new feels good.

Mesut didn’t return early though; he’s on the plane this weekend and needed his tests completing. And to be honest, he probably can’t wait to get involved and feel the love after the wretched summer he endured with Germany.

No more gloating over Olivier Giroud with the Frenchman being a World Cup winner as well. Apparently, Özil would rib – gloat in newspaper terms – Giroud about being a World Cup winner. In my mind’s eye, the scene played out in much the same Franck Lebeouf’s appearance on They Think It’s All Over.

“Hey Mesut, pass the ball”
“Why should I? I am a World Champion”

These things never end well. Although they did for Giroud this summer, of course.

It’s all quiet as the club prepares for the Singapore jaunt. Sevilla bottled it and we now face Lazio in Stockholm on 4th August. The fluidity of these opponents is such that at some point we’ll play a team in the first half with different opponents in the second.

It’s a bit more practical than playing two ninety minute friendlies on the same day. Ajax tried that yesterday – a draw with Wolves, defeat to Walsall in case you wondered – both on the same ground as well.

My Lucky Number’s Seven

There was an interesting quote in yesterday’s Guardian about the new transfer window. English clubs, according to one agent, were ill-prepared for the early close to the summer’s business. There’s a shocker; England? Ready to go it alone and wholly unprepared? It’s got a familiar ring to it…

Many were way behind in their purchases with three Premier League clubs – Burnley, Everton and the Swamp Dwellers – yet to buy. The expectation is that foreign clubs are waiting to raid their English counterparts once 9th August passes. Their logic is that having bought all the players they want, clubs will be desperate to sell.

For fringe players, I’d certainly expect that to be true. While the deals for the ‘stars’ will go through as usual, i.e. now, those who aren’t going to feature linger like a bad smell. They are the ones we need to shift on. In Arsenal’s case, it’s claimed seven players need to be sold so we can buy two more.

Emery said earlier this summer he wants three first-team goalkeepers so two will move on. I’d guess they are looking at Ospina and Martinez, but whoever we receive an offer for is the lucky winner. It’s not hard to pick the other five: Welbeck Jenkinson, Perez, Akpom, and Campbell.

I’d add Mustafi to that list to raise funds. I get the feeling that certainly this summer, Koscielny’s injury saved the German’s bacon. Had both been fit, one would certainly have gone and I suspect that being club captain would signal the Frenchman being kept.

Not that being club captain is anything other than a poisoned chalice. Look at the recent history and it’s essentially Arsenal telling players their time is up. One way or another, you are out the door in the next couple of seasons.

You’re All Doing Very Well

It’s quiet other than that. According to the Telegraph, we’re employing a pointy-head who worked on Candy Crush to do all sorts of fascinating stuff behind the scenes, and essentially bring a bit of science into the set-up. While Wenger revolutionised diet in the English game, Arsenal seriously lagged behind other clubs in medical treatment and use of data or video analysis.

We’re playing catch-up and hopefully, with minds more attuned to using this information, we’ll be making the best use of the information. It is interesting the way football is embracing technology and data to improve players, from signing them through to technique.

I can’t, however, get excited by it. Interested, yes, but it doesn’t float my boat, as they say. It’s much the same as new executives in retail or sales. Good stuff, welcome to the club, I’m sure you’ll do well; now when’s the next match.

And that’s what matters. It’s all about improving performances and anything which does that is a welcome investment – well, not quite anything – but I’ll carry on in my Luddite ways, ignorance is bliss, etc.

I don’t know what the technology is beyond that which is in the paper. I don’t have a demo copy on my laptop to play with and see it in action so while it’s interesting to read about, there’s an intangible element to it all. Plus I don’t know how other clubs are set up, so there’s no benchmark to judge how we’re doing against it.

It’s all a bit ‘Young Mr Grace’, isn’t it?

’til Tomorrow.

27 thoughts on “Özil’s Good PR & Which Seven Go To Raise Funds?

  1. I think there is good to come from Mustafi this season with proper coaching and direction. Personally, I think Kos has shown that the injuries have caught up to him and for a player that relies so heavily on pace and quickness, he lost several steps. I would have sold him on.

  2. For one glorious moment, I thought you were going to suggest Iwobi being on the hit list.
    If you look up “dead wood” in the dictionary , there’s a picture of him next to the description.

  3. Yogi–
    Can’t be serious with the comment about video-driven data analysis?

    Arsenal began building their system with the purchase of StatDNA in 2012.
    In other sports, the type of hybriding that Arsenal appears to have as a goal, can take several years — compiling video data, coding the video, tailoring algorithms. Eventually using results in real-time decision-making regarding personnel and transfers.

    +++

    This excerpt is from the NY Times in Feb 2017:
    “StatDNA’s work with Arsenal, however, runs much deeper than advice on transfers. The majority of clubs jealously guard the specific data gathered and methods used by their analysts — StatDNA was invited to contribute to this article, but declined — for fear of eroding whatever advantage they have accrued. Those familiar with Arsenal’s approach, though, believe it is among the most advanced in the field.

    In part, that is because the data StatDNA produces is tailored for Arsenal. Many clubs still rely on external companies, such as Opta, to provide the raw figures from which their own teams of analysts work.

    Arsenal, by contrast, has developed not just different metrics, but more thorough ones. Where it takes a commercial provider a couple of hours to code a single match, StatDNA requires around 14. The data Arsenal works from, in other words, is far cleaner.”

    +++

    I’ve done some deep dives on this aspect regarding Arsenal– well, as deep as might be possible with info available publicly. And I’m of the mind that the club has been using their system in-earnest only since the arrival of Sven Mislintat. About a year now.

    As for the Candy Crush guy? If I had to take and educated guess? I’d bet he’s building an app– a GUI. The interface to access the data on mobile devices in a simpler-to-use, organized manner.

    IMHO? Arsenal are at the forefront of solving the analytics puzzle– for football– where other pro sports have standardized their methods years ago.

    jw1

  4. jw1

    We lagged badly behind others. StatDNA in 2012, eh? Since then, we signed:

    Asano
    Mustafi
    Ospina
    Perez
    Sanogo
    Welbeck

    That’s just off the top of my head. That list totals around £100m in fees, added to which are salary costs and agents fees. We haven’t received value for money from any of them. Even Sanogo who was a free transfer.

    We bought a stats company and didn’t know how to use the information.

    Arsenal weren’t at the forefront; we were years behind. When Allardyce was at Bolton, he had video analysis, etc., working for him. That was what, five or six years ahead of us. When Blackburn knocked us out of the cup in 2013, they had video analysts reporting to the manager at half-time, telling them where we were vulnerable. It worked, too. We didn’t.

    We’ve caught up by employing people who understand this modelling software? So for six years, we twiddled our thumbs. You don’t catch up on this stuff in a year as a club. Sven must appear to be a wizard to some members of staff. Making magic happen with lightning fingers and Dortmund on speed dial.

  5. You have to interpret and use properly the data you receive. Our style of play was so incoherent that I can’t see how data being tailored for Arsenal would work when there isn’t a clear tactical and philosophical approach to screen for. I wonder what Emery’s approach will be. We hear about pressing and hard work. Perhaps this will be a key attribute.

  6. Limestonegunner,

    I agree with your comment. No amount of data strung together would stop AW from his set ways. I feel the data analysis will be better appreciated by the new boss and maybe his probing questions and expectations, as he obviously is big on video analysis, necessitated the employment of the ‘Candy Man’.

    I am convinced we can make good progress with this technology. Anyone who reads Timothy of 7am kickoff and his analysis of data, would know that if we had insiders at the club seeing the same things and presenting them in timely and easy for all to understand formats, it would boost our efforts.

    The squad list to Singapore is out. Athletico on the 26th of July.

  7. Like I read somewhere, Guardiola while at Barcelona hired a shrink, to monitor the players on the bench, their expressions and other intangibles to the lay man. Well crazy coach wanted to know who was coping and who was moaning.

    So some science works when used correctly.

    Arsene never wanted video replays to be shown, it really makes you wonder how fragile he surmised his squad’s egos were. And he would expect the same bunch to become champions ?

  8. Yogi

    Great post

    I know a lot of people are hoping that Arsene was the reason Ozil has been struggling for the last 2 1/2 years. However, we saw at the World Cup that he was exactly the same player that we saw at Arsenal. (Same thing with Elneny and Iwobe and Welbeck). I don’t think that Joachim Low suddenly took stupid pills so I don’t believe the manager was the real problem. Ozil is no longer the player he was in the past and we have to accept that what we have seen may be what we will get. I hope Emery has the cojones to drop him if he is not effective. I think Ramsey would be our best option in the attacking center mid position.

    I agree with your comment at 7:33PM. The idea that we have some sort of secret soft ware program that will give us an advantage over the rest of the big teams is probably misguided. The company that makes the software wants to sell its products to as many teams as possible. The idea that they would do something that gives Arsenal an advantage and not try to sell the same product to every big team in the world seems unrealistic. If there is something that gives us an advantage then there no reason every big team would not want the same thing. We have been hearing about the StatDNA for most of this decade and it certainly has not helped us so far

  9. C:
    Looks like Akpom has been sold.

    C

    Akpom was one of the most heavily hyped and highest rated and most prolific players to come thru the academy since Bendtner. I remember you and Miami Arsenal predicting true greatness for him and Thomas Eisfeld. Eisfeld couldn’t even make it at Fulham in the championship. That is why I am always a bit skeptical when I hear prediction for greatness for players like Sanogo, Iwobe and now Nelson Eddie and Maitland-Niles We have been there done that so often that I am sure the number has triple digits by now.

  10. Interesting stats

    England lead all teams in the World Cup in passes completed. They really needed a player like Ox could have given them something different in their midfield.

    Spain completed more then 1100 passes but could only manage to score 1 goal in 120 minutes in the game they lost to Russia. Thankfully I did not waste my time watching that game.

  11. Bill,

    You focus so much on odd things. The top 20 most completed passes last season:

    1. Granit Xhaka 3,116
    2. Nicolás Otamendi 3,074
    3. Fernandinho 2,975
    4. César Azpilicueta 2,760
    5. Kevin De Bruyne 2,693
    6. Nemanja Matic 2,601
    7. Jan Vertonghen 2,488
    8. David Silva 2,429
    9. Kyle Walker 2,362
    10. Christian Eriksen 2,258
    11. Eric Dier 2,248
    12. Abdoulaye Doucouré 2,244
    13. Cesc Fàbregas 2,189
    14. N’Golo Kanté 2,150
    15. Jordan Henderson 2,085
    16. Aaron Mooy 1,902
    17. Davinson Sánchez 1,867
    18. Oriol Romeu 1,843
    19. Héctor Bellerín 1,842
    20. Mesut Özil 1,809

    Quite a number of Citeh defenders near the top along with Fernandinho, also interesting to note Vertoghen, Azpillucueta, Kante and Henderson high on the list and all those players play for teams that you say don’t just pass between defenders but instead their midfielders and attackers make the most passes. Funny huh, perception vs reality.

  12. Bill,

    Apparently Arsenal bought the company so that it wouldn’t provide for others. That, to me, isn’t the issue. But even so, like you, I don’t think we have some secret advantage. AFC has to use all the tools it can, however, the most important factor is spending wisely on players and the tactics, training and man management of the coach. Stats can help inform some of the decisions. We’ll see what Emery has got soon enough.

  13. i dont think any of these things (statdna and the rest) will be some silver bullet that will make us champions and give us an unsurmountable advantage over other teams – however it is good to see us at least trying to improve after so many years of treading water. Time will tell if it successful or not, but it is an exciting time – can’t remember looking forward to a season this much!

  14. Here’s a question, how much is too much and when is it time to say, ‘right, we made you a top offer and you haven’t signed so you get sold’ in regards to Ramsey? I know some will say give him what Ozil got but they may be prisoners of the moment forgetting the first 2/3 of the season and only focusing on the last 1/3 when the team overall played better. Is he as culpulable for our midfield getting shredded week in and week out as Xhaka, some say yes, some say no but if your part of a midfield 2 or 3 you have to share the blame, no?

    What will we do with thr window closing early?

  15. YW,

    First, I’m in agreement with the fact that whomever is deploying the data– is where the crux of success will lay.
    And– I’ve read that, AW, while interested, did not fully buy into the project. So there is that. However?

    “When Blackburn knocked us out of the cup in 2013,
    they had video analysts reporting to the manager at half-time,
    telling them where we were vulnerable. It worked, too. We didn’t.”

    This has zero to do with player performance analysis.

    To wit, from a 2014 article (on American football):
    “For decades, NFL players and coaches have pored over black-and-white overhead photos of in-game formations from the sidelines. Team photographers take two “Polaroid” photos — one directly before and another right after the snap — and runners throw together paper binders and rush them to the field for analysis. This season, the NFL’s finally upgrading to tablets.”

    I’ll offer a one-time ‘Luddite’s pass’ on this one.

    All that said above, the modeling of the data for use in Arsenal’s video-driven data analytics project didn’t suddenly spring to life for use in 2012. Rendering the players you’ve used as examples to deride the project– moot. All were signed in a period prior to the data being ready for use (except for panic-buy Perez). From what I’ve gleaned, the compilation of Arsenal’s data has taken several years just to compile for use on a level where guesswork isn’t involved. For example, the depth of the project is the coding of available video — for players of consequence, dating back to the late-90s.

    TBH? This field has little to do with who started first. Everything to do with who gets it right.
    By right? A parallel–
    In Major League Baseball, deep statistical analysis has been in use since the 90s.
    The Houston Astros were a last-place team for four straight years. In developing their system beginning in 2011? Have, since 2015, found-lightning-in-a-bottle with methodologies that transcend all other club’s technically-sound analytics systems. Houston is now the club is now considered to have the deepest minor league system (youth academy), won the 2017 World Series (beating the 3 wealthiest, major market TV clubs, Boston, New York and Los Angeles en route), boast the league’s Most Valuable Player, another was the World Series MVP, and on Tuesday another Astros player was named the AllStar Game MVP. The Astros are again on-track to contend for the title. When a club in football figures out the puzzle? There could well be advantage on the level the Astros have enjoyed in baseball. Took 6 years to come to fruition.

    IMHO, Arsenal are comparably in ‘year 3’– maybe ‘year 4′.
    The hiring of Mikhail Zhilkin is a good sign.

    +++

    Found this yesterday on Zhilkin. A graduate of the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology. Master’s degree of Science in Applied Physics and Mathematics. Most well known for overseeing the launch of games whilst spending four years as a senior data scientist/tech lead at King.com. Zhilkin has no previous experience in football, so this appointment does come as somewhat of a surprise in relation to the major overhaul of the Gunners’ backroom staff in the past year.

    Zhilkin has been appointed as Arsenal’s new data scientist and will be working under director of high performance Darren Burgess. He won’t have any say on transfer dealings — nor advice on tactics. He will be confined solely to player fitness and performance, minimizing injuries.

    Zhilkin has described himself as a “data scientist interested in rational thinking, automation, data visualisation, machine learning, association football”.

    +++

    Appreciate anyone taking the time to read.

    jw1

  16. **For an example of the depth of the project…
    **Houston is the club now considered…

    Mea culpa.

    jw1

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