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Does All This And Science That Emery is Pulling Constantly Mean Anything to the 11 Men on The Field

Arsenal, Saliba, football

Arsenal have been reducing their outgoings of late, from players contracts to cheaper coffee, so I found it staggering that Unai Emery has 23 first team staff and I’m not talking about players. It appears that as the game has developed, managers and assistants who were mainly responsible for training and fitness are now almost obsolete in football. They have been replaced by a plethora of individuals that would be the envy of the European space agency.

Along with the usual first team coach, assistant manager and goalkeeping coach, there is a head of performance, a sports scientist, numerous physios and even a soft tissue therapist. Not the Kleenex variety.

Then there’s a gang of analysts, analysing the stuff analysts analyse including a video and data analyst and there’s even a data scientist.

I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a laboratory beneath the Emirates, where they mutate genes and manipulate embryos, trying to make a high functioning footballer from human tissue and pig intestines. Which would explain the existence of Granit Xhaka and Shkodran Mustafi.

So, it appears that football is now the preserve of the professors, scientists and theoretical physicists and if Albert Einstein were alive today, he would no doubt have a job counting Keepie uppie’s for Bayern Munich or collecting blades of grass to analyse a player’s speed.

For anyone like me who is confused by this scientific approach, Dorin Moise explains:

“Football analytics is all about using data about previous events in order to have an indication about the outcome of future events.”

“It is not new: it started somewhere in the 50’s and one of the first coaches to use it was a Russian trainer called Valeri Lobanovsky, in an era where a computer was taking up rooms.”

“I found a correlation about the DIKW pyramid and the usage of football data:

  • 1. Data – numbers and metadata collected using manual operators, tracking devices or video tools
  • Information – when data is put into context. One indicator that recently became mainstream is the ‘expected goal‘ (xG) – a percentage associated with every shot based on previously aggregated data.
  • Knowledge – when information is combined with previous experience. Example – aggregating information about indicators like xG (xG for, xG against, non-shot xG, xG difference)
  • Wisdom – using previous levels to take strategic decision enabling competitive advantage.”


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To be completely honest, I have no idea what all that means to 11 hairy men chasing and kicking a piece of leather or those stupid enough to travel hundreds of miles to cheer on a team of well paid strangers.

Bill Shankly once said:

“Football is a simple game made complicated by people who should know better.”

He had a point.

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The Highbury Flyer
Anti Kroenke , anti Gazidis but always a gooner. Still wishes he could watch from the stands at the Highbury library.

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