What a difference 24 hours makes? On Wednesday, the English press’s response to Arsenal being knocked out of the Champions League, and Mesut Ozil going off at half time with a hamstring injury was a negative one…
“Same old story as Arsenal crash out of Champions League”
“Lost and lazy Ozil…he’s nicking a living”
A day later, Manchester City got knocked out of the Champions League, Sergio Aguero went off at half time with a hamstring injury, and the press completely turned their negative Arsenal stories into positive Manchester City ones…
“Brave City Bow Out”
“Hamstring Dramas for Aguero”
The differing response to both games is an interesting one.
Arsenal drew away from home to the current European Champion’s, who currently sit 20 points clear of the Bundesliga. Manchester City lost 2-1 away from home to a side who themselves lost 7-0 on aggregate to last years European Champions, who currently sit 3rd in their domestic league.
Both sides are out, both had their red card controversies, and both sides were comprehensively passed off the pitch. So why the differing opinions by the British press?
The Guardian opens with “The Champions League is a tough, unforgiving competition” to make it clear that Man City going out was not a disaster, but “a reminder about the brutalities of football at the highest level.” Twice knocked out of the group stages, this year Manchester City did not make it past the first knock out stage. Why did the press decide to describe them as brave, whilst saying Arsenal’s was ‘Same old story’?
The Aguero/Ozil situation also highlights a clear bias in the presses thinking. Both got injured very early on in the 1st half and were taking off after half time. Aguero has been commended for battling through the 1st half and trying to do his best for the time. Whilst Ozil has been described as not only lost and lazy, but much worse. Ex Arsenal player turned pundit, John Hartson, even went as far as questioning the injury by saying Ozil needs to “re-asses whether he actually wants to play for Arsenal.”
A lot was made of Mesut Ozil’s first half contribution in the press. “21 touches of the ball” was the sole statistic used to highlight how poor he was. Meanwhile, Brave, strong Sergio Aguero had 6 touches of the ball, none of which were in the opponents box, attempted 3 passes, completing just 1, and that was at kick off. If any player should have been described as ‘Lost and Lazy’ it was Sergio Aguero.
So why the differing view?
For a long time, the press have been anti-Arsenal. Yes, every club will claim the press, or certain journalists, are anti-their club. But in Arsenal’s case, they have a point. From TalkSport’s ‘Daily Arsenal’, to Match of the Day’s continually mocking of Arsene Wenger, the written press are probably the worst for being biased against Arsenal.
In the late 90′s/early 00′s, Arsenal had a poor disciplinary record. Recently, Arsenal got their 100th red card. A lot was made of it. But little was made of Arsenal continually topping the fair play league over the last 10 years.
After the poor discipline, the next stick the press used to bash Arsenal as that of being ‘softies’. This highlights the rank hypocrisy of the British press. One moment they are having a go at Arsenal for being too rough, the next they are moaning about being too soft.
The foreign agenda that the press had also got up my noise. Whilst Arsenal were going unbeaten, with a perfect disciplinary record, the press continually highlighted our lack of English players. The agenda peaked during our Champions League run of 2006 when Alan Pardew proclaimed in his newspaper column that Arsenal were not an English side. No mention was made of other top clubs (Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United, Tottenham) not producing an England regular since the 90s, nor is it ever mentioned that it was Liverpool who played once played an FA Cup Final without a single Englishman in the line up – 1985/86.
A final example is the Arsenal trophy drought. Is any other clubs ‘lack of trophies’ mentioned as much as Arsenal? I can be watching Blackpool v Blackburn, and they will mention it. In every written article about Arsenal, it is mentioned. Yet what of Everton’s trophy drought? What of Aston Villa’s? Why do they not talk about the last time Tottenham or Liverpool won the league? It is getting quiet clear that there is an anti-Arsenal agenda in the press. But Why?
The traditional English press was based in Fleet Street. Fans of West Ham and Tottenham made up their majority. The only thing they could agree on was bashing Arsenal. It is often why still, even now, West Ham and Spurs get an easy ride on the press. Moving on to the spoken press, there is a massive North-West bias. The majority of BBC, ITV, Sky and BT Sport pundits come have associations with either Manchester United or Liverpool. The 3rd most represented club is Tottenham. It creates a situation were negativity about other clubs is suppressed, whilst the likes of MOTD, with their ex-Liverpool and Tottenham line up bash Arsenal. Alan Hansen has never quite got over 1989. Why are there so many Scousers working as pundits these days?
And of course, the press also do not want to upset Liverpool or Manchester united, as both have previously restricted access or refused to buy publications of those who do.
Taking biased journalism aside, there is another reason so much is written about Arsenal.
Arsenal fans, over and above any other club, are media hungry. A phone-in about Arsenal on a radio station gets the most call ins. A back page about Arsenal gets the most readers. A headline on a website about Arsenal gets the most hits. we have more blogs then any other club. We have more podcasts then any other club. Chances are you were linked to this blog through a news aggregators – Arsenal has the most, or twitter – Arsenal have the most followers, or Facebook – Arsenal have the most likes. The fact is, you, we, are part of the problem. If we did not read, listen, watch as much, less would be written. Is it our higher level of education that causes this (Spurs fans can’t read so do not buy papers)? Or is it that due to the bashing, we fight back, through phone-ins, through blogs.
The media is biased against Arsenal. This bias reared its ugly head once more in the response to Arsenal and Manchester City going out of the Champions League. If you do not believe there is a bias, buy a paper, go online, read the articles, and judge for yourself.