January 15, 2013

The one chart that shows how the sale of Robin van Persie impacted the fortunes two clubs

Super Sunday has come and passed along with yet another abject Arsenal performance.  I attended the game with about 100 of my fellow Bay Area Gooners at Maggie McGarry’s in San Francisco.  This is THE place to watch Arsenal. 
We were pumped for the game, only to be let down nine minutes into a game by a stupid foul and the subsequent sending off of Laurent Koscielny.  Why wasn’t the BFG Per Mertsacker playing in the first place?  That’s another rant for another time.
Several Gooners at Maggie’s were talking about Arsenal’s lack of ability to dominate the final third of the pitch, which got me daydreaming back to the days of Robin van PersieArsene Wenger sold RVP to Manchester United over the summer, literally telling Sir Alex Ferguson that he was handing him the title.  Of course, RVP has continued scoring like the 3rd best striker in the World.  I think our manager has lost the plot. 
I pulled some data down from the Barclay’s Premier League website to see how teams were performing through 21 fixtures this year compared to last.  I created this .

Tufte introduced slopegraphs in his book The Visual Display of Quantitative Information.  This type of chart is useful because is helps quickly highlight:
  • The order of the clubs
  • The specific number of points accumulated by each team in each year
  • The slope reveals the change over time and each club’s rate of change compares easily to other teams
  • There’s almost zero non-data ink.  I say almost because I used red to highlight Arsenal.
Presented this way, the data reveals a few simple observations:
  • Manchester United have opened on the rest of the league this year and that they were in 2nd place last year.
  • The gap between Man U and Arsenal is HUGE this season, which is surely directly correlated the RVP’s transfer.
  • Everton and West Brom have had much stronger starts to the season.  Don’t be shocked if Everton snatches the last Champions League spot.  It sure doesn’t look like Arsenal has the heart to do it.
  • Newcastle sucks this year!
  • Most importantly, we’re only 5 points behind Spurs, whereas we were 10 points behind at this point last year.  If we’re not going to make the Champions League, we could take a bit on consolation in finishing ahead of Spurs.
If you have an ideas on how to turn Arsenal’s season around, please feel free to let the club know.