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Blog | The State of Play


Arsenal 2-0 Watford

This was my first time watching Arsenal (at least, the men's team) in person since the appalling display in the Carabao Cup Final last season. In all honesty, I have to say that i wasn't that impressed with either team on Saturday.

Both teams were poor, even if Arsenal's superior attacking prowess finally won out, but this does seem to be the state of modern football. This isn't a 'things were better in the past' complaint, more a personal disliking for how the game has changed.

Rules have been tweaked and guidelines added to increase the number of goals scored and, in all fairness, those changes have brought about exactly what the various governing bodies of the game wanted. The problem for me is that it feels like the game, and coverage of it, has been dumbed down.

The mentality these days does seem to simply be 'more goals = more exciting', which is rubbish. Or players scoring tons of goals makes them amazing - which is true to a certain extent, but only by the current standards of attacking and defending.

I fully believe that if any one of Alan Shearer, Thierry Henry or Ruud Van Nistelrooy were playing in today's Premier League, they'd be annihilating the competition in terms of numbers - hell, they'd probably score enough to make Cardiff champions.

This might seem like hyperbole, but not only have the rules changed to increase attacking freedom and decrease defensive efficiency, the number of quality defenders has diminished too. The trio of strikers I named would face more quality centre-back pairings in a season than there are truly top-level defenders today.

Again, that's a result of how the game has changed to benefit forwards and those playing in defence struggling to keep up. I really don't want to downplay current players' achievements, I just think that how easy forwards have things these days is something that should be taken into account when looking at their stats.

The trio I named all posted similar (or better) returns than current forwards despite playing against far better defenders - who could also get away with being a lot rougher than modern players. For me, that makes their achievements far more impressive than current players.

To bring it back to the Gunners, it's partly why I'm not impressed with Arsenal's current winning streak. Yeah, seven wins in a row is impressive, but it's pretty much been because we've had better attackers than our opponents - nice, but ultimately leaves me feeling a little... unfulfilled?

I don't know if that's really the right word, but modern football really does seem to be about who has the best attack, rather than the best team. A saying that was relevant less than a decade ago was 'strikers win you matches, defences win you titles' - I don't think that's true anymore.


Tomorrow will be another visit to the Marvel Cinematic Universe with a review of Iron Man, the film that started it all. That'll be followed on Tuesday by the first set of Arsenal Player Ratings for the season now that the first full month has been completed.

Beyond that, nothing else has been set in stone, so I'll be free-wheeling it from Wednesday onward, but I'm sure I'll be able to come up with something to get through the week...


Currently playing

Spider-Man - haven't actually played this, or any other game, for almost a week now and still haven't even finished the second act yet, so a review is still some way off unless I can find the time to power through to the end in the near future

Currently reading

The Silent Companions - I'll actually be starting this tomorrow, but if you're wondering where these seemingly-unrelated book choices are coming from, it's thanks to a book club at my day job and this is the title for October and that's all I know about it!

Currently watching

Sherlock season 1 - one episode down, two to go, already know it's great, review maybe this week



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