Friday, 16 April 2010

Exclusive: Almunia's Green Jersey Was a Bad Omen

Picture coutresy of Rob(TM)

It feels a bit like the end of the world today, and I'm not talking about the fact that the skies are filled with volcanic ash.

Arsenal's title ambitions are all but over for another season. The omens weren't good from the start. When I saw that Tottenham had an unknown 19 year-old in their team, well I just somehow knew he would score with an absolute corker from 40 yards. I first saw Danny Rose playing for Eng-er-land in the Under-21 European Championships last summer. He didn't impress me at all. He was like a fish up a tree. Now he will probably play a few more games for the Spuds before disappearing up his own posterior never to be heard from again.

Manuel Almunia's green jersey was also a bad omen if you believe research presented today at the British Psychological Society's Annual Conference in Stratford-upon-Avon by Dr Iain Greenlees and Michael Eynon.

Greenlees and Eynon looked at the performance and the expectation of success of 40 university footballers against goalkeepers wearing black, blue, green, yellow, and red strips.

Each of the 40 strikers took a total of 20 penalties, 10 against a goalkeeper wearing black (the control) and 10 against a goalkeeper wearing either a blue, yellow, green or red shirt. Footballers were asked to estimate how many penalties out of 10 they would score and give a confidence rating for their estimate.

The researchers found that, although there was no difference in how many goals a striker thought he would score, the fewest number of goals were scored against a goalie in red (54 per cent success rate), followed by yellow (69 per cent success rate), then blue and green (72 per cent and 75 per cent, respectively).

Dr Greenlees said: "These findings lend support to the idea that red clothing could give a sportsperson or team a small but meaningful advantage (one penalty in five) in a competitive encounter. It also has implications for sports in which a competitor is assigned a coloured corner randomly, like boxing and martial arts in the Olympics."

I'm starting the campaign now for Arsenal's keeper to wear red in away matches next season!

Wearing a green jersey didn't seem to have such a bad effect on Heurelho Gomes in the Tottenham goal though. He played the game of his life in the second half, making a string of amazing saves, which Robin van Persie described as "crazy", to earn himself the man of the match and Tottenham the three points. So it goes.

To be fair, there were a couple of good omens for Arsenal as well. Sol Campbell was returning to his old club and we all know how players like to score against their old clubs. And Robin van Persie was returning from injury after what seems like several years out injured. I was hoping one of those two would do the trick for Arsenal in the dying minutes. Both had excellent efforts on goal (in RvP's case several) but in the end the heroics of Gomes won the day for Sp**s and it was not to be. I guess St Totteringham's Day will just have to wait a little longer for now.

On the plus side, Robin van Persie was awesome when he came on as a sub for the Arse and it makes you wonder what might have been had our best players like Fabregas, Arshavin, Song, Vermaelen, Gallas, and of course RvP himself been fit more often this season.

Despite intense pre-season media pessimism about Arsenal's chances this season and speculation that we would fail to qualify for the Champions League with money bags Man Citeh taking our place, I always thought that the realistic expectation for this season was to finish in the top three, and of course I hoped that we might exceed expectations and actually win the thing. For a long while we were in the fight to win it and it looked as if we just might. I think that's all we can realistically ask of such a young squad at this stage.

So if we can keep the current squad together and maybe add a couple of more experienced players, the youngsters (if we can still call them that) will have grown a lot and learned a lot from the experience and we could finally get back to our rightful place as Premier League champions in 2010-2011.

Bring on next season!

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