I think my blogging absence may have rendered me incapable of writing a decent headline. Or maybe I never was any good at writing decent headlines? Thereâ€™s one to ponder.
What I meant by it – and the very fact that Iâ€™m having to explain it suggests that, yes, I do need to go back to the drawing board – is that while weâ€™ve been doing pretty well under Emery, at least it appears that way through my own bespectacled eyes, weâ€™ve not exactly made huge strides reinventing ourselves just yet. Things are good, but theyâ€™re not perfect.
Disentangling yourself from something that youâ€™ve been doing for a long time isnâ€™t that easy, it turns out. If only there was a contemporary parallel I could use as a metaphor. Iâ€™ll give it some thought.
But overall, as I suspected I would, Iâ€™m enjoying not being judgmental about progress, and Iâ€™m loving an atmosphere thatâ€™s liberatingly rancour-free and devoid of judgment. It lets you concentrate on watching the incremental changes that sum up this first half-season. Playing from the back, a bit more structure and rigour, wacky substitution times, Torreira being Torreira, and the numerous variants of rearranging Â£150m of talent into the top end of the squad.
Iâ€™ve tried, I promise Iâ€™ve tried. But every time I try to get into stats, as all the football hipsters and brainy people are, my mind gets lost in the numbers. Iâ€™ve just about got my head round xG, but simultaneously not really, because anytime I look at a wedge of numbers in any format, my mind goes to goo. This might explain why Excel brings me out in hives. I donâ€™t know what a macro is and those little code things you put in cells to make magic happen are not designed for brains like mine. Have you tried writing in Excel? Itâ€™s truly horrible. The words disappear. Then they wedge themselves in the wrong cell. Excel makes me want to cry: I once saw a spreadsheet so complex I had an on-the-spot existential crisis.
Itâ€™s got more nested menus than your average human being can even comprehend. So Iâ€™m going to leave stats to the Excel fans, youâ€™ll be glad to hear. Why do I mention this? Because I read something to do with our xG being lower than the goals weâ€™ve actually been scoring, which means that weâ€™ve been overachieving, which means we might expect a regression to the xG, so brace yourselves people, though I wasnâ€™t possibly concentrating on it enough to be fair and may be recounting the details in the wrong order.
I should also add, in this spirit of honest confession, that Iâ€™m not very good with formations either. I mostly put this down to sitting just eight rows from the hallowed turf since 1994, which has somewhat blurred my strategic vision. But itâ€™s also got something to do with me not paying much attention to things that should be staring me in the face. Itâ€™s not unknown for us to be chewing over the game in the pub afterwards and for me to congratulate our back four for a job well done, only for someone to point out weâ€™d been playing three at the back for two years.
Anyway, glad to be of service with the whole numbers and formations stuff. If you want a new columnist who can cut through the chaff, you know where I am.
Vim and vigour at the Vitality
We lost at Bournemouth last season, which wonâ€™t surprise anyone given how we turned on-the-road defeats an artform. This season, over the last month, weâ€™ve drawn at Palace when we should really have won, we played well against Liverpool but drew, then we stank the place out against Wolves but also drew. So on Sunday we need to stick two fingers up to the xG by getting a win (Iâ€™ve no idea what our xG for Sunday is, or, as previously mentioned, what it really means, but Iâ€™m just saying that as a rallying cry.)
Koscielny’s back soon though, right?