Inconsistency for the Record Books

Arsenal surrender four-goal lead to Newcastle in a match that qualifies as inexplicable event.

As we know the most consistent team in the end will make it and that’s what is at stake… -Arséne Wenger

Cheik Tiote game-tying goal turned the game into a blur.

The fear of going on the record is that matter-of-fact words can come back to bite, most cruelly when they refer to a record, for no team in Premier League history has come back from four goals down to expose the inconsistency of looking hapless one week and title contenders the next.

Inconsistency is usually reserved for deviations, the kind found in a restaurant’s food or an airline’s flight arrivals, but with Arsenal it encompasses total collapse. This is one observation of many to be taken from Arsenal’s 4—4 draw with Newcastle.

Endless commentary is born from an event without explanation. Leading 3—0 after ten minutes, 4—0 after 26 minutes, and 4—2 after 75 minutes places the event at St. James Park under this heading. Every frailty, psychosis, trauma, and biting criticism that has come to define Arsenal in recent seasons had it larvae hatch simultaneously. Incubated in catastrophe, the monsters have emerged healthy and strong. Nevertheless, not one is sufficient to explain what happened in the last 25 minutes of this match. In combination, a clearer picture begins to emerge, but still falls short of explaining what pushes human reason and scientific capacities to understand and interpret to a limit.

Catastrophe modeling is accompanied by the caveat that no matter how intricately a set of data is studied, there will always be unpredictability. There will be some tiny happening that plays a role in the course of events that goes unrecorded or undefined. The events that lead to surrendering a four-goal lead probably exceed the observable explanations such as lack of focus, defensive weakness, lack of confidence, the inability to recover, Abu Diaby’s red card, a soft penalty by Laurent Koscielny, a mystifying second penalty again by Koscielny, and Johan Djourou’s injury. These constitute a similar set of criteria used to analyze the 3—2 loss to Tottenham after leading 2—0.  Not only was this the former great catastrophic loss of the season, but a third league defeat at home in seven. By this point, if not sooner, the team’s black box should have been recovered and thoroughly examined.

2/7/11

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