For the second time in as many days, I am expressing my displeasure at something I’ve just read on the Sky Sports website. Unlike yesterday’s complaint with the racist comment which you will find here, this complaint is due to the biased nature and complete lack of research that went into it. This isn’t the only article like this, there are loads of them on Sky Sports, especially from the Soccer Saturday “pundits” such as Paul Merson and Phil Thompson who can’t bring themselves to leave their club allegiances and personal bias in the past.
Charlie Nicholas, a former Arsenal player, wrote an article today saying that he believes only one English club out of four will win in the Champions League this week and what a surprise, the team he fancies to win are Arsenal. What’s worse is that at the top of the article, there’s a small picture of him and it says “Charlie Nicholas – Football Expert“. What it should say its “Charlie Nicholas – In House Arsenal Fan” which would be a far more accurate description.
There’s more too, at the top of the article which has a summary written either in third person or by someone else, it says, “Chelsea, Man Utd, Man City to slip up in the Champions League, fears Charlie Nicholas”. What it should say is “Chelsea, Man Utd, Man City to slip up in the Champions League, hopes Charlie Nicholas”.
If you didn’t know any better, hadn’t read much of the Sky Sports website or watched Soccer Saturday where Mr Nicholas is on the panel, you could accuse me of being cynical. However, every single week, he, Paul Merson and Phil Thompson cannot hide their bias for their previous clubs with Merson being a fellow Arsenal fan and Thompson being a scouser through and through.
Each week, you’ve got “Mersons Predictions” which pretty much consists of Merson predicting a win for Arsenal and a draw or defeat for Tottenham and Manchester United. Phil Thompson never has a bad word to say about Liverpool no matter how terrible they’re playing and cannot keep the smile of his face when they’re winning (rare these days) or the frown off when they’re losing. The only one that you get any sense of impartiality from on Soccer Saturday is Mat Le Tissier. I’m not including Jeff Stelling in this because he just sits, presents and asks questions rather than giving opinions.
Here is a vine that sums up Paul Merson’s predictions to Tottenham.
With that out of the way, here’s what I think is wrong with the article from Mr Nicholas. Aside from the obvious which is backing all teams apart from his beloved Arsenal to drop points, he hasn’t highlighted any reason as to why the other English teams should drop points in terms of their opponents and how they pose a threat. There’s no substance to what he’s saying. Here’s what he had to say for each of the games.
Arsenal vs Olympiakos 3-0 win for Arsenal
Alexis Sanchez looks sharp and Theo Walcott’s pace should make it a comfortable evening for Arsenal, according to Nicholas. I would be amazed if Arsenal win this game by 3 goals and I wouldn’t be surprised if they bottle it like they do in Europe every year.
Porto vs Chelsea 1-1
Of his predictions, this is the one I would be most likely to agree with. Chelsea have been poor so far this season and away to Porto is not an easy game. They are top of their league and haven’t lost yet so this will be a tough game for them, fair prediction overall.
Borussia Monchengladbach v Manchester City 1-1
Nicholas predicts a draw but the reasons he gives are that he “has no confidence in this City side” and the Germans will be able to “sit and take what City have got to offer”. That’s as far as his analysis goes for the German team, who currently sit 14th (out of 18) in the German league with just two wins. Does Nicholas even know who Borussia Monchengladbach are?
Manchester United v Wolfsburg 0-0
This is the worst of the lot. He predicts a no score draw because “Manchester United are top of the league but for the life of me I don’t know how” and he thinks United fans will be “bored” during the game. That’s the only analysis he gives. Fantastic job Charlie, thank you for using your football knowledge and years of experience to help a mere fan such as myself make a prediction on this week’s games. You’ve helped a lot of people with this piece. NOT.
I will revisit this later in the week, complete with what the actual results were from these games and we’ll see how Charlie’s insight (or Arsenal bias) served him for these predictions.