During the summer transfer season, we here at the Short Fuse Dot Com try to reinforce the idea that all media reports should be taken with a grain of salt, because they’re either outright fabrications or they contain one nugget of almost-fact that the writer then stretches beyond all probability into something that said writer hopes will “go viral”, because that term apparently still exists and is a thing.
Anyway, it’s not transfer season, but there was a small little throwaway article on Sky sports today that is a great example of the latter. Allow me to explain.
The headline of said article is:
“Theo Walcott says Arsenal may be better placed for a Premier League title bid this season”
That’s catchy, right? You’d read that article, because yay Arsenal player thinking Arsenal will win the title! Team has confidence! Fantastic! Go us! Yay sports!
Then, you get to the subheadline, which reinforces the headline:
“In-form forward Theo Walcott thinks Arsenal have to be considered Premier League title contenders in an open year.”
Again! Yay! Walcott IS in form! And he thinks Arsenal are excellent contenders for a title!
Then, you read the article, and this is the entirety of Walcott’s discussion about the title:
"I feel all we can do is control ourselves and not really hope that other teams get results on our behalf. If we play well we win games and that's all we can do. We've been in this situation [contending at the top of the table] before. There's always some sort of blip but hopefully we're not going to have that this year.
"With the squad we have, if we keep players fit, with players coming back, then who knows? You can't really call the Premier League this year. It's so unpredictable."
Was there anything in there about Walcott thinking “Arsenal have to be title contenders?” Only if you squint really hard, turn the lights down, and read “then who knows?” as “Arsenal can be title contenders!”.
Don’t misunderstand. I’m not saying they’re not title contenders; it’s nothing to do with that at all. What I’m saying is, read things with a critical eye, and understand that things are written the way they are in order to get people to read them, not necessarily to be 100% straight up factual all the time.