EDITOR’S NOTE 6/24/19: This article was originally published in 2016, but for the most part the sources and their ratings are still solid, and we’ve added some updates to the social media section.
One of the things we want to try to do at TSF is cut through the annual deluge of transfer BS that floods the media this time of year - we want to be able to not just report reliable rumors, but debunk ones that are obviously garbage. We hope this guide will help you filter out the sources that can be trusted from the sources that cannot. If you have a particular source that you find reliable, feel free to share it in the comments.
Can you smell that? Spring is here, which means the summer transfer window is right around the corner. That aroma filtering through your nostrils right now: that is the stench of garbage, garbage which is currently being hurled at, and will continue to be hurled at, your Twitter timelines, Facebook feeds, and Peach Pitts (Disclaimer: I have never used Peach.)
How is one supposed to navigate the deluge of feces which simultaneously tells you that Victor Wanyama and Granit Xhaka are Arsenal's top transfer targets of the summer? That's what we at The Short Fuse are here for. We have done the painstaking research. We have created Quattro spreadsheets (sorry, my bosses still use Corel products lol) and cracked the numbers.
We aim to be the Standard & Poor's of the sports journalism rating industry, except our financial futures are not tied to any of these entities (unless they would like to reach out to us directly, in which case, we will easily compromise our values), and our ratings follow the S&P scale, from AAA all the way down to D.
Without further adieu, here is a handy guide to which Arsenal sources to trust as well as which news outlets are most reliable.
1) David Ornstein, BBC Sport. Rating: AAA
There's a reason Ornstein is known as the Ornacle: most Western-educated people have studied Greek mythology at some point in their lives. Another reason is that, if Davey O tweets it, which, admittedly, is rare, it is happening. He’s basically the guy the club uses to “leak” things that are done, but not quite ready to be officially released. If he says it, it’s a thing.
2A & 2B) Jeremy Wilson, The Telegraph, and David Hytner, The Guardian. Rating: AA
3) James Olley, London Evening Standard. Rating: A
The only reason the first two are not as highly rated as Ornstein is their propensity to speculate and opine a little more often than their BBC Sport rival. If they are reporting something, the information is solid and reliable. They’re not necessarily as connected as Ornstein, but they are definitely to be trusted.
Olley rounds out the tier of journalists whose reporting would really pique my interest. These three frequently get good scoops and, more likely than not, they are going to be correct. In a prior edition of this post, Matt Law was listed. Unfortunately, his rating has plummeted over the last year.
4) John Cross, The Daily Mirror. Rating: BB
Have you guys heard? Crossy wrote a book about Arsene Wenger! The Daily Mirror's finest clearly has some Arsenal connections, but he is also quite likely to be used to further a source's agenda. Unlike some others, you can be sure that Crossy is not just making stuff up, but the "truth" he is reporting often is not the full truth. Therefore, I had to downgrade him outside of the investment grade level.
4A) Arseblog/Arseblog news. Rating: BB
While Arseblog aren’t journalists, their site, and their sister site Arseblog News, is a pretty reliable barometer of what’s going on in Arsenal-land. They’ve been around forever, they have contacts at the club, and even if they don’t break news, they definitely do a good job of presenting what’s out there.
5A) Kike Marin, El Confidencial. Rating: CCC
Kike became a big hit in Arsenal Twitter after being (one of?) the first to report the Mesut Özil signing. Since then, well, I'll let TSF writer emeritus bozz say a few words:
The man is a clown. He happened to stumble upon Ozil-to-Arsenal and is living off that rep, even though most around Madrid knew Ozil was leaving and, by process of elimination, it was apparent Arsenal would be the destination. Marin has put all of his eggs in the "Real Madrid player X to Arsenal" basket for two years now and hasn't been right once, thus affirming his reputation in Spanish circles that he's a charlatan. Ignore.
5B) Matt Law, Daily Telegraph. Rating: CCC
What a fall for Law over the last year. Basically, he's become a Chelsea mouthpiece and his Arsenal "scoops" aren't good anymore.
6) Jamie Sanderson, The Sun. Rating: C
Flashback six years. Jamie's running far and away the best Arsenal youth blog in the game (RIP Young Guns Blog). He's a prodigy. Getting good scoops. Writing good reports. Now? He recycles made up rumors for the worst newspaper in England. Life comes at you fast.
7) Jeinny Lizarazo, ESPN Deportes. Rating: D
Karim Benzema's agent must still be at The Emirates finalizing that deal.
8) ITKs, Your Twitter Feed, any other unknown social media. Rating: D
It's easy to be sucked in by the allure of ITK (In The Know, for the educated) twitter accounts. Surely, the people that work at Arsenal have friends. Who hasn't let a secret slip about an exciting development? This is where the six degrees game comes in handy. If a person is tweeting that they heard something from someone who heard something...they didn’t. All they did was read a tweet somewhere. Or talk about it in the pub.
When they tell you they will delete their account "if X doesn't sign for Arsenal," they are lying to you twice in one tweet.
Also in this category: Random Twitter feeds that look like they may actually be news sources, but are mostly just bored freelancers trying to drive clicks to their twitter feeds.
British News Sources
1) The Times. Rating: AAA
The Times gets the top because, honestly, I can't remember them calling a transfer and it being wrong. They are conservative and risk-averse, which makes them a less interesting follow if you enjoy speculating on potential transfers. They will not report something unless it is happening.
2) The Telegraph and The Guardian. Rating: AA+
These two are also very reliable sources. The only reason why they are slightly below The Times is because they do report interest in players as opposed to all-but-completed transfers. This makes them my personal favorite, because I like knowing who we're targeting. I like to talk and argue about this stuff too! These two actually give you a factual jumping off point for your SPEND MOAR MONEY debate.
3) BBC Sport. Rating AA
How is the home of the Ornacle number 3 in my ratings? Well, they post a lot of rumors! Hell, they even have a whole page devoted to rounding up all the transfer gossip from every source. When their top reporters actually report something, it's good info. However, you're also liable to click on one of their links and read made-up rumors. Clicker beware.
4) The Daily Mirror. Rating: B
If not for Cross, this rating would be much, much lower. They stoop to a lot of the same made-up rumors the last two on this list flog. If it is not Crossy reporting it, it probably is not even remotely close to being true.
5) Metro. Rating: C
6) The Sun. Rating: D
The worst of the worst. If you accidentally click on a link to a "report" their site, close out of your browser immediately, run an anti-virus program, then throw your device into the nearest body of water or open flame.
Reliable Twitter Follows
Not everything on Twitter is an automatic ignore. Here’s a few Arsenal news-related accounts that are worth a follow.
1. MrArsenicTM: A pretty good source of generally solid rumors. I can’t say that if he tweets it it’s guaranteed to happen, but he doesn’t traffic in randomness; his stuff generally tends to be solid, even if one or two particular things don’t actually happen.
2. afcstuff: Doesn’t so much break news as aggregate and link to stuff others do, but because of that is a useful one-stop shop if you don’t want a super-cluttered Twitter feed.
3. Jeorge Bird: Mostly, Jeorge talks about the Arsenal youth programs. Not a ton of transfer stuff, but very useful because he knows a lot about the youth and how they progress and fit into Arsenal’s senior setup.