How Arsenal's 4-1 Victory Was Diminished by EPL Video Highlights

Arsenal maintained their unbeaten start to the season Saturday with an impressive 4-1 victory against Bolton Wanderers. It was a wonderful match to watch, but you wouldn’t know the complete story of how magical it was by watching the official highlights from the Premier League.

First, go ahead and watch the official highlights (see video above; be sure to expand the view so you can watch the highlights in full-screen) which is 2 minutes and ten seconds of “the best parts” from the game. In it, you’ll see the five goals from the match. Shorter highlights are what you expect. But in this case, sometimes less isn’t more.

Now contrast these with the highlights of the game provided by Match Of The Day (see video below; click the full-screen button on the video too). The highlights from the same game run to 11 minutes and 12 seconds. Obviously there’s more time to watch other incidents from the game.

Arsenal v Bolton Wanderers

Mark | MySpace Video

By watching both highlights, you get to see almost two completely different matches. Such is the contrast between the highlights. Sure both highlights show the goals from the game, but the Match Of The Day highlights provide a much better reflection of what happened during the game. Bolton had a couple of excellent chances to score and showed the skill they possess thanks to Owen Coyle’s leadership to change them from a physical side into a club that plays more fluid football.

But the biggest difference between the highlight packages shows how awful the officlal Premier League video highlights are. What’s criminal is that it completely cuts out the incredible skill by Arsenal which led up to their fourth and final goal of the day. It’s the best goal of the entire Premier League season thus far featuring 24 passes by Arsenal before Carlos Vela slotted the ball into the back of the net. It’s something that could be watched over and over again by Arsenal supporters, fans of the game or coaches wanting to teach their kids how possession football and slick passing will open up spaces. As Ray Hudson would say, the goal was magisterial. Yet, the official highlights relegated to the goal to something very plain and simple.

I realize that the official Premier League highlights are meant to be short on purpose so they can be used as highlights for TV and Internet worldwide. But why? Is there a policy that states that they have to be less than two minutes and thirty seconds long? If so, why can’t this be changed or why can’t two different highlight options be made available, one shorter and one longer?

But the wonderful 24 passes goal from Arsenal is not the only thing that the Match Of The Day highlights exposes. When you watch the Premier League highlights and then the Match Of The Day one, there’s a marked difference between the role that Cesc Fabregas plays in both highlight packages. In the official Premier League one, he’s a bit player who assists with a couple of the goals. But in the Match Of The Day one, you can see what a pure genius he was for Arsenal this Saturday. There was his absolutely sublime turn and pass to Arshavin. One of the moves of the season. But completely missing from the official Premier League highlights version. And the MOTD highlights also shows Fabregas’s delightful pass to Marouane Chamakh but the forward’s shot went wide.

Andrei Arshavin is one person who probably prefers the two minute highlight version. In the 11 minute version, you get to see his inability to score one-on-one after receiving passes from Tomas Rosicky and, later, Fabregas.

Having more than 11 minutes of highlights compared to two is definitely not an apples to apples comparison. But why bother watching the two minute version if the 11 minute version is so much better and gives you a better representation of the match itself? Except that the two minute version is the only authorized one we can watch, while the MOTD one will presumably be taken down within hours or days. Plus, the other thing is that the camera work by the BBC seems to be different than the Premier League version. And the MOTD camera angles seem to give a refreshingly different view of the game with better replays especially from behind the goal.

But my bottom line is that it’s so interesting to see how two different highlight packages of the same game can tell two almost completely different stories.

About Christopher Harris

Founder and publisher of World Soccer Talk, Christopher Harris is the managing editor of the site. He has been interviewed by The New York Times, The Guardian and several other publications. Plus he has made appearances on NPR, BBC World, CBC, BBC Five Live, talkSPORT and beIN SPORT. Harris, who has lived in Florida since 1984, has supported Swansea City since 1979. He's also an expert on soccer in South Florida, and got engaged during half-time of a MLS game. Harris launched EPL Talk in 2005, which was rebranded as World Soccer Talk in 2013. View all posts by Christopher Harris →
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13 Responses to How Arsenal's 4-1 Victory Was Diminished by EPL Video Highlights

  1. GunnerX says:

    Fact is, no amount of highlights can really do Arsenal’s football justice!

  2. mw828 says:

    This can’t be a real article can it? It’s quite laughable. Of course the highlights that are 5 times longer will show more. Is this supposed to be some sort of surprise? It was a game with 5 goals and a red card, the highlights pick themselves. What are they supposed to do exactly? Not show goals so they can show Arsenal pass the ball around? Just talk about how “magical” a game it was (which makes no sense whatsoever)? It’s obvious why people would watch the EPL one; Most people aren’t going to spend 11+ minutes to watch highlights. Most people want to see the major actions of the game, the goals and in this case a red card. Next time you want to watch highlights of your beloved Arsenal, I suggest just watching the whole game over again, or is that too short as well?

    • The Gaffer says:

      Matthew, I’m not an Arsenal supporter. But I did watch the entire 90 minutes of the game. My point is that for those football supporters who can’t or don’t want all of the games, you may to take the official Premier League highlights with a pinch of salt because they’re not entirely a good representation of what happened on the pitch.

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

    • jm says:

      I don’t think this is a fair representation of the Gaffer’s point. He is not simply saying: “longer clips give you a better sense of the game.” He is saying two things as I read him. First, that highlight editing can yield misleading impressions of how a football game unfolds (e.g., marginalizing the play of Bolton in this match or the beauty of some of these movements from Arsenal). As such, we should watch them understanding their limitations in providing a sense of how the game unfolded.

      But also, and more importantly, that if the goal of highlights is to convey the action of the match for those who did not see it, or those who want to relive it, then a 2:30 highlight cannot achieve this. Now, I think you make a fair point that maybe the goal of the EPL highlights is to give people with only a few minutes an opportunity to see goals and major moments. If that’s the goal, then perhaps accurately portraying the flow of a match is simply not a major concern, one that takes second seat to providing a short set of highlights. Fair enough, I don’t want to weigh in on that. The point is, though, that this requires a subtle and more interesting discussion over the point of a set of highlights, and not the simplistic view attributed to the Gaffer.

  3. Simon Burke says:

    I thought MOTD didnt show a lot of Arsenal either – no showing of the Kevin Davies incidents – they made it look like ARsenal strolled and in truth Bolton made it very difficult for us, Squillaci nearly got caught out twice at the back and Almunia made a decent first half save. I guess you can only show so much and yesterday had a lot of good games.

  4. Fee says:

    A lot has been made of the sending off being harsh, which it was. Cahill was undone by great skill rather than his own malice. But the Ref saw a two footed tackle from behind and according to him Cahill had to go and that was the wrong decision. But Kevin Davies should have gone in the first half, before he even got the chance to nut Kocsielny!
    Now forgive me as I can’t remember who he tackled but he made an awful challenge, easy yellow card, but the ref played on perhaps with a mind to booking him later. But the play never stopped then a few minute later the played stopped and it was because Kevin Davies fouled again and got booked. He should have gotten booked for both the first and the second foul!!

    Match of the day didn’t show any of what he did, of the terrible Robinson tackle. But to their credit they show the full quality of the 24(26?) pass goal! Short highlights are fine for game with little incident but there was a lot to take in in this game and especially when a goal takes almost as long as your highlight reel you have to reconsider it’s length!

    • Nick says:

      FYI regarding Arsenal highlights:
      I know it’s not free, but Arsenaltv which is on the Arsenal.com website carries this type of extended highlights for every game on their website ($50/yr for access). All of Arsenal’s home and away Premier League full games and extended and bitesize highlights are posted by midnight London time the day of every match. They are then archived there for about 2 years. As a recently blooded Gooner, watching the recorded extended highlights has been a great way to familiarize myself with the team over the past year. I’m a big fan of the extended highlights.

      Regarding the red card yesterday, the worst part of it for me–since Chamakh was not injured– was that Arshavin was already through and on his way to the goal with the game at a very tense 2-1 score when the official stopped play. It looked like Arshavin had the angle to take the ball to the center of the field to finally score in a one on one with the keeper after having missed at least 2 of those in the first half.

      • Simon Burke says:

        Arshavin was never going to score yesterday – all that would have happened is he’d have missed to the right or to the left. We’ll never know which :) Though, his passing yesterday was excellent.

  5. goonergerry says:

    The headbutt by Davis was an appalling challenge-he was miles late, as was the foul on Diaby- which was spiteful and anger for Cahill’s sending off. TV highlights showed neither-once again the BBC acts as an apologist for over-aggressive dirty play by Northern clubs.

  6. deejay says:

    I saw the game live on TV in the Philippines. watching the highlights presumably on the Premier League highlights , I was suprised that all three of the Bolton chances were shown, none of the ASrshavin 1 on 1 were shown, they highlighte the sending off but failed to show the attacks on arsenal players. or the passes leading up to the goal. there is clearly bias against Arsenal. By the way, I am a QPR supporter, had been a season ticket holder for 20 years

  7. deejay says:

    I saw the game live on TV in the Philippines. watching the highlights presumably on the Premier League highlights , I was surprised that all three of the Bolton chances were shown, none of the Arshavin 1 on 1 were shown, they highlighted the sending off but failed to show the attacks on arsenal players. or the passes leading up to the goal. there is clearly bias against Arsenal. By the way, I am a QPR supporter, had been a season ticket holder for 20 years

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