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It’s now in our hands. Shame about the attack. And defence.

By Tony Attwood

Arsenal have a totally useless defence, right?

Well, up to a point, as Evelyn Waugh’s character said when all that was said was wrong.   In fact Arsenal have let in a whopping 34 goals this season, compared with 26 for Man City, 31 for Man U and 33 for Chelsea.

Put another way, Chelsea’s billions have achieved a defence that is one goal better than ours.

1 (1) Manchester United 30 25 2 3 70 31 39 77
2 (2) Manchester City 30 18 8 4 55 26 29 62
3 (5) Chelsea 31 17 7 7 61 33 28 58
4 (3) Tottenham Hotspur 32 17 7 8 55 40 15 58
5 (4) Arsenal 31 16 8 7 61 34 27 56
6 (6) Everton 31 13 13 5 49 37 12 52

OK so if that is not it, then maybe it is the fact that Arsenal have a far worse attack.  After all we have a pathetic 61 goals largely because we have sold Robin VP.   That happens to be the second best in the league.  Man U has 70, while Chelsea and ourselves have 61.

To compare this with Tottenham…

4 (3) Tottenham Hotspur 32 17 7 8 55 40 15 58
5 (4) Arsenal 31 16 8 7 61 34 27 56
6 (6) Everton 31 13 13 5 49 37 12 52
7 (7) Liverpool 32 13 10 9 59 40 19 49
8 (8) West Bromwich Albion 32 13 5 14 42 43 -1 44

Tottenham’s defence is equivalent to Liverpool’s – not exactly impressive.

So for Arsenal it is third best defence, second best attack.  That sounds to me like a club which, when it buys one more attacker or one more defender we will be the best in the land.   But…

Here’s another thought.  This year we have Theo Walcott just getting used to his role as a striker, and often being played out wide.  He’s the same age as when Henry came to us.   So we might expect Theo to get a few more next season.   And when we think of it like that there is the fact that our new number 10, our Jack, has had a growing season.  He’s of course not a back four player, but his ability in the middle of the field, does ensure that fewer balls get pushed through by the opposition on the counter attack.

Then indeed there is Monreal who has only been with us for under half a season.  And although we haven’t seen much of him there has been real development with Coquelin which gives me continuing confidence about his eventual role with us.

So maybe we are not quite so far off the pace as we might expect.

Of course we are a huge seven wins behind Man U, and maybe we do need a lot more to get those seven wins, but even there, two players could well do it, given the background above.

But to return to his season, for the first time in quite a while fourth spot is in our hands.  Win the game in hand, and get the same number of points as Tottenham in the other games, and there we are: fourth.

In fact I am not sure about what Chelsea will do in their run in, largely because I am never quite sure about Benitez.  But then he’s the professional manager and I am just the supporter and blogger, so he really ought to know.  However, sometimes he just seems a bit… well, odd.

Anyway, to me it was quite an important weekend – the weekend when it does all move into Arsenal’s hands.  Which means we need to be winning most of these:  How about this for a guess of what we will do…

  • Norwich – win
  • Everton – draw
  • Fulham – win
  • Man U – defeat
  • QPR – win
  • Wigan – win
  • Newcastle – win

As for Tottenham, they have

  • Chelsea – draw
  • Man City – lose
  • Wigan – win
  • Southampton – win
  • Stoke – win
  • Sunderland – win

So there we are. Fourth.

Of course it is all guesswork, but it makes me feel better on a cold sunday evening.

Recent posts…

The referee analysis

The full index of articles in order of publication is now available here.

The latest reviews:  Case study 15: West Bromwich Albion     Case study 14: Tottenham Hotspur

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The books…

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22 comments to It’s now in our hands. Shame about the attack. And defence.

  • Tasos

    Forget fourth.

    Third place is our aim.

    Chelsea will get fatigued at some stage during the run-in, they have already played 57 games this season.

  • slugboy

    Good blog and i reckon you are right with the prediction. However, your analysis of the players misses the main point (in my opinion). We do have great players, no doubt. But up until the spurs game we were playing at half pace and the players appeared unmotivated. Certainly tactics were not right (dropping off the opposition, not pressing). This appears to be have been rectified now and the team are clearly playing with more purpose.

    So why do arsenal only seem to play when they have to? I love wenger, but I do wonder if he can properly motivate. Earlier in his career, there was always a leader in the dressing room (Tony Adams, Patrick Vieira). But then the move to youth meant that the leader was lost for a few years and no one has taken the role up. No leader and a young squad leads to questionable motivation – the younger players have not learnt how to be resilient.

    So where am i going with this? Get a leader and the team will strengthen considerably. Say goodbye to the slow starts. Say goodbye to the lapses in concentration. Say goodbye to the collapses when 2-0 up ( i was nervous yesterday!). We really don’t need too many changes to personnel, just one great leader on the pitch.

  • Lanz

    Nice one, slugboy. So how do the scouts identify such a person?

  • colario

    Our game in hand is against neverton who are a difficult team to beat. Not till that game is over and we’ve won having already beaten nowich can we begin to raise our hopes!
    wetspam did us an unexpected favour today! Can looserpool help us by beating neverton in their local rivalry? Hope so!

  • goonergerry

    Against weak opposition I fancy our defence-against better forwards-they have been exposed Scoring heavily against poor teams does not cover up our forward deficiencies against better opposition either–hence the 3 points out of a possible 21 against the top 4 teams this season. We need more than a couple of players to become competitive against the top 4-more a tactical rethink.

  • Arsenal have 3 premiership matches to play now before Spurs next game. This means we can open up a whopping 7 point gap ahead of them if we win all 3. If we do it, I can only see Spurs crumbling.

  • Mick

    @slugboy

    ‘Say goodbye to the collapses when 2-0 up’
    Get a grip. We have not lost a game this season from a winning position so what collapses are you talking about.

  • bravefart

    The stats you quote are interesting. Even more so: we currently have the best away defence and the joint best home offence figures with ManU. i.e. our weaknesses have been defence at home (Sunderland have conceded fewer) and attack away from home. COYG

  • David Gunner

    Confidence, consistency and trust in our boys. Get up Gunners! Remember each game is a FINAL!

  • octupus

    man u will nt win us home and away.

  • zdzis

    The point being that the media put far less effort into fabricating news than fans do, even when the only thing they actually do is looking at the league table. It really seems like no journo does that anymore. They just say what they’ve always said, whether or not it fits.

    As for our team improvement: I’m still hoping we can get 2 key players. We need someone to replace Diaby (because he might never make it back) and someone to effectively sub for Poldi & Giroud (meaning, a versatile winger/striker with at least reasonably “manly” physique). Other than that, I do agree with you, Tony, in that a number of players who enjoyed limited success this season are fairly likely to improve. This applies to Monreal as much as Podolski, Cazorla, Giroud, Walcott, Oxlade, Ramsey, Mertesacker, Coquelin, and even Szczesny. In other words, we’re looking at a team that’s on the up-and-up, and I’ll be shocked if we don’t take A trophy next season. As it stands, whether or not we strengthen appropriately, we’re bound to be contenders.
    I like that – I almost like it even more than the though of us getting another year of CL.

  • Dave C

    I’m baffled by the people who continue to say we need to sign this our that player. Our form is on like donkey kong. The team needed time to gel, and now they are playing much better. We are secondly ok the up like the previous poster stated. It wouldn’t hurt to add a player, but we are in no way in desperate need. Trophy time is around the bend.

  • Dave C

    Swype text correction: We are on the way up like the previous poster stated.

  • Adam

    I think instability has been our biggest enemy, now hopefully with a settled squad of players they can push on. If Arsene adds to this squad, which he usually does I can only see us getting stronger.

    COYG.

  • Mark

    True, the team is playing much better now. True, the young players will continue to develop. True, we are close to the top teams in defense and offense. So what is really needed to put us into contending for the league title? A leader on the field? Another mid-fielder? More stability? Maybe all of these things! That is what AW has to figure out. It is incredibly frustrating to be so close but repeatedly fall short. But another factor might be the refs. We seem to win in spite of the efforts of the refs in most games but every once and a while the refs tip the balance to far. It seemed to me that Webb was biased against the gunners. He gave lots to free kicks to WB through out the game, but rarely gave the gunners free kicks when they were fouled. In this game it did not effect the outcome but similar biased refs have affected some games. How can we find a way to get more competent refs and refs that are not biased? Especially when the head of the refs is to interested in improvement and/or might have a agenda to manipulate things?

  • Domhuail

    Tony….as usual spot on! My feeling about our run-in (barring injuries or loss of form) is as follows:

    Norwich – win (we have the momentum to take them)
    Everton – draw (They are our real competition, not the Spurs)
    Fulham – win ( we can handle them if we are on form)
    Man U – draw (Their defense is weak, but their attack?)
    QPR – win (like so many other clubs he’s coached,Harry has screwed them up bigtime)
    Wigan – win (They can be tough as well but we can be tougher)
    Newcastle – win (They are too similar to us…but we can do it)

    We have Jack and Theo returning and an embarrassment of riches on the bench but we will miss Per for two games. Can Kos and Verm renew their successful partnership? Can Rosciky keep up his superb form, can Giroud, the OX and Gervinho keep firing on all 8 cylinders? Can Sagna,Monreal, Jenkinson and Gibbs stay solid at the back and can Fabianski remain more or less error-free? We will need Cazorla, Arteta and Ramsey to drive us to the finish line in supreme fashion. We are finally ready to demonstrate how strong a team we have both starting 11 and from the bench. Once again Wenger has done his job superbly and its now up to his gunners to clear all before them and merit the title ¨THE Arsenal¨!

  • AnonymousGun

    The thing that problematic for us is the sale of 1st team member during season end. Stop that trend.. and the first team can continue gelling from 1st game of the season.. not trying to get familiarize with new players season in, season out.

    It has been like that for several seasons.. 1st team member get poached, AW brings someone in from reserve or buying, and because the sold team member a vital cog in our play system, the system have to be change, whole team have to adapt.. bla bla bla.. its March when team finally understand each other.

    If you asked me, which of course no one would, since I’m only a FM manager.. the only buying priority for me would be to buy an understudy to Arteta, If Coq cant wait his time, he is an excellent player IMHO, but he been talking about his limited cameo aka a bit impatience. Secondly, settles Sagna contract.

    Replaced Diaby? Why, we got Ramsey, if peoples stopped slacking him, he is an excellent squad player, the Parlour of this team.

    Buy another striker? why? Gervinho flourished when we didnt slacked him. Stop jeering him, start cheering, maybe, well, you know, we might get a player who, well, like a new signing 😮

  • ARSENAL 13

    Therz always a question about the leaders on the pitch. BUT I think we have a few. Obvious one Jack. But there are others too. I see Ramsey as one. He is a strong character, may be not vocal. Arteta, Per. There are leaders.

    I think we are one player short. A player who can cover for the inconsistent Gervinho and Theo……ah we do have him, CHAMBO. Lets not forget he is suffering from that weird second season syndrome. We have all the players required to win all the competitions we are participating in.

    So why did we underperform this season? If we look back to OT clash at the start of this season, there were only 2 (or 3) players who faced ManUtd last season. There were so many different combinations tried and rejected through this campaign. We are (only) now settling into any kind of rhythm regarding our play and the line up.

  • Sixtay

    A plan B. Of all things, to win a cup competition, we need a plan B.

    A corner specialist (taker and scorer), A defence oriented formation (Gibbs and Coquelin on the wings in a proper 4-5-1?) In matches where we are wildly unfancied. A Fullback that can actually cross a ball what a damn, and tall attacking midfielder (since diaby is sadly mostly unavailable) to provided bodies to aim at in the box. Having OG as the lone target time and again shuts down an avenue of attack that out rival (united) has exploited mercilessly to cakewalk the Premiership. Amazingly we still play the best football in the league, but make no mistake, we don’t play complete football.
    Plan Bs. We need them.

  • Pedantic George

    Great stuff as always Tony

  • Jacobite Gunner

    Great read Tony, I agree wholeheartedly.

  • Ong Bing

    If we can continue our form, we will finish at 3rd.

    Hope Spud and Chel$ki still continue in European League and FA.

    We have chance to win at OT, they already win the league that time.