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Our best side in years? Try this comparison and see what you think.

By Tony Attwood

“I have more attacking options than I’ve had for a long time, that’s for sure,” said Mr Wenger the other day.

“Three, four, five years ago every year we lost a big player. In the last two years we’ve added players, like Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez.

“Of course that strengthens the squad. But I’m of course very ambitious but I’m a bit cautious as well. I look around me as well and I see that the other teams have strengthened as well.

“To win on Sunday gives us a positive platform to prepare. But now the Premier League starts and we have to start well at home.  It’s a derby, it’s a very uncomfortable team. It will be a different kind of game as well. Let’s be on our toes and prepare well.

“Last year we were very consistent against teams below the top-six and not consistent against top-six teams. The year before it was the reverse. It’s hoped that this year it will be right on both sides.”

At the same time lots of players in the squad are talking up the feeling within the club which is another good sign.

“The atmosphere has been the best since I’ve been at Arsenal,” Ramsey said after the destruction of Man C.  ‘We really get on well, we want to work hard for each other and the club is on the up now so everybody’s really excited.

“I feel like after we’ve won the FA Cup, now this [the community shield], the club is on the up so hopefully we can continue this success in the coming years.

“In these games last season we have been guilty of conceding early on. It’s difficult enough so it was important today for us to stay in the game, wait for them too open up, and we capitalised on that.”

As for new signings, Mr Wenger said, “If I can find another centre-back I will do it, but to find another one of that quality will not be easy. It shows you that when Vermaelen left us, he had the choice between two big clubs, two massive clubs. It means these clubs have looked everywhere as well. That means it is not easy to find.”

But let’s think for a moment, just how good is this squad.  How does our squad now compare to the best squad we have had – the 2003/4 Unbeaten team.

If we take from that season the players who started in 30+ league games (and in all the figures that follow I am just looking at starts) we have

  • Jens Lehmann
  • Ashley Cole
  • Robert Pires
  • Lauren
  • Sol Campbell
  • Kolo Toure

Just behind them in the 25-29 games group we find

  • Patrick Vieira
  • Freddie Ljunberg
  • Gilberto Silva

That list tells us something important – nine players who each played two thirds of the games or more.  (Lehmann was the only ever present).

That consistency is not the only way to build a winning team – but it is a proven model.

So do we have nine players of the highest quality who could each play 25+ games a season?

How about…

  • Szczesny
  • Debuchy
  • Mertersacker
  • Koscielny
  • Ozil
  • Giroud
  • Sanchez

That’s seven who, barring a really bad injury I would say have a proven ability to play 25+

Looking for two more who could join that elite I would go for any of these…

  • Theo Walcott
  • Aaron Ramsey
  • Santi Cazorla
  • Calum Chambers
  • Jack Wilshere
  • Kieran Gibbs

Now remembering that we are only looking for 25+ games I would hope that most of those could do it.  I know Gibbs, Wilshere and Ramsey have histories of injury lay offs, and no one quite knows how Theo will be, but hopefully we are not too far off the first basic – a settled squad.

Those players in the Unbeaten Season who made fewer than 25 starts starts (excluding those with 3 or less) in the league make an interesting read…

  • Bergkamp 21
  • Reyes 7
  • Wiltord 8
  • Parlour 12
  • Edu 12
  • Cygan 10
  • Clichy 7

Reyes and Cygan – yes they both started games in the Unbeaten Season.

So we have 16 players who started 7 games or more in the Unbeaten run, and we’ve got 13 players who I think most of us would be very happy to see on the pitch, starting a league match this season.

Personally I also feel completely ok with a lineup that includes any of these…

  • Rosicky,
  • Arteta
  • Podolski
  • The Ox
  • Monreal
  • Flamini
  • Diaby
  • Gnabry

Remember I am not making any of these guys part of the mainstay of the team this season, although I think quite a few of them could be.  I’m saying they can play their part and I’ve no doubts about them.  Ten starts from Diaby, for example, would be a major contribution.

And because by this point in the squad we have squad players, as it were, we are looking at players who will play their part in particular games.  Flamini in front of the defence when playing against a bunch of hearty roughs from up north is exactly what I like to see, to ensure that he takes out whoever needs to be taught a lesson, to ensure Ramsey doesn’t get killed.

But, I hear you cry (metaphorically) what about the goals?

The Unbeaten Season gave us an alarming stat in terms of League goals

  • Henry 30
  • Pires 14
  • Bergkamp 4
  • Ljunberg 4
  • Gilberto Silva 4

Now that really is quite alarming – indeed I wonder how we got away with it sometimes.   As I have said so often, what won us the league was that no one could play the Henry Pires partnership, but if one of those two had been Shawcrossed, we would have had difficulties.

I am not going to suggest Giroud will get 30 this year – although in his first two seasons with Arsenal he kept pace with Henry’s totals.  But I do think that we will share the goals around a bit more.

I personally think we will have these players as our top scorers

  • Giroud
  • Ramsey
  • Walcott
  • Sanchez
  • Podolski (if he is selected)
  • Santi Cazorla
  • Ozil

Looked at this way I don’t think Giroud needs to emulate Henry.  Just being there distracts the defence, and I wouldn’t put it past him to get 20 league goals.

But how many will Ramsey, Walcott and Sanchez get if all stay fit for most of the season?

Two players in the Unbeaten Season got 44 goals and I remember still my nervousness every time the press told us that Henry “had a knock”.  They were making it up of course, but I couldn’t help it, especially in the last third of the season.

So I don’t want 44 league goals from two players.  I want 56 from four. 14 each from Giroud, Ramsey, Theo and Sanchez seems more than likely to me, and that is championship form.

Of course in reality I don’t have a clue – if I did I’d be a manager.  But I can tell you then when I ask “The best side in years?” I say most certainly yes.  And when I start comparing what this side might do, in relation to what the Unbeaten team did, I get goose bumps.

Today on the history site: When Arsenal banned radio broadcasts from Highbury

Today’s anniversaries 

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40 comments to Our best side in years? Try this comparison and see what you think.

  • AlleycatBangkokney

    What an excellent and well thought out submission. Such a refreshing change from so much crap I have read on the various blogs. Bravo

  • Sorry but the invincibles were better in defence and upfront,this squad is better in midfield.However it is an inescapable fact that the quality of the rest of the PI, and our rivals in particular,has gone up dramatically compared to 2003/2004.This squad will not emulate them,I doubt any ever will!IMHO

  • Amerigooner

    Agree that things look exciting for our offensive potential! But also let’s remember last season the top two each scored a hundred goals in the season… so perhaps 100 goals would be a better benchmark than the Invicibles?

    I think if:
    -Giroud gets his 20
    -Ramsay 15
    -Walcott 15
    – Sanchez 15
    – and the combo of Cazorla and Podolski get 15

    That gets us to 80 and then we’d need the rest (Wilshere, Ozil, Sanogo, The Ox, Mertesacker etc.) to chip in the additional 20 total.

    Could happen. Maybe not likely to get to 100 but you can at least see how it might!

  • lance peters

    before we get carried away we should acknowledge the ffg:
    last season we finished 4th , getting thrashings from the big teams.
    what have we done to improve on that ?
    debuchy replaces sagna – not a huge improvement
    chambers replaces vermaelen
    ospina to push schezny (those thrasings were no goalkeeper errors)
    sanchez to help out our attack.

    so what happens when we play chelsea,city,liverpool. where is the reinforcements to help out our defence ????????????????

  • Tommy

    Cant see henry in the list of players who played 30 games or more still he did 30 goals ? :=)

  • WalterBroeckx

    Did you ever hear the word ‘improvement’ Lance?
    Or do you think a team is static thing that doesn’t move on or can be learned to change things around?
    In fact most of the goals against in the matches you mention were down to individual errors (and a few ref errors also). So with being just a bit more focussed and a bit more concentration on easy things like giving the ball away in silly positions we could have avoided half of the goals in those matches.
    And with Theo and Alexis those teams will no longer dare to play the high line from the start as they could at the time with all our pacey attackers out at the time of the Liverpool and Chelsea matches. And missing Ramsey might have played a little (big of course) part

  • mjc

    Of course, if we can move from the top of the injury league (with average 6 players injured per match) to mid-table (with average 3 players injured per match), we would effectively have 3 additional players to choose from each week. Plus Sanchez, plus Campbell…

  • Brickfields Gunners

    This is one of our strongest squads in a long time . Hope all stay fit and in fine form to have a good tilt at the crown .
    Hope Diaby scores a dozen goals . He’s due some good luck you know .
    Goodnight , guys .

    http://thefamily.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/ATT00007.jpg

  • f.o.y.s.

    i think chambers although only 19 will be a valuable player this season,he will be able to cover both right back,center half and will also be used as a holding midfielder,our squad is the best since moving to emirates,but the preimership is much harder to win now,you have 4 maybe 5 teams capable of winning it,plus the lesser teams are always capable of beating the big boys,and some of the teams in the preimership during the invicables were not as good or as well organised as today

  • shaz

    excellent article, a great comparison. It would be an interesting read to see how our current squad compares to our almost squads over the past 10 years.
    I think we’ve got a great squad of players knocking on the door of the first XI.

    Joel Campbell, Ox, Gnabry, Bellerin… for the first time in a long time, the future is really bright for Arsenal.

  • Lance Peters, the answer is simple.

    Last season if we had won the two matches we drew with Man C and Chelsea, and beaten Stoke, rather than lost, we would have won the league.

    I think with this team we could do all three. In that scenario the heavy defeats are irrelevant.

  • shaz

    @Lance, another thing to take into consideration is the pace in our front line… Sanchez, Joel Campbell, Walcott, Ox, Gnabry. we have pace and we have depth.

    The big teams won’t play such a high up back line when we have players that can break at speed. I guarantee that teams like Man City and Chelsea think twice before playing their Left and Right Backs as Wingers, Look what happened at the Charity Shield when Sanogo released Sanchez, where it not for caballero running from his line Sanchez might have made it 3-0. Had it been Ozil, the ball would have been weighted even better.

    The point is, just because we haven’t signed defending players that doesn’t mean our defense wont improve with the addition of these signings.

    The pace that we now posses will change how teams turn up. Our defense will most definitely see the benefit of these new additions.

  • And sorry – my mistake – Henry did of course play over 30 games. He played 37

  • bjtgooner

    Nice article Tony. I find it difficult to compare the effectiveness of teams from different eras as the opposition they face will be quite different.

    AW has built a number of exceptional teams during his tenure and a more effective comparison with the Invincibles would be better made had our present team a number of equivalent achievements behind them.

    However, the present team has been very carefully assembled over the last few seasons, despite financial restrictions, despite Dein the Lesser and despite some unwanted desertions; it is a very good team and close to being an exceptional one, perhaps just approaching a peak depending on what happens between now and the end of the transfer window.

    At this point in time we need to replace the Verminator, not taking anything away from Chambers, but we need another CB. Depending on how that addition proceeds a final view of the squad strength will be clearer.

  • oldgroover

    Don’t know if it’s our best side for years, but I’d say it is the one most likely to win the Premiership, and with 3/4 world class players, and hopefully a little strengthening in defence, we’ll challenge all the way again and perhaps pick up a cup or two.

  • Jerry

    @lance,
    the reinforcements were the ones that had a clean sheet against the £180 million City starting side on Sunday. Liverpool without Suarez is not thrashing anyone. And Chelsea usually parks the bus, and only beat us that day so bad because of an incompetent ref Marriner incorrectly dismissing the wrong player (Gibbs). Stop listening to the media, they’re the ones that questioned Henry and Wenger before they came as well.

    Good article Tony, this team is very united and i would pick a unified team to win over any other team.

  • nicky

    As I read of our new signings and the optimistic forecasts on how our season might unfold, I am filled with keen anticipation.
    AND THEN…..I remember the horror and humiliation of our away defeats in Manchester and Liverpool a few months ago.
    Until we repeat the fixtures and overturn those past displays, I cannot rest easy.
    While I find having faith is simple, those memories never seem to go away.

  • Gord

    The interview with Arteta has for me, an interesting point:

    http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/20140812/arteta-on-new-boys

    > “On the pitch he was always going to give you a ‘seven [out of 10]’ and it’s hard to find players like this

    Arteta was talking about Bacary Sagna. It is entirely too common for people (or players) to talk about giving 110 percent. I’m sorry, you cannot give more than you have. To see Arteta using a physically realizable scale instead of this psycho-babble 110% stuff was refreshing.

  • TommieGun

    Thanks for the post which shows (again) some nice thinking outside the box.

    My take on comparisons, different Wenger squads and different eras (and I will try not to repeat what’s in the post):

    The key to understanding my analysis below is Arsene’s reluctance to force players to remain at AFC, despite having a contract. When players wanted out, Arsene did not arm wrestle them (and/or their agents). This is, in my opinion, due to (a) his belief that players must want to play for the club in order to produce their best; (b) the fact that the club had financial restraints which did not enable him to “make an example” out of an expensive players and just let him rot on the bench.

    Many times over the years, Arsene stated that he is “building” a team, with the necessary time frame to accomplish such “construction” is between 2 to 3 years. Sadly, in the past 8 years, every team Arsene tried to build was torn apart, either by players asking to move or by other clubs making offers that Arsenal could not refuse (due to said financial constraints). The outcome was the same: key players left, Arsene had to alter his plans, and when things were on the right course again (or so it seemed) – another key player left.

    I cannot stress the importance of keeping the players you want to keep. Not only the message it sends – in the dressing room and outside – it also takes time for players to adapt to each other.

    Now I’m going back to Tony’s post: the invinclbes were a group of players that played together for 4 years, won the double together in 2001, had a very good age balance, and had great depth. The best example for me is Edu, who apparently only made 12 starts, but was our player of the month in February, scoring a few goals too. I don’t even remember who was injured, was it Gilbo or Patrick – but he just slotted in, and was fantastic. So this is depth.

    And all of it goes back to, sadly, money. It seems to me that the biggest difference is that we can compete financialy. Note: we cannot spend like the crazy sultans of oil or the rich russian – but at least we are in a position where we cannot be subjected to financial rape.

    It also brings in a few other questions and thoughts: (a) is the financial level playing field due to FFP? (b) is the financial level playing field due to some theoretical bar, which basically says that if you are rich ENOUGH, you can compete? (which means that we don’t have to be rich AS KGB or City, but just rich enough) (c) is club management turning out to be more about buying/ selling/ financial management, then managing on the pitch?

  • Gord

    Transfer News (Noise?):

    Our goalkeeper on loan last season, Viviano has apparently moved to Sampdoria. Best of luck to him there.

    Bendtner is apparently in talks with Olympiakos. I didn’t read the article to see what position they are considering him for.

    The rest of the last 24 hours perusing of the Google News headlines just looks like wild speculation or commentary by people who assume a style of play that Wenger is not playing as justification for getting a player that Wenger doesn’t seem to need.

  • AL

    Good article. This is no doubt the strongest side we’ve had since 04. We’ve had an average squad with one or two good players at any time in between, but this time we have 3 or 4 world class players on top of an above average squad. What the manager said is very true, TV was wanted by two of the best sides in the world, so if a better CB was available then these two would have been in for him too. So yeah, TV will be harder to replace than Sagna imo. But overall we will be stronger defensively than last year; offense is also a form of defense. As for goals, I can see getting over 80 comfortably. Even without any of players getting over 20 individually.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Hopefully, Jol Campbell will get us a few goals as well.
    We have a seriously good squad…..and a WC winning physio. Even the Spurs are talking up our chances

    http://www1.skysports.com/football/news/11675/9418621/premier-league-former-tottenham-chairman-lord-sugar-thinks-arsenal-can-win-title

  • H Bo

    Just a reminder lance we also had 2 draws and a win against top 3 they were overshadowed by the heavy defeats but we have 3 more options and a new fitness coach. I must say with how well chambers has done maybe a loan to cover the Verminator.

  • AL

    Interesting link and views from Sugar there, Mandy. He points out we lost Walcott and Ramsey at critical stages but still managed to finish within touching distance of the eventual champions. Have to say it’s the first time I have heard anyone not associated with UA acknowledge that injuries affected our run last season. I find it strange that some of our very own have refused to acknowledge that injuries robbed us of victory, and not just two or three heavy defeats. And that coming from a spud makes it doubly difficult to understand why that is the case(our fans refusing to see how we were hampered by injuries).

  • para

    Yes, it has been a joy, (well, sometimes also a little sympathy pain) to watch the team being assembled, and now we shall start to lay down another Arsenal milestone in football.

    They (may or) may not emulate the invincibles, but i’m sure they will make their own Arsenal mark on football.

    Tradition demands it.
    After all, this IS Arsenal.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Very true Al, indeed some of the more sensible Spuds I know hold Wenger and the current team in high regard…..after a drink or two of course

  • AL

    After a drink or two :):)

  • Linz

    After seeing the unbelievable strength of the Real Madrid squad,and taking into consideration the strength of Barca and Bayern,i am afraid that it is pretty much given that unfortunately Wenger will never achieve his holy grail,the CL.I can’t see any PL side, apart from maybe,and its a big maybe, Chelsea, winning it in the next 5 years.

  • Gord

    Can you do the Sprints?

    This comes from the Daily Wail:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-2723154/Arsenal-s-Theo-Walcott-40m-club-sprint-record-broken-Hector-Bellerin.html

    Apparently it took Thierry Henri 4.82 seconds to do a 40 yard dash. Walcott came along, and dropped this down to 4.42 seconds (in 2009). It would not be unusual for Walcott to be doing the 40 yards faster now.

    Recently, Bellerin ran a 40m sprint which betters Theo’s time of 4.42 seconds. There is no mention of what the time is. There is no mention of what Walcott’s current time is. It is entirely possible the way the article is worded (to me), for Walcott to be able to beat Bellerin in a 40m sprint.

  • Nelson Wong

    A more scientific way to compare.

    Talking about improvments. This team is still very young and all of them a talented (not so for a few in last year, to be honest). The longer they play together and the more time the play individually, they will improvement.

    That’s why holding mid is a bit of a concern because Arteta is at the age where he can’t improve much but will drop off.

    Another improvement is to have the players staying fit… which is entirely possible. Even a 20% reduction of injury time would be a huge help(instead of missing for a month, the player miss only 25. He might be playing two more games.)

    And I hate the fact that people ask for a team with no single weakness. That only happens when you are mega rich or you got a very average team with average people all over.

    The thing is, you almost always need to decide which part to change and which part to just make do with what you have. You buy a striker (normaly more expensive), than you might have to pass on a defender + a reserve.

    At the current level, unless you get bargain of a century such as the purchase of Carzola, just buying a 15 million player won’t improve anything. And Arsenal won’t be paying for three 30 million players + a few 10 million back ups a season.

    I still think two are possible so Wenger should be saving his $$$ for one more capture if the chance comes. If not, he’ll just make do with what he has.

    A good manager can win with a non-perfect team.

    I have no worries about goals.

    Amerigooner wrote

    -Giroud gets his 20
    -Ramsay 15
    -Walcott 15
    – Sanchez 15
    – and the combo of Cazorla and Podolski get 15

    That gets us to 80 and then we’d need the rest (Wilshere, Ozil, Sanogo, The Ox, Mertesacker etc.) to chip in the additional 20 total.

    Ozil can easily give you 5 to 8 goals. Per can deliver 1 or 2 at least. 5… if lucky with headers. Koz can give you 5. That’s at least 12 goals.

    Don’t tell me Wilshere, Ox, Arteta, Sanogo, Campbell, Gibbs, Roisky can’t get 1 each for the whole season!!!

    Walcott can go over 15 if he stays fit for a longer time.

    One thing will really help Arsenal this year. Many teams are having major overhaul: Liverpool, Man City (looks like… rumor at the moment), Man U, South Hampton. Their defense will need time to get organized.

    btw, one player who seems to be picking up is Cazorla. He can deliver over 10 when things get going for him!

  • Gord

    Can you do the Sprints? Part 2

    Data is missing for Bellerin, so we’ll still consider Walcott.

    To accelerate at a constant rate for 40m and finish in 4.42 seconds, requires an acceleration of 4.0949 m/s^2. At the end of the 40m, our constant acceleration sprinter would be doing 18.099 m/s (nearly 40.5 mph). As near as I can tell, humans can’t run that fast, so constant acceleration is out.

    World class Olympic weightlifters (snatch, clean and jerk) should apparently beat world class sprinters on 10m. So, let’s assume constant acceleration for 10m, and constant speed for 30m. A few trips through equations, and it seems that an acceleration of 6.388 m/s^2 for 10m (to get to 9.0497 m/s (20.24 mph)), get’s the athlete through 40m in 4.42 seconds.

    If we assume constant acceleration for Usain Bolt in the 100m, he would only be accelerating at 2.179 m/s^2. At the end of the 100m he would have a final speed of 20.88 m/s, which is an even more ridiculous 46.7 mph. Obviously, sprinters spend more distance running at top speed, than getting up to top speed. At the end of the 100m, Usain Bolt will be travelling faster than Theo Walcott at the end of 40m.

    There is no need for a world class sprinter to develop the very high accelerations possible to the Olympic lifter. But, those kinds of accelerations are useful in football.

    I could play with equations more, but I would prefer more data. In any event, it seems likely that Walcott can accelerate at about 0.65g.

    I would expect Bellerin’s data to be only a minor increase on this.

    I believe most world class sprinters are doing about 30 mph (13.41 m/s) when they cross the finish line. From that, and a bit of work, you should be able to find over what distance Usain Bolt is accelerating.

  • para

    Still think we will get a DM(Carvalho i hope, he looks a beast, his mantra seems to be “that ball is mine”), but at this stage of the window, people are now waiting for the desperate must seller clubs to start to panic.

    No doubt AW has 2 or 3 irons in the fire, waiting, watching…

  • spiro

    @Gord. u just brought back memories of highschool physics lessons. Lets just hope with these speeds our attack will cause nightmares for opposition defenses this season.

  • ARSENAL 13

    100+ goals a season in the league??…. Well, it looks good on TV.

    I expect a good balanced team to score at 2 to 2.3 goals per game in the league. Approx a 90 goals season. Good enough for a title challenge. I think it is.

    Now for ARSENAL. Where will the goals come from? Giroud will be firing at 15+ in the league. Ramsey and Wilshere will be at 20+. But the main goal threat will come from Theo. I think Theo can fire in 30+ goals. More than 25 in the league. Ox 10+, Ozil and Sanchez will be 15+. The rest, will combine to get around 10.

    Cant wait for the season to start.
    Go Gunners.

  • I don’t understand the reasoning in a lot of news reports that Arsenal will not win the PL because we don’t have a “ball winning, kicking others in the face” type DM,

    most of the new reports had this to say of MUtd in 2012/13 predictions,

    1.”Questions still remain, however, about the quality of United’s central midfield ”
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/legacy/philmcnulty/2012/08/my_premier_league_2012-13_pred.html

    2.”United still look short of a powerhouse midfielder”
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/teams/manchester-united/9475651/Manchester-United-Premier-League-season-preview-2012-13.html

    and look what happened at end of that season.

    Having no DM is not the be all and end all of winning the league.

    Look what a simple google search reveals of people’s bad predictions. 🙂

  • Josif

    Our opponents will have to replace their goalkeepers at 80th minute due to tiredness from going for the ball into the net.

    Giroud – provided that he gets 30 matches to start and 8 in which he will be brought in to face tired legs of the opponents’ defenders – should get involved in at least 30 league goals. He will have a lot more space to operate with Alexis and, hopefully, healthy Theo on the flanks. When you add two world-class midfielders Ramsey and Özil who can both pass and make runs behind the defence to ease the burden from Giroud, the Frenchman should enjoy a really great season. Also, let’s not forget about Debuchy – he seems to me as better attacking option than Sagna and his crosses for Giroud – something that they probably did in the national team as well – might add another dimension to our attacking play. So, let’s say Giroud would score 20 goals next season.

    Alexis – to me at least – is the most exciting signing since certain Bobby Pires opted for Arsenal instead of Juventus and Real Madrid. As Walter pointed out, Alexis will add a lot to our defensive solidity. Of course, his main duty will be goals. Özil’s touches of magic behind the defence, Alexis’ dribbling and shooting technique (just take a look at his goals in El Classico last season or against Atletico Madrid in that title decider) = 15 goals at least, with possibility to get involved in at least 25. He might be used as a lone striker as well but Wenger mentioned only flanks last time he was asked about the Chilean. So, it’s already 35 goals from Giroud and Alexis.

    Theo will get a slow introduction following injury but when he returns, he can get us at least 12 goals.

    Then, there is Ramsey. One of the best midfielders in the world – provided that no butchers harm him this season – can get at least 12 goals as well. He can do it from the outside, he uses his head in both meanings and it seems to me his IQ on and off the pitch is second to none.

    Özil should be ready to shine again. He knows what he can expect from Premiership and what he should add to his game. His perfect passes and magical left foot should secure us at least 25 goals in which he’ll be involved with 10 of those scored and the rest of them being assists.

    Provided that Mikel Arteta plays a regular role in the team, we might score at least five penalties. Alexis’ dribbling will force the opponents to tackle him in the box. The thing is, now when we are obviously the title contenders from the Day One, PGMOL might instruct their…personnel to turn the head on the other side whenever Alexis or Ramsey get the ball in the box. Still, I’d go with five penalties for Arsenal and Arteta’s 100 percent record. He has missed just one in his Arsenal career.

    Full-backs should get more goals than they had had last season when Sagna scored a header against Stoke and Jenkinson scored his second first goal for Arsenal against Norwich respectively. Debuchy to score at least two goals, Gibbs – provided that he stays healthy – at least one and Nacho can get one for himself as well against weaker opponents. I’d add one for Bellerin as well but Walter might get too excited about that one. 🙂 So, let’s stick with an improvement in the full-back-department from two goals to four.

    Our central defenders will get in the attack. It’s a safe bet Laurent Koscielny will score at least one goal, probably in the middle of March, to secure us another St Totteringham’s Day and perhaps one more so the forces of Evil don’t recognize him as Saint Laurent of Totteringham’s Day. BFG can get at least one. If Chambers adds one, it’s four goals from our central defenders.

    Then, there are Santi Cazorla and Jack Wilshere. I don’t know how many games two of them will get as I see them as our 12th and 13th player respectively. Four goals from Cazorla and four from Wilshere over the league season wouldn’t be a bad contribution. So, that’s eight. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain might add four of his goals to that tally so it would make it twelve. Then, three goals from Joel Campbell and two from Yaya Sanogo will be matched with five goals from Lukas Podolski. 22 goals from our bench…or not. We should never forget Tomas Rosicky. He can get us at least one goal, probably in NLD against Spuds. I don’t expect more than that as I see him in a more deeper role in the midfield. Speaking of deep-sitting-midfielders, Flamini will score one as well. So, that’s 24. If there is any luck left, Abou Diaby will get one as well for all those years of pain.

    So, league goals:

    Giroud – 20,
    Alexis – 15,
    Walcott – 12,
    Ramsey – 12,
    Özil – 10,
    Podolski – 5,
    Arteta – 5,
    Cazorla – 4,
    Wilshere – 4,
    Chamberlain – 4,
    Campbell – 3,
    Sanogo – 2,
    Koscielny – 2,
    Debuchy – 2,
    Mertesacker – 1,
    Chambers – 1,
    Gibbs – 1,
    Monreal – 1,
    Flamini – 1,
    Rosicky – 1,
    Diaby – 1.

    107 goals – if wisely spread over 38 games – should be enough for the 14th league title.

  • Gord

    @spiro I’ve done lots of physics problems over the years.

    Can you do the Sprints? Part 3

    Where the 40 yard dash comes from, is 40 yards is the average distance of a punt in USA gridiron football (and a hang time of 4.5 seconds). To do the 40 in less than 4.5 seconds means a person on the line can get to the destination before the ball.

    I ran across one list of Canadian gridiron 40 yard times. But the only comprehensive sets of data come from the USA, and seem to only consider people who are playing gridiron football (or doing a tryout).

    Apparently a human requires about 60m in order to get to maxmimum speed. Maurice Green holds the world record in the 60m at 6.39 seconds.

    One difference between IAAF sanctioned sprint (60m is an indoor event) and the 40 yard dash, is that an IAAF sprint includes reaction time, and the 40 yard dash does NOT. Apparently a rough average reaction time is 0.24 seconds. In the beginning, 40 yard dash results were gathered using hand timers, and so are thought to contain about 0.5 seconds of error. It was not until about 1999, that electronic timers began to be used.

    The two fastest 40 yard dash times I’ve run across, using electronic timers are Rondel Melendez and Chris Johnson, at 4.24 seconds.

    Apparently in 1986, Bo Jackson ran a 4.12 and a 4.18 within one week, both measured by hand timing. Three years later (1989), Deion Sanders ran a 4.27 (hand timing?). A rugby player doing a tryout, Carlin Isles) ran a 4.22 in 2013. Oh, in that short list of Canadian data, the fastest listed was 4.47 seconds.

    I did run across a document, which was trying to answer the question as to what Usain Bolt’s 40 yard time might be. The document makes use of research done by German scholars, and makes use of instantaneous speed (by laser) and average speed data for Bolt’s run in 2009. You want to look for Figure 1 in the document.

    Looking at the graph, the peak average speed is probably about 12.25 m/s (27.4 mph), which agrees with being just under 30 mph. And no, Usain Bolt can’t outrun a bear; no human can.

    In the 2009 run, at 40m Usain Bolt is doing about 12 m/s. Somewhere between 60 and 80m, you see Usain Bolt’s speed start to drop. At 10m, his speed is already 9 m/s (20.1mph). To me, there seems to be an inflection point in the data at about 5m.

    In any event, the document estimates that Usain Bolt would have a 40 yard dash time of 4.34 seconds.

    http://www.freelapusa.com/how-fast-can-usain-bolt-run-the-40-yard-dash/

    I would say that Bellerin and Walcott are both pretty respectable sprinters to have times of 4.39 (apparently) and 4.42 seconds respectively.

    —–

    @Josif

    You don’t think Szczesny is going to score a goal this season?

  • bob mac

    There are basically two ways to attack in football, it is the same in most invasion games.

    The Arsenal squad have the quality in shed loads to use either of these strategies.

    Analysing the qualities of this squad, add their individual and team ethics there is little doubt that we are all in for an amazing season.

  • Rupert Cook

    @Tony Attwood, and if Pool hadn’t thrown away the lead at Palace and played more defensively against Chelsea they could have won the league. And if Swansea had scored before the ref blew the whistle we’d have lost at home. If, if, if……utterly pointless argument. After all if Stoke or any other team had won every game they’d have won the league. And why pick out those three games, how about our exceedingly average performance against Manu at home? And losing to them away when nearly everyone who’d never won there in twenty years was either drawing or winning there.

    This is probably the best team Wenger’s put together in ten years. Perhaps one or two world class signings would make us favourites. Right now I’d say we have a good chance for third.

  • Ryan Hill

    dude it was 40m not 40 yards!