By Walter Broeckx
For years we had to hear the same old story: Arsenal cannot win the top matches so they are no good. And each time we drop points this gets repeated by the media and the 5-second brigade.
And even Neville came out with the wrong preparation for top matches last week. I think he will regret having written that now. And if only he had taken a look at the top matches over the last calender year then Neville would and should have known that well.. he is not that well informed. Or is he also being misled by the lazy journalists who don’t check their facts.
A look at the results of this year against the top teams is interesting (and I even included Tottenham and Liverpool in this list). I did this because our local derby match is a top fixture for us so had to be mentioned. And Liverpool is still the biggest team in Liverpool. And looking at the way the media is hyping them they are close to Barcelona and Bayern Munich.
So how did we do against the other top teams in the domestic competitions since January? A nice looking list of 11 fixtures.
- Arsenal – MU 3-0
- Chelsea – Arsenal 2-0 (1)
- Tottenham – Arsenal 1-2 (LC)
- Arsenal – Liverpool 0-0 (2)
- Arsenal – Chelsea 1-0 (CS)
- MU – Arsenal 1-1
- Arsenal – Chelsea 0-0
- Arsenal – Liverpool 4-1
- MU – Arsenal 1-2 (FA Cup)
- Tottenham – Arsenal 2-1
- Man City – Arsenal 0-2
11 matches played:
- Won 6 (54%)
- Draw 3 (27%)
- Lost 2 (18%)
And in this list we find marked with (1) the match against Chelsea. A match that by now even the FA will agree with that was only won because of the bias/incompetence/both at the same time-daylight robbery of Dean. I’m not even going to say we would have won this match if Dean had done the correct things on the field but that should have been at least 1 defeat less and at least 1 draw more.
The match marked with a (2) is the Liverpool match in which we have seen a good goal ruled out for offside. Add anything between 3 to 5 points for both these incorrect final results because of refereeing errors and the league table would look completely different.
In fact the only match we did lose of the ‘top matches’ in more or less normal conditions was our league match last season at Tottenham. If I had left Tottenham out of this list (and there are good reasons to do this), we would have no defeat (apart from the Dean-Chelsea arrangement) in these matches.
I know we still have a few of these teams to play before the end of the year. We will have Tottenham and Manchester City coming in the next two months.
But let it be clear by now that the old repeated mantra of ‘Arsenal are rubbish because they don’t win the top matches’ can be put away for a while. Because …. well we do win those matches on a regular basis.
And I also would like to add that us losing such matches before might also have been down not to bad preparation as Neville suggested (you were wrong as you asked yourself Mr. Neville) but to outside factors. Or should I say inside factors.
Because when we look at our defeat at Chelsea another outside factor was Dean. And heyho our last home defeat against a top team was against Manchester United and guess who was the ref on that day? Yes, it was Dean once again. Now this match wasn’t in my list because I had drawn the line at the first day of the year but isn’t it a strange coincidence that it was most that when Dean was around we lost? And each time when a lot could be said about the way he handled the match….
So when we play on a level playing field (or don’t allow the ref to disturb the level playing field by scoring early) it looks that we are rather very capable of winning matches against the other top teams. Isn’t it also interesting to notice that certainly against Manchester United our results have improved a lot since their famous Scotch manager retired?
What exactly has changed in a year or so is something for another article but it certainly is no longer the case that people can say: “oh, we will make the same mistakes again and lose the match”. Mostly followed with a shout for a new manager as he will never change (it seems he did change a bit I would dare to suggest) and our players are not good enough (it seems they are good enough when allowed to play their game).
So is all good and well? Will we never drop points again? Now that might be great but I do know that football doesn’t work like that. Sometimes the ball doesn’t want to go in the goal, with the other keeper having an amazing match. Things like this happen. But we should be aware that this team can produce the amazing thing and the sometimes strangely bad thing.
If only we can keep the bad matches to a strict minimum we are capable of a lot. But just as against Manchester United it will be down to hard work and good teamwork and a bit of luck every now and then.
Let us now just hope for a good international break for our players. And the only thing we need for making it a good break is all the players return in good health for the rest of the season.
From the anniversary files (full list of today’s anniversaries on the home page)
6 October 1956: Cliff Holton became the first player since Jack Lambert to score more than three goals for Arsenal in a single game. The result was Arsenal 7 Manchester City 3. Holton (4), Evans Bloomfield and Haverty.
6 October 1962: Tottenham 4 Arsenal 4 (Court 2, McLeod and Strong). 61,749 attended the game. The week before Tottenham had beaten Nottingham Forest 9-2, and in this game went three up in 26 minutes. Arsenal eventually went 4-2 down but battled back to get the point.