By Walter Broeckx
Yes November has been dissapointing, not for the first time in recent history in fact. If we look at the average results in the Wenger era as they have been published on arsenal.com it is the worst month resultwise most of the time.
The fact that in that period we usually have a lot of CL matches and that most players have played 6 internationals for their countries might contribute to this downfal in results. Of course I had counted on more points in this month. But if you see some people reacting it is as if we are somewhere around 15th position in the league and we will be in a relegation fight till the end of the season.
Yes I know that a lot of injuries have happened in the last two matches. But should we really be in the panic mode that some are? Maybe it is wise to look at a few facts instead of running around like headless chickens shouting that the end of the world is nigh and that we are doomed, doomed and doomed.
[Steady on Walter, this is revolutionary stuff. Running around like headless chickens is what football reporting is all about, surely. – Tony]
A look at the league table after 14 matches tells us that we are in 4th place. 2 points behind the two top teams. One of them is Leicester. And despite all their headlines I think everyone knows that they will not last till the end of the season. Mind you I take my hat off for their current run but they rely on Vardy scoring and that probably will stop one day. So far Leicester has the benefit that they are not considered a top team and so most teams play against them in an open way. But that will change any day now. And so teams will start to dig in against them and deny them space. They will start to struggle to score and then things will go downhill from then on.
We have seen it each season. Swansea a few seasons ago, Southampton,…even West Ham United once was the surprise package of the season….for a while.
But there are other facts that we should keep in mind. I think everyone agrees that at the end of each season most teams (including Arsenal) they will have won most points at their own stadium. Most teams are more vulnerable away from home. You can check the stats, this is a reality and each time a team does this in the other it us an anomaly. And this is where I think it is very interesting to have a closer look at the league.
Now what we have seen so far is that of the 14 matches we have played, we have played 8 of them away from home. If you for example compare this with Manchester City they have played 8 at home and 6 away from home. Leicester have played 7 at home and 7 away. The other team near the top who also have played 8 away from home is Manchester United. With whom we have a one point gap.
Of course if one only concentrates on the last 3 results or so you are not keeping in mind that the league is not a 3 match sprint but a 38 match marathon. A marathon in which you have good periods and bad periods. One can say that we are in a bad period. A bit strange this season. When we were bad in Europe we were strong in the PL and now we have been stronger in Europe we seem to suffer in the PL a bit.
But looking at the matches played it is a fact that we will play more matches at home than both Manchester City and Leicester in the rest of the season. So statistically we might pick up more points. Of course as I said there are exceptions every now and then but nobody can predict when such an exception will occur.
If we follow the narrative of the big media about the Arsenal injury crisis that has been hitting us for… well how long have they been talking about that? A few weeks? So despite a terrible injury crisis, despite having played more matches away from home than most other teams in the top 4…we still are only 2 points away from the top.
And believe me I am really comfortable with the position we have now. Two seasons ago Manchester City was just lurking around keeping close to the rest and in the final weeks of the season they sprinted in front of the rest and crowned themselves as champions. That was the season when Arsenal was top of the league more than any other team. So being top now is nice and funny and I would like us to be there of course. But it means nothing if you cannot keep it up.
Over the last seasons in most cases Arsenal had to come back from behind in whatever they were chasing. Who still remembers the league table when we were behind 0-2 at the Emirates after some half an hour against the tiny totts. Before the match we were 10 points behind them. And after half an hour it looked as if we would be 13 points behind them. Mind the gap they shouted prematurely. At the end of the season we were 1 point in front. We made up a gap of 10 points on them.
So what is the fuss about a gap of 2 points on the leaders? A gap at the start of December! Do you really think that this is a big gap? This is one win and a draw and the ground is made up. Do you really think that this is a gap that can’t be overcome? Then you really are man of little faith.
There are still a lot of games to be played. And as we now have had a bad patch and some more injuries than desirable for the moment it is great to see that we still are in such a position now. Players will come back and will add something new to the team in the next weeks. Alexis might get the rest he needed to make sure he will be ready to make it to the end of the season without any problem. Coquelin doesn’t need surgery and that is a great thing as it is easier to recover from a knee injury that didn’t need surgery than with surgery.
Each team near the top has dropped more points than ever compared to the seasons before. I think that the champions will have a low points average if the league continues to be played like it is this season up to now. No need to panic. Just stay calm and support the players we have out on the field.
For reference here are the League Tables on 1 December in years gone by…
|5||West Ham United||13||6||3||4||21||16||+5||21|
|4||West Bromwich A||14||8||2||4||24||18||+6||26|
- 1 December 1934: Arsenal 7 Wolverhampton 0. For the second match running Drake scored four as Arsenal scored five or more for fifth time in 17 league games.
- 1 December 2012: Arsenal 0 Swansea 2. Arsenal had 21 points, their worst total after 15 games for 18 years. They were 10th in the league behind Stoke, Swansea and WBA, but ahead of Liverpool
And in case you missed it…
Do take a look at the link to the Indy video at the end. Try not to laugh. At least not too much. You don’t want your boss to know you’re watching football rather than working. The decline of Chelsea