By Walter Broeckx
I must say that the PL this season is very strange indeed. There is not a weekend without surprise results. And sometimes big surprises. What can we say about the title race so far this season?
Let us start with the biggest surprise team: Leicester. Top of the league now and I don’t think even the most optimistic Leicester supporter would have put any money on that after 15 matches. But they are where they are. According to the Sun in their referee survey, Leicester had a little bit of help from the referees along the way and won 5 points because of wrong referee decisions. But surely it will even out in the next weeks?
Arsenal are in second place. Two points behind. We know we have lost points because of wrong referee decisions against Liverpool, Chelsea just to name a few. That should have been at least 4 if not 6 points more by now. To even things out we will start to get some big decisions going our way in the next months. Actually the chance of this happening is close to zero of course. Dean for City, anyone? A red card for at least one player so he will miss the whole Christmas period?
But just imagine that video refereeing existe… we would be on 36 points or thereabouts and would have already a significant gap between Arsenal and the rest.
Then we have the big spenders’ league. Manchester City. Having already one of the most expensive squads in the world, they even went out to spend some more money. Delph, Otamendi and top buys Sterling and De Bruyne came to the team that never misses the point. But they do seem to miss some points for the moment. Instead of coming to an Arsenal blog to tell us what the point is and how clever they are they could put some more energy in getting some balance in to their team. [Actually Walter I have made it my mission in life to wind up Man City fans, and it is rather nice that they allow themselves to get sucked in every time – Tony].
After spending yet another £100m they are as unpredictable as can be. When De Bruyne finally came in they had a perfect start and looked already champions after 3 matches. At home they can win big at times but even there they have had some upsetting results. For every brilliant match they have a mediocre-to-bad match. And as they did what the aaa told us we should do like spending the money as if there is no tomorrow, buy all and everyone… it still didn’t put them 10 points ahead of the rest.
So spending all the money doesn’t seem to be the answer after almost half of the Pl season behind us.
In 4th place we have Manchester United. They have spent maybe even more than Manchester City. Schweinsteiger, Darmian, Depay, Schneiderlin and Martial. The new Thierry Henry they shouted after his first three impressive matches. I read somewhere that in the next 11 matches he didn’t score any more goals. But hey the spend and spend as the aaa proclaimed and the final result for the moment is they play crap football with lots of bleak 0-0 results.
So yet again spending all the money doesn’t seem to be the answer as the aaa proclaims.
In 5th place we have Tottenham. After having sold half of the world beaters from the Bale money this summer they also added some players. But all that resulted in getting lots of draws. I do admit that they don’t lose much, but it is better to lose one match and win the other than to have two draws in two matches. And results in the past have shown that the high pressing system works excellently for a while (at the start of the season) but then when players get more tired they run out of steam making the system more vulnerable.
Another team that has spent their annual £100M (or thereabouts) is Liverpool. With Benteke being the person to make Suarez a footnote in history being the buy of the season. I then asked aloud if Benteke would be the next Heskey for Liverpool. A decent striker but… well not really a striker that could lift the team to a higher level. So far the Heskey scenario looks more on the cards than the Suarez scenario.
I will not even talk about Chelsea who have spent again some money on Pedro who had a great first two matches and then sunk to the same level as the rest of his teammates. Let the special one figure that out. But the team that was going to walk away with it according to the pundits even before a ball was kicked finds themselves amongst teams who fight for survival.
So despite our nearest rivals spending again insane sums of money… we “bought no outfield players” as they do like to repeat… we can ask, “Why should we have bought them?” Our team was the best team of the second half of last season and so all it needed was to be close to the rest when that second half of the season is coming. So far we are on course to do this. Despite losing some of our best players at the start of the season with injuries and I am talking about Wilshere and Welbeck by the way.
We lost more players now and still we are only 2 points off the top for the moment. When the end of the season sprint begins we will have Santi and Coquelin back after a good rest and they might be like new signings from February on till the end of the season.
If things keep on going the way they have been with all teams being able to take unexpected points away from the others we might have a tight title race till the end of the season. Any team that will be able to get a run going of some 10-12 wins between now and the end of the season will be close to grabbing the title. Of course we hope that it will be Arsenal who will be able to get such a run going.
In the table below the penultimate column shows the net amount spent on transfers by club over the past five years, and the final column the net sum spent in the Summer of 2015. Highest three in each column are in red, lowest three are in blue.
|POS||CLUB||P||W||D||L||F||A||GD||Pts||Net 5 yr||Net Summer|
|7||West Ham United||15||6||5||4||25||21||4||23||£93m||£27m|
|13||West Bromwich Albion||15||5||4||6||14||19||-5||19||£51m||£27m|
8 December 1999: Ömer Rıza sold to West Ham. He never played for them but was loaned to Barnet and eventually sold on to Cambridge, before moving to Turkey. However in 2009 he returned to English football with Shrewsbury and continued to play in non-league football in England until 2015.
8 December 2012. How the season was saved by a seemingly insignificant win. Arsenal 2 WBA 0. Arsenal were in 10th when this win came along and it was followed by a period in which Arsenal beat Reading 2-5, Wigan 0-1 and Newcastle 7-3 and gradually climbed back up the table.
Coming up today on the History Site: Arsenal in the 70s part 9: July to Dec 1972 – the days of the pitch invasions.