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October 2016
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Arsenal v Southampton. Arsenal top the year’s league and other interesting stuff.

By Bulldog Drummond

Could it be that football is not only taking note of our desire to video refereeing, but also for evidence based commentary?

After so many years of attempts to tell us what we will think in the future (as per “Arsenal fans will be angry if…” it seems hard to believe, and yet in the Independent we now have this…

Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea can expect a positive result on Boxing Day, according to research. However, current Premier League leaders Leicester City may not be feeling so jolly after tomorrow.

According to research?????

When did we last hear that?   The only occasions I can think of are the Sun’s dip into referee errors in which they seemingly picked a handful at random to show Arsenal should be top of the league, and the regular quoting of Raymond Verheijen to the effect that all of Arsenal’s injuries are caused by Mr Wenger’s training approach.

But now we are told that Mr Wenger is the most successful Boxing Day manager with a 75% win rate on 26 December.

The trouble is however that the research sort of stops there, for they compare Mr Wenger’s 19 year reign with the statement that “Things also look good for Manchester United and Chelsea. Those two clubs have both won their last three fixtures on Boxing Day”.

So 19 Boxing Days against three.  Hmmm.  Statistics are clearly not quite the in thing at the Indy.

They also say, “Leicester City, currently two points clear at the top of the table, may have cause to be concerned though. Their manager Claudio Ranieri has never won a Boxing Day fixture.”  That’s a bit unfair though because he has spent much of his managerial career in countries where they don’t play on 26 December.

So a bit of false hope then.

What is more interesting is to think back to the Southampton game last season which was on 1 January.  It was the height of over-excitement for those who wanted Mr Wenger removed as Southampton won 2-0, and tales of Wojciech Szczesny having a cigarette afterwards.

After the game the table looked like this…

Arsenal were doomed, and were most certainly not going to qualify for Europe, were now officially overtaken by Tottenham, and given that they were 13 points behind the leading two, could no longer be called one of the top clubs.  In fact there wasn’t even a top four, it was a top two, and would continue to be so for a long time to come.

Since then, Arsenal have lost only five Premier League matches.

Indeed before today’s round of games the 2015 league looks like this:

36 24 6 6 68 27 41 78
36 21 5 10 75 40 35 68
36 19 9 8 66 48 18 66
36 18 9 9 51 32 19 63
36 17 11 8 62 43 19 62
36 19 4 13 50 37 13 61
36 17 8 11 53 45 8 59
36 16 10 10 46 45 1 58
36 14 10 12 41 38 3 52
36 12 13 11 50 43 7 49
36 13 9 14 43 39 4 48
36 12 11 13 37 46 -9 47
36 11 10 15 37 50 -13 43
36 9 14 13 39 45 -6 41
36 7 9 20 33 59 -26 30
36 7 9 20 37 67 -30 30

Seeing that table makes the gibberings of certain primates concerning the lack of outfield signings this summer rather interesting.  Most points, second highest scorers, best defence by a mile… it wonders what they are smoking in the homes of the bloggettas, the national press, and come to think of it, Liverpool!

Let me, for a moment, pause on the defensive record for the year thus far:

  • Arsenal 27
  • Man U 32
  • Crystal Palace 37
  • Stoke City 38
  • Southampton 39
 But oh, I forgot, our problem is we have no attack.  Giroud is useless, Theo always injured…
  • Man C 75
  • Arsenal 68
  • Leicester 66
  • Tottenham 62
  • Chelsea 53
 So all that looks rather good, as does the fact that five of the last six times Arsenal won the league they were second at Christmas.  Those years were 1970–71, 1988–89, 1990–91,1997–98, 2001–02, 2003–04.
Actually I can’t resist this one – the top of the league for Christmas Day 1988.
Both the last three meetings and the current form lists are interesting.  The former suggests we have little chance and latter that we have a lot of chance.

Last three games:

  • Southampton 2 (Mane, Tadic) Arsenal 0, Premier League, January 2015
  • Arsenal 1 (Sanchez) Southampton 0, Premier League, December 2014
  • Arsenal 1 (Sanchez) Southampton 2 (Tadic (pen), Clyne), Capital One Cup, September 2014

Form guide…

  • Southampton: LLLDLL
  • Arsenal: WDWWWW

Not surprisingly Mr Wenger is walking around with a bit of a smile on him while Ronald Koeman has been talking about this being a difficult couple of weeks.   Southampton have only scored on goal in their last five, and likewise taken just one point in the five games.

Mr Koeman also said, “It’s all about results,” which in Arsenal’s case isn’t true.  Even half way through 2015 and with the FA Cup won the notorious aaa were calling for him to be sacked.

He went on, “It’s all about the philosophy of the club, the chairman, and the board. It’s still quiet in Southampton but maybe in one month it can be different.

“I do my job, I do my best for the club and do what I have to do, and nothing else.   I am of course worried, because it’s a bad run.”

Mr Wenger said,  “I believe, for us, the most important is to focus on ourselves. We have not to speculate too much on any weakness of Southampton.

“When you look at their team, they have the potential to be a very strong team. We have to convince ourselves that we again need another top-level performance.”

Next up, the teams etc.

Before that, the anniversaries

  • 26 December 1899: Arsenal v Loughborough abandoned.  The replay on 12 March 1900 created our biggest ever win.
  • 26 December 1970: Arsenal 0 Southampton 0. League match 23 of the first Double season after which Arsenal won every home game during the season.  The story is that after the match George Armstrong said to his team mates, “I bet we win the Double”.

12 comments to Arsenal v Southampton. Arsenal top the year’s league and other interesting stuff.

  • Al

    We should be good enough to see Southampton off. The media always, and I mean always, get it wrong, that one could actually make a lot of money just by putting money on the opposite of what they say.

    Off topic, but it seems utd players are doing as much as they can to ensure LVG is sacked before the new year; 2 nil down, with only 30 minutes played.

  • I like LvG personally. I love the fact that he never shies from taking the media head on. BUT I love seeing Manchester United lose more. So much more.

    I wish the Dutchman goodluck in his next job as it is not looking very good for him right now.

  • Al

    Lol. Yes, Lvg is a decent person, and doesn’t deserve the treatment he’s getting from the media. I definitely want utd to lose, but part of me doesn’t want to see lvg sacked tomorrow only to be replaced by the poisonous one. I don’t want to see that man anywhere near the PL again, but at the moment it’s looking like one of the Manchester sides might provide him with a way back…

  • Glad to see the darling of the horrible English press suffer. LVG is a top,top coach that has earned the respect of the football family worldwide. He has only come to the wrong club at the wrong time.

    Today at Southampton should not be too difficult for Arsenal. Even if it is, there is enough quality and belief in this squad to bag the three points at stake. Yes, a win for me in this late kick off. I seem to wish Liverpool some luck today, obviously for selfish reasons. Not too much luck though, just enough to give us an edge on the table is okay. So, a draw for me. But then, what better way to ruffle some feathers than for Leicester to continue in their run and teach the opposition a lesson or two in football. It would be pure ecstasy to see the embarrassment on Jamie Carragher’s and Michael Owen’s faces, after a defeat, heavy or not.

    A goal or two for OG12, two or more assists for Ozil and a clean sheet for Cech will be a Christmas present I could live with. Plus the added pleasure of a befitting vengeance for that New Year’s Day defeat.

  • Andy Mack

    I don’t think LVG is a bad manager, but equally I don’t think he’s anything outstandingly good either. He’s been at a few big teams and spent big money but in his time with smaller teams he’s looked reasonably good but not special. I’m sure given time and money he’d do reasonably well with them but if he’s really planning complete retirement soon then he may not have enough time. We all know that they’ve consistently big money to spend and that they’ll press for the No1 spot in the future 1, 2, 3, 4+ years…. who know when..

    As for changing him for MaureenO, I wonder what Mata has said in the dressing room about him…. Would he need to replace 20 players there because they’ve all been told about his cr4ppy little psychological tricks…

  • Al

    Think LVG’s position was weakened from day one, by having Giggs imposed on him as his number 2…

    Nice to hear Rosicky will be back in training in about 3 weeks, will need players of his experience with the FA cup and CL games coming up thick and fast..

  • Josif

    I have a lot of respect for Louis Van Gaal. If there is a manager out there who has similarities with Arsene, it’s him.

    1.His Ajax 1994-96 still lead the table on the list of the best teams I’ve ever seen, alongside our Invincibles and Bayern 2012-13. Mind you, it was Van Gaal who had laid the foundation of that mighty Bayern team.

    2.Nwankwo Kanu and Marc Overmars had played under both Wenger and Van Gaal – Kanu won both Eredivisie and Premiership without defeats (which is another similarity between the managers).

    3.Patrick Vieira was close to join Ajax from AC Milan reserves but he opted for Arsenal instead and…everything changed. It was a final blow for one big team built around young and talented players and a key piece of the puzzle for the construction of another.

    4.Our 3:0 victory over United was the first home victory in the matches between Arsene and Louis. Before that, the visitors had had more success.

    5.Van Gaal has gone through a crucifixion in the media. No wonder Arsene has a kind word for him.

    6.Van Gaal is a manager who likes to give a chance to young players. He thinks nobody is bigger than the club and that no player is bigger than the manager. I think Wenger is the same.

  • Notoverthehill

    Well done to Bulldog. Mr. Wenger has picked up your League Table for the calendar year 2015!

    It is unfortunate that football scribblers are employed by the national press. LvG knows how to manage a football team, none of the football scribblers, have any track record for veracity!

    Look how long they have tried to depose Mr. Wenger.

  • Its a pity but today we are losing this one. Ozil its not his per is lost hopefully im wrong. But I have never given up like today.

  • Porter

    Shame to say although decisions went against us we got what we deserved

  • Colg

    £10 on Bournemouth I think.