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October 2016
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Will Arsenal win the league this season?

By Tony Attwood

On 28 December 2015, Crystal Palace were talked up on the radio and TV as being serious challengers for a Champions League place.  Not Europa mark you, Champions League.

On that evening they were fifth, above Man U, Chelsea, Liverpool etc.

Today I have just read an article about them being dragged into a relegation fight.   About how Pardew’s teams always falter in the last part of the season.   Today they are 12th after a run of five successive defeats followed by a draw with Swansea.

So it goes, react to the latest, never take the broader perspective, exaggerate up or down, claim to know more than the people doing the job.  So it goes.

This weekend it seems however that Crystal Palace have been left to their own devices, and the world is focussing on life at the top, and of course who will win the league.

As you undoubtedly well know, I am not a fan of fortune telling, so I don’t pretend to have a clue, but since I am on my lunch break, here are my thoughts…


The argument for Leicester is that they are enjoying their football, taking in the ride… just like Newcastle in 1966.  Ooooops.  A win on Sunday could spur them on, but any injuries and hiccups that everyone else is used to all  the time, could have a bigger impact.  It is also said that they experienced real pressure when they were fighting relegation, but I think not.  When they were fighting relegation they were doing what everyone expected.  Fighting relegation.  Now they are doing what no one expected.  That is when the pressure comes along.

So yes they have  the team spirit but that is a fragile thing and indeed most commentators recognise this, for everyone tipping Leicester says something like, “If Leicester City win at Arsenal on Sunday they should win the Premier League. Even if they draw it should be on.”   But a defeat – hell they will still be two points clear.   But no, then the view is, they will fall.

Certainly you do need to have enough of your players who have played at this level.  And because of that even if they were to win on sunday, I don’t see them coming through.  Even though they have no European games.  Mind you it will be fun to see how they cope with that next season, for surely they at least have to get into the Europa – although the Champs League is more likely.

Man City

As Mr Wenger said, telling your manager he is off before the end of the season either boosts the club or takes it down several levels, and the answer of how Man C would react as shown last weekend seems to be the latter.

They are certainly no longer at their best, they need a transformation, and several of the team know that this is the end of the line for them.  China beckons guys, whether you like it or not.

Yes they have the experience of winning the league, but Arsenal have won two FA Cups on the trot.  Not the same, but still pressure.  Yes they have come up from behind before, but I don’t think they will again, not this time.  Where is the core feeling of being Man City?   The fact that some pundits are reduced to saying that it will be City because they win the league in even years shows how desperate they are to find a reason, any reason, to give the title to City.

Like Arsenal they are still in the Champions League, and have an easier draw than Arsenal.  I expect them to go through – and that adds to the pressure a bit more.


Tottenham have not won the league for 55 years, not won the FA Cup for 25 years, not won the League Cup for eight years.  Hell they haven’t even won Division 2 since 1950.

But Pochettino is good, and for the first time in a very long time the shadow of the chairman isn’t hanging over him.  He’s been honest enough to admit that times are going to be very tough as the club spends much the same amount on its stadium as Arsenal did, but with the extra risk of an untried design (as many Tottenham fans pointed out last time we covered the issue, Arsenal had the benefit of building a stadium the design of which had already been tried out in Portugal.  A clever way to avoid the design errors and teething troubles.).

But Tottenham are variable, off and on, sometimes flamboyant sometimes yuk.  It is said they are under far less pressure than Leicester, but I wonder why.  This is their best chance to win the league in 55 years – doesn’t that count as pressure? 

The biggest thing they have going for them is the fact that until they crept up to second no one noticed them as challengers outside of their own support.  Now they have been spotted.  And they are still in the Europa.

On the other hand they have the aaa on their side (see below).


Arsenal did the wobbly bits early, and got all the injuries in, in one go.  Hell, even Danny is back in training and could come on as a sub in the cup match against Hull.

And normally we then pick up and do quite well in the latter part of the season – at least until it doesn’t matter any more.   Plus if we do well but lose gracefully to Barcelona that’s the Champs League out of the way for another year.  (Mind you if we did knock out Barce my screams would be heard from here to their children’s training camp in Chad).

A win against Leicester on Sunday will help us nicely along the way, but unlike other commentators I don’t think it is essential.   What will hurt though is the usual wild ravings of the aaa whose vindictive public attacks on the manager and the squad can do enormous damage.  If it were Tottenham supporters doing it against Arsenal, everyone would shrug it off, but the nauseating way the aaa act upon every defeat really does do damage.   And it shows where their loyalties lie, since they must know it does huge damage.

However we have Petr Cech and Ozil, and Ramsey.  And Coquelin.  Plus at any moment Alexis is going to come back to fulsome life.  If Santi Caz and/or Jack W comes back for a final few games that could be good news too.

And we have Giroud, who I am sure half the centre backs who play against him ignore him because they have read and believed the propaganda.  Big lump, can’t move, shit where did that ball come from, how did Ozil do that, oh look Giroud has just scored….

So what could stop us?   The aaa, as I have said, plus the referees.  We have seen two referees get scores of under 50% in matches, and as explained in an earlier piece, a robot giving out decisions at random ought to get at least 50% of them right.

Those games showed a side of refereeing in the Premier League that was so utterly extreme that I now accept that anything can happen.  Anything at all.  All we can do is hoist those most atrocious appalling failures that refereed under 50% on a board of eternal shame and warn any other ref that stoops to that level of what will come their way.

But that is for later.  For now, I think we will win the league – and indeed the FA Cup simply because the squad is strong, they are used to winning trophies, there are no managerial changes about to happen, and they will probably drop out of the Champions League.

Just don’t read the papers guys, nor the bloggettas.

 More anniversaries

12 February 1937: Laurie Scott signed for Arsenal.  Ernest Tuckett went to Bradford City in part exchange.  He played 115 games for Arsenal before moving on to Crystal Palace in 1951.

12 February 1938:  Arsenal v Preston – the fourth ever 70,000+ crowd to see Arsenal.  Arsenal lost 0-1 to the team rivalling them for the championship.  However Arsenal won the league, while Preston came third.

The Untold Books

The latest Untold book is Arsenal: The Long Sleep 1953-1970 with a Foreword by Bob Wilson, available both as a paperback and as a Kindle book from Amazon.   Details of this and our previously published titles can be found at Arsenal Books on this site.

The next book will be The Arsenal Yankee by ex-Arsenal player and Arsenal scout Danny Karbassiyoon with a Foreword by Arsène Wenger.  It will appear shortly.


25 comments to Will Arsenal win the league this season?

  • Daniel

    Great words.

  • lech

    Big lump, can’t move, shit
    where did that ball come from, how did Ozil do that, oh
    look Giroud has just scored….

    that part got me in tears.
    Anyways, I think it’ll end up as Arsenal, Leicester, Totts, City.

  • Emmanuel Assian

    Yes Arsenal has the capacity to win the league

  • Zedsaunt

    One game at a time, ninty minutes to a game, thirty seconds to score a goal.

  • quickerthanper

    Yes, we will. Win against Leicester would help but – as stressed in several papers – it is not a must. I just wonder if Arsene’s statement about going for a win would mean that he senses team is getting closer to go on a winning run again – wouldn#t criticise the timing at all given we play spuds and manure not too distant future.

    I am also still dreaming of getting past Barcelona- if we do not play Per (Sorry, Per you are great but too slow for these type of games…) and I also think that the buy of Elneny – who still has to bolster up for the league – has been made with CL in mind. So I expect him to play against Barca and very much disrupt the supply line to their attack.

    And I am getting used to our guys lifting the FA Cup, so do not really want to miss out on that either!!!!
    Still all possible – so let’s hope for the best!!!

  • BarryL

    A thoughtful piece, Tony
    It’s a game we can win.
    Just re-watched the highlights of 5-2 v Leicester and 3-0 v ManUre on Arsenal Player.
    In both games we played with Walcott upfront with Ozil, Alexis, and Ramsey in midfield. Theo’s movement and pace was pivotal in both games, while Alexis scored 5 goals. The only missing players is Cazorla who kept everything ticking over.

    I think Morgan and Huth would prefer to face Giroud rather than Walcott; and Ollie can always come on as a sub and score his usual goal.

    With Leicester’s pace on the counter attack, I would keep Gabriel and Kos as a pairing.
    Vardy’s first goal at the King Power was on the break, when he burned Merts easily for speed.

  • Jerry


    Excellent work and thoughts on your lunch break!
    In regards to the ref failures, how about including an actual wall of shame with Andrew’s previews as well?

    Include a table for the under 50% scores for the season, titled The PGMO Wall of Shame, with four columns: Name of the Ref, Score, Weighted Score, and Link to the Ref Reviews.

    It would hold the PGMO more accountable by highlighting in every preview the truly horrendous ref performances and will help make sure they are not forgotten throughout the season, like how the FA and PGMOB swept the Dean Chelsea performance under the rug. Just an idea.

  • Andy Mack

    I haven’t followed the Palace decline but I’d guess injuries play a major role. Isn’t Bolasie injured at the moment?

  • proudkev

    Great stuff.

    Despite the secrecy in which it is held, Arsenal wnet to Leicester and won 5-2. You wont see or hear that mentioned in the media or amongst the AAA but it happened.

    Leicester have done fantastic, they have proved that you can have possession stats of 35% and still win games. But it is a risky strategy.

    Operating with a limited first team squad is fine without any cup competitions to worry about but injuries in a small squad create real carnage. Keep their players fit and they will be challenging but how wll they cope with a couple of knock backs, result wise? They have had zero pressure but with expectation comes pressure.

    Man City are inconsisitent, held together by Aguerro. They loook frail defensively and are nothing to be afraid of.

    Spurs ware an accident waiting to happen. The media may love them and be oblivious to their 55 year wait for a league trophy but lets face it, those bottle jobs are one Lasgane away from a Spaghetti Bolognese.

    We can win this, we have big games where big results are needed. Starting Sunday; nab three points there and that will be a massive confidence booster and put pressure on Leicester and the rest.

    One thing I will say is this. If Arsenal go on to win this as I believe we will, there are going to be a lot of seriously pissed people running around. Thats will make it even more special.

    COME ON YOU G U N N E R S …………….!!

  • proudkev

    *That will make it even more special.

  • Andy Mack

    The lack of injuries to the Leicester main 3 players has been amazing. For Mahrez, Kante and Vardy to have spent so little time on the bench/Physio table despite every opposing team knowing how important those 3 are to the team….. Can it last the remainder of the season… Will Pulis or Fat Sam psyche their players up and set them on the Leicester 3 with broken ankle results…. we’ll see!

    We don’t need to win this game but we must not lose it.
    With over ten games remaining there’s plenty of points on offer but a loss could effect the confidence levels and could have a ‘knock on’ effect for a few games.

  • Andy Mack

    “If Arsenal go on to win this as I believe we will, there are going to be a lot of seriously pissed-OFF people running around”
    Corrected for you.

    The most pissed-off will be the PGMO……………

  • proudkev


    I’m not so sure I can think of a certain blog that would melt down. They were pissed when we won the FA Cup last May and they had to put their agenda on hold.

  • Andy Mack

    You could well be right on that but they’d be followed closely by the PGMO…

  • tunnygriff

    Been saying for months and months we’ll have a clearer idea of our chances come the start of March. If we’re within a few points of the lead then we have a good shout

    By then we will have played Leicester and man u and spurs away. Sure we have some tough away games after this but our home schedule is good

    I’ll be worried until after the spurs game. We have the capability but need to up our performance level a notch
    if we are to succeed

  • Menace

    It takes a split second to score a goal but it takes a PGMO official a few seconds to decide if he can cheat & chalk it off. Just make sure you guys can organise a protest in Parliament so that PGMO come out of their shell (the slimy bastards).

  • Josif

    Plus: no distractions from the league, the fact they have already beaten Spuds and City on their respective travels, high level of team cohesion, best conversion rate in the league, hard-working manager, upward curve in terms of defending and crucial decisions going their way.
    Minus: the pressure will mess with their players’ heads as the season approaches to the end, lack of options on the bench, Ranieri’s record against Wenger (W1D6L9).

    Plus: a solid manager who knows how to read, a top-class goalkeeper, a top-class central defender, a midfield packed with energy and a top-class striker, great away form (haven’t lost since the opening game).
    Minus: they have shown fragility in the games they were expected to win (Newcastle, Leicester), ability to choke that is almost in their DNA, the fact they are still in Europa League and FA Cup as well, their record at the Etihad and against United at home and no alternatives for Toby and Kane. And there is a fact that St Totteringham’s Day is like The Easter – it happens every year on a different date. Also, their dirty style of play (a lot of fouls) has to be punished at some point.

    Plus: a world-class goalkeeper, best pair of full-backs in the league, the best defensive midfielder in the league, the best No. 10 in the world and the King of South America who has scored five out of his six goals in matches against Top 5. Oh, and Arsene Wenger is the only manager in the league who has won it on more than one occasion. Arsenal have the best record between Top 5 teams (W3D1).
    Minus: relatively low conversion rate, injuries of Cazorla and Wilshere, distractions in the shape of CL and FA Cup, a difficult run-in with two visits to Manchester on schedule…and, there is PGMO who simply won’t give Arsenal a break and The Board that doesn’t give a crap about it.

    Manchester City
    Plus: Aguero is the best striker in the league, a real winner. Kompany is back which means their defensive record is likely to improve. They have enough fire-power to get that extra 0,5 point through the goal-difference, especially with a run-in like theirs. Yaya Toure is usually scoring heavy goals in the last couple of months.
    Minus: But Yaya is going to be 33 come May. They already know Pellegrini’s faith is sealed. Their expensive defenders Otamendi and Mangala have been a laughing stock, especially when either of them is paired with Pellegrini’s favourite Demichelis. They don’t have Dzeko on the bench to score big goals either.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Great read Tony.
    Can we win the league…..we certainly have the ability, but looking at recent refereeing performances, we will have to do it the hard way. These refs are sending a clear message. I fear they, aided by the media…..and backed by the odious AAA and their spud many Chelsea sleepers who inhabit their blogs will do all they can to stop Arsenal winning the title.
    Spurs….won’t be able to keep on running all season, like Leicester. They have both been very fortunate with injuries, and if FIF is to be believed, Leicester at least with ref decisions.
    I think City need watching carefully. Players desperate to impress Pep, and Kompany returns this weekend. They have been poor but can be very good, and they don’t suffer the refs we do

  • Big game coming up, how many Leicester players would make our starting eleven, well, my choice..


    Going to be close……

  • Mandy Dodd

    Have to say, even accepting the fact they are not in Europe and most a are not internationals playing games the other side of the world, Leicestershire ability to keep key players fit…has been almost supernatural.
    Do they know something we don’t? Do they take some very special….and I am sure legal supplements? Are they protected by refs? Is it their tactics….to let other teams have possession then launch a few counters that guards against injuries?
    Think us and others should be looking at their fitness staff as well as their scouts. And the spuds are not far behind….seem to know of Chadli and Vertongen being injured , alli getting a dizzy spell,and that’s about it. Kane must be approaching two seasons without an injury. HTF do they do that? Maybe by getting the fouls in first on what I have seen, another team rarely punished for rotational fouling.
    Still think Bielsaball falls down ….about the end of Feb though…..but perhaps enough to get them in the top four

  • Maybe Leicester need a dope test lol

  • Andrew Crawshaw

    @ Jerry

    Not sure that I can include that table every week, I will be doing a further review after week 28 or 29 (three quarters of the season and can certainly have that data for that review. I hold all my data on a spreadsheet and WordPress doesn’t cope too well with translating links within cells.

    On second thoughts I’ll assemble it for the Man United ref preview and see how it goes

  • para

    We can win it. We have the quality. I suspect AW is going to also give the CL a go, its time for them to go after greater things. For some it may seem strange but this is football and the squad is getting back players, although for me they could have come a little sooner 🙂

    For me, Leicester is the game, we must win confidently and go on from there. This will give us a push. Its Hull City FA Cup 6 days later and then Barca 3 days later and then Manu(A) 3 days later so i guess there may be some rotation?

    Any sight on who the ref is? 🙁

  • ARSENAL 13

    We are in 3 competitions, PL, CL and FA cup. Its looks like a burden to the players but players like it and will be all ready and raring to go.

    CL and FA cup games could be a blessing in disguise. Never know.

    To the strong end to the season. Go gunners.

  • GoingGoingGooner

    This business of who has the most pressure is mostly rubbish. Our guys live with it every year and so this run in will not be any different. We can only do what we can. Who knows how Leicester or Sp*rs will handle it? It’s silly media stuff.