By Bulldog Drummond
“Seven and a half?” I hear you shout… well all the papers are doing their “five things” this and “ten things” that, so Untold, being Untold likes to go somewhere else. Seven and a half seems about right.
1: Style and efficiency
Leading up to today’s games Mr Wenger said, “In recent games we have combined style and efficiency and we want to continue that because we want to give pleasure to the fans. We know that comes with results but as well with the quality of the game and in our recent games against Chelsea and against Basel, we managed to do both.
Inevitably Mr W has been asked about his own input into Arsenal’s current form, and he added, “I think I have one quality which is a passion for the game, and another quality is that I always have the desire to be better tomorrow than I was yesterday. If I look back, the way I manage today is not the same as it was five, 10, or 20 years ago. How long can I do? I don’t know.
“I rule nothing out because I want to work and I want to do well. I accept that it can finish tomorrow as well. It’s a love story and you always expect a love story to last forever, but it can always stop suddenly.”
3: Mr Wenger’s feelings.
“I think it is a privilege for me, I do not look back. Maybe what people will keep is the Invincible year, but for me the job of a manager is to do the maximum with what you have available and that is what I try to do. It is like a marathon, you do one step after another and when you look back you have done the distance. We are obsessed always by the next game, the next game and that is what we expect always: the perfect game in the next one. That is what we work for.”
4: Not many defeats – a 1-1 draw?
Burnley have played four games at home so far and have won two, drawn one and lost one, scoring a massive five letting in two. Arsenal have played three league games away, winning two, drawing one, scoring seven and letting in two. If you were to use this as a predictor the most likely result is a 1-1 draw.
After a league game in 1975 the clubs didn’t play each other until January 2008. From that point on the results have read like this
|Date||Game||AFC Res||Score||League / Cup|
|06 Jan 2008||Burnley v Arsenal||W||0-2||FA Cup|
|02 Dec 2008||Burnley v Arsenal||L||2-0||League Cup|
|08 Mar 2009||Arsenal v Burnley||W||3-0||FA Cup|
|16 Dec 2009||Burnley v Arsenal||D||1-1||Premier League|
|06 Mar 2010||Arsenal v Burnley||W||3-1||Premier League|
|01 Nov 2014||Arsenal v Burnley||W||3-0||Premier League|
|11 Apr 2015||Burnley v Arsenal||W||0-1||Premier League|
|30 Jan 2016||Arsenal v Burnley||W||2-1||FA Cup|
Eight games, six wins for Arsenal, one for Burnley (in the league cup) and a draw. More on that league cup team anon.
5: Six all on the injury front.
Meanwhile, in the Physioroom.com injury table we currently have this:
|#||Club||No injured||Latest injury||Injury|
|2||Everton||6||L Baines||Hamstring Injury|
|3||Stoke City||6||J Allen||Tight Hamstring|
|4||Arsenal||6||C Akpom||Back Strain|
|5||West Ham United||6||S Byram||Hamstring Injury|
|6||Hull City||6||B Lenihan||Knee Surgery|
|8||Tottenham Hotspur||5||M Sissoko||Concussion|
|9||Chelsea||4||M Obi||Muscle Injury|
|10||Liverpool||4||D Lovren||Groin Strain|
Our list of injuries has Chuba Akpom added with a back strain, but I don’t know how bad that is. He said in an interview he was “out for a while”. Coquelin is now listed as being back after today’s game, with Ramsey and Giroud scheduled to be available on October 15. The dates for Mert and Danny are now quoted as 2 January. This listing takes Jenkinson out of the table – the normal approach when the injury is resolved and the player just has to get himself fit again. This could mean we will see him in an under 23 game before the end of October as he gets fit again.
6: Goals galore so not 1-1?
The top scorer table is also interesting showing a nice variety of scorers which Untold has always promoted as the key to success, rather than having just one player who gets the majority (and who preferably cost £100m).
|3||Lucas Pérez Martínez||0||0||2||2|
Currently Theo is undoubtedly the player everyone wants to write about. Having celebrated his style and approach last week we are now into the territory of “Can Theo sustain this level…” and talk about possible injuries and “sudden losses of form.”
Yes it is pick em up and knock em down time.
But the point is that we have scored 13 and let in one in the last four games which is not bad and we’ll need a lot of attacking prowess as in the last few league games between the sides at Burnley the scores have been very low as is their tendency in the league this season.
Burnley, I suspect, will try and keep to this approach, having won just one of the last four league games (as opposed to our four wins in a row). Especially since Burnley have lost their forward Andre Gray to a ban for saying silly things on Twitter.
7: We have Mustafi
When it comes to the issue of defenders also, there is no doubt that we have done the business. After all the hype and the demands for £500 million to be spent we got Shkodran Mustafi with no fuss, a player who didn’t register on the Transfer Index of 100+ players linked with Arsenal until almost the end of the window and who turns out to be brilliant. A good job we didn’t buy any of those players mentioned earlier in the window, in my view.
Of course Burnley on a Sunday in October is probably a new experience for Koscileny’s new co-conspirator and Arsène Wenger said “Let’s see how he survives in games like Sunday against Burnley, where it is a case of ‘Can I head the ball? Can I win the second ball?’”
I suspect he can. Mustafi as a talker knows his English nouns which is helpful. The Wengerian translation of this is “Mustafi is a player who is highly focused. On that front he is a typical German. He wants to do the job well every day and he speaks his mind. He is vocal in the dressing room. He is not a quiet guy who hides.
“Laurent Koscielny is the leader because he is captain but Mustafi looks like he is taking leadership as well at the back. What is surprising is how quickly he has integrated into the team and how quickly they have formed a pair that works well together.”
What I think is interesting is how right Mr Wenger was to wait for the man he wanted rather than rushing out and buying whoever he could. As a result it could be argued we lost the Liverpool game because Gabriel and Mert were injured and Koscielny was still recovering from France. And of course when Mustafi was announced it was said he was too short for the job. I suspect Burnley will have read that and now be attempting to sky balls over him.
7.5: The defence is continuous
But it is worth noting that we have a settled back four since Mustafi arrived. It hasn’t changed once.
Arsenal’s back four have played every minute of every Premier League and European game together since Mustafi arrived. Wenger is encouraged, but quick to point out it is early days to assess how important the defender can become in a team who have found a sudden and enticing improvement. Mr Wenger added, speaking of the defence, “I would say I have a positive feeling.”
There you are – I promised seven and a half. Next up – the teams and the stats.