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Arsenal after 29 games. Are we going backwards or staying the same?

By Tony Attwood

In the last six games as you will know we have suffered three defeats, and gained a draw and taken two wins, and we are fifth.   I just wondered how this compared to the last couple of seasons at this moment.

Here is where we are at the moment.

One year ago our recent form was two wins, two defeats, two draws in the last six.

Two years ago we were on a run of five wins and one defeat in the last six.

In terms of points we have 54 this year.  Last year it was 52 and the year before 57.   The fact that we are lower placed than last year is undoubtedly due to the vagaries of the way a season can work.  This was showed perfectly well in the article “A Millenia of the Pulis/Fat Sam – BundesLiga type EPL”  Even when a team always scores twice as many goals as the other teams in the league, it still won’t always win the league.

Our goals totals are particularly interesting.  This season we have scored 61 and let in 36.  Last season by this stage it was 46-30.   The season before we had 56-30.    So the attack has soared ahead but we have conceded six more goals than at this stage in the last two years.  This might well be down to having two new men in defensive positions – Mustafi and Xhaka.    Given that other research we have undertaken suggests that the majority of expensive players do not shine in their first year at a new club, but then come good, there is a strong chance that this will happen next season.

Obviously a lot of increase in goals – 14 more in the league this season – must be down to Alexis, which puts an extra emphasis on either keeping him, or replacing him with a player of similar goalscoring merit.

Our goal difference is much better than this time last season and just one goal worse off than two seasons ago.

Where we have lost out is the decline in our away form – this season is the worst of the three in that regard.  Our home form is slightly worse than two years ago but we have played one game more at home this season than at this stage last season.

At the moment we are 18 points off the top club.  One year ago it was 11 points and two years ago it was seven points.  So given that we are only three points off our position two years ago, and actually two points better off than we were last year, clearly what has happened is that the top club Chelsea has moved further forwards than we have as have Tottenham in second.

This is where the biggest difference shows up.  We are 11 points off second, but last year we were only six points off second and the year before we were one point off second.

Thus what has really affected us however is the fact that Chelsea are way ahead of where Leicester were at this stage last year and indeed where Chelsea were two years ago.  Tottenham and Liverpool likewise are way ahead of where they were in each of the last two years.  Man City have improved over last season, and are back to where they were two years ago.  Man U are much better off than last year, and are just about back to where they were two years ago.

So our problem is not that we have slipped back but that we have not progressed in points totals while the other clubs at the top have.

Of course there is a simple knee jerk reaction to this which can say, we should have progressed and therefore Mr Wenger should go.   But in fact what we have done is made some significant changes in the team this last summer, and looking at the way in which it normally works for teams that do this, it can take a season for such changes to bed in.

Obviously there are some people who do not feel this is true, and they would like to have the whole system overthrown and the manager removed.  And this can of course work – Chelsea is a perfect example.  But it is a huge gamble, for quite often changing the manager does not work in this way.  Tottenham’s huge number of managers in the last 20 years, and Man U’s struggle to find a replacement for Sir F who can return to his way of winning the league are perfect examples.

Indeed Man City are now just getting themselves back to where they were two years ago despite bringing in a person who was considered by some to be the best manager around shows that quick fixes are not guaranteed.

This doesn’t mean that Mr Wenger should stay forever of course, but rather it suggests that a smooth transition is more likely to serve the club well rather than a forced departure.  Personally I think the most important thing is to keep the goals coming and let the new members of the defence come back for a second year, with a deeper understanding of what the PL is all about in terms of the defenders and referees they face.

Arsenal History Books on Kindle

The novel “Making the Arsenal” by Tony Attwood which describes the events of 1910, which created the modern Arsenal FC, is now available for the first time on Kindle.  Full details are here.

Also available on Kindle, “Woolwich Arsenal: the club that changed football” the only comprehensive history of the rise of Arsenal as a league club, and the attempts to destroy the club, from within and without.   For full details please see here.

 

22 comments to Arsenal after 29 games. Are we going backwards or staying the same?

  • CJ

    Very good article. Nice and objective.
    Far too many knee-jerk Arsenal supporters that don’t see the full picture!

  • proA

    @tony, 2 things;
    1. I’m certain you supported the changes(or lack of) 2years ago, if last year was the year for those changes to bed in, you will have to accept they haven’t worked well or your theory is far fetched(probably cooked up to support the lord Wenger)
    2. At what point do you get to accept that the prediction of the naysayers even b4 the season started that the team hadn’t been strengthened enough to overcome last years shortcomings and indeed compete with the other teams who were changing things to make up for last years poor performance?

  • Pat

    Wise words Tony – especially your last sentence.

  • Zuruvi

    I think in a race/competition the top athletes measure their own improvement game by game, month by month and season by season. But … The most important measure is the performance RELATIVE to your competitors.
    If your competitors are improving at a quicker rate than you that means you have a problem (or an upcoming problem) and you need to act.
    Alternatively, if your performance statistics are reducing but your competitors are reducing at a faster rate then you have a comparative advantage and you are possibly in a good situation.
    If your stats are static whilst everyone else around you is improving then you have a problem.

    So I hope our manager doesn’t accept the current year stats as being satisfactory just because they are on par with last year and the year before. To do so would be criminal because Chelsea is improving, Man City is improving, and regrettably Spurs is improving.

    My view remains that Arsene Wenger is still a very good manager. If Wenger was given the top players that Chelsea or City (or dare i say Spurs???) have, he would lead Arsenal to being League Champions and even to beating Bayern Munich. The main reason why we are losing in big matches by some embarrassing score lines (5-1, 6-0, 3-0, etc. etc.) is not because we have a bad manager but we have too many players in our team who are just plain average. Some of these players have been with the team for 3 years or 5 years or more than 8 years but they haven’t developed into the top class players we expected of them (e.g. Elneny, Theo, Carl Jenkinson, Sanogo, etc.). We need bigger and better players both physically and in terms of talent.

  • Zuruvi

    Tony, why are all my comments being held back for “moderation”?

    I commented on this in a previous thread but I didn’t get your response.

    I have always respected the rules of the sight. I have never sworn or been rude to anyone.

    I am a regular contributor on Untold.

    Could there be something wrong with your algorithms or they performing as expected by targeting all my posts for moderation?

    Have a good evening.

  • Zuruvi

    Are we going backwards or staying the same?

    If our main competitors have made big steps forward and we have remained at the same level as last year and not even moved forward from two years ago then we have for all intents and purposes MOVED BACKWARDS.
    Sports competition is a relative thing.

  • Gord

    OT:

    If Sunderland win all their remaining games, they could end the season with 44 points. Which is typically out of relegation territory.

    ManU are whinging in the news, that they specialise in draws. Or rather, Moaninho is whinging.

    Moaninho is tired of draws. Sunderland need wins. Let’s hope both teams get their desires this weekend, and Sunderland beat ManU at home.

    Liverpool!!! think they are going to struggle to make Champions League with Mane now out for the season. I’m hoping for Stoke to win this weekend.

    ManCity home to Hull. Unlikely we will get joy here, but here is hoping for a tie.

    Chel$ea away to Bournemouth, who pulled off a tie last weekend. I think. Well, it would be nice if Bournemouth at home could pull of a win or a tie.

    Tottenspud is home to Watford. Not much hope here. PGMO gives Tottenspud 2 goals from dives/penalties?

    ===

    In terms of the article, I think we are the same defensively as last year, and that we are ahead offensively. The problem is that the result of a game between A and B depends on A, B and the PGMO. PGMO are not supposed to be part of the equation, but the PremierLeague and The (sweet) FA want PGMO to be influencing things.

  • omgarsenal

    I find it somewhat problematic to compare one season to the next and even more speculative to compare two or three seasons past to this year’s. Why:

    1)Teams change over the summer, including Arsenal and as Tony said, it takes time for players to reach their acme of performance.

    2)Team chemistry is dependent upon the intertwining of players’ personalities and styles. Wenger is a master of achieving this BUT no manager can get it perfectly right every time.

    3)Despite many saying we are paranoid and obsessed, careful and proveable research and assessments of officials in the EPL have unarguably shown a distinct bias against AFC that varies from season to season, therefore being an unpredictable but recurring and ubiquitous handicap each season for AFC.

    4)Serious and continuing injuries to our best players , while about average for the EPL this season, have derailed our efforts to win the loscielny etc. over the last 3 seasons have dampened our

  • Clearly the team isn’t right this season ProA. Otherwise we would have won the league. What I think you don’t understand is that my argument primarily is not about the need for reform but the argument over which type of reform is most likely to lead to success.

  • Zuruvi, I am sorry you have been troubled by this. Untold gets over 5 million page views a year and a vast array of comments which are irrelevant to the site (as well as the ones from people who just break the rules all the time) and so we have some automatic systems to deal with this – those of us working on the site couldn’t do this on our own! Sometimes the systems do make mistakes – and I have adjusted a setting in the hope this will help you. If you still have a problem write to me at Tony@schools.co.uk and I will try and help further.

  • Fishpie

    Tony, you write in response to ProA, “Clearly the team isn’t right this season… “. I’d like to suggest you could have written that for any one of the last dozen years. There is always something about the team that isn’t quite right, something at least that prevents us from seriously challenging. Even in our FA Cup winning seasons, our league campaigns were undone by something not being right. I appreciate we are lower in the league this season by virtue of the improvements by the other big clubs but the critical question is, why, once again, has the team not progressed, not stepped up to the level Mr Wenger himself says he want stop reach. Yep this season we have some new players and I agree they may need longer to bed in but the ongoing team profile remains, as it has for a long time now, good on the ball, poor off it, good technically, weak physically, good going forward, vulnerable in defence.

    Teams that challenge tend to have a good balance of all of these factors. There seems to be is an overall pattern to Arsenal’s performances across each season regardless of whether we have spent money or not had the money to spend.

    If reform is needed (and my view is that is has been needed for a long time) why would we entrust reform to a man who has had many many seasons now to implement reform himself. And not succeeded. Perhaps not even really tried.

    However Tony, you may have a specific reform strategy in mind?

  • Mandy Dodd

    Assuming Mr Wenger stays, I would assume there may well be some changes this summer to prepare for the transition when it comes, or at least of IGs catalyst for change comments were in the context reported by some.
    The club are at a stage when they have to look to and prepare for the future, I think a club like this would do well to promote from within , or at least those who have at a time served the club well, but we shall see.
    We have been poor defensively, but doesn’t help that our players have received red cards, and given away penalties just because an opponent takes the opportunity to jump into them, expect more of this in coming weeks, especially at WHL.
    But perhaps a case could be made for the club being at a point whereby a phased transition might be a good thing to avoid the fate of other clubs, and that may involve Mr Wenger at the helm bringing about this transition…..assuming of course this fits in with his own plans and desires, if it doesn’t, not sure where this goes.

  • Mad Matt

    Makes sense to me. And I agree with Mandy Dodd.

  • proA

    Tony,There shouldn’t be any shame is saying you don’t think the team/manager has done too well, but you back him nonetheless (insert reason- eg because you’re an akb and it’ll be unsavory to back someone else, or because he’s bought enough goodwill from you during his winning days to last a lifetime, or 4th place is a trophy and we’ve won it enough times to share to other teams in the league etc). But cooking up stuff to suggest the team is doing well enough?..

  • proA I have often admitted that I have great difficulty in putting my ideas across to people who don’t agree with me, and it seems this has happened yet again.

  • Menace

    proA – you seem to like honesty, so do you believe that the officiating in the EPL is biased?

    Would you accept that there is lots to be done in the FA & its officiating to bring honesty to a level of transparency?

  • ste

    Menace
    You mention honesty and transparency.Something our club has been lacking and one of the reasons so many fans want change!!

  • Zuruvi

    Thanks Tony.

  • Menace

    ste are you blind? Arsenal is one of the most transparent clubs in the world. OK you don’t get transfer info till it’s done but then that is business.

    What do you want to know that you have asked & not found out?

  • Bob

    “Clearly the team isn’t right this season ProA. Otherwise we would have won the league”

    – but Tony, how come Wenger just doesn’t get the team right? He hasn’t in 13 years now. Why is he
    failing again and again?

    And you claim re: City/Pep that “quick fixes are not guaranteed”. But in Chelsea’s case it did work…
    And you know what, most top clubs change their managers frequently AND win the league regularly.
    Why are you persisting with these bogus arguments that don’t stand up to evidentiary reasoning?

    What proper analysis demands, is not look at the past 2 seasons, or the last 5 gives (as Wenger wants to have it)
    but at the BIG PICTURE:

    Arsenal have over the last 13 years finished 13,6 points off the league winner on average.
    We have never mounting a serious title challenge in this time.

    The evidence for getting rid of Wenger is incontrovertible.

  • Bob, be fair. I have explained this so many times I can’t do it for each correspondent. But I will, during this week, go over it yet again.

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