Yet another media game: if Arsenal can’t beat Liverpool, the title is lost



Liverpool v Arsenal

By Bulldog Drummond

There is pages of this stuff in the papers – that this is it, the make or break, the great impossibility for Arsenal.   One defeat and they are scuppered.  (From Arsenal take on history and Liverpool voodoo in the Guardian to Bad news, football: The Insufferable Arsenal Fan is back in the Telegraph, although to be fair to the Telegraph by and large their coverage is much more balanced these days.and Jamie Carragher’s piece Mikel Arteta’s team must kick Anfield club while they are down and deliver a performance worthy of champions is quite balanced.)

Although that piece does contain the line, “Jurgen Klopp has had little cause to be envious of other squads during his Liverpool reign. He does now. He must wish half of Arteta’s team were in his starting XI.”   To which one might reply, “Only half?”

Last season that might have been true, because although Arsenal were a major step up on the season before, one defeat after a run of wins would lead to another and another.    In fact that repetitive defeat syndrome happened four times last campaign.  At the start of the season (the infamous three defeats in the opening three games which the media went on about until sometime around mid-February).  Then in November / December the three defeats (to Liverpool, Manchester United and Everton – all away, with just an intervening win at home against Newcastle).  The third one was at the start of the year (defeats to Manchester City and Nottingham Forest, goalless draws with Liverpool and Burnley, and a home defeat to Liverpool – those Liverpool matches being in the League Cup.).

In April there were again three successive defeats – away to Palace and Southampton and at home to Brighton.  And finally in May two succesive away defeats to Tottenham and Newcastle.

Thus all the defeats and upsets came in negative runs – in between it was pretty much win, win, win.   There were similar runs the season before and indeed back in 2019/20 there was a run of no less than 15 games in League and cups, between 7 October and 29 December, in which Arsenal won only one – 1-3 away to West Ham.

But this season?  Well, there has been only one – in January and February.  An FA Cup defeat to Manchester City, an away league defeat to Everton, a draw with Brentford and a home league defeat to Manchester City.   A bad run – but it was the only one this season.

Since then, Arsenal have won seven on the bounce in the league beating Villa, Leicester, Everton, Bournemouth, Fulham, Palace and Leeds scoring 23 (that is 3.29 a game) and conceding six (0.86 a game).

So in terms of winning the league, the issue isn’t so much, “will Arsenal win this weekend”, but rather “if Arsenal don’t win, will it be the start of a negative run?”   Last season would say “yes” but this season suggests “no”.

And what of Liverpool?   Well, it is hardly possible to open a newspaper with stories of Liverpool beating Manchester United 7-0 and the chances of a repeat against Arsenal.   Rather less is said about the fact that since then, Liverpool have lost three and drawn one.  Goals scored: 1.  Goals conceded six.   And yes ok one of those defeats (1-0) was in the Champions League away to Real Madrid.   But another one was 1-0 in the Premier League away to Bournemouth.  In short, Liverpool of late don’t mind who they lose to.

So let’s do our normal chart of home and away form for the season.  As before, the final column added is “points per game”.


Team P W D L F A GD Pts PPG
4 Liverpool home 13 9 3 1 34 9 25 30 2.31
1 Arsenal away 14 11 1 2 28 9 19 34 2.43


Arsenal are still the best away team in the league, Liverpool are the fourth best home team (in terms of away form Liverpool are pretty shocking, having won four, drawn one and lost 10.)

Given all the research we have done on this it is quite clear that the home crowd influences referees, and so most will depend on the form of the referee so far this season, which we’ll come onto in the next article.   (And no need to search for it in the media – no one else runs the home/away form of referees; probably because a) it is too telling and b) PGMO really don’t like these figures and have told the media not to touch them with a barge pole).

So there we are.  Massive talking up of Liverpool in the media, massive talking down of Arsenal in the media, no mention of the bias of the referee in the media.  Football as usual.

We shall see…


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