2022/3: The final game
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By Bulldog Drummond
One year ago the table read
Oh how jolly those Tottenham chappies were. (See for example: ‘Top four is like winning title for Tottenham Hotspur’)
And yet since then two-thirds of the teams universally tipped by the media to come above Arsenal (Manchester City Liverpool and Tottenham) have slipped into the dust. Manchester United are 14 points better off than this time last season, Arsenal are 15 points better off and the mighty and much beloved by the media, Tottenham Hots, are 11 points worse off. So the top of the table now reads (with the Tottenham tally added for reference)…
Thus the top four are settled and the media are chattering about who will go down with Southampton – not because it is a matter of vital interest so much as it is a way to cover up the appalling balls-up they made of their predictions last summer.
But now for the final weekend, it is Wolverhampton at home. And how, we may wonder have they, the mighty (and in previous seasons extremely annoying) “Wolves” been doing? Let’s do the normal home and away comparison…
|18||Wolverhampton Wanderers away||18||2||5||11||12||33||-21||11|
That shows quite a difference and just on those figures alone anything other than a thumping Arsenal win would be a real shock. The table suggests Arsenal score four times as many goals at home as Wolverhampton do away and concede only 75% of the goals Wolverhampton do across the same comparison.
In terms of away wins Wolverhampton beat struggling Everton 1-2 on Boxing Day and even more struggling Southampton in February by the same score.
But lest we worry too much let’s have a little peek at what they have been doing of late. Here is their away form over their last six away games compared with Arsenal’s home form.
This does suggest that their across-the-season away form has got worse – although most of us thought that was hardly possible. Yes indeed, anything other than a straight Arsenal win would be a shock and three-quarters. That one point for Wolverhampton came from a 1-1 draw with Nottingham Forest.
So let’s take a peek at those last six away games and looking down this table the word “dire” comes to mind when talking about form.
|01 Mar 2023||Liverpool v Wolverhampton Wanderers||L||2-0|
|12 Mar 2023||Newcastle United v Wolverhampton Wanderers||L||2-1|
|01 Apr 2023||Nottingham Forest v Wolverhampton Wanderers||D||1-1|
|22 Apr 2023||Leicester City v Wolverhampton Wanderers||L||2-1|
|29 Apr 2023||Brighton and Hove Albion v Wolverhampton Wand||L||6-0|
|13 May 2023||Manchester United v Wolverhampton Wanderers||L||2-0|
Yes three goals scored. True they have had to play some of the better teams in the league such as Liverpool, Newcastle, Brighton and Manchester United, but they did also have a chance with matches against Nottingham Forest and Leicester, either of whom could go down this season.
So clearly, Arsenal need to turn up, take it seriously, and let us have a bit of fun, rather like we did on the last game of last season when, after two dismal defeats that saw Arsenal drop out of the Champions League places (3-0 away to Tottenham and 2-0 away to Newcastle) the team rounded the season off with a rather amusing 5-1 home win to against Everton.
One other snippet we might note is that Wolverhampton have scored just 12 goals away all season. Only one team has done worse and that is Nottingham Forest with 10. It is pretty feeble stuff.
But these lower-mid-table teams have their pride to play for, I suppose, and I expect Wolverhampton Wanderers would gain a lot of local publicity if they could finish above Chelsea for the first time in several millennia.
|14||West Ham United||37||11||7||19||41||53||-12||40|
The highest place they could reach is 12th, if Chelsea lose and Wolverhampton beat Arsenal, while the lowest is 15th, if Arsenal beat Wolverhampton and West Ham and AFC Bournemouth both win. As the table extract above shows, it is pretty murky down in those lower reaches.
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