What do the opening three games of the season mean for Arsenal?



Please join our association: its free!

If you enjoy our daily review of Arsenal please do show your appreciation by becoming an associate member of AISA – Arsenal Independent Supporters’ Association.  It’s completely free, but being a member does make a statement that you value our work in supporting the club and the team in a positive way while also in engaging with the club over issues relevant to supporters today.   You can join for free at https://aisa.org/associate-membership/

by Tony Attwood

That question in the headline above is quite pertinent, given the position Arsenal have held in the league over the past three seasons after three games.

Take August 2021 for example.  After three games Manchester City were seventh and Arsenal were bottom with a goal difference of minus nine.   At the end of the season Manchester City were top and Arsenal were fifth.  Second after three games were West Ham and third were Manchester United.   West Ham finished seventh and Manchester United sixth.

Perhaps the biggest changes came from Everton (sixth dropping to 16th) and Leicester (from ninth dropping to relegated).

Last season Arsenal were top with three wins from three, and came in second in the end as you will recall.  Leeds were also surprising everyone and were third after three.   They ended up 19th.

Meanwhile I suspect some Tottenham fans have the league table of from 29 August 2021 still pinned up on the wall.  Arsenal were not only bottom, Tottenham were top.    The table top on that date read

Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts End
1 Tottenham Hotspur 3 3 0 0 3 0 3 9 4
2 West Ham United 3 2 1 0 10 5 5 7 7
3 Manchester United 3 2 1 0 7 2 5 7 6
4 Chelsea 3 2 1 0 6 1 5 7 3
5 Liverpool 3 2 1 0 6 1 5 7 2
6 Everton 3 2 1 0 7 3 4 7 16


Now I know I’ve done these comparisons before but it doesn’t seem to stop people drawing conclusions after three games.    Arsenal failed to win their third game by a goal in the 99th minute (or something like that).  So Arsenal are now fifth behind the likes of West Ham and Tottenham.  Manchester United are eighth and Chelsea tenth.   Only one thing is certain – this is not how it will end up.

What is even more unfortunate, in my estimation is not so much the way the media are encouraging some of the easily led fans to turn against Kai Havertz, but the way some fans are accepting this lead.

Piers Morgan writing on X said, “I don’t get Arteta changing our whole system to accommodate Havertz. Just isn’t working.”

The first sentence of Morgan’s X was quite obviously correct.  He doesn’t understand why Arteta is changing the system.   But it isn’t that difficult to understand.  Clubs not only study their own players and team form, but that of next week’s opposition.  In the old days which I still remember, clubs would send one of their older trainers to the game of the team they were playing next week, and he would make notes and report back to the manager.

Now, of course, every match is captured on TV and club strategists study each and every nuance of their own team’s game and that of the opposition, in preparation for the next match.

Knowing this, (since every Premier League club does it) club assistant managers and managers get together to consider both their own strategy for the next game and the likely strategy of the opposition.   Which is why sometimes games seem to get stuck with neither side breaking through the other (because each side has guessed correctly) while other times one has the immediate advantage, because the formation is not as expected.

And formation is the key to this.  Clubs exchange line ups one hour before the kick off, with clubs often bringing as many as 22 players to a match.  And even on the hour mark when the clubs exchange team sheets there are still nine substitutes named, and that gives a huge level of possibilities within the game, even though only five can be used.

Thus what we have now is as much a game of strategic movement of players as it is of “playing the big number nine” or whatever is thought to be best.

This of course is often ignored, and instead, we still have both “supporters” and “journalists” telling us that Arteta has got it totally wrong and Havertz should not be playing.

But what they don’t do is consider the how and why of the situation.   How could a manager who took Arsenal so close last season be so blind as to play a man who can’t do the job?  

The most obvious answer is that he isn’t and the observers who say he is, are simply not understanding what Arteta is up to.  Any more than in August one year ago they suggested that Arsenal would come second and score more goals than in any season since 1959.

It is of course true that all managers can lose their touch at some time, but to suggest that the man who delivered last season’s near miss is now simply making huge mistakes while they can see the reality is so plain daft it is only worthy of football journalists.

6 Replies to “What do the opening three games of the season mean for Arsenal?”

  1. I cannot understand why any one would take any notice of Piers Morgan opinions on anything. As a so-called Arsenal fan, the best way for him to show support would be to keep quiet.

  2. The to the question ” what does the openning three games mean to Arsenal”. The answer is 7 points.// From a fans point of view a nervy start with some players lacking sharpness, some bench warmers showing improvement and the usual bad defending from crosses. Need to swap over wingers Saka and Martinelli to move from left wing to right wing during open play to confuse the opposition and the double marking, otherwise they become too predictable.

  3. It really doesn’t matter what Arteta was thinking, only whether it worked. The same is true of any manager, they are judged on results. The problem with Havertz is he’s already failed at Chelsea, which means he’s not going to get the benefit of the doubt at Arsenal. Having said that things can change. Bissouma went from being a star at Brighton to banishment from the first team at Spurs under Conte. As soon as Postecoglu arrived he went back to being a star player. Who knows, maybe Havertz will be proving the doubters wrong by the end of the season. If he doesn’t though his transfer will go down as an expensive mistake.

  4. Watched the match here in the States. As the time was ticking down to the draw the commentators called it the “the first dent in Arsenal’s title hopes”. Seriously? If they had won would it have been the first sign of a title? We’re 3 games in FFS. You just have to shake your head. Are they forced to utter these inanities or are they just that stupid?

  5. goonersince72

    “the first dent in Arsenal’s title hopes”.

    Well as Spurs and Liverpool have also dropped 2 points we can only assume both of those have also had the first dents in their title challenges, unless of course they aren’t expected to have a ‘title challenge’?

    Man Utd have dropped 3 points so I’m guessing they’ve had a bigger dent?

    And as for Chelsea and Newcastle, who have dropped 5 and 6 points each respectively, I can only guess their title challenge’s already a write-off?

    You asked, ” Are they forced to utter these inanities or are they just that stupid”?

    I’m going for ‘just that stupid’.

  6. IMHO, you cannot replace Xhaka like this in a few games.
    He was at Arsenal for 7 years (?) and so nany things were automatic.
    Now we’ve got Rice and Havertz who need to get their bearings in the midfield/attack.
    Rice seems to me was starting to go further forward and getting more visibly present
    Havertz is in search of confidence and all we as Arsenal fans can do is trust the process, support him and the team instead of screaming murder.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *