Arsenal didn’t win, but the fight back augers well for the future




By Tony Attwood

OK we hoped to win, but the fight back was terrific, and showed that even on a day when it just isn’t working we can still pull rabbits out of hats and pull a draw from the jaws of defeat.   We’re second and might slip down to third depending on the Tottenham result, but with that fight back and those two goals I certaintly don’t feel down and out.

Here’s the table top

Pos Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
1 Manchester City 9 7 0 2 19 7 12 21
2 Arsenal 9 6 3 0 18 8 10 21
3 Liverpool 9 6 2 1 20 9 11 20
4 Tottenham Hotspur 8 6 2 0 18 8 10 20
5 Newcastle United 9 5 1 3 24 9 15 16
10 Chelsea 9 3 3 3 13 9 4 12


And it does show a nice gap opening up between the top four and the rest.  It also shows that the goals scored and the goal difference are not far out of line with the other members of the top four, which is again encouraging.

But how does this opening part of the season – almost a quarter of the season in fact – compare with other years.

Last season after nine it showed us on 24 points and top   Today it is 21, but the fact is the league seems to be a bit more competitive this season, although of course we’d all sooner have 24 as last year instead of 21.   But Arsenal remain unbeaten, which although doesn’t bring extra points, gives a nice feeling.


Pos Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
1 Arsenal 9 8 0 1 23 10 13 24
2 Manchester City 9 7 2 0 33 9 24 23
3 Tottenham Hotspur 9 6 2 1 20 10 10 20
4 Chelsea 8 5 1 2 13 10 3 16

Going back another year is particularly worthwhile because it shows just how fast a team can fall from grace and how fast another can rise to the top.

Pos Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
1 Chelsea 8 6 1 1 16 3 13 19
2 Liverpool 8 5 3 0 22 6 16 18
3 Manchester City 8 5 2 1 16 3 13 17
4 Brighton and Hove Albion 8 4 3 1 8 5 3 15
12 Arsenal 8 3 2 3 7 12 -5 11


Yes just two years ago Arsenal after eight games had just 11 points compared with 21 today.  That is pretty good progress in two years – especially since even Chelsea have now got more points this season than Arsenal had just two years back.

And I want to go back to the unbeaten season too, not just because Arsenal are still unbeaten, but also because of who else it shows in the Premier League.  For in that title winning season Arsenal were not top after eight games, Chelsea were – and they were still undefeated.

You may not remember where they ended up, but it was second, with seven defeats.  So let us not draw too many negatives from being unbeaten at this stage of the season.  Especially when we remember that in the Premier League at that moment there was Birmingham City who were fourth after eight games, Charlton (9th after eight), Bolton Wanderers, Newcastle 18th…   Arsenal’s achievement is not just of currently being second in the league, but doing that while being unbeaten, and doing it season after season.

And for once the media have not ignored what Arsenal have done.  “Arsenal show their Premier League title credentials in fightback against Chelsea” says the Telegraph, noting that this was “the kind of comeback that all Premier League title contenders need to execute a few times a season in order to be taken seriously.”

The fact is that Arsenal did not play well for much of the game but never gave up, while other teams faced with a couple of goals deficit away from home would have done.   

The least you could say was that Arsenal had never given up on it and when Declan Rice was presented with half a chance to change the game, he took it.

After the match Arteta said, “I really liked going into the dressing room and it’s really quiet, after drawing 2-2 with Chelsea and coming back from 2-0 down, “because I know that they wanted more. That’s the positive.”

I also loved it not just because of the fight back but because the journalists were undoubtedly already gloating with Arsenal 2-0 down.

Inevitably, given the way the game is going, Mikel Arteta got booked for protesting about the Saliba handball.  Mudryk clearly headed the ball onto the hand, and that can’t be handball.

But Arsenal are not Liverpool, and so protests about VAR are muted.   As Arteta said, “it’s impossible to jump without lifting your hands. Mechanically it’s impossible.”   But this is VAR and this is Arsenal and this is PGMO.  We would expect nothing else.

Arsenal are second and could slip to third, but I’m taking a lot of positives out of that performance from Arsenal.  The referees we know about, and seemingly can do little about, but Arsenal are still progressing in my view.

16 Replies to “Arsenal didn’t win, but the fight back augers well for the future”

  1. What is concerning is the number of first half’s that we have significantly underwhelmed in.
    Something not right.
    And the need for a striker gets more evident

  2. Silentstan, I know what you mean, but I think we should also remember the Manchester City game at home. Arsenal were jeered and booed by some sections of the fan base during that match, but the tactics worked. I’ll put up with these first halves, if it is part of Arteta’s game plan that keeps on giving.

  3. The thing about a league is its not about how good you are, its about how you compare to the rest. Last season it was a two horse race, this season there’s just more horses. It would be quite possible for Arsenal to improve this season but it have no impact because other teams have improved more. Obviously you want to hype up the performance but if you want the title its two points dropped. Its not as if Arsenal are the only team who have shown the ability to fight back this season. The only real positive is that City are maybe not the dominant force they have been, although that may change as the season goes on, they tend to improve towards the end. There’s a saying about generals planning to fight the last war. I get the sense many Arsenal fans still think we’re due a repeat of last season.

  4. Additional points: the Chelsea player who scored the “penalty” should have had a red rather than a yellow card for raking his studs down the back of Jesus’ leg.
    We should have had a penalty when the keeper battered Jesus with the ball nowhere near – even Shearer said it was a penalty beyond doubt.

    VAR only functions selectively.

    To be in second place and unbeaten against the regular opposition of PGMOL is indeed a great achievement

  5. Its funny how fans of every club will tell you how the refereeing is unfair and every decision goes against them. This is obviously mathematically impossible yet I could show virtually the same comments from every fans web site. It seems that most fans have a selective memory block, they only remember decisions that go against them.

  6. Of course Jod some of us do go beyond that, as I suspect you know, but are conveniently forgetting. Some people do try to provide evidence for their opinions, or indeed draw conclusions from the evidence available. Which I guess is why we make quite a bit out of the yellow card tables, showing Wolverhampton, Tottenham and Chelsea as the top three offenders.
    Arsenal, lurking in 15th, have under half the number of yellows as Wolverhampton, and only a fraction under half of the yellows of Tottenham and Chelsea.
    You might also have noted in the past how we have compared the tackles, fouls and yellows ratios of various teams, and the home and away bias of various referees.
    Just picking out some fans while writing “fans of every club” is as misleading as a comment made by a fan that refereeing is unfair without statistical evidence. The evidence is there, and we publish it regularly.

  7. You might like to ask the question also as to why we have had Jarred Gillett on 4 occasions( practically 50%) of our matches so far.That cannot be normal & once again brings into question the PGMOL governance as to why?.I haven’t checked how the decisions have been over his 4 matches with regards to impartiality & it’s effect on us.But certainly yesterdays performance wasn’t up to scratch & id like to see the back of him for a considerable time I.e not showing up next week would be a start.

  8. Silenstan,

    I agree with you that our 1st halves are sometimes ‘strange’.
    However I believe that somehow, Arsenal end up with more ‘under the hood’ past the hour and at that point, you see many teams becoming tired. It happened to Chelsea. The changes Arteta made were players who are quick and technically top-notch. And are part of the team, not some odd substitutes. That quality level on the bench is going to be a game changer soon.

    So, whichever strategy Arteta is devising, one element is visible : Arsenal tend to drain most teams…..

  9. Jarred Gillett a few times and he has given a few dubious decisions against us in the VAR studio, notoriously when he ruled out a late winner scored by Sokratis against C Palace a couple of seasons ago, After a forensic examination to try to find a reason to disallow the goal he found a phantam foul by Chambers on a Palace player in the build up. He is not to be trusted.

  10. I flagged up Gillette as a problem before the game. Not because I don’t like the name Gillette but because he’s a cheat, plain and simple.

    The evidence is there for all to see.

  11. @Positive Pete, @ jod,

    there you have it….how can having the same referee involved 4 times this season be NOT something that is not a) correct b) a risk to impartiality c) looking like PGMOL are trying to influence outcomes….and many other perspectives.

    Such a basic issue not being considered/solved proves that PGMOL is not capable of doing it’s job and that we cannot trust the refereeing from A to Z.

  12. I’d love to hear Howard Webb’s next bunch of excuses for the officiating robbery that took place at Stamford Bridge yesterday. Sadly, I think PGMOL will sweep it under the carpet, and hope that we forget.

  13. Compared to the circus Klopp does about refereeing, I’m surprised Arteta and Arsenal just shut-up….
    I’d likethe same circus just to have Webb forced to try explain the contradictions and prove PGMOL incompetence again and again.
    Why are they not screeming murder ?

  14. Chris

    I’ll be honest I haven’t took a snoop around the media to see the post match comments regarding what I see as 3 major VAR errors in our match, namely:

    1) Palmers clear red card challenge not be looked at by Gillett

    2) The clear non deliberate, (cant be a penalty) deflected, (Cant be a penalty) hands in natural position (cant be a penalty) non penalty Gillett got the ref to award.

    3) Non award or at least non recommendation for a revue of a clear penalty when Jesus was wiped out. If the forward took out the keeper in such a fashion we know 100% a free kick would be awarded for a foul. Because that’s what it clearly was, a foul. A foul in the penalty box by the keeper is a penalty. It’s not rocket science.

    But my guess is, and you may be able to correct me if I’m wrong, there is nothing like the media uproar there was following the Liverpool incident and the Liverpool ‘outrage’.

    This is my guess. There’s the odd pundit saying that 1, 2 or maybe all 3 were bad VAR calls. Of course they were so blatantly wrong it’s impossible that absolutely no one would. We had pundits calling out the bad calls in the City game. We had pundits calling out our wrongly disallowed goal last year. But it’s different. It’s not the ‘outrage’ we get when it happens to Liverpool. It’s kind of ‘there there Arsenal’ but hey, it happens to everyone, now lets move on.

    The bottom line is Chris, I just don’t think we would get the true support of the media. And you have to have that. In our case, eventually they would somehow turn our ‘outrage’ it against us.

    They’ve done it before. Look how they somehow managed to turn our broken legs against us. yes, at the moment it happens we get some sympathy when the players laying on the floor with his leg snapped, but by the end of the match it’s already turning. And woe betide Wenger would suggest we need some protection!!!

    Whinging Wenger. Whinging Arsenal. Players are Southern softies. Foreign softies. They cant handle it when you get in their faces. Same old Arsenal always cheating.

    We cant win. You can bet your bottom dollar if Arteta, or Arsenal as a club started kicking up a fuss about VAR a similar thing would happen. A tad of sympathy at the time, but that would gradually dissipate in the mists of time as nothing would be done or change and eventually we would start to hear “here they go again’ whinge whinge whinge. It all evens out in the end. Blah Blah Blah.

    As I said the other day. The media do not want it to change. The latitude, or more accurately the errors, allow results to be manipulated and that’s all the media want. yes, they get uppity if the ref gets things wrong in the ‘wrong’ way so to speak. And it causes them problems when the errors are so blatant ‘I’ve seen ’em given’ wont cut it. But latitude is what they want.

    As for the media holding them to account. Don’t make me laugh. We all heard Michael Owens version of holding Webb to account the other day. Embarrassing doesn’t even begin to describe it.

    The most telling was in the Sun. The hack was by all accounts beside himself with rage at the incompetence of the ref and VAR and complained Webb should shut up if all he could do was admit they made a mistake. But actually Webb suggested more. He suggested being mic’d up might help.

    Surely that’s what the hack wanted? More than just an apology but actually doling something. But oh no. According to the hack, “the last thing we want is to hear them cock up”.

    Faux outrage and double talk. Sums up the media perfectly.

  15. The thing is we arsenal fans are more concerned about our performance than the referee’s which is somehow good but it has a bad effect I think.. We should be putting more pressure on the referees and the PGMOL!! We can’t keep competing with the referees for 38 games a season!!!

  16. Nitram,

    this week-end in Germany, a penalty was awarded that made all the talkshows.
    Arms behind, or going behind, player not wanting to risk it. Yet the ball was going towards the goal and hit the arm. Penalty.
    As a fact it was accepted BECAUSE the arm was between the ball and the goal, the ball going straight to the goal. This was the closing element for the decision, and from what I understood in the lay of the game.
    Don’t know if Saliba’s arm was in such a position.
    That being said, I can accept this decision, but the aggression on Jesus was a straight penalty and at least a yellow. Even if the goalie was plaing the ball it was reckless and dangerous conduct, could have done considerable damage as he hits Jesus from behind, running uncontrollably forward and Jesus has not a chance to avoid him let alone see him.

    Then as you wrote…it’s an Arsenal player.

    And maybe, yes, Arsenal have decided to take the high road and avoid any contact and interaction with referees and PGMOL.

    By the way, after having heard all the blabla about respecting the referee, about only the captain allowed to talk…seing 4 or 5 Chelsea players surround him early in the game for some decision they did not accept just proves the ineptitudes and incompetence of the referees. Visibly they can neither a) count b) recognise a captain (ah yes all had black armbands I believe…) c) remember a simple order on how to behave. Except to give Tomy a yellow for supposed timewasting.

    I hope a Super League gets created and we’ll be rid of them.

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