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By Tony Attwood
“Arteta says more to come from ‘top-level’ Nketiah after Arsenal hat-trick” is the headline in the Guardian and that was certainly the feeling at the stadium yesterday, where enjoyment was had by all – well most. (I am not sure about the Sheffield United supporters who more or less filled the away allocation, and had nothing to shout about all afternoon. But they were there, they made the noises away fans make, and some of them stayed to the end, which is true support).
But from our perspective Eddie has five goals in nine appearances which is pretty good going. Saka has five from 13 games. Gabriel Jesus has four, as do Odegaard and Trossard, so we are following last season’s approach of spreading the goals around a lot.
Indeed already 12 different players have scored for Arsenal, leaving the club the second highest scorer in the league behind Newcastle who have knocked in three more (they have 26 to Arsenal’s 23). And it is rather amusing to consider this and recall the article in Pain in the Arsenal which announced that the “biggest problem is plain to see with the lack of goals in the team costing them dearly as they battle for Premier League top four.” That was 18 months ago, and at that time they added for good measure that the “Absolutely zero threat from the No. 9 position for most of the season has caught up with Arsenal.”
I suppose from Arsenal’s perspective it is called planning for the future.
After the game Arteta added the comment that about Eddie that, “He’s a great player for Arsenal. He can be better, yes. And the best thing is the talent that he’s got, but especially his mentality is incredible. When he has that mentality with that talent, he’s going to get much better.” Which when you come to think of it vis a vis the club’s position in the league, could make life very interesting.
Arsenal are two points behind the leaders (I forget their name) having scored more, and conceded fewer goals. Arsenal have used 23 players in the league this season, which means that as the injuries come along, they will have players ready to step in who already have league experience this campaign.
True Tottenham have used 21 players but they have 10 players who have played in either nine or ten games this season. Arsenal have only five such players. Which simply means that as injuries and lack of form come along, Arsenal have back up players to use who have been gaining the experience. Tottenham may not have – we shall see.
As for Martin Ødegaard, who was sitting in the comfy chairs (euphemistically called “the bench” for reasons that will not become clear at this point) but didn’t come on, he was said to be recovering from “a hip issue” and so he and the club were apparently happy for him not to have to play.
The Telegraph will have nothing of Arsenal’s success of course, “Nketiah’s hat-trick is latest evidence of Arsenal strength in depth” is the eighth feature on their website today, below such major topics as
Pep Guardiola: Manchester City have knocked Man Utd off their perch – Liverpool our real rivals now
but they do manage to make it the eighth story of the morning, which just goes to prove that Arsenal in difficulty (even if it is invented difficulty) is always a story, but Arsenal have success is rarely a story at all. They are however much taken with a goal scored by Harry Kane yesterday.
Which is why we so often feel a need to come back to the real facts, Arsenal are not just second in the league, but are the second highest goalscorers, have the second best defence and equal best goal difference. Of course those facts don’t determine who wins the league, but they are signs of the future.
Manchester City are only seventh in the goal scoring table at the moment, which is extraordinary when one considers all the fuss made about having Superman leading the line. Still things can change.
And there is one other statistic that I am utterly sure no one is going to mention today but which really ought to be talked about a little: our old friends yellow cards. Tottenham have now hit 30 yellows, twice as many as Arsenal. Only Wolverhampton have more with 32.
It leaves Tottenham on course for 114 cards this season, and rather a lot of suspensions. A player gets suspended for five yellow cards in the first 19 league games. They are managing to spread the cards around a lot with 17 different players having picked up at least one card so far (again getting on for twice as many as Arsenal) but even so those suspensions are going to start happening very soon. Which is not that clever when ten players have played nine or ten league games this season for the club.
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