The defeat to West Ham: does this mean the title race is over?




By Tony Attwood and Jet Lag

Well, that very much wasn’t supposed to happen.   I had just undertaken the third longest non-stop flight available in the world today (17 hours, 45 minutes from Perth in Australia to London – 19 hours if you include the hanging about at either end and 22 hours if you include the flight that preceded it from Sydney to Perth, which was delayed for 90 minutes by a storm).

It all went fine until at around 3pm I began to feel (perhaps not surprisingly) a little drowsy and thought there would be nothing wrong with a quick nap (I am after all beyond being “of a certain age”) and woke up just before the final whistle.  Fortunately, my daughter guessed what was going on and wasn’t worried that I hadn’t shown up.   And it seems I didn’t miss much.

But it does spoil the look of the tabletop, although in one very minor point of consolation, we now have three of the Big Seven clubs not in the top six in the league.  And at least I didn’t try to kid myself I would be in a fit state to drive back to London and see the game in person.

Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Liverpool 19 12 6 1 39 16 23 42
2 Arsenal 19 12 4 3 36 18 18 40
3 Aston Villa 19 12 3 4 40 25 15 39
4 Manchester City 18 11 4 3 43 21 22 37
5 Tottenham Hotspur 19 11 3 5 39 28 11 36
6 West Ham United 19 10 3 6 33 30 3 33


So that is now three league defeats this season, same as Manchseter City, two more than Liverpool.  And presumably, everyone will now go wild on all the new players we are going to buy, and then blame Arteta when we don’t buy them.  “Dithering” will once more become a popular word to use in newspapers and blogs.

But actually, the biggest point of the moment is not what happened yesterday but what happens next.  Do Arsenal recover at once, or is this a real slump?

Last season our first defeat was on 4 September after winning the first five games, when we lost 3-1 away to Manchester United, but immediately Arsenal responded with four more straight wins in the league and four straight wins in the Europa.

The second defeat was the 3-1 away game on 4 September to Manchester United.   But no slump followed for that was followed by eight straight wins – four in the league four in the Europa.

The first minislump was in October a draw with Southampton who eventually went down, and a 2-0 away defeat to PSV who ended up as runners’ up in the Netherlands.   Ignoring the league cup we went through ten games with nine wins and a draw.

And then that was where it went seriously wrong: three defeats and a draw in the next four games which took us to mid-February.  One was in the FA Cup (away to Manchester City) but the other two defeats and a draw were in the League, and that is exactly the sort of slump that Arsenal now have to avoid.  If we succumb once more, then any thoughts of the title will have gone, because history shows that by and large clubs that win the league get the occasional upset, but NOT a slump.

Arsenal did recover with six wins in a row in the League but then came the real slump: three draws and a defeat in the League.   Worse, one of the draws was against a crumbling Southampton team and the final was a 4-1 away defeat to Manchester City.

Arsenal could not recover from that, and in fact the league results from 9 April to 20 May were won two, drawn three, lost two.  Goals for 13, goals against 16.

Thus as I noted before, it is not individual defeats that stop a club from winning the league, it is a run of modest or poor results.    These days, a team can get away with one slump, but no more.

These last four games (defeat to Villa and West Ham, a draw with Liverpool and a win over Brighton) has to be it.  Another slump – or a continuation of this slump, will mark the end of the challenge for the title.

Liverpool, we may note, have not had a real slump this season but they have had two mini-slumps. First in November there was the run which saw them draw with Luton and Manchester City, as well as lose to Toulouse in the Europa, with just a home win against Brentford in between.  The second has been this month with defeat to Union St Gilloise in the Europa (wherein they nevertheless topped the league), and league draws against Arsenal and Manchester United.

If Arsenal can avoid another slump and Liverpool succumb we could be ok for the title.  But that is what it will take.


13 Replies to “The defeat to West Ham: does this mean the title race is over?”

  1. A slump is inevitable and wholly predictable for a team whose style is generally to bore teams to death through lack of creativity and efficient strike force.
    Any team low blocking causes Arsenal huge problems, which this season has need camouflaged by more than usual late goals
    Chickens are coming home to roost for a manager who thinks Nketiah is a striker, or that Zinchenko is a defender., or that endless passes across a defence is creative.
    A team who’s plays are so predictable they can be written down by any fan before a game

  2. 30 shots
    8 on target

    Most of which would have been stopped by an average under 16 goalkeeper . There comes a time when the phrase “” Put your laces through it “” comes to mind.
    Al M has a point . We are predictable , we do play too many intricate passes and we build up very slowly.
    That said technically we were far in excess of West Ham but we made it easy for them. Low blocking is designed to swallow our non stop square passing. They were very good at it.

    Perhaps switching Saka and Martinelli might have confused their defence a bit . Maybe when the ball was eventually played wide instead of treating their ego’s with a series of needle threading back heels . Perhaps the midfielders could have made runs into their box and created confusion . Only Smith Rowe did it when he got his traditional 10 minute cameo and it was very nearly effective.

  3. Here come the same old whingers again.

    So predictable you could write their names down before the game ends.

  4. Porter

    Creativity has nothing to do with “an average under 16 goalkeeper”maybe you are confusing shots on goal and chances created!!!!

  5. I recall at least 3 outstanding saves by their keeper, plus a few fortunate deflections into his hands off defenders.

    I will not indulge in criticism of individual players. However, I would have liked to see both Saka and Martinelli take on the defenders on the outside on occasions, rather than always turning back inside. This would have possibly created more uncertainty for the defence. Also, I would like to see Nelson and ESR brought on earlier.

    As for the nonsense that Bowen was obstructing VAR view of the ball, so that it couldn’t be proved to be out of play:- some time after the event itself an image with no view of the ball, but a complete view of the goalpost was shown. What more definite proof could be required?

    I hate the contemptuous and dismissive way in which Oliver ignores offences against us – just like in the Man City game when he refused to consider the red-card-worthy fouls on our players. Contrast that with the eagerness he showed in giving West Ham their pemalty at the end. I have no doubt that we are now experiencing PGMOL retribution over the independent panel dismissal of the case against Arteta.

  6. Happy new year Nitram !
    If you are content with the way things were last night , that’s up to you , but if people have a different opinion it doesn’t make them a whinger maybe just more interested in winning things and possibly more tactically aware than you.

    Mhukahuru We had 8 shots on target apparently which must have required saving apart from a few dolly drops only two . a Saka header and an Odegaard shot required the goalkeeper to do more than just collect it.. If a chance created doesn’t require a goalkeeper being bought into action it really doesn’t count for much . Goals win games not chances or shots that go weakly begging.

  7. Didn’t even mention you, but it’s nice to know even you think you’re a whinger.

    By the way, your rambling reply is complete and utter tosh.

    Happy new year.

  8. Glad to be entertaining .I will meet you on the North Bank one day to discuss things in person.

  9. However I know you like stats :-

    4 games , 81 shots , 3 goals .

    More complete and utter tosh.

  10. Our players have failed to win every match, so they should all be sold. Also, our manager should be sacked immediately.

  11. porter

    Our our lack of goals has been a mixture of poor finishing, good defending/goalkeeping and bad luck. Well spotted.

    But that isn’t what you are saying. You are saying it is poor tactics, hence your assertion that you are more tactically aware than me, which you may well be. But I don’t implement the tactics, Arteta does, and in reality it his him you are asserting you are more tactically aware than.

    Yet here you are, posting on a blog and not managing a premier league team that currently sit second in the toughest league in the World. Why not I wonder? Perhaps you don’t know quite know as much as you think you do?

    And in any case, the fact our tactics have created 81 attempts at goal suggests there is nothing wrong with them at all. Maybe it’s just that our leading goal scorers, Saka, Martinelli, Odegaard etc. are going through a a bit of a lull. Had that not occurred to you?

    It does happen you know. And that doesn’t automatically mean our tactics are poor or our players are poor.

    You said:

    “If you are content with the way things were last night , that’s up to you”

    What does that even mean? Nobodies happy/content when you lose. Not you. Not me. Not the players and not the manger. But that doesn’t all of a sudden mean our basic tactics are wrong or our players are not good enough.

    The 2 games prior to that the Brighton manager said ‘we are not used to suffering like that’ and the Liverpool manager said “Arsenal are an incredibly strong side, luckily we are as well”. Sorry but I prefer their assessment of our team as opposed to yours.

    Then you said:

    “but if people have a different opinion it doesn’t make them a whinger maybe just more interested in winning things”

    Bog standard excuse for whinging. You’re only whinging because you want to win. Where as of course because I’m not whinging I don’t.

    Then you said:

    “….possibly more tactically aware than you.”

    Well you do seem to believe that, which is fine, you may well be. Slightly more worrying is you think you are more tactically aware than Arteta.

    Then you state the obvious that despite all the chances created we failed to score or even trouble the keeper enough, which is true to a point. But as I said, all teams have these droughts. All players have droughts.

    Yes, you are entitled to your opinion. yes, you are entitled to whinge, which you don’t deny. But equally I am entitled to analyse your reasons for whinging and conclude it’s utter tosh. If you don’t like that term, maybe nonsense is more appropriate. I don’t want to offend you, so I’m sorry if I did, but honestly I don’t know what else to call it when that’s what I think it is.

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