Are Arsenal really chasing all the players that the media suggest



By Tony Attwood

The Athletic recently posed an interesting point, saying “For the first few months of this Premier League campaign, the question surrounding Arsenal was: ‘Why do they look so much stodgier than they did last season?’”

They contrast that with the most common comment about Arsenal at the moment which is ‘Why are they now so bloody good?’”

The answer of course was that White, Odegaard and Saka were in and out of the team.  When they play together, Arsenal are a further step forward, and most defences don’t know what to do about them.

That all sounds quite reasonable except for one thing.  If we have a look at the first 14 games of the season, at the end Arsenal were top.  They might have been stodgy (I didn’t think so but each to his own opinion) but where there are facts let us consider them.


Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Arsenal 14 10 3 1 29 11 18 33
2 Liverpool 14 9 4 1 32 14 18 31
3 Manchester City 14 9 3 2 36 16 20 30


Now it is true that was not as good as the previous season where Arsenal had four more points, but again can that all be put down to being stodgy?  And again I come back to the point, how could it be that Arsenal were top if they were also stodgy?


Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Arsenal 14 12 1 1 33 11 22 37
2 Manchester City 14 10 2 2 40 14 26 32
3 Newcastle United 15 8 6 1 29 11 18 30
4 Tottenham Hotspur 15 9 2 4 31 21 10 29


Obviously, the full article is there if you want to read it, but the essence is that White, Saka and Odegaard were all unavailable for parts of the early season.  But since the defeat Luton Town on 5 December “all three have been ever-present in their usual positions. It is no coincidence Arsenal’s chance creation has continually improved, to the extent that Odegaard and Saka created almost three times as many chances (25) for each other in their most recent 12 starts together as they did in their first 12 (nine).”

It is indeed a very sound point, but there is a secondary issue that this raises.  If you read through the page after page of articles about Arsenal at the moment the vast majority are still about Arsenal chasing individual players.  They were going to buy them in January, we were told, but for some reason didn’t so the chase is on again for the summer.

But as we all know, not every player that Arsenal go for will want to come to Arsenal, nor will be with a club that is willing to let the player go for what Arsenal might consider a reasonable price.

However the question arises, have Arsenal now got a solid base of a future team, or are they still needing to change what they have got.

That changes could be helpful was revealed by the dips in last season’s performance.  In the first, the club had three defeats and a draw in four games including one in the FA Cup with a goal scoring of two for and five against.   

And in the second between 9 April and 20 May, it was two wins, three draws and two defeats in eight games.   Nine points in eight games.    13 goals for and 16 against.

These two series of results were nothing like the runs that Arsenal had during the rest of the season.  And what was particularly interesting was that either side of this second run Arsenal had a 4-1 win over Leeds United and a 5-0 win over Wolverhampton.   Of course, neither of these teams were particularly strong opposition for Arsenal but nor were West Ham (2-2 home draw) Southampton (3-3 home draw) nor Brighton and Hove (0-3 home defeat.)   Likewise, either side of the earlier bad run Arsenal had a 3-2 win over Manchester United and a 2-4 away win over Aston Villa.

So Arsenal clearly need to avoid being beaten by either top clubs (that’s obvious) but when it does happen (as most seasons it will) they need the power to bounce back again.

Most certainly the types of analyses that we are seeing about the players that Areta recruits are important, but all clubs get defeated occasionally and so the key is finding a way of winning the next game.

And to a degree this requires a few players who are not only great players but also personalities.

However, these analyses that we see, as with the one above, don’t always relate to the actual results that we see.

Measurements of such things as expected goals and possession are interesting, but not nearly as important as the actual results and I feel that too often interesting explanations are being found by the media and then a story created behind that which offers something for the explanation to explain.   And when that leads to a certain manipulation of the facts, I feel we really can be slipping away from reality.

Facts first, explanations second is surely what we should require from journalists with the latter fitting the former.

3 Replies to “Are Arsenal really chasing all the players that the media suggest”

  1. How about I early season influences such as no fit fb’s , imo Partey and most significant in my book. Slow integration of Havertz.
    I think they were stodgy in the sense that we appeared to have abandoned the fast attacking and gone for interminable tedious possession without progression.

  2. @ Al m

    Eight wins from our last eight league games; goals for 34; goals against 4; and yet we’ve “gone for interminable tedious possession without progression”!

    I have to say, I’m pretty happy if we carry on “not progressing” like this…..but then I was around during George Graham’s day (and before) so know the true meaning of “tedious” football.

  3. At last the penny seems to have dropped for some of the media, who are belatedly realising that the tedious “Toney to Arsenal” stories never had a any legs. It’s worth remembering that they have been pushing this story for 33 months, and really should have stopped digging in 2021.

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