Manchester United v Arsenal: decline meets progress



By Bulldog Drummond

The game is tomorrow (Sunday) at 4.30pm unless it has been changed again, and is obviously a must-win for Arsenal if they are to benefit from any potential Manchester City slip.   And it comes at a time when the difference between the two clubs’ performances this season is fairly large:


Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Arsenal 36 26 5 5 88 28 60 83
8 Manchester United 35 16 6 13 52 55 -3 54


Indeed 29 points and a goal difference of 63 separates the two clubs.  Arsenal have scored 36 goals more than Manchester U and conceded 27 fewer.

But of course, we need to take into account current form as well as that across the whole season….

In their last six games Manchester United are not doing quite as badly as Tottenham (who are operating just above the level of Wolverhampton) but it doesn’t look that good…


Premier League Form (Last 6)
Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Man City 6 6 0 0 24 5 +19 18
2 Arsenal 6 5 0 1 16 4 +12 15
13 Man Utd 6 1 3 2 12 15 -3 6


But when we compare Manchester United’s last six home games with Arsenal’s last six away games we do see a gap not just in the achievement of Arsenal in terms of games won, but also in terms of goal difference – Arsenal being 11 ahead of Manchester United in these last six games.


Premier League Form 
Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
10 Man Utd home 6 3 2 1 13 7 +6 11
1 Arsenal away 6 5 1 0 19 2 +17 16


In fact this has been a season of extraordinary decline for Manchester United who, less we forget, won the League Cup, were runners-up in the FA Cup and were third in the league, last season.

But although last season Manchester United made progress over the season before (coming sixth in 2022) their goal scoring was stagnant over those two years: 57 goals scored in 2022 and 58 in 2023 and 52 so far this season with three to play.

Arsenal however scored 61 goals in 2022 and 88 in 2023, with the club currently on 88 again with two to play.  The last time Arsenal scored more goals was 90 in 1964.  Before that it was 97 in winning the league in 1953.

In summary, looking at goals scored alone, Manchester United seem to be stagnating while Arsenal are continuing to progress and are the current top scorers in the league.

There is of course much discontent among both those who attend Manchester United games and the many who profess themselves to be Manchester United supporters but who don’t make it to matches.    Indeed as the Athletic wrote in a headline just a couple of days ago, Manchester United fans are “angry and confused – they’re right to be.”  The piece suggested that not only are Manchester United out of confidence and out of ideas.  Also “Morale is low among players and staff. The results are almost as bad as the injury list.   Fans have been hoping it would get better all season. Instead, it has got worse.”

What must be particularly annoying is the fact that in 2020/21 they seemed to be making progress (second in the league and the Europa) but then slipped back.  In 2022/23 there was progress again, and now this season another slip back.

Of course Manchester United don’t help themselves by changing managers – seven including caretakers since the disaster that was Moyes, departed.  He has now apparently agreed to depart West Ham having taken them to ninth in the league which seems to be about his level.

Manchester United could still finish fifth in the league, although that would take a considerably weird array of results all round, In reality, they will come sixth, seventh or eighth, and they are battling with Chelsea and Newcastle for those places (although a spectacular continuation to Tottenham’s collapse could see them drop down quite a bit).

Newcastle and Chelsea have the form on their side, but at least Manchester United can console themselves that in the last six games they haven’t been quite as awful as Tottenham (who allegedly make more money per game than Manchester United).


2 Replies to “Manchester United v Arsenal: decline meets progress”

  1. As I said in the previous post, there are several reasons to fear this game – memories of Riley and game 50.

  2. John L

    Always. Our old friend Tierney. Not too familiar with the VAR John Brooks.

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