The good, the bad and the great of last season, plus the buy of the season

By Walter Broeckx

The Arsenal season is over. Right in front of us is that most dreadful period of the year: the dead season. So let us take a look at a few numbers and try to judge if the season was good or not.

If we take the league position we finished in 3rd place. Last season we came in 4th place. So from whatever angle you look at this is improvement. It will make the start of our season a bit easier because we will not have to play qualifiers for the Champions League. Those qualifiers have cost us maybe around 6 points this season. Now we will not be facing those physical and mental difficult games. Again this is improvement.

This season we won 21 games. The season before we only won 19 games. I don’t know how you think of it but I can only see this as an improvement.

This season we had 17 games  when we dropped points. The season before we had 19 games we dropped points. That is an improvement. But yes we have to note the fact that we lost more games. We lost 10 games this season and the season before we lost only 8.

But overall this resulted in a total of 70 points this season and the season before we had 68 points. So again I think this is improvement.

This season we scored 74 goals. And the season before we scored 72 goals. So this is a bit better than we did last season.

But on the other hand we conceded 49 goals and last season we conceded 43 goals. So that is 6 goals more than this season. Not that good. But this can be solved very easily as I will show you later on in this article. And no, we don’t need to buy someone to get this right.

So for those who feel the need to feel bad there are two reasons they can hang on to. We lost 2 more games and we conceded 6 more goals in total. But for the rest all the other numbers are positive compared to the season before. A season when we had Cesc, Nasri and Jack Wilshere.

So what is the thing that could prevent us from conceding more goals? Well the solution is right here under our nose. When the Arsenal player of the season will be announced it will be no surprise that Van Persie will win it. He has won almost all the other prices an individual player can win this season so he will win this.

But I just discovered that the most important player of the season is not Van Persie. Nope the most important player is one of those “panic buys” from August 31. So when you vote on just keep in mind what I will tell you about Mikel Arteta.

When he came on that blessed day in August we had lost Cesc, Nasri and Jack. We had played 3 games, lost 2 and had one draw. We conceded 10 goals in 3 games.  Mikel came, he saw and he made us better. We still had an occasional bump on the road but we started our long way up the league table. All went rather well until we hit a difficult period in January. Was it a coincidence that Arteta was out injured? We conceded 5 goals in 2 games which we lost of course.

But when Arteta was fit again he came, he saw and again made us better. We went up and up, closing a big gap with our neighbours, going passed our neighbours and making a nice gap for ourselves this time.

But then disaster struck again in the Wigan game. Arteta got injured. And since then in the 5 games (I included Wigan as he went of in the first minutes of the game) we had to play when he was injured we let in 8 goals.

So if you are still with me that is a total of 23 goals conceded in the 9 games Arteta was not involved.  That is 2,5 goals per game.

So this also is telling us that in the other games we conceded 26 goals. And that is an average of 0.89 goals per game.

Now I must say that I have always found Arteta a good player when I saw him at Everton. When I saw him play for Arsenal my admiration became bigger. The way he makes room for himself and other players is amazing. But the most amazing thing is that now he has had the first chance to play for a top 4 team he has shown that he is a player that is utterly remarkable.

His hard work goes unnoticed for most. Of course it is the goal scorer that grabs the headlines. But the silent hard work. The ball recovery. The little foul that stops the other team from starting a counter. The ball chasing. That goes mostly unnoticed but as the statistics show with or without Arteta, Arsenal is a different team.

So should we get M’Villa, Vertonghen or who ever under the sun that is linked with Arsenal? Well maybe it would be nice but for me the most important thing to do is to make sure that Arteta has a good rest, that he completely recovers from his injury. And please I beg to whatever god you can pray to: Let us keep Arteta fit during next season. Let him pass his skills on to the younger generation like Ramsey and Wilshere. Let him teach them youngsters how to play the game.

So lets keep Arteta fit next season and let us teach one of the youngsters or a newcomer to fill in, when he gets a little injury.

Yesterday I voted for Robin Van Persie as player of the season on Today after seeing those numbers I regret it. Van Persie grabbed the attention and the headlines because of his phenomenal goal scoring records and this is all well deserved. But the most important player is the one that nobody speaks about: Mikel Arteta. He is the one that keeps the team in balance.

Stand up, Mikel and receive the applause of the Untold faithful. Thank you Senor Mikel for your great work this season.

Eskerrik asko Señor Mikel


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44 Replies to “The good, the bad and the great of last season, plus the buy of the season”

  1. This article makes me feel smart.
    Only last night,I asked for a breakdown of goals scored when Artetaplayed v when he didn’t,and here it is.
    My comment was that plenty labelled hm a poor mans Fabregas,but he never,ever tried to play that game.
    This guy is very,very intelligent,recognised our back 4 needed help so played deeper.
    I wish we’d had I’m years ago.
    Also,I’ve never,ever read an article from this author I didn’t thoroughly enjoy,so keep it up.

  2. Good article and intriguing facts. My concern is Arteta is regularly injured as Everton know so buying cover of sufficient quality is essential unless Le Coq is groomed for that role. Song clearly isn’t a DM anymore.

    Yes the start of next season should help as may Stevie B and of course JW a true LANS!

    I feel we still need 2-3 ” super quality ” players a DM , striker and utility defender

    Will we sign them I doubt it. Will RVP stay 50/50

    Some hope but not without fear

  3. I agree with you it’s hard to look past RvP, but Arteta was brilliant this season. When he was at rangers I thought he was not that good and they’re fans slated him for not being tough enoug and not having enough aggression or balls when tackling, they reckon he was scared to go in hard. Shows the difference doesn’t it between those knuckle draggers and real quality. When he moved to toffees, he changed and became good, now at Arsenal he is shining brightly cos he fits in.
    It just shows you that a bad player there does nit mean they are bad over here!

  4. It’s quite perverse isn’t it, whilst Arsenal and RVP haggle over contract details – Arsenal want him to stay, by offering mega money … money whichever way you look at it, it will weaken the transfer budget? RVP ‘reportedly’ wants transfers, but will also take a hike in salary?
    I am only loosely linking this to the above with regards to your last comment.
    If a player is so valuable to have in the side then it makes absolute sense to have another top notch player brought in, in case of a longer term injury? The alternative, and a good one ‘long term’, is that Frimpong develops quickly into that role? With rotation, and ability to play further up field, I think Arteta will not be short of game time next season.
    BTW, I think M’Vila is a top notch player, and the above could learn a lot fom him.
    However, the worst case scenario over the next few days is we keep Robin until the end of his contract. I already think we lost that sharpness as these talks grew closer … Imagine what it would be like next January when he would be ‘free’ to talk to other clubs?
    Whichever way it goes, it needs to be decided now.

  5. Arteta lost was remarkable and i hope he can pass his experience to nurture Ramsey , Wilshere our youth especially and Rosicky should be applaud it as well his reborn especially against Sp*rs was amazing and yet the way he fight on the pitch is amazing . Please Diaby i wish you come next year fresh and injury free as well the lad is talented i hope he can make impact next season.

  6. Walter,
    Did you receive the link I sent for the game that ended the invincibles?

  7. This goes to show that ball retention and control of the midfield is very important in today’s game. Even without the hard facts, I think most of us new the importance of Arteta already and what a great signing he has been for us. This does not necessarily make him the player of the season, though.

    To compare with Man City: without Kompany their win percentage goes down from something like 85% to about 70%, while without Lescott it goes down from 80% to 45%, a much bigger gap – don’t know exact figures for both, but the difference with Lescott is much bigger. But surely, you would agree that Kompany is the far better defender of the two?

  8. The 50th game that we lost cos of a Shrek look-a-like fat bastard of a cheating diver Rooney?

  9. In addition to the heroics of Arteta, we mustn’t forget the resurgence of Rosicky. If we can keep the two fit for next term plus the “new signings” of Wilshere and Diaby AND newbie Podolski……the future looks very bright indeed.

  10. Agree completely, Walter, Arteta was our best addition this season. His presence seemed to complete the midfield, also allowing Song to shine. And there was a blip in performances when he was injured.

    And I notice that you can foresee the future. We will not need to play qualifiers in the Champions? So Fulham’s second eleven won’t win this year? (Once more, I agree with you.) 🙂

  11. A few more things.

    Arsenal won only 1 league game without Arteta in the team – the last game of the season.

    The goals conceded has steadily increased over the last 5 seasons.

    We drew 4 games fewer this season. I believe that this is due to the reasoning that going for a win at the risk of defeat is better than a draw. This can bee seen in the figures from the last two seasons. Those 4 draws resulted in 2 wins and 2 defeats which gave us 2 additional points which put us above Tottenham. Over the last 10 years, the old philosophy of “win all your home games and draw all your away games to win the league” hasn’t held up. This means that teams that want to win the league need to be pushing for a win at the risk of being defeated.

    Robin van Persie’s goals gained us 25 points. Wayne Rooney’s goals gained Manchester United only 16 points. Aguero’s 23 goals only gained Man City 8 points. We are very fortunate to have had Robin fit all season.

  12. Stuart got the link but haven’t checked it yet. Oh time, where is it when you need it 😉

  13. What about Kos???? He has been impressive at the back and has got us goals on big games like milan and the final day. Verm had made him look bad at times but he has been an awesome player and has carried the defence single handedly at times.

  14. Stuart/Walter
    Please publish the link. Have the lowlights but would really like to renew/refurbish my dislike of Riley.

    Good article Walter…but to echo Nirab,Kos also deserves a serious pat on the back. Messrs Vermeulen and Chesney have a lot of work/reflection to do during the off season.

  15. Valid point…Arteta is definitely crucial…however do not understand the Song role now! I always feel good when he is behind and defending (and ofcourse going up at times to create some of those magical assists) but is boss now going to use him in a roving no. 10 role?

  16. And to think that Wenger once said that Song was a centre back… If I’m not mistaken he was listed amongst the defenders at first even. What a development he made.

  17. You’re right about Arteta. But actually it’s quite sad we first had to rely on Fabregas, and now the team collapses without Arteta. We really need Mvilla or another ballwinning midfielder, cause Song is too busy trying to be a playmaker.

    We get so many injuries every year, we have to anticipate here. What’s wrong with having a class player on the bench sometimes? Remember we had players like Kanu and Wiltord sitting on the bench.

    If we can get a really good price for Song, i would sell him and get Mvilla and a creative player in stead. I like Song because his composure and natural strenght, but he is missing the basics for a real defensive midfielder. Tacticly he is weak, he can’t hold the midfield together. He is more suit for a very disciplined team.

  18. I’d argue that Song has only play the role he has due to the ongoing injury problems at the club.

    If Wilshere was fit, then he’d have taken over the ‘Cesc’ role, similarly players like Diaby and even Rosicky can do the job but have also struggled with injuries.

    I’d suggest that without a number of Song’s excellent balls to RVP, a number of games would have been lost or drawn instead, and for this season at least, he’s filled a vital role by moving up more.

    Come next season with Wilshere back, I can see Song dropping back a bit more, so that he and Arteta can control the centre whilst Wilshere pushes up and plays the balls through.

  19. Fully agree on Arteta – the balance wheel and glue.

    “Off topic,” yes. BUT:
    The major unfolding decision that will impact us going forward is whether or not RVP stays. This negotiation is going on now, as everyone knows. Hopefully UA will be a forum for that discussion as well. Being able to affect the outcome or not has not been a reason not to discuss many other issues. So, are we being (understandably) anxious and wobbly about this to the point of discussing other issues? Is this negotiation not the un-discussed elephant in the room? Surely it’s better to air our ideas of what Plan B might be if Robin leaves, rather than hold our breaths and busy or keyboards with other interesting but not burning matters, imo.

  20. Dutchie, how can it not be clear to you the song took personal responsibility or wenger instructed him to be more creative. It has been evident that the midf have taken a more collective responsibility to be creative due to the transfer of cesc.

  21. i’m amazed. with the number of assists song has made this season, how can anyone think he plays higher up the field without the manager noticing and sanctioning these moves? while you were sleeping, arsene has been developing a new defensive/attacking midfielder position. arteta can defend as well as he attacks and so can rosicky. that allows for constant rotation of positions depending on who is in a better location at the time the ball is played. and that makes the team harder to defend against as the final through ball could be coming from anywhere.

    when jack returns he can give arteta a rest. buying an attacking mid would allow us to give rosicky a break too, unless diaby can recover for some length of time. should we be able to clone song (and i believe coquelin has the ability) we would then have two sets of defensive/attacking midfielders to choose from. along with two sets of wingers, a proven substitute for the captain in podolski, and an aggressive central defender to complement bosscelney, i would say things are looking up. ox anyone?

  22. Walter, I agree with you about Arteta, after he injured, we don’t play as good as with him.

    If we buy midfielder, I prefer the attacking that can make goals like Kagawa. Song, Arteta, Jack, Coq, Frimpong, all can play defensive role, but we lack of goals from midfielders, the midfielder that can scores 10 or more for one season.

  23. I’ve enjoyed learning about Arteta.
    At Everton he was more of an AM? I don’t know but he had lots and lots of assists.
    Was Arteta asked to play the same as little jack was last season? an attacking player asked to play in a deeper role?

    At times you would almost want to grumble at his conservatism. Well, I noticed a couple of wide forwards with hands on hips at times early on this season. But looking at the number of assists for Song I think I can work out what was going on. And it was in the Marseille & Dortmund Home games where I realised how good Arteta was in D-fence. His tackling is almost as good as Santos!

  24. @ Jacobite gunner

    That can all be but that still doesn’t explain why Song still played like a playmaker when Arteta was injured? He should take resposibility and guard the back-four first. If Wenger wants him to play as a playmaker, why not getting anyone who is more quick feet?

    Song is one of the best when he has a direct opponent. I remember how he crushed Rooney and Fellaini. But in 90 percent of our games he doesn’t have that. And in those games i would prefer another type of player.

  25. Dutchie, your right in that respect. He really could’ve curtailed his forays when we were ahead in a couple of the games (Norwich?)

  26. I would like untold is to write an article under the name of ” 3rd is not enough”
    stating what would it be if the referee were not biased and if that unlucky injuries weren’t all there where would arsenal be with statistics and numbers, and u r better in those stuff.

    and for this topic totally agree, I liked him to be arsenal player since rangers.

    I would like to state too that is advantages of this season:

    1- team spirit
    2- fans cheering
    3- loyalty of most players increased
    4- Arsene wenger capability to buy new players( then people will know how amazing tactically he is)
    5- believe in winning for most players
    6- diversity in style and versatility in the arsenal midfield and that is what wenger should search to have in other lines

    What Wenger need to buy:( my opinion of course)

    nasri style player but without his money love, can play on flanks and AM and can dribble well, i like belhanda

    a defensive rock midfielder of the physical type to help defend when arsenal are winning by one goal deference. not that big money should be paid over this one.

    good goal keeper to help szcezny cause u dont want another injury to our GK since he is young and it happened with wilshere and others….. he should be rested every now and then

    another striker with in box style with huge physical ability to help break the hard defensive line when every body is defending as always, Ba is best opinion.

    BTW arsenal fans want van persie to stay due to their love for him , but if he leaves its more his lose than arsenal`s
    arsenal can get another striker for his money and wouldn’t have all the patience and care in the next club if he is injured again.

  27. Does the fact that Arteta was so important show that buying proven older talent(and it doesn’t have to be the best that is available) is better than getting 10 teenagers and hoping that 1 pans out.

    Or that buying another EPL player and again he doesn’t have to be a star is better than someone who has had 1 good season in the french league.

  28. Arteta’s strength is that he is NOT Fabregas or anyone else’s clone. He has his own style and is defensively better than Cesc ever was, while displaying skills that we needed at the time. He is a leader like RVP, who rather than talking up a storm, put his money where his mouth is and got the job done. Had he joined us while Cesc was captain, he would have been at best a squad player and would have always been in the shadow of Fabregas, just like Ramsey,Wilshere and Rosicky were.
    Walter, I voted for Koscielny simply because he was immense at the back and scored key goals, as well as backing uop Vermaelen when he was off his game or up in the opponent’s goalarea. I could have easily enough chosen Arteta but one had to choose n’est ce pas?

  29. arteta reminds me a little of a guy i play against regularly. this guy doesnt do anything spectacular, doesnt always rush up to get goals and is not really a defensive midfielder. and just watching from the sidelines, i probably would not even notice him at all.

    But when i am on the pitch, i realise i just cant get the ball off him. he always knows where to turn, when to pass first time or hold on, always makes the right pass to the right player so its just out of reach of me and my team mates. he doesnt try to hold on and dribble past everyone, but he does the basics very well.

    maybe its cos im not very good, but he is the only person i really struggle to play against sometimes. you dont realise, until you are playing against him, and often now, the best way is not to pressure him, but pressure his team mates.

    i also want to highlight how well van persie holds onto the ball. he looks a bit weak, not really a drogba type player, but so many times this season, the ball is passed to him with about 3 or 4 defenders around him, and he always seems to get out. Sometimes, i think if he had the pace and the lower centre of gravity, he would be as good as messi because his ball control is excellent.

  30. Walter, I had a tough time trying to decide who to vote for between Kosc & Arteta. In the end I chose Kosc. What a defender that man is? But Arteta keeps our midfield ticking. He is almost like a glue without which our midfield falters.

  31. A very significant stat you missed out: points behind the champions. Arsenal finished 19 points behind Man City, the biggest gap between Arsenal and first place in 5 years.

  32. For me the most important player i go for will be King HENRY(TITI)because i do remember when those magwapiki characters or call them magwampas crucified the Prof for bringing in an ‘old man’ but guess what he kicked of our season.As of Arteta, Walter i remember very well asking you a question of how we have lost or drawn matches without him and Walter replied me that hopefully it does not happen again check in the archives. I like Captano VanP but their easy goals we should have scored in games like Milan,Man-city away,Chelsea home,Swansea home and away plus sunderland home.Heading to King Titi i will never forget how he missed three sitters in the final with Barcelona all in all these guys are my 2 heroes.

  33. I compared 11-12 season to the 10/11.
    W-D-L F:A

    Top 4
    2-0-4 9:14 vs 3-1-2 7:4

    Promoted ones
    3-1-2 10:9 vs 0-2-2 8:10 (Blackpool went down, so not counted here)

    3-2-1 17:6 vs 6-0-0 18:2

    rest of the teams
    13-4-3 38:20 vs 10-8-6 39:27

    defending against top teams was really poor[read: lost 10 against MU)
    defending against promoted sites was as bad as last season 🙁
    defending against relegated sites was weaker[ 5 lost& 10 scored against Blackburn]

    …but comparing the results against the middle table teams is mind blowing! This year team most times wanted to fight for win, no matter what team they played.

  34. correct one:

    Top 4
    2-0-4 10:15 vs 3-1-2 7:4

    Promoted ones
    3-1-2 10:9 vs 0-2-2 8:10 (Blackpool went down, so not counted here)

    3-2-1 17:6 vs 6-0-0 18:2

    rest of the teams
    13-4-3 37:19 vs 10-8-6 39:27

  35. Every body notices things like how good Arteta is,Song’s clinical final delivery,the fighting leader in Vermealen,the spirited Koscienly,onfident Santos etc etc.Also there are some if’s &but’s like had Jack not injured,what would have been last season if RVP has been fit like this year……The importat thing is poor reading of player’s ability by AW.

    RVP is made captain now only
    Szesny was tried only after his comments of dissentment
    Banayoon was tried very later
    OX was tried only after cry from fans
    Coqueline is notgiven due chances
    Djourou is given 4 yeas of new deal

  36. The minor improvement over last season was a welcome suprise given the loss of key players and the dreadful start to the season but, like the rest of London, we’re still in a different league to Manchester. Third place 19 points adrift looks more like La Liga than EPL. And bridging that gap will take more than the return of Arteta and Wilshire – the latter, looking more and more like another serial crock and no certainty to ever be as good as he promised to be.

    If we aspire to win the league we need to upgrade the whole squad, and that means being in the market for the best – Erikksen, Hazard, Neymar, eg – because you can be sure those above us will be after them. But we’re not are we. Most of the possible signings I’ve seen Arsenal ‘following’ in the transfer speculation seem to be yet more Frenchmen or bargain-priced journeymen.

  37. The comments on Arteta are spot on. You miss a player like that when he is not playing. The crucial goals he scored as well are worth mentioning.
    On a different note I would like to mention the VERY SERIOUS need for a TACTICAL PLAN B for the Arsenal at the Emirates where hopeless teams park the bus and cost Arsenal a lot of valuable points. Barcelona failed against Inter-Milan and those expensive Chelsea cowards because they have NO PLAN B. Arsenal are VERY PREDICTABLE to other teams and Arsenal have not developed a response. It’s going to cost us points next season as in the past and it’s important enough to influence the players we recruit this summer.

    Plan B is simple. You put your two centre halves (aerial ball winners)in the middle of the bus. You supply them with enough crosses from the wings. For every cross an additional two players appear in the penalty box to increase your attacking presence in the penalty area to about 50-50. The rest of the midfielders must surround the penalty area for loose balls to keep the pressure on . Theo and the others must look out for counter-attacks and foul any player that emerges in possession to allow the rest of the team to recover. That siege should be continued until the minnows concede a goal after which the game should open up in favouir of the Arsenal. Arsenal should practice this siege for a week leading up to the visit of the minnows. Then Wenger will be worth 7 million pounds a week instead of a year. It’s dissapointing that a coach who earns so much (Guardiola included)and has a highly paid assistant can’t come up with a response to something so predictable.

  38. Is it a coincedence that Arteta who made us better came from a team in which defense is “seen” as part of football?
    Until Wenger realises that, nothing will change.
    Which is easier to accomplish
    A)Praying Arteta stays fit for all of next season
    B)Teaching the players to defend as a team

  39. MoFire
    Umm whilst the centrebacks are in the opposition penalty box, who’s defending ours? Isn’t it strange how tactics employed on FIFA don’t seem to work in real life.

  40. Stevie E

    Let me complete the picture, Teams that park the bus are necessarily not attacking. So you don’t need the defence as much. If you need more security bring in the defence benchwarmers to defend. There ia risk to everything.

  41. Or… if we got a couple of really little guys then they could just run through their legs and score – Plan C!

  42. MoFire
    Ahh, it all makes sense now! The lesser teams don’t attack as much so we don’t need to defend! Genius…

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