ARSENAL CHAMPIONS: Ready or more to do?


By Fishpie

I know you don’t want to. Not yet at least. After all, it’s only a fortnight or so ago since we finished last season with such a wonderful exhibition of glorious cup winning football; us, at our brilliant footballing best. So let’s bask, bask and bask some more, all summer long in fact, in the glory of another trophy won. Why worry about what’s ahead? Please, let’s not enter the sordid world of transfer speculation just yet…I want to be on holiday and re-run the Cup Final goals in my head as I lie in the sun. Crank up the Beach Boys.

Ah, but alas, it’s started already. You know it has. Somewhere, at a football club in England, a signature has signed already, a deal has been done already, a club has invested with the objective of improving their chances already.

Yes, next season is happening, already. Apparently it kicks off earlier next season.

And I’m excited about that…because… well…because I am hopeful and I can’t wait. It’s the most excited I’ve been in many a long time.  So I’m already one foot into the next campaign and I hope the club is too.

Hey…the Premier League…it’s up for grabs now!!!!

There, I’ve said it. Not only do I believe it is a real possibility for us but I think it has to be the goal by which we should judge ourselves next season.  I think the squad want it. I think they have built up a sense of belief, momentum and determination. They are mentally ready for the push.

There are, in addition, a few players in the squad who may not have too much of another chance. Time is a-ticking and a-tocking. Five or six are at the 30 years of age mark or beyond, key players among them. If next season isn’t the one to culminate in a title push, we just might miss the opportunity and find ourselves in another (long) period of rebuilding.

No, it’s next season Untolders. It’s next season.

So, what is the extent of the task? What will it take?

Here’s a view: Let’s start by looking at what it has actually taken the champions of the last 10 years to become champions. Why just the last 10 years? Because Chelsea, United and City have dominated that period and they are likely to be our main competitors again next season.

If you look at the end-of-season numbers achieved by the champions across the last 10 years you will see the winners normally win between 26 to 29 games with draws and defeats pretty much split evenly. Only in 2011 did United win the league with fewer wins (23) and more draws (11). It’s true that Chelsea did notch up 9 draws to just 3 defeats last season but normally the number of wins, draws and defeats for the team that ends up being the champions varies only by a small margin season by season.

So when you take an average across the 10 years, you get a set of figures which are pretty close to what actually happens: champions need to be attaining 27 wins, 6 draws and restricting their defeats to 5, resulting in an average of 87 points.

Next season might see an anomaly of course but I think it’s fair, based on the evidence of the last 10 years, to expect that next year’s champions might need to be close to these numbers again.

From our perspective, compared to our league campaign of last season (22 wins, 9 draws, 7 defeats, 75 points),  to hit the average stats the champions have achieved over the last 10 years, Arsenal will need therefore to convert 3 draws and 2 defeats from last season into 5 additional wins, attaining 12 additional points.

There are, I’m sure, other ways of setting a guide target for us to aim for but this is at least based on what the champion teams have actually achieved consistently to win the league.

What the last ten years also clearly shows, unsurprisingly, is that the champions are always either the highest goal scorers in total across the season or the team conceding least goals.

Arsenal’s tally of 71 goals last season is lower than any of the champions’ campaigns of the previous 10 seasons; by only two goals last season admittedly, but by 13 compared to the average across the 10 years and by as much as 32 versus the highest tally achieved by Chelsea in 2010.

Defensively we conceded 36 goals last season which is just 6 goals more than the average conceded by champions over the last 10 years. That’s pretty good.

So, based on all of that, if you want to win the Premier League against United, City or Chelsea, you need to aim to be in the ballpark of scoring 84 goals, conceding just 30, winning 27 matches, drawing 6, restricting lost games to 5 (if you have to lose any at all that is).

Whether you take the view that with a little bit of luck we might not need to hit these numbers (i.e. perhaps everyone else will take more points from each other lowering the pass mark so to speak) or view these targets as the least we should aim for, Mr Wenger will certainly need to get extra wins, fewer defeats and extra points from somewhere, if he wants to win the league.

How will he do it?

Strategy 1: We’re Good to Go. 

Mr Wenger might conclude, with some justification, that he now already has a “Champions-Ready” team that can do it; a team that really only came together in January, playing together for just half a season last year. Mr Wenger might look at the stats and conclude that since this team emerged, its numbers are pretty much exactly bang on Premier League champions form.

From December 28, this emerging “Champions-Ready” team played 20 league matches until the end of the season, winning 14, drawing 3 and losing 3. If you extrapolate these same proportions of 70% wins, 15% draws and 15% defeats to the 18 matches we had already played between August and Christmas, pre the ‘Champions-Ready” team emerging, the numbers for the first half of the season would have been: 13 wins (instead of the 8 we actually won), 2 or 3 draws (instead of the 6 we actually drew) and just 2 or 3 defeats (instead of the 6 we actually lost).

Our season in total therefore would have looked like this: Won 27, drew 6, lost 6. (These figures are rounded up). Yep that’s pretty much bang on the average Premier League stats of the champions of the last 10 years: Won 27, Drew 6, Lost 5. Bingo. Those stats would therefore have put us equal with Chelsea last season on 87 points.

Now you might say that many Arsenal seasons of the last 10 years have seen us show champions form for half or even two thirds of a season and we’ve just petered out or started badly. But last season’s change of fortunes wasn’t just down to finding or losing form or players being injured or not. To me it felt different from previous seasons.

This “Champions-Ready” team emerged in the New Year , almost like a new team, due to some changes made by Mr Wenger in personal and the rebalancing of the way we played. By my count, 8 significant changes happened.

On Jan 11 Ospina became the keeper. On Jan 18 Bellerin became the right fullback. On Dec 28 Koscielny, having rested, returned fitter. Gabriel joined us in the January Window to give us authentic centre back cover. On Jan 11 Monreal became first choice left fullback. On Dec 28 Coquelin was rediscovered, giving us a real DM at last. On Feb 1st Ozil came back from injury fitter, stronger and better. On Jan 11 Giroud came back from a broken leg. Somewhere in there too, Carzola was asked to play deeper. All of this happened in the space of a month. And of course we had Alexis firing on all 600 cylinders.

The facts, the performances and the stats show we had a rebalanced and newly infused team that played together for just half a season and played at a level fit for Champions.

So we’re ready.  We know our first team line up. We have good subs. A big squad to last a season. So Strategy 1: focus on getting consistency across a whole season with what we have. That’s the trick.

Any improvements we need to make we can get by being mentally focussed, trying tactical adjustments and line-up variations in training. New players are not needed.

Strategy 2: Minimise the risks in defence. 

Ok Mr. Wenger, you are so close. But even though our defence was second only to Chelsea last year (conceding just 4 more goals), can we and should we do something in the transfer market to maximise the chances of stopping those pesky leaked goals at the back.  For instance Ospina has been great but our core opponents at City, United and Chelsea each have keepers who are considered to be point-saving keepers. As do Spurs for that matter. And what happens if Ospina is injured? It could be argued our back-up keeper, Szczesny, is still too immature and is just as likely to lose us points as make point-winning saves.

Additionally, the new found balance between defence and attack was partly resolved last season because Coquelin brought more positional discipline, strength, pace, vitality, bite and ball-winning ability to the DM role. If he is injured, or loses form, we lose all of those attributes. For all of Arteta’s great service in that role over the last few years, he is older now, has lost pace (never had it really) and doesn’t have the edge needed. Flamini is edgier but he too is older and has lost his pace. Jack is injury prone and it’s not really his game. Ramsey can do a job there but he is not a specialist and prone to get forward.

Of the 36 goals we conceded last season, the majority (22) were conceded before our “Champions-Ready” team featuring Ospina and Coquelin emerged.  Having better back-up or stronger challengers for these specialist defensive roles might be the key to ensuring we don’t drop off when changes are forced on us or needed.

Strategy 3: Maximise our attacking options.

Strategies 2 and 3 are not mutually exclusive of course but perhaps the primary way to strive forward for a serious Premier League challenge lies in scoring more goals. We scored 71 goals last year, just 2 shy of Chelsea. But that’s still 13 goals lower than the average number of goals the champions teams have scored in the last 10 years; extra goals which may turn a few more of the draws and defeats we suffered last season into more points next season.

The big question here is centre forward. Here, in this position, is the gamble. To stick with Giroud, who was, after all, in great form during February, March and April, or to find a new, more mobile, faster, more dynamic striker to suit the Ozil through-ball, or to make Theo the main man, giving him the opportunity to fulfil his undoubted goalscoring promise.

It’s a risk I know but personally I think Theo has so much to offer here. And he and Alexis swopping roles during games throughout the season, as they did in the Cup Final, is also a tantalising prospect.

It’s Giroud that is the question for me. When he is struggling, he is slow and he slows us. His feet are slow to get to a ball. His running is slow. He can be lump’esque at times, static, blunt. The team kinda grinds to a halt. A striker who has the strength to receive the ball, back against goal,  but who can also move his feet quickly enough to turn his defender and quickly enough to collect the ball at pace would be an improvement on Giroud. That’s harsh I know but I think there are some more goals to gain by having a change there.  Welbeck is a good squad player but not consistent enough, I fear, to maximise our goals.

If there’s such a striker out there, it might well be worth making the upgrade to help unpick the more resilient defences.

Strategy 4: Do a Wenger

Finally, and probably best advised, is to ignore the calls from the uneducated likes of me for a keeper, a DM and a striker and, instead, buy another creative playmaker. Go on Arsene, confound us all. You know you want to. And why not, you’re a winner again.


1: WE’ RE GOOD TO GO : no new players needed

2: MINIMISE DEFENSIVE RISKS: sure up the goalkeeping and DM positions

3: MAXIMISE GOALSCORING OPTIONS: upgrade the the centre-forward

4: DO A WENGER: bring in a new playmaker, doing something no-one else thought was needed.


Today’s selected anniversary

9 June 2008: Alex Song signed new long term contract.  He continued at Arsenal, but amidst rumours of a dispute with the management he was sold to Barcelona in 2012 having played 160 league games for Arsenal.

The complete Arsenal on this day index is now here with around 5000 major events in Arsenal’s history recorded.  May and June recently fully updated.

40 Replies to “ARSENAL CHAMPIONS: Ready or more to do?”

  1. We’re certainly ready for a title challenge, we nearly always are, but need a couple of extra squad players to bring us up to snuff. Wenger knows who they are.
    Unfortunately though we are nowhere near good enough for a Champions League challenge. No Premier League teams are. If we are to take that competition seriously then some world class replacements are required.

  2. there is need for addition for key positions like DM,STRIKING and GK. if no ears got this message you will again cry next season. particularly,begovic as gk, lars bender or morgan and kondogbia as DM, paulo dybala or lyon’s striker .

  3. Everybody will get his wish. Arsene will buy the player(s) he wanted when they become available. I can see Arsenal dominating the football scene for some years to come starting next season.

    Billionaires not withstanding, I believe Arsene will get his players who really wanted to play for him (assuming he hasn’t got them already).

    Bring on the Community Shield and let’s show Maureen how beautiful football wins.


  4. It’s a well-balanced article with statistics used in a proper way. Bravo, I must say. One correction though – we had third defensive record, behind Chelsea (32) and Southampton (33).

    The author didn’t mention anything about Champions’ League and I’m OK with that.

    1) First things first. Let’s win the league. We have been really good since December – bar that three-match-streak at home at the end of the season – and we have shown new quality in our game. I would just add one word about crosses – for some reason, we have been vulnerable on crosses ever since the preseason. I had thought it would end with Mertesacker’s return but it didn’t. We conceded 13 headers in the league plus that Herrera’s goal at Old Trafford that came after a cross as well. That’s over one third of the goals we conceded in the league.

    2) When it comes to Champions’ League, it’s obvious that one needs world-class strikers (plural) to do so. We have one of the best outside Barcelona and Real but in order to beat Barcelona, we would need the best striker outside top Spanish clubs in our ranks. And I can’t see how we can sign Agüero from Manchester Oilers.

    So, let’s stick to Fishpie’s plan and win the league. Mourinho usually jumps the shark in the third season, Pellegrini has a poor record in big games and Van Gaal will spend another year and another 150 millions while learning English and making United unwatchable simultaneously. Spuds and Reds are…Spuds and Reds.

  5. Firstly thanks Fishpie for an excellent article, well argued and clear cogent conclusions.

    We certainly don’t have to buy, not even the four vertebrae all the pundits keep demanding. I am equally confident that we can and (injuries permitting) will compete strongly for the league title next year.

    However we have adequate resources now so that only if world class (perhaps with a little Wenger polishing)becomes available at reasonable cost than we could and should buy. If they are on Wenger’s target list I don’t doubt we will but sadly this may be very difficult particularly in the striker role.

    In addition I would also like to see a defensive midfielder bought, not in any way to replace Coquelin, who has made the position unquestionably his, but in the forced necessity of injury or extreme fatigue. Also there may be times when maximum defensive cover will blunt our closer rivals whilst still giving us the springboard to launch our lethal attack.

    Finally on goalkeeper we certainly will be fine next year but as everywhere else improvements should always be sought.

    Perhaps one of the brightest omens is that our excellent squad, which at last has real depth, all look that they want to stay and play for Arsene and Arsenal in the confidence that great things and more silverware are coming.

  6. Fishpie, despite your error of making Arsenal 2nd and not 3rd to Chelsea in goal conceded as been pointed out. I give you a very big KUDOS for your analystic statistics on the overall Gunners League performance last season. Fishpie, your stat is indicative, Iam impressed. However, I want to point out something at this juncture. The Boss does not need to sign a striker this summer because he has 3 top strikers already in the Gunners of Giroud, Walcott and Welbeck who he can efficiently be rotating for options. He may not get that 30 goals per season striker in the market. So, what’s the point of spending to buy a striker. The fit Giroud, Walcott and Welbeck should guarantee Arsenal 20 goals each. And Sanchez guaranteeing another 25, Arsenal are done with 85 goals from her strikers next season. Both the midfielders and the defenders should produce 35 and 10 goals each, to make a total of 130 goals sufficient to win the treble. What Arsenal need in d summer are: top quality left back, dm and a right winger.

  7. @Fishpie,
    In my 92nd year, I couldn’t help LOL at your submission that at 30, some of our heroes are perilously near the end of their top tier working life. 😉

  8. A question for my brothers and sisters…What does it mean when someone says a team is powerful? e.g. that a team is overpowered in the midfield? Is it a physical thing? A pace thing? A willingness to practice the dark arts? An intimidation thing? My reason is that word is bandied about by the chattering classes when discussing what the Invincibles had, that Chelsea have and what we don’t (allegedly) have at present? Is this a real thing or is it simply a word that journalists know how to spell. What thinks you?

  9. Firstly, AW will surprise us again (i.e. Ozil, Sanchez signings).
    Secondly, if the squad is healthy I believe they’ll score enough goals.
    Thirdly, as I’ve stated here before – back up for Coquelin and Cech (or other world class keeper) ought to do it.

  10. If arsenal conceded just 4 goals more than Chelsea and we had lots of injury problems and an unstable back 4 for the first part of the season, Doesn’t it mean that our defense when stable is better than Chelsea’s.

    If so, where is this need for a new GK and CB or as our pundit friends will say “New Spine” coming from.

    Something tells me AW will neither buy a new GK or CB even if De Gea and Neuer become available. Fortunately for me, I don’t want Cech. Not because he is not good or from Chelsea but because I trust Ospina and Szczesny to do the job

  11. We do have a fair squad but if it can be improved on it should be. Certainly you have itemised the Giroud conundrum , good for 75% of what we need but when it comes to the little bit extra sadly he lacks the key to unlock the tightest defences. I have only seen video but certainly Lacazette seems to fit the bill . However I strongly believe that we will not be alone in chasing after him even should Aulas contemplate selling.

  12. Lacazette looks a decent prospect and had a great season in France, but he is totally unproven especially against top teams. He didn’t manage to score a goal against any of the French top 6 or 7 teams.

    I like the idea of Theo, Ox and Alexis as our front three, with Ozil pulling the strings behind.

    I would like to see a more defensive minded midfielder brought in and a GK.

  13. I like the idea of having Mr Wenger in charge. My job is to support whatever player represent arsenals. I believe our players are the best in the world for their respective positions.

  14. The keys to Arsenal’s success next season are completely unrelated to the transfer market.

    1. Mike Riley leaving his post.

    2. Our injury situation improving.

    A couple of hints at (1) earlier in the season but sadly not much recently. However, major progress seems to be being made with (2) – kudos to Shad Forsythe (the top transfer of 2014) and also credit wherever else it is due.

  15. Nonny,

    It’s probably worth pointing out that 5 of Chelsea’s 32 concessions came in the final three games of the season, after they had won the title and looked a bit hungover. I think Arsenal are probably quite a bit closer to catching them on the other end of the spectrum.

  16. Fishpie, great read, some awesome stats in there.
    Firstly, can only echo the points Pete has already made. We cannot do much about Riley, but an improvement on injuries, by whatever means , if it comes, will really help us.
    Other than that, think we need a bit of a combination of your points, elements are ready, doing a Wenger, our manager is strong enough to …say persist with Voq if he thinks he is good enough, though he will need backup from within or without. Sign a striker….maybe, may depend on Theo, but I believe Wenger can massively improve a fully fit Welbeck.
    Keeper……rate both of ours, improving defence will help. I like Szcz in terms of ability, if he really has some sort of attitude, trust Wenger to do twhatever needed.
    But ultimately, think we are just about ready. No shaky post World Cup start to season, no tricky ECL qualifier, no big revamp of the squad like Utd, City,. Also think the big boys will take a lot of points off each other and that Chelsea will not have such an easy ride. Things could go sour with RA if Jose keeps playing the football he did from January.
    In short, very optimistic about this season, Wenger will make some changes but don’t think big changes are needed. Per has already said it hat things like tactics, video analysis and aspects of coaching have been freshened up. All very good news.

  17. Nicky, you are right, Didn’t I see Pirlo in the Champions League final last weekend, 36 years old? There’s a few good years left in our older players yet I’m sure. I may have overstated my case there. When was your first game at Arsenal then Nicky?

  18. Thanks Mandy. I’m not big on the ref conspiracy thing myself. We can’t do much about it if it does exist. We can however deal with injuries better, get ourselves better prepared, improve squad weaknesses (which I agree are a lot less these days). And credit to the club and Mr Wenger for things being freshened up and for Shad Forsythe. There is a sense under his new contract that Arsene is proving to be more flexible and more on it. Perhaps a word was said by Silent Stan after all. Optimism reigns. Isn’t it lovely.

  19. If you think the Premier referees are bad then what do you make of the FIFA one at today’s game between Engand and France?
    Absolutely disgraceful!

  20. Guys, sorry about the stat mistake. Missed Southampton’s very impressive defensive attainment. They deserve a hell of a lot of credit, especially given the transfer raids they were subject to in the summer. Glad you liked the read though.

  21. Shad looks to be a real plus for the club, long may it continue. Shad cannot stop outr players being kicked, sometimes with leniant refs making things worse, but our players do now seem bigger or more bulked up, perhaps this is having an effect.
    There certainly does seem a change of tactics, Coq for starters, Wenger has the final decision on such things, the team now look so much more solid, reliable, more confident, less nervous, compare and contrast the last two cup finals. Another important aspect is competition for places driving them to heightened performance, then the likes of Alexis and Ozil, amongst others on the training ground can only be positive. Things are looking very bright. the next task is to get the better of Jose’s anti football, have a feeling that is coming next season

  22. 2: MINIMISE DEFENSIVE RISKS: sure up the goalkeeping and DM positions.
    That is what is needed. Don’t worry about Chezzy though, he is our num one still. We just did not want any offers to turn the “boy’s” head this season. 🙂

    I remember Sol Cambell saying:
    “We were a team, we got on really well together, we wanted to WIN EVERY game and we really tried to win every game”.

    I just hope this team now has that same urge. I really felt that way until the two blips we had end this season. This cannot happen. I thought the blips were sorted, but they came back and surprised me.

    By blips i mean when we really did not turn up. This cannot happen again. It’s different when one plays and draws or loses, but when one does not play at all, this is what i call a BLIP.

    I hope BLIPS are not happening again.

    Onwards for the PL next season.

  23. Great and incisive article fishpie! Here is my take position by position and for the team overall:

    1)Ospina and Szcezsny are more than sufficient. Wojieck is maturing and Ospina is top class.
    2)Bellerin, Debuchy,Per,Kos,Gabriel,Gibbs, Chambers and Monreal are the cream of the crop.
    3)Coquelin,Ramsey,Arteta and Flamini are excellent defensive midfielders.
    4)Wilshere, Cazorla,Rosicky the Ox and Ozil,are at the top of the attacking midfielder list worldwise.
    5)Giroud, despite your concerns, was a superb backup to Sanchez. Walcott has shown his true colours as a goalscorer, Welbeck has the potential to become a first class scorer, and we have two youth players in Gnabry and Akpom whose futures look bright.
    6)We have players out on loan like Sanogo, Jenkinson, miyachi,Wellington,Podolski and Campbell who might or might not be here next season but offer some value to the team.

    AFC need to avoid serious,long-term injuries AND begin to be better finishers in front of goal but other than those two issues, we are good to go!!!

  24. I Say “4. Do a Wenger.” But with alterations to the tag-line. You can t say “sign a play maker” and then say “do something no-one else thought was needed.” That itself is contradictory.

    “4: DO A WENGER: do something no-one else thought was needed.”

  25. @Fishpie,
    May 1941, aged 17, but I started supporting, the Club 5 or 6 years before that.
    I was obviously brought up the right way. Thank you Dad! 😉

  26. para, Good point about “togetherness”. I agree it is a prerequiste for taking on the world. And I think this squad has grown together, fought together, come back together and succeeded together. I sense they have a genuine and collective commitment to the cause. From my perspective, the BLIPS, as you call them, at the end of the season, weren’t down to not turning up, not trying, not striving for victories. They surprised me too but I felt they were more down to not quite rotating the squad well enough to ensure freshness and variety. Our finishing was’t quite on song in those matches although we did dominate them (as I recall) and against Chelsea, the limitation in Giroud’s game was evident. It was about being a bit stale rather than lack of effort. We did start slowly in a couple of those games though so may be yes, the Cup Final mentality is what we need every game. I get you. The thing is those BLIPS, at the end of the season, still meant our second half season form was champions form. Those draws and defeat were part of our “dropping-point allowance”, so to speak. And in reality, pretty much, every champions winning team have BLIPS. One of Chelsea’s last year was being hammered by an in-form Spurs. And they will come out of nowhere. But yep, minimise those BLIPS.

  27. Nicky, that must have been amazing. So you followed the great 30’s team as a lad, at least for part of their reign. The start of it all really. I guess in May 41 competitive football was “on hold” due to the War. So was it a friendly, your first match? Can you remember who played? And as for Dads. Here’s to them. My Dad was Dutch and came to England after the southern half of Holland was liberated to join the Dutch forces based here. Arsenal was famous in Holland and he wanted to follow them. While stationed over here, he met my mum, an English girl from a large family who had, just a few years earlier, moved to Edmonton from….White Hart Lane. My Dad married my Mum in ’48 and married into a family of 5 staunch Spurs brother-in-laws. My Dad loved being the lone Gooner and a few years later raised me to be an Arsenal fan, while all my cousins were being raised to follow the Spuds. Which was difficult for me because in my youth Spurs were the team, doing the Double and what-not, and Arsenal were all over the place. (God bless George Eastham though). As a I look back though, it’s just amazing how things work out. Had I known then that Spurs would never again win the League and Arsenal would go on to win it, in my lifetime so far, many many times and obtain 3 Doubles of our own, I would have enjoyed those early years so much more. So here’s to Dads for seeing the future!!!

  28. Having won two FA trophies in a row ,and a Charity Shield to boot , we can deduce that this team has learned to win things after being bedded and grown together for a few seasons .
    AW will do what he feels is for its betterment ,and for its moving forward . Being injury free and with better referees’ treatment ,we should progress , as HE planned it .
    Am looking forward to next season for another great ride . And if we win the Charity Shield against Chelski , it will of course be instantly downgraded ,and that no loss ‘record’ of Moanin’inho against AW will still stand !

  29. All men are born equal , but some are just ‘more’ equal than others !

  30. Yeah Brickfield, that “Wenger hasn’t beaten Jose” record gives the Charity Shield an extra edge than usual doesn’t it. I’d forgotten about that. Oooh, exciting, exciting.

  31. As far as Arsenal and Arsene Wenger are concerned , the goalpost are regularly being moved ! From the old ‘eight years without a trophy ‘ its now 11 years without the EPL title .When we win it, it ‘ll again change to not having won the CL Trophy .
    Sigh !

  32. Fishpie

    I’m gearing myself up here to take my annual football vacation, so you’re not helping me with this.

    This is the first time in years I’ve felt we have a seriously good chance of the title. I felt optimistic for about a week in the Summer of 2012 when we made some good signings early- we played a friendly in Cologne, and looking at the squad at that moment I felt there was enough quality and depth to do it -then Van Persie (I kept hoping till the very last it wouldn’t happen) and Song left in the next fortnight.

    And I had ten minutes at Christmas 2013, in the Everton game, of thinking ‘whoa, just maybe we’ll really do it this year’- they got the late equaliser and I never had that feeling again. It didn’t felt right to get my hopes up too much until we started playing well against the very best, and though we did pretty well against Liverpool and ok against City, there wasn’t a point when i thought, ‘there you go; proof; we have what it takes again now’

    Until last year. 2013-14 was notable as a year we were impressive and consistent against everyone else, but did poorly against the best. Our league record that year against Chelsea, City, Utd, Liverpool and Everton read scored 8 conceded 22 (-14); last year against the same teams it was scored 15 conceded 12 (+3). (If instead of losing the home game to Utd we’d beaten them 2-0, which could so easily have happened, it would have been 17-10). That’s a tremendous improvement. Hope has now become confidence for me.

    I think the big change in premier league football in the last decade is that conceding first is now a much bigger problem than it used to be. In the past, I’m not sure the team who got the first played dramatically differently afterwards. Now, especially in big games, they invariably do. Woe to the team who concedes first. So there were two parts to becoming a team who can win the league again : (in big games) score first more often, and become better at coping when you don’t. We made a definite improvement in both areas last year; a slight improvement again- which seems eminently possible- and we have a great chance.

  33. We’re ready. All we need is a level playing field.

    Despite the tilt we won the FA cup final – & there was a tilt before we scored the 2nd goal. After that Moss got fresh air & stopped some of the ’tilting’.

    If the PGMO still exists we will have a handicap. We need change just like FIFA. Removal of the likes of Riley & his paymasters. A better balance of race, sex & age groups in the FA will go a long way to ensuring a Beautiful Game.

  34. rich, sorry about that..go…leave…get yourself a holiday, come back recharged. And let’s hope our optimism for next season lingers a tad longer than 10 minutes. VERY FUNNY BUT I SHARED THE PAIN. Interesting thoughts on first goals in big games. Might be worthwhile seeing if that’s true. Another day perhaps. There’s a holiday to catch.

  35. Fishpie

    Damn, I’ve painted myself into a corner now with this holiday talk.

    Would be great if you, or anyone, could find anything on that first goal hunch I have.

    For sure, it really didn’t go well for us last year when conceding first in those games (conceded first 6 times, came back once, for a point). This year was a big improvement (conceded first six times, back 4 times, all draws) but we’ll either have to concede first fewer times or change a few of the comebacks to wins.

    Anyway, that holiday.

Comments are closed.