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October 2020

Oh please let us panic and throw all and everything overboard

By Walter Broeckx

Yes November has been dissapointing, not for the first time in recent history in fact. If we look at the average results in the Wenger era as they have been published on it is the worst month resultwise most of the time.

The fact that in that period we usually have a lot of CL matches and that most players have played 6 internationals for their countries might contribute to this downfal in results. Of course I had counted on more points in this month. But if you see some people reacting it is as if we are somewhere around 15th position in the league and we will be in a relegation fight till the end of the season.

Yes I know that a lot of injuries have happened in the last two matches. But should we really be in the panic mode that some are? Maybe it is wise to look at a few facts instead of running around like headless chickens shouting that the end of the world is nigh and that we are doomed, doomed and doomed.

[Steady on Walter, this is revolutionary stuff.  Running around like headless chickens is what football reporting is all about, surely. – Tony]

A look at the league table after 14 matches tells us that we are in 4th place. 2 points behind the two top teams. One of them is Leicester. And despite all their headlines I think everyone knows that they will not last till the end of the season. Mind you I take my hat off for their current run but they rely on Vardy scoring and that probably will stop one day. So far Leicester has the benefit that they are not considered a top team and so most teams play against them in an open way. But that will change any day now. And so teams will start to dig in against them and deny them space. They will start to struggle to score and then things will go downhill from then on.

We have seen it each season. Swansea a few seasons ago, Southampton,…even West Ham United once was the surprise package of the season….for a while.

But there are other facts that we should keep in mind. I think everyone agrees that at the end of each season most teams (including Arsenal) they will have won most points at their own stadium. Most teams are more vulnerable away from home.  You can check the stats, this is a reality and each time a team does this in the other it us an anomaly.  And this is where I think it is very interesting to have a closer look at the league.

Now what we have seen so far is that of the 14 matches we have played, we have played 8 of them away from home. If you for example compare this with Manchester City they have played 8 at home and 6 away from home. Leicester have played 7 at home and 7 away. The other team near the top who also have played 8 away from home is Manchester United. With whom we have a one point gap.

Of course if one only concentrates on the last 3 results or so you are not keeping in mind that the league is not a 3 match sprint but a 38 match marathon. A marathon in which you have good periods and bad periods. One can say that we are in a bad period. A bit strange this season. When we were bad in Europe we were strong in the PL and now we have been stronger in Europe we seem to suffer in the PL a bit.

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But looking at the matches played it is a fact that we will play more matches at home than both Manchester City and Leicester in the rest of the season. So statistically we might pick up more points. Of course as I said there are exceptions every now and then but nobody can predict when such an exception will occur.

If we follow the narrative of the big media about the Arsenal injury crisis that has been hitting us for… well how long have they been talking about that? A few weeks? So despite a terrible injury crisis, despite having played more matches away from home than most other teams in the top 4…we still are only 2 points away from the top.

And believe me I am really comfortable with the position we have now. Two seasons ago Manchester City was just lurking around keeping close to the rest and in the final weeks of the season they sprinted in front of the rest and crowned themselves as champions. That was the season when Arsenal was top of the league more than any other team. So being top now is nice and funny and I would like us to be there of course. But it means nothing if you cannot keep it up.

Over the last seasons in most cases Arsenal had to come back from behind in whatever they were chasing. Who still remembers the league table when we were behind 0-2 at the Emirates after some half an hour against the tiny totts. Before the match we were 10 points behind them. And after half an hour it looked as if we would be 13 points behind them. Mind the gap they shouted prematurely.  At the end of the season we were 1 point in front. We made up a gap of 10 points on them.

So what is the fuss about a gap of 2 points on the leaders? A gap at the start of December! Do you really think that this is a big gap? This is one win and a draw and the ground is made up. Do you really think that this is a gap that can’t be overcome? Then you really are man of little faith.

There are still a lot of games to be played. And as we now have had a bad patch and some more injuries than desirable for the moment it is great to see that we still are in such a position now. Players will come back and will add something new to the team in the next weeks. Alexis might get the rest he needed to make sure he will be ready to make it to the end of the season without any problem.  Coquelin doesn’t need surgery and that is a great thing as it is easier to recover from a knee injury that didn’t need surgery than with surgery.

Each team near the top has dropped more points than ever compared to the seasons before. I think that the champions will have a low points average if the league continues to be played like it is this season up to now. No need to panic. Just stay calm and support the players we have out on the field.

For reference here are the League Tables on 1 December in years gone by…





The anniversaries

  • 1 December 1934: Arsenal 7 Wolverhampton 0.  For the second match running Drake scored four as  Arsenal scored five or more for fifth time in 17 league games.
  • 1 December 2012: Arsenal 0 Swansea 2.  Arsenal had 21 points, their worst total after 15 games for 18 years.  They were 10th in the league behind Stoke, Swansea and WBA, but ahead of Liverpool

And in case you missed it…

Do take a look at the link to the Indy video at the end.  Try not to laugh.  At least not too much.  You don’t want your boss to know you’re watching football rather than working.            The decline of Chelsea

24 comments to Oh please let us panic and throw all and everything overboard

  • Harry Barracuda

    The one flaw in your cunning plan is that we are about to enter the busy Xmas period missing a lot of key players. Thus there are a lot of points that can be dropped before January.

    We run the risk of falling behind, and those players returning too late for us to overhaul any deficit we may have.

    I almost wish we’d gone out of Europe.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Harry, you sound as if all the players who are injured now will be out till the rest of the season? In a few weeks time we will have several players back like Theo, Jack, Danny, Alexis. Only Coquelin will last a bit longer. Hell, even Rosicky might be back for some FA cup football.

  • blacksheep63

    nice perspective Walter…

  • Andy Mack

    I find it funny that so many are saying we’re only this close because the PL is cr4p this year, whereas the truth is that the PL seems to have even more depth this year and there are 15 (maybe 17) teams that can all beat the top 4 teams if they’re given a chance. usually it’s closer to 10 teams that can do that whilst the balance of teams can only aim for a draw with the top 4 teams.

  • Gord

    You are bang on Andy, but I think you need to add a little to that. It isn’t that they can only aim for a draw; it is that they can only aim to keep the other side from scoring (at the cost of not being able to score themselves), the end result of which is the 0-0 tie.

    Which is part of the reason why I once suggested that a team not get any points from a game unless they scored.

  • para

    It is not the loss at all, but HOW we lost. We did not close down like we do in “important” (thought all games were) games. It’s almost as if we were scripted to draw that game.

    Score a goal then relax, this is suicidal and i only wonder why we keep on repeating this mistake.

    Fact is we could have taken that game, but we let Norwich play and that was our detriment.

    Anyway as you say we are still just 2 pts behind leader so not all doom and gloom.

  • Sammy The Snake

    Panic – Does it ever help?!

  • Is Danny Welbeck due back that soon? I hope so. What concerns me is the away games yet to come, two against the Manchester teams, two against the Liverpool teams and Spurs, Stoke and Southampton. We don’t have a stellar record against some of that lot.

  • colario

    @ Rantetta
    December 1, 2015 at 6:09 pm

    Rantetta I liked the link you provided on the ‘Decline of Chelski’ read. Thanks for that.

  • nicky

    @Sammy the Snake,
    The only apparent panic appears to be within the ranks of the club followers.
    The managerial seats rarely express any real view on how the match is going.
    And witness the touchy feely exchanges between rivals on the field, AFTER the game. Their work is done, a few days without training and their grotesque
    wages are assured. All is well.

  • Gord

    OT: Football Corruption

    Merry Christmas you Septic Bladder

    ESPN (the world wide leader in being ESPN) is reporting that Adidas, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Visa and Budweiser brewer Anheuser-Busch want independent oversight into FIFA reform. And are expecting this to be an ongoing process, not a one off.

    The World Association of Leagues is to come into being in January, and among other goals is to work closely with scandal-tainted world football governing body FIFA. The English, French and Spanish leagues will be joined by 20 others from around the world.

    I can’t find who the other 20 are.

  • Rantetta

    colario, thanks.

    For anyone interested, here’s a link for you to read 3 free chapters of the book, The Special One. It starts with Chapter 12, then chaoter’s 1&2, followed by a little of chapter 3:

  • omgarsenal

    Harry Barracuda…’s another way of looking at it….as UA always does;

    The many positives in our cunning plan are that; we are about to enter the busy Xmas period with a lot of key players coming back (Ramsey, the Ox, Theo, Welbeck,Alexis, maybe Rosicky . Thus there are a lot of points that can be earned before January and our adversaries seem prone to drop points rather prolifically.

    We have the possibility of actually gaining on our adversaries, and those players returning will make certain that it is never too late for us to overhaul any imagined deficit we may actually,currently NOT have.

    Most true Gooners are happy we’re still in the CL and not the Europa and look forward to us surprising everyone by remaining in it as well. If you don’t yet realize that Wenger goes for every Cup he can and never chickens out, then you have missed far too many games!

  • Gord

    I went looking at The FA for information, hoping to find that Norwich was to be investigated over deliberately injuring Alexis.

    But instead, I found that the charges relating to Chambers are partially resolved. Maybe they are completely resolved, I don’t know. This news is a week old, but I don’t remember seeing it anywhere.

    Oh, Moaninho’s ban/fine stands.

  • Pat

    The title gave me a good laugh, Walter.

  • Crovax

    This season is very rapidly starting to look like 2013 all over again – a good title challenge decimated by injuries…

  • Florian

    Two observations:

    While Alexis is out with injury, we are going to play Sunderland (h) and Aston Villa (a), both winnable matches in theory even without Alexis (not easy but not the toughest imaginable either). In a way, this injury strikes at the right time.

    Compared to the previous seasons, we have 4-7 points more at this stage. The outlier was 2013-2014, with 31 points. The difference I can see between now and then is that while the result then was to a large extent due to Ramsey’s sensational run of form, this time it’s much more of a team effort, with the goals spread quite evenly. That for me is the real reason for optimism, as the team collectively raised its level.

  • Polo

    Agree with this article, there are to many drama queens out there moaning that this season is over when we are only 2 points behind. We had an amazing second half of last season, there’s no reason why we can’t do the same this season. Let just hope there will be no more injuries from now on.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Probably the most interesting table is 2013. Look at where the later champions Man City is… 6th place and 9 points behind first place.
    Well they are all interesting in the way that in most cases we have a much stronger second half of the season than the first. 2013 being the exception in fact but we lost Özil then for a few weeks in the money time of the season.

  • Bobome

    Your piece looks and sounds so obvious that I thought it needed not be stated in so clear terms, thank you very much for it. But I also realise that there are many ‘hindsight’ football managers for whom this enlightenment would do a bit of good. However, there are some others whose default mode is misery, doom and gloom I don’t know if their default mode can ever be changed like in an app! Then there are those for whom nothing Wenger does, win or lose, it is all his fault. These ones would criticise ad nauseum, perhaps for the sheer pleasure of getting an illicit high from bringing down others.

    I used to hear of constructive criticism and then there is the other type. The latter is all we hear and read so much about. There is this fella that thinks Wenger’s teams have been so injury prone in the last 5 years or so that it is therefore time for him to go as manager. He also tried to compare his record with Sir Ferguson’s at Manchester United. He has forgotten that the contexts are as dissimilar as night and day. In all his ranting there was not one single suggestion on what he would have done, or Wenger could have done, given the same circumstances and resources at Arsenal over those years. The critics will continue to spout their venom, no matter what happens or what sane supporters do or say in support of the team. Carry on supporting the Arsenal team, regardless!

  • Andy Mack

    Crovax, we do have a bit more depth than 13. Yes it could all fall apart or the team could start to get their heads into the game and grind out positive results. We’ll see which option in the coming weeks…..

  • ColG

    Einstein reputedly said the definition of madness is repeatedly doing the same thing and expecting different results. I expect Arsenal will do enough to scrape 4th place or maybe 3rd, because that is what they have done regularly for about a decade and not doing better arguably due to the lack of squad depth and the number of injuries to key players. I am not in a panic about it, but I see no reason to have any different expectations. I seriously doubt there are many Arsenal fans ‘panicking’ about it – most of the non-‘Wenger evangelists’ are more resigned than panicking, having seen this sort of thing many times before. The only people ‘panicking’ may be the evangelists who actually believed this was the year, despite almost everyone else saying it was unlikely.

    Had Wenger bought another DM (and a number were available), they would have had enough to grind out results come what may (i.e. given the likely injuries to more attacking players). As it is, going into the season almost wholly dependent on Coquelin staying fit all year, the current situation was somewhat predictable. Yes, they are only 2 points off, but they got to that position with Coquelin playing. All the evidence indicates Arsenal can’t sustain this without him. Panicking? No. Resigned? Yes – happy to be pleasantly surprised, but not expecting it.