By Bulldog Drummond
It is interesting to note just how balanced Sunderland’s home and away form has been this season – three wins at home and three away. They have however performed slightly better at home picking up five draws there, against just one away. They have also scored four more goals at home (16) than they have away.
Thus Sunderland’s away for is better than Hull and Middlesbrough who go down with them at the end of the season on Sunday. Those fellow strugglers have each won just once away from home through the season. Overall, Sunderland are currently 14 points behind Swansea who are currently in 17th.
Here’s the home/away comparison.
Arsenal are now on 12 home wins, three draws and two defeats with a home goal difference of +19. Sunderland have an away goal difference of -16.
In terms of recent results away from home Sunderland show a bit of an up and down record
That shows us four straight defeats without scoring a goal, but with away wins and the start and end of the list of the last six in the league. Two goals scored, six conceded.
As for Arsenal…
Our home list has four wins, one draw and one defeat. Overall five league wins in the last six, or counting the FA Cup six wins in the last seven. 11 goals scored four against in the league games noted above.
Sunderland’s top scorers list makes some interesting reading
- Defoe: 15
- Anichebe: 3
- Borini: 2
- Four players: 1 each
Anichebe, you may recall, was injured at the weekend and is unlikely to play. So it is not going to be too hard to calculate how many players Sunderland will have in double figures when the final goal tally is announced.
One interesting (well, slightly interesting) snippet from the roundup of sequences etc is that Arsenal have been drawing at half time and winning at full time in their last three home matches. And of course we have won nine of the last 11 home games in the Premier League.
Also Arsenal are undefeated in their last 11 home matches against Sunderland in all competitions while Sunderland have failed to win 11 of their last 12 matches.
As for the game, today is the day of the BIG BOYCOTT, and we’ll be checking to see if it is bigger than the day of the big Wenger out banner protest. Fortunately I sit in the upper tier and so have a wide view of any nay-sayers and it is not too hard to count empty seats.
We know from past events that the Telegraph has been prone to print pictures of empty seats at the Emirates when Arsenal are not even playing, so we can expect some of them. But of all of the “events” headlined, the one that made me smile the most was “Arsenal fans’ ‘Wenger Out’ protest cancelled because of bad weather” in the Independent. Well yes it can get to us all.
But of course the media and bloggettas love it – there are something like three quarters of a million separate articles with the phrase “Wenger Out” in them on the internet according to Google. And indeed it has become a new sport in itself with people going to all sorts of length to find new ways to portray the message.
Is it being effective? Well, he’s still there, so at that rate, no. The team have gone down hill during the Wengerout campaign and then come back again on a strong run, so it is hard to say if it is having any effect there at all. We can’t really tell what is happening behind the scenes, but the one man who could arrange things (Stan Kronke) seems unmoved so in that sense it isn’t working. In fact now I think of it, I can’t see any sense in which it is working.
And we mustn’t forget that there is the fact that in the 1930s some of the Arsenal crowd booed the team during the Chapman era. Indeed Chapman himself coined the phrase “boo-boys” to signify them. Matters got much worse after Chapman put out an untried reserve team in the FA Cup defeat to Walsall – even though Arsenal went on to win the league that year. So in a very real sense the modern day boo-boys are part of a long Arsenal tradition. Indeed I often wonder if in the future, historians of Arsenal will look back in the same sort of amazement at the antics of the “out” protesters as we do when looking back at the way a minority of the crowd treated Herbert Chapman.
As for today, the measure of the effectiveness of the boycott I guess will be the comparison with the Liverpool walk out in February 2016, when the press said that 10,000 fans left in the 77th minute. Of course I wasn’t there so I can’t really say if it happened or not.
And as for Sunderland, I guess their fans have more to protest about than most. By the time Arsenal started winning the league in the 1930s, Sunderland had already won the league five times, and they interrupted Arsenal’s flow of five league titles in that decade by winning the league again in 1936. They were indeed one of the very biggest teams in the country at the time, and won the FA Cup the following season.
Since then they have done nothing except win the FA Cup once. That is one trophy in 80 years – and eight relegations (this is the ninth). It is a sign of what can happen to a once great club. On the other hand they have (self-evidently) been promoted eight times. I wonder if they count winning the second division six times since 1976 trophies? Or is that bit of silverware a bit like the FA Cup in the eyes of the aaa, and not to be counted?