Last year’s top six – how this season is rather different from last time around

By Tony Attwood

Below is a “this season vs last season” table, showing for key figures just how the clubs have changed in the course of a year after eight matches.

Looking at each team there are two rows – one for key indicators at this time last season and one for now.

In the second row for each time (showing where we are now) a new column is added after each number indicating the difference (“Diff”) between this time last year and now, showing an improvement (a plus sign) or decline (a minus sign).

To look just at Arsenal’s “Diff” columns, we have scored seven more goals, have no change in the defence (have let in 10, just as last year) have a goal difference which is therefore seven better than last year, and as the final column shows, we have five more points.

So fairly simple to see – we are doing better, but have not as yet improved the defence.  But nothing has got worse.

The column that might cause a spot of confusion is goals against – all the others we want to go up if we are improving year on year, but goals against of course we want to decline.  So if we look at Chesea we can see they have scored 18 against 13 last year (+3) and have conceded 5 instead of 8, which is also +3.

But Manchester United have conceded 14 this time around as opposed to just two a year ago.  They are 12 worse off.

Team GF Diff GA Diff GD Diff Pts Diff
Arsenal 17/18 12   10   2   13  
Arsenal 18/19 19 +7 10 0 9 +7 18 +5
Chelsea 17/18 13   8   5 13  
Chelsea 18/19 18 +5 5 3 13 +8 20 +7
Liverpool 17/18 13   12   1 13  
Liverpool 18/19 15 +2 3 9 12 +11 20 +7
Man City 17/18 29   4   25   22  
Man City 18/19 21 -8 3 1 18 -6 20 -2
Man Utd 17/18 21 2 19 19
Man Utd 18/19 13  -8 14  -12  -1   -20 13 -6 
Tottenham H 17/18 15   5   10   17  
Tottenham 18/19 15 0 7 -2 8 -2 18 +1

To simplify conclusion drawing I have highlighted actual numbers that are worse in brown and the comparisons that are worse this time around, in red.  So in fact unless you really want to get into the numbers all you need do look at the reds for teams getting worse, and the other numbers in the “Diff” columns for teams doing better.

For Arsenal the key factors are that we have scored seven more goals and got five more points.  The defence is the second worst among the six clubs (Man U of course are worse) and has not changed.

One may seek explanations for the non-development of the defence such as the late arrival of Torreira and the newness and inexperience of Guendouzi in protecting the back four, and perhaps also the notion that we are changing style and approach with playing out from the back.  Or there is the school of thought that despite their numbers seen yesterday, Xhaka and Mustafi need to be moved on and Sokratis was not a good buy.  Personally I think Sokratis will be seen as a good purchase but is taking time to settle in, as many defenders do.

But of course we knew all this – my interest was primarily in the other clubs.  The decline of Manchester City on three fronts is interesting – eight fewer goals already.   And the depth of the decline of Manchester United is quite stark – a goal difference of 20 worse than a year ago after just eight games.

Tottenham are more or less sanding still – which one has to say is good for a team playing so many away games across three stadia.  Whether they will suffer the “new stadium dip” we are still waiting to see.

So what might any of this tell us?  Clearly the manager has re-worked the attack so we have the second most potent attack in the League at the moment.  Nothing has happened in terms of the defensive record but we are five points better off.

What is not shown here is that the change comes with away games – which I have always argued is the first thing we need to change.  Get back to our normal away form and we should secure third of fourth.  To aim for more in the first season of a new manager could cause all sorts of difficulty by creating a momentum that could not be maintained.  Personally I would be very happy with fourth and delighted with third plus a cup.

What we can also see is that the level of improvement by Liverpool and Chelsea is in every department which has to be admired, no matter all my prejudices and love of Arsenal.

And the big question is: will these changes continue through the season?  If they did then my projection that Man City will win the league year after year after year will fall at the first hurdle.



14 Replies to “Last year’s top six – how this season is rather different from last time around”

  1. Tony
    Last week I heard one of the usual anti-Arsenal pundits on the BBC or TalkSprout dismiss our chances of success this year because of our goals against performance; i.e. we had conceded 10 compared to the likes of the Scousers and City with 3, and Chelski with 5.

    However he failed to point out that we conceded 6 in our first two games against City and Chelski with a new coach at the helm.

    As you’ve said before if we can fix our away form – say an extra 6 wins – we would almost certainly finish in the top four.

    Emery has made a good start, but we will have a better view of our prospects by the first week of December when we will have also played the Scousers, Spuds and Manure.

  2. Tony, I think that defence has been a problem for so long (regardless of personnel) that it is bound to take a long time to sort out. But I’m not sure this is confined to Arsenal, as the press like to suggest. Other teams are conceding goals, the top teams are just better at scoring them. It’s what Aristotle would have called the ‘Vindaloo Effect’ (we’ll score one more than you…)

    Our midfield is decent and growing in confidence, our front line is exceptional and is already producing the goods. Our defence will get better but it will take time. I too think Socratis is a good buy and Holding is improving. I’m not at all sure Mustafi is anything other than a stop gap while Holding grows into the role. For me he (Mustafi) makes too many bad decisions to be a top defender but we are not (yet) a CL club so let’s see what happens if we can get into the top 4 this season and attract the calibre of players that supposedly brings.

  3. Hmmm. Did Arsenal concede 6 to Man City and Chelsea and not 5 in total them? 2 to Man City at the Ems and 3 away at the Bridge to Chelsea in their opening season 2 games lose in the Pl this season. I watched the 2 matches live.

    Anyway, this is not an issue. What I think is an issue is the lack of trust being shown in some quarters of some Gooners to Arsenal not trusting them to win the PL Title this season. Even after Arsenal have recovered from their 2 games lose early in the season and have won 6 games on the throttle without lifting foot on it, yet, the lack of confidence by some Gooners in Arsenal to win the Title is a disheartened. And to me, this is a disbelief and unparalleled for that matter. Because what else will Arsenal do to convince the Gooners they can and will win the Title this season after playing themselves into contention to win it as they are now in 4th place in the table after 8 games played by all clubs in the PL division with only 2 points separating Arsenal and the 3 clubs above them in the table.

  4. To make a proper comparison, would we not also need to compare the teams we played in the first 8 games last season?

    Did they include 2 teams from the “top 6”

  5. clockerz, you must have a serious ‘Self Worth’ issue if you need people to always refer to you by name. I suspect Mr Emery doesn’t have the same problem.
    However I do think the article and the header should be updated to refer to him by his correct title of ‘Head Coach’

  6. OT: Arsenal Women versus Chel$ea

    Guardian has a commentary going on the game, about 20 minutes or so in.


  7. OT: Arsenal Women versus Chel$ea

    Guardian has a commentary going on the game, about 20 minutes or so in.

    Commentary. Oh, look how good Che$ea is. Aren’t Chel$ea wonderful! Look how easily Chel$ea carve up Arsenal. And then:

    … Chelsea’s defending has been so solid, conceding two in a game, let alone in a half seemed unthinkable.

    Half time, Arsenal lead 0-2.


  8. The Guardian spending more time talking up how wonderful Chel$ea are, and the Gunners keep scoring!


  9. Congratulations to the women Gunners, thrashing Chel$ea 0-5!

    Last comment from the doorknob at The Guardian was:

    Anyway, what do I know…

  10. Indeed ‘what do I know…’ And this from BBC Sports ‘…with Drew Spence unable to force the loose ball home and reduce the deficit to 2-1.

    Had she done so, Chelsea may have been able to take something from the game, but after Nobbs’ fortunate first, Beth Mead provided assists for two more as Arsenal took their goal tally to 33 in all competitions so far this season – nine of them by Miedema.’

    No they would rather the reader be impressed as to how unfortunate Chelsea was and not how good Arsenal was. Notice the wistfulness in the message to readers. Chelsea should have gotten something!! Media bias against Arsenal even extended to the Women.

  11. Andy Mac(k) Unai’s Red Army sounds about right and a banner screaming We’ve got our Arsenal back! will look great at the Ems. I understand you are still grieving the loss of the ‘last manager’ ….

  12. clockerz, I can see you do have self worth issues and more, if you think anyone is grieving the loss of AW with the results and performance under UE…

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