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.
|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|
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.
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