By Tony Attwood
Well I woke up this morning, man on the radio moaning about the Arsenal back four Yes I woke up this morning, heard a man moaning about the Arsenal back four He said, "They won't win anything playing like that, no matter how many they score"
(Traditional Northamptonshire blues, circa 2018)
I’m not sure who it was doing the reporting this morning on Radio 4 but he sure was worried, so I wondered if I could ease his troubled mind, as the blues singers do, by working out this scenario.
The man on the radio said we were only able to beat the lesser teams that we face. So I thought, supposing Arsenal lose every game against the five teams that came above us last season – but win the rest. Of course that won’t happen, but the implication of the radio piece this morning was that “it is all very well being able to beat the lesser teams, but what happens when they meet the rest of the top six from last year.”
So let us enter the fainciful reality that is the mind of the BBC football reporter, a reallity in which Arsenal win against all the teams that came below them last season, but lose against the five that came above us.
That gives us 28 wins and 10 defeats (no draws, because draws were not being debated), across the whole 38 match season. Now of course people will be saying “that won’t happen – we are bound to slip up against Watford or Bournemouth or someone like that”. And maybe that is so. But then I don’t think we will lose every one of the ten games against last year’s top five both home and away, either.
So in my fanciful scenario it would be 28 wins, 10 defeats gives 84 points, which would, in last season’s table have taken us up to… second
Premier League table at close of 2017-18 season
The final column shows the points per game each team gained last season as well as our mythical New Arsenal’s points per game.
So how does this comapre with now?
Not to bad in fact – better than we might have expected.
OK it is fanciful stuff and I am not predicting second. I am staying with 3rd or 4th because our away form improves. And speaking of “fanciful” it should be remembered that so is all the stuff about saying we have won 11 in a row (excuding the Trophy game) and “I worry about the Arsenal defence”.
And did we deserve the win? Well, simple statistics can give some sort of guidance here
- Sporting: shots off target: 8
- Arsenal: shots off target: 2
- Sporting: shots on target: 2
- Arsenal: shots on targe: 7
Ah yes but Sporting were soft targets. Well, yes up to a point, and yes they have had a lot of problems of late but also they have not lost a game at the Estádio José Alvalade since Barcelona beat them over a year ago.
But read the reports and you will find that by and large we did lose, because it was a “strangely sluggish first half”. And anyway the game was “tepid” so it didn’t really count did it?
Oh yes and the Arsenal goal was “fortuitous”. Many are. Attackers are fortunate that defenders are standing six inches too far to the left, or a foot too far back. And the ball went through the goal keeper’s legs so Danny couldn’t have meant that so it doesn’t count.
One more to show that it wasn’t really that good a show, and the league tables do tell fibs: “It took a fair amount of huffing and puffing to overcome an organised Sporting side in Lisbon…”
That’s all we’ve got. The huff and the puff. So in fact we lost because “Sokratis was fortunate to avoid conceding a free-kick”.
Even when we win it ain’t real.
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