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Just how much has Arsenal improved this season?

by Tony Attwood

After all the years of creating that extraordinary run in the Champions League (19 consecutive seasons, second only to Real Madrid on 21), and doing rather well against Tottenham (I think it was over 20 games without defeat between 19 March 2000 and 9 January 2008 – although I may have miscounted), not qualifying for the Champs and occasionally losing to the Tiny Totts seemed an outrage, an unacceptable decline.

So unacceptable in fact that fourth was no longer defined as “not a trophy” but instead became an ambition.  Tottenham was no longer a minor irritant to be swatted aside like an buzzy fly but instead a team that had the audacity to end up above us.

Of course the media has loved this and portrayed Arsenal’s slippage in the table in the last couple of years as something as catastrophic as that of recent champions, like Chelsea finishing 10th, Leicester (12th and 9th), Manchester United. (7th, 4th, 5th, 6th).

And of course there has been no references to all the years in which we ended up above Tottenham in the table.  But three consecutive finishes in the top four has removed all memory of 25 consecutive seasons of not finishing in the top four.  How short memory can be.

But Arsenal has not been like this at all.  After the success with the doubles and the unbeaten season we have not had the decline of other clubs.  Instead the demands became ever higher, with people ludicrously suggesting that in some unspecified way Arsenal ought to be able to stay in touch with Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United while paying for a new stadium (none of those three have done that) and balancing the books.  (Man U did the latter, but I sometimes have wondered whether Chelsea and Man City actually have books to balance.  Now we know; Man City don’t.  They threaten Uefa instead).

Although I am not that good as a futurologist it does seem to me that being second in the goal scoring rankings as we are at present, and being second in goalscoring only to a club who have not had to pay for either their main stadium or their training ground out of their own earnings, says something about Arsenal’s current position.  32 goals in 14 league games is not only highly entertaining, but also worthy of note by itself.

But how worthy of note?  I thought it might be interesting to see how we are doing at the moment in comparison with seasons that we all particularly remember.  Figures are for league matches only.

Season Goals For Goals for per game Goals Against Goals against per game GD
1997/8 68 from 38 1.79 33 from 38 0.87 0.92
2001/2 79 2.08 36 0.95 1.13
2003/4 73 1.92 26 0.68 1.24
2016/17 77 2.03 44 1.16 0.87
2017/18 74 1.95 51 1.34 o,61
2018/19 32 from 14 2.29 18 from 14 1.29 1.00

The fact is that we are scoring more per game this season than we have done in any of title winning seasons under Wenger.  True, the defence is not as good as in our title winning seasons of the Wenger years, but when we look at our average goal difference per game in the league we are not only way ahead of the last two years (as you would imagine) but also above what it took to win the league in 1997/8 and heading towards the 2001/2 figure.

This is not to say I am predicting we will win the league, but rather I am tryinig to show just how far we have bounced back by having the best attack we have had in years.

2.29 goals per league game is a fantastic achievement which we should be proud of.  Yes 1.29 goals against per game is not what we would like to see and a goal difference per game of 1.0 is not back to the best of the second Wenger double or the Unbeaten, but is good.

Maybe we can make the defence better by buying in a player or two, but also Torreira is getting better game by game.  And remember, not every purchase works.

18 comments to Just how much has Arsenal improved this season?

  • nick

    We have improved masively over the last couple of seasons and a lot of credit has to go to the club.They made a brave call in replacing the manager and it seems to have worked wonders.Uni Emery is young dynamic and a very tactically astute manager who isnt frightened to make hard decisions when needed .He studies each team we play meticulously and sets his up accordingly.Hes not frightened also to leave big players out if they dont fit the tactics.He certainly blows tony’s theory about only a small % of managers work at new clubs.
    I think with Ramsey the club realise that he could be sold for a large sum in January and that money could be used to strengthen in other areas.I would love to see us get a top CB and as has been shown with Van Dijk at liverpool could help us massively shore up the defense.
    If we can get that area sorted we could really be a top force again.

  • Mikey

    OT

    I’ve just read that Keith Hackett is saying that Dean was correct to give the Spuds a penalty even though there was no contact on Son. His argument is that Holding’s challenge was reckless so it didn’t matter whether he made contact or not.

    What complete and utter bullshit. If what Hackett says is technically correct, then why have we never seen free-kicks or penalties ever given in such situations before and why aren’t players sent off for such offences. I wonder how many penalties Hackett gave in his career when he knew that no contact had been made? I’d bet none whatsoever.

    And let’s not forget the time Eduardo went down under a challenge from a Celtic player when there was some debate over whether he had been touched or not. The media’s response to that was to completely trash Eduardo and how many people came out and said “ah but it doesn’t matter if there was contact”? Absolutely zero. Hackett is out of order trying to justify a poor decision by Dean purely to try and protect him.

    I’d be very happy if Hackett’s claim was true and for players to be penalised for reckless tackles irrepsective of contact. If that were true and applied correctly, we’d be playing against 8 or 9 players most games.

    One can only assume that if Hacket is correct we will never see a ref check VAR for a penalty at any point in the future as contact is irrelevant. Like that’s going to happen. Or is this referees setting their stall out for the future? So when a refs favourite player goes down under a challenge where there was apparently no contact, they now have an excuse for still giving the penalty.

  • genorm

    Total garbage from Hackett. He’s just consolidating the pigmob omerta. As you say, Mikey, let’s junk the VAR – no need for it. I’ve always loathed the ‘entitled to go down’ and ‘felt some contact’ – what another player breathing? The word is ‘cheat.’

  • Pat

    nick – you say we have improved massively. I seem to remember a recent article by Tony pointing out that our position at this time last season was similar to what it is now. Very pleased with how we are performing, but let us not trash our previous manager to big up this one.

    As Steve Bould has pointed out in an interview with Arsenal.com, Arsene Wenger and the coaching staff always prepared meticulously for each match, watching videos and doing all the things Unai Emery is being praised for as if no one had ever done them before.

    The atmosphere of negativity hyped up by the media and a certain organised group of supporters was a major feature which affected the performances of largely the same group of players we have now. This is what forced our greatest ever manager out of the club, and it should never be forgotten.

  • Nitram

    Pat

    Well said

    I don’t even want to have to mention Wenger because I know it just gets these guys spouting off about ‘cults’ & ‘the dictator’ & ‘Lord Wenger’ and all the other disrespectful insults Wenger and the likes of us have to endure at the mere mention of his name, but I’ll be damed if I’m going to sit by and let these guys use everything good the team and manager does now as a stick to beat him with.

    Emery is doing brilliantly and at times is getting the team purring.

    He and the lads have also found a way to get something out of games we haven’t really deserved to. Another good point.

    But let’s be clear, we are 4th, a place that under Wenger was constantly derided.

    We are doing well in Europe but Wenger got to the semi final don’t forget.

    I think all the signs are that Emery is going to be a success and if HE wins 3 FA Cups and finishes 2nd 3rd 4th and 5th over the next 4 years I will be over the moon.

    As I say I’m loving it at the moment, I just can’t abide the way people have to dig out Wenger at every opportunity, especially as they consistently re write history to do so.

  • Nitram

    The lengths these people go to to justify any decision that goes against us is mind boggling.

    They spent all day yesterday trying to prove contact, even the most minuscule, to justify Deans decision.

    When that contact cannot be shown it suddenly becomes irrelivent.

    Well if it was so irrelivent why was Redknap and co so desperate to claim there was contact?

    Bunch of c***s the lot of em.

  • Jammy

    nick – “He certainly blows tony’s theory about only a small % of managers work at new clubs.” – I’m sorry, but in what way does a single manager doing well almost immediately after arriving blow the theory that only a small percentage of managers work at new clubs? Do you know what a small percentage means? Are you confusing the words “small” and “zero”? I know they sound very similar and contain the same number of letters in each of the words, but they actually have two very distinct different meanings.

    Here, I’ll give you and hand;

    Small – https://www.dictionary.com/browse/small

    Zero – https://www.dictionary.com/browse/zero?s=t

    I hope that clears it up, or would you like me to go into any further detail of the differences between the word “small” and “zero”?

  • Polo

    After round 14 Arsenal was:

    4th last season 9 wins 1 draw 4 lost
    4th this season 9 wins 3 draws 2 lost
    Last season goals scored 28 conceded 16
    This season 32 goals scored 18 conceded
    Last season Arsenal 2 Chicken 0
    This season Arsenal 4 Chicken 2

    Slight improvement not massive.19 games unbeaten so far in all competition is wonderful. Emery is a very good coach, and I’m happy with him so far. The only massive improvement are no more silly banners and flying aeroplanes.

  • Ando

    It can get to the point, on this and other boards, when to even mention Wenger (a man I respect and am grateful to) is to be called out for being ‘down’ on him
    I find the same thing happens around vexed issues like Israel when the cry of ‘anti-semitiism’is parroted by the feeble minded
    I distinctly remember a thread around this time last season when I commented that obviously something was going on within the club which did not have a strong or confident feel to it.
    Several regulars agreed and loyally supported Arsene. I did but quietly.
    Now we have a wonderful hombrę who is totally focussed on the game in hand, changing and directing things from the touchline and beach. Let us be happy.
    There is a buzz about Arsenal now which, let us be frank, was absent in the last few seasons of our previous & greatest manager.
    He delivered us a successful and soundly financed club with a brilliant new stadium, with which Emery and others may continue to prosper.
    It’s the Arsenal I support, ever since falling in love with Danny Clapton and his falling-over routine.
    Come on you Gunners.

  • nick

    Nitram and Pat
    You two probably still want Wenger to be our manager no matter how much we had declined over the last few seasons.Change had to come as half empty stadium and bickering by the fanbase did not go unnoticed.If i remember most on here didnt want Pep when he was available and said that Wenger was better.What has been shown over the last few years is that young dynamic tactically astute managers like Pep,Klopp,Pochettino and Emery are the future of the game .

  • I saw nothing “reckless” about Holding’s challenge, any more that oine see many times in a game when no foul is given.

    If there was no contact then it is not a penalty.

    We have seen in the past that there is one rule for us and another for other teams when Viera was sent off for kicking out at Van Nistelroy and not touching him.

    By the way, I think the Times reporter who reports on the game in today’s Game, did not see the same game as I did.

    The scores he gives for the players are more than ridiculous.

    I think that both teams need to be congratulated for producing an amazing game from start to finish.

  • Would Pep be so good if he did not have billions to spend?

    I doubt it.

  • GoingGoingGooner

    I think that our results are not much different than last year. We hope that we shall continue and improve and start dominating the league again…much like last year.

    What has changed is 1)that Arsene Wenger is gone which has removed a lot of the unhappiness from a sector of the Arsenal support; 2) We have some new players, some developing young players and some newish players have bedded in this year…this is a continuation from last year; and 3) Our style has become more visibly aggressive and we play out from the back more often. Now whether that will lead to better results remains to be seen but from a spectator’s point of view you can see the team’s effort and for some that is what they want…for now.

  • Menace

    Nice one Ando.

    I backed Arsenal to win the League, covered with 2nd, 3rd & 4th.
    I backed Auba to be top scorer and I also backed ManU not to be in top 4.
    So far so good, it makes it more interesting than just watching.

    Should have put some dosh on Spuds being nomads for another year.

    Do not gamble money you cannot afford.

  • coyg

    Always worth mentioning that they didn’t win a league game against us in the whole of the noughties. I love that the british media were, im general, umable to see that ssshh… dier is bang average compared to Mr Lucas Toreira! The statistic about that lot blowing leads against us is wonderful.

  • Mr. Clattenburg says that neither of the Sp*rs goals should have been allowed, which is exactly the way I saw it.

    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-6452015/Arsenal-4-2-Tottenham-Pierre-Emerick-Aubameyang-brace-lights-NLD.html

  • To address the topic under discussion, I think there has been a slight improvement when considering only the stats., but when I take the performances into consideration, I think the margin of improvement is a little greater. The team seems to be a little tougher this season. I feel more confident at the beginning of games these days. Even when we were losing 2-1 at half-time on Sunday, I wasn’t really worried for us. I believe that Unai will improve the defensive side of our game as the season progresses and expect to see the Goals Against average to come down.

  • Strus

    Last year in the same fixtures Arsenal gathered 5-7 point less(it depends how you assign promoted teams n the place of relegated teams)

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