By Tony Attwood
The continuing undefeated run is quite something; no one (other that TV pundits) would disagree with that. But while we were shivvering watching the Thursday night game we started to compare this season with recent seasons, just to stop the cold eating too many brain cells.
Here is the top six now
Going back a year to 2017 we were like this
So we have five more points than a year ago and a goal difference that is five better. The defence is the same, having let in 20, but the attack is getting more goals.
And back to 2016
Now two years ago we had scored two more goals, let in three fewer and we had the same number of points.
So in many regards there is not too much change going on – aside from the fact we have pointed out over and over and over again until it is rather boring: last season there was but one problem – a total imbalance between home and away form.
I would argue that we should continue to compare this season with Mr Wenger’s final two years – and not just to see if Arsenal are progressing but also to note the competition we are up against.
For example, this year we have a new club at the top, but that club has got a small number of points than the previous two seasons.
This year after 16 games Liverpool are top with 42 points. A year ago it was Manchester City with 46 points, and the year before it was Chelsea with 40 points.
As for goals for and against, Liverpool have a For/Against score of 34/6. Last year the league leaders had 48/11. The year before Chelsea had 34/11
As seen above, two years ago after 16 games we were dead equal with Liverpool, only below them by having scored three goals fewer but with an identical goal difference. One goal more and we would have been second at that point.
Yet by the end of the season we had sunk to a place 11 points behind second spot, although to be fair to the club only three points and three goals behind third. If one of those nine defeats had been a win, we’d have entered the Champions League.
So having lost only two games so far in the season is good, but not unique. We were in the same place in 2016.
Now to round this up, let us imagine that 4th was a trophy.
In 2016 a club needed 66 points to come 4th. That was Manchester City who had 33 points after 16 games.
In 2017 a club needed 76 points to come 4th. That was Liverpool who had 30 points after 16 games.
This season Arsenal has 34 points after 16 games, which for the past two seasons has been enough to get the “not at trophy” spot.
So yes we are on course – they key thing to do is to make sure we don’t suffer a sudden collapse after Christmas. Last season we lost two league matches in January, one in February and two in March. That is what we have to avoid.