By Tony Attwood
The prime objective of this season for many supporters was, I think, to see Arsenal get back into the Champions League, where Mr Wenger had kept the club for so many years (a run, as I have mentioned before, which has only ever been exceeded by Real Madrid).
I made the comment before the season started that the obvious way to do this was to improve Arsenal’s away record. Indeed a return to our regular performances of recent years in away form while maintaining our home form would take us up to third.
But… I did indeed miss out one rather vital point. That notion of improving the away form and keeping the home form as before assumed that the rest of the top six clubs from last season did not improve – thus creating a bigger gap between the top six and the rest of the league and the top four and Arsenal.
In fact that is not what has come to pass, because the top six, at least thus far, has become a top five, and several of the top six from last season have indeed improved.
In the table below (put together before Tottenham’s game this weekend against Everton) I have taken the goal difference of this year against last year, and the points gained this year from the same number of games last year – except for Tottenham who thus far have played one game fewer.
Finally I have added the net spend of each club through the summer.
|#||Team||GD 2018||GD 2017||GD diff||Pts 2018||Pts 2017||Pts diff||Net spend £m|
What we can see is that Liverpool are the great gainers with 12 more points than last season and a similar rise in goal difference (+14 better GD.) And we might expect this with them having spent £156,000,000 net in the summer.
Tottenham have also gained points, although made little improvement in their goal difference. Chelsea are pretty much where they were, although I am sure they really hoped to be better off, having spent £83m. Manchester City and Manchester United are the big losers – but Man City were so far ahead last year, even a drop of eight points from a year ago still keeps them very safely near the top. (But several of my Arsenal supporting pals gave quite a cheer for Palace last night!)
So as a result of being five goals and four points better off than a year ago, Arsenal are still outside the top four.
However as you may recall, last season after Christmas things did not go according to plan.
We safely beat Palace away but then only drew with relegation threatened WBA on New Year’s Eve. A home draw with Chelsea on 3 January was all right given their status, but then the wheels really did start to fall off the away form…
|03 Jan 2018||Arsenal v Chelsea||D||2-2||Premier League|
|07 Jan 2018||Nottingham Forest v Arsenal||L||4-2||FA Cup|
|10 Jan 2018||Chelsea v Arsenal||D||0-0||League Cup|
|14 Jan 2018||AFC Bournemouth v Arsenal||L||2-1||Premier League|
|20 Jan 2018||Arsenal v Crystal Palace||W||4-1||Premier League|
|24 Jan 2018||Arsenal v Chelsea||W||2-1||League Cup|
|30 Jan 2018||Swansea City v Arsenal||L||3-1||Premier League|
|03 Feb 2018||Arsenal v Everton||W||5-1||Premier League|
|10 Feb 2018||Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal||L||1-0||Premier League|
|15 Feb 2018||Östersunds FK v Arsenal||W||0-3||Europa League|
|22 Feb 2018||Arsenal v Östersunds FK||L||1-2||Europa League|
|25 Feb 2018||Arsenal v Manchester City||L||0-3||League Cup|
|01 Mar 2018||Arsenal v Manchester City||L||0-3||Premier League|
|04 Mar 2018||Brighton and Hove v Arsenal||L||2-1||Premier League|
My recollection is that it wasn’t just the number of defeats that did us, but also of losing to teams we should never lose to: Forest, Bournemouth, Östersunds FK at home, Brighton.
It was that combination of losing to teams we might expect to beat while also losing to Tottenham away and Man City twice. Of course everyone knew by then that Manchester City had put together a staggeringly good team (although by that time we didn’t quite know how they were getting so much money and being able to spend it without fear of being picked up) and yes, let’s admit it, Tottenham have their best team in many a long year.
It was that we could lose to anyone and everyone. Östersunds FK, Manchester City, Brighton, Nottingham Forest – you name them, we could lose to them. That was the disappointment and the worry.
So the question is, can we maintain the current form and not have a dip like last year? And, to help us get into the top four, will Chelsea’s wobble continue?
Here’s the top five before the tiny totts do their stuff this afternoon.
- Official reactions to Dyche will show us how the authorities are thinking
- Final score live match report Arsenal – Burnley : 3-1
- Arsenal – the “monster” Manchester City created (according to reports)
- Manchester City v Arsenal: The Big 7 Stats, and comparisons of the last 6 games
- Manchester City v Arsenal: surprising statistics and a result prediction
- Arsenal’s 25 man squad – is it already full?
- Yet another example of the way the media tries to put down Arsenal