By Tony Attwood
One year ago after 25 games the league table in Mr Wenger’s final season had Arsenal 6th on 42 points. We were eight points off fourth place and the much derided (at the time) challenge for a Champions League place.
Today we see that Arsenal are still sixth but now on 47 points, but only three points off a Champions League place.
One year ago the eventual champions were already looking home and dry on 68 points with the second club on 53. Second is an interesting position because in recent years Arsenal have reached second – although no higher. It was in the season that Leicester won the league, and was not considered by many fans – perhaps most fans, as something worth celebrating. Now the figures are quite different.
If we compare two of the top six clubs at this moment (Arsenal on 6th and Chelsea on 4th) on points difference we can see why…
|Season||Position||Goals for||Goals against||Points|
This looks a little odd, I know, but it hides an interesting fact or two.
If we look at the first two rows, which show the position of the 6th club at this moment in the season (Arsenal in both cases) we can see that this season we have scored five more goals and conceded two more than at this point last year. But we have five more points.
So an improvement. Not an improvement in defence which many experts and fans were calling for – our defence this season is slightly worse, but an improvement in attack and an improvement in points.
If we look at the club in fourth position – a position to which we might aspire if the “fourth is not a trophy” argument has now died a death – in each case this is Chelsea. Their goals scored this season and last season is identical and in both cases it is fewer than Arsenal in sixth place. Their goals against however is considerably lower than Arsenal each time, and of course their points are greater than Arsenal.
In fact Chelsea have conceded 13 and 15 goals fewer than Arsenal in the two seasons by this moment in the campaign.
So does this tell us much? Well, yes, if we consider that our current target is to rise from sixth to fourth in order to get into the Champions League, we still need a tighter defence.
But basically this season not much has changed. We have scored five more goals (ie one goal more every five games) we have five more points and have conceded two more goals. It is much the same all round. True, we are 14 points behind the leaders instead of 26, but that is primarily because there is no run away leader this season, and several clubs are fighting for top spot.
So the question is, is it too soon to expect change? Should people give Mr Emery more than one season to build a different club?
Maybe so – although the question then is, will the owner give him any money or are all the new purchases going to be dependent on sales? If the latter, given the money that pours into Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City, that might make things difficult.
As it is, for the moment we are pretty much where we were with Mr Wenger – the only difference is that there are no placards demanding the departure of the manager.