By Tony Attwood
The central question is a simple one: are we doing any better this under Mr Emery than previously under Mr Wenger?
The reason for asking is that the campaign to oust Mr Wenger was also very simple, consisting just of the message, “Wenger Out”. It didn’t talk about how much money might be avaialble to the new manager, nor the amount of money other clubs were willing to spend this season, nor how long it would take for things to improve under the new manager – simply that in order to improve the manager ought to go.
So, to see how well we are doing compared with past seasons, I’ve taken a look at how our league position this season after 27 games compares with that at the same point in previous seasons.
The first column gives us the season and the second our position in the league after 27 games.
The position column tells us we are in pretty much an average position for this time in the season, in the previous four seasons we have been sixth twice and third twice. Today we are fourth – and noteably we have won more games by this point in the season than any of the previous four seasons: 16 out of 27.
We are also equal with 2015 and 2016 in having only lost six games in the league thus far.
In terms of goals scored we are one behind our best season on 55 goals, but feelings of unease about our defence are at least partially shown to be valid since this is our worst defensive season at this point across the five seasons analysed. We have conceded 37, 11 more than our best season where we conceded 26 by this stage.
The goal difference not surprisingly is middle ranking, but we have the best points total at this stage with 53. That is eight more points than last season.
So on this basis it looks like a bit of progress. More points and more goals than this time last season.
However we must also consider where Arsenal is in relation to the top teams in the league. Here’s the table.
2018/19 – we are 13 points behind the league leaders, and with a goal difference that is 26 goals inferior to the league leaders.
2017/18 – we were a massive 27 points behind the league leaders and with a goal difference 44 worse than the leaders.
2016/17 – here we were 16 points worse than the leaders and a GD of 13 worst than the leaders
2015/16 – we were only two points behind the leaders and a goal difference of one worse than the leaders.
2014/15 – nine points and a goal difference of 12 behind the leaders.
So we are back to the 2016/17 level of performance roughly speaking, but nowhere near the level of 2014/15 and 2015/16 where we were running the team then currently top of the league a lot closer.
But, and this is the big point it seems to me, 2014/15 and 2015/16 were not at the time considered to be great triumphs in the league. These were the years when the notion that qualifying for the Champions League year after year was taken pretty much for granted. But we have a long way to go before we reach that level again.
The simple fact is that we are doing better than 2015/16, when we ended up runners’ up. But what has happened is that the gap between what Arsenal are doing, and what the top two in the league are doing now, has grown enormously.
We have enough points to have made us top of the league in February 2016, but now we are fourth, 13 points and 26 goals behind the leaders. It is not that we have got worse, but rather the top teams have got a lot better.
If we want to catch up we still have a very long way to go.
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