By Tony Attwood
The fact that there is nothing wrong with Arsenal as a team is not something that you will read in many publications. What you will see over and over again is that there is something wrong with Arsenal as the main theme, and things need to be changed.
But, let me take you back to a topic that I’ve written about before. Consider this: our home form this season…
Home form this year
Yes, we are the third best team on home form in the Premier League. OK Liverpool have a game in hand at home, as to Chelsea. Tottenham and Manchester United have two games in hand. But even if Liverpool and Chelsea win their games in hand, and even if Tottenham and Manchester United win both of their games, we will still be the third best team at home, just four points behind the top team in the country. And still significantly ahead of the three members of the “top six” who are below us.
In short, our home form is very good. Even our home defence is quite reasonable (just one more goal conceded than Manchester City at home.)
Now, as we all know, our away form is not that good – if it were just as good we would be happily looking forward to a top four finish, without any worries.
But I keep coming back to why. Why, if it is the same players in the team, is the away form that much worse?
Away form only – this season
Even if we won our two away games in hand over Tottenham and Manchester United, we’d still not make it into the top four on away matches.
This decline in away form is something that has occurred across this season and the previous two seasons. If we go back to 2015/16 our away form at the end of the season showed us in third place
2016 – away games only
We started to slip seriously when it came to away games in 2016/17 – although to be fair we were only one point worse than the season before – but other clubs all around us were improving their away form.
By 2017/18 we were in real trouble because our away form really had collapsed from 30 points gained in the season right down to 16 points, and 11th place.
Now this season we can see from the table above of away matches we are 8th with 18 points – meaning that with six away games to go we have already got two more points than last year. If we won four of those games we would indeed be back to our position of a few years ago, but that seems unlikely.
I don’t know why we have been so poor away from home, but I do know that this is not simply a matter of buying more and more defenders. The defenders we have can and do work well in home matches. So they are not bad players. What we have to do is get them to defend just as well in away matches, and for our attackers to nick the odd goal. Indeed we need around 35 goals away from home each season – not the 20 we had last season.
I really do think that endless tales of buying this defender or that defender are not right – there is simply something wrong with the way we play away from home, which replacing two or three defenders won’t put right. The guys we have can and do put up a good show at home – we just need to be able to get them to do the same away from home.