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The dramatic decline in Arsenal’s away form and what we can do about it

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

Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Manchester City 15 14 0 1 50 11 39 42
2 Liverpool 14 12 2 0 40 7 33 38
3 Arsenal 15 12 2 1 35 12 23 38
4 Chelsea 14 9 4 1 28 9 19 31
5 Tottenham Hotspur 13 9 0 4 24 12 12 27
6 Manchester United 13 7 5 1 25 16 9 26

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

Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Tottenham Hotspur 15 11 0 4 31 17 14 33
2 Liverpool 14 9 4 1 24 8 16 31
3 Manchester United 15 9 2 4 30 20 10 29
4 Manchester City 13 8 2 3 25 9 16 26
5 Chelsea 13 7 1 5 19 20 -1 22
6 Watford 15 5 5 5 22 22 0 20
7 Wolverhampton Wanderers 14 5 4 5 15 16 -1 19
8 Arsenal 13 5 3 5 25 26 -1 18

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

Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Leicester City 19 11 6 2 33 18 15 39
2 Tottenham Hotspur 19 9 7 3 34 20 14 34
3 Arsenal 19 8 7 4 34 25 9 31

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.

Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Chelsea 19 13 3 3 30 16 14 42
2 Manchester City 19 12 2 5 43 22 21 38
3 Manchester United 19 10 5 4 28 17 11 35
4 Liverpool 19 10 5 4 33 24 9 35
5 Tottenham Hotspur 19 9 6 4 39 17 22 33
6 Arsenal 19 9 3 7 38 28 10 30

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.

Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Manchester City 19 16 2 1 45 13 32 50
2 Tottenham Hotspur 19 10 4 5 34 20 14 34
3 Manchester United 19 10 4 5 30 19 11 34
4 Chelsea 19 10 3 6 32 22 10 33
5 Liverpool 19 9 5 5 39 28 11 32
6 Burnley 19 7 7 5 20 22 -2 28
7 Leicester City 19 5 5 9 31 38 -7 20
8 AFC Bournemouth 19 4 6 9 19 31 -12 18
9 Crystal Palace 19 4 6 9 16 28 -12 18
10 Southampton 19 3 8 8 17 30 -13 17
11 Arsenal 19 4 4 11 20 31 -11 16

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.

5 comments to The dramatic decline in Arsenal’s away form and what we can do about it

  • Tikpo

    Quite right! We do have a problem with churning out good results away from home!
    How about we start packing the bus in away games? It makes sense to at least not lose; rather than play to win away games particularly against teams beneath us in the table. When the same group of players get good results at home and cannot repeat the same feat away, the problem is obviously psychological. Playing with caution away from home therefore makes good sense.

  • insideright

    Our current points total is almost 25% better than it was at the same stage as last season and pretty much all of that has come from improved away form (the home form remaining excellent). Why so pessimistic Tony?

  • Strus

    In the same home fixtures, Arsenal got the same amount of points , but in away fixtures Arsenal managed to get 9 points more.
    Now the defence is kinda sorted out( not too many injuries), the xGA is really good in the last 2 months.
    Even in the lost matches to BATE and WHU Arsenal was not bad defensively. Exception was MC match.
    The most encouriging sings is Ozil + Mkhitarian. If they both remain fit, Arsenal have huge chances to get to CL.
    I have seeen most Southampton match and whole Bournemouth match- and almost nothing more since Swansea won 2-1 at Emirates 3 years ago. I’ll come to see more matches if I will have time for it.

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    Before the season campaign in the PL comes to a close, Arsenal could still further improved on their away form this season to beat Tottenham Hotspur in the PL tomorrow at Wembley to sustain their charge for a top four table finish this season.

  • Tikpo

    Insideright, I guess I ve had too many heart breaks after too many false starts! 22 unbeaten included several away games which built hope.
    A run of positive away results sure is a confidence builder. Hopefully Saturdays outing at White Hart lane will calm the nerves. As arseblog puts it, the law of averages favours us. we ve got to win a game there sometime!

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