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Arsenal’s form: we’re closer to the top four than you might think

By Tony Attwood

There was a general feeling of disappointment following the draw with Tottenham last weekend, obviously so given the nature of the Tottenham goal and the missed penalty at the end.

But if we look at Arsenal’s recent record in the league, things are not too bad

Date Game Res Score
19 Jan 2019 Arsenal v Chelsea W 2-0
29 Jan 2019 Arsenal v Cardiff City W 2-1
03 Feb 2019 Manchester City v Arsenal L 3-1
09 Feb 2019 Huddersfield Town v Arsenal W 1-2
24 Feb 2019 Arsenal v Southampton W 2-0
27 Feb 2019 Arsenal v AFC Bournemouth W 5-1
02 Mar 2019 Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal D 1-1

Five wins, one draw and one defeat in the last seven league games, with three of the games against other members of the Top Six, and the defeat coming against the team currently top of the league.

But these figures, as so often is the case, could be seen the other way around.  One could point out that of the three away games, our poor away form has continued – one win, one draw, one defeat.  And the win was against the bottom club.

However, all good runs include some ordinary games, getting wins that one expects.  One might expect them, but they still have to be got.

Additionally we have scored 15 goals in seven games – again not bad when three of the games were against top six sides.

The target of course is a top four finish – the old “not a trophy” position.  Not because we expect to win the Champions League if we can get into it, but because the Champions League brings in the money, and a few years back in the CL could mean more money for the transfer market.  Assuming of course that the owner decides to let the club have the money, rather than take it as profit for his own growing fortune – which he could quite legitimately do.

The league table though shows us fifth not fourth, and with Chelsea behind us with a game in hand, that doesn’t look too clever…

Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Manchester City 29 23 2 4 76 20 56 71
2 Liverpool 29 21 7 1 64 15 49 70
3 Tottenham Hotspur 29 20 1 8 56 30 26 61
4 Manchester United 29 17 7 5 58 38 20 58
5 Arsenal 29 17 6 6 61 39 22 57
6 Chelsea 28 17 5 6 49 30 19 56

But are there any weaknesses that can be found among the three clubs around us: Tottenham, Manchester United and Chelsea?

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Considering home form the weakest team is Tottenham as this table of home form only shows

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 Manchester United 14 8 5 1 28 18 10 29
6 Tottenham Hotspur 14 9 1 4 25 13 12 28

Four defeats at home for Tottenham – everyone else has one.

But unfortunately when it comes to the away form, it is Arsenal that are the weak links

Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Tottenham Hotspur 15 11 0 4 31 17 14 33
2 Liverpool 15 9 5 1 24 8 16 32
3 Manchester City 14 9 2 3 26 9 17 29
4 Manchester United 15 9 2 4 30 20 10 29
5 Chelsea 14 8 1 5 21 21 0 25
6 Crystal Palace 15 6 2 7 25 24 1 20
7 Watford 15 5 5 5 22 22 0 20
8 Arsenal 14 5 4 5 26 27 -1 19

Chelsea have lost as many away as we have, and Tottenham, top of the away league, have lost only one game fewer than we have.  But Tottenham and Chelsea have avoided those dreaded draws, of which we have had four.

I am still puzzled over the persistence of the problem of our away form which is a continuation from last season.  Yes there is a bit of an improvement, but we are still a long way away from the form we had a few seasons back when we ended up second in the league.

In terms of goal scoring overall we are the third most prolific team, with 61 league goals thus far – more than Manchester United, Tottenham and Chelsea…

Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Manchester City 29 23 2 4 76 20 56 71
2 Liverpool 29 21 7 1 64 15 49 70
5 Arsenal 29 17 6 6 61 39 22 57
4 Manchester United 29 17 7 5 58 38 20 58
3 Tottenham Hotspur 29 20 1 8 56 30 26 61
6 Chelsea 28 17 5 6 49 30 19 56

But the defence is letting in too many, even with this powerful attack…  Here is the league in goals against order

Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Liverpool 29 21 7 1 64 15 49 70
2 Manchester City 29 23 2 4 76 20 56 71
3 Tottenham Hotspur 29 20 1 8 56 30 26 61
4 Chelsea 28 17 5 6 49 30 19 56
5 Wolverhampton Wanderers 29 12 7 10 37 35 2 43
6 Newcastle United 29 8 7 14 26 36 -10 31
7 Manchester United 29 17 7 5 58 38 20 58
8 Arsenal 29 17 6 6 61 39 22 57

Of course the attack does help compensate for this – if we build a league table just based on goal difference we are fourth…

Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Manchester City 29 23 2 4 76 20 56 71
2 Liverpool 29 21 7 1 64 15 49 70
3 Tottenham Hotspur 29 20 1 8 56 30 26 61
4 Arsenal 29 17 6 6 61 39 22 57
5 Manchester United 29 17 7 5 58 38 20 58
6 Chelsea 28 17 5 6 49 30 19 56

Which shows that we have two areas that could be improved – the away form and the goals conceded.

Now you might argue that there is nothing new being said here – that everyone has been saying for ages that the defence is the problem.   But just five fewer goals conceded would make us fifth in the defensive league and with the third best goal difference in the league.  The gap is not that large.  Five goals across 29 games.

If of those five goals, one was against West Ham, one against Southampton and one against Chelsea, turning three defeats into three draws, we would have three more points, leaving us fourth, one point behind Tottenham.  If the list was West Ham, Southampton and Brighton, we’d be better off still.

OK it is still “if if if” and one can do the same with all teams, but the fact that just three goals could make such a difference suggests to me we are not that far away.  Certainly not so far  away as to suggest the need to a wholesale rebuilding of the team.

People do still call for a complete rebuilding of the defence of course, but that will take time, both in terms of transfers and players bedding in.  If we could improve the defensive system, we might be able to pick up extra points like that, and get back into the top four.   Then we could consider where we go from there.

16 comments to Arsenal’s form: we’re closer to the top four than you might think

  • MickHazel

    No changes to the confusing offside law (as it is currently interpreted) then. As it stands at the moment even the officials seem to differ in their interpretation of the law see the Kane one last weekend where some refs said the offside should have taken precedence over the push and others vice versa.

  • Les Williams

    The change to the handball law is now even more subjective I would say. What about an unintentional handball from a defender?

    The offside law reminds me of a comment by somebody, I think it was Bill Shankly, who said that if you are on the pitch you are interfering with play – if not what are you doing there?

    BTW from my understanding of the rules Kane was offside. I say that as a non arsenal supporter but as a football fan

  • Nitram

    MickHazel

    “Even the officials seem to differ in their interpretation of the law”

    They do indeed, and basically it involves screwing Arsenal at every opportunity whist allowing Spurs players to headbutt, go in studs first, kick out and dive to their hearts content.

    This is why VAR is just going to add to the problem.

    If we don’t get screwed in real time, VAR will just give them a second chance.

    Just read JimB to see how reality can be twisted to absolve Spurs of any guilt for anything.

    Since when has ‘going for the ball’ been a defence ?

    You might be ‘going for the ball’ but if you miss it and take the player out it’s a ‘late tackle’ and depending on its severity it can be let go, a yellow or a red.

    You might be ‘going for the ball’ but if your studs are showing it is a foul and warrents at least a yellow and possibly a red even if you don’t touch the player. If you do it’s a red. End of.

    The same applies to a ‘high’ challenge.

    The appropriate punishment is completely and utterly irrelevant of whether you attempted to play the ball.

    When you see to what lengths people go to to justify Spurs getting away with murder it’s mind boggling.

  • Does it matter that Rose kicked Leno in the chest and JT hit Rose on the leg?

    A kick on the chest can be fatal, whilst can a kick on the leg be so as well?

  • Andrew Crawshaw

    I haven’t seen any change to the laws of football that will remove sub clause 8B – “unless an Arsenal player is involved”. Don’t expect things to change

    VAR won’t significantly alter things. It took the officials five minutes last night in the Real Madrid v Ajax game to decide if the ball had been kept in play prior to Ajax’s third goal. Imagine the outcry if that were to happen in an Arsenal game next season. The VAR system will be administered by the same PGMO dorks who make the decisions on the field now. They are hardly likely to suddenly start saying their colleagues are wrong. I predict that the outcry against the continuation of VAR will commence in earnest in the first three weeks of next season and that by the end of the year there will be major discussions about abandoning the experiment altogether .

  • MickHazel

    I see teachers pet ‘Poch’ has got a two match touchline ban and according to the couple of idiots I heard on Talksport it is ‘excessive’ and he can consider himself unlucky.
    On the subject of ‘Poch’. I know this will be judged as trivial by some but it is something that has irritated me for a long time.
    Why is it that nearly all the other managers were/are addressed and referred to (somewhat affectionately) by there nicknames or first names, eg Harry, Big Sam, Pep. Ollie, Fergie etc etc, our manager was rarely Arsene but nearly always Wenger, usually said with a hint of disdain and disrespect.

  • Gord

    The only news I see, is that Torreira will have to serve a 3 game ban. Which looks to me like ManU, Wolves and Newcastle.

  • Gord

    How does The (sweet) FA disciplinary committee work? If some team is appealing a decision, does the committee ask the non-Arsenal Top-N teams what they suggest, and majority rules?

  • goonersince72

    Tony

    Thanks for the work. IMO, the defence has improved with Sokratis and a healthy Kos in the middle; they’re very solid. Rob Holding will return and Mavropanos looks a comer. Fullback can be an issue dependent on the formation. Bellerin will return and give Emery some flexibility. The best thing about Saturday’s decision to play Mustafi at RB was that it kept him out of centre defence. Of course he still managed his major mistake per game leading to a goal streak but it could have been worse.

    When AFC come out on the front foot as they did v. Spurs I think they can play with any side with the exception of an in form City. Liverpool also, but I’m not convinced. The tactics and substitutions were spot on and the players responded. The obvious key is to get them playing like that every match. I haven’t a suggestion, I’m a supporter not a football manger. COYG!

  • Sue

    Gord… Torreira misses Mancs, Newcastle & Everton. Gutted… be a huge loss

  • Gord

    WorldFootball shows the Wolves game as rescheduled. I thought it was inserted there, I guess it is that the game was removed from there.

    Oops.

  • KL Gooner

    Because Ozil was not in the games he should be..cock sure that he could have had contributed 3 goals (scoring, assist or pre-assist) at least and we will be up there together with Spuds…That’s all down to Emery

  • Les Williams

    @andrew Crawshaw VAR in the Premier League is going to be on the same template as it is at UEFA. A small bunch of referees and it will make sure that it reinforces what PIGMOB want to happen.

    It is the same referees in Europe who make the same “mistakes” – now where have we heard that before?

    As a football fan I am fed up with coming away from a game where I don’t believe the officials have been “fair” and they have had an agenda.

    The only way things will change is if both UEFA and PIGMOB totally change the structures in place.

    For UEFA how is Hugh Dallas on the management panel for referees? Much like “kipper” Riley at the PIGMOB.

    I used to love football – now I watch most games and can work out what is going to happen after about 10 minutes of play. There is NO unpredictable result – just watch the officials.

  • Gordon Haverland

    That referee that is moving from Australia to Liverpool (?), is supposed to be officiating in the Championship, and doing VAR in the EPL.

    If my memory is correct.

  • Gord

    OT: Italy -> new Stadia?

    https://www.football-italia.net/135475/italy-finally-getting-stadiums-sorted

    Interesting read, many of the comments are not optimistic.