By Tony Attwood
As you might expect the media is full of the glory of four England clubs being in the two European finals. BBC Radio 4 didn’t actually mention that three of these clubs are based in London, and very noticeably listed Arsenal as an afterthought after celebrating Chelsea’s win on penalties, but yes, we did get a mention if only in passing. There are four English teams in the two finals.
Yet all this celebration has come just a day after almost all the Arsenal headlines were all negative… This collection appeared within a five minute spell a day or two before the match
- Transfer news recap: Emery plans Arsenal five-star clearout, De Ligt ‘to England or Spain’ (
- Arsenal news: Edu’s sporting director role, 11 possible exits & nightmare Europa League scenario (
- “Another window botched” One thing has annoyed lots of Arsenal fans about Edu appointment (
- Get another club’ – Loads of Arsenal fans flock to demand ‘anonymous overrated’ star’s exit (
- Sell him all day’ – Loads of Arsenal fans ready to let ace go after ridiculous valuation (
What Frimpong has said may embarrass Arsenal players, delight Tottenham Hotspur fans (
Now of course it is all different and the “1984” effect of simply re-writing reality took hold after the game. So now it is positive news all the way.
Which means that no one is particularly interested in analysing how Arsenal can fail to get a result one day and then succeed the next. Or how Arsenal can perform as they did last night after the way they played against Brighton.
For the fact is Arsenal lost in succession to Palace, Wolverhampton and Leicester in consecutive games, and then only drew with Brighton. And yet either side of the Brighton game we were brilliant against Valencia. Surely the question is “How come?”
And although it made just a few headlines (well, virtually none in fact) in the previous 12 games from 21 February to 18 April Arsenal lost two, drew one and won nine. Not perfect but not bad. And that was nothing compared with the run from 25 August to 13 December when we were undefeated in all the main competitions.
Plus the fact that the contrasts across the season between the good runs and bad spells are matched by the contrast between our home and away form in the league. In home form we are the third best team in the league, above Chelsea, Tottenham and Man U. Away from home we are 10th, behind Palace, Leicester, Wolverhampton and Watford.
Yet the near universal response to Arsenal’s performances this season has been to demand that certain players should be kicked out – Mustafi and Xhaka being top of the list. Xhaka played last night, Mustafi played the last 20 minutes and I thought we were rather good. Yet going back to the end of last year 90Minutes ran the headline “7 players Arsenal should sign in 2019 January window”!
Apart from the fact that signing so many players at once is liable to disrupt the team completely, there is the fact that we don’t particularly was to disrupt the team that provided Arsenal with the run between late August and mid-December. Nor the team that performed at Arsenal Stadium for most of the season. We just want certain performances changed.
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Now that is not so hard to say, is it? “We just want certain performances changed.”
Which means understanding how the team could move from that 22 undefeated run to one win in the next five. Is it really a good idea to disrupt that team completely with a mass of new signings, when in fact what is needed is something that stops the occasional defeats from turning into a run of defeats?
Or put it another way, what is needed is something that transforms the home form in the league into the away form. Because if our away form was like our home form, we would be third in the league, 19 points clear of the fourth placed club, four points behind Liverpool and five behind Manchester City. Still only third, not top, but not that far off the top and with hope of closing the gap next season.
In other words there is a real danger of disrupting the positive side of the team (our home form through most of the season) by having a complete change around in the team. What is needed is to find the cause for the problems with the away form and stop the occasional poor runs, so that one defeat remains just that – one defeat. Not the start of a series of defeats.
Surely it is far better to focus on what is wrong with the away performances, such that we are only the 10th best team in the league away from home, rather than disrupt the team which is the third best home performing team in the league.
However it is a bit of a complicated issue – and I fear far too difficult for many journalits to cope with, so I doubt we will get much discussion on this in the future and the demands for wholesale changes will be the central theme of this summer.
But maybe we can focus on reality and let the rest of the media deal with fantasy. Arsenal did not finish in a champions league place because of two things: our away form and a couple of sudden dips in form. Remove either of those problems and we would have qualified . Remove both and we would have been third, way ahead of the rest of the top six, and ready to challenge for the title.