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The four incredibly simple factors all the pundits are missing this season

By Dr Billy “the Dog” McGraw, senior psychologist at the University College Hospital of the North Circular Road and chief consultant to the Moscow Metro system.

It really isn’t that hard to see.  In fact most of them do see it.  It is just that they are so keen on knocking Arsenal minute after minute, hour after hour, day after day, week after… well you get the idea – that they never both to look at the most simple of facts.

Virtually everyone venturing an opinion on how this season will turn out is sticking with the notion that Arsenal will finish fifth or sixth.  The defence is poor, the manager has no imagination, the squad is small, you don’t win things with kids, etc etc etc etc etc.

But there really are four facts that should be taken into account in all this; two facts that are sure to affect Arsenal positively this season, and two more than are fairly likely to lend a hand in our attempts to climb up the table.

And I don’t even mind setting these facts out because they are so positive about Arsenal than none of the producers of the daily bile will ever copy them.

Here we go.

Point one.  Arsenal’s problem last season was in large part with its defence.   And yes we have lost Kos.  But actually we have a very good defence with Bellerin, Sokratis, Holding and Tierney, it is just that at this moment three of them are injured. 

Now can you imagine what the media would say if 75% of the defence of any other team was missing through injury?  It would be headline news all day every day. But no, this is Arsenal, so that doesn’t get mentioned.

Point two.  The home/away form issue (again).

The Arsenal team could play incredibly well both last season and the season before, as witness our terrific home form in the last two years.  It was the away form that let us down.  So the new players brought in and the new tactics are designed in part to overcome that.  Remember, if just one of those away draws had turned into a victory and we’d have been fourth – the gap was very small.  One goal would have done it.

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The new defence will help away from home, but so will the attack.   Teams from outside the top six bunch will really be looking at our attack and wondering what to do.  They will defend, even at home, hoping for a break.  But in defending against the speed we have got they will also reduce their own chances of scoring.

Point three.  The defence (again).

“The factor that is going to stop Arsenal finishing above Spurs and Chelsea this season” screams the increasingly odd FootballLondon with its 40 a day habit (40 make believe stories that is).

That factor is, “…the defence is noticebaly worse off than that of their European rivals,” obviously not taking into account my point above that we don’t have 75% of our defence in operation at the moment.

Let’s take a peek at the league table organised by defences…

Yes we are 10th in the league, on the same number of goals against as Tottenham, and way above Chelsea who are leaking goals like a very leaky thing with a lot of leaks.  (And remember that we only need two of the other “top six” to be worse than us, for Arsenal to get into the Champs League).

Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Crystal Palace 4 2 1 1 3 2 1 7
2 Liverpool 4 4 0 0 12 3 9 12
3 Manchester City 4 3 1 0 14 3 11 10
4 Leicester City 4 2 2 0 6 3 3 8
5 Everton 4 2 1 1 4 4 0 7
6 Manchester United 4 1 2 1 7 4 3 5
7 Sheffield United 4 1 2 1 5 5 0 5
8 Newcastle United 4 1 1 2 3 5 -2 4
9 Wolverhampton Wanderers 4 0 3 1 4 5 -1 3
10 Arsenal 4 2 1 1 6 6 0 7
11 Tottenham Hotspur 4 1 2 1 7 6 1 5
12 Burnley 4 1 1 2 5 6 -1 4
13 Southampton 4 1 1 2 4 6 -2 4
14 Aston Villa 4 1 0 3 4 6 -2 3
15 West Ham United 4 2 1 1 6 7 -1 7
16 Brighton and Hove Albion 4 1 1 2 4 7 -3 4
17 AFC Bournemouth 4 1 1 2 5 8 -3 4
18 Watford 4 0 1 3 2 8 -6 1
19 Chelsea 4 1 2 1 6 9 -3 5
20 Norwich City 4 1 0 3 6 10 -4 3

Do they seriously think that goals against after four matches is a real indicator of the top four.  Are they saying the mighty Crystal Palace will win the league, or at least get into Europe?

Which brings me to point four.

50% of our matches so far have been against other members of last season’s top six.

Now by my reading of things 10 of our 38 games this season will be against other members of last year’s top six.  Which is 26.3%.   But so far 50% of our games have been against members of last year’s top six.   So no, I don’t think the current league table is much of a guide as to who will be in the top six by the end of the season.  But for those bonkers enough to think that it does, here it is.

Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Liverpool 4 4 0 0 12 3 9 12
2 Manchester City 4 3 1 0 14 3 11 10
3 Leicester City 4 2 2 0 6 3 3 8
4 Crystal Palace 4 2 1 1 3 2 1 7
5 Arsenal 4 2 1 1 6 6 0 7
6 Everton 4 2 1 1 4 4 0 7

So you see I don’t think Palace, Leicester and Everton will be in the top six at the end of the season, any more than I think Arsenal will stay in fifth, or maybe as some say, drop out of the top six to be replaced by Leicester and Everton.

But the bloggers and the journalists desperately, achingly, overwhelming, urgently, totally, completely need you to believe that Arsenal are failures.  A hopeless case.  A lost cause.  Me, I don’t.  Which is probably why I smile quite a bit more than they do.

And that leads me to my postscript.  Knocking Arsenal like a journalist can be bad for your health.

 

2 comments to The four incredibly simple factors all the pundits are missing this season

  • mike in atlanta

    being a sports journalist can lead to incurable stupidity dr. billy

  • Scubas

    First, I’d disagree with part of point 1. Yes, 75% of your ‘best’ defense is injured, but frankly, even when healthy they’re not very good. I’m not sure any of those injured guys are good enough to get into any of the better units in England (Bellerin almost certainly, though). I really feel like part of the reason we’ve seen so few goals this season is that we’ve got to commit too many bodies to supporting that group in order to make it semi-functional.

    As to point 4, you’re just 100%, indisputably wrong. We’ve played 12 matches thus far. We’ve faced each of Tottenham, Liverpool, and United once. We haven’t faced City, we haven’t faced Chelsea. That means 25% of our matches thus far have been against last season’s top 6, not 50%. After the 10th match, this wouldn’t have even been mathematically possible, because we can’t play our 2nd match against any of those sides until match week 20. At the end of the season, we’ll have played 26.3% of our matches against last season’s top 6, so this 12 match sample is pretty indicative of the overall picture. I’d assume this was just an honest mistake, but having supposedly played 6 matches against just 5 teams in the first half of the season should have probably set off a red flag for you to double check your math right away.

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