By Tony Attwood
The hysteria is now off the scale and common sense debate, logical debate and reasoned argument has ended. (Although come to think of it actually it ended in the summer with the stuff about Arsenal only having a budget of £40m because some “accountant” analysed the books and said so).
So, I thought I would do a little comparing to see just how different this position for Arsenal is after five games compared to other recent seasons, and wonder what that tells us.
As things stand we are seven points below the top club, equal on points with the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 8th club. The question is, is this an utterly disasterous start?
If we look at the distance between ourselves and the top club this is the worst position we’ve been in, in recent years – currently we are seven points off the leaders, whereas in each of the previous five years we have been five or six points off the leaders after five games.
Getting back into the top four has been a key call of late – a change from the earlier “fourth is not a trophy” when we used to make third or fourth each season. So how far we away from the fourth spot are we? We’re a goal difference of four away from that position, or of course one point which would take us up to third.
So as in two seasons in the last five, after five games we equal on points with the club in fourth. In the other three seasons, at this stage in the season (after five games) we have been one, two or three points below the club in fourth. So we are in our best position across these five years. And yet the abuse level is now off the scale even compared with the final Wenger year.
It should also be remembered that in 2015/16 we were equal on points with the fourth placed team at this stage of the season, and we finished the season runners’ up.
So we are pretty much where we have been in the last five years, at this stage of the season. Which raises the question,”why the hysteria?”
The most obvious reason is that each season the media raises the level of hysteria simply because hysteria is what it now does. But this season there is a feature many bloggers and journalists are desperate to hide. Two years ago they went totally bonkers demanding that Mr Wenger should leave. They got their wish, and now they are witnessing the results – which are not a dramatic improvement that the “anyone but Wenger” bloggettas suggested.
Now you have to remember that the Wenger Out campaign was just that. Not, “Wenger out and get xxx” but just anyone is better than Wenger, it is Wenger who is destroying the club, it is all Wenger’s fault, without Wenger everything will be ok because no one is as bad as Wenger, ad infinitum.
And as a result the “debate” if I can grace it with that name, (although it seems to be changing the definition of “debate” into the same as “wild rant”), has not moved on very far. The AAA got what they wanted and have found… it hasn’t delivered what they told us it would. After all, those placards were very clear – all that was needed was for Wenger to go. Nothing about giving more money to the manager. Nothing about changing the owner.
Now there is one other little thing here. We’ve played 40% of our games against other top six teams. Tottenham have done the same. But the remainder of the top six from last season have had only one game against another top six club. A slight disadvantage thus far a slight advantage for the future.
So despite our having played double the number of top six clubs as four of the rest, we are on equal points with Tottenham, Man U and Chelsea. Of course I’d like us to have got an extra goal at Watford, or have the ref spot the illegality of the Watford goal, which would have taken us third, but that’s how it goes.
Now we know logic and football debate now don’t mix, but I will throw in another factor. Last season, and the season before, our big problem was away from home, irrespective of the nature of the opposition. And three of our games have been away from home, where we are still trying to get the format right.
And one more thing… although everyone has injuries, we have three of our best back four out right at the start of the season.
I suspect some people bothering to read my rambling will say it is all excuses. I prefer to call them explanations. If we stay in 7th by the end of the season Emery will be moved on, as his contract allows, and then we will have another period of change and uncertainty, and then another year of the same outrageous comments on the internet and in the papers and by broadcasters, and then that manager will be moved on and then.
All we can do is hope he gets us up to fourth to stave off the endless Groundhog Day…
- Arsenal have benefitted by the world cup break: allegedly.
- Arsenal and Tottenham: which has had the easier ride so far this season?
- Arsenal v Tottenham: not exactly a battle of equals.
- Death by 300,000 passes: how the Arsenal transformation started 2 seasons ago.
- Approaching derby day we recall when Arsenal helped Tottenham get into the league