Arsenal up to third. What next?

By Tony Attwood

It wasn’t great at Arsenal Stadium yesterday, and at times it was rather frustrating, but we won.  So from having been not even London’s top team, as the Guardian utterly wrongly called us, we are now one point behind Manchester City, a time widely tipped to win the league.  And yes I admit, tipped by Untold to win the league as well.

Naturally after this game, Arsenal did not get a mention of Radio 5 which I listened to on the way back up the motorway.   It was all about the failure of Man City and Man United.  Talk about Leicester in passing, Chelsea done great, but Arsenal?  Nothing.

Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Liverpool 8 8 0 0 20 6 14 24
2 Manchester City 8 5 1 2 27 9 18 16
3 Arsenal 8 4 3 1 13 11 2 15
4 Leicester City 8 4 2 2 14 7 7 14
5 Chelsea 8 4 2 2 18 14 4 14
6 Crystal Palace 8 4 2 2 8 8 0 14
7 Burnley 8 3 3 2 11 9 2 12
8 West Ham United 8 3 3 2 11 11 0 12
9 Tottenham Hotspur 8 3 2 3 14 12 2 11
10 AFC Bournemouth 8 3 2 3 13 13 0 11
11 Wolverhampton Wanderers 8 2 4 2 11 11 0 10
12 Manchester United 8 2 3 3 9 8 1 9

The “big 6” as they are lazily described by lazy journalists are in fact spread out in the top 12, and although this is an early stage to the season, there is a chance for the first time in several years that at least one, and perhaps more of the “big six” will end up outside the top six and thus liberated from the requirements and income of European football.

We got used to seeing Liverpool drop outside the six a few years ago, but normally five of the clubs remained.  But now?  Tottenham are three points adrift of a European place, Man Utd  are five outside.  This was not supposed to happen, certainly not by media forecasts.

Of course some of these teams above the stragglers like Tottenham and Man U will falter, and maybe Man U will recover sufficient ground to overtake Leicester, Palace, Burnley, West Ham, Bournemouth and Wolves, and there is a long way to go as the pundits say.  Although we are getting on for a quarter of the way through the season.

But let us consider in more depth this issue of not being the top team in London.  Here are the London teams…

Team P W D L F A GD Pts
3 Arsenal 8 4 3 1 13 11 2 15
5 Chelsea 8 4 2 2 18 14 4 14
6 Crystal Palace 8 4 2 2 8 8 0 14
8 West Ham United 8 3 3 2 11 11 0 12
9 Tottenham Hotspur 8 3 2 3 14 12 2 11

Actually I think it is rather impressive that all five of the capital’s top flight clubs are in the top nine.  It’s a big city and we have lots of clubs therein, but over half of the top nine slots of the Premier League are London clubs.   I am not sure any other European city can claim that in a league of some standing.

Here’s another factor – our goal difference is only +2, but that is the 5th best in the league, beaten by Manchester City, Liverpool, Leicester and Chelsea.  Could be better but it is something that we have time to repair.

Generally we are improving all round. Far from perfect, far from chasing the league title, I would say, but getting bettter.  And since last season we only missed the 4th place entry to the Champions League by one point, I’d say that is encouraging.

But… there is a negative side to this.

Last season after eight games we had 18 points, were only two points behind the leaders, and had a goal difference of plus nine.  What is helping us along is the muddle that some other clubs have got into.

Now that might lead some to say that we are not going anywhere – that we are not improving, but that others are simply slipping back.

Perhaps that is true, but part of the technique of success is trying to improve all the time, while not introducing the wrong changes and hence slipping backwards.  And that is what some clubs seem to be doing.

What Arsenal have done is brought in a whole raft of new players, some of whom like Pepe are clearly finding it hard to adjust to the ways of the Premier League.   But most such players do adjust over time, and given the obvious talent the lad has I suspect that will happen.

But also we have an extraordinary raft of our own young players who are being promoted and given time on the pitch.  It gives the manager a huge choice of players to select from, and those younger players who do get games will undoubtedly help develop the team, and take the pressure off the old heads.

Against Bournemouth we still didn’t have our fulsome defence out, the manager obviously deciding that the three members of the defence I have been highlighting in recent pieces, needed a complete break and a good recovery spell before being pushed back into his regular spot.  That’s a good sign too.   When Bellerin etc return after the break, we’ll be better again.

Which given we are third at the moment, is not too bad a place to be.

17 Replies to “Arsenal up to third. What next?”

  1. I agree with your findings almost entirely. The only thing that is not enjoyable about arsenal is the lack of coordination in attack specially against teams like bournemouth(with all due respect I admire them). Our defensive frailties are there still and we could have been in trouble had bournemouth taken their chances….

    This worrying pattern of play under unai emery is the only worrying thing as far as im concerned. We are not creating a lot of chances going forward that could be termed clear cut, I will hold complete judgement till bellerin and tierney are back since emery relies on advanced full backs and their quality as well, and there is no doubt that bellerin/tierney could be a top 3 combo in the league…
    So the first game after the break, when tierney and bellerin are back with the other positives to go, I think after about 5 games we will be able to judge emery whether he’l stay or go…

    But besides not having his first choice full back, a negative point against emery is his lack of adaptability for all of the accolades that were given to him over Arsene Wenger of being a tactical genius of sorts… that have been badly found out

  2. League position ok, but performances are of concern, we could easily have dropped points yesterday, but ultimately, we didn’t.
    To improve, we need to get into a position where we can get better results against certain teams with certain tactics when playing away.
    Still, things are better than they are down the Seven-2 Sisters Rd

  3. Despite Arsenals lofty position in the Premier League the Sun are still finding ways of attacking us.

    Now it’s on the back of Carlos Vela winning the Golden Boot in the MLS.

    Apparently we have a history of dumping all our top players who always it seems to go on to show what a bunch of numpties we, or more specificity Wenger was.

    Because of course no players United Spurs Liverpool etc. ever go on to do a thing.

    Will that shity piece of toilet roll ever give it a rest?

  4. The reality is that Spuds need to be buried reasonably deep and covered generously with Manure. The ideal conditions are here already.

    Our play and performance may not be the best but we have done brilliantly considering the 12 or 15 man teams we face in the EPL. There is a long way to go and we already know that VAR is only another PGMOL burger eating official in Stockley Park near Heathrow. To call the foul on Pepe ‘no foul’ and to call Mane’s dive a foul, just shows how and where we are with the blatant corruption that is PGMOL.

  5. It looks like our U18 did the same thing. Scored an early goal, and held on for the 1 goal win. Congratulations Young Gunners!

  6. Ultimately, the level of our performances last season suggested that at some point there would be an equalisation of some kind – when you don’t get the luck, when the opposition do take their chances, when you don’t make chances of your own, and you drop points. The warning signs were there, and it happened at the end of the campaign when we took just 8 points from our final 21 and missed out on 4th by a point. When you consider the fact we dropped points against Everton, Palace, Wolves, Leicester and Brighton – and barely scraped three points against a Watford side down to 10 men for 80 minutes, it’s an unpleasant reminder that some of what we’re seeing this season is far too reminiscent of the last campaign.

  7. Some will say we’re grinding out results when not playing well, and that’s a good sign. But that’s only really true if the grinding is a temporary thing. We’re grinding almost all of the time in the Premier League, so it’s not as if we’ll soon revert to the more accomplished football we play on a regular basis. I hope I’m explaining that well enough.

    Bottom line: I am happy with the result, delighted with a clean sheet, and very pleased with our league position. I am also concerned about the performance. They don’t have to be disparate issues. If your only concern is the result, then fantastic, this is a lovely morning for you, but there is room for discussion and debate about how we play and what it might tell us about our chances of winning games in this league.

  8. Watching our play, I still think that the players don’t understand their roles or rather what they must do on the pitch is not yet instinctive. If you watch our passing, for instance, you see a player on the ball and another making a movement to get open. What we often don’t see is the third player moving in reaction to the second player’s movement BEFORE THE FIRST BALL IS PLAYED. A look at Liverpool or Man City will show that it is more often than not the third player that unpicks a defence. The other thing that the two top teams have developed is an instinctively understanding of the space needed for their types of offence and defence; their players move as a unit. This is still a work in progress for us.

  9. If we concider playing Cardiff instead of AV, last season Arsenal got from this fixtures 19 points, scored 20 goals, conceded 13.
    This season is 15 points, scored 13 goals, conceded 11.
    New signins and youngsters need to improve quickly the team, or it will get worse than last season.
    The only improvment to last season fixtures is avoiding heavier defeat at Anfield.
    Wish I am wrong, but according to Arsenal have 6th best offence and 6th worst defence(15th best) at this moment. Not good at all.
    Last season it was 4th offence and 10th defence and it was not good enough to get CL place or EL trophy.

  10. There is a difference between grinding results and actually being lucky. Yes, if say you managed to hold against say Leicester, Chelsea then it’s probably grinding. But then against a lowly bournemouth And you guys are so happy. Oh please. In the past we were supposed to knock at least 3 past them at home.

    Unai is really a joke to be honest.

  11. It’s not really the balancing out thingy. I really think for some stupid reason, unai decided to put all eggs in the europa basket. He probably thinks just because we had an advantage, it’s OK to just rest the players. It probably did not come to his head that maybe securing an unassailable advantage just before Europa could give his players more resting time and also increase confidence in the europa league. Now he had to win the thibg in order to qualify for the champion league where else thus giving more pressure where else for Chelsea, they can play with less pressure becayse champions league football is already secured. His selections towards the end tells his players that the priority should be the Europa and not the league and thus he messed up big time.

  12. @ong huigen – I’m surprised that you feel that your ‘managing’ is better than UE. He as coach, has to select a team that plays well against an opposition that is assisted by the officials. He is aware that his teams can score more than they do, but it is their jobs to create the chances and finish. He does not prioritise competitions but follows precedent.

    The whole thing is coming together, including the understanding that is part of a successful team. The team is young and have only been together for a few games. They will gel and make much better chances & score a lot more. I can see the combinations beginning and look forward to better communication improving the combinations. Auba, Laca & Ozil are an excellent example but UE has to buy into that group rather than get influenced by media.

  13. I think Emery’s Arsenal 1st XI PL team as it’s presently constituted should be allowed the chance to continue to grow from strength to strength so that they will forge together a formidable partnership, understanding and cohesion as they continue to play together consistently week in week out in the PL. But not making changes to the team unecessarily. Save, when It has become necessary changes be done to the team because of loss of form or injury or sickness suffered to a Gunner or some Gunners.

    In this wise, I wouldn’t like to see Emery suddenly drop any member of the current Arsenal defence for the sake of bringing in Bellerin, Holding and Tierney to start the away game against Sheffield United in the PL for Arsenal so as to satisfy the wishes of some Gooners who want to watch them start games in the PL for Arsenal. These trio senior team Gunners should continue to bid for their time to start for Arsenal in the PL as they’ve now returned from injuries layoff. But they could be making appearances in the PL for the club until the time comes when they have the opportunity to start and seize it.

    In the time being, they can be starting in the Cup games for the club as Emery rotate his team. But one big issue that I think Emery should urgently addressed is his continuing strife with Mesut Ozil the Arsenal midfielder goals scoring creator. As things stand now in the current Arsenal 1st team squad football wise, it has been seriously alleged that the team is lacking a top quality goals scoring creator of which Arsenal have one in their first eleven team in Ozil. But they have stopped stating him in Arsenal PL matches. This misunderstandings between Emery and Ozil will not help Arsenal but could undo them. Therefore, both Emery and Ozil SHOULD please come down from their high tables to meet and meet at the middle point to settle their differences so that the club can move forward more than they’ve already moved forward this season. Arsenal are only 9 points behind Liverpool who are on top of the table after 8 matches played. But they can still haul Liverpool 9 points lead and overtake them. Therefore, all hands available at Arsenal MUST be on deck to overthrow Liverpool from winning the title this season and win it themselves.

  14. Glad to see so many kids coming through, brave in the circumstances, the manager is clearly under huge pressure to get into next years CL.
    Hopefully, there is every chance , with Utd imploding, and our nearest and dearest not doing so well these days under Potlesstino

  15. Menace,

    True!! I hope Tony looks into it though. Unless Rach is also protected by the PGMOL, lol.

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