An early comparison between seasons

by Walter Broeckx

Last season I tried to compare our season with the one before and as some readers rather liked the idea I thought I would try to do this again.

Last year I used the method of comparing the games against the same opponents, no matter at which time in the season they were played. It was suggested that it would be better just to compare the games with the games played in the same period of the season.

Both methods have their own merit. My initial method has as an advantage that you compare a game against a top team with the same top team and a game with a bottom team with the same bottom team or with a team that replaces that bottom team if it went down.

The other method of just doing it on game week basis has the advantage that after an international break of champions league game you can see how things have worked out compared with the season before. In this case it could happen that you have to compare last year’s game against a top team with a bottom team or the other way round.

So this season I thought: why not just do it both ways? And I will give it a go after our first 4 games just to give you an idea on how we will try to keep doing this at regular times in the season.

Four first games 2010/2011

Liverpool – Arsenal 1-1

Arsenal – Blackpool 6-0

Blackburn Rovers – Arsenal 1-2

Arsenal – Bolton 4-1

  • Won 3 – draw 1 – Lost 0 : 10 points – goals scored 13 against 3

Team comparison :2009/2010

Liverpool – Arsenal 1-2

Arsenal – Portsmouth 4-1 (Blackpool)

Blackburn Rovers – Arsenal 2-1

Arsenal – Bolton 4-2

  • Won 3 – draw 0 – lost 1 : 9 points – goals scored 11 against 6

Games comparison 2009/2010  Four first games

Everton – Arsenal 1-6

Arsenal – Portsmouth 4-1

Manchester United – Arsenal 2-1

Manchester City – Arsenal 4-2

  • Won 2 – draw 0 – lost 2 : 6 points – goals scored 13 against 8


As it is very early in the season it is not always easy to draw conclusions. Four games is only 1/10th of the season but it might be interesting to see some trends. This almost feels like some commentator talking about exit polls on election day!

Anyway if we just take the first 4 games of last season we did very well compared to that. We got 4 more points, we scored the same number of goals BUT we conceded a lot less. Last year we had conceded 8 goals and now only 3.

And if you compare it with the team by team comparison we also have done better. One more point, two more goals scored and also less goals conceded. Last season we conceded 6. And to make things clear I compared Blackpool with Portsmouth as the latter went down at the end of the season and it also was our first home game last season.

So the remark from Wenger that our defence is getting better is not just some words to please the fans or to make us feel good. It is based on facts.

And the fact that apart from Vermaelen we have 2 completely new central defenders makes this even more extraordinary. Normally you would think that a new central back pairing leads to more goals. As they need time to adapt to each other and find some way of forming a partnership.  But now with having Vermaelen-Koscielny and Squillaci-Koscielny playing we conceded not that much goals.

And another remarkable thing is that from the 3 goals we did concede not one came from a free kick or a corner where we were a bit vulnerable in the past. And also in fact that those 3 goals we conceded could have been avoided. Two times we gave away the ball almost in our own penalty area (Liverpool – Bolton) and one time we could have cut something out at the cost of a yellow card. The giving away the ball is something that can be avoided with more concentration and something we will not see every week. Well I hope anyway.

And if you add to this the fact that we already  have a lot of players out with injury and some players who started the season later because of the world cup, makes it even better.

The Philosophy of Wenger – Part 5: Does the end always justify the means?

Making the Arsenal – how the modern Arsenal club was formed

The comparison: If injuries are bad now, was it much better in the past?  90 years ago our keeper had to play at left back with a damaged wrist.  40,000 turned up to watch.

21 Replies to “An early comparison between seasons”

  1. These stats are good, but you cannot compare seasonopenings like this I think. At ManU we were really unlucky last year. At City we did not play bad. The good thing is we won at Blackburn but remember we had a lot of injuries there last season..

    I still think we lack steel in the midfield. Altough I fully support Arsene I fear we will not win anything this year because we are not decent enough. If there were two kind of players I would add to this team it would be Flamini/Vieira type and a real killer in front of goal like Pires..

  2. hey tony love your articles mate! Wondering if you could do an analysis of the number or injuries we had after the same time last year and also maybe an analysis of whether we in fact have a stronger squad this season. I realize it would be objective rather than quantitative but i would argue we have a much stronger squad based on the coming of age of the reserve squad/ loanees in addition to the transfers. Interested to see what you can come up with?

  3. I hope we can get some points from the game against united and chelsea this year, if we do then we wud be in prime position to win the league

  4. Walter – I like the way you have used BOTH comparisons. That is good.

    Like you say, by both ways we are ahead of last year already.

    Jesper – yeah, and I think we should have a Messi type on the right wing, and a Maradona type playing behind the main striker. It would also help to have a Baresi type at the back and a Schmeichel type in goal. That would be good.

  5. I think it is better to compare the period rather than the teams. We tend to be strong at the beginning because our players are fresh and not too injured, but when it gets to the final part of the season our injuries mount up. This season’s better start than the previous ones perhaps shows 2 major issues (1)We bought 3 experienced players so improving the quality of the squad (2) Our young players are now maturing such as Nasri, Walcott and Diaby.

    However, it is already looking like we may be hampered by injuries again, and what Almunia may or may not do. While I feel we are ok in midfield, there is no replacement for Song as well which might hamper our season if he is out for a number of matches, as I agree with Jesper in that we do not have enough grit in that department. Perhaps Walter you can keep comparing every other month which helps us follow the progress of the team.

  6. Funny, I’ve just post almost the same topic in my blog on Sunday 5th September. But I’ve made comparison for 2 season before also and for the month of August only. But I just didn’t have all the analysis like you have. My post just a plain statistic of comparison. Arsenal do look better compares to two season ago. Maybe the Gallas factor have the reason with this stats. No wonder he join Spurs. You can see my blog post here.

  7. Mark – I think many of us do this instictively every season. I am always thinking “hmmm, how were we doing 3 games into last season?” or “hmm, what were our results over the Christmas period last season, or the last time we won the League”.

    It is noce to actually see them down in print in front of you, to connect the numbers with your memory. From last year to this, certainly we went from the very high (after Everton and Portsmouth) to the very low (after Utd and City) last year in the first 4 games. This season seems to be a much calmer, consistent, and crucially EASIER opening to the season (although away trips to Liverpool and Blackburn are never easy – last years trips away to Everton, Utd and City in the first 4 games was rough).

  8. Also, looking beyond the figures and thinking back to our performances at this time last year we seem to be more mature and mentally stronger this season. Perhaps physically stronger as well, did anybody else think Denilson looked bigger against Bolton? While he was injured during pre-season he spent a lot of time in the gym, which would explain why he’s looking bulkier around the chest, back and shoulders.

  9. Diaby and Denilson are good. watch Denilson Wednesday night. Walcott now has the killer instinct. How old was Viera /Petit and Pires when they were that good

  10. Makenzi – Vieira was a dynamite the first year he came to Arsenal, by the time he was 21 he had made the central midfield position (with Petite)his which helped us win the double. From then on Vieira improved season after season. Fabregas’ progress has also been similar (took over from Vieira at age 20, and became captain at 22). While Diaby and Denilson are good players they are not in the same class, or at least not yet.

  11. I’m waiting for the game against Man City and Chelsea. Those two will show how we stand this season. Should we come out with 4 points, then it will be a huge boost to us and the lads. Now every one says we have so far played the weak teams.

  12. A relevant bit this morning from the website Zonal Marking, which offers some solid analysis of tactics and formations (certainly better than the mainstream sports media):
    A recap of the Porto – Braga game over the weekend. It looks like Braga rested some of their starters, but we can use this as a preview of what to expect tomorrow.

    Walter, it may be helpful to note when international breaks fall in your week-by-week comparisons — do the PL matchdays align with internationals / cups / CL games the same way year to year?

  13. Here’s something… we have only conceded 10 shots so far this season. That is extraordinary.

    Another way of looking at that though is to say that Almunia has a save percentage of merely 70% which would have made him mid-table last season.

    If Almunia was a football club in the Premier League… he would be relegation fodder.

    1. Brad Friedel, Aston Villa – 80% of 157 Shots
    2. Marcus Hahnemann, Wolverhampton Wanderers – 80% of 128
    3. Edwin van der Sar, Man Utd – 80% of 61
    4. Joe Hart, Birmingham City – 79% of 181
    5. Huerelho Gomes, Tottenham Hotspur – 79% of 99
    6. Thomas Sorenson, Stoke City – 78% of 141
    7. Craig Gordon, Sunderland – 77% of 117
    8. Mark Schwarzer, Fulham – 75% of 143
    9. Jose Reina, Liverpool – 72% of 118
    10. Tim Howard, Everton – 70% of 147
    11. Shay Given, Man City – 70% of 135
    12. Petr Cech, Chelsea – 70% of 81
    13. Boaz Myhill, Hull – 69% of 177
    14. Robert Green, West Ham – 68% of 176
    15. Paul Robinson, Blackburn Rovers – 68% of 141
    16. Jussi Jaaskelainen – 67% of 184
    17. Manuel Almunia, Arsenal – 67% of 88
    18. Brian Jensen, Burnley – 66% of 200
    19. Chris Kirkland, Wigan Athletic – 65% of 144
    20. David James, Portsmouth – 61% of 106

  14. Good to be a Goonah – yeah, but so are Cech, Green, Jaaskelainen, and Kirkland, all ‘keepers of which we have heard the common refrain “Arsenla should try and sign him, he’s better than Almunia!!!”

  15. We conceded remarkably few shots last season then – only Manure and Chelsea did better and, perhaps significantly, finished higher in the table. Also, the much vaunted Given and Cech, were only fractionally more successful percentage-wise than the much derided Almunia.

  16. Richard B. – Van der Saar missed quite a few games last seaosn with injury, remember that when looking at Utd’s shots conceded. Same with us. How many League matches did Fabianski end up playing? I wonder where he and Ben Foster would be. GTBAG – are those numbers for each team (with their No. 1’s lsited) or for individual ‘keepers?

  17. Good to be a Goonah – surely that shot number of 10 is remarkably similar to last seasons average which would be for 4 games 88/9 which is just under 10.
    Ahh not so amazing then just consistent with last year!!
    Personally I think one of the amazing unremarked things that AW has done is made the team very consistent in both attack and defense. If you look at the numbers roughly speaking each year we concede 30-35 goals and score 65-75 goals.
    In the 10 years preceding Wenger the defence one year could give away 18 goals and then the year following concede over 40 and the goal tallies would be anywhere from mid fifties to 70 odd.
    How boring is that as a team we are now consistently great!!

  18. Some of you are mistaking the 20 keepers the ONLY 20 keepers who played in the Premier League last season.

    We conceded 40 something goals in the league last year. And not JUST from the 88 shots Almunia faced.

  19. Either way you look at it we have more points on the board than this time last season and we have difficult games out of the way Blackburn away is 1 of the toughest fixtures for every team in the league neither manu or chelsea won there last season. The squad is more balanced this season Chamakh has covered the hole left by RVP with last seasons squad we might not have made such a good start. The defence is the area we have really improved not just the players but the organisation and tactics we win almost every ball into the box we havent conceded from a set piece yet and we dont look anywhere near as vulnerable to the counter attack that cost us so many games last year. The team maintains its shape so much better than last year there are always at least 3 players in defensive positions with 1 more close to the centre cirlce we now have 4 players ready to defend when we lose the ball

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