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What exactly do Arsenal have to sort out, to get into the top six?

By Tony Attwood

These last few years have seen the implementation of the policy of the anti-Wengerians; get rid of Wenger and spend a lot of money on players was the battle cry of most of them, as far as I could understand it.

As a result of the Board following their demands, the old complaint of “Fourth is not a trophy” has morphed into something akin to “Sixth would be an achievement.”

But if we are to recover from the managerial changes and upheaval of the squad, and secure a place in Europe next season without having to win the Europa League, what do we have to do?

We are in a position where being overtaken by teams below us is not much of a threat – Burnley are on the same points as us, but 11 goals worse off – Southampton are even further behind.   So what we have to do is overtake Manchester United, Wolverhampton Wanders and Everton.

Team P W D L F A GD Pts
5 Tottenham Hotspur 26 11 7 8 43 34 9 40
6 Sheffield United 26 10 9 7 28 24 4 39
7 Manchester United 26 10 8 8 38 29 9 38
8 Wolverhampton Wanderers 26 8 12 6 35 32 3 36
9 Everton 26 10 6 10 34 38 -4 36
10 Arsenal 26 7 13 6 36 34 2 34
11 Burnley 26 10 4 12 30 39 -9 34
12 Southampton 26 9 4 13 32 48 -16 31

They too are of course looking at the League table and trying to get their place in the top grouping (however many it eventually turns out to be).

Interestingly Wolverhampton have been suffering from a problem very similar to Arsenal’s – that is a multiplicity of draws (they have 12 to our 13) and a paucity of wins (they have eight to our seven).  The goal difference is very similar as well; we’re just one goal behind them.

Everton however have a more conventional set of results for a mid-table team,   But worryingly, they are already under a significant upward trend since their goalless draw with us.  In their last ten games they have won five, drawn three and lost two – with both defeats coming against what many would concur are the best teams in the league.

Wolverhampton’s recent run is not as good as Everton’s with only two wins in the last ten games, but they have had a whole run of games against teams near the top of the league (Liverpool twice, Man U three times, and Leicester once).

So clearly we are going to have to get our act together, and if we are going to do that it is our away form that could do with some improvement.  Here’s the table just showing away games.

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Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Liverpool 13 12 1 0 26 6 20 37
2 Manchester City 13 8 1 4 34 17 17 25
3 Leicester City 13 7 2 4 28 12 16 23
4 Chelsea 13 7 2 4 27 22 5 23
5 Southampton 13 6 2 5 18 18 0 20
6 Sheffield United 13 4 7 2 13 12 1 19
7 Wolverhampton Wanderers 13 4 6 3 17 15 2 18
8 Manchester United 13 4 3 6 14 17 -3 15
9 Burnley 13 4 3 6 14 21 -7 15
10 Arsenal 13 2 8 3 14 16 -2 14
11 Tottenham Hotspur 13 3 5 5 18 22 -4 14

We’ve had poor away form for several years now, and in recent seasons a return to what we might consider our more normal away form would have easily lifted us into the Champions League places.  Certainly to have an away form that is worse than Burnley’s is ludicrous.

After 13 away games last season we had 18 points from those games, so we have gone backwards again to the levels of 2017/18 in terms of away form.

Our forthcoming away fixtures in the league are

  • 14 March: Brighton and Hove Albion
  • 22 March: Southampton
  • 11 April: Wolverhampton Wanderers
  • 25 April: Tottenham Hotspur
  • 9 May: Aston Villa
  • Undated: Manchester City

We really do have to pick up wins against Brighton, Southampton and Villa.   That run would give us a grand total of five away wins in the league and 23 points away, assuming we lost the other two games.  That would still be worse than 2018/19, 2016/17, 2015/16 and many seasons before that.

So yes, three more wins away from home out of the final six away games would beat the away record of 2017/18, but that’s all.  We really do need to sort the away form out for next season – as for this season, we might just make it into Europe if our away form suddenly turns itself around, but I suspect winning the Europa League is a more likely route.

Although maybe a year without Europe might remind the directors that a) following the demands of the fans who want the manager sacked and new players brought in , is not always the cleverest of ideas and b) could give us a chance of going for a second Cup Double.

Mind you, we could still win the FA Cup this season.

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