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Arsenal’s new strategy emerges but the club faces huge difficulties from without.

By Tony Attwood

If you are a regular reader you may recall that for the past several years I’ve been banging away about the fact that there was not something fundamentally wrong with the Arsenal team in terms of its overall performance, but rather there was something very wrong with the way we were playing away games.

In 2015/16 we maintained our normal approach to away games as we came second in the league overall.  Away we had 31 points and scored 34 goals.

In 2016/17 we gained 30 points and scored 38 goals.  A similar sort of position.

But then in 2017/18 is was a disaster with just 16 points away from home and 20 goals scored.   Just four wins away from home.

In 2018/19 the story was better but still just 25 points with 31 goals.

This season with 13 out of the 19 away games played we have 14 points and have scored 14 goals.   If that record is maintained through to the end of the season we will end up with 20 points away from home and 20 goals.  Almost as bad as 2017/18.

But within the tunnel there is now a tiny spot of light because we have just gone ten away games without defeat scoring 15 goals.  A record that shows a bit of an uplift.

Of course this includes too many draws – seven in fact out of the ten, and only one of the away victories is in the league, but it is still a step in the right direction, and we have not been seeing too many of them of late.

Date Game Res Score Competition
01 Dec 2019 Norwich City v Arsenal D 2-2 Premier League
09 Dec 2019 West Ham United v Arsenal W 1-3 Premier League
12 Dec 2019 Standard Liège v Arsenal D 2-2 Europa League
21 Dec 2019 Everton v Arsenal D 0-0 Premier League
26 Dec 2019 AFC Bournemouth v Arsenal D 1-1 Premier League
11 Jan 2020 Crystal Palace v Arsenal D 1-1 Premier League
21 Jan 2020 Chelsea v Arsenal D 2-2 Premier League
27 Jan 2020 AFC Bournemouth v Arsenal W 1-2 FA Cup
02 Feb 2020 Burnley v Arsenal D 0-0 Premier League
02 Mar 2020 Portsmouth v Arsenal W 0-2 FA Cup

Unfortunately, although there are positive signs away from home, the home form has not maintained its previous solidity.  Even last season we only had two defeats at home and a goal difference of plus 26.   This season already we have got to a position where our maximum home points to achieve is 38 – that’s by winning every remaining home game.   Last season we got 45 points at home.

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What we seriously need to do is maintain that home form that we have had in recent years while continuing the improvement in the away form, in particular turning some of those draws into wins.

Now you may well have seen the traditional daily round of stories about the various players we are going to buy in the summer to take us back into the Champions League etc etc.  But this is forgetting that we spent around £145 last summer, which comes down to over £90m net once the sales are taken into account.

Of course you may believe that the owners will sanction this, at a time when our profits are collapsing all around us, because of the decline in income from Europe, but I suspect it won’t happen.

Instead what we will do is promote a number of the players from the youth ranks with any purchases being balanced against income from sales.

And there is a very good reason for thinking this.   If you are not an active member of any of the major supporters’ clubs you may not have realised that Arsenal have pulled back a little from their liaison with the supporters’ groups.  Not totally – they have not broken off all contact, but they have pulled back somewhat, as a direct response to the criticism that the club has received from some supporters.

The club has not said, “and we won’t be spending so much money either,” but it seems likely to me that this will follow.

As our figures have shown, the six top spending clubs from last summer have spent most of this season showing no improvement in their fortunes on the pitch as a result of that spending.  Improvement comes after the purchased players have settled in, and through the promotion of good youth players.

In one sense that makes Arsenal look to be in a decent position, despite the possible or probable lack of expenditure because we do have a lot of good youngsters coming through.  But there is a lot of talk about Saka leaving when his contract runs out next year, and the way some fans have treated Willock of late makes it seem unlikely that he will want to stay.

And that last point is the problem.  Arsenal players are constantly under attack on the blogs.

There is one website which uses the same headline format over and over again to hammer away at the issue of Arsenal fan discontent, as these recent examples show…

  • Arsenal: Fans fume after Joe Willock loses possession 22 times vs Portsmouth
  • Arsenal: Fans got it wrong about Dani Ceballos in loss to Olympiakos.   Arsenal fans got it horribly wrong after the voiced their excitement at the inclusion of Dani Ceballos in the starting XI…
  • Arsenal: Fans launch scathing attack on Alexandre Lacazette after Olympiakos loss

Now to be fair they do run some positive “Arsenal fans” stories but even these tend not to be in Arsenal’s favour as with Arsenal: Fans worship Watford’s Ismaila Sarr after downing Liverpool.

This is a phenomenally popular website and it is growing very fast, but as it grows so does its negative influence.

This is the big problem the club is facing.  The rampant negativity from without on young impressionable players, plus the media driven expectation that another vast amount of money will be spent this summer – when it probably won’t.

It could be a difficult summer.

10 comments to Arsenal’s new strategy emerges but the club faces huge difficulties from without.

  • Mikey

    OT (and sorry if it’s already been mentioned)

    I see we have our old friend Martin Atkinson yet again this weekend…………

  • I get your point about the needless attacks on players however to be candid Willock deserves even greater criticism for his inability to learn. He has stagnated not only that he dreams he is missi in the field of play the same mistakes match after match while others around him are learning and improving.

  • Bassey61

    Very poor story this. You guys are obviously not Arsenal supporters. 1) Why won’t we support being the only invincible team for over 100 years? 2) Why should we praise managers and players for performing badly – how then are we supposed to improve? 3) Why fight with other Arsenal supporters? You are making the Arsenal fan base a laughing stock.

  • Chris

    Just reading the Guardian after Sp*rs out ofthe FA Cup :

    “While Tottenham will now have to wait another year at least having last won the FA Cup in 1991, the Norwich manager, Daniel Farke, was understandably delighted with his side’s performance as they reached their first quarter-final since 1992.”

    Just remember that on Monday, they were talking of the barren last decade Arsenal has had, in whoch we won 3 FA Cuos in 4 years…

    Why do they not talk of the Spurs 30 years in the desert, or the Sp*rs famine lasting more then a quarter of a century, or the 3 decades of inexistence ofthe Sp*rs in the FA Cup…

    Don’t tell me there is no bias…

    Wonder if the blogs are going to chase Dier the way they did Xhaka…guess not… if the press start to compare him with Cantona, he is safe…

  • Chris

    Well I guess PGMOL and its henchman Dean can carve another notch onto whatever handle they are using. Another Arsenal player seriously hurt with no intervention nor punishment for the agressor. Can anyone looking at the picture in the Guardian really pretend that the tackle on Toreira was fair and square, and not putting him into danger ?

    I’m not accusing the other player of intentionally hurting a colleague. But the inaction of the ref, the linesman, the PGMOL and the PL is just criminal.

    This is just so disgusting.

  • Nitram

    Chris

    Exactly the point I made the other day.

    We won and got the following from the Guardian:

    “Arsenal are now one win from Wembley and two wins from, errrm, Wembley. They can start to smell success in a competition that has lit up their otherwise barren last decade and a half …”

    After somebody put that comment up I wondered how the Guardian would report what I thought would be Spurs progression against lowly Norwich. Would they take the same negative approach to a Spurs victory? If they di it should read something like this:

    “Spurs are now one win from Wembley and two wins from, errrm, Wembley. They can start to smell success in a competition (well the League Cup actually but lets not split hairs) that has lit up their otherwise barren last 28 years …”

    I said:

    “Somehow I doubt we’ll get anything like that sort of dig in Spurs case, despite their appalling recent trophy haul.”

    How right I was, because even though Spurs actually lost all we get is:

    “While Tottenham will now have to wait another year at least having last won the FA Cup in 1991…”

    AND THEY LOST FFS !!!!!

    I also asked:

    “What gets me is we still get some Arsenal fans coming on here saying this negative media bias is just a figment of our imagination.

    Well here’s a challange. If Spurs do overcome Norwich in the next round, which they surely should, as in the words of Cole they are “Miles ahead of Arsenal” then come on here and show us the similarly sarcastic Guardian comments that will surely be aimed at Spurs.

    I wont hold my breath”.

    A good job I didn’t.

    As we can see the difference in tone and content between how Spurs are reported in DEFEAT, and how we are reported in VICTORY, is astonishing. It is a deliberate and shameful bias that they do not even attempt to hide.

    But can you blame them with the type of endlessly mocking fans we have, so willing to lap this shite up and join in with the mocking and ridiculing of the club and players at the least opportunity.

  • Nitram

    Chris

    “I’m not accusing the other player of intentionally hurting a colleague. But the inaction of the ref, the linesman, the PGMOL and the PL is just criminal. This is just so disgusting”.

    Spot on, although I would question slightly the notion of not intentionally hurting a colleague.

    Again I talked about this yesterday. As far as my playing career was concerned it was common practice to be sent out with the instruction to ‘let him know you are there’.

    I was told many times to ‘get the ball’ but if you don’t you must at least ‘get the man’.

    It was clear the instructions given to me and my team mates were to ‘take out’ certain players.

    These kind of instructions were more often than not given more forcefully when you were up against clearly superior opposition, or at least an exceptionally gifted player, as was the case the other night.

    As far as I’m concerned it was a clear instruction to ‘hurt’ the opponent. I’m not saying the instruction was to break a players leg, or the player would actually intend to break a players leg, but by the nature of what we were instructed to do, and what some players did, that was always a possibility.

    That tackle was one of those. It was a tackle straight out of the 70’s and 80’s. It was a tackle that clearly endangered an opponent. It was a tackle that has been outlawed for exactly that reason.

    Yet here we are 30 years later still seeing it.

    And yet here we are seeing a players career on the line because of it.

    And yet here we are seeing a referee allow it and the media endorse it.

    As you say Chris……disgusting.

  • Chris

    @Nitram,

    My take : PGMOL is run by a total incompetent clown and an incompetent clique around him. This Dean guy is celebrated for 500 + games which would be impossible in other big leagues for ‘neutrality’, logical and fairness reasons. And looking at his refereeing it would not be possible for him to officiate so many games or officiate at all in other leagues as he is a total incompetent, not even able within one game to take ‘equivalnt’ sanctions for equivalent acts. And obviously, this guy is in dire need of some glasses as his vision is faltering with old age setting in.

    And the organisations in charge of all that, the PL and th FA are themselves incompetent, or how would you call them otherwise for letting the biggest and most popular football league in the world be refereed by incompetent fools not even able to count – and don’t we start mentionning Charity Shield, World Cup, coaches and artificial turfs just to name a few.

    I just hope that some day a player like takes them to court. If it is not possible un the UK, he ought to try in the US….

  • John L

    I don’t believe that the failings of the PGMOL are simply the result of incompetence. If that were the case, the wrong decisions would surely “even themselves out” and all teams would suffer to a similar extent.

    Instead, as is well documented for a period of at least 10 years on this site, Arsenal have suffered and continue to suffer more than most teams. There is a clear pattern of different (ie unfair) treatment over the whole range of decisions ; when to award a foul / play advantage; yellow and red cards / penalties for and against / and random VAR references and outcomes.

    There can be no doubt at all that the referees display an anti-Arsenal bias in nearly every match. Riley set the tone and the others continue to follow his direction.

  • Menace

    Bassey61
    04/03/2020 at 6:58 pm
    Praise when its due improves players. Criticism is not going to improve a player unless it is by his peers. You do not have a clue about the level of support this site and its followers give the players. the coach and each other.

    Many of us are over 50 so we have a lot of experience as supporters. Give us due respect.

    I am particularly concerned about the game and its officiating. The game that we are watching today in the EPL is not Association Football. We pay to watch a game that is officiated on the field of play but what we are being served is a game being officiated in remote locations with the on field official over ridden by the remote official without verifying the decision on a screen just outside the field of play. It is not played according to the Laws of The Game.

    Sadly many supporters are too young to appreciate the technicality of fair trading.

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