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.
|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.
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.
- The home and away scandal: ignorance, or cover up?
- The reason why Liverpool and Man C are ahead of Arsenal.
- How which referee a club gets has a major impact on the result of each game
- The statistical evidence that shows PGMO are biased against Arsenal
- How European football has taken up the fight against clubs breaking FFP