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August 2020

Arsenal reveal post-lock down results are a very different matter

By Tony Attwood

There is no doubt that lockdown has changed things.   Since the League returned without crowds in stadia, results have reversed, as indeed happened in Germany, with home wins now being the least likely, rather than the most likely result.

It is more than likely that referee bias has a significant part to play here as the research of late has shown just how much referees are affected by the home crowd.  Take that out and things are evened up – quite possibly with the home team finding playing in their own stadium without a crowd unnerving, while playing away without the hostility and referee bias is a relief.

Unfortunately because of the uneven number of games played by teams since the lockdown began the post lockdown table is not that helpful in showing us how clubs are adapting, but a simplified league table of the last four games does give an indication.

This has been worked out manually since  the only copy I could find on line clearly had errors in it.  Adding goal difference proved too much of a sunday morning challenge.

Pos Team P W D L Pts
1 Manchester United 4 3 1 0 10
1 Newcastle United 4 3 1 0 10
3 Chelsea 4 3 0 1 9
3 Wolverhampton Wanderers 4 3 0 1 9
3 Manchester City 4 3 0 1 9
3 Arsenal 4 3 0 1 9
7 Brighton and Hove Albion 4 2 1 1 7
7 Burnley 4 2 1 1 7
7 Liverpool 4 2 1 1 7
7 Everton 4 2 1 1 7
7 Sheffield United 4 1 1 2 7
12 Southampton 4 2 0 2 6
13 Leicester City 4 1 2 1 5
13 Tottenham Hotspur 4 1 2 1 5
15 Crystal Palace 4 1 0 3 3
15 West Ham United 4 1 0 3 3
17 Watford 4 0 1 3 1
17 Aston Villa 4 0 1 3 1
19 AFC Bournemouth 4 0 0 4 0
20 Norwich City 4 0 0 4 0

Teams have played different numbers of post-lockdown games, but four games covers just about everyone while the six game table that lots of sites publish includes at least one game pre-lock down.

As can be seen Arsenal are in third position on the four game table, and our next games are at home to Leicester and away to Tottenham Hotspur (both of them on 13 points).  In the new world, playing away is the advantage, playing at home is the disadvantage – the reverse of what it was before.

Looking at the table for the last six games (which is thankfully published on many websites), this reveals Wolverhampton, and Chelsea with one more point than Arsenal.  Tottenham are 16th in the six match table but 13th in the four match table – not so good either way.

Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Manchester Utd 6 4 2 0 15 4 11 14
2 Chelsea 6 4 1 1 15 7 8 13
3 Wolverhampton Wanderers 6 4 1 1 7 4 3 13
4 Manchester City 6 4 0 2 14 4 10 12
5 Arsenal 6 4 0 2 10 5 5 12
6 Newcastle United 6 3 2 1 9 3 6 11
7 Burnley 6 3 2 1 6 6 0 11
8 Liverpool 6 3 1 2 9 10 -1 10
9 Southampton 6 3 0 3 9 7 2 9
10 Crystal Palace 6 3 0 3 4 8 -4 9
11 Leicester City 6 2 2 2 9 4 5 8
12 Brighton and Hove Albion 6 2 2 2 3 5 -2 8
13 Everton 6 2 2 2 6 9 -3 8
14 Sheffield United 6 2 2 2 5 8 -3 8
15 West Ham United 6 2 0 4 8 11 -3 6
16 Tottenham Hotspur 6 1 2 3 8 10 -2 5
17 Watford 6 1 1 4 5 9 -4 4
18 Norwich City 6 1 0 5 1 10 -9 3
19 Aston Villa 6 0 2 4 2 10 -8 2
20 AFC Bournemouth 6 0 1 5 6 16 -10 1

Basically the top seven teams in the four match table can be said to have adjusted to the new world of ghost games, and thankfully that includes Arsenal.

And there does seem to be a huge difference between the clubs doing well with ghost games and those not.  However this can be explained in part by the issue of who is playing who.  For example, Newcastle’s rise might be surprising but when we look at their ghost games we can see why

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Date Game Res Score Competition
21 Jun 2020 Newcastle United v Sheffield United W 3-0 Premier League
24 Jun 2020 Newcastle United v Aston Villa D 1-1 Premier League
28 Jun 2020 Newcastle United v Manchester City L 0-2 FA Cup
01 Jul 2020 AFC Bournemouth v Newcastle United W 1-4 Premier League

Their three ghost games in the League have been against a rapidly fading Sheffield Utd, and two relegation candidates, Bournemouth and Villa.

So short term league tables don’t tell us everything – but they do give us an insight, especially into how well clubs are coping with ghost games.

Just to round it off, here’s the actual league table

Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Liverpool 32 28 2 2 70 25 45 86
2 Manchester City 32 21 3 8 81 33 48 66
3 Leicester City 33 17 7 9 63 31 32 58
4 Chelsea 33 17 6 10 60 44 16 57
5 Manchester United 33 15 10 8 56 33 23 55
6 Wolverhampton Wanderers 33 13 13 7 45 36 9 52
7 Arsenal 33 12 13 8 49 41 8 49

The key issue quite simply is can we catch Wolverhampton Wanderers.  And the answer is one Arsenal win when they lose would do it on goal difference.  So sixth is possible, and that would secure the Europa spot if Manchester City’s efforts first to bully and then to plead with the Committee of Arbitration in Sport against  their two year ban from Europe is successful.

Although even if Manchester City are still removed from Europe (and my guess would be a one year ban, because that is what CAS always does – it halves the sentence), we are not automatically given the place.  Uefa has to decide to give it to us, if we are seventh, if Man City are not removed.   Safer to end up sixth if we want another year of the Europa.

Personally, as I’ve argued before, I would be happier with no European football, and a year for the club to solidify itself.  Remembering that Liverpool started their drive to the top by coming 8th in the League in 2015/16 and so not playing in Europe in 2016/17.  They made good use of that year, climbing back to fourth without the distraction of the Europa, and were then ready to compete in the Champions League.


4 comments to Arsenal reveal post-lock down results are a very different matter

  • Rosicky@Arsenal

    Good win and a collective team performance. Arteta has shown he can succeed Big Weng to some extent.
    The only thing missing is the Wengerball we were so fond of watching. Guess it will also come with time.

    My usual taunt at the WOBs will continue as they thought we will be world beaters once big Weng goes. May I ask the idiots at AFTV Gunners Legroan etc that where is the League title they promised to deliver as soon as Arsene leave the club?

  • Nitram


    Do you have figures for the financial impact of not player in the Europa league?

    I assume it varies depending on how deep you go, and then of course there is the massive incentive of a route in to the CL through winning the thing.

    Not sure but I get the impression the money is, in relative terms at least, neither here nor there, which leaves the impact it has on the footballing side.

    If you are in it and win it then any impact on your PL finish is of much less importance.

    If you are in it and don’t win it then any negative impact on your PL finish could be crucial.

    If you are not in it then the lack of impact on your PL performances could be crucial.

    It’s a quandary that’s for sure.

    On balance I’m with you Tony. A great finish to the season, giving a much needed psychological boost to players and fans alike, but just missing out on the EL would be ideal.

    But even if we do qualify and want to really consolidate in the PL, then maybe Arteta can simply use it to give the fringe and youth players a run out, as we have historically used the League cup, which could feasibly be dropped from the schedule next year to avoid the inevitable fixture congestion we are going to have.

    As long as our fickle fans are prepared for possible outcome of such a plan then the EL could come in useful, if only for that.

  • Laos Gooner

    I think Nitram’s idea of fringe and youth players for the EL is the way forwards. As Rosicky says a good win yesterday, I feel we need to keep that momentum and performance level going till the end of the season. It does look like Mikel is bringing his system to our way of play and this period before the end of the season gives players the chance to adapt whilst avoiding overly high expectations. This process should be allowed to continue without trying to avoid what some of us fans may feel to be undesirable final league position. If we can continue to put in performances as we did against Wolves then I do not care where we finish. The fact that it was another very easy game to watch yesterday is something I hope can be a feature of our games for the next 5 to 7 games, with an FA cup final into the bargain.

  • GoingGoingGooner

    I agree with you Tony, that Europa League matches are just a distraction. I place the FA Cup ahead of that competition. And, in fact believe that a FA Cup win should result in a Champions League Spot. But, that is an anglophile’s point of view and many of our players are European and may well cherish a spot in the Europa League, no matter the level of play. And Liverpool are not the only ones who have used a year without European football to bounce back with a strong league finish the next year. Leicester finished 14th in 2015 only to win in 2016… Chelsea finished 10th in 2016 only to win in 2017. Both profited from the absence of a grueling schedule of matches every three days down the stretch.

    Of more importance is that our players are starting to play like a team. Although i thought the first half was a bit like watching paint dry as neither team was accomplishing much offensively, at least we were one of the two teams on the pitch who were playing solid defensive football. In the end our individual quality showed and we took all three points. It is the improvement that is important and if that results in a Europa League spot, fair enough. But, my sights are set on something higher than playing on Thursday nights.

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