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December 2020
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What exactly should Arsenal do now in order to climb the table?

By Tony Attwood

I have no doubt that patterns are the key to understanding football.  Indeed if you have been looking at our series on tackles, fouls and yellow cards, you’ll appreciate exactly how this can work.  It is not just a case of how the team is playing, but also how the referees are treating the clubs.

This analysis not only gives us an insight into what to expect, but also helps anyone who is taking a flutter stand a better chance of beating the bookies.   Information on this is given on FootballGroundGuide

We all know the notion that doing the same thing over and over again when it isn’t working is a sure sign of madness, as it is what Mr Wenger was accused of during the “fourth in not a trophy” era, so we ought to consider what Arsenal has been doing, and what has been going wrong.  After all we don’t want to be accused of madness.

In May 2018, after leading Arsenal to sixth in the League, Mr Wenger left.   In May 2019 we came fifth, just two points and two goals behind Chelsea in third.   Mr Emery, who guided us that close to the desired return to the Champions League money was then sacked in the 2019/20 season, and Mr Arteta guided us to 8th, ten points off third spot.   We did however win the FA Cup.  At the moment we are 11th.

But let’s try this another way.   How have we been doing in previous seasons compared with this season, at this exact moment after eight games?

I suspect you’ll be fully familiar with the rather sorrowful state of the table at the moment so I won’t run it all from top down, but here’s the Arsenal part of the table…

Team P W D L F A GD Pts
9 Wolverhampton Wanderers 8 4 1 3 8 9 -1 13
10 Manchester City 7 3 3 1 10 9 1 12
11 Arsenal 8 4 0 4 9 10 -1 12

Last season after the close of play on 15 October 2019, which is to say after eight games, we were third.

Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Liverpool 8 8 0 0 20 6 14 24
2 Manchester City 8 5 1 2 27 9 18 16
3 Arsenal 8 4 3 1 13 11 2 15
4 Leicester City 8 4 2 2 14 7 7 14
5 Chelsea 8 4 2 2 18 14 4 14

As for the season before that, again 15 October 2018, that also saw us having played eight games and we were fourth.  Which although not a trophy, as the anti-Wengerians loved to say, was what we are targeting now.

Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Manchester City 8 6 2 0 21 3 18 20
2 Chelsea 8 6 2 0 18 5 13 20
3 Liverpool 8 6 2 0 15 3 12 20
4 Arsenal 8 6 0 2 19 10 9 18

Even in the final year of Mr Wenger, after eight games (which is to say on 15 October 2017) we were sixth, two points off the “not a trophy” position.

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Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Manchester City 8 7 1 0 29 4 25 22
2 Manchester United 8 6 2 0 21 2 19 20
3 Tottenham Hotspur 8 5 2 1 15 5 10 17
4 Watford 8 4 3 1 13 13 0 15
5 Chelsea 8 4 1 3 13 8 5 13
6 Arsenal 8 4 1 3 12 10 2 13
7 Burnley 8 3 4 1 8 6 2 13
8 Liverpool 8 3 4 1 13 12 1 13

Now I find it interesting that at this point Liverpool were below us.  Their manager, a Mr Klopp, had been at Liverpool exactly two years on that day.   Liverpool, obviously kept the manager from that point, but we on the other hand have changed our manager twice.   Liverpool are currently third, one point behind the top club but with an inferior goal difference (having lost 7-2 to Aston Villa, who beat us yesterday 3-0).

So what can we learn from this?

We are in a worse position than when Mr Wenger left.  The last time we were in a worse position than we are now, after eight games, was 6 October 1994.  Here is the table then.

Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Newcastle United 8 7 1 0 25 8 17 22
2 Nottingham Forest 8 6 2 0 17 7 10 20
3 Blackburn Rovers 8 5 2 1 17 5 12 17
4 Manchester United 8 5 1 2 14 6 8 16
5 Liverpool 7 4 2 1 16 5 11 14
6 Leeds United 8 4 2 2 11 8 3 14
7 Chelsea 7 4 0 3 13 10 3 12
8 Southampton 8 3 3 2 12 13 -1 12
9 Norwich City 8 3 3 2 5 6 -1 12
10 Tottenham Hotspur 8 4 0 4 14 16 -2 12
11 Manchester City 8 3 2 3 11 10 1 11
12 Aston Villa 8 2 3 3 8 10 -2 9
13 Wimbledon 8 2 3 3 6 9 -3 9
14 Arsenal 8 2 2 4 8 9 -1 8

In 1995 we ended up 12th – so two places better than after eight games.

And what do we make of all this?

Certainly the most obvious information to hand is that changing managers and much of the team generally takes us down, not up.   Successful teams usually build on what they have and rise.

Of course this was not the case with Mr Wenger, but we must learn that taking us up to third in his first season and then to the double in his second season was exceptional and we can’t expect that.  But if we can resist the temptation of a) buying more and more players in the vague hope that we hit on a winner or two, and b) changing the manager time and time again, with a similar sort of hope, we might come out of this.

In his first window Mr Wenger brought in Patrick Vieira, Nic Anelka, John Lukic and Remi Garde.   Vieira was unknown, cost £3.5m and transformed the defence, Anelka was a 17 year who was not making it as PSG, Lukic was a 35 year old backup keeper and Remi Garde was Mr Wenger’s eyes and ears in the dressing room.   That was it.

On the other hand 16 players left that season.   That was the start of our most successful period in the Premier League, and it might be a good idea to recall that before demanding more and more and more transfers, and more and more managerial changes.

1 comment to What exactly should Arsenal do now in order to climb the table?

  • Brickfields Gunners

    I like to think that our players are good enough to give most of the other teams a good battle . Why we are not doing it is another matter entirely.

    Our spine is probably one of the strongest for a long time , and the other parts are, on paper , very good too.

    Hope we get back to winning ways soon , and move up the table.

    Up the Gunners !

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