By Bulldog Drummond
There is much talk now about this being our worst start to a season since… and there you can fill in the year of your choice. But it is worth noting that Arsene Wenger himself had several bad starts to seasons over the years – and recovered.
Each of these led to the anti-Wengerians in the media and the blogs to call for the manager to be removed, but eventually the team pulled itself around and the plan for playing out of the situation gradually got sorted, and results improved.
Just to remind you, in case you needed reminding, our situation currently is
But we are only two wins below from second place with 30 games to play – although of course those clubs above us will also be winning as well.
But take a look at 1998 – which was the last time that we had an opening run nearly as bad as this. Then we had played eight but had 13 rather than 12 points.
|9||West Ham United||8||3||3||2||7||8||-1||12|
Then as now Villa were charging ahead of us. But what is particularly interesting however was that in 1998 we had once again only scored nine goals by this stage of the season.
This is one of those moment where it is tempting to place a bet on what can happen to Arsenal this season as time progresses. But it is of course difficult to be sure how things will develop, and that’s why some free bets can help. Details of these are given on GPC.
The results that we had in 1998 at the start of the season make interesting reading today
|09 Aug 1998||Arsenal v Manchester United||W||3-0||FA Charity Shield|
|17 Aug 1998||Arsenal v Nottingham Forest||W||2-1||Premier League|
|22 Aug 1998||Liverpool v Arsenal||D||0-0||Premier League|
|29 Aug 1998||Arsenal v Charlton Athletic||D||0-0||Premier League|
|09 Sep 1998||Chelsea v Arsenal||D||0-0||Premier League|
|12 Sep 1998||Leicester City v Arsenal||D||1-1||Premier League|
|16 Sep 1998||RC Lens v Arsenal||D||1-1||UEFA Champions League|
|20 Sep 1998||Arsenal v Manchester United||W||3-0||Premier League|
|26 Sep 1998||Sheffield Wednesday v Arsenal||L||1-0||Premier League|
|30 Sep 1998||Arsenal v Panathinaikos||W||2-1||UEFA Champions League|
|04 Oct 1998||Arsenal v Newcastle United||W||3-0||Premier League|
|17 Oct 1998||Arsenal v Southampton||D||1-1||Premier League|
|21 Oct 1998||Arsenal v Dynamo Kiev||D||1-1||UEFA Champions League|
We can see we were doing quite well in the Champions League and had won the Community Shield, and indeed only lost once, just as this season we are doing fine in Europe, and had won the FA Cup at the end of last season. But what was holding us back were those draws.
However by the end of 1998/9 we were a respectable Arsenal, both because of slippage by the ultimate league champions and the gain by Arsenal.
|5||West Ham United||38||16||9||13||46||53||-7||57|
So, if you think you know what is going to happen you can get some free bets here.
But the question is, are we going to see such an improvement by Arsenal, and a slippage by some other teams? Some clear thinking is needed here, as for example the Daily Mail talks about this season’s poor start and says “It is a far cry from the glory days under Arsene Wenger,” forgetting that the last time this happened (1998) we were right in the middle of the “glory days under Arsene Wenger”.
Part of Mr Wenger’s great ability was to introduce new formats and new approaches which sometimes didn’t work well at first, and then grind out the results in the opening stages, until the players got used to the new style of play.
That seems to me to be the key: are the players going to adjust to the new style of play under Arteta as they did several times under Wenger?
The one player they want introduced to the team is Joe Willock – a choice that many people seem to be making at the moment based on the Europa League games with comparisons being made to Aaron Ramsey in terms of his late runs into the penalty area.
What they also suggest is that we have a separate style of line up against the rest of the “Top six” which of course is not a top six at the moment. Here they suggest a 3-4-3 approach, as was deployed in the victory against Man U, with Elneny playing alongside Partey.
They also say Arteta shouldn’t be afraid to deploy a more defensive 3-4-3 line-up similar to the one that dominated United at Old Trafford. That brings back in Elneny playing along side Partey.
These are big calls to make, and the type of call that some managers can make and get right and others not. It’s a moment for bravery and decision making.