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July 2021
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Returning to goal scoring, but are Arsenal yet on top 4 or even top 6 form?

By Tony Attwood

Arsene Wenger JHayes (cropped).jpg

In the article “What Arsenal need now” I wrote that

“Defeats happen, we all know that.  Defeats are not the problem.  The problem is letting the occasional defeat become a series of defeats (occasionally interspersed with draws).

“If you want the secret to how the Wenger teams consistently ended up in the top four in the Premier League, this is it.  In every season except one they had defeats (and even in the unbeaten season the side lost in the League Cup, FA Cup and Champions League) but in all cases they didn’t let the defeats become a habit.”

So despite our defeats, are we now performing at the right level?

Below is the league table last season after 26 games.

Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Liverpool 22 21 1 0 52 14 38 64
2 Manchester City 23 15 3 5 64 27 37 48
3 Leicester City 23 14 3 6 48 23 25 45
4 Chelsea 23 12 3 8 39 30 9 39
5 Manchester United 23 9 7 7 36 27 9 34
6 Wolverhampton W 23 8 10 5 34 30 4 34

The top six at that time had between them won 79 games out of 138.     The bottom qualifying team had 1.48 points per game.

And now today after a similar number of games

Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Manchester City 23 16 5 2 46 14 32 53
2 Manchester United 24 13 7 4 50 31 19 46
3 Leicester City 24 14 4 6 42 26 16 46
4 Liverpool 24 11 7 6 45 32 13 40
5 Chelsea 23 11 6 6 38 24 14 39
6 West Ham United 23 11 6 6 34 28 6 39

Now the top six teams have won 76 games out of 141.    The bottom qualifying team has 1.70 points per game.   So this season the top six is doing a little better than last year.  

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As a result of seeing this sort of figures I suggested it was hard to see how Arsenal could make the top six once again, and therefore we should prepare for a season without European football – which coming on top of a season of no crowds is not going to be what the owners want.

But really, is there no hope at all?  Let’s try this another way look just at this calendar year

  • Results: Played 8, won 4, drawn 2, lost 2.  50% win rate
  • Goals for: 15, 1.875 per game
  • Goals against 6, 0.75 per game

Is this form alone good enough to make a top six spot?  

Our win rate this calendar year is 50%, fractionally above the 48% of Chelsea and West Ham through this season.  But of course they have been maintaining it through this whole season.  We haven’t.

 So although our results this calendar year have been good (won four, drawn two, lost two) that is only the sort of ratio we we would normally enjoy all season to make the top six.

However we have done it once.  Under Mr Wenger in 2002 we were unbeaten in the last 21 games of the season, and in fact won the last 13 league games of the season.  That is the sort of form we would need now to make the “not a trophy” spots.

If we continue at the rate we have shown this year we will get another 25 points taking us up to 59 points, which will require all four teams above us (West Ham, Everton, Aston Villa and Tottenham Hots to do considerable worse than that if that is to be good enough to get a European spot.

So although the gap is only five points to West Ham, the fact is that we need not just them, but the other clubs above us to show a distinct downturn, while we carry on at the present rate, or do better.

Of course we do have reasons to be cheerful, because this calendar year we have been playing like a top four club with the third best goal scoring average in the league, with the second best defence in the league and the third best points per game in the league.

Team P F Av A AV Pts Av
1 Manchester City 23 46 2.00 14 0.61 53 2.30
2 Manchester United 24 50 2.08 31 1.29 46 1.79
3 Leicester City 24 42 1,75 26 1.08 46 1.75
4 Liverpool 24 45 1.87 32 1.33 40 1.73
Arsenal this year only 8 15 1.87 6 0.75 14 1.75

Playing like that all season would give us third spot.   But of course we have not kept this up for the whole season.  It is only now that we are getting into our stride.   

So maybe next season will be better, but there are two factors against us.

The present owners bought was a club that earned the most money of any club of any club in England on match days.   Now it earns nothing, and although  the good days will return the hole in their pocket from the virus will take a long time to go away.

Second the present owners bought a club that earned European money every season.  Although there is still a slight chance that some of the clubs currently above us will collapse as Arsenal steam ahead, the most likely chance of getting into Europe next season is winning the Europa League, and that of course is far from guaranteed.

And the implication of all this is that next summer’s transfer budget is likely to be very limited.  Of course that will be true for many clubs, although probably not for the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United who have access to reserves of cash.

I suspect quite a few Arsenal supporters will automatically expect more purchasing along the lines of recent seasons: £144m in 2019/20, £72m in 2018/19, £137m in 2017/18, £101m in 2016/17.

But I also suspect the Kroenkes will feel this is not what they bought Arsenal for, and also that the constant buying policy has not worked in the past, any more than three managers in four years has worked.

Tackles, fouls and yellow cards.  These figures are truly weird.

8 comments to Returning to goal scoring, but are Arsenal yet on top 4 or even top 6 form?

  • Sally Pally

    The fact is, I think most on here agree that this season we have been done out of at least 9 points. My conservative estimate for points taken away by referee bias per season is a minimum of 15 for the last 17 years. And bear mind that many of theses points would have been lost from teams above us. Also bear mind that we have had many players taken out of games without the opponent being punished, whilst we get bookings for much more innocuous tackles.
    Although we won easily last night, the score with honest refereeing would have been 6:2 or 6:3. When Leeds got their first goal back, Sky were quick to mention our collapse (lol) against Newcastle to have 4:4 after we were leading 4:0.
    I can’t believe that we are having to talk about Arsenal being done out of 15 points each season for 17 years. But we have the evidence, we have the proof and one day, someone with some clout will document it and there can be some justice.

  • Steve Vallins

    Six(6) points from our last two(2) away games would show the league table in a completely different light , the problem looking at results like this is that every team can say the same thing by picking out certain results . The circumstances of the last two(2) away games were influenced by referees decisions and non decisions , yesterday’s result we took any influence away from the referee but it could have been very different
    A penalty given then rescinded after a look at the monitor , he must have doubted himself or had a whisper in he’s ear , did Leeds deserve a penalty late in the game ? Was it not given due to the referees bad decision on Arsenal first penalty claim ?
    It seems every game Arsenal play there are so many strange decisions what referees make or in most cases don’t make , Tony you have said how Arsenal have tried changed there style of play regarding making tackles but we still get rolled over , the rules/laws of the game change when it’s us .

  • porter

    It is hard to distinguish the difference of Saka’s refused penalty to the Luiz Wolves one but undoutably a different refereeing outcome . Even Luiz could be heard commenting on it but I suppose Riley will say that they have learned from their mistake , or most likey will say nothing at all.
    The collapse against Newcastle still rankles with me when it’s thrown in our faces time and time again. It was a combination of Dowd and Joey Barton cheating that day . There is no other way to describe it.
    One thing did come out from this weekend though was Souness of all people calling Salah out and stating that he dived . Yes he actually used that word , I ran it back to check.
    Maybe that will catch on and a few more habitual divers will get their names in lights.

    But I doubt it.

  • mick shelley

    Sally Pally/Steve Vallins
    It appears that ESPN (not exactly well known for adopting a pro Arsenal position!!!) agree with you regarding our bad record with suffering from dodgy VAR decisions…….
    https://www.espn.in/football/english-premier-league/story/4182135/how-var-decisions-affected-every-premier-league-club-in-2020-21

  • mick shelley

    Dermot Gallagher, the ‘PGMOL’s excuse maker for inexplicably bad ref decisions’ uses the minimal contact line to explain why Saka’s penalty in the Leeds match was in his opinion correctly overturned.
    Wasn’t David Luiz’s contact minimal then, and that was actually the Wolves player foot catching Luiz, not the other way round. Obviously not minimal enough as the penalty stood with a red card for Luiz to boot.

  • John L

    All the pundits harking back to the 4-0 to 4-4 result at Newcastle (quite predictably) omitted to mention that Arsenal were down to 10 men as result of Diaby being sent off for retaliating against repeated assaults by Barton and Nolan, which the referee, Phil Dowd did nothing to prevent. (the same 2 players then got away with an assault on Szczesny later in the game). Neither did they see fit to mention that 2 Newcastle goals came from penalties awarded by Mr. Dowd for imaginary fouls, nor the fact that a 5th Arsenal goal by Van Persie was suspiciously disallowed for a dubious off-side.

    These truths would, of course not fit the media narrative of Arsenal being soft and useless and open to ridicule

  • Menace

    It is very interesting listening to the West Ham v S United game when the penalty was awarded to West Ham. Peter Walton the PGMOL spokesman said the yellow card was appropriate as the penalty gave the team the goal scoring opportunity that was prevented in the foul and the double jeopardy was averted.

    The red card for an Arsenal player and a penalty is not double jeopardy as it does not meet the PGMOL Laws for Arsenal.

  • Steve Vallins

    Mick Shelley
    Minimal contact only comes into the decision if it’s not Arsenal and is always given , you’ve got to show the referee you’ve been touched