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April 2021
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How Arsenal might just be able to make it up to sixth.

By Tony Attwood

That game today was so much better, it was one of those matches that made me wonder why we couldn’t run the game in this way all the way through every match.  We are still a long way down in the league on where we should be, of course, but it was most certainly a step in the right direction.

Below is a table that compares where we are this season after 26 games and where we were at the same number of games in recent seasons.  I’ve started from the season that was our last appearance in the top four (our finishing position in the season is shown in the final column: End.)

Pos Season P W D L F A GD Pts End
10 2020/21 26 11 4 11 34 27 7 37
10 2019/20 26 7 13 6 36 34 2 34 8
5 2018/19 26 15 5 6 53 37 16 50 5
6 2017/18 26 13 6 7 51 35 16 45 6
5 2016/17 26 15 5 6 55 31 24 50 5
3 2015/16 26 15 6 5 41 23 18 51 2

As we can see, the huge difference comes with the goal-scoring.  This is our worst season of all, in terms of the goals so far.  But it is our second best season in terms of the defence.  The simple answer thus is to leave the defence alone and just focus on getting more goals scored.

We have actually won more games than this time last season when we were also 10th after 26 games.   Last season was the season of the record number of draws in a 38 game season.  (The actual all time record number of draws was 18 in the season 1969/70 when we played 42 league games).

But this is our worst season for the  number of defeats after 26 matches in a long time.  (Our worst number of defeats in a 38 game season was 23 in the relegation year of 1912/13).

In the Premier League our highest number of defeats in a 38 match season was 13 in 2017/18.   So if we are not going to break that rather negative record we need to keep winning games from here on.

But the fact that this might well be our season of the most defeats in a 38 match Premier League does show how far we have sunk since the glory days of Mr Wenger.

However the target must still be sixth place…

Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
6 Liverpool 25 11 7 7 45 34 11 40
7 Everton 24 12 4 8 37 33 4 40
8 Tottenham Hotspur 25 11 6 8 41 27 14 39
9 Aston Villa 24 12 3 9 38 26 12 39
10 Arsenal 26 11 4 11 34 27 7 37

which means we are only three points behind, as I write this (Sunday afternoon) with matches still going on.

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But there are two obvious problems.  One is that any of the four teams between us and sixth place could keep on winning, and then our run of wins would be irrelevant.  The other is that they have all played either one or two games fewer than we have.

The one great success of this season is our defence, although you might not think so considering the sorts of comments that have been made in terms of the defenders through the campaign.  We have let fewer goals in than Leicester, West Ham, Manchester United and Liverpool and the same number as Tottenham and only two more than Chelsea.

But in the match today we saw our attack really come to life, including the much maligned Pepe, so let us look at where the attacking players have got to, compared to last season.   The last season column is for the whole season and so is estimated.

Player This season Last season Difference Estimated end 20/21
Aubameyang 13 29 -16 17
Lacazette 11 10 +1 15
Martinelli 0 10 -10 0
Pepe 8 8 = 11
Arsenal (league only) 34 56 -22 45

We have 32% of the season left to play so the last column shows where this season will be if things carry on at the same rate.  So we will only have scored 45 goals by the end of the season.  Which is, in fact, one goal more than Everton last season and Everton came … 12th.

So everything is on course for our finishing around 11th or 12th, but the one thing that could really save us would be an increase in goals.  If Aubameyang has got his scoring boots back on, and if Pepe and Lacazette can continue to deliver then might just be enough to help us climb into sixth.  It’s going to be tough, but it is just possible – assuming none of the teams above us have a superb run at the same time.

8 comments to How Arsenal might just be able to make it up to sixth.

  • Nitram

    I find the Aubameyang Lacazette situation a real conundrum.

    I think Aubameyang is the better goal scorer, of the two. Nothing at all insightful there of course. Not by as much this season, but overall I still think he is the more efficient in front of goal

    But here’s the thing. I think we play better as a team when Lacazette is playing.

    He’s better at link up play and he keeps possession better.

    2 great players with different qualities.

    Play them together? We have and they’ve done alright.

    But if we cant and it’s down to one or the other I honestly think I’d play Lacazette, but honestly I don’t know.

  • Winterburns right wand

    We’ve really stepped up our scoring since that bad run earlier in the season. If we can keep going at a similar rate then we have a great chance.

  • Mikey

    So, the obsession of referees giving Arsenal players a card at every possible opportunity continued today, as was demonstrated by the card for Tierney for a very ordinary foul. One of only three fouls we committed, keeping us as the team that commits the fewest fouls per game.

    This made me wonder what sort of refereeing other teams had been subjected to this weekend. This is what I found (based on only 18 teams as two play tomorrow.)

    Well the second lowest number of fouls was double our tally. The Spuds committed six fouls but received no cards at all. In fact six teams received no cards despite committing an average of 10 fouls each. Indeed, one of them committed 13 fouls for no cards.

    Excluding Arsenal, the other 17 teams committed an average of 11.2 fouls (3.75 times more than Arsenal) and received an average of 0.9 cards (10% less than Arsenal). That worked out at 11.9 fouls per card (3.98 times more than Arsenal).

    So, in essence the team that commits the fewest fouls in the premiership, committed the lowest number by far again this weekend at just 26.7% of the average others achieved but we still got carded at a rate almost four times that of the average.

    I know one week is hardly representative but I just thought I’d share this with people since I don’t believe for one moment this will be a one-off! Yet the media are going mad about Man U NOT getting a penalty. That really does sum up the total lack of objectivity in football “journalism” in this country.

  • Menace

    Perspective in two dimentional pictures can fool the viewer. The Man U so called penalty was an assumption of contact because of false perspective. The ball definitely made contact with the United player but did not make contact with the Chelsea player. One angle makes the contact appear to happen but it is a false perspective.

    These cheats wouldn’t clear Luiz of his fake red card for a contact that was made on him and not by him.

    They do not have any moral code but instead have a vendetta against Arsenal for something unreal.

  • John L

    If David Luiz had not scored, I don’t suppose that we would have been given the penalty for Evans holding Lacazette in a bear-hug.

    It was ignored by commentators, VAR and referee. Why no yellow card for the offence?

  • A very pleasant game indeed, a stylish win at last. As for our goalscoring problem, I’m with Nitram, I think Lacazette’s role in our best performances has been criminally downplayed. I don’t want to be quibbling too much after such a controlled performance, but I do have difficulty understanding why, when our obvious problem is goalscoring, our best goal/assist provider – Laca – is always the one who’s sidelined after a disappointing performance of the team. As Nitram said, his linkup play is really top-class, he never shies away from defensive chores, he’s a very unselfish CF (some might say too unselfish), and … he scores goals (his goal/minutes played ratio is as good as Auba’s, and would be better if he was the first choice at taking penalties). As for Pépé, he was a joy to watch too, it was so frustrating to see him struggle for so long. Now that Emil’s injured, I have to say I’d be very curious to see Bukayo in the playmaker position; I do believe a Pépé-Saka-Aubameyang/Lacazette front four would be lethal. Let’s just remember how Auba-Laca, in these very same positions, destroyed Valencia in the EL semi-finals in may 2019 – not even two years ago; with the addition of a reborn Pépé and of our amazing wonderkid, there are not many teams we couldn’t harm, imo.

  • Mark

    The ‘problem’ I see is when Saka plays on the right, and so successfully, it leaves Pepe to play on the left if we move Auba centrally. Laca is by far the better link up player and does score when put in the right situation, see Brighton away. It is a great situation to have but that’s without giving Martinelli any game time too. Midfield is also an area of who to play. Odegaard or ESR as playmaker. Ceballos? Partey and Xhaka seem to complement each other. Which leads me to say that this squad is now deeper than ever. Look at Cedric with playing time too.
    We just have to eradicate the daft opening ten minutes of conceding a goal and we can push up the league. Sp**s West Ham Liverpool Chelsea to play above us to close that gap. It will be touch and go but let’s be honest in November did anyone see this as a possibility?

  • Nitram

    Mark

    I know things looked bleak back in November but as I kept saying, I thought that was a false position, for various reasons.

    Yes we were playing well below our potential but there were various factors at work.

    New players settling in.

    Injuries

    Players such as Auba performing well below normal.

    Our typical dose of referee and VAR medicine.

    Before the season started I thought our squad was easily top 4 and even had an outside chance of top 2 which is why I had a little ew at 33/1

    Before the season kicked off I thought City and Liverpool were clear favourites then it was between 5 of 6 others for the other 2 top 4 and I honestly thought on paper we were best of the rest and despite everything I still do.

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