Arsenal are back to being a top four club – so why change the defence?

By Sir Hardly Anyone

So the news is out and spreading.  Since Christmas Day Arsenal has been performing as a top four club.  That’s a fair amount of time to cover (not a matter of six or seven games that the pundits like).

And now we’ve looked at exactly where we would be if the season had begun on 26 December.  The answer is third.

Thus we can be happy in the knowledge that we have got our “fourth is not a trophy” club back, and the “Wenger Out” mob can brush down the old arguments that we ought to be doing better than fourth.  Or third.  “Emery out!”  Of course.

Better still for us real supporters, the lack of a European competition next year will give us a bonus – fewer matches to be crippled by opponents.  OK it will be less of a chance to bring the youngsters through, but we can put more into our League Cup effort instead.

Yet the tricks remain the same – ignore the fact that Arsenal’s form has really improved since Christmas day and instead do the old claim that the journalists and (allegedly) biggest supporters groups know what’s what – it’s all bleedin’ obvious – it’s just the idiots running Arsenal who don’t get it.”

Football.London, the 20 Arsenal stories a day machine, are telling us that Arsenal may well let defender Dinos Mavropanos stay at Stuttgart – and why this would be a huge mistake.  And the evidence – well one sentence from Stuttgart manager Pellegrino Matarazzo: “He’s our gladiator! He’s a monster in terms of physique. And when he makes a mistake, he hums around some Greek swear words. I like that. He’s just a tough dog.”  (Sorry, four sentences).

There are the endless stories about the goalkeeping position too.  But let’s have a look at our defence since Christmas Day and compare it with others.  Here we take the league table on Christmas day and then see how many goals each of the top ten plus Arsenal have conceded since.

Pos Team Conceded before Xmas Conceded since Xmas
1 Liverpool 19 22
2 Leicester City 17 27
3 Manchester United 21 20
4 Everton 19 23
5 Chelsea 14 19
6 Tottenham Hotspur 14 27
8 Manchester City 12 14
9 Aston Villa 13 28
10 West Ham United 19 26
15 Arsenal 18 20

Now I know this is a bit complicated but let’s do a league table of the defences since Christmas for the teams that have been lurking anywhere near the top half of the league

Club Goals since Xmas Position
Manchester City 14 1
Chelsea 19 2
Arsenal 20 3
Manchester United 20 3
Liverpool 22 5
Everton 23 6
West Ham United 26 7
Leicester City 27 8
Tottenham Hots 27 8

So let’s be clear about this and do a bit of the spelling out. 

Arsenal have, since our great turn around on Christmas Day, got the third best defence in the league. 

Not as good as Manchester City that is true, and one goal more conceded that Chelsea, that is also true.

And yes we are equal with Manchester United, another truth.  But still we have the third best defence in the league across this part of the season.

But maybe you think I am fiddling the figures, trying to bemuse you by numbers, trying to get you into the Toppled Bollard public house in London’s docklands and ply you with alcohol so you don’t notice what I am doing.

OK, let us look at the league table for the WHOLE SEASON.  Only I am going to run it in the order of goals against.  To be clear – goals we have let in this season, OK?

Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Manchester City 35 25 5 5 72 26 46 80
4 Chelsea 36 18 10 8 55 33 22 64
9 Arsenal 36 16 7 13 50 38 12 55
5 Liverpool 35 17 9 9 61 41 20 60
7 Tottenham Hotspur 35 16 8 11 61 41 20 56

We still have the third best defence in the league this season.  So why get rid of the goalkeeper?  In fact why change the defence at all?  If anything is seen to be lacking in that table above it is the attack.

Have you seen or heard a journalist other than from Untold Arsenal and a few other blogs comment on how we have got the third best defence in the league?  Have you ever heard those two supporters’ groups who each claim to be the biggest supporters’ groups say, “don’t touch the defence”?  No, of course not.  They all want and love turmoil to further their own personal ambitions.

So what we see are endless demands for getting rid of Xhaka, getting rid of the keeper, getting rid of Holding, getting rid of Chambers, getting rid of Bellerin….  It goes on and on and on and on, day after day.

And why – when we have the third best defence in the league?

Coming up shortly: the perfect example of journalistic misinformation.

8 Replies to “Arsenal are back to being a top four club – so why change the defence?”

  1. On the same theme, we are constantly being told that we sold the wrong goalkeeper, when we let Martinez go. Well, look at the goals against for Arsenal and then Villa. Arsenal have conceded 38 to Villa’s 41!! I know that not every goal is the keeper’s fault but the stats hardly make the case for Martinez being significantly better than Leno.

    If we could eliminate all those stupid, avoidable goals that we have given away this season, we would have, at least, a defensive record that would challenge.

  2. “Have you ever heard those two supporters’ groups who each claim to be the biggest supporters’ groups say, “don’t touch the defence”? No, of course not. They all want and love turmoil to further their own personal ambitions”.

    Which could explain exactly why, not only Arsenal, but just about every other club don’t really want to get their supporters too involved in the running of the club, because by and large you can hardly get 2 people, let alone ‘groups’ of people to agree on anything, and by and large they’re hardly ever happy with anything, ever. Well at least ours aren’t.

  3. Sir Hardly

    Obviously it’s not your fault but I think somebody is owed an acknowledgement on someone’s behalf ?


    13 May 2021 at 2:28 AM

    Arsenal points this season:-

    Until Christmas Day

    Pl Pts
    14 14

    After Christmas Day

    Pl Pts
    22 41
    Tony Attwood

    13 May 2021 at 9:26 PM

    Seismic – thanks for that point. I’ll try and weave it into an article with acknowledgement to you

  4. Sir Hardly

    My apologies.

    A see the acknowledgement on the previous article.

    That will teach me to read, write, and drink at the same time 🍺

  5. Interesting reading – the stats certainly don’t lie. However, neither do the stats tell the full story. Basing your “don’t change the defence” position entirely on the stats you’ve presented seems to take a rather narrow view of what is clearly more nuanced that you are making out.

    It’s easy to understand why so many fans want us to improve our defence, or more specifically, the defenders. They simply make too many mistakes, and the fact that this isn’t necessarily reflected in the “goals against” column doesn’t make it untrue. Take our first-choice back 5 and ask yourself which of those 5 players would hold down a starting berth in any of the current top-6 teams? Tierney for sure. The rest, all debatable.

    You guys are doing something quite unique (at least form the blogs I read) but I think you’re doing yourselves a disservice by constantly painting the other blogs / fan groups / etc in a negative light simply because they either don’t present or accept the same position that you do.

    Keep up the great work!

  6. Thank you Tony, that makes me feel much better, and more importantly much more able to continue down the depraved, and rather happy path I have chosen to tread 🍻

  7. While it’s true we are not conceding many, identifying why is a bit more tricky. Could be more to do with who is in front of the defence, and how the team is set up.
    One contributing factor might be Xhaka’s great form. How do the numbers look with Xhaka in than when he’s out?
    As to the defenders themselves, jury still out I suppose and who knows how good the on loan guys might be, but not obvious we need an upgrade other than at right back. (And a solid alternative to Leno).

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