Why does everyone say of Arsenal “it’s a bit of a mess” when it is anything but?

By Sir Hardly Anyone

Football365 has published a really interesting review “ranking all 24 Premier League managers 2020/1” and so naturally I turned straightaway to Mikel Arteta.  It’s a fascinating commentary.  First off let’s see the Mr Arteta commentary from 24 March.

12 Mikel Arteta (Arsenal)

Still a long road to travel, still mistakes being made and still frequently sh*tbone awful, but there are now definite signs and tangible points-based evidence that Arteta and Arsenal are starting to get things right and that this really could all work out quite nicely in the end. Authority in the role never greater than it is right now on the back of the ballsy but correct and instantly justified decision to punish tardy Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for being late to the NLD.

Pos Date P W D L F A GD Pts Pts per game
15 24 December 14 4 2 8 12 18 -6 14 1.00
9 24 March 29 12 6 11 40 32 8 42 1.44
Dec to March 15 8 4 3 28 14 +14 28 1.87

And now their end of season ranking

End of season: 15

Pros: inexplicably, mind-meltingly second in a Premier League table from Boxing Day onwards.
Cons: that run still only got them to eighth place, still below an imploding and often comically awful Tottenham and facing a season without any European football for the first time since Euro 96. However much the Europa Conference is a Spursy banter waiting to happen, no European football at all is quite something for a club of Arsenal’s stature. Arteta seems a decent cove and has lots of good ideas and has in the latter part of the campaign successfully reworked the team to put greater faith in its eye-catching array of young talent. But viewed as a whole, it’s still a bit of a mess. Next season could be very interesting, mind.

Now this table below looks at all the data the site has been using

Pos Date P W D L F A GD Pts Pts per game
15 24 December 14 4 2 8 12 18 -6 14 1.00
24/12 – 24/3 15 8 4 3 28 14 +14 28 1.87
9 24 March 29 12 6 11 40 32 8 42 1.44
24/3 – end 9 6 1 2 15 7 8 19 2.11
8 End of season 38 18 7 13 55 39 16 61 1.60

And lets say at once the Football 365 website has actually tackled this.  Most sites utterly deny anything happened to change the opinion that this was Arsenal’s worst season since the government decided to move the torpedo factories from the Woolwich Arsenal shipyards and place it in the Clyde (thus at a stroke removing Arsenal’s most vociferous and dedicated supporters.) (That was 1910).

But now let us see what happened.

At Christmas, Arsenal were running at 1 point a game, by 24 March it was 1.44 points a game, and by the end of the season 1.6 points a game across the whole season.

Of course those numbers are cumulative so we need to look a little further here.  The period before Christmas on its own, as we have seen gained one point per game.  The period from then to 24 March was 1.87 points per game. 

The period from 24 March to the end of the season was 2.11 points per game.

Just to see what that could mean, across a season 2.11 points per game gives us 80 points.  This season Manchester United coming in second had 74 points.

Now this doesn’t mean we are going to end up second next season, but it is an encouraging sign.  So what is the site’s response?

“no European football at all is quite something for a club of Arsenal’s stature.”

Well, yes, except that it happened to Chelsea in 2016, and they benefited enormously from the year out, winning the title next year.  Which doesn’t mean I am saying Arsenal will win the title, but there is a benefit to be gained if the club can get things right.

Manchester United ended 7th in 2014, out of Europe, but then came back to the Champs League the next season.

Liverpool came 7th in 2013, out of Europe, and then came back to second the following season.

Of course this doesn’t prove that Arsenal will benefit from the year out of Europe, but considering the enormous improvements that Arsenal made after Christmas, it certainly looks hopeful.   What the clubs do who are not in Europe is use the extra time for tactical training and put more energy in the League Cup.

The fact is that uniquely in English football Arsenal have had 25 consecutive years in Europe – only Real Madrid has completed a longer run.  It was going to end sometime and the key point is can we take advantage.

What I guess Football 365’s writers don’t know is how Arsenal did it.  It’s all over this site, but well, we’ve only been here for 14 years and only published 14,000 articles so we’re easy to miss.  But the analysis of how Mr Arteta turned the show round is all here, in great detail and really it is totally remarkable and unprecedented.   

We cut back on tackling.

For the last two thirds of last season, Arsenal were a top two club

The audacious tactical change that sent Arsenal charging up the league table

Figures from Football Observatory at the end of the season showing Arsenal players dominating the statistics.

One Reply to “Why does everyone say of Arsenal “it’s a bit of a mess” when it is anything but?”

  1. It’s a part of the anti-Arsenal propaganda. Now they are afraid of Gunners getting a first class goalkeeper and quoting fool Sneijder (who should mind his own business) every 15 minuts. Where does this Arsenal complex come from originally?

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