By Tony Attwood
To almost all the other bloggers and the journalists who cover football, the answer to the question about what Arsenal have to do to get into the top four is blindingly obvious: get rid of at least half the team and buy better. Indeed with this in mind The Athletic have “revealed” (their word not mind) Arsenal’s 11-man shortlist for the summer transfer window, in order for, as they put it for “the Gunners look to break back into the Premier League’s top four for the first time since 2016.”
But as I’ve been pointing out the statistics show something quite different: that the team operating in the last two thirds of last season was the second best in the league.
And I mention this yet again because a review of last season has revealed something else I have never seen or heard a “journalist” (I use the word lightly) or blogger mention.
Looking at last season as a whole we had 15 fewer yellow cards than Manchester United and indeed fewer also than Chelsea, Tottenham and Leicester. Only three clubs got fewer than Arsenal.
On the other hand we did have more reds than anyone else in the league except Brighton, which seems rather strange.
And indeed not just strange but also troubling. As a result of the reds we had ten matchday bans last season.
But here’s an oddity: as the table below shows eight of the ten came in that difficult first third of the season when the players were learning the new “no tackle” system. Against this the rate of match bans that we achieved in the final two thirds of the season – that part of the campaign in which we were performing as the second best club in the League – if run through the whole season, would have given us a total of three games through the whole season in which we had a player banned from playing.
Thus once again we see this enormous division between the first third of the season (which we ended, sitting 15th in the league) and the rest. For in the remaining two thirds of the season we had two red cards and thus two situations in which a player missed a match.
So if we had performed in disciplinary terms in the first third of the season, as we did in the much more successful last two thirds of the season we would have had just three match day bans in the course of the campaign.
That would have put us on a par with Chelsea who did get three match day bans. Manchester City and Tottenham got two, and Manchester United got one. We would have been in the upper level for the “big six” (equal with Chelsea) but not way outside the upper level as we in fact ended up, because of those red cards in the early part of the season. (And to complete the figures Liverpool got no reds last season).
Thus our improvement in the final two thirds of the season was not just in points per game – it was associated with a dramatic decline in the number of red cards, which is always something to be applauded.
The enemies of Arsenal
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- We kept the wrong goalkeeper. Here’s the evidence. (Caution article might cause swearing)
- Last season revealed significant referee home bias, but what about penalties??
- Media move on to regular insults against Arsenal to hide the real dat
- Manchester City accused of over 100 breaches of Premier League financial rules
- Every club now knows how to beat Arsenal (according to reports)
- Guardiola’s excuse for losing to Tottenham reveals the quality of Arsenal
- So it wasn’t so bad after all. Arsenal still five points clear with a game in hand
- WSL Round Up – West Ham v Arsenal Sunday 18:45