It has taken 3 years and we are still not back at the level of when Wenger left

By Tony Attwood

Arsenal by the end of last season was still operating at a level below that achieved by Mr Wenger in his final season – the season in which he was forced out of the club.  We did for a short while under Mr Emery reach a higher level of achievement, but then like Mr Wenger before him, he was forced out of the club.

As a result we are now way below the level that was achieved by Mr Emery in his first season, and below Mr Wenger in his last season.   And all because there is a delight in the media (taken up by some fans) in saying that if the club has a bad run of results, we should change the manager.

Indeed I think that the negativity surrounding Arsenal which has been around since before Mr Wenger left is so utterly ingrained in some fans and is just the natural backdrop of the mainstream media, that they have no idea that all three seasons since Mr Wenger left have actually been worse than Mr Wenger’s last season.

Instead, for the media, if they don’t have a big new story for the day, they will launch an attack at Arsenal, irrespective of its truth, because they know AFTV and other coat-tail hangers-on will seize upon it.

Does it matter?  Yes I think so because it must be demoralising the team to have a fan base that is so hyper critical all the time and which sees changing the manager every 18 months not as the road to utter disaster, but the model of survival – when all the evidence shows otherwise.

So where is the evidence that changing the manager constantly until we happen to find one who wins the league (and remember it has to be the league because Arteta has won the FA Cup and that did not stand him in good stead), will work?

There doesn’t seem to be any.  On the contrary there is evidence that changing managers all the time certainly doesn’t work.

I’ve published this table before but think it is worth publishing again…

Team P W D L F A GD Pts PPG
6 Wenger leaves 38 19 6 13 74 51 23 63 1.65
5 Emery first season 38 21 7 10 73 51 22 70 1.84
8 Emery leaves 13 4 6 3 18 19 -1 18 1.38
8 End of Emery/Arteta season 38 14 14 10 56 48 8 56 1.47
8 End of last season 38 18 7 13 55 39 16 61 1.60

The highpoint of the last four years as Emery’s first season where he got a league average of 1.84 points per game.   That would give us six points now, and have the club somewhere between 5th (Manchester City) and 8th (Leicester City).

But a run of three defeats has everyone, led by the media, delighted once more to have a story handed to them on a plate, screaming for another change of manager.

Let’s try looking at this another way.  What happened in Mr Wenger’s last five seasons?

We won the FA Cup in 2014, 2015 and 2017.    In the league we came 4th, 3rd, 2nd, 5th, 6th.  The lowest number of league goals we scored in any of those seasons was 63.   That was the lowest – and yet in the last three seasons we haven’t even reached the lowest of those previous Wenger years.  In fact the last time we scored as few goals as the last three years was 25 years ago.

So we have spent all that money and shuffled the who club around, and spent a fortune on players, and we are nowhere near the standard that we were under Mr Wenger.

And what is the response to that?  To do more of the one thing that has caused all this disruption and lowering of results: change the manager.  Again.

The criticism of Mr Wenger from the ultimately victorious alliance of AFTV and the national media was that when something wasn’t working, you should change it – and yet (it was argued) Mr Wenger did the same thing over and over and over again.

Of course he didn’t – every season he was changing the squad, the structure, formation and approach during his years at the club.  But there is certainly a danger in doing something that doesn’t work over and over again.  And changing the manager every 18 months of so doesn’t work.  (Of course it might work in the end, just as you might get a coin to come up heads 20 times in a row if you do it often enough, but you are going to have a lot of failures along the way before you get there).

If we, the fans, want to do something to help the club we could start by

a) Laying off attacks on the players

b) Instead, turn our attacks on the media and blogs that are leading the attack on Arsenal

c) Support the manager.

Last season we were close to getting back to the level of Mr Wenger’s final season – which tells us something about how far we have slipped with all these managerial changes in the last few years. 

So let’s pause and remember this.

It has taken three years to get not quite back to the level we were at when Mr Wenger left!

We could push ahead and go further but instead the club is now under sustained attack from the media and the bloggers.  The change, change, change approach promoted by the media has brought us disaster, and if we give in to demands for yet another change of manager. the chances are we will sink further.

Gaslighting: how refereeing in the Premier League is manipulated, and why the media never speak about it.

34 Replies to “It has taken 3 years and we are still not back at the level of when Wenger left”

  1. I get some of your reasoning , but disagree with your comparison. Arteta’s team have no structure, no game plan, no pressing at all, players always seem confuse and we never score…
    Emery’s problem was his defence, it leaked too much and that is why we lost so many point.
    Wenger last season needed a change of players not him…
    All these fake arsenal fans are eating their cake! They wanted this!
    For me Wenger and people with the clubs dna need to come back in. director of football is a total joke… EDU is perfect proof.
    Arteta is out of his depth totally! WENGER BACK 1000% … even at its worse ARSENAL was still better than now

  2. Right on the point. Arsenal fans need to man-up and stand their ground : support players and managers through thick and thin.
    Full speed ahead and damn the torpedoes.
    Stopping to click on clickbaiting headlines would be a start….the day they earn less money with their advertising revenues, they may stop.

  3. Your title says it all, Tony
    As for the rest: Alex F. was appointed in Nov 1986, his first Man U trophy was won in May, 1990 … Klopp was appointed at Anfield in October 2015, won his first trophy there in June 2019, etc.: stability does pay off indeed
    Having said that; the more I see of him, the more Mikel makes me think of a young, academically brilliant teacher who, instead of learning his trade among younger kids, has been appointed, straight away, to teach an “École Polytechnique” or an “École Normale Supérieure”, or again an “É.N.A.” class
    He hasn’t been given time to learn the tricks any educator needs to learn, irrespective of how brilliant he might be, from an academic POV – and now he has to learn them the hard way, in front of the smartest, most demanding students there are, who do not care about his feelings, his own career, just see him as a tool who will, or won’t, make them succeed in a ruthless competitive environment.
    As you stumble upon the first obstacles, it is frighteningly easy to lose control, to be unable to prevent things from slipping out of your hands in such a context: so yes, right now, what MA needs is advice (which he has to be able to listen to), help, support more than anything else
    But … as many Arsenal fans, I read Freddie’s “coachesvoices” article, 2 days ago; actually I read it like a long, subtle dig at Mikel, especially the passage “I wanted to work may way up, to get the knowledge I needed to succeed”; but I could also mention the homage to Wenger, which neither Mikel nor Emery took any time to pay, his allusions to “strength is in man-management and personal relationships, knowing how to get the best out of players”, or to his “understanding of the younger generations”, his ability to “see the human being as much as you see the football player”, and of course of the role he played in the careers of”ESR, Bukayo, Martinelli, or … Joe Willock!!!” (my exclamation marks)
    I’m pretty sure Freddie has picked where Mikel’s problems are rooted
    I’m not so sure this article was meant to help him, though

  4. Keep up the good work, it’s always nice to read your interesting articles. We finished last season very well and I was hoping it would give us a boost this season. Many new players but still lacking a top class right back. COVID-19 and injuries haven’t been a success factor for Arteta, but watching us doing the same defensive errors year after year is frustrating.

  5. Jay, last season we had the third best defence in the league. In the last two thirds of the season, by which time we got our tactics sorted fully, we had the second best defence in the league.

  6. Maybe you need to think back to George Graham rather than Wenger. Spurs showed how to beat City in the first game of the season, defend with discipline and determination in your third of the field and counter attack at pace whenever you get the chance. No one seemed to take any notice and since then City have been scoring for fun. looking at Chelsea’s game at Anfield they were down to 10 men but defended so well they came away with a point. Arsenal can’t defend, until that is sorted out there’s no point worrying about free flowing football.

  7. Tony, in my 56 years I can’t remember a time when the spuds were top and we were bottom has it happened before

  8. I think all are getting worked up by blips and tht these first 3 games are by no way a standard. Our attack line was and partly still is not healthy…so we have to find temporary fixes. Not being able

    – to attack, bring danger, score
    – bring the ball to the other side,
    – occupy the other side
    – possess the ball
    – tire the other side

    un-balances the whole team. As a consequence a midfield that is focused on going forward finds itself under assault and these playeers were not chosen for their defensive skills. We can see this immediately in fouls and tackles.

    This in turn puts all the emphasis on a defensive line that, for the 2021-2022 season has not yet been built, has not been able to acquire automatisms. The more so that even as last year the defense worked better, it is still an issue at Arsenal. The first 2 goals yesterday were so ‘classic’ goals Arsenal give away. You get the feeling communication is not working, concentration is not there, and body language sometimes shows off what looks like fatality.

    But all in all, Arsenal are not yet clicking due to in part health and injury issues but maybe some others. And the disruption these 2 issues is having, the more so that the team is young, is not to be overlooked.

    Then again, as I’ve sand a few times before, the total apathy of the owners is just something I do not undertand. When the head of state of a country that advertises on the shirts starts tweeting his feelings about a game, and we don’t hear or read a singe word defending the team in face of the onslaught that has started with game one, this just becomes, IMHO, reckless.

    And there is the one issue surprisingly no one in the press has addressed, which is kind of strange. The fact that when Arsenal play a noon:30 game, it ends badly….How come no one is talking about the Saturday midday Arsenal curse ? Where are all the studies, theories, conclusions ?

    Then there is the other issue : when certain referees are on the field in the same game as Arsenal, you know any player named Gabriel, Luis or Xhaka will not finish the game.

  9. A torrid three opening games, referees who cannot be trusted, a virus taking out players, 35 games remaining, a two week break. That’s what it looks like now.

    The backdrop – a mob took out Mr Wenger. Fans grew so entitled they believed the price of their ticket gave them the right to win the Premiership. A top four place and Europe was not a trophy.

  10. I see Chelsea fans are getting all uppity over one big call they think went against them.

    They’ve started a petition already and are stating that Taylor should never referee them again, and apparently have Lineker saying the referee ruined the game. Really?

    I doubt it felt ruined for the Liverpool fans. As a neutral I didn’t care a jot 11 v 11, 11 v 10. It was still a good game of football between 2 great teams, just a different game of football. I thought watching Chelsea defend with 10 men was a fascinating example of the art of defending. After a promising start Chelsea simply stifled the life out of Liverpool. Very impressive.

    As for the penalty/sending off incident I cant believe I’m saying this but I actually have some sympathy for Taylor with this decision.

    It did hit the Chelsea players arm of that there is no doubt so the question is, was it deliberate?

    That is where the argument lies. And it has to be said it is a tricky one. Firstly it came off his leg and then hit his arm. If that was all that happened it would not be handball. That is clearly accidental. But when you look at the replay you see again, quite clearly, that is not all that happened. The defender made a distinct movement with his arm towards the ball. It was probably just instinct, a reflex action, but the movement was made and it resulted in the ball being knocked away as opposed to simply falling at his feet.

    Yes, slight and subtle movement, but movement that is never the less immediately, I say that again because it’s relevant to Chelsea fans complaint, immediately obvious on the replay.

    Slight and subtle or not, a movement that changes the incident from an unavoidable accident to a deliberate handball, and once it’s deemed deliberate all the subsequent actions, the awarding of the penalty and the sending off are mandatory.

    All very frustrating no doubt for the Chelsea fans, and yes this probably sits in the 50/50, I’ve seen ’em given box, but jeez they ought to try walking in our shoes when it comes to ‘frustrating decisions’ and ’50/50 calls’ that go against them.

    My instinct is Taylor probably got it right, but hey it could of gone either way, and if it had gone the other way I have no doubt we would be hearing from Klopp this morning about a terrible refereeing decision. That’s the nature of these 50/50’s.

    But the big thing about this is the reaction of the Chelsea fans over ONE crucial 50/50 that didn’t go their way. As I say, try walking in our shoes, we’ve had at least 5 crucial 50/50’s go against us already this season, and apart from Klopp ironically, we get absolutely no sympathy what so ever, especially from the likes of Lineker. In fact, as again we saw yesterday, they bend over backwards to justify every decision that goes against us, no matter how ludicrous it might be, to the extent of a TalkSport reporter claiming the foul on Leno in the Brentford game was okay because he thinks games should be refereed as they were in the 70’s and you’d be allowed to do that back then.

    As I say, try walking in our shoes.

  11. Chris

    “Then there is the other issue : when certain referees are on the field in the same game as Arsenal, you know any player named Gabriel, Luis or Xhaka will not finish the game.”

    I think you are right.

    As Atkinson walked towards the incident his instinct was to go for his yellow card, which would probably of been fair enough. You can clearly see him start to pull it out of his right back pocket. No way was that accidental. The yellow will of been in that particular pocket for years. Then on seeing who it was, he changed his mind and pulled out the red from his left back pocket.

    To me it is a clear and obvious change of mind, almost certainly on the basis of who it was he was carding.

  12. I don’t have anyway of knowing other than reading through every date of each season, and that would take a while. But what I can say is that in the vast majority of seasons, where a club is after 3 matches has little bearing on where they end up at the end of the season. Occasionally it does, but only rarely.

  13. Wise words as ever Tony.
    Must admit, I do fear for Arteta.
    Another point, I have for a few months Believed the English football establishment, if they could , would make an example of a club involved in the Super league proposal. Let’s face it, nobody was touching Utd, Liverpool, Chelsea, City or Tottenham which leaves one other. Know we don’t get many decisions anyway , but so far this season, every key decision has gone against this team, even with VAR, including Callum chambers being punched in the face yesterday, City player not punished, goal stands. Brentford player holds Leno, goal stands . Clear Saka penalty, not given just off the top of my head.
    There will be many with either with vested interest or just delighted should Arsenal be relegated, I don’t believe that will happen this season, but it will be no thanks to the PGMOL and others. Arteta is clearly aware something is not right with the officiating this team gets

  14. Nitram

    That penalty against Liverpool was a penalty lol day long and as such it was a justified sending off.

    But that’s not what the issue with the Chelsea supporters or indeed TT is

    The concern was that he didn’t award it on the field he was told by the VAR to look at the screen. Nothing wrong with that but the problem was that once he got there he didn’t actually see any replays he only saw a still of the incident and spent less than 2 seconds at the screen.

    Now I am not saying he wouldn’t have awarded a penalty or indeed not sent James off but he should of as minimum seen replays.

  15. Mike T

    “That penalty against Liverpool was a penalty lol day long and as such it was a justified sending off”

    So it was the right call.

    Surely that’s the important thing. Oh no, lets still start up a petition because we’re not happy with the way, you say, (Chelsea fans, TT, you) the correct decision was reached. Really ?

    So lets get this right. It’s not even about the decision ? The decision was correct. You want a referee banned from ever refereeing you again because you don’t like the way he reached the correct decision?

    Wow. Sorry but that is pathetic.

    Did you see Chambers shoved, virtually punched in the face yesterday?

    Yet you came on here yesterday saying we had nothing to complain about.

    You used to come here with valid points and decent arguments. Now you’re just a typical Chelsea fan. Disappointing.

  16. Nitram

    I know it was a correct decision because I saw the replays so did TT but Taylor didn’t see any replays he saw a still so just from looking at that frozen picture that didn’t show any of the build up he changed his mind. What was the point of him even bothering to go to the screen ?
    You need to bear in mind the players have been told if the ball bounces off their body that is a mitigating factor in handballs

    Did you in real time know for sure that Taylor was wrong ?

    I did see the push on Chambers I also saw Chambers pushing as well . I also saw Xhaka committing a red card offence that even Tony agrees was a red . Did you see it ? Or till in denial on that one ?

  17. Mike T

    “You need to bear in mind the players have been told if the ball bounces off their body that is a mitigating factor in handballs”

    Read what I said:

    “That is where the argument lies. And it has to be said it is a tricky one. Firstly it came off his leg and then hit his arm”

    “I did see the push on Chambers I also saw Chambers pushing as well . I also saw Xhaka committing a red card offence that even Tony agrees was a red . Did you see it ? Or till in denial on that one ?”

    Just a ‘push’ was it ?

    See the article:

    ‘It is the failure to ask one simple question that is causing problems for Arsenal’

    Funny how you see one thing as an irrefutable red (at least I concede it could of gone either way), yet something else as a mere push, not even worthy of a foul, let alone a yellow or red card.

    You should be a PGMOL referee, you seem to have everything they are looking for.

    And you have the audacity to accuse me of being in denial.

  18. Unfortunately, I had become accustomed to the inexplicable calls made by the “officials” that would occur during every game in seasons past.

    This season is something different. It’s no longer single calls. The officials are deliberately targetting us.

    Brentford – 3 big decisions against Arsenal (both goals and the Balogun penalty)

    Chelsea – 1 big decision against Arsenal (Saka penalty)

    WBA – A referee who scared me. He was obviously handling each team in a different way.

    Man City – Laporte left-hook. If that’s given (and it should have been red for raised hands into the face), the game changes – 1-0 to City and 10 against 11 instead of 2-0 and 11 against 10.

    The media won’t discuss it. They don’t want their freebie privileges revoked.

    The same media who remain silent over the World Cup. The same media who have first dibs on the brand new hotel rooms. The same media who will probably join FIFA in pressuring the government for quarantine exclusions for “elite* sports”.

    There is nothing “elite*” about this.

    * elite – noun – a select group that is superior in terms of ability or qualities to the rest of a group or society.

  19. Seismic

    Thanks for posting that link.

    We have enough enemies outside our own club without that disgraceful mob. Heartening to see others calling these idiots out.

    As far as I can gather our away fans done us proud yesterday. That is what being a supporter should be about.

    I know we are not perfect. Except for 1 miraculous season 😉 never have been, never will be. We have indeed been at times when I used to follow the boys everywhere, terrible. But I can say with my hand on my heart that I have never booed the team or insulted a player, ever.

    I guess that is loyalty. I guess that is love. I always thought that was what being a supporter was all about. That is why I love the guys on this site.

    I guess others see it differently.

  20. Wenger back and the kronkes out would please me more couldn’t argue any of your points they all seem to be spot on.

  21. Nitram

    Do you know me and you would make great drinking partners and I bet you we would have hours of entertainment Even enjoying the exchanges

    The real funny part for me is that we are both totally convinced we are right. Well I know I am!

    The truth is it’s just wonderful to have football back and the different opinions because at the end of the day that’s what the vast majority of the issues are measured by.

    Have a good week


  22. Mike T

    I appreciate your sentiments and I agree we would nodoubt enjoy a few jars together but the fact remains we are a way apart on this.

    Yes, everyone does ‘think’ they are right, or maybe as you suggest they are even ‘convinced’ they are right, otherwise that wouldn’t be their opinion would it ? After all you wouldn’t have that opinion if you didn’t think it was right would you?

    But whether I am right or wrong is not the basis of my argument. It is irrelevant.

    My argument is actually based on the complete opposite. My argument is actually based on the fact that all the decisions I am talking about are 50/50. I may be right I may be wrong. They could all of gone one way or the other. I have conceded that, you haven’t.

    The point I am making is that Arsenal have faced half a dozen or so crucial 50/50 calls at least, and every single one, I repeat, EVERY SINGLE ONE has gone against us. That is simply wrong. By the pure nature of these calls you would expect around half of them to of gone our way, but no.

    There’s some old sayings such as ‘you win some, you lose some’, ‘What goes around comes around’, ‘It all evens out in the end’, which would be fine if only that where the case.

    Okay Mike, prove me wrong and show me one crucial 50/50 that’s gone our way this season.

  23. Nitram

    Can’t be arsed to look at the three games gone but will look at that from this point on and make my observations

  24. Hi Tony

    I truly feel our pain at present. The Fans who wanted AW out, 4th place is not a Trophy and they wanted their Arsenal back, has been achieved. But these so called fans are still not happy. Earlier on in the day a celebrity Arsenal fan was interviewed regarding our poor start to the season, and I quote, his opinion was that, this situation we’re in was coming, because of the last 3 years of AW reign. This smacks of these fans being in denial and not taking responsibility of they way they behaved towards a manager that, not only brought us ‘GREATNESS’ but had massive influence on the Teams in English football. I just hope the young players we have, come through this down period and start to play the football they are capable of.

  25. What changed last season, 20 to 21, nobody has dared call it.

    No fans in the grounds.

    A higher percentage of away wins.

    The refereeing officials appear to be influenced by the home fans.

    How do they get influenced?

  26. Over in Copenhagen in the nineties, visiting children, there was a Peter Schmeical interview in a Danish newspaper.

    He was explaining Old Trafford to a Danish audience.

    In the 1970s one of the guys I worked with was heavily involved in the running of the Brondby Youth Team, which developed many Danish internationals. Another guy had been playing in the Scottish League in the 1960s. A working guy earning his living.

    Schmeical went far beyond this. He wanted Danes to understand this was theatre. It was theatre made in the event of the game. The theatre as a spectacle came from the passion of the fans.

    When we correctly called out ”Fergie Time’ for the six, seven, minutes ManU got given by the ref after 90 minutes because they were trailing, because they needed a winner,we were identifying the theatre.

    On one of the visits to Copenhagen I took my son, an adult, to see the various murals on walls and ceilings alongside the theatres in old Copenhagen. He had never seen them. He didn’t know they existed. In these murals Gods became actors who became angels who became jesters who floated.

    The referee is in charge of all this. Take the crowd out he can officiate a game.

  27. When Arsenal play a game in the North on a Saturday with a 12.30 kickoff when do they get there?

    Who do they come as?

    When does the ref get to the ground?

    Where did he eat breakfast?

  28. Let’s not forget that Arsenal get cheated by referees in the South as well, including at the Emirates-irrespective of kickoff time.

  29. Mike T

    Well you should be arsed because it’s the opening 3 games we’ve been discussing.

    At least 7 crucial decisions have been discussed:


    Ball out of play leading to 1st goal.

    Foul on Leno leading to 2nd goal.

    Balogun Penalty appeal


    Saka penalty appeal.


    Saka penalty appeal.

    Hand in face leading to 2nd goal. We had a player booked for much less later on.

    Xhakas sending off.

    NB: Just to add even in the pre season friendly against you we had a goal not given when the ball was clearly 6 inches or more over the line. Okay a friendly but sadly it seems to of set the tone for the first 3 games.

    These are all contentious decisions to greater or lesser degrees. Some 50/50. Some 40/60 30/70 one way or the other.

    Personally I would argue the hand in Chambers face is 100% a foul. Goal should not of stood. Even 80/20 a red card. Down to 10 men. You may argue you think Xhakas was 100% a red. I don’t agree but it is the weakest case in our favour.

    BUT, and this is my point, no matter the degree of contention EVERY SINGLE ONE of those CRUCIAL decisions went against Arsenal. Every single one.

    I asked you to find me one crucial, contentious event that went our way.

    There could be some that I have missed but as yet you haven’t shown me one, and sadly you cant be arsed. I wonder why ?

  30. No need to look further than the first incident.

    You say the ball was out, which nowhere has been proven one way or the other .

    Corner not given where you clearly say it should have been so Arsenal clearly received the benefit of a debatable call

    Now the fact that Chambers made a total hash of dealing with the advantage given to him is secondary to the fact that as you unquestionably acknowledge that Arsenal were incorrectly awarded an advantage

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