Why Arsenal’s movement is absolutely in the right direction

By Tony Attwood

It is most curious that after three games the media was packed with people who wanted to draw conclusions on just three games, predicting a dire future for Arsenal and noting that this was the worst performance since the Battle of Hastings.  Three games, it seems, told us all we needed to know.  Arsenal were dead and rotting.

But now, the number of people who want to note the last six games (six being a more valid comparator than three, being what we mathematicians could double the earlier number) the chitchat has stopped.

However by way of comparison and for the sake of consistency, here is the table for the last six games…  Here are the top 12 clubs.

Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Manchester City 6 4 2 0 11 2 9 14
2 Arsenal 6 4 2 0 10 4 6 14
3 Chelsea 6 4 1 1 11 3 8 13
4 Liverpool 6 3 3 0 17 6 11 12
5 Wolverhampton Wands 6 4 0 2 8 6 2 12
6 Manchester United 6 3 1 2 10 8 2 10
7 Everton 6 3 1 2 8 6 2 10
8 Brighton and Hove 6 2 3 1 4 4 0 9
9 Tottenham Hotspur 6 3 0 3 7 12 -5 9
10 Leicester City 6 2 2 2 11 10 1 8
11 Brentford 6 2 2 2 8 7 1 8
12 West Ham United 6 2 2 2 7 7 0 8

And the last six games make a worthy comparitor because Arsenal chose to change their entire defence this summer, and as we alone have noted, all the incoming players were introduced to a method of defending aimed not only at stopping goals but also at stopping PGMO officials giving Arsenal more cards than any other club (which is what happened two seasons ago).

Just take a look at the dates:

  • Aaron Ramsdale: joined Arsenal August 2021
  • Gabriel:  joined Arsenal September 2020
  • Nuno Tavares: joined Arsenal: July 2021
  • Ben White: joined Arsenal July 2021
  • Takehiro Tomiyasu:  joined Arsenal August 2021

And as we have noted so many times, for these players this was not just a case of joining the club and continuing to play your normal game, this was a case of joining a club that said, “don’t tackle”. 

For as we know from last season Arsenal committed 456 tackles in the course of the season – the lowest in the Premier League.  As a result of that change introduced by Mr Arteta the yellow card rate dropped by 45% compared with the season before – the largest drop of any club.  

Now for a defender coming to a new club and fitting in with a new system is one thing – but having a fundamental part of your game removed is another.  It was a huge gamble – and just how huge a gamble was seen during the first three games of the season – games that caused so much excitement in the media.

Of course the measure of the last six games doesn’t mean we will win the league or even make the top four, but I personally would much sooner have us in this position, than the reverse – having done well at the start and then fallen away.

And I would take a little more from the table.

Our defence that took such a battering at the start of the season has solidified itself.  Over the last six games we have the third best defence in the league. 

Of course none of this means we are going to carry on like this, and in football any disaster can be awaiting around the corner.  

However It is also interesting to take the table for the last two thirds of last season and see where those teams near the top of that table are, in the last six games (shown in the final column).

In the last two thirds of last season, Manchester City were top, and they are top in the last six games this season.

Likewise Arsenal were second in the last two thirds of last season, and they are second in the last six games.  There is a bit of a pattern here.

As for yesterday’s game, for me that absolute star with Emile Smith Rowe, who curiously Aston Villa allegedly made two derisory bids for in the summer.  It looked like a deliberate ploy to try and suggest that Villa were a superior team with more chance of finishing in the European places than Arsenal.

But now it does show the silliness of the Villa approach – they did indeed grab an Arsenal player who many of us admired – unfortunately he was also the one who felt that laws, rules and regulations concerning how to behave in a pandemic don’t apply to him.  I felt the derision dished out on Martinez was justified not for his ability as a keeper, but for his view that drifting around the world to suit himself during a world-wide crisis was perfectly acceptable behaviour.

But perhaps I should finish with a line from the Guardian, who have been hypercritical of Arsenal this season, as they are most.  Nick Ames writes, “Arsenal were superior in every conceivable area: quicker, stronger, hungrier, brighter, more creative, better structured and, to make sure that all counted for something, more clinical.”

4 Replies to “Why Arsenal’s movement is absolutely in the right direction”

  1. You see, your problem is you give facts ! Not like the others who just want sensationalism, right or wrong !
    I`ve generally given up reading the blogs, they are so bad
    Regrettably, you have been slightly tarred with the same brush (wrongly !)
    Nice to read some grown up, joined up writing, thanks

    For sanity`s sake, please keep it up

  2. I have been an Arsenal fan for a long time and was outraged by the treatment of Wenger. He got us in the top four for 20 years and that was somehow his fault. We come 8th for two seasons in a row and that is somehow the players fault. As Wenger has implied this is a good squad now so no more excuses. I had lost patience with Arteta but have been swayed by your article. It certainly does point to progress. Also, with Aaron Ramsdale we have an exceptional keeper for the first time since Seaman / Lehman, who could be with us for a decade. If we can repeat our current form at Leicester then I am going to start to feel confident again. Its been a while.

  3. all the lads were great (i like our tomi-boy of the rising sun a lot – and you can feel there’s much more to come from him)
    14 attempts to none at ht (!!) is the kind of numbers city or ‘pool can boast of an a regular basis, and it was delivered with a very young squad (i’m not playing down aubalaca’s inspiring influence – it is essential, actually), still lacking a bit of cohesion/adaptation to the manager’s “philosophy”, as you point out
    so, mornings like this:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n-0lRkuNyj0&ab_channel=TheEagles-Topic – “the future’s so bright we gotta wear shades”!!

  4. The final paragraph from The Suns Mark Irwin

    “But even a team as short on confidence as Arsenal were not going to throw this one away”

    Just gone 5 games unbeaten.

    Just come out of a game we got a well deserved equaliser in the last seconds

    Even taking into account the first 3 games this season our form from the last two thirds of last season to before play last night must be top 4.

    In all that is holy what, other than simply to have a dig, have we done to merit that?

    They just cat help themselves can they.

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