Are Arsenal making progress? Are all our transfer targets the wrong players?

By Tony Attwood

Occasionally this season I’ve tried to compare Arsenal at different times in the campaign, with where we were in recent years.

This is done by taking our league position after a set number of games – today obviously after 21 games.

And it turns out that our position after 21 games has been very varied in the last ten years.  The seasons we have moved up are in red, and the season where we stayed in the same position is in brown.  Black thus means, we’ve gone down after 21 games.

Pos at 21 Season P W D L F A GD Pts Pos at end
6 2021/22 21 11 3 7 33 25 8 36
10 2020/21 21 9 4 8 26 20 6 31 8
10 2019/20 21 6 9 6 28 30 -2 27 8
5 2018/19 21 12 5 4 46 31 15 41 5
5 2017/18 21 11 5 5 38 26 12 38 6
4 2016/17 21 13 5 3 48 22 26 44 5
1 2015/16 21 13 4 4 37 21 16 43 2
5 2014/15 21 10 6 5 37 25 12 36 3
1 2013/14 21 15 3 3 41 19 22 48 4
6 2012/13 21 9 7 5 40 24 16 34 4
5 2011/12 21 11 3 7 38 31 7 36 3

In five of the ten seasons we have ended in a higher position than we were after 21 games – each time going up two places by the end of the season.  Which suggests that historically moving up from our current sixth position to fourth is not impossible.

And indeed it is interesting that although all the emphasis is on buying a new striker, we have scored more goals after 21 games than we have in the last two seasons.  Not enough, obviously, but an improvement.

In one season we stayed the same position between the 21 game marker and the end of the season (2018/19 when we finished 5th).

In the remaining four seasons rather obviously we finished lower than we were after 21 games.  Three times we went down one place, and once down three places.

So the last ten years shows that it is not possible to move up two places to the “not a trophy” position of fourth and thus re-enter the Champions League.

What makes the current situation rather encouraging, despite the poor result yesterday (and I do think it was a poor result – and indeed I was there), is that we have games in hand.  What makes it more concerning is that Tottenham have even more games in hand.

Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Manchester City 23 18 3 2 55 14 41 57
2 Liverpool 22 14 6 2 58 19 39 48
3 Chelsea 24 13 8 3 48 18 30 47
4 Manchester United 22 11 5 6 36 30 6 38
5 West Ham United 23 11 4 8 41 31 10 37
6 Arsenal 21 11 3 7 33 25 8 36
7 Tottenham Hotspur 20 11 3 6 26 24 2 36

I know that we were happily predicting that an easy win over Burnley would take us up to fourth, and obviously, that did not happen, but winning our one game in hand over Manchester United will still take us up to fourth, although Tottenham winning one of their games and drawing the other will knock us back to fifth.

But my point is that we should not lose faith just yet.

Of course the key would seem to be signing a new forward, and with this in mind the Mirror, never a newspaper to give hope to Arsenal is running the lead “Arsenal are continuing to push hard to sign in-form striker Dusan Vlahovic this month, but Fiorentina manager Vincenzo Italiano has warned them off the Serbia international”.  They also tell us in a separate article that “Arsenal are set to extend Mikel Arteta’s contract with club chiefs impressed with his progress.”

But at the same time, as part of its constant attempt to portray Arsenal as a club that does not know what it is doing, we are told by the Mirror that “Arsenal have been warned they are set to make a mistake in the January transfer window as they prepare to bring in reinforcements.”

Indeed it is worse than that as Arsenal are “told they’re signing the wrong Brazilian after visit from Arthur Melo’s agent.”

Worse again, we are about to lose Martinelli apparently, as Liverpool are going to sign him.  And while we are at it, Juventus launch mega-money Dusan Vlahovic bid in attempt to derail Arsenal chase.

So why is the Daily Mirror running all these anti-Arsenal stories at once – especially when no one really knows if Arsenal are seriously planning to buy any of the players that they mention?  And why is it being combined with articles appearing all over the place saying that Arsenal are the dirtiest team in the league when the league figures show the opposite?

Here is the current ranking of clubs regarding cards…

Rank Club Yellow cards Red cards
1. Leeds United 58 1
2. Newcastle United 51 2
3. Aston Villa 45 2
4. Manchester United 44 2
5. Brighton and Hove Albion 43 1
6. Southampton 43 2
7. Everton 42 1
8. Brentford 40 1
9. Crystal Palace 40 1
10. Chelsea 39 1
11. Norwich City 38 1
12. Burnley 37 0
13. Wolverhampton Wanderers 36 2
14. Watford 35 2
15. Tottenham Hotspur 34 1
16. Arsenal 30 2
17. Manchester City 30 2
18. Liverpool 29 1
19. Leicester City 26 1
20 West Ham United 26 2

Now in running these figures I always try to take them from the most reliable source, and if I am quoting Premier League figures I use the Premier League’s official site.

Of course that site could be completely wrong, but I have not found this to be the case before.  And if it is correct then the accusations about dirty play should be seen alongside the stories noted above about Arsenal seemingly being desperate to sign players, but that these are, according to the “experts” found by the Mirror, the wrong players.

Indeed it does seem a huge investment in time and energy by the Mirror to bring us news of Arsenal’s hopeless pursuit of the wrong players alongside awful indiscipline.  One might ask, why is it all so important to them to show Arsenal to be abject failures at everything?

Is it just to ensure no one mentions Man United’s 44 yellows?




15 Replies to “Are Arsenal making progress? Are all our transfer targets the wrong players?”

  1. So we drew 0 – 0 at home to Burnley. Disappointing I know, but we are not the only ones to struggle at home to Burnley. Back in November table topping Chelsea only managed a 1 -1 draw. I thought I’d have a look to see how Arsenal and Chelsea compared statistically and more over how the media reacted. Because I cant show every outlet I thought I’d show how SKY Sports judged the players and commented on the match.


    Possession was similar and these are the all important shot statistics for both Arsenal and Chelsea, as well as what Burnley managed against us.

    The following are: Total shots. Shots on target. Shots off target. Blocked shots.

    Arsenal 20 – 5 – 8 – 7
    Chelsea 25 – 4 – 10 – 11

    So Chelsea managed 5 more shots but we managed 1 more on target than them.

    Now Burnley:

    V Arsenal 10 – 1 – 6 – 3
    V Chelsea 5 – 2 – 2 – 1

    So Chelsea kept Burnleys total shots down to half of Arsenals but they conceded double the amount on target.

    So the fact is, over all, two very similar performances with two almost identical outcomes.

    So why this then when it comes to player ratings:

    Arsenal: Ramsdale (7), White (7), Holding (7), Gabriel (7), Tierney (6), Lokonga (6), Odegaard (6), Smith Rowe (6), Saka (7), Martinelli (6), Lacazette (5)

    Burnley: Pope (8), Roberts (8), Tarkowski (8), Mee (8), Pieters (7), Lennon (6), Westwood (7), Brownhill (7), McNeil (8), Vydra (7), Rodriguez (6)

    Chelsea: Mendy (6), James (8), Rudiger (7), Christensen (7), Silva (7), Chilwell (7), Jorginho (7), Kante (7), Barkley (9), Hudson-Odoi (8), Havertz (8)

    Burnley: Pope (8), Lowton (7), Tarkowski (7), Mee (7), Taylor (7), Gudmundsson (6), Brownhill (6), Westwood (6), McNeil (6), Cornet (6), Wood (6)


    Arsenal = 70
    Burnley = 80

    Chelsea = 81
    Burnley = 72

    So why did 2 almost identical performances earn the players such radically different marks ?

    Why did Burnleys heroics at both games earn them such good marks against us but such poor marks against Chelsea.

    Why did our strikers earn 7, 6 and 5 respectfully and Chelseas earn 9, 8 and 8 ?

    Well maybe it’s wonky eyed observations such as this. Compare this take on Chelsea:

    “The Blues had a flurry of early chances and but for another impressive goalkeeping display by Clarets No 1 Nick Pope, who was left out of the England squad in midweek, they would have been out of sight by the break.”

    To this take on Arsenal:

    “Arsenal struggled to convert their dominance into clear chances and on the rare occasions they did prise the visitors open, their finishing was poor, with Alexandre Lacazette spurning their best chance when he sent an Emile Smith Rowe cut-back wide with the goal gaping. Lacazette was not the only one guilty of wastefulness, however…”

    We managed to call the Burnley keeper in to action 5 times compared to Chelseas 4 times, yet in our case it was ‘….the rare occasions they did prise the visitors open’ but in Chelseas case they had “….a flurry of early chances and but for another impressive goalkeeping display by Clarets No 1 Nick Pope, they would have been out of sight by the break”.

    Well if Chelseas 4 shots on goal suggest they could of been ‘out of sight’ surely our 5 suggests something similar no?

    Indeed no.

    In Chelseas case it’s all down to a magnificent Goal keeping performance and this despite them failing to hit the target 21 times out of 25. Not wasteful at all then ?

    Odd that because despite us hitting the target 5 times out of 20 is wasteful.

    So not a mention of how Pope stopped us from being out of sight despite a similarly impressive display.

    Out of all that the thing that stands out for me, and it’s a silly little thing, but its the marks for the Chelsea strikers compared to ours.

    8 – 8 – 9 for a team that missed the target 21 times out of 25.

    7 – 6 – 5 for a team that hit the target 5 times out of 20.

    I know Chelsea scored and we didn’t but didn’t it occur to the reporter that maybe Pope played even better against us than he did against Chelsea.

    Look, I realize some people just pass this kind of thing off as trivial and unimportant but I think it’s more important than that because it sets a tone.

    This kind of reporting, that gets repeated time after time, all over the media, constantly undermines us. We are never unlucky, only ever lucky. We are never thwarted we are always wasteful.

  2. So Liverpool are going to sign Martinelli as well as Saka. Why don’t we throw in Smith-Rowe and Charlie Patino as well.
    To make things easy for Klopp just invite him down to our Academy and let him take his pick from all our young stars.

  3. @Nitram,

    fully agree. The thing is whatever we’d do, it will never change – I mean the attitude of the press.
    Keeping on showing how PGMOL are totally incompetent however will at some point end up making an impact.
    This is the only drum based on facts that are relatively easy to expose. Like number of assignements of each referee to each team, like fouls and card stats.
    Anything in the press will be labelled as opinionated, so we can’t do zilch about it.

  4. Chris

    And even our relevant managers have totally opposed views falling in line with the media narrative of positivity towards Chelsea and negativity towards Arsenal.

    This from Tuchel:

    Kai Havertz, playing as a stand-in striker with Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner still sidelined with injury, headed Chelsea ahead just past the half-hour mark.

    However, despite not having had an effort on goal until that point – Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel later called the visitors’ draw “very lucky”.

    Where as we get this from Arteta:

    “”We created a number of situations, shots, crosses,” said Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta afterwards. “But to win this match you need to have a different level of quality, and we lacked that today.”

    Well maybe we did, but with 4 shots on target out of 25 so did Chelsea, but Tuchel, just like the media err the the side of misfortune, where as despite actually managing one more shot on goal than Chelsea, Arteta, like the media, sees it as our ‘lack of quality’.

    So from the media AND the managers we get, Chelsea drew because they were unlucky, Arsenal drew because they lack quality.

    The question is, is it admirable for our manager to have such a downbeat, negative, some might say more realistic take on proceedings, or is it simply playing into the medias hands with their constant persecution of all things Arsenal ?

    I don’t know, personally I think it’s wrong, but in all honesty if Arteta had come out with the ‘unlucky’ line I’m quite sure the media would of ridiculed him as deluded.

    In other words he cant win really. Damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t.

  5. Nitram

    The explanation is right there in you first paragraph, “table topping”

    If the Chelsea result happened now the sentiments would be much closer to Arsenal, maybe even worse. Same for Arsenal, if Burnley match had happened in December the sentiments would be much closer to Chelsea.

    But it’s the sort of thing that doesn’t matter to many people. You are just being overprotective of Arsenal given the siege mentality Untold has created from their consistent victimization of Arsenal.

  6. Jack,

    ok if highlighting falsehoods, gaslighting, incompetence and bias is the equivalent of creating a siege mentality, I’ll be happy to fill the moat and raise the drawbridge.

    What do you expect us to do ? Play lemmings and repeat all the BS we are being fed ?

    No need to come to this blog then. Just read the boulevard press and listen to the TV idiots.

    Just be aware that the opinions that are being published are at least based on numbers and statistics that are fully presented and not just partly. And not just a rejection that is being expressed with bogus justifications. I’d rather those scribblers and idiots on TV just sated out plainly : we hate Arsenal, so don’t expect us to give any expert opinion. But no, they drape themselves in an auto-proclaimed competence and plain lie to people reading or watching them.

  7. Chris

    Nobody expects you to do anything because nobody harbors any ill feelings towards Arsenal. Nothing makes Arsenal different from any other team. The media is equally harsh with other top teams when underperforming. All other teams benefit or suffer from inconsistent refereeing. None of this is exclusive to Arsenal.

    Arsenal are not the worst in any statistical analysis Untold has presented. Not in yellow cards, or fouls or the so many others. So what legitimately makes them lay claim to bias statistically?

    What Untold has consistently done is made you feel like Arsenal needs a lit bit of defending from being attacked by a harsh media or biased refereeing. A fallacy Untold has crafted and continually looked for statistical means to justify it.

  8. @Jack
    We don’t want any of your common sense on here. If it helps us get through the day to believe we are hard done by and blame the media for most of our woes, what’s the harm in that?
    Would we want to read Untold if it was truly objective? We are Arsenal fans.

  9. Jack make that comment when you’ve read all the evidence on this website otherwise it’s just your opinion.

  10. The term “inconsistent” refereeing is misleading. It suggests that we experience unfortunate but innocent errors by match officials.

    My view is that that what we experience is all too consistent. We receive consistently different treatment, whether it’s red cards for Xhaka for offences which would not be similarly treated if by other team’s players, or assaults on our players being ignored – Saka gets kicked to bits in every game – or selective use (and non- use) of VAR etc.

    All of it consistently treated (ignored or misrepresented) by the media.

    Inconsistent? Definitely not.

  11. @jack,

    how about having had the SAME referee for 5 games after 20 games in this year’s PL ?
    How about same tendency in previous years.

    How do you ‘even out’ such a basic statistical outlyer ? How do you guarantee that all teams have the same referees the same number of times ?

    Can you find an explanation that makes sense and does not show the incompetence of the refereeing organisation ?
    And, can you find any scientific paper that states this is not equal to tilting the field, to influencing results ?

  12. Jack

    My post above is a clear example of how 2 almost identical performances, with almost identical outcomes, against the same team, are reported in polar opposite fashions.

    Arsenals performance is cast in a totally negative light with a complete lack of sympathy, as Arsenal were, in the final analysis, lacking the quality to win the match.

    Chelseas performance on the other hand is cast in a clearly positive light with much sympathy, as Chelsea were, in the final analysis, just unlucky not to win the match.

    Your opinion that it was biased in Chelseas favour, (and lets get this right here, you do not even contest that it was bias because to so so would be ridiculous), was only because Chelsea were, at the time, top of the table, is just that, your opinion.

    It is also just your opinion that it would of been equally biased in Arsenals favour had the league standings been the other way round.

    What I showed was a clear indisputable example of biased reporting. Not just my opinion, it is there for all to see.

    You didn’t deny it. You didn’t even criticise it. All you did was offer up a lame, totally unsubstantiated claim that if Arsenal were top of the table the reporting would of been biased in Arsenals favour.

    As Va Cong asks, rather than just your opinion how about a bit of evidence to back up that claim?

  13. And don’t get me wrong, this is not a pop at Chelsea as given the stats, possession, territory, shots etc. etc. Chelsea probably were unfortunate not to win.

    But that can almost certainly be said of Arsenal as well, but no such appraisal was forthcoming in the slightest.

    As for the player ratings, they are just plain stupid, but again, hardly Chelseas fault.

  14. Please also remember that the PGMOL referees’ self-employed status is no longer valid, according to the Court of Appeal and HMRC.

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