By Tony Attwood
The point being, that the media has proclaimed that Arsenal’s January transfer window was a disaster (Daily Mirror, Pain in the Arsenal etc) just like it was the January before (Sports Lens), and last September (Team Talk). Yet Matthew showed that if we took out the first three games of the season, which were games in which our first team was decimated with illness and injuries, we could see how well Arsenal had done thereafter.
And the 19 games is long enough to see just how much of a reconstruction of the entire squad that the media called for, was or is needed.
Unfortunately, the program used to run this blog does not carry forward formatting in the comments section so the league table Matthew presented was very difficult to follow and I said I would publish it again today.
So here it is: the league table for the last 19 games. (Data from TWTD)
|6||West Ham U||19||5||1||3||16||13||4||2||4||15||12||6||30|
|10||Brighton & HA||19||2||5||2||8||9||2||7||1||12||11||0||24|
As you can see, excluding those first three games when we had a new defence and a substantial number of players out through illness and injury, we have been coasting along in third position, five points above Chelsea in fourth, and 12 points above the wannabe clubs like Manchester United and Tottenham Hots.
But of course, it will be argued (because it always is) the season is the whole season, and you can prove anything with statistics.
To an extent such notions are true, but when deciding if a club needs to splash out tens of millions of pounds, or perhaps hundreds of millions of pounds on new players, it is important to know how the team has been doing through the bulk of the season, and not how it did at a time of exceptional illness and injury.
A look at the team we put out in that first match and the team we put out in most of our recent game, shows how much of a makeshift team those opening games saw…
Pablo Marí, Ben White, Calum Chambers, Kieran Tierney
Granit Xhaka, Albert Sambi Lokonga
Nicolas Pépé, Emile Smith Rowe, Gabriel Martinelli
And here is the team for our victory over Wolverhampton
Cédric Soares, Gabriel, Ben White, Kieran Tierney
Granit Xhaka, Thomas Partey
Bukayo Saka, Martin Odegaard, Gabriel Martinelli
In short, since the opening game of the season, badly affected, as I noted, through illness and unavailability of players, the lineup is now utterly different. So it makes sense to see how the current team has been doing before suggesting we need to buy more and more and more players – as the media were doing through January.
The suggestion that Untold has been making throughout this season is that we have a team that is developing well, particularly with the way youngsters such as Ramsdale (age 23), Saka (20), Martinelli (20), Smith Rowe (21), and Odegaard (23) are developing.
Indeed in the table below we can see that Arsenal doesn’t just have the lowest average age for the starting XI (a year lower than the next lowest club (Brentford) and 3.7 years lower than West Ham, but also have the smallest squad of any team. Considering both these factors it is hardly surprising we lost the first three games when the squad was further decimated by illness and injury. (Data adjusted from TransferMarkt)
|Club||Squad||Average age squad||Average age Starting XI|
|Brighton & Hove Albion||23||25.7||26.3|
|West Ham United||24||28.7||27.9|
In short the fact that Arsenal are third in the league across the last 19 games, shows just how well we are doing with this small, young squad. And it shows that although it might be handy to bring in a few more reserves, probably the best way to do this is by promoting from the youth team.
What we don’t need is the hysterical level of panic buying that the media universally told us Arsenal needed during January and is now telling us we need in August.
Today in Arsenal’s history: 15 February 2015: 85 years after beating Middlesbrough in the cup Arsenal did it again