By Tony Attwood
There really is little left in the universe for the raging anti-Arsenal Mirror and their pals on Football.London, the Express, the Sunday People, the Star and over 100 local daily newspapers to write about.
So instead they are making up tales about “Arsenal are running provisional checks on Spain midfielder Fabian Ruiz as they consider a move for him in the summer.” And yes, in a sense that story is true, but only because having got rid of most of their old scouting team, Arsenal now do their scouting on line with the vast team of reviewers alongside the data analysis systems, all checking out the players of the world through videos of games.
In short at any one time Arsenal are undertaking “provisional checks” on probably around 1000 players, so any story highlighting one player in particular is tripe. Of course the Mirror and its fellow-traveller publications manage to get a whole article out of the Saka and Emile Smith Rowe song. And I won’t give a link to that piece because it is so shallow really there’s nothing there at all.
They are also saying that we are after Lautaro Martinez, the 24-year-old who plays for Inter and has scored 48 goals in 122 games. That is 0.39 goals a game. This is quite a lot worse than Emile Smith Rowe who this season is scoring 0.56 goals a game. So why would we buy a striker who is not even up to the standard of a teenage midfielder?
In fact, Arsenal have the sixth-best attack in the league this season, the fifth-best defence and the fifth-best goal difference. Not as good as we’d like but not such a total disaster that we have to start ripping up the current team.
But to get a real insight into how well our attack and defence are doing, we should, as with the club overall, not just look at the whole season. Let’s look at the last ten games.
Across these games we have the second-best attack in the league! Honestly – and I know you wouldn’t believe it given the way the media talk about Arsenal but it is true. Here are the figures….
Thus this suggests that this is not a flash in the pan. But of course, this won’t be enough for the sceptics so to please them let us look across the last 20 games. This table is again in the order of goals scored
Now let’s go through this. Across the last 20 games, Arsenal have the fourth-best attack in the league, just one goal behind Chelsea – a club not criticised on a daily basis for not having good enough attacking players.
And Arsenal has the fourth-best goal difference in the league, again just one behind Chelsea.
Compare that with the media’s friends, Tottenham Hotspur, with eight goals fewer scored, 14 more conceded and a negative goal difference across these 20 games.
Now, this is not to say that Arsenal don’t need to buy any players at all, for after all Liverpool and Manchester City are way ahead and we need to catch up. But it is stupid not to recognise that already, are we catching up.
To see if there is a real improvement let’s try this approach. Our goal difference is within a fraction of +1 goal a game.
This time working through the season as a whole from the very start let’s see where we were month by month
|League position||Date||Pld||GF||GA||Goals scored per game||Goals against per game||GD|
If you take a look at the goals scored per game column, you can see we have been steadily increasing, although with a slight drop back in the final period (we only played one league game in January, hence extending the period).
If you look at the goals against per game, the average goals against the team is coming down month by month.
If you look at the goals difference (GD) column you will see that it is improving all the time.
Thus Arsenal is not just scoring more goals because it is playing more matches, the goals per game is rising apart from a small blip during the period in which matches were interrupted. Meanwhile our defence continues to improve and the goal difference shows that we are improving as a team.
Our drop in league position from fourth to sixth is primarily a reflection of the lack of league games played.
I am not suggesting these league figures are perfect, but I am saying that they do not merit wholesale changes to the team, which is what the Reach publications ceaselessly suggest. We are travelling in the right direction: wholesale changes to the team could utterly undermine that progress.