By Bulldog Drummond
There’s a very interesting little note in the “Reading the game” Newsletter from the Independent.
On the subject of takeovers, Arsenal are seen as the only club in the Premier League who are absolutely not for sale. The article claims that the Kroenkes see the whole project as too valuable to their sports empire for them even to consider an offer.
Indeed it is said that Nigerian cement mogul Aliko Dangote once approached the hierarchy to “name their price”, but he didn’t get a response. Word is, the Kroenkes are “very proud” of the club. The growing feeling is that Arsenal are now willing to spend much more and move onto the next stage of “the project” which basically means, adding some more trophies.
That’s quite an interesting note and one to remember for the future. But for now of course we have the little matter of the visit to Watford.
We saw in the last piece that we could be back in fourth place if we win this weekend’s game, and still have all our games in hand in place, ready for the final push up into third. Watford however are going to have a harder job to launch themselves up to the magic 17th place to escape the drop.
In terms of the injuries, Smith Rowe seems to have recovered from his illness but the last we heard of Takehiro Tomiyasu was a week ago which then said, “We are in the same place as last week”. He had a problem with one leg, and then with the other.
As for Watford, Herts Live (yet another publication owned by Reach plc) tell us “Hodgson revealed Ismaila Sarr and William Troost-Ekongare are both out injured with muscle strains for the ‘foreseeable future’. He added: “It’s not a minor thing.”
We looked in the last article at Watford and Arsenal’s current form – at home for Watford and away for Arsenal. We can now also refine that a little and look at just the last six games, again with home and away form and see what we get.
In the last article, we saw that across the whole season Arsenal away from home are the ninth-best performing team in the league. But we know of course that Arsenal had a poor start to the season both because of bedding in a completely new defence who had to learn the non-tackle approach, and through a run of illnesses and injuries.
So it is worth asking how Arsenal have been doing away from home recently – for to be serious challengers for the top four we need decent away performance with regularity.
In fact, measuring all clubs for their last 10 away matches we find Arsenal sitting sixth in the league of away performances – an improvement on the position across the whole season thus far where we are 11th.
But them if we look at just the last five away matches we find Arsenal are the second-best performing team away from home, with only Manchester City beating us. We have had three wins, two defeats and achieved a goal difference of +7. Manchester City gained four wins and a draw, but their goal difference was the same as Arsenal’s.
Now of course with these “last five” and “last 10” charts there is always the argument that we are playing weaker sides and that the table is artificial, and there is a point in that. But they do also show that things are improving which means the confidence of the players (and indeed the away support) is on the up.
Watford on the other hand are pretty much bottom of the “home matches” table no matter how far you go back and psychologically that is difficult for them. Certainly, if they do manage to nick a goal early on, they are going to retreat into their penalty area for the rest of the game and try to hold on.
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