By Tony Attwood
After the first three games of the season, the media were, as you may recall, full of the doom and gloom stories of Arsenal, and I doubt there was a football supporter interested in the Premier League who didn’t know that this was Arsenal’s worst start to a season since the Battle of Stamford Bridge.
What was particularly interesting was the fact that the entire media seemed to believe that one could judge a team’s performance and ability on three games – and it was on this basis that some started calling for yet another change of manager – not to mention most of the team.
So, as I was recently kindly reminded by our correspondent Phillip, it is rather interesting to note the story of what has happened since those three games.
this is NOT a story at all – at least not a story according to the media. For while the media revelled in publishing the league table after three games, over and over, day after day, no one but no one publishes the league table based on the last 22 games (which is to say in Arsenal’s case, all the games after those first three matches).
So let’s look at the last 22 games for the “Big 8” which is to say the traditional “Big 6” plus the wannabe interlopers of West Ham United and Wolverhampton Wanderers, both of whom appear to be much loved by the media in general. For Arsenal, this means the games after those first three defeats.
|7||West Ham United||22||10||4||8||33||27||6||34|
If one looks at that table it is clear that we are a solid top-four team, although not a league winning team, as we are eight points behind the leaders and with a goal difference only half as good as the top two.
But even so something really does stand out. Our defence – that is the part of the team that was utterly replaced last summer, is right up there with the other members of the top five in that league table.
Yes, we have let in three more than Manchester City and two more than Chelsea, but let me reiterate if I may, we replaced almost our entire defence last summer. Four of the five players who are regular first-choice selections for league matches came to the club in the summer break of 2021. And yet we have defence right up there with the best defences.
And I guess it is this awareness that is making the newspapers and websites that live on transfer rumours and whose writers are by and large innumerate, ignore just how good we have been since those first three games. (Incidentally, I rather think a good name for football journalists and fellow travellers is the Innumerati. It’s a word I thought I had just invented but apparently, it’s been around since President Trump seized power.)
We have been conceding on average 0.91 goals per game, across those 22 games. And indeed that figure has been getting better and better as the season has gone on. If we were to look just at the last ten games for example we are conceding 0.70 goals a game.
Now clearly our attack is not as good as that of Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea, as over the last 22 games we have been scoring 1.86 goals a game. But in the last ten that has risen to 2.30 goals a game – so once more, we can see further improvement.
However we should also note that we are only three goals behind Chelsea across the last 22 games, so although yes, it would be good to score more, this is not a case of Arsenal being in a terrible position.
And yet, and yet, the Daily Mirror is currently leading the charge claiming that Arsenal are going to make at least three major signings this summer, or (depending on which day you read the wretched thing) six signings!!!
Now Arteta has been so good in what he has done, transforming the tactics last season to take the initiative away from PGMO, and this season changing the whole team to allow us to play without a goalscoring centre forward, one cannot possibly criticise the manager
So really SIX SIGNINGS in a team that after the first three games, has gone to five points above the fourth-placed team and a staggering 11 points above the fifth-placed team?
Of course, Mr Arteta knows exactly how the transformation last season worked in terms of cutting the yellow cards in half. Just as he knows what he did this season, in rising up the league once the defence was re-arranged.
So my guess is that we will have a tweak of the team to take us up the next two places, for I am sure the club’s manager knows exactly what the table based on the last 22 games in the league looks like, even though I doubt many journalists and bloggers have got the foggiest idea what is going on.
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