By Tony Attwood
So, we’ve won again, and that’s another one of our games in hand gone. Here’s the table
|6||West Ham United||29||14||6||9||48||36||12||48|
Of course, in terms of the top four places Tottenham aren’t really in the running, nor are West Ham, but since they were both being so talked up previously I thought I’d like to include them. At this rate Tottenham could be heading for the Europa Conference; the competition they got kicked out of this season, after they failed to turn up for a game.
So now we are on an equal number of games played with Chelsea, but are four points behind and with a much inferior goal difference. So if we were to go for third place, it means making up five points.
We are above Chelsea in terms of the last ten games, and they are above us in terms of the last six, although in each case the deficit or lead is small. Which suggests we might not make it, but you never know.
One thing that is certain, the lack of European matches this season has been a benefit as we have worked our way up the league after that difficult start.
And today was something of a typical away game. Saka was fouled and kicked all over the place through the game and as a result of that was booed by the Villa supporters. If you’ve been to away games at Villa Park you won’t be surprised.
For Saka being booed would have been a rather nasty reminder of the treatment he got after missing a penalty in the Euros last summer. Of course a lot of people say we are a profoundly racist country, but I am not so sure. The Telegraph explains the reaction to him by saying, “the tribalities of club football catch up with everyone eventually. Especially when you are fouled as frequently as Saka, who left the pitch battered and bruised in the second half.”
Tribalities or racism? I’ll leave that to you to decide. So moving on…
We don’t normally look at fouls committed by individual players, largely because Arsenal have made the dramatic change around of reducing their tackles, to reduce the number of fouls they give away, and cut the number of yellow cards that we were getting.
This has worked, and as a result, the Premier League’s official list of players who commit the most fouls (which lists 20 such players in order of fouls committed) does not include a single Arsenal name. Villa however have McGinn as the fifth most fouling player in the League.
Saka is in fact the eighth most fouled player in the League at the moment having received 64 fouls.
Meanwhile another issue that we have talked about through the season is the way that Arteta rebuilt the defence last summer, when the club had done incredibly well defensively in the last two-thirds of the previous season. So this is very much a team that the manager has selected (at least in defence).
In fact it is fair to say Villa only seemed interested in fighting for a point in the last half hour, despite the fact that we were using a keeper who has been sitting around doing precious little for most of the season. His save at the end was certainly worthy of the “kept Arsenal in the game” phrase.
So the league table is not much like it was after three games – although in their usually bonkers fashion a lot of the media was claiming that the league after three games meant that the manager needed to be sacked, and most of the players changed.
This table shows where club were after three games, where they are now and what the difference is.
|Pos after 3 games||Teams||Pos now||Difference|
|2||West Ham United||5||-3|
|8||Brighton and Hove Albion||13||-5|
The league positions of clubs have varied from Everton who have gone down ten places, to Arsenal who have gone up 16.
Yet the media really did make an enormous thing of the table after three matches, with talk of Arsenal’s first relegation since the Battle of Hastings (or something like that).
Of course the football editors will, I am sure, apologise for such pathetic stupidity. It’s just they haven’t got around to it yet.
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