If Arsenal had been treated as Liverpool, where would we be now?

By Tony Attwood

It has always struck me that starting the league season while the transfer window is still open is a pretty dumb thing to do.  Surely the logical approach is to close the window, have a week for players to move to new clubs and then get going.

As it was Arsenal last August was a fairly messy time.  Here’s the timetable in case you have forgotten:

  • 13 August Brentford v Arsenal
  • 20 August Martin Odegaard completes move from Real Madrid
  • 20 August Aaron Ramsdale signs from Sheffield United
  • 22 August Arsenal v Chelsea
  • 28 August Manchester City v Arsenal
  • 31 August Takehiro Tomiyasu signs from Bologna

To add to the defensive confusion Ben White had only signed on 30 July and was presumably still commuting from Sussex each day while waiting to find a suitable house.

And it is not just the new players who are affected.  Imagine being a player with a regular place in the squad, watching during those opening games to see who is signed – and thus wondering whether you still have a place.

Of course matters were not made easier by the fact that Arsenal were at the same time bringing through the youngsters.  In an ideal world they should have come into a stable and strong team, not a team that was being totally revamped in defence.  But no, the season starts with the window still open, and not enough time to get everyone attuned to the new Arsenal way of defending with only a minimal amount of tackling.

All of which makes it worth, this season, not looking at the league table as it stands, but the league table after those opening three league games.   Of course, the games happened and of course, the results count, but if we want to know about Arsenal’s form as we go into the last round of games, it is not a bad idea occasionally to see what the table looks like after those three openers.

In short the last 25 games…

Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Manchester City 25 19 4 2 57 17 40 61
2 Liverpool 25 18 5 2 66 19 47 59
3 Arsenal 25 17 3 5 44 22 22 54
4 Chelsea 25 15 7 3 51 18 33 52
5 Wolverhampton Wanderers 25 13 4 8 29 21 8 43
6 West Ham United 25 12 4 9 38 31 7 40
7 Manchester United 25 11 7 7 37 37 0 40
8 Tottenham Hotspur 25 12 3 10 41 35 6 39

The point of this is that as we come into the remaining ten fixtures, we are told daily by the media that this is going to be very tough for Arsenal and I don’t deny that.

But there is a second factor which is form, and if you look at Arsenal’s form over the season, minus that start affected by illness and a lack of a full squad, we see a different picture.

And of course all the other clubs were subject to a lack of a full squad if they were dealing in the market at the same time – but then that again is taken into account by looking only at the last 25 games.

What really stands out here is not just that Arsenal are two points ahead of Chelsea, but the way the top four have moved apart from the wannabes lurking behind.   We are not in the top four on goal difference or the odd point here or there.  Arsenal are in the top four by 11 points.

Now OK, I know Untold Arsenal is not richly blessed with proofreaders and you might well be thinking that is another of our twerping eross, but no, over the last 25 games the gap between the top four (remembering as ever “fourth is not a trophy” – which I only mention because the anti-Arsenal Arsenal seem to have forgotten their own slogans) and the fifth-placed team, is nine points.

And to go further, take a look, if you will, at the goal difference.  Arsenal have the poorest goal difference of the top four of +22.  None of the “Next Four” as we might call them, can even get into double figures!!!

So while the media ramble on and on and on and on and… etc about Arsenal not scoring enough goals, the media might consider this.  Only four teams in the last 25 games have got a goal difference in double figures.

Now I don’t want you to take any of this to mean that I am saying the team is perfect and we don’t need anyone else.  Not at all.  No, I am saying phase 2 of the great rebuild is now complete.  Phase 1 ended the insane situation in which Arsenal’s performance was run by referees who were handing out yellow cards against Arsenal players in a way rarely seen before.  We got 86 yellows in 2019/20, reduced to 47 the following season.

Phase 2 takes us back to being a top four team.

And here’s one final thing: if it had been Liverpool who had had a decimated squad as we had for the Brentford game, the chances are Liverpool would have had their game postponed, just as they did when they had that outbreak of covid… that never was.

But that is how it goes.  Arsenal not only play other teams each week, they also play PGMO and the Premier League establishment and the media, and Liverpool’s ability to manipulate reality in a way that Arsenal have never learned.

And despite that across the last 25 games, we are third.  That is what I call brilliant.

11 Replies to “If Arsenal had been treated as Liverpool, where would we be now?”

  1. And I’ll say this again for about the 10th time, we actually totally dominate that first match. Despite that we were utterly ridiculed.

    As you can probably tell, that first match still gets my goat. Not because we lost. It happens. I didn’t and still don’t begrudge Brentford their win. I like Brentford and the way they approach matches. It’s the way the media went complete over the top, in a perfect example of how this eternal media negativity is played out. These are the stats:


    Brentford: 2
    Arsenal: 0


    Brentford: 35%
    Arsenal: 65%


    Brentford: 8
    Arsenal: 22


    Brentford: 3
    Arsenal: 4


    Brentford: 12
    Arsenal: 8

    Obviously the crucial statistic is the goals. We lost. Fair enough. But was it the catastrophe and embarrassment the media made it out to be? This is the BBC’s Phil McNulty rather disproportionate take on the match:

    “a sobering 90 minutes for the visitors”

    -Why sobering ? Promoted teams, with their tails up, in great form, playing at home in front of a delirious crowd, are notoriously difficult matches.

    “Only Emile Smith Rowe truly rose above the mediocrity for Arsenal”

    -Is that really true? Was it solely down to ESR that we totally dominated all those stats, or did others contribute, you know, just a little bit ?

    “instantly turns the spotlight on Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta as he desperately needs an improvement on last season.”

    -So we came out of the last two thirds of the previous season as the 2nd best team in the Premier League yet ONE defeat, in a game we totally dominated puts the spotlight on the manager reminding him how he ‘desperately’ needs improvement !

    “Once they realised Arsenal had little offer after the early exchanges, Brentford took charge.

    -Really? ‘Little to offer’ ? We had twice as much possession and nearly three times as many shots. That hardly suggests Brentford ‘took charge’ does it ?

    And finally he says:

    “Abject Arsenal get what they deserved”

    -Did we? If you judge such things on goals alone then yes. Brentford scored 2, we scored 0. But that isn’t how football matches and performances are normally analysed is it ? That’s why people look at statistics, because statistics tell the bigger story. It is a fact that the ‘better’ team does not always win. We hit the woodwork 3 times. Their keeper made a couple of brilliant saves. It could of been so different. But apparently not, as that possibility is never even considered.

    Disappointing ? yes. Could our finishing of been better ? Yes. But abject ? Really ?

    Measure that against the different response to Brentford when they were turned over by Chelsea at home. It was a game Brentford dominated with 17 shots to 7, hitting the target 7 times to Chelseas one shot on target. That’s right, Chelsea had ONE shot on target, alas a shot that proved to be the winner.

    This is the BBC’s completely different take on this match:

    “The outcome would have been different had Brentford forward Bryan Mbeumo scored instead of twice hitting the Blues woodwork either side of Chilwell’s winner”.

    -So in Brentfords case hitting the woodwork is crucial. In ours it wasn’t even mentioned.

    “But the Bees considerably improved in the final half an hour and will count themselves unfortunate not to earn at least a point.”

    -So Brenfords domination warranted at least a point. So why didn’t ours?

    And to emphasise my point about how statistics are normally used as a barometer as to how a match played out we have this:

    “The statistics laid bare their dominance in the final stages.

    The Bees had 15 shots in the second half – 12 of which came in the final 11 minutes – and spent almost 40% of the last 15 minutes inside Chelsea’s third.

    While it did not produce an equaliser, it earned Frank’s side a proud ovation from the home fans at the final whistle and keeps them in seventh place after an encouraging start to their debut season in the Premier League”.

    Except not when it comes to us it seems, because our domination earned nothing but ridicule.

    I know I keep on about this particular pair of matches, but I just think it encapsulates perfectly how we get reported compared to others.

    One defeat and the previous 24 games are forgotten.

    Total dominance of a match is described as ‘abject’.

    And just to say, even with all the problems we had going in to this match, we still could of, probably should of won it, and just that one more win would have us sitting just 2 points behind Chelsea on level games and 6 ahead of Spurs in 5th who have played a game more.

    We really would be looking good for that 4th spot, and 3rd would of been a real possibility. Of course we are still in pole position for that 4th spot, and we still might achieve 3rd, but 4th is still going to be tough, and alas I think 3rd will be just beyond us. But you never know.

  2. Interesting take.

    No doubt Arsenal are in great form and playing very well. No doubt, too, that they hadn’t got all their ducks in a line by the start of the season.

    But they have also benefited from playing very few cup games this season – far fewer than any of their rivals in the top half of the PL. They have also benefited from being a few years into their “project”. Arteta now has his team. And they are well drilled in his methods. Their teething troubles are mostly behind them.

    Meanwhile, the likes of Man Utd, Spurs, Wolves, Villa et al are rebuilding. Most of them didn’t have their ducks in a line come season’s start either. Some of them have even changed manager mid season. Spurs, in particular, could be a threat over the remaining games. They are gradually coming to terms with Conte’s methods. Their January purchases are making a difference. They too have nothing to play for but top 4 now. And they have a seemingly more benign fixture schedule. It will be interesting to see how it unfolds.

    Lastly, with regard to Liverpool receiving preferential treatment, I seem to remember Arsenal having a game postponed despite having only one player out with COVID.

  3. OT

    To the Media and PGMO:
    Four of our young lads have been called up to The England squad. Please treat accordingly.

  4. They will probably risk getting injured, either in a match, or even in training.

    Whilst I am sure that the players themselves would not agree with me, I would prefer it if they are not picked for England squad.

  5. Hear, hear Nitram. The double standards are completely outrageous.

    You will also note that if we get a last minute equaliser or winner, we are lucky but for other teams it’s a fantastic fightback from a team with a never-say-die attitude.

    It annoys the absolute sh*t out of me!

  6. Mikey

    Me too.

    Just google ‘Arsenal lack passion’ at there’s loads of articles slagging off this player and that player for having no passion, yet when the guys battle like Lions until the last kick of the game and get a well earned victory, they get slagged off for their over passionate celebrations.

    When we played beautiful football we got cticised for trying to walk it in.

    When we won matches one nil we got criticised for being boring boring Arsenal.

    When we get kicked off the park we are criticised for being too soft.

    When we kick back we are criticised for being ill disciplined.

    And so it goes on and on.

    It doesn’t matter what we do Mikey, they’ll always find a way of criticising it.

  7. @James, atleast Arsenal did not make 40 false covid test to get matches postponed. oh’ right,i get it. ‘pool is a victim in all this

  8. @ James

    “I seem to remember Arsenal having a game postponed despite having only one player out with COVID.” And I seem to remember that the rules at the time said that you only needed one player out with COVID. Why don’t you tell us about having no cases of COVID and the astronomical odds of all those tests genuinely being false?

    While you’re at it, you might also want to explain why, when Arsenal, met the release clause in a certain players contract, the Liverpool hierarchy lied about there being a release clause and the media said absolutely nothing apart from to slag off Arsenal and defended Liverpool. Always the victims…..

  9. Mikey,

    Nice sentiments, but I’m not a Liverpool fan! My reason for citing your cancelled game was more to question whether Arsenal were really as hard done by the authorities as the article claimed. The rules didn’t say anything about needing only one covid case to have games cancelled. It was merely that the precedent had already been set of other clubs successfully calling games off without having had much by way of a covid outbreak. The point isn’t that Arsenal were especially favourably treated by the Premier League. Rather it is that they were equally as favourably treated.

  10. I am not sure that is quite true James. Liverpool claimed that they had quite a large number of players with covid, and then said they didn’t have covid at all. All tests can deliver “false positives” but where two covid tests have been undertaken (the requirement with clubs who are seeking a postponement) the chance of even one of them being false is way way way below one in 100. (https://www.hdruk.ac.uk/projects/false-positives/)

    So the notion that half a dozen Liverpool players could test positive one day and not the next, is ludicrous. But the league accepted the figures and there was no investigation and no punishment for Liverpool.

  11. James

    Correct, we were treated “equally as favourably” by the authorities for the game against Tottenham when we had one player out. Strangely though, other teams had been granted postponements in the same circumstances and the media said nothing. The media then proceeded kicked up a huge fuss and virtually claimed we were getting preferential treatment when we followed the precedent with which nobody had previously had a problem.

    But overall though, we weren’t treated “equally as favourably” since we had players out with Covid for the Brentford game and were not permitted a postponement. Postponements were introduced after we had suffered from the decision not to allow a postponement…..and as Tony has reiterated, one club was allowed to benefit from breaking the rules without investigation or punishment.

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