Have Arsenal improved or declined in relation to last season?

By Bulldog Drummond

As we approach tonight’s game against Chelsea there are many correspondents talking as if the whole of Arsenal is a disaster, and suggesting that the management should be changed along with most of the players.

It is interesting that this is primarily the result of three games – which is exactly what the same critics did at the start of the season, calling for the manager to go after three games.

So to try and get a bit of balance into the equation I thought it would be helpful to look at what Arsenal did in the last 24 games of last season, and what they have achieved in the last 24 games this season, to see if there has been any progress or whether we really are in decline.

I have chosen the last 24 games because we wrote quite a lot about the final 24 games last season, noting that Arsenal were the second best team over what was the final 63% of the season….

Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Manchester City 24 20 0 4 62 20 42 60
2 Arsenal 24 14 5 5 43 21 22 47
3 Manchester United 24 13 8 3 43 21 22 47
4 West Ham United 24 13 5 6 41 28 13 44
5 Chelsea 24 12 6 6 29 22 7 42
6 Leicester City 24 11 6 7 42 33 9 39
7 Liverpool 24 11 5 8 32 23 38

In the summer, as is well known, Arsenal then replaced the entire defence, which certainly took the Untold team by surprise since we had made much of the fact that in the last 24 games of last season, Arsenal had the second best defence in the league.   Mind you we also had the second best attack and that got changed as well.

Gone are the likes of Aubameyang, (as well as Ozil before him).  So here are the last 24 games this season.

Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Manchester City 24 19 3 2 58 17 41 60
2 Liverpool 24 18 4 2 61 16 45 58
3 Chelsea 24 14 7 3 52 21 31 49
4 Arsenal 24 14 2 8 40 26 13 44
5 Tottenham Ho 24 13 3 8 47 26 21 42
6 Manchester United 24 11 7 6 36 33 3 40

In the last 24 games of this season, and the final 24 games of last season we have won 14 games each time.   But whereas last season we have drawn five and lost five, this season it was drawn two and lost eight.  We have declined; not by much but a little.

The attack has scored three fewer and the defence has conceded five more.

Overall our decline has been by three points fewer, three goals fewer and five goals more conceded, and of course it can always be argued that a club should always be going forward, and not backward, even if it is by just a small amount.

But here is a thought, how have other teams done, comparing the same thing – the last 24 games of last season, and the latest 24 games this season.

  • The big winners are Liverpool who are 20 points better off this season across the last 24 games.
  • Tottenham were 8th on 37 points across the last 24 games last season.  They are five points better off this season, the pesky blighters.   (Pesky blighters are a middle-class version of Peaky blinders).
  • Manchester City are in exactly the same place as they were last season.
  • Arsenal as we have seen are three points worse off this season than in the last 24 games last season.
  • Manchester United are seven points worse off this season.
  • Chelsea are also seven points worse off this season.
  • And West Ham who were claiming to have broken through into the elite in the last 24 games of last season and were about to move into trophy-winning mode are now nine points worse off this season.

Of course this is a disappointment for Arsenal to have gone backwards this season, even if it is only by three points in the last 24 games.  But that almost total replacement of the defence is a major part of the reason.

Next season we will not be replacing the entire defence again (at least I hope not!) and indeed the midfield should surely also stay the same, for clearly we are not going to kick of Smith Rowe, Saka, Odegaard and Martinelli.   What’s more those four will have added to their experience considerably, and will still be improving, given their ages.  

So we will have a new centre forward, a more experienced midfield, and a defence that really has bedded itself in.  The fact that we bought a totally new defence and it has performed worse than last season’s defence will not have gone unnoticed, and I am sure the management will be pointing such details out to the players in question.

Of course I am disappointed with what has happened in the last three games, and somewhat fearful over tonight’s match, but a certain sense of proportion is needed, especially in the light of the hysteria being manufactured by the media.


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