by Tony Attwood
No one would pretend that this has been a glorious season, just as very few people will recognise the supreme irony of fans who proclaimed that Wenger should go because “fourth was not a trophy” are now anxiously looking at the league table in the hope that we might make fourth after all.
Likewise very few in the media seem ready to admit that endlessly changing managers and players can be a very good thing. There is on the other hand the occasional praise in the media at the way that Arsenal have unravelled “years of transfer failures but they are, at least, going about their own rebuilding efforts with a conviction and bloodymindedness.” Such chat is followed of course by the list of players who have gone: Mesut Ozil, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Willian, Sead Kolasinac, Shkodran Mustafi, Mkhitaryan and Sokratis are regularly mentioned in such dispatches.
According to the article cited above the key point has been the fostering of “a culture of togetherness and a squad of hungry players driven by a cause and united by a clear playing style.”
Thus the argument is that we cannot really judge a team by what we see on the pitch, but rather we also have to judge the team by something that is invisible to us mere supporters: “togetherness”. It is an interesting thought but one that makes it nigh on impossible for those of us not privy to the inner workings of the club to have a view of what is going on.
This is of course what the media want. In the age of total information, they desperately need us to need them, and so will create any narrative (truthful or otherwise) to show that we cannot interpret the world ourselves, but must allow the media to do it for us.
But such media chit-chat does not explain why Elneny is now flavour of the month, but wasn’t for so long in the season. Nor why the togetherness can count for more than results.
However, let us stay with results and consider a story the media has utterly missed. The last 24 games of last of 2020/21 and our last 24 games this season – remembering that it was the last 24 games of 2020/21 season that saved us. For after 14 games that season we were 15th and being talked about as relegation candidates.
2020/21 – last 24 games…
|4||West Ham United||24||13||5||6||41||28||13||44|
So let’s consider the progress… the last 24 games this season…
Across the last 24 games of last season, and the last 24 played in this season, Manchester City have exactly the same number of points and a very similar record in term of goals. Chelsea were fifth in the table of the last 24 games of last season with 42 points, and Liverpool seventh with 38 points, so both have improved. Indeed Liverpool have improved the most dramatically.
And Arsenal – well after all those changes, and the record transfer expenditure last summer, and allowing for time for everyone to settle down, the last 24 games this season have actually produced just one point fewer than last season’s final 24 games. The goals scored is one fewer, the goals conceded one more.
Now in one very real sense this is quite remarkable for it has been achieved by changing a lot of the team around and bringing in much younger players – so young in fact that we have the youngest regular first team in the Premier League – which augers well for the future.
And it is remarkable given that the issue we have been told is our greatest, overwhelming, totally total problem – the lack of goals in attack, has not been addressed at all. We are pretty much the same as last time around. And yes I really would say that is remarkable because last season our top four goal scorers in the Premier League were
This season we have
|Emile Smith Rowe||23||9||11|
Of our three players in double figures last season in terms of Premier League goals none has produced double figures in the league this season (and to be clear these are only league games counted here).
Our top three scoring players last season produced between them 33 goals in the league. This season it is 30 goals – a slight decline. But fortunately, two of those top three are going to be with us next season, and will be (self-evidently) one year older and most certainly still improving.
Of course if Eddie and Laca both leave this summer we are going to need another player there – but this ability to put together runs of 24 games and collect 46 or 47 points has been maintained both last season and this season and that new player will be coming into a team that hopefully, next time can do it all season.
If we could maintain that form that would give us 73 points. Not enough to win the league, given recent seasons, but enough to make top four in most seasons. It is the step in the right direction that we’ve all wanted.
- Everton v Arsenal: a happy video, line-up and what the league table will look like after
- Everton v Arsenal: Injuries, points needed for 4th, and Arsenal the first to 100?
- Everton v Arsenal: extraordinary figures seen in the last 6 games table
- Everton v Arsenal: how this referee treats the home and away team
- Everton v Arsenal and the oddity of referee behaviour