Arsenal have returned to the level of the late Wenger era. Now can we finish the job?

By Tony Attwood

Occasionally through this season I’ve been comparing where Arsenal is now in terms of points gained, goals scored and goals conceded, with where the team stood at this same point in recent seasons.   We’ve also noted what the media has been saying, as with the Guardian’s “The time for excuses is over” which it runs out several times a year about various clubs, each year.  

The table below updates this process showing where Arsenal were after 34 games in recent years.  The second column shows the year and in brackets the manager.

Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
4 2022 (MA) 34 20 3 11 54 41 13 63
9 2021 (MA) 34 14 7 13 46 37 9 49
8 2020 (MA) 34 12 14 8 50 42 8 50
5 2019 (UE) 34 20 6 8 68 43 25 66
6 2018 (AW) 34 17 6 11 66 46 20 57
6 2017 (AW) 34 19 6 9 66 42 24 63
3 2016 (AW) 34 18 9 7 58 34 24 63
3 2015 (AW) 34 21 7 6 66 33 33 70

Only twice in the past seven years have we had more points at this stage – once under Mr Wenger and once under Mr Emery.  So one could say we have been through three managers and seven seasons and still can’t do what Mr Wenger used to do – get to 70 points after 34 games.

In 2015 we ended up with 75 points (and came third) – which is still possible if we were to win our last four games.

Although we are still three points behind Unai Emery’s one complete season, which had us on 66 points by this stage and ended up with Arsenal in 5th.

But to be more positive we have now recovered to the level of the Wenger teams of 2016 and 2017.

The goals scored are more than the last two seasons, but still a long way short of the last of the Wenger years and the Emery season (14 goals behind the Arsenal of the Emery full season at this stage).   The defence however, although not back to the parsimony of the Wenger “fourth is not a trophy” seasons has nevertheless been stable in recent seasons.  Indeed, the 41 conceded so far this season is surely a good indicator, given that we not only signed a completely new defence last year but also signed a very young defence.

And the goal difference, although still miles away from that of Wenger and Emery is slightly better than the last couple of years.

So the figures do show that we are now back to where we were at the end of Mr Emery’s one complete season and better than Arsene Wenger’s last season – in fact back to the level of the two seasons before that.  Which means we have taken five years to go… back to where we were.

Of course it can be argued that had Mr Wenger stayed the club would have spiralled down to lower than finishing in 8th and 9th as we have done, and maybe that is so, but whatever the rights and wrongs of the decisions to change the manager, we are at least now on the way upward.

In 2019 we finished in fifth on 70 points just one behind Tottenham and two behind Chelsea….

Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Manchester City 38 32 2 4 95 23 72 98
2 Liverpool 38 30 7 1 89 22 67 97
3 Chelsea 38 21 9 8 63 39 24 72
4 Tottenham Hotspur 38 23 2 13 67 39 28 71
5 Arsenal 38 21 7 10 73 51 22 70

This was due to a poor end to the season, itself due to the distraction of having reached the Europa League semi-final (which we won 7-3 overall).  Having previously only lost one game in the last seven in the league we only won one game in the last five.

Date Match Res Score Competition
21 Apr 2019 Arsenal v Crystal Palace L 2-3 Premier League
24 Apr 2019 Wolverhampton W v Arsenal L 3-1 Premier League
28 Apr 2019 Leicester City v Arsenal L 3-0 Premier League
5 May 2019 Arsenal v Brighton and H D 1-1 Premier League
12 May 2019 Burnley v Arsenal W 1-3 Premier League

If we can do far better than that in our last four we will not only reach the Champions League once again, but also show that the team’s cohesion is working and the team is not utterly dependent on all the automatic first-team choices.

Those fixtures in 2019 should not have been particularly tough for Arsenal, and would not have been so, I feel, without the distraction of the Europa League.

Crystal Palace finished 12th, Wolverhampton 7th, Leicester 9th,  Brighton and Hove 17th, and Burnley 15th – all teams we might have expected to beat, but only Burnley succumbed and by then it was too late.

We have of course had several bad runs this season in terms of league games: three defeats at the start of the season, three defeats in four games in November / December, four defeats in five, in March/April.

If that sort of run is avoided in what remains of this season then we should end up with our best points total since 2016/17.   In that season, as now, we were on 63 points at this stage.  Our run in at the end of the season was

Date Match Res Score Competition
7 May 2017 Arsenal v Manchester United W 2-0 Premier League
10 May 2017 Southampton v Arsenal W 0-2 Premier League
13 May 2017 Stoke City v Arsenal W 1-4 Premier League
16 May 2017 Arsenal v Sunderland W 2-0 Premier League
21 May 2017 Arsenal v Everton W 3-1 Premier League
27 May 2017 Arsenal v Chelsea W 2-1 FA Cup Final

That year it wasn’t enough to give us fourth but did give us the FA Cup.  This year of course the cup is long gone, and fourth is still not a trophy, but for me, if no one else, if we make it, it most certainly will feel like one.

11 Replies to “Arsenal have returned to the level of the late Wenger era. Now can we finish the job?”

  1. The media’s reasoning for the results of our first 3 games is nothing but profound gibberish and what we have come to expect in the social media age that we live in.

    But for the off the field events surrounding those three games I am sure our league position would be higher.

    Even if the wheels come off and we lose these final games, Arteta and his team will have had a great season.

    If we don’t make the ‘fourth place is not a trophy’ then no doubt the media will rejoice and wallow in yet more gibberish against Arsenal.

    Forward Arsenal and thanks for a great season.

  2. Rome isn’t build in a day as the expression goes, so I will wait for the day that the work of Arteta is finished. I think our record against the top teams is also improving slowly. And that with a young team. If we can keep them together for just a few years we might be in to something really good.

  3. @Walter.

    I concurr. I hope we keep Eddie, I think he’s got more to him then what we see and i felt that he was much more physical then I would have expected against West Ham. He’s got a scorer’s instincts and I’d rather our offensive line stays together and gets the time to gel and investment is made in doubling up our two defensive pistons Tomy and Tierney because we’ve seen how their absence impacted our game. The way it looks, we have a good shot at some european competition, which means more games and a need for same squad depth.

    Maybe Gnabry could be a nice solution ticking many boxes (experience in PL, BL, CL, in a star studded squad) and Nelson is still plying his trade in Holland.
    As for Lacazette, the way he behaves on the field or on the sidelines, my guess is that he is a leading figure in the locker room. Which is needed as well.

    So I’d rather the ambition is to aim for ‘not a trophy 4th’ and decent european run then trying to out-City and/or out-Pool the teams on top. Getting back to regular top-4 is more important right now.

  4. Interesting post although I feel that the level in general is higher in the Premier League currently than it was 7 or so years ago, there really isn’t an easy game these days.

    I wonder how Arsene would adapted his style to the ‘pressing game’ that seems so in vogue by everyone?

  5. Off topic.

    Coquelin has scored for Mr. Emery’s team to level the aggregate score at 2-2.

  6. Let’s hope the Yellow Submarine scores another goal and beats Pool!
    Interesting to see them choking for a full half…..

  7. I’ve heard that Tierney will be the ref for the NLD. Dean will be VAR.

    No news yet regarding the officials for the Leeds match.

  8. Referee: Chris Kavanagh. Assistants: Harry Lennard, Marc Perry. Fourth official: Andre Marriner. VAR: John Brooks. Assistant VAR: Dan Robathan.

    Arsenal vs Leeds

  9. Referee: Paul Tierney. Assistants: Constantine Hatzidakis, Neil Davies. Fourth official: Peter Bankes. VAR: Mike Dean. Assistant VAR: Lee Betts.

    Middlesex Ramblers vs Arsenal

  10. Kavanagh was VAR for the Everton/Man. City match when millions of people worldwide witnessed Rodri’s obvious handling of the ball. I’m still unable to understand how Kavanagh was able to justify that decision.

    I imagine the betting patterns were never considered given that Arsenal weren’t involved.

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