By Tony Attwood
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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.
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….
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.
|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
|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.
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