Winning away on the opening day. What next?

By Tony Attwood

The last time we won away from home in the opening game was 11 August 2019.  That season we went through the opening 11 games with just one defeat, although three of the games were cup games.  The opening win that season was 0-1 away to Newcastle, and the one defeat we had in the first 11 games was away to Liverpool which we lost 3-1.   Overall it was seven wins, three draws and that one defeat.

Date Match Res Score Competition
11 Aug 2019 Newcastle United v Arsenal W 0-1 Premier League
17 Aug 2019 Arsenal v Burnley W 2-1 Premier League
24 Aug 2019 Liverpool v Arsenal L 3-1 Premier League
01 Sep 2019 Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur D 2-2 Premier League
15 Sep 2019 Watford v Arsenal D 2-2 Premier League
19 Sep 2019 Eintracht Frankfurt v Arsenal W 0-3 Europa League
22 Sep 2019 Arsenal v Aston Villa W 3-2 Premier League
24 Sep 2019 Arsenal v Nottingham Forest W 5-0 League Cup
30 Sep 2019 Manchester United v Arsenal D 1-1 Premier League
03 Oct 2019 Arsenal v Standard Liège W 4-0 Europa League
06 Oct 2019 Arsenal v AFC Bournemouth W 1-0 Premier League

 

After those opening games we were third in the table

Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Liverpool 8 8 0 0 20 6 14 24
2 Manchester City 8 5 1 2 27 9 18 16
3 Arsenal 8 4 3 1 13 11 2 15
4 Leicester City 8 4 2 2 14 7 7 14
5 Chelsea 8 4 2 2 18 14 4 14

But in 2018 a win on the opening day of the season (4-3 over Leicester) was followed by away defeats at Stoke and Liverpool

Date Match Res Score Competition
11 Aug 2017 Arsenal v Leicester City W 4-3 Premier League
19 Aug 2017 Stoke City v Arsenal L 1-0 Premier League
27 Aug 2017 Liverpool v Arsenal L 4-0 Premier League

 

In 2015 an away win over Everton followed by a home win over Chelsea, was followed by a home defeat to West Ham.

In fact, if one wants proof that the opening game of the season does not mean anything at all one has to go back to 2013 when Arsenal lost at home to Villa on 17 August.  This was one of the most notorious refereeing disasters of all time at Arsenal’s ground, as the club then went on a winning streak of nine games in a row

Arsenal were then top of the league

Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Arsenal 10 8 1 1 22 9 13 25
2 Liverpool 11 7 2 2 21 10 11 23
3 Southampton 11 6 4 1 15 5 10 22
4 Chelsea 11 6 3 2 18 10 8 21

 

Now at this point you might be thinking – this is an awful lot of ruminating and historical thinking after just one game, and you might well be right – not least because at the moment I am writing this Manchester United are currently losing at home to Brighton and Hove, which in pure football terms looks like being a bigger story.

But the reality is that the league table after a handful of games doesn’t necessarily tell us much.

On 8 September 2003 for example the league table read

Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Arsenal 4 4 0 0 10 2 8 12
2 Manchester United 4 3 0 1 7 2 5 9
3 Portsmouth 4 2 2 0 7 2 5 8
4 Manchester City 4 2 1 1 8 5 3 7
5 Chelsea 3 2 1 0 6 4 2 7
6 Birmingham City 3 2 1 0 2 0 2 7

... and the main news story was that Arsenal were bound to be defeated at some time, so the table doesn’t actually tell us much.

Manchester United that season came in ninth, Manchester City 10th, Portsmouth 11th, and Birmingham 14th.   So a good few first games doesn’t always predict where things will end up.

Perhaps what we should remember from the start of this season, apart from the joy of the Brighton game at the start, is that absolutely none of the mainstream media predicted Arsenal to come in the top four, and that virtually every pundit suggested that for the first time ever the top four this season would be the same clubs in the same order as the top four last season.

Maybe they will be right, but if not, it will be a decent reminder of how little of the future in football they know.  And this most certainly could be because of their unwillingness to consider statistical details that don’t coincide with their preconceived ideas.  Such as the way results are influenced by whether one has a home favouring referee or an away favouring referee.

Indeed as long as the media refuses to consider certain elements of the game, it will be annoying, but might well also give us a few laughs.

One Reply to “Winning away on the opening day. What next?”

  1. Just to bring some perspective, if you look at the BBC website it has asked 23 pundits for their predictions of the top four. Just 3 of them have opted for the exact same top four as last season.

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