By Tony Attwood
It was noisy, upbeat, vibrant and as far as I could see, full – exactly what you want for a home game. And it stayed that way all through the game, not least because of the timings of the goals. It took two minutes for Xhaka to score after Saliba’s own goal, and a minute for Martinelli to score after Maddison pulled one back. That is the way to keep the stadium bouncing.
Last season Arsenal were the sixth highest goal scorers in the league with 61. Coincidentally yesterday’s opponents last season had 62 in the last campaign. 61 goals works out at an average of 1.6 per game. So far in two games Arsenal have scored six goals – fractionally under double last season’s average per game.
Of course we have not been playing top-ranking teams, but even so, it is something of an improvement. Particularly since no PL club has scored more than six.
As for the top goalscorers, so far this season, one man has got three, six players have got two. Rather interestingly two of the six players with two goals play for Arsenal (Jesus and Martinelli) while only one player has two goals and two assists.
Interestingly the bookies are keeping up the general perception of “it won’t last” concerning Arsenal, as although only Rodrigo at Leeds have scored more, Jesus is only fifth favourite for the Golden Boot this season. Here are the top men.
|2.||Gabriel Jesus||Arsenal||2 (0)||2||2||167|
|Erling Haaland||Man City||2 (1)||1||2||152|
|Joshua Dasilva||Brentford||2 (0)||0||2||31|
|Pascal Gross||Brighton||2 (0)||0||2||180|
|Aleksandar Mitrovic||Fulham||2 (1)||0||2||180|
|Gabriel Martinelli||Arsenal||2 (0)||0||2||180|
So six goals in the first two games, as opposed to none last season. In fact last season it was two goals in the first five league games. It took us eight league games to get up to the six goals in that campaign.
Which in part explains why the Arsenal stadium was rocking yesterday afternoon. And I wonder just what percentage of column inches the media will have given to Arsenal after three games this season, compared to the acres provided describing the club after three games last season. Not nearly as much I suspect. Arsenal are only news when things are going wrong.
As it happens, travelling as my friends and I do on occasion by train from the East Midlands to London for some home games, we do occasionally share the railway carriages with Leicester supporters who even on the way to London were infinitely less upbeat (and far less abusive) than they were for the same match last season.
Of course they are only a minority of Leicester fans, and I am not saying they are representative at all, but the change in attitude was extraordinary. And it cannot be put down to the fact that Leicester are not doing so well. Last season when we played them and shared a train with their fans they were 12th in the league but still very upbeat about the club. Yesterday they came to the game having drawn their first match at home with Brentford. And they won the last four of their pre-season games, although in each case against modest opposition.
So maybe it is the transfer window that upsets them – just one transfer, Alex Smithies on a free from Cardiff.
Of course they still have the memory of their notorious penalty techniques, with Jamie Vardy yesterday going down as if poleaxed when VAR showed what the Observer newspaper today calls “minimal contact”. No card for him however, so he is still in the referees’ good books.
Two seasons ago Leicester were knocking up penalties almost every other game and in December that season we ran the story that Leicester were heading for a record number of penalties, having already had nine (Arsenal had had two by then, and half the clubs in the league had received two or fewer.
Of course it was a complete coincidence, but affer our article Leicester got no more penalties and stayed on nine – although still ahead of their nearest rivals Fulham who ended up with five.
But back with this season, Arsenal reduced the tackling level yesterday and are no long top of the tackling league but clubs are throughout the league using the more relaxed application of the rules this season to tackle more.
This table gives us a comparison between the clubs that have played two games so far and been at the top of the tackling league.
|Club||Tackles||Per Game||Last season PG|
Leeds who already reached astronomical proportions of tackles last year (786 tackles in the season) are once more leading the way, but Arsenal who last season ended up in 18th position in the tackling league are now much closer to the top. Of course, not everyone has played two games yet, and it is only two games, but clubs are generally putting in more tackles than before as a result of the rule change.
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