By Bulldog Drummond
- Referee Craig Pawson: his bias does Arsenal no favours against Bournemouth
- Clubs are being encouraged to tackle more and more by referees’ approach
At this time last season, it was impossible to look at the football pages of newspapers or websites without finding an article about when was the last time Arsenal lost their opening three games of the season. Today, search for an article which asks, when was the last time Arsenal won their opening three games of the season, (which is of course what could happen later today) and you might find, as I did, the top article from Google for the search is …
I even checked that I had spelled the word “won” correctly, not mistakenly writing the word “lost” instead, and yes the many years in formal education that I had had done their job. I can spell “won”. So once again it seems that good news about Arsenal is really not news at all, whereas bad news about Arsenal is every web site’s favourite story.
So to bring a trifle of balance to a very unbalanced (not to say demented) reporting scenario here is the Arsenal situation across the first three games played each season since Arsenal last won their first three competitive games, 18 years ago. In the second column (First 3 games) I have included League, League Cup, Champions League, and Community Shield games. Throughout I have excluded any pre-league season games including those where four teams play two games across two days – even if a trophy was on offer. The “Trophies” column therefore reflects therefore just the FA Cup and the Community Shield. If you feel the latter is not a trophy maybe you can black it out on your screen so it doesn’t distract.
|Season||First 3 games*||First 3 league games||Trophies||Top 4|
|2021/2||1 win, 2 defeats||3 defeats|
|2020/1||3 wins||2 wins, 1 defeat|
|2019/20||2 wins 1 defeat||2 wins 1 defeat||Community Shield, FA Cup|
|2018/19||1 win 2 defeats||1 win 2 defeats|
|2017/18||2 wins, 1 defeat||1 win 2 defeats|
|2016/17||1 win, 1 draw, 1 defeat||1 win, 1 draw, 1 defeat||FA Cup|
|2015/16||2 wins, 1 defeat||1 win, 1 draw, 1 defeat||Yes|
|2014/15||2 wins, 1 defeat||1 win, 1 draw, 1 defeat||FA Cup, Community Shield||Yes|
|2013/14||2 wins, 1 defeat||2 wins, 1 defeat||FA Cup||Yes|
|2012/13||1 win, 2 draws||1 win, 2 draws||Yes|
|2011/12||1 win, 1 draw, 1 defeat||1 draw, 2 defeats||Yes|
|2010/11||2 wins, 1 draw||2 wins, 1 draw||Yes|
|2009/10||3 wins||2 wins, 1 defeat||Yes|
|2008/09||2 wins, 1 defeat||2 wins, 1 defeat||Yes|
|2007/08||2 wins, 1 draw||2 wins, 1 draw||Yes|
|2006/07||2 wins, 1 draw||2 draws, 1 defeat||Yes|
|2005/06||1 win, 2 defeats||2 wins, 1 defeat||Yes|
|2004/05||3 wins||3 wins||FA Cup||Yes|
In essence, since 2004/05 when we won three league matches in a row at the start of the season, Arsenal have had eight seasons in which two of the three games have been won. In six seasons we have won just one game. And one season in which Arsenal won none of the games.
But now, returning to the prime theme of Bournemouth v Arsenal, Give me Sport gave this assessment of Bournemouth and Arsenal prior to the start of the season, and just for fun I’ve thrown in their Manchester United assessment as well.
“Scott Parker’s slow, possession-based style will be difficult to adapt to the Premier League. When the Cherries don’t have the ball, they’re simply not a threat. They failed to score a single goal on the counterattack last season.”
“Whilst their starting XI is good, there’s still big question marks. They’re probably three or four players away from a starting XI that can consistently challenge for the title or make it into the top four. There’s also the Cristiano Ronaldo conundrum.”
“[Mikel] Arteta’s young Gunners might still be a way from challenging for the title, but they’re closer than Manchester United and Chelsea.”
As for injuries, here is the usual chart from PremierInjuries showing Arsenal, and by way of comparison the clubs with the most injuries.
- Liverpool: 10
- Everton: 7
- Leeds United: 6
- AFC Bournemouth: 5
- Chelsea: 5
- Fulham: 5
- Manchester United: 5
- Arsenal: 1
Arsenal’s only injury is Fabio Vieira who is classified as being a “minor doubt” with his foot injury. Given the way the team is playing and the lack of other injuries if he has recovered I think the best he can hope for is a place on the much-expanded bench.
Next up, the team projections.
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