By Tony Attwood
So, you’ll know what the match looked like and what the league table looks like, and you won’t need to see either again, but then, it’s not often like this, so why not…
|4||Brighton and Hove Albion||5||3||1||1||6||3||3||10|
But are Arsenal a top four club? Well, in the build up to the season, all those pundits with their imaginary supercomputers, universally said no, having us come in fifth in their projections.
And yet at the moment we are a top four club, seven points in front of fifth place. And yes, of course I know we ain’t won nothing yet, but even so… we have more points than anyone else (obviously), we are the third highest scoring team in the league, we have the second best defence in the league (Brighton having conceded one fewer), and have the second best goal difference in the league. Which ain’t a bad start.
And it is not bad compared with earlier years… indeed as our regular table shows we have to go back to 2013 to find the moment we were last top after five games
And yes once again I can say, I know this is just after five games, and once again I will reply – considering the amount of fuss made about Arsenal’s league position after three games last season, presenting some information about Arsenal after five games seems totally in order to me.
And also, once again, I would comment on the crowd in the stadium. Even though the referee (or was it BT Sprout) would have none of our singing “North London Forever” immediately before the whistle to start the match, we still got in a chorus a moment earlier, and once again it set the scene. Plus the guys in black shirts behind the goal at the clock end were incredible as they have been all season. We don’t get shots of them much in the stadium, but I hope they showed them occasionally on TV.
Indeed the last time we started with five wins in a row we were playing in a different stadium, and even in the Unbeaten Season we didn’t manage it.
As for the style of play – it was clear for all to see: Villa went in for the tackles, they committed the fouls and yes overall they get the cards. This takes their record to…
|Club||Tackles per game||Fouls per game||Yellows per game|
And that is very much what it looked like; a team that is desperate and which relies on illegalities to try and stay out of trouble. The worry for the opposition of course is how many injuries they will pick up, especially for returning players, although at the moment the situation doesn’t look too bad for Arsenal.
Remarkably even the national media have got the hang of what is going on, with the Telegraph commenting in this morning’s paper, that Villa were utterly outclassed and “largely resorted to simply kicking Arsenal’s players as often as they could.”
Not often we get the national media acknowledge that!
What is also increasingly noticeable is that Arsenal do not like having a goal scored against them at home. Whereas, in some years the groans of the crowd at an away goal might have encouraged the team to play it very carefully, these days the players take a goal against as a personal insult.
Thus Arsenal have let in four goals at home and each time responded immediately with a goal of their own. As Arteta said, “That is the mentality we want to show as a team, to react immediately.”
There is however a growing problem in the way that much of the rest of the league now seems to be treating Arsenal. It’s as if Corporal Jones has crept into the away dressing room before each match and said, “They don’t like it up em”. The tackling we are seeing against Arsenal is getting really crazy and out of order, and of course PGMO will need a conference (probably to be held in 2029) to discuss what to do about it.
However, although it is serving to hurt our players physically, and returns us to the thoughts that PGMO referees really do work on the notion that “some teams tackle more than others, and shouldn’t be punished for it,” Arsenal are not being subdued by the tactic.
But to finish, let’s have a mention for Sambi Lokonga who is going from strength to strength. And indeed that is what we are seeing through the team. In the stadium we believe in the players. On the pitch they believe in themselves. It is wonderful to watch.
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