By Tony Attwood
Last season I wrote a series of articles which wondered where Arsenal would be in the league if the club hadn’t had that awful start of three consecutive defeats at the start of the season. Those three defeats are still mentioned by the media – they were even part of the build-up to yesterday’s superb victory. Although now one or two of the slightly less than average anti-Arsenal variety of journalists have actually mentioned that at that time, one year ago, the club was swamped with covid and injuries.
Although they refrain from noting that Arsenal were not allowed to hold back any of those games, while postponing matches for non-football related reasons has been going on wholesale this season. Strange that. If Arsenal ask for a postponement for football reasons, there’s no chance. If Liverpool ask, as they did last season, with far fewer covid cases, they get it. And when it comes to non-footballing reasons for postponements – well fine. Especially if it inconveniences Arsenal and Arsenal fans.
However back to that opening of last season. My argument was that the last 35 games of last season was a good form guide, and gave us an indication of where the club was heading. The table read
Of course, not everyone agreed that Arsenal were on the move. The Daily Mirror for example wrote that Arsenal were “paying the price for Mikel Arteta’s disastrous £140m spending spree”. Perhaps we might say that the Mirror is paying the price for employing half-baked trainees as football correspondents. But they seem to like it that way.
Anyway, time to move on, and for this little piece I thought I would have a look at how Arsenal have performed in the first seven games of the three seasons in which Arsene Wenger won the title. Here are the league positions after seven games for each season in which we won the league, to compare with this season in the bottom row.
And I must say I was pretty surprised by that. More wins – yes that I was expecting but more goals? Now that is a surprise to me. For 17 goals in the first seven games, works out at 2.43 goals a game, which over the course of a season would mean 92 goals.
Of course I am not saying we will get that, and not least because so far we have only played one of the other classic “big six” sides, in which games goals will be harder to come by. But even so, this is a very promising start.
In the Wengerian era we were normally scoring 70+ league goals a season, and a couple of times even got into the 80s. And the ability to score 70+ continued into the 2018/19 season before we sank down to 55, 56 and 61 goals in the last three seasons.
So comparing with all three seasons when we won the league, (including even the most glorious unbeaten season) we have more points, more wins, and more goals than we had in the first seven games of each of those wonderful campaigns.
Another nice little fact is that three of the top nine scorers in the league are Arsenal players (Jesus, Martinelli and Odegaard). No other club has three players in the top nine (Tottenham have two, Manchester City have one).
Now of course I know that Manchester City’s man is knocking in an amazing number of goals – 11 so far. And it may well be that he will go on and beat all the PL records for the most goals by a single player in a season (currently held by Salah with 32). At his current rate Haaland will get 60 goals, but somehow I think he might not.
Manchester City’s power is also emphasised by the fact that they have the player with the most assists in the league ini their team, (Kevin De Bruyne with six) although we are in second place with Saka on four. If we go even further in the assists list and look at the top ten players for assists this season we find three of that top ten are Arsenal men. (Manchester City and Tottenham each have two). Our three assistants if I may call them that, are Saka (as mentioned) plus Jesus and Xhaka.
So by and large it is not just the case of being top of the league. We are top of the league and doing better than we were in the seasons in which we won the league.
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