By Tony Attwood
There was a time in October when a couple of Arsenal results led to commentators suggesting that Arsenal’s rise to the top of the league was over. The bubble we were told had burst; a theme that we have heard in the media every time Arsenal has had a run of good results.
The matches which caused the doom-mongers in the media to be dragged out of the Toppled Bollard public house to write some more copy were the 1-1 draw with Southampton and the 2-0 defeat to PSV Eindhoven in the Europa League.
In fact it was gibberish, for if we look at the last six matches played by Premier League teams we find that three teams are shooting away from the rest Indeed it is also interesting to see how some teams that had a pretty awful start to the season have now pulled themselves together.
|7||West Ham U||6||3||0||0||7||1||0||1||2||1||3||4||10|
|14||Brighton & HA||6||1||1||1||4||2||0||1||2||4||8||-2||5|
With Newcastle at the top it is clear that the money from the Saudi Arabian state fund is now driving the improvement although it would be unreasonable not to give an honorable mention to Eddie Howe who previously spent 11 years (in two separate stints) as manager of Bournemouth, taking them from League One to the Premier League in three seasons.
The other State Sponsored club, Manchester City is not far behind, and as we know, they too have as much money as they want. It would appear from the way things are going that there are no meaningful restrictive arrangements in place that can stop Newcastle from buying their way to the top should they wish to.
Meanwhile, Tottenham’s decline can be explained to some degree by the fact that four of their last six games have been played away. Although a more detailed look shows that in effect their home and away form is the same across this season, so that’s not a very helpful explanation, all things considered.
Liverpool’s lowly position in 12th is interesting given that they have played four home games in the last six. They have a terrible away record and had they had the normal balance of three home games and three away things could look even worse. The media has been immensely supportive of them over the years, but it seems even that support is now slipping away. It does not auger well.
Goal difference is also interesting – three clubs Manchester City, Arsenal and Newcastle are clearly way ahead of the rest of late – and yes this is a less reliable view since it can be influenced by one match (for example Arsenal’s win over Forest) but it is still of interest.
What is particularly interesting I think is that the three teams at the top of that table above, have, in the last six games pulled right away from the rest in terms not just of points gained but also goals scored and having a solid defence. This last six games table could be the shape of the rest of the season: a three-horse race.
Last season Newcastle came 11th and so are not encumbered by European thoughts this season; that is something that will help them. In fact, Newcastle haven’t been in Europe since a venture into the Uefa League in 2012/13 when they reached the quarter-finals.
This season Manchester City won their qualifying group in the Champions League undefeated. Arsenal of course resolve matters tonight, and we’ll take a look at the team for tonight in the next post, before we start the trek from the Midlands to the game.
- Arsenal v Lens: the team, the home/away form and the strange coincidences
- Arsenal v Lens: they had a poor start but are now flying
- Where there is power, money and greed there is corruption
- Why do Tottenham players get fouled more than those of any other club?
- The media, the League and PGMO. An insidious agreement rears its ugly head