By Bulldog Drummond.
This is where yer amateur writer says “the games are coming thick and fast for Arsenal” but of course we would not indulge in anything so simplistic. No indeed! We will in fact perhaps say that there seem to be an awful lot of Arsenal matches around at the moment – although of course there are for all the teams involved in European games. Chelsea however have an extra day to recover having played in Europe on 2 November.
So let us start with the best bit of predictioning that we’ve invented. The home-away league comparison.
It is indeed unusual but we find there have been exactly the same points per game (at least at the first decimal place) for Chelsea at home and Arsenal away.
As the first column shows Chelsea have only the 11th best home record in the league, but as the row above shows they remain unbeaten. Arsenal have lost away but have fewer draws.
However overall the difference between Chelsea’s home form and Arsenal’s away form is slight, and given that Chelsea are indeed unbeaten at home a draw seems likely. The only thing that gives Arsenal the edge in recent historic terms is the goals scored, but again here if one takes into account the different number of games played that vanishes.
Chelsea were on a nine-match unbeaten run in all competitions before they suddenly lost 4-1 away to Brighton. Arsenal can’t beat that having just won two games (without conceding) since the defeat to PSV away.
The other comparator we can now use is the Last Six Matches table. Here we can see that the margins are greater but that could be accounted for by the extra away game Chelsea have played – their home record is obviously good. Here’s the table.
But as we saw recently the number of top seven teams that each club has played thus far is incredibly varied. In the article on the big seven mini-league we published on 1 November that table made up of matches between the traditional big six plus Newcastle now reads…
In this case as noted before we really do have to consider points per game as the difference the number of games against other members of this minileague is so large.
Chelsea’s two games have been a 2-2 draw at home to Tottenham and a 1-1 draw at home to Manchester United. Arsenal lost to Manchester United 3-1 at Old Trafford, beat Tottenham 3-1 at home and Liverpool 3-2 away. This suggests that Arsenal are indeed edging it over Chelsea of late.
However there really is a huge warning sign above this game, and it comes with the analysis we use before each match of tackles, fouls and yellow cards.
Chelsea are 7th in the league for the number of tackles (Arsenal are 18th). But Chelsea are 16th for the number of fouls they get awarded against them while Arsenal are 13th. Yet Chelsea have picked up four more yellow cards than Arsenal – and that seems strange given they have played a game fewer.
However in terms of fouls per game against each of these two teams (Arsenal and Chelsea) the results are virtually the same – Chelsea are fouled 11.2 times a game and Arsenal 11 times a game.
This is one of those sets of figures that on the face of it doesn’t seem to make any sense, so we’ll look at it in more detail in the next piece, along with the history of this particular referee – Mr Michael Oliver. The one hint I can give is that this is very unlikely to be a draw.