by Admir Pajiæ
Arsenal are top of the table and have been since early days. It’s interesting to note Arsenal have finished top of the table at the end of August, September and October respectively. And indeed they will have finished top of the table at the end of November plus, if they win either of their two games after World Cup, December as well.
Whether it’s number of points (37 after 14 games), goals conceded (just 11), clean sheets (7), away wins (6 out of 8), goals scored (33) or games in which we have scored at least one goal (14 out of 14) – there is plenty positive stats out there.
However, there is another thing Arsenal have been really good at that I haven’t seen reports about.
Arsenal rarely lose because, basically, we almost never fall behind!
Arsenal have scored in every league game so far. In 12 of those 14, Arsenal scored the opener.
The only two games in which Arsenal conceded first goal of the game were the ones against Fulham at home (Mitrović 56′) and Manchester United (Antony 35′). As you can notice, neither goal was conceded in the opening half an hour nor in the last quarter of hour because we simply don’t concede in those periods of game. That’s one whole half of the game during which opponents can’t put the ball behind Aaron Ramsdale.
As we all know, we completed our come-back against Fulham. Our Captain Norway (I just made it up – maybe it will catch on!) scored the equalizer just eight minutes after Mitrović’s goal and Gabriel made it 2-1 in the last minutes of the game.
Against Man U, Bukayo Saka equalized at the hour mark – 25 minutes after Antony’s goal but Man U restored the lead in 66th minute through Marcus Rashford. Rashford put the game in bed in 75th minute. So there was 25 minutes (I don’t include injury time of either half) between Antony’s goal and Saka’s equalizer and 24 minutes between Rashford’s first goal and 90th minute. That means we were trailing for 49 minutes against Man U.
And that’s it. No team in the league has taken the lead outside these two games. That means we have been behind for just 57 minutes of league football.
I made a few comparisons with Man City (as they have been closest to us on the table), Newcastle United (as their only defeat came deep into the injury time at Anfield) and The Invincibles (their first 14 league games).
Man City have trailed for…
25 minutes against Newcastle at St James Park – between Callum Wilson’s goal to make it 2-1 in 39th minute to Bernardo Silva’s equalizer to make it 3-3 in 64th;
58 minutes against Crystal Palace – between John Stones’ own goal in 4th minute and Erling Haaland’s equalizer in 62nd;
14 minutes against Liverpool – between Mohamed Salah’s winning goal and 90th minute;
29 minutes against Brentford – between Ivan Toney’s opener in 16th minute and Phil Foden’s equalizer in 45th (I didn’t count the injury time during which Toney scored the winning goal for the visitors and could have had another one).
When we sum it all up, it’s 126 minutes of football. They were more time behind against Crystal Palace at home than we have been in 14 games combined.
Newcastle United are the only team – aside from Arsenal – that have lost just one game this season and it’s no wonder they are among the best in this category. They have trailed for
23 minutes against Man City at home – between Ilkay Gündogan’s opener in 5th minute and Sergio Almiron’s equalizer in 28th;
52 minutes against Wolves at Molineux – between Ruben Neves’ opener in 38th minute and Allain Saint Maximin’s equalizer in 90th;
five minutes against Bournemouth at home – between Phillip Billing’s opener in 62nd and Alexander Isak’s equalizer in 67th.
That gives us just 80 minutes of being behind.
Arsenal 2003-04 had trailed for…
38 minutes against Man City at Maine Road – between Lauren’s own goal in 10th minute and Sylvain Wiltord’s equalizer in 48th;
14 minutes against Portsmouth at Highbury – between Teddy Sheringham’s opener in 26th minute and Thierry Henry’s equalizer in 40th;
17 minutes against Liverpool at Anfield – between Harry Kewell’s opener in 14th minute and Sammi Hyypia’s own goal in 31st;
11 minutes against Charlton at The Valley – between Paolo Di Canio’s opener in 28th and Henry’s equalizer in 39th;
64 minutes against Spurs at Highbury – between Darren Anderton’s opener in 5th minute and Robert Pires’ equalizer in 69th.
That gives us 144 minutes of being behind and almost a half of that was in NLD.
As we all know, nobody could keep the lead against us in 2003-04 until the end – we would eventually come from behind and at least snatch a draw, if not win the game. After all, we trailed at the break in our very last game of the season against Leicester and turned things around in the second half. But even the greatest Arsenal team ever spent more time behind in a single game – NLD at home nonetheless! – than Arsenal 2022-23 in 14 games combined!
This season, Arsenal are yet to complete an hour of being behind in the league.
We have also seen Arsenal scoring goals immediately after our opponents equalized or narrowed our lead. Granit Xhaka’s goal against Leicester (at 2-1) as well as Gabriel Martinelli’s goals against Leicester (at 3-2) and Aston Villa (at 1-1) came quickly enough to kill the opponents’ momentum. That means we don’t allow conceded goals – no matter how rare they happen this season – to have a side effect on our game. We simply push again and knock on the door until they open.
One of the rare exceptions is our game against Southampton but I don’t think (actually, I hope) we will see that sort of refereeing ever again. The referee Robert Jones was doing his best (or worst) to keep us away from scoring a second goal of the game. Jesus hadn’t had such poor treatment from the officials since 33 A.D. as Lyanco and Duje Ćaleta-Car were allowed to use every single wrestling move to stop him.
Which leads us to the inevitable question, something that we have to ask ourselves knowing what referees have been doing to Arsenal in 2007-08, 2013-14 or 2015-16 when we were getting too close to win the league:
Will PGMOL allow us to win it?
Arteta’s revolution: the transformation of Arsenal
- How Arteta built the new Arsenal and took us to the top of the league Part 1.
- Arteta’s revolution: How the media missed Arsenal’s change after Xmas Day 2020. Part 2
- How Arteta revolutionised Arsenal: Part 3 – the summer of 2021
- How Arteta became Arsenal’s most successful manager Ever: Part 4 – From 2021 onward
- Are Arsenal really making progress, or are we starting to slip back?
- Luton 3 Arsenal 4: maybe it is time to say positive things
- Luton v Arsenal – the referee, the team, Saka and Cliff Bastin
- Luton Town – how do they play the game. The tackles, fouls and cards.
- Luton Town v Arsenal: Grim football, fewest goals, lowest possession rate