- The 48 players reported as coming to Arsenal and the player noted 40 times in the media
- How spending a fortune on transfers is not always a good idea.
By Tony Attwood
The mood in the match last night moved from despair in the crowd and “told you so” in the journalist’s seats, to utter joy in the crowd and “the big test is to come” in the media centre..
And for once there is a certain accuracy among the thoughts of those debating what the next attack on Arsenal will be – the future fixture list.
- 31 December Brighton and Hove Albion away (7th in the league),
- 3 January Newcastle United home (2nd in the league)
- 9 January Oxford United away FA Cup (15th in League One)
- 15 January Tottenham away (4th in the Premier League)
- 22 January Manchester United home (5th in the Premier League)
So far we have played four out of the 15 games played against the rest of the big seven, losing to Manchester United and beating Tottenham, Liverpool and Chelsea. Across the season we play 14 out of 38 – which is to say 37% of our games are against other Big Seven clubs. But thus far only 27% of our games have been against other big seven clubs so we do have some catching up to do. We have indeed had a below average difficulty season thus far.
After the Manchester United game we would have played 19 games with seven against the other big seven teams it will be 37% of our games against other big seven clubs – exactly the average it will be at the end of the season. So by 22 January that excuse of not having played the top clubs will be over.
To try and get a handle on what those games will be like we can do worse than take a look at the current form of Newcastle United, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United. And we’ll include Brighton, as they are our next opposition.
|8||Brighton & Hove||6||3||1||2||12||9||3||10|
Of course all games against other members of the elite group of clubs can be troublesome, but based on current form the only club that is really going to worry Arsenal is Newcastle United.
Newcastle, in their last six games have outscored Arsenal, and achieved six straight wins. The only weakness they have is in their away form where they have “only” won half their eight games, drawing three and losing one. And in celebrating last night’s victory we should also be wary of the fact that across the last six games West Ham whom we beat last night are bottom of the league.
In fact, Newcastle’s level of form is not just a six game thing because if we look at the league table across the last ten games once again we see Newcastle top.
So of the forthcoming games it is indeed the match against Newcastle that is going to be the biggest test for Arsenal, and the only moment of light relief these tables offer is that at the moment Tottenham are currently doing worse than Leicester. It seems they have found their level.
This century Tottenham have had 16 managerial changes, five of them involving bringing in a temporary manager. But Newcastle have outdone even Tottenham with 18 managerial changes this century – and at last, it seems to good effect.
The other worrying point about Newcastle is that their league fixtures in the coming weeks are a lot easier than Arsenal’s: Leeds, Leicester, Fulham and Crystal Palace.
Of course, Newcastle are seven points behind Arsenal and have played a game more. Consecutive defeats for Arsenal to Newcastle, Tottenham and Manchester United while Newcastle also won their other easier forthcoming games would give the media much to crow about, claiming that their tales of the lightness of our squad have now all come to pass.
On the other hand if Arsenal were just to manage a win, a draw and one defeat in those games that would still leave Arsenal top of the league even if Newcastle won all three of their games.
But to give perspective, the longest winning streak in the Premier League is 18 consecutive games. Manchester City in 2017/18 and Liverpool in 2019/20. Newcastle have just won their last six.
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