by Bulldog Drummond
“Thick and fast” is the platitude of the day, when talking about fixtures, and how quickly they come one after the other. But it does seem that we have only just started to get over the rather fine defeat of Brighton and Hove than we have to play Newcastle.
The reason of course was the world cup, and we had better get used to this sort of thing, because with the media refusing to criticise Fifa in any meaningful way, the mega-bosses know they can now get away with anything. I mean, if you can persuade football to stop mid-season and play in the middle of the Arabian deserts, what is ever going to stop you. A world cup every three years is already being mooted as Fifa aims to wrest Uefa’s remaining powers away from it.
So Newcastle it is, at home in the league, tomorrow. The battle of the top two in terms on form. And yes I know we ran this in the last article, but it is the key statistic ahead of this game for it is impossible to imagine two teams more closely matched in recent games. Here is the league table based on the last six matches…
So if we can’t distinguish the two sides based on recent games what about their home and away form…
|Newcastle United away||8||4||3||1||15||6||9||15||1.88|
If we were to take all these results as indicators then that would give us a 3-1 win for Arsenal.
But of course, I know that in predicting the Brighton match we got the score wrong, although the result right. We foresaw a low-scoring game; what we got was just the reverse.
Here the final column (points per game) suggests that Arsenal are doing almost twice as well as Newcastle away. But if we were just to look at the most recent games we would see that in the last five away games Newcastle have improved considerably, winning four and drawing one.
Further, if we look at Newcastle’s record of matches away from home we can see how they have picked up as the season has progressed with four wins and a draw in the last five games on the road.
Three of the games have been against the larger clubs in the league: a defeat against Liverpool, a goalless draw with Manchester United and a win against a rapidly failing Tottenham.
|13 Aug 2022||Brighton and Hove Albion v Newcastle United||D||0-0|
|28 Aug 2022||Wolverhampton Wanderers v Newcastle United||D||1-1|
|31 Aug 2022||Liverpool v Newcastle United||L||2-1|
|01 Oct 2022||Fulham v Newcastle United||W||1-4|
|16 Oct 2022||Manchester United v Newcastle United||D||0-0|
|23 Oct 2022||Tottenham Hotspur v Newcastle United||W||1-2|
|06 Nov 2022||Southampton v Newcastle United||W||1-4|
|26 Dec 2022||Leicester City v Newcastle United||W||0-3|
Thus Newcastle might be good but they are not zooming above the bigger sides in the league on the road.
So yes, if we were to take the whole season’s results, it looks a sure-fire Arsenal win, but against the bigger clubs Newcastle are not that far ahead.
Arsenal have played other clubs in the Big Seven four times through the season (two at home, two away) and got three wins. Newcastle have played five such games, two at home, three away. They have won two, drawn two and lost one. The total goal tally is seven goals to six in favour of Newcastle.
For Arsenal in their four matches against the top clubs the cumulative score is eight goals to Arsenal, six for the opposition.
Putting all this together everything has the makings of a draw or just maybe a one goal margin in Arsenal’s favour.
Certainly, if Arsenal were to lose the media would immediately turn their attention to Newcastle as the new force in the land. But we should realise that even if Newcastle win, which of course I hope doesn’t come to pass, Arsenal would still be six points above them, with a game in hand, and more than likely a significantly better goal difference.
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- Everton v Arsenal: extraordinary figures seen in the last 6 games table