The question for football and for Arsenal: Is this a crisis of merely a blip?



by Tony Attwood

In the Telegraph today Matt Law, Football News Correspondent of the newspaper, who had been sitting in one of the privileged journalist seats at what is ludicrously called “The London Stadium” writes, “There comes a point when football supporters do not care about what is reasonable, or whether or not these things happen, or if they even themselves out, or whatever. They just want to see their manager let rip.”

If ever there was a 21st-century version of what Ben Elton in “Upstart Crow” would call “a load of bollingbrooks” that was it.   First, supporters want to see their team win.  Second, they want to see the opposition humiliated.   Third, they want to see glorious free-flowing football.   In that order.  What they want last of all is for a journalist sitting in the privileged seats and being paid to do so to tell them what they want.

And I guess what most of us want now is for Arsenal to win the league.  Ideally with several games to go, but however it happens, to win the league is what it is about.   So let’s see if we will.  Here’s today’s top-of-the-table.



Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Arsenal 21 16 3 2 46 18 28 51
2 Manchester City 21 14 3 4 53 21 32 45


Last season, 2021/22, it was at this point


Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Manchester City 21 17 2 2 53 13 40 53
2 Chelsea 21 12 7 2 45 16 29 43


…but the table ended up looking rather different, largely because Liverpool went from 2 January to the end of the season without losing a league game.


Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Manchester City 38 29 6 3 99 26 73 93
2 Liverpool 38 28 8 2 94 26 68 92



Going back one more to 2020/21, the top two were out of phase with the number of games played.


Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Manchester City 21 14 5 2 39 13 26 47
2 Manchester United 22 13 5 4 46 27 19 44


And when it ended


Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Manchester City 38 27 5 6 83 32 51 86
2 Manchester United 38 21 11 6 73 44 29 74


So what we can see from these two previous seasons is that a gap of 10 points after 21 games became a gap of one point at the end.  Two years ago, a gap of three points, ended up as a gap of 12 points.

Just one more – 2020/21


Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Liverpool 21 20 1 0 50 14 36 61
2 Leicester City 22 14 3 5 47 21 26 45


… and at the end, the gap of 16 points became a gap of 18 points, although to a different team.


Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Liverpool 38 32 3 3 85 33 52 99
2 Manchester City 38 26 3 9 102 35 67 81


So what do we learn?   Over the last three years the team that has been at the top after 21 games has been at the top at the end of the season.  Which is slightly reassuring, even though the gap is currently only six points.

No need to panic yet.  Perhaps it is time to have a laugh instead.

And it is not as if there is no jolly news around.  According to the Telegraph and a number of other newspapers, “South African lawmakers have pledged to block a proposed £42.5 million sponsorship deal between Tottenham Hotspur and the country’s official tourism board.”   Which is not good news for Tottenham who have still not been able to find a sponsorship deal for their stadium, upon which their financial forecasts for this year and the next fifteen years were based.

The newspaper continues, “Leaked details of a planned three-year partnership sparked public outrage in a nation currently impacted by power blackouts and water shortages and the parliament’s tourism committee are adamant that the idea must be halted.”

All the details come from leaks so a certain amount of caution is required but what is most certainly true is that there is outrage in South Africa – a country utterly beset by power cuts and water shortages.   Indeed even the Tourism Committee in the South African parliament has said that the idea is utter garbage.

“This deal, it ends here, today, now, because there is everything wrong about the deal itself,” said the committee chairperson Thandi Mahambehlala, and yes from our perspective on the other side of the world that looks a fair summing up.

The plan was to include such goodies as kit branding, what is known as “backdrop branding” where the promotion is seen behind the player or manager being interviewed, and of course giving the top people in South Africa access to tickets, although those are becoming less valuable by the day.

Here’s the top of the league table with points per game shown for this season, and the end of recent seasons…


Season Team P W D L F A GD PPG
2022/23 Arsenal 21 16 3 2 46 18 28 2.43
2021/22 Manchester City 38 29 6 3 99 26 73 2.45
2020/21 Manchester City 38 27 5 6 83 32 51 2.26
2019/20 Liverpool 38 32 3 3 85 33 52 2.61
2018/19 Manchester City 38 32 2 4 95 23 72 2.58


Arsenal’s points per game as things stand would be enough to win the league in 2020/21 but not enough in the other three years shown.   That suggests the current blip cannot be allowed to continue any longer.

9 Replies to “The question for football and for Arsenal: Is this a crisis of merely a blip?”

  1. So is it a blip, and should we be worried? I don’t think so. At least not yet anyway.

    And from what I see in general I’m not alone in that and it’s nice to see people staying mainly positive, and so they should.

    Look, I know it’s disappointing only drawing at home to Brentford, especially after our defeat at Everton, but I think we have every reason to do just that, and remain positive. Again, as so often is the case, it’s all about keeping things in perspective.

    Everton was just one of those games. New manager. Team all fired up. Too many of our players didn’t play at their best. It happens.

    Today, okay we gave away a couple too many chances, especially in the first half, but Brentford are a decent team on very good form yet at the end of he day we still had:

    69% possession to 31%

    23 shots to 9

    7 OT to 2 OT

    118 dangerous attacks to 42.

    And yet again VAR gave us nothing. We deserved to win today. Okay we didn’t, but neither are any of our rivals winning, near or far

    These are the the top 10 teams results last time out:

    1st Arsenal DREW home to Brentford currently 8th
    2nd Man city LOST away to Spurs currently 5th
    3rd Man Utd DREW home with Leeds currently 17th
    4th Newcastle DREW away to Bournemouth currently 19th
    5th Tottenham LOST away to Leicester currently 13th
    6th Brighton DREW away to Palace currently 12th
    7th Fulham WON home to Notts Forest currently 14th
    8th Brentford DREW away to Arsenal currently 1st
    9th Chelsea DREW away to West ham currently 16th
    10th Liverpool LOST away to Wolves currently 15th


    Only one of the top 10 (it’s the top 12 actually but that’s here nor there) won last time out. That’s remarkable. Yet there will almost certainly still be a lot of disproportionately negative press towards us again. I say disproportionate because despite everything we are still top, as we were on the 1st of January.

    This is how standings compare between January the 1st and today: I AM ASSUMING WE WIN OUR GAME IN HAND AGAINST CITY, which I think is fair. If you think otherwise that’s up to you, but as I say, this is looking at things in a positive light as opposed to the rampant, over the top, negative light taken by the anti Arsenal media. Even without that positive view things are nothing like as bad as some may have you believe:

    Arsenal: Jan 1st P16 43pts – Today P21 51pts

    So how has everyone else performed compared to Arsenal since New Years Day:

    Man C: Were -7pts played same. Now -9 pts played same = 2 worse off.
    Man U: Were -11pts played same. Now -11pts played same = Same.
    Newc: Were -9pts played 1 more. Now -13pts played same = 4 points worse off.
    Spurs: Were -13pts played same. Now -15pts played 1 more = at least 2 points worse off, could be as much as 5 points worse off.

    In all honesty they are the only teams that count and out of all of those not one has gained any ground on us. Even if we lose to Man City, n body except perhaps City themselves, will of made any significant ground on us. Not what we want but hardly the disaster it will surely be painted as.

    Beyond those this is how a couple of ‘insignificant others’ compare:

    Chelsea Were -19 with a game in hand. Now -23.
    Liverpool were -15 played the same. Now – 22 with a game in hand.

    Absolutely of no consequence but even they have LOST ground.

    We are still 6 points clear of Man City in 2nd place having played the same amount of matches. 8 points ahead of 3rd placed Man Utd with a game in hand. 10 ahead of Newcastle with a game in hand and most enjoyably 12 ahead of Spurs with 2 games in hand.

    So, even if it is a blip, we are hardly alone in the ‘having a blip’ stakes are we? But of course when it comes to Arsenal there’s no such thing as a blip, it has to be a full blown disaster.

    This is a tough old league and we were never just going to keep rolling teams over.

    Note: I do make mistakes, hopefully none are too big, so please, if I have just point them out. Being ‘exact’ is hardly the point anyway, it is just to show that, despite our little ‘blip’, we are still in a magnificent position, and we shouldn’t let anyone else tell us otherwise. Thanks

  2. Looking around today it seems Lee Mason ‘forgot’ to put the VAR lines down for the second offside shout in the build up to Brentfords goal, and had he done so it would of been ruled out for offside.

    That it is not just a subjective error. That is not even the incorrect implementation of technology. It is gross neglect. Some, less magnanimous than me, may suggest it was deliberate cheating.

    Mason should be sacked, immediately. That is not an ‘understandable’ error. There is no excuse for that level of incompetence.

    That is beyond a joke and could cost Arsenal Millions of pounds.

  3. “Howard Webb is now in charge of the PGMOL. One of the first things he should do is dismiss permanent VAR operator Lee Mason.
    This weekend Mason lets another referee down by not disallowing the Brentford goal for offside. These are decisions that VAR should get right “- Keith Hackett ex head of PGMOL – on twitter

    “Mason was stood down from VAR duties for a round of Premier League fixtures in September after his error saw Newcastle have a goal disallowed against Crystal Palace – he will discover if he faces a similar fate when the official appointments for next weekend’s games are announced on Tuesday afternoon”. Adam Lacey – on

    Mason is from Greater Manchester (BOLTON) !!!!!

    Need any more be said? PGMOL? Corruption? incompetence? Premier League? It goes on and on.

  4. @Nitram,

    the interesting thing is that this thing about Mason comes out now, officially, that PGMOL contacted Arsenal to say that it was a human error, that they did the same with Brighton. even the press in Europe talks about it. Human error…. just wait till he screw up again and incompetence will become a recuring theme,

    They are going to have to change their act quickly…. the cat is out of the bag

  5. When I saw the goal “live” I immediatly thought that the assisting player from Brentford was coming back from an offside position. When I saw a replay I was sure he came back. But the VAR didn’t check that…. unbelievable…. well not so unbelievable of course as it is the PGMO and Lee Mason…. 2 costly points that could cost us at the end of the season….

  6. What I find unbelievable is the fact that it is not just the VAR ref at Stokely Park doing the checks it is a team of three. So are we supposed to believe that all three of them forgot to draw the lines and do the proper checks required.
    If so it’s a whole team of idiots all suffering from memory loss, not just Mason. Incredible!
    Still Webb will get to the bottom of it I am sure and keep us all updated once he has established the facts.

  7. VAR farce shows that EPL isn’t too far away from WWE, where everything is scripted from before. They don’t want Arsenal to run away with the league, and such “mistake” will make Wednesday’s game a lot more exciting with higher viewership/revenue.

  8. A Manchester-based VAR tilting the pitch against Arsenal during a game refereed by the PGMOL draw-meister? What are the odds of that happening?

    A free-kick that should have been given the other way (Toney had both arms wrapped around Saliba), followed by two players being offside, both of them influencing play. Gabriel was “blocked” but the player blocking was not within playing distance of the ball, so that is an indirect free-kick regardless of whether he was offside (it turns out that he was). The player crossing the ball for Toney was also offside. What are the odds of that happening?

    The offside relating to the blocking player was reviewed by VAR, and ruled onside. What are the odds of that happening.

    The offside relating to the player crossing the ball appears not to have been reviewed. What are the odds of that happening?

    Lee Mason must be at fault for most of these incorrect decisions, but what was the AVAR doing during this fiasco? Had he gone out to get coffee?

    What were the linesmen doing during this period? Were they ordered to stay out of it?

    So many coincidences, and the odds against all of them occurring together during one passage of play must be immense, and yet we are expected to believe that VAR made an error. I don’t think so.

    This can not be simple incompetence. There are too many factors involved here. PGMOL is not fit for purpose. is it systemic, institutionalised incompetence, or something far more sinister?

    This has been going on for far too long. The Premier League, the FA, and PGMOL cannot be allowed to continue unchecked.

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