- Chelsea and Liverpool could miss out on Europe next season. What does that mean?
- If they had any moral fibre they would immediately resign
By Tony Attwood
In fact it is a worryingly good news day for a club that is normally surrounded by bad news. Admittedly it is quite often invented bad news, but nonetheless it is bad news. And yet at the moment, everything looks rather bright.
Let’s start on the injury front. Arsenal are recorded by EPL Injury table as having two injuries: Gabriel Jesus and Mo Elneny. The former is very much on his way back, the latter is out for the season.
Only Manchester City have that low a number of injuries. Palace and Brentford have three each, and from there on the numbers escalate upwards to Nottingham Forest with 10. Brighton and Liverpool both have seven – which perhaps helps explain why Liverpool are not functioning that well at the moment.
Moving on to the second bit of jolly information, Bukayo Saka is close to signing a new contract at Arsenal with just a few bits and pieces to be sorted. And we may note that at the moment he is equal top scorer for Arsenal with nine. And with Trossard and Odegaard on eight (although Trossard scored six of those with Brighton) this looks a rather secure situation. Indeed it is amusing to recall the tales of forthcoming doom when Jesus was injured.
Gabriel Jesus’s injury will affect Arsenal’s title hopes, was one headline. Another, although rather more garbled came from Football.London saying “Arsenal handed Gabriel Jesus injury concern with ‘massive problem’ in top four race claim.” And the massive problem in the top four race turned out to be Arsenal 16 points above Newcastle in fifth.
However it is interesting to look at the points per game at the moment, what with the top teams having played anything from 22 to 25 games at the moment. Because the points per game table turns out to be exactly the same as the league table not taking into account the number of games each team has played. Here’s the top four…
And moving on we hear that Saka, is about to sign a new contract. Which is not only good news because he has played in every match this season, but also because he is the top scorer this season. OK he’s only got one third of the goals that Haaland has got, but when one looks at the top scorers in the league, Arsenal have four players between number 1 and number 11 (Saka, Martinelli, Odegaard and Trossard – although to be fair Trossard scored mosst of his for Brighton).
But the point is, no other club has four such players, and it is a great insurance against future injuries. (And to add to the feel-good factor, Arsenal are the only club with two players with six-plus assists in the league: Saka and Odegaard.
In fact to return to the young players’ contract issue, William Saliba is the only one of the kiddies yet to sign a new deal. And as is being widely recognised, having Saka, Martinelli and Saliba staying together can only make things better.
It is of course true that Manchester City are outshining Arsenal in terms of goals scored, but the key point here is the age of the Arsenal team. Until this last transfer window Arsenal had the youngest squad in the league, although it is reported that following the signing of Jorginho and Leandro Trossard Arsenal are now only the second youngest squad, having been undertaken by Southampton – who have an average age of their squad one month below that of Arsenal.
Leaving aside les anciennes such as Fulham and West Ham, the average ages of Arsenal’s main rivals are interesting… Tottenham have an average age of 27.6, Liverpool 27.4, Newcastle 27.3, Manchester City 27.2, Manchester United and Chelsea both 26.7 years. Arsenal are on 24.3 years.
So it is looking promising not just for now, but for the future. For the forthcoming league games are against Everton, Bournemouth, Fulham. Crystal Palace and Leeds United, which should make for an easier run compared to the January schedule which included consecutive games against Newcastle, Tottenham and Manchester United.
Things are looking rather promising.
- Arsenal has let in one more goal than at this stage last season, and that’s a disaster
- Arsenal continue to make more progress than the rest of the big seven
- Arsenal v Tottenham; the team and some rather jolly recent history
- We are running out of referees, and the reason is the PGMO.
- Arsenal v Tottenham: the key fact the media won’t to tell you – and why they won’t