By Tony Attwood
Another wonderful win, and of course we are now once against five points clear. Games in hand held by Manchester United and Newcastle United won’t help them much, and the goal difference of +33 is way ahead of the clubs in lower positions, so the chance of any of the teams from third down catching up is tiny bordering on non-existent. We are 99% certain to come in first or second this season.
And I write that admitting that Untold firmly predicted third for this campaign. At least we didn’t say fifth or sixth as most of the media with their fantasy “supercomputers” did. (Although to be fair one imaginary supercomputer did get it right). But most journalists really have been shown to be living in the world of the fairies. Here’s the table…
And to make things even better Tottenham Hots lost. Plus Arsenal have scored nine goals in their last three games conceding three.
And there’s another thing to bring up which I know is going to sound horribly weird but it is a discussion that those who study the way things go in the world often consider: its the patterns of events not the individual results that tell us most.
If you are a regular reader you will know that I made much of the fact that after 14 games in 2020/21 Arsenal were 14th having won four, drawn two, lost eight. But then, if we created a league table out of the remaining 24 games, Arsenal were second. The question was “how did that happen?”, and the answer was Arsenal had been practising a totally new approach to defence to reduce the yellow card level of the season before, and after the 14th game finally got it right.
Indeed, my approach to analysing most things involves searching for patterns – which is different from the normal view, often propagated in the media and on other blogs, which reduce things to individual players and individual games.
And yet the patterns of Arsenal’s performances have been there for all to see. That pattern of 2020/21 (disastrous first third of the season, brilliant last two-thirds) was rarely if ever mentioned. But even there it wasn’ perfect for in February, Arsenal lost three league games in four.
For 2021/2 there were major readjustments in the team, with (as we can see now) players being brought in who could evolve into a new squad that would come to fruition in the future. And again we saw the waveform of everything going very well, but then suddenly Arsenal occasionally slumping.
Everyone focussed on the first three league games which Arsenal lost, but there was also a three league defeats in four run in November, and worse, four defeats in five league games in March / April. The season also ended with two defeats in the last three games. Four slumps in one season.
So the issue was never the occasional slip, but rather that the occasional defeat invariably became part of a bad run. (Indeed it is clear that Arteta focuses on that, as with his comment after yesteday’s game “We’re not going to stop”) And what is so different about this season is that instead of having three or four bad runs in a campaign we have had just one. The 3-1 defeat to Manchester United was followed not by two or three other defeats but by four straight wins.
In fact there has only been one bad run in the League:
|04 Feb 2023||Everton v Arsenal||L||1-0||Premier League|
|11 Feb 2023||Arsenal v Brentford||D||1-1||Premier League|
|15 Feb 2023||Arsenal v Manchester City||L||1-3||Premier League|
But that run has been stopped and been followed by three wins. Of course, in part we have been helped by the opposition being of lower calibre of late but when a run of draws and defeats comes along that isn’t normally the defining factor. It is either the absence of key players or the concern not making a mistake (following mistakes in earlier games) which stops the free-flowing approach that this side relishes. Thus after our three-match slump Arsenal have returned by scoring nine goals in three games and conceding just one.
The issue of Arsenal’s progress since Mikel Arteta took over has been to improve the psychology of the players so that the mindset is not only strong enough to win game after game, but is one in which the “no more silly mistakes” vision which can take over after a defeat, and replace it with “play your normal game”.
- Football journalists getting desperate in their attempt to hide the facts
- Liverpool and the Telegraph show the problem with the way football is reported and debated
- 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