Have Arsenal progressed at all this season?

Something about this website has been bugging me for a while. It’s a very welcome home for Arsenal-oriented debate, and the regulars here are great, all bringing something different to our little party. And the format is excellent, with contributions coming from that group of regulars, meaning one voice doesn’t dominate.

So what’s been bugging me then?

It’s that “Points total” table over on the right-hand side, just below the bit about “Our day will come again” (which it will). I like the fact that the table is there, it provides a little bit of information not routinely available elsewhere. But when I’ve glanced at it this season, more often than not we’ve had fewer points than at the same stage last season. That doesn’t exactly suggest progress, does it?

I’ve been reassuring myself that this is a strange season, that all the title contenders have failed to achieve consistency, that they’re all misfiring, so no need to worry that we appear not to be doing quite as well in crude terms of the number of points bagged. But is that right? I decided to run some figures (yup, I really am that sad), comparing the standings of each of the top five with their position at the same point (in terms of games played) last season. Here are the results:

Man United
Now: 51 points from 23 games
Last year: 50 points

Arsenal
Now: 46 points from 23 games
Last year: 49 points

Man City
Now: 45 points from 24 games
Last year: 44 points

Chelsea
Now: 41 points from 23 games
Last year: 54 points

Spurs
Now: 38 points from 23 games
Last year: 41 points

The stand-out fact from these figures is the collapse in Chelsea’s form; a 13-point fall in one season is appalling in anyone’s books, let alone for the self-styled would-be world beaters. They had a run of 11 games in which they collected just 10 points, a run that has all but destroyed their title hopes.

Beyond that, a few other things emerge: the two Manchester clubs are pretty much where they were last season, being just one point up each. United’s unbeaten run needs to be judged in that context – at this point last year, they had already lost five games, so turning that into zero looks very impressive. But they’ve become draw maniacs; a one-point improvement on last season sounds a lot less impressive than the media’s much loved undefeated United, especially bearing in mind that United have had their easiest fixtures in the first half of the season and have tough games stacked up in March and April. They are annoyingly but rightly renowned for being strong in the second half of the season. The test will be whether a side built on Ferdinand and Vidic can reach those heights this year.

City could still end up winning the league, but so far their one-point improvement on last year looks a pretty pathetic return on the Abu Dhabi United Group’s enormous, gross investment. They’ll argue they’re a work in progress, but the question has to be asked: where’s the improvement?

And then there are the North London clubs. (Spurs are still North London club, aren’t they?) Both are three points down on this stage last season. That may not sound like much but it’s a significant difference, one neither side can be proud of. For Spurs, there’s no surprise, they’re having to cope with juggling CL and EPL football for the first time, and as Harry has said this week, it was a miracle they finished fourth last season, so a decline for the contenders’ weakest side shouldn’t shock anyone.

But what about us? We’re all feeling buoyant after the dominant performance against Wigan (shame we didn’t cash in on the goals though) and getting to the League Cup Final. We’ve not conceded a league goal for four games, Nasri, van Persie and Fabregas are on fire, and we are looking to have overcome blips in the domestic cups with a rejuvenated and relatively injury-free squad, so it all feels good. And so it should. But the fact is we are three points down on the same point last season, and before the Wigan game, that difference was five points. Just as United’s season is often marked by an improvement at this stage, so our performance often falls away in the home straight. Last season, United won 12 of their last 16 games, dropping just 8 points along the way. By comparison, we dropped 21 points in our last 16 games, completely losing pace with Chelsea and United as a result.

I’m often accused of being over-optimistic about Arsenal, and of showing excessive faith in Wenger. But on this occasion, with our side in danger of realising its potential, I want to add a note of caution. We really need the players to concentrate from here on. No more two-goal leads thrown away (or one-goal leads come to that), no more defeats extracted from the jaws of victory, no more dropping points against the lesser sides, no more home defeats, we had enough of that in 2010, on both sides of the summer break. With Chelsea collapsing, United retreating into their shell, City stymied by internal division and change and Spurs dealing with their biggest challenge to date, this season could have been much easier for us than it has been; it wouldn’t have taken much for us to have accumulated much more than 46 points to date, just more focus and concentration. But the failures of the first half of the season mean we’re now under much more pressure than we needed to have been, and we need to respond positively to that pressure.

I remain an optimist, I believe we’ll be fighting United toe-to-toe until the end of the season (making our home game against them massive). My comments might be read as being negative or pessimistic; in fact, I make these points because I consider our squad to be the best in terms of talent, bar none, in English football. I (like Wenger and all other Gooners) just want them to go out and show it, not in flashes but in sustained runs of victories. The frustration is we haved ceded control of this season to the weakest United side in years when we could have dominated.

We still have what it takes to prevail over all four of our rivals, and even to give the best side in the world, Barca, a run for their money in the CL. We just need the players to take each and every game seriously.

Written by 26may1989

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117 Responses to Have Arsenal progressed at all this season?

  1. Red Arse says:

    Wow! A read that grips the attention from the start.

    A lot of time, thought and diligence have gone into that 26, and your love of our club shines thru. It’s excellent! :-)

  2. Big Raddy says:

    26 Fine read. I think 80 points will win the title this season, and we are on target.

    We went on a 6 game winning run from Feb last season and I fear we will struggle to repeat it, if we can we will win the title as our run-in is fairly comfortable

  3. Rasp says:

    Morning,

    Very interesting read 26may. Maybe stats can lie but your analysis tells the truth. I have said before, the most important game from now on is the next one (barring minnows in the FA cup), and for that reason I am still unhappy about dropping 2 points against Wigan away – but let’s not go back to that.

    I hope we don’t get to the end of the season and say things like – if only the ref had given that penalty to Blackool, we would have beaten manu. The only thing we can do is try to win ‘the next game’ and hope that karma finally catches up with manu.

  4. tommystout says:

    a fab read 26m ithink this leagues ours for the taking this year, your stats and the widgets just highlight how competetive this league has become, anybody can literally take points off anybody. The difference this time around though and why we always suffer in the final third of the season is “injuries”, this season touch wood we are reletively injury free. But we need a little luck on our side that this remains the case. Arsene won’t panic buy we know this.
    Earlier on in the season i feel that the manager was getting to grips with the right people for the right combinations LJW Fab & Song is a winning formula but it took time to see this. I can’t see Manu being “invincibles2″ they are not a patch on our former side, they will drop points later on and have a tougher run in.
    I’m happy, have a nice day!

  5. Red Arse says:

    Just got back from reading the late comments on yesterday’s AA, as is my wont.
    The link suggested by Kelsey to the site showing the Kipling poem “If” with great pics is terrific.

    Coming 2 or 3 days after I copied it into AA for discussion is flattering, and the fact that others apparently read our site and use our musings is very welcome. (And very well done). :-)

    I am expecting someone to develop our discussions on quantum physics soon as well. With pictures and set to music, please! :-)

  6. Wonderman says:

    A great thought provoking post 26 which is the reason I read this blog. My view is whilst your numbers are correct they are also relative . If we win our next two games we will be 3 points better off than at the same point last season. As Tommystout has already said , I believe we are in a stronger position this season because we have a better injury situation at the moment and long may it continue. I believe if we take EVERY game seriously and take the points we will not be stopped

  7. Red Arse says:

    26,

    Did you put the data on a spreadsheet? If so, it would be interesting to graph it by taking out the unexpected variables.

    These “unexpecteds” occur every season so by removing them it would give a “cleaner” comparison between the clubs and the seasons. Just an idle thought.

    On the other hand, I suspect you only meant to use this data to express the points underlying your argument, which, of course, you have done very effectively. Perhaps we can discuss the ramifications later. :-)

  8. Big Raddy says:

    That was a super post on Gunnerblog inspired by RA’s use of Kipling’s poem.

    I would recommend John Cale’s 4′ 33″ as the soundtrack to the quantum physics post.

  9. zinedine cygan says:

    Good read but what you don’t mention is that we have had a tough first half of the season. We have played all the top teams away from home other than spurs (if u can call them a top team!), and played chelski and city twice. With many teams improving this year it was always going to be tougher than last year

  10. Big Raddy says:

    Wonderman. Good point about the two games coming up.

  11. Gooner in Exile says:

    Quality post 26 and good to get our expectations reigned in a little.

    I like you am one of the more optimistic fans, and in recent seasons that has probably been false optimism, and somewhere in the back of my mind there has been doubt. Last season I think our points tally was false we were struggling too much against lesser sides.

    Also we lost Cesc, RvP, Gallas and Ramsey at a key stage of the season, we were relying on AA as a centre forward.

    For the first half of this season I honestly think there was not a great deal of performance improvement, but the Chelsea game for me was our turning point, suddenly the monkey was off the back. Rather than struggling to beat Bham and WHam away, and Wigan at home we played them off the park comfortably, no last minute winners/equalisers needed.

    With Koz and JD giving us a more secure defence, and Song and Wilshere pairing dominating other midfields I am confident that the side going into the second half of the season is twice as strong as the side that played out last season.

    1 or 2 injuries we will cope with, 3 or 4 and it’ll be tough.

    And my biggest reason for being excited, the team are having fun playing football, last time I saw so many smiles on pitch and in post match interviews was in the Henry/Pires/Denis/Freddie/Viera era.

    Wenger has built us a squad one that could dominate for 5 years

  12. Rasp says:

    Raddy @ 9:53 – “80 points will win the title”, that’s 34 points out of a possible 45 …. seems achievable

  13. tommystout says:

    Hey Exile
    good point about the smiles…… lets see some more teeth boys.

  14. Wonderman says:

    Thanks BR, I just feel that every season has a pattern. Stay in touch up to christmas, get a good points haul over christmas then put long runs together from January to April/May. But it is all relative to our competitors. For instance Chelsea won the league recently by being on top of the big four mini league results, whereas Man U dd the same the year before by being at the bottom of the big four mini league. We have a great chance this season and in my opinion there are two main reasons.

    1. We have seen the emergence of a ‘preferred 11′ who deliver consistently

    2. Our Squad has matured to the point that we now have internationals on our bench who cant get a start. These guys are not only putting pressure on the ‘preferred 11′ but will also be under pressure to deliver when they get their chance ( exception being Denilson)

    Lets hope everyone stays healthy

  15. 26may1989 says:

    Morning all, thanks for the kind comments on my mini rant. A couple of responses:

    Raddy – 80 points sounds about right to me. Re the players’ mental strength, the players will need to avoid racking up five defeats after Christmas again, as they did last year. They can do it, but they now need to.

    Wonderman – “I believe if we take EVERY game seriously and take the points we will not be stopped”. Agreed 100%!

    RA – It is, as you guess, on a spreadsheet (GN5 stylee) but I’m not too good with graphs. As for unexpected variables, where would we start?! That’s a whole evening of debate on its own!

    Zinedine Cygan (love that moniker) – You’re absolutely right, I haven’t really compared like with like, since the randomness of the fixture list isn’t reflected. As you (and Wenger) point out, we’ve already played our tougher games, Spurs away and United at home being the obvious big challenges that remain. But I also think we should remember that we need to play Stoke twice, they could have a big bearing on our season.

  16. iwasthere says:

    Interesting, as everyone says, but not the whole story. What you’ve done is taken a photo snap shot of games at a particular point in time. Perhaps another way to look at this is comparing results against opponents from season to season.
    On that basis our comparison is far better – despite the obvious downsides of the home defeats this season to promoted WBA, & Newcastle (not to mention Spuds).

    At home, overall we are currently -6 pts on like for like opponents (where Burnley = Blackpool, Hull = Newcastle and Portsmouth = WBA). Away from home we’ve actually come away with more points from no fewer than 7 of 12 games, equal in 4 and only down in one (being the opening game of the season at Liverpool). Net points gain away from home is 12 points.
    So net net we are 6 points better off.

    Hope that puts more optimism back in your armoury :-)

    I’ve not compared other’s records but don’t really care. We most certainly have improved.

  17. 26may1989 says:

    Exile, “And my biggest reason for being excited, the team are having fun playing football, last time I saw so many smiles on pitch and in post match interviews was in the Henry/Pires/Denis/Freddie/Viera era. Wenger has built us a squad one that could dominate for 5 years” – top comment.

    Comparing numbers is fine as far as it goes, but we all know what we’re seeing on the pitch at the moment, and it looks very exciting. A genuine and balanced team is emerging, combining the considerable talents of a fine group of players. And having got rid of difficult elements like Gallas and Adebayor helps too.

  18. Gary says:

    Pointless post. As someone else has mentioned look at our fixture list for the rest of the season compared to manure and chelsea. Somehow it also seems to me that this season the referees influence in favour of manure has been greater than in previous years. Just get behind the team 100%. When the fans are stressed out they have a negative influence on the team. To question whether the team has progressed is stupid.

  19. Chris says:

    Should not concentrate on the stats to much, united have gone backwards (minus the Rooney goal threat), Chavs have gone backwards (squad culled, Drog diseased, injury crisis, combined with old farther time). At the same time the mid-table teams have significantly improved (look at the squad additions to the likes of Sunderland, Stoke, etc) spuds have strengthened, city have strengthened, personally i would not say that we have regressed, but in 70% of the games this season it has become more difficult to get 3 points. If you want to talk about stats, what about the points difference separating 17th from 8th in the league.

  20. Geoff Strong says:

    I have been doing a similar analysis for a few seasons now, but I compare results to the equivalent fixtures of the previous season (replacing the relegated clubs with those promoted). For example we lost at home to Chelsea lat year and won this, gaining 3 points.This analysis shows the performance for the top 5 as follows :-

    Arsenal +6 poits
    Man U -6
    Chelsea -9
    Man City +1
    Spurs -4

    If the results for the rest of the season are the same as the equivalent fixtures for the last season we win the league with 81 points !!

    Man U however lost 5 of their remaining fixtures last year.

  21. 26may1989 says:

    Interesting way of cutting it iwasthere, I may just have to think about that approach!

    I stick by what I said though, the first half of the season saw us display a damaging lack of concentration. I don’t really think we’ve made no progress this season, I just think we’ve made it all much harder than it needed to be, meaning we’re going into the home straight five points behind a team we could easily be ahead of. The point of the points (!) is to underline how much work we’ve left ourselves to do, and as things stand, with United showing that they are buckling down to getting away wins any way they can, we are in a situation where we have to beat them in what will be a high pressure game near the end of the season.

  22. Gooner in Exile says:

    Gary it’d not a pointless post, and it is not negative, it’s a question to stimulate debate, hence why you’re here posting your view.

  23. Rasp says:

    Gary, the post isn’t pointless but your condemnation of it certainly is. Read the other ‘intelligent responses’ to the topic. Everyone who writes on here is 100% behind the team, that is never in question.

  24. Wonderman says:

    Hi Gary, No post on this forum is ‘pointless’. The post has stimulated debate from various perspectives and more importantly was based on facts. Why do you think refs have been more favourable to Man U this season than previous ones ?

  25. 26may1989 says:

    Cheers Gary, always good to have positive feedback…! When you have a minute, do have another read of what I wrote, you might catch the gist second time around.

  26. Rohan says:

    That’s a much better statistic to use Geoff Strong. Clearly shows considerable improvement. Good one.

  27. 26may1989 says:

    Geoff Strong, that sounds like the comparison iwasthere had in mind, so thanks for that, it obviously provides useful information.

    But any comparison has its limitations, and what that sort of comparison misses is the psychology of the run-in. It is United’s forte and it has become our weakness, 2008 and 2010 being the obvious examples when we were in the mix at the turn of the year only for our form to collapse at the critical stage. Last year, our run-in was the weakest of all five contenders, and it is that that now needs to be improved.

  28. mickydidit89 says:

    I have a fairly serious complaint to make about the running of this site, and it concerns BigRaddy. I take a very dim view of old Franz “BR” Klammer buggering off skiing yet again. Where’s the sodding commitment. Three bloody pre-matches with some replacement smart arse with his/her fancy 4-3-3 formations. Not good I tell you. Not good at all. I am a little too upset (or even busy!) to comment or even read the post just now, but will be back later. Can’t wait to read.

  29. iwasthere says:

    Well done Geoff Strong (I was there to see him play too :-); your analysis of the other teams highlights waht I expected but didn’t have time to prove.
    Interesting to see how much a change of manager and millions of oil money has produced (improvement of 1 point!!)

    All I will say is that we are in the mix; no doubt about it!

  30. Anon says:

    Interesting note on arshavin, apparently he has 14 assists which is 3 more than vandervaart, Bale and Modric combined. Is it fair to say his “dip” has been blown out of proportion?

  31. Rasp says:

    I think we can view this season as a microcosm of what has gone on in the last 5 years. We have had to be patient and suffer some setbacks in the knowledge and expectation that it will all pay off in the end.

    Most of the difficult games are now behind us. Having endured the injuries to Djourou, RvP, Theo, Cesc, Diaby etc we now have a settled team, a keeper who inspires confidence and we are playing with flair and freedom but also resilience. As many have said before, if we can avoid injuries to key players, and if manure’s extraordinary luck runs out, we are in with a very good chance to win the Prem.

    There was a point when we were nil nil to Ipswich at half time when I thought I might take going out of the CC if manu were to drop 3 points to Blackpool – that would have made them only 2 points ahead with them yet to come to the Emirates. They need to feel the pressure of our challenge.

  32. Geoff Strong says:

    26th May 1989, I agree it’s only stats because the timing of the fixtures is crucial, makes for interesting reading and discussion though.

    I have the analysis on spreadsheet (sad I know) so if you or anybody wants a copy let me know.

  33. Rasp says:

    Hi Anon,

    Arshavin’s diagonal run and reverse pass for Cesc’s goal was superb. You can see how hard he is working and share his frustration when a shot does not produce a goal. He has been giving the ball away cheaply with little flicks that don’t come off but luckily it is seldom in a danger area that puts the defence under immediate pressure. The assists stat alone suggest his worth to the team and if a few more of his attempts are translated into goals, even his detractors will have to think again. Some morons in the crowd are getting on his back at the moment and that obviously helps no-one but the opposition.

  34. 26may1989 says:

    Thanks Geoff S, I would be interested in having a copy of your spreadsheet. I guess (and I’m taking liberties a bit here) you could mail a copy to Rasp and Peaches on arsenalnuts@live.co.uk and they can forward it on to me. (Peaches/Rasp, tell me if that’s not on!)

  35. Rasp says:

    Geoff,

    Thanks, I’d love a copy of the spreadsheet if you’d care to email it to the address in ‘Contact Us’. Would you have any objection to us reproducing it as a graphic on the site?

    Today’s debate is just the first of many that will grow in intensity as the season draws to an end and we are in with a chance of the title. The stats will become all important and projected outcomes the main focus of debate.

  36. Rasp says:

    You beat me to it 26m …..

  37. 26may1989 says:

    Anon’s point re Arshavin further underlines the need to take stats with a pinch of salt in football – yes, AA has those assists against his name, but as he himself has been saying, he’s not in good form and is suffering something of a crisis of confidence. I will never, never support idiots who get on the backs of players during games, but despite his assists, we can all see that AA is struggling. Hopefully he will rediscover his mojo soon, he’s a man with an epic talent for doing the unexpected.

  38. 26may1989 says:

    Cheers Rasp!

  39. Leptuski says:

    I had a dream and saw Arsenal at the Wembley 3ce in the ongoing season (Carling, FA, UEFA). I woke up to realize the 1st is true and rival fans thereafter told me to 4get the other two cups. Anyhow, I am keeping fingers crossed on the EPL as this should shut them all up!!
    Go for it Gunners!

  40. Red Arse says:

    26,

    From the interesting responses your fine Post has elicited, I think it has achieved the purpose all good Posts are intended to do.

    I thought your use of the data was to underline the points you were making regarding our progress, rather than being a mathematical exercise and hopefully that point will register. :-)

    Rasp, I read an article from our little Meerkat, and in it he expresses his worries about his lack of pace, physical ability and concern that things are just not working for him.

    He graciously admitted that Nasri and Theo deserved their places in the team ahead of him, as he realised he had fallen back into the “2nd string” places.

    What I particularly liked was his determination to work with the coaches to improve his speed from rest and carry on working until his form came back.

    He is probably over-thinking the “shall I pass?”; “shall I dribble?”; “shall I shoot?”, such that instead of it being instinctive it becomes laboured and predictable.

    With his attitude it will come good. Just wait and see!! :-)

  41. Geoff Strong says:

    26May 1989, Will do, feel free to use it.

  42. Wonderman says:

    Hi Rasp @11:16 ‘Most of the difficult games are now behind us’.
    In my opinon if the players take that stance we will win nothing. In the tightest league for years every team we play are playing for something, be it Europe, the title or relegation avoidance. It was probably because we thought that Wigan at home was ‘not difficult’was the reason we lost. That is why I love the attitude of Sagna, Wilshere, Nasri, Van P, Cesc, Kosser and Song, they take no prisoners

  43. Red Arse says:

    Rasp,

    With my penchant for playing with figures I might regret this, but when you receive Geoff’s spreadsheet can you email me a copy too please.

    Thanks Geoff. :-) (accountants cannot resist spreadsheets!)

  44. Rasp says:

    I agree Wonderman, I was just seeking to strike a balance to the argument before someone else pointed it out to me. My first comment today … “the most important game from now on is the next one” stll stands.

  45. Carlito11 says:

    Following so many of our players on Twitter, the main thing that struck me from their comments after the Ipswich game was that they were happy to be going to Wembley, and happy for the fans (who had obviously been tweeting their gratitude to the players) but they all tempered their messages with comments like “lots of important games to win before that” or “but the next game is more important just now”. At the time it felt like an icey shower on my enthusiasm but I now think that they have their heads straight for the months ahead and it bodes well :-)

  46. Carlito11 says:

    Top post 26thMay- I always appreciate your stats and approach. You have two things in abundance that I lack- A keen memory for detail and the diligence to collect and analyze statistics yourself. *doffs hat*

  47. Rasp says:

    Wonderman, in response to your @ 11:42. I have a great idea and title for an article along the lines of your comment – I just need to find someone who wants to write it …. do you fancy volunteering?

  48. Rasp says:

    RA, yes can do …..

  49. Arse4Eva says:

    We havnt progressed coz we still have that idiot Wenger who couldn’t win a coin toss. He has wasted our money on a stupid stadium with no atmosphere and kept us from achieving the trophies we deserve. Anybody with a years FM experience could do a better job than him (I have won hundreds of European Cups, how many has he won?). I despair at the state of our club. We need to get back to the glory days of The Invincibles and that’s impossible with that clown in charge.

  50. mickydidit89 says:

    May26,
    Great post. You are so right about the concentration aspect of our game. Our points tally is comparatively lower not because we have been outplayed but puerly down to focus. We all know the games I am talking about.
    .
    Geoff Strong,
    Absolutely brilliant and very relevant way of looking at things.
    .
    BR,
    For this comment, I apologise for earlier: “I would recommend John Cale’s 4′ 33″ as the soundtrack to the quantum physics post”. Go Klammering with head held high!

  51. mickydidit89 says:

    Arse4eva,
    Patience my friend. Nearly there now. Seek comfort in the four years Barca endured before World Domination.

  52. Carlito11 says:

    Ok- I’ll take the bait A4E! Anyone who despairs at the state of this club is like a Russian millionaire claiming he has to pay too much tax! No sense of perspective at all!

  53. Carlito11 says:

    All Russians pay 13% Income tax flat rate btw!

  54. Red Arse says:

    Arse4E

    We are not slavish followers of Arsene Wenger on this site. Most of us admire him both as a man and a manager, but it is also OK to doubt what he is doing.

    But using insulting terms to describe him is just not acceptable. So please don’t.

  55. Wonderman says:

    @Rasp why not ….how does it work ?

  56. Rasp says:

    Thanks Wonderman,

    We can correspond via email, and once I’ve got your address we can guide you through the process. We are interested in your thoughts and opinions and will only change obvious unmissed errors and add pictures if you approve.

    arsenalnuts@aol.com

  57. 26may1989 says:

    Wonderman, Rasp has lured you in! Well done in advance!

    Carlito and micky, kind words, much appreciated!

    A shame Brum won last night – crap club that we kept afloat with loans and first-refusal sales for a few years, that then destroyed one of our players and revelled in the fact. Plus the small detail that they’re a bit better than the Whammers! Still, as Rasp said yesterday, inflicting a bit of cup final pain on them (crossed fingers) might be good fun….

  58. Gooner in Exile says:

    To be fair to Arse4Eva his post demonstrates that his name is truly apt, AW an idiot? Do me a favour.

  59. Rasp says:

    GiE,

    We leave comments like that on the site because we want to demonstrate that we don’t moderate on the grounds of opinion. A4E will have been left in no doubt by the responses from you and others that his views are not in keeping with the majority.

    These ‘blog snipers’ rarely offer a reasoned argument to substantiate their claims. Ghostface is one who did and we published an article by him subsequently to give others the opportunity to respond.

    Some folks are worriers and cannot help themselves from focusing on the negatives. The defining line is drawn when they are more interested in proving their opinions correct (which they never will!) rather than what is best for Arsenal.

  60. RockyLives says:

    Super read 26may and an excellent debate that you’ve started.
    The stats are interesting – but it definitely feels like a different league this season – much less clear cut. How United have managed to maintain an unbeaten record is beyond me.
    I think the intangibles are important for us, like the way everything feels, whether the players are smiling, whether we’re playing with panache, whether the team is gelling.
    With that in mind I’m feeling cautiously positive. In the second half of last year (before the end of season collapse) we kept finding ourselves a long way off the pace, then hauling ourselves back into it with a run of good results. I think we did this twice before it all went wrong. However, on those runs where we got ourselves back into the title race, I seem to remember us winning through grit and determination rather than through playing sumptuous football.
    This year however, since the Chelsea game, I feel we have, on the whole, been playing better football than we did at any time last year. We have a clear first eleven which, when it plays together, has great balance, flow and thrust*.
    One caveat (as others have mentioned today): we really could do without the usual bad luck with serious injuries…

    *copyright mickydidit89

  61. Rasp says:

    Hi Rocky,

    I agree, I felt that the pivotal point of this season was that emphatic victory over Chelsea. Not only because we won, but because we won as a team; playing our football, with an exceptional work rate and matching them in physical presence.

  62. RockyLives says:

    Btw with only 4 days left of the transfer window, my marzipan hat is starting to look appealing…

  63. RockyLives says:

    Rasp
    You’re right – something clicked during and after that game.
    I really feel if we can keep the key players fit for most of the second half of the season everything’s possible.

  64. 26may1989 says:

    Rocky and Rasp, all agreed. Last year, it often looked like whatever we achieved was down to Cesc, but this year it’s very different. The first choice team that has emerged (even without Vermaelen) is potent, balanced, stable and happy. It’s backed up with options that we might criticise, but if our rivals had squad/back-up players of the quality of Chamakh, Gibbs, Bendtner, Diaby, Denilson, Arshavin, Eboue and Szczesny, they would be ecstatic.

    And yes, that Chelsea performance was very important for us, at more than one level. We know we can do it this season, all of us (players, coaching staff and fans) need to contribute to achieving it.

  65. Carlito11 says:

    On the subject of man u remaining unbeaten I heard them described as “the Unconvicables” the other day, which aside from it’s obvious lack of agreement with the OED definition, seemed apt somehow.

  66. Hi all

    Thank you 26may for todays post, I love posts with stats in :) I’m pretty certain that we would have felt that the team had progressed last season if we hadn’t had the injuries to Cesc, Vermaelen and Gallas late on, we were on target to a bigger points haul until the last 7 games where we only took 8 points!!!!!

    While I don’t underestimate the importance of the A team staying fit, I do feel that if we were unlucky enough to be struck with injuries the squad are stronger and now seem to have the ‘belief’ and a ‘winning mentality’.

  67. Carlito11 says:

    Peaches- are you going on Sunday? With it being such an early kick off I would happily hang around for a beer afterwards…

  68. Hi Carlito – that sounds like a great plan, yes I am going to the game, I’ll text you. If anyone else wants to hook up with us for a drink after the game email me or leave a msg on the blog.

  69. mickydidit89 says:

    Thinking of the transfer window inching closed, I was wondering about the fitness of Squil. If he is close, and AW genuinely believes Verm. will be back by end of feb.(massive “if” in my book) I am wondering things like how long it would take for a new CB to gel into any of the partnerships. I am thinking that I cannot have my cake and eat it (to say nothing of Rockys’ hat). What I mean is, that earlier in the season I harped on about how Adams and Keown/Bould were not individually world class players, but they developed into a world class partnership. We now have JD and Kos developing a real understanding, and to a degree, both Squil and Verm are familiar with it.
    I would still go for an all rounder. Like Toulalan or Vertonghen. A player who can double up as either a CB or a DM.

  70. 26may1989 says:

    Micky, it is looking increasingly like we won’t be signing anyone this window – and the strange thing for me personally is that, despite being very much of a mind at the end of Dec that we needed to bring in a CB, I don’t feel too panicked by it all now that it looks liek we won’t. I guess that’s what five clean sheets in a month does for you. As you say, the partnership of Kos and Djourou is looking good, JD perhaps having overcome his dip in form. And Squillaci is now back in the squad for Sunday.

    Wenger sounded pretty confident last time he spoke re Vermaelen, saying that he is already training and that the projected six weeks included conditioning, meaning (if the prediction proves well founded) TV could come back in immediately.

    All supposition of course, lots of “ifs” and “buts”. But as you say, signings aren’t a route to instant success, esp at the back. Wenger’s calculation always has to be to look at the short and long term, and if he were to sign a Cahill or a Samba now, he would very soon have four very good CBs plus one back-up (Squil), and that might create more problems than it solves.

    If we do sign someone in the defensive areas, I’d like it to be a CB who can double up as a RB – as others have observed, the Right Reverend Eboue’s flakiness is a bit of a weakness.

    I’d still quite like Wenger to sign Chamberlain though – with Rosicky and Arshavin perhaps tailing off over the next year or so, and with Vela and perhaps Bendtner moving on, the process of renewing the attacking line behind the first choice players is important. Wellington and Miyaichi might be part of that but it can’t stop there.

  71. ryandanielwood says:

    “There was a point when we were nil nil to Ipswich at half time when I thought I might take going out of the CC if manu were to drop 3 points to Blackpool – that would have made them only 2 points ahead with them yet to come to the Emirates. They need to feel the pressure of our challenge.” – Rasp

    Right there with you Rasp on that point. I was pretty miserable, and a little irate, at about 52 mins. I hadn’t heard that Blackpool were 2-0 up until Berbatarts goal came up. In a second I thought, “If it remains like this I’ll take it.”
    Then I became pessimistic and thought, “Ryan you know full well, that they’ll end up winning it now you’ve seen.” I ruddy jinxed it!

    So I was now up in arms, and I ended up having a fit when Bendy about 5 minutes later washed it all away.

    BTW, If anyone is interested in hearing my thoughts about Birmingham in the CC final I’d be happy to write a post for next week. Basically want to mention that as much as I prefer playing out that Upton Park massacre from a couple of weeks ago, I’m glad we have the opportunity to make Mcleish’s blood boil, on national TV!

  72. Red Arse says:

    26,

    Might thoughts exactly. I think AW was right to worry about the impact of another CB if they all were fit. Fingers crossed.

    With Oxo, I think we would have got him except for that b*st*rd Purple Nose doubling the stakes. The kid wants to join us, his club wants Manure’s money.

    Hill Wooden Top in his pompous way has said we will not be drawn into a bidding war with Manu, (shades of the Smalling tfr) and we would not spend money we don’t have, and if we did have it we would not spend is either.

    Strange man!

  73. rdw – we would love to have your thoughts on Birmingham in the cup final, please write away at your leisure and send it through to arsenalnuts@live.co.uk Thanks :)

  74. Red Arse says:

    26,

    A local Huddersfield paper has said FA rules forbid loaned youth players playing in the FA Cup against their parent club.

    Disappointing for Benik Afobe, but perhaps for the best!

  75. Geoff Strong says:

    26May, I agree, would love a ‘rangy’ right back to cover for Sagna, with the height to help out against the likes of Stoke etc. I believe Vrsajlko, the young Dynamo Zaghreb player we are linked with is under six foot.

  76. rdw – also, completely agree with your feelings about the manks being 2-0 up on Tuesday night. I was at the game and all the people around me that were getting updates had wide grins on their faces.

    But we were always going to score though and when the second went in you knew there would be more – felt like proper Arsenal :lol:

  77. goonermichael says:

    Hi Everyone
    Intersting post and a great comment by Geoff strong. I’m far too lazy to get those facts myself. The blog that had if on it left me sobbing after about 8 lines. It was my dad’s favourite poem and we read it at his funeral. I think the pictures that were put to it worked well.

  78. Big Raddy says:

    Micky. Thank you for both comments and for perhaps being the only person to get the John Cale idea – It is a little obtuse! But then so is quantum physics.

    Very interesting stats came out of today’s post. Well done 26May.

    But wouldn’t we have more away points because we have played more away games? I have no idea as stats are one of my weak points.

  79. Big Raddy says:

    A Good Evening form CPH, GM.

  80. goonermichael says:

    Hi Raddy
    I went to the game on Tuesday, my first this season. Enjoyed it immensely.

  81. London says:

    It’s a bit too quiet on the Arsenal transfer front, hhmmmmm.

  82. goonermichael says:

    We’re not buying anyone London

  83. London says:

    I can’t stop watching Niki B’s goal…..very, very classy, Bergkampesque really.

    GM

    I would not bet against you.

  84. goonermichael says:

    I’ve stayed up late hoping for the last few windows so I don’t expect anything anymore. Squillaci is back on Saturday so that’s our lot. I couldn’t care less about Chamberlain

  85. Harry says:

    Great article 26May, I dont tend to look at points totals throughout varying stages in a season, as it isn’t directly proportional in relation to the difficulties of the opponent faced.

    I would be more inclined to favour looking at points difference against specific opponents.
    Every season when we were either 1st or 2nd in vying with United for the title, apart from the one season that when they were 18points clear of us (99-00), nearly every other season the results between us were cruical. I think it was Geoff who showed the points variation between the top four only, this is a good indicator. And it really helps we have played both Chelsea games, whereas United haven’t, with Chelsea improving, I think they can get points off United.

    Squad Wise I think we are definitely in a better position than last year, the squad is stronger and more mature, dare I say?

    Injury wise we are defintely better off, GIA, we also had tommyV out last year for a couple of games, he went off injured at the spuds…..And also song, we were truly decimated at one stage as we threw away too many points from winning positions.

    I think also the fact we are more solid in the goalkeeper position now, helps, I certainly feel more confident with our young keepers who are putting in more polish-ed!! performances……..

    For the fear of repeating myself I still feel we are one player short, last year, we were probably 2 or 3 players short….Hopefully Ramsey is back in 4 weeks and then we will have a complete squad for me, although an addition now would be a welcome boost…..

    Anyway, it is definitely time for one match at a time mentality………..

  86. RockyLives says:

    We’ll definitely bring in a CB either as a buy-in or on loan!!!

    (Well, I have to stick to my guns, having written a post some weeks ago saying we will definitely buy in January. Oo-er… not feeling quite so confident now, and may be forced to eat my hat).

    If we don’t buy a CB I have a horrible feeling that something bad will happen to JD in early Feb; Verm’s recovery will be delayed again and our brilliant challenge this year will hit the buffers… Am I just being a nervous Nellie? Or a Pessimistic Percy?

  87. London says:

    MG

    I understand your scepticism over buying yet another youthful prospect but if we ever want the next Messi at Arsenal that is the only way we will ever do it. So keep them coming I say.

  88. RockyLives says:

    Harry
    Agree with all that.
    I would rather we gambled by bringing someone in (and worrying later about what we do with them next year) than that we gambled on everyone staying fit.

  89. RockyLives says:

    London
    I want the next Messi AND an experienced CB (on loan, maybe).
    Just greedy, I suppose.

  90. goonermichael says:

    There is a limit to how many we need though London

  91. London says:

    Hi Rocky

    It is surely all about Vermealen and we just don’t know what is going on there, if he is out for the season then I expect a loan deal, if that doesn’t happen then the message must be that he is expected back sooner rather than later which is, I am sure you would agree, the prefered situation.

  92. goonermichael says:

    To unearth a messi I think you need them younger.

  93. RockyLives says:

    That’s what worries me London. Wenger will believe (based on what the medics are telling him) that Verm is going to be back sooner rather than later, so he doesn’t buy/loan anyone.
    Then Verm comes back and breaks down again, as happens so often when people have been out with a long-term injury.

  94. London says:

    GM

    It might seem as though I am making light of the signing by using Messi as an example but it is not intentional. The next Messi may be spotted at the age of eleven or he may develop in the same way as TH14 did and lets not forget that he was as good as Messi.

  95. London says:

    I, like you, would prefer the security of a back up CB but if Wenger believes that Vermealen is on the mend then believe it he must.

  96. London says:

    GM

    Thinking about your point, I am not sure if I agree that there is a need for a limit, why should there be one? It seems to me that the larger the number of highly talented protégés on the books, the higher the standard we will have coming through to the first team.

  97. 26may1989 says:

    @RA at 6.06pm: I saw that news re Afobe not being allowed to play on Sunday after all. I had no idea that there were special rules re youth players’ loan arrangements as distinct from regular loans. Seems a bit of a strange difference but perhaps there’s some logic in it somewhere. And you get to avoid an Arsenal player appearing against us!

    Interesting comments re Chamberlain. I don’t really understand how someone can be written off before we’ve even signed him or seen him play, very odd reaction. We signed Fabregas when he was 16, that seems to have turned out quite well. Why not Chamberlain?

  98. London says:

    Exactly

    And good post by the way 26m.

  99. Big Raddy says:

    I thought

    Afobe was the new Michael Owen
    Luke Freeman was the next Messi,
    Aaron Ramsey is the next Steven Gerrard,
    Wellington is the next Rivaldo
    Miyachi the new Ronaldo.
    Miquel the new Puyol,
    Theo the new Overmars,
    Wilshere the new Gazza
    Nasri the new Zidane
    Gibbs the new Cole
    Bartley the new TA
    Frimpong the new Flamini
    Szczeny the new Schmeichel

    but Cesc is so good and so special he is just Cesc :-)

  100. Big Raddy says:

    And the more young prospects we sign the less the other Prem clubs sign, which in turn attracts the best talent to Arsenal which can only be a good thing

    though after a bottle of Amarone, it all looks good

  101. London says:

    Sounds good to me.

  102. London says:

    I haven’t seen the interview with Hill-Wood but from what I can gather he has said that Arsenal won’t get in to a bidding war over Chamberlain, the young man has to want to come to us, all of which makes a great deal of sense to me. That being the case, I don’t understand why Hill-Wood came in for so much criticism in some quarters?

  103. Harry says:

    Roxky, bang on mate, surely with the luck with have with injuries Wenger can see the sense in bringing in one…….But even though he read your article, he has probably changed his mind……

    Remember last season, he banged on about a striker, then just as the window was near closure, Nik got fit and bang no signing……..Toto is fit along with Diaby, it must feel like two new signings….

    I love AW and am fully behind him, but I always get frustrated with his I will / wont sign anyone and when he states he doesnt need a new CB as Song can cover, who is Songs cover?

    As I said with Ramsey back I will be slightly happier, but we are always one injury from a crisis….

    And I just managed to source tickets to Barca!!! whoop whoop!!! Get in u beauty!!!

  104. London says:

    Harry

    For the home leg or the away?

  105. London says:

    It is very true to say that we are one injury away from a crisis but I think what we often forget is that so is every other team, I know that doesn’t make it alright but we are not alone.

    If Wenger choses not to buy in this window I expect to hear some very positive news on Vermaelen.

  106. London says:

    Vermaelen has just completed a marathon.

    Vermaelen has gained his sky diving instructors badge.

    Vermealen just climbed Everest.

    I want proof.

  107. London says:

    See ya.

  108. 26may1989 says:

    Raddy, that “X is the new Y” really gets on my tits, just lazy journo nonsense. But I bloody hope Frimpong is more than the new Flamini – half a season of decent performances does not a legend make.

  109. Gooner in Exile says:

    Wilshere the new Gazza??? Apparently he is tee total so hopefully not. ;)

  110. Carlito11 says:

    Amarone- aah! Now there’s a drop! BR you don’t compare rvp to anyone either- shurely he’s in the same boat or catalraman. Rocky if we get to end of month with no changes can we just have a hat-eating clip instead of a post that day?

  111. Carlito11 says:

    Hill wood got criticised cos we lost out on that young centre back from fulham for 10mil who has played so few games I can’t even remember his name! Bolox to the big spending on potential no marks when all the greats coming through our ranks were on no-one’s radar. Talent is ok but talent Wenger is a completely different story and hill wood knows it. The added value is all ours

  112. Carlito11 says:

    Talent plus wenger! Oops

  113. RockyLives says:

    Carlito
    Hat-eating pic – you’re on. :)

  114. Big Raddy says:

    London 10.24

    Couldn’t agree more. If the kid has a brain he will come to THOF and not be sold to the highest bidder, though I have no idea if a young player can choose if S’ton want to sell to the highest bidder.

    Does anyone know? Let’s say we bid €5 and MU bid €8, S*ton obviously take MU’s bid. Can the player refuse to move to MU and insist he takes the move he wants?

  115. Carlito11 says:

    Didn’t manure outbid us with Rambo? Not sure how it works either but if wenger rates him highly enough I don’t think he’ll be outbid- Walcott is a case in point

  116. Morning all

    There’s a New Post

  117. Steppa.Sound says:

    26,

    Could you please post the Spreadsheet on your blog or email to me please? I am intrigued by the fact that Arsenal (according to the pundits) have a “crappy, unreliable defense”, yet we have only conceded 1 more goal than the “Twin Towers” of Man Ure.

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