We are 60% of the way through a campaign that not so long ago was dubbed Arsenal’s worst start to a Premier League season.
After 23 games in 2013/14 we had briefly dropped to 2nd in the table having occupied top spot for 12 weeks. We returned to the top the following game for a further 5 weeks before slowly sliding down the table to finish 4th …… oh really Sherlock I can hear you say (or words to that effect)
But would it surprise you to know that in terms of an exact comparison to last year i.e. the same fixture against the same team home or away, we are actually only 1 point worse off – and yet currently occupy 5th place.
The tables and graphics you see down the right hand side of your screen give a range of statistics that compare our performance to last season. I have added 2 extra columns to the ‘Comparison of fixtures’ widget to show how many points we have gained or dropped in the equivalent fixture this season.
From this you can see that we are 2 points worse off in our home games and 1 point better off in the away fixtures, making a net deficit of just 1 point …. not exactly a disaster.
Moreover, we currently have the strongest squad for a decade and contrary to last season, we have players returning from injury and very decent cover in all positions.
FGG made this observation after the Villa game …….. “5-0 and we still have this team who didn’t start today”…….
Debuchy Chambers Paulista Gibbs
Campbell The Ox Wilshere Sanchez
Fair enough this includes some currently injured and one on loan, but I could see that side finishing in the top half of the table – when could we last say that about Arsenal’s so called second string?
After 23 games this season we have 42 points – that’s the same points total as Southampton in 4th, and just 1 behind them on goal difference. We are 1 point behind Utd who are 2 behind us on goal difference. That means that if we win next weekend and Utd and Southampton lose or draw, we go 3rd.
The side is returning to full strength and our form is improving every game. We have improved the squad with the addition of Sanchez, Welbeck and Gabriel Paulista, and also seen a marked progression in Bellerin and Coquelin, both of whom I expect to feature regularly for the rest of the season.
It would not be unreasonable to expect us to gain at least as many points in the remaining fixtures this season as last. That would add 36 to our total of 42 giving 78 points, which would comfortably get us in the top 4, probably 3rd with even 2nd still a possibility if City fall away.
So it’s all to play for now for the rest of the season. Not only do we have the strongest squad for a long time but one where there is very little to choose from in terms of quality between the 1st and 2nd choices in most positions.
Competition for places is a good thing. We have the strength in depth to allow for squad rotation without fear of significantly weakening the team as our victory over Villa showed. There are no prima donnas in the dressing room, morale is high and the belief is returning.
We’ve had a relaxed of transfer window. We’ve secured the important early signing of Paulista with no need for further additions. We’re nicely set up for a strong push to the end to the season with the possibility of retaining the FA Cup and progressing to the QF of the Champion’s League ….. after that, who knows?
Strap yourselves in and enjoy the ride, you may well be pleasantly surprised by the end of this ‘disastrous’ season.