Well here’s a funny thing.
Who remembers how the Arsenal world was feeling just before Christmas?
While Santa was loading his sleigh with goodies and little children everywhere were excitedly hanging up their stockings, Gooners were weeping into their mince pies.
An appalling run of results and form had seen us plummet faster than Harry Kane when he gets in the opponents’ penalty area.
The word “relegation” was being bandied about and there was a sense of foreboding in the air. And it wasn’t just Santa Claus who was contemplating a sack. Speculation was rife that Mikel Arteta would soon be looking for employment elsewhere.
Now, just a month later, everything looks different and no fact sums that up more acutely than this one: right now we are just four points behind Liverpool, the reigning Premier League champions and last year’s all-conquering heroes.
Admittedly we are four point behind having played one game more, so we could be seven points in their wake, but I make the point to show what a strange game football is and, in particular, how unpredictable this season is in the EPL.
This week’s results are another case in point: table-topping Manchester United lose at home to bottom placed Sheffield United; highly fancied Aston Villa vanquished by Burnely; top four challengers including Leicester, Everton and Chelsea all dropping points.
Teams are going on great runs for five or six games then, for inscrutable reasons, suddenly seeing their form go down the toilet (Chelsea are a perfect example).
This augurs both well and ominously for Arsenal. We had our terrible run. Right now we’re on an excellent run, but is it reasonable to expect us to keep it up?
There will probably be bumps in the road and for we fans it will be important to maintain perspective. We’ll need to remember the old Rudyard Kipling line about treating triumph and failure as equal impostors.
But the volatility of the Premier League this season also offers a real chance of redemption for us. If we can maintain a degree of consistency (and we have the players to do so) then we have a chance of gradually creeping up the table while others stutter.
Normally at this stage of the season and with this many points we would already be ruling out a top four finish for the boys in red and white, but this year of all years… I’m not so sure.
Keep the faith Gooners.
Thanks for a great post Rocky!
I think the next 3 games are going to be a good test for us:
Man Utd, Wolves, Villa
If we can muster 9 points there, we will at least be in a position to compete for Top 6
I do not know how you do it, but your Posts capture interesting and apposite themes, and makes me feel the need to express an opinion of my own as a result.
The problem for me is that in my mind, my views sound so hackneyed that I can not be assed to depress the key board, as I will bore the great and the good on here, and they will become depressed too. 😁
This may be spurious and totally fanciful thinking……but in years gone by, being too at Christmas was a good thing, but not as half as important as how you managed the fixture congestion in January and February and we’re able to continue a run. City have been on a similar run which has seen them usurp all above them.
Fergies latter successful teams were always good at this, as were Arsene’s early teams when we had a competitive advantage of diet/conditioning. What has impressed me is the pace and energy levels on display be our squad, like Saka for arguments sake who seems to be getting stronger as the season goes on rather than tiring.
I wonder how much effort was put in in terms of conditioning training as much as ball work.
As often heard in our youth it’s a funny old game, when we beat United it was Ole for the sack, weeks later they were top we were languishing and it was Mikel’s time in the spotlight, then Fat Frank copped it. Now scrutiny is on Klopp would you believe having delivered CL and PL in recent seasons.
Right now I’ll take 6th and a decent run in the PL, but continue this form and I’ll start aiming higher. As always it’s the hope that kills us.
@GIE looking back I think it was performance enhancing drugs.
‘as were Arsene’s early teams when we had a competitive advantage of diet/conditioning’
GiE – gotta feel bad for Lamps to be honest but then again, he is a Chav legend so…not feeling too bad 😛
The league is a bit distorted with so many teams with games in hand like Everton, Aston Villan and Tottenham for example.
I agree that dealing with our fixtures until end of February will give us a really good sense of what we can ambition to achieve this year with the following games:
– United, Wolves, Villa, Leeds, Man City and Leicester
A) I d say get at least 14 or 15 points and we are in business;
B) I d say get less than 12 points and we are not in business
for a top 4 or top 6 finish.
Excellent post Rocky. I personally am not looking up the table at the various points gaps to other teams. I think I dont feel it would be useful in how I shape my hope’s for the season.
I said the other day that we took 2 from 21 points in a 7 game run which were mostly games we would expect to win, maybe Spurs aside. Thats not just an iffy run, that’s an awful run of games normally associated with the team that ends up 20th. Hard to expect that not to have an effect at seasons end.
However, I’m very much a spilt milk and no point crying type if the lessons were learned and used to move us on and make us stronger.
The alternative reality to the positive thought of being 4 behind the current champions is that if every team around us won their games in hand we would be 11th (joint 10th if you discount only being behind Chavs on GD), with a gap behind span of 5 up to 14 points.
That means there are 9 teams that could be between 5 and 14 points ahead of us and that includes a few good teams that you wouldn’t expect to have a lot of bad results around the 9-10 points ahead.
This is of course not entirely accurate because they can’t all maximise their points as many will be playing each other so points are dropped by one or the other or both. However it’s still a lot if teams to expect to drop form while we fire on all cylinders
I tend to think looking up at teams above us overly sensitises us all to each game and the desperation for 3 points every game. It’s not realistic to expect us not to lose or have a few more draws this season but they will feel like a disaster, rather than placed in greater perspective, because we will be more focused on who we haven’t closed the gap on.
My Hope’s are that we finish the season as one of the 4 strongest and then just see where that leaves us, as that bodes well moving into next season. There should be no attached expectation or goal in the league other than we look one of the strongest in the 2nd half of the season.
Our big goal should be the EL. I would put us in as 1 of the 5 favourites to win it so that is very achievable.
To be honest Rocky, by the end of tonight I think I’d actually prefer to be 3 points behind Spuds with them having only 1 game in hand even if it means we are then 7 behind Liverpool rather than 4.
Liverpool are a team forcus to concern ourselves with after this season. Spuds concern me all the bloody time.
A team for us…..not a team forcus
Nice to see the Spuds losing. We’re closing on on them
Why does Maureen always looked so shocked that his team have conceded, I mean if you send them out with one way of playing and invite the likes of Mane, Firminio and Saka to attack you all game you know you are going to concede eventually surely?
Maybe it’s the Spuds we can catch.
Lloris, Aurier, Dier and Rondon had a real schoking evening. Cheap goals conceded.
Imagine, if Spurs lose to Chelsea this week-end and we win vs Utd, we would be level on points. This is crazy.
That is a scary slip GIE
Haha LB, autocorrect Salah became Saka, let’s hope that never happens! We should just show him pictures of Ox on the bench.
The Baggies want Ainsley on loan for the rest of the season… big weekend coming up – last few days of the window left and the small (😜) matter of doing the double over a Norwegian PE teacher!! COYG
Was glad the spuds lost. All we had rammed down our throats was how good Bale would be upon his return.. still waiting 😂 Now with Kane injured, Son will have to dive even more!!
Maureen’s face was a classic… they really are boring to watch…. it was just a shame it was against Liverpool 😬 City’s to lose….
“Norwegian PE teacher”
That is so good, it has a delicious bitchyness to it.
It is very tempting to start dreaming of moving up the ladder and looking at other teams. I do it too. Yet I believe we need to focus on One Game at a time and ignore where we are in the table. This team is finding its best shape and strengths and that in itself is fun to witness. Let’s stay in this test tube status and become better and better, just focusing on ourselves through OGAAT. At the end of the season we will find out how good we have become and where we have ended up in the table.
Beautifully put, Sue.
How much would you charge to teach me how to write comments like that?