I’m still intrigued by the fall out from our battling 1-0 win at Chelsea.
The performance seems to have really frustrated – even angered – some supporters and led to an air of pessimism about our chances of progressing under Mikel Arteta.
That view is wrong and the statistics prove it.
Before I explain, first let me say that everyone’s entitled to their opinion and I welcome a variety of viewpoints. Real truth probably lies somewhere in the centre of a Venn diagram of all the different fan convictions.
But there really has been progress under El Patron. It’s just that our crappy first half of the season has blinded us to the improvements that have taken place, compounded by our disappointing exit from the Europa League.
Here’s how much progress we’ve made: if our form since Boxing Day was replicated across the whole season we would be ending this campaign with 71 points and, almost certainly, a place in the top four, qualifying for next season’s Champions League.
Starting with that Boxing Day victory over Chelsea, our league form has been as follows:
P22 – W12 – D5 – L5 – F38 – A17
In that run (which comprises more than half of the season) we have averaged a little over 1.86 points per game.
If we had managed that form over the whole campaign we would end up with 38 games x 1.86 points, leading to that total of 71 points at the end of the season.
And even though we know our goal scoring has been sub par, during that run we have achieved just under two goals per game (on average).
Obviously there are important caveats: you don’t win titles (or, indeed, qualify for European places) on the basis of how you play for HALF a season. Similarly you could argue that some of our results (such as Wednesday’s win at Stamford Bridge) might not have happened if the circumstances were different and we were battling for a top four spot, with all that added pressure.
But there is surely something positive to take from the fact that for almost five months now our league form has been at a level that, if extrapolated across a whole season, would make us a top four team?
I suppose it all comes down to which one you think is the ‘real’ Arteta Arsenal: the team that had a pre-Christmas run of 12 games where our dismal stats were: W2 – D2 – L8; or the team that has delivered the post-Christmas stats line listed above.
Given that it’s the latter that is the more recent I know where my money’s going – and it fills me with optimism for the promise of next season.