Bad News for Arsenal

Top Four is going to be an uphill struggle..

Arsenal have three remaining home matches against Newcastle, Palace and Brighton. With the 3rd best home form in the league behind City and Liverpool, these are winnable games. However, Arsenal’s away form has been poor, and of the eight remaining matches five are away from home, against a strong field of Everton, Watford, Wolves, Leicester and Burnley.


Arsenal’s average pts per game at home (pts/g@H) reduced to one decimal point is 2.6 pts and the average pts per game away (pts/g@A) is a lowly 1.4 pts.

Comparing Arsenal’s pts/g@H of 2.6 pts with the average pts/g@A of the away teams that they have to face gives:-
Arse v N’Castle — @ 2.6 > 0.9 statistically an Arsenal win 3 pts.
Arse v Palace —- @ 2.6 > 1.3 …………….. ditto ……………. 3 pts.
Arse v Brighton — @ 2.6 > 0.7 …………….. ditto ……………. 3 pts.

Similarly Arsenal’s away matches gives:-
Everton v Arse — @ 1.6 > 1.4 statistically an Arsenal loss 0 pts.
Watford v Arse — @ 1.6 > 1.4 …………….. ditto …………….. 0 pts.
Wolves v Arse — @ 1.6 > 1.4 ……………… ditto …………….. 0 pts.
L’cester v Arse — @ 1.3 < 1.4 statistically an Arsenal win  3 pts.
Burnley v Arse — @ 1.3 < 1.4 ……………… ditto ……………. 3 pts.

Therefore, for the remaining eight games Arsenal is statistically expected to add another nine pts from the home games and six pts from their away games. Add these to their current standing at 60 pts and they finish the season at 75 pts.

Applying exactly the same model with their top four competitors, their final season placing jumps out as:-
3rd —– Man United — 80 pts …… (5 home, 3 away games left).
4th —– Tottenham —– 79 pts …… (5 home, 3 away games left).
5/6th — Arsenal ——– 75 pts …… (3 home, 5 away games left).
5/6th — Chelsea ——- 75 pts …… (4 home, 4 away games left).

This, let’s not forget, is merely a statistical picture which says that Arsenal have an up hill task making it into the top four because of their poor away form. Their form away from home must improve. The huge disparity between the teams’ home and away forms last season continuing somewhat into this season defies simple analysis. Is it about tactics? Is it about cojones?

It’s been proven that it is a myth that red colour excites bulls as bulls don’t see colour. They would just as equally charge at a white cloth or any with those dull Arsenal away colours. I am not sure I can say the same of the Arsenal players. Red and it seems red only makes them bullish. If you ask me, whenever it’s possible in our away matches the team should don our red home jersey. No superstition here just plain psychology. I am that desperate. Aren’t you?

Tactics wise I feel Emery might have hit the right chord just in time. I like the 3-man central defence of Sokratis, Koscielny and Monreal with Leno behind. I like the industry of Ramsey from the double pivot role. Mainland-Niles has suddenly turned a matador and he is obviously enjoying it. Kola has been fully licensed for feeding the box with telling crosses and no one in the premier league does it better. Count on Lacazette’s positive energy home and away. This team has got stuff all over and they have readied themselves for a fight to the finish. They can be heard over and over again saying that champions league qualification is non negotiable in their thinking. Something tells me they’ll defy the stats and make it to the summit of this hill.


By PE.

29 thoughts on “Bad News for Arsenal

  • Cheers PE. Yes our away form is a worry with five games still to play. Every game is a cup final and we need to play with the right focus and intensity. The return of Koz has made a difference and the combo of Leno, Koz, Sok, Xhaka, Tor/Ram, Ozil and Laca in the spine could see us get more than the six points you have indicated from the away games. But of course it is OGAAT going forward. Should be an exciting finish to the season. COYRRGs!!

  • Well considered article, PE. Stats are helpful as a guide to what the trend will suggest; for this purpose, though, it is instructive to the extent that all the variables (as existed over the time frame of the stats) remain same. Hopefully, somethings will be different for us, in the run-in.

    Such variables include player fitness, the motivation and team understanding (gelling with manager’s tactics) and we appear to have improved in all of these areas. Another variable that we can’t control is the motivation of the opposition. Other than Burnley, who are wary of being dragged into a relegation battle, Everton, Wolves, Watford and Leicester City will only be looking to finish as high as they can; the first three will think they can aspire into Europe. I feel with a near-full compliment of players, we should have a bit too much for Everton, Watford and Leicester; Wolves may have sights set on the cup games they have coming up (or may be suffering depression from being knocked out) and make it relatively easy for us, otherwise, they are the side that can make things tough for us.

    My concern now will be that the team is made to focus too much on Away performances that it affects home form (mental) and we drop points at home, unexpectedly. In all, I will remain positive that barring a string of superlative results by one of United, Spurs and Chelsea, (and conversely, a string of catastrophic results by our boys), we have top 4 locked in. Fingers crossed.

  • TA/Eris, the post is stats talking and stats never make in straight lines. If all the unknowns are factored in, who knows, the picture can be turned upside down.

    To me Emery has grown to know his team and vice versa just when it mattered most. Niles has stepped up to the extent that Bel has been well replaced. The engine of Ramsey is best tapped at the double pivot role, his box runs insured defensively by the use of a 3-man defence. Ozil now works much harder without the ball and his presence just improves the intelligence of the team. My thoughts are that we have finally come out of the woods unto the highway. That makes my post, as far as we are concerned, out of sync with the new reality.

    Pts/g@A … Liv 2.2
    ……………….. City 2.1
    ………………… Tot 2.1
    …………… United 1.8
    ………………… Chl 1.7
    ……………….. Are 1.4

    Our 1.4 pts/g@A is a classic outlier amongs the others. Had we even as much as had it at 1.7pts per game (Chelsea’s) the post stat model would have had us at 84 pts in 3rd. That might actually be closer to where we’d end up. COYRG!!!

  • Well said, PE. I think the stat you put up actually gives us an idea of what we (or, by how much we) need to improve. If we turned 1.4points to 2.2 points (or 2.5, seeing as only five such crucial games remain) per game@A, for instance, we should be home and dry. At least, I hope our boys can simplify the task so.

  • PE, historically stats does not mean anything. The lads have to go all out and keep Everton and Wolves quiet, like they have with manu**.

    But it is a nice read-up post to see how much of a chance we need to win to pull away and let spuddies see our ar**s, which is what they did with their stadium.. toilet bowl-shaped. Fittingly.

  • In our last 2 matches we scored 5 and conceded naught. The formation was 3:4:1:2 with same personnel except Cech for Leno and the forced Mustafi for Sokratis. I hope Emery opts for that reliable policy of not changing a winning team for this business end of the season. Two changes max for resting legs and/or for minor tactical tweaks..

    That gives the default team as:-

    ~~~~Sokr. Kosc. Monr.
    AMN. Rambo. Xhak. Kola.

    80 pts would guarantee a Champions league spot which would be 6 wins and 2 draws (3 home wins, 3 away wins and 2 away draws). Not too far away.

  • Good analysis PE,

    So, quick thoughts:

    A. The numbers are an average including some periods where our defense was unstable away especially. We are increasingly solid, though not great, in that aspect

    B. Run in, see link below, but of the 4 into 2 problem of MU, Spurs, Arsenal, and Chelsea, the run in is the best for Arsenal, considering top 6 opponents anyway. MU, Spurs, and Chelsea, have 2, and Arsenal nil. So, there will be some infighting there.

    Especially as MU play Chelsea and City, Chelsea play MU and Pool, and Spurs perhaps have it worst with City and Pool who will both be dogfighting for top spots. Side note, on this side City seem to have the harrder run in than Pool for you bettors out there.


    So, on defensive form and run-in, I would put my money on 19 of 24 points for Arsenal and a top 4 perhaps. All the others look to have 1 droppable game or 21 max, and Spurs 2 such for 18.

    Interesting days, I think the ball is in our court to carry in or drop…

    Cheers — jgc

  • The lads had a fine work-out in Dubai, along with the academy boys who looked to impress. 3-2, the final scores but was a game we dominated for stretches. Our goals came from Jenkinson, Laca and John-Jules. Also noted that the Al Nasr side is captained by Alvaro Negredo, the Spain ex-international and now, veteran.

  • Good post PE, with some interesting comments, not least those from Geoff who rightly points out the possibilities of infighting among our competitors and also may I add the impact of the Champions League on most of those competitors.

    It’s also been mentioned how injuries have impacted on some of our results, Southampton (a) springs to mind and how Emery has rotated his squad into its present set up with all our best attacking players in front of a settled and increasingly parsimonious defence.

    I actually think that as long as Emery can keep all his key players fit (eg Ramsey) then Arsenal have the capabilities to win all of their remaining 8 matches, get a positive result at Goodison Park and we could go on a run, that’s the key, 3 points at Everton.

    Technically Arsenal are superior to all our 8 remaining opponents, its just a case of getting it sorted between the ears of our players.

  • Eris, I saw most of the 1st half, took us awhile to get into the game but I enjoyed seeing so many of our youngsters playing.
    A few loose passes but overall I thought that Sheaf and Gilmour did ok in conditions they wouldn’t have encountered before against motivated opponents.
    Medley looked out of place at left back but despite a few hiccups I thought he acquitted himself well, but he’s a centre half and it did show.
    Amaechi showed a few flashes and was eager to impress after an injury ravaged season, but it wasn’t his day, but I like the kid and think we’ve got a good one in him.

    Didn’t see so much of the 2nd 45 as I was driving, but the switch to 3 at the back made us look more solid at the back and dynamic in attack, loved the work that AMN did, his confidence is high and he seems more at ease among his senior team mates now.

    John Jules, what a calm and composed finish, we need to tie this kid down, I think his contract runs out in 2021. Wait until the fans see Balogun, that lad is a footballer.

    Didn’t get to see any of Olayinka or Thompson, but I know that they have a lot of talent.
    We have so many good lads, but the jump to the EPL is huge, if BFG can negotiate some more loans to the Bundesliga then happy days…

    Mavropanos looked nice and solid as well, an enjoyable run out…

  • It was the converse for me, Kev. Saw the last few minutes of the first half and the whole of the 2nd half (got time zone one hour wrong, you see). It’s pretty much as you’ve outlined it. Thompson and Olayinka had good cameos; a few misplaced passes here and there but largely promising speed of thought and commitment to hacking it with the senior boys. And yes, it was some composure for TJJ’s goal. He does score a lot of goals for the academy and is certainly one we should be looking to keep, if it all works out.

    It’s back to the run-in then. Xhaka’s Switzerland drew 3-3 with Denmark, after leading 3-0 till Xhaka was taken off in the 79th minute. It would seem it all came apart for them as soon as Granit Xhaka was subbed; reason I say the man is mostly underrated. Problem is I hear he was subbed off injured. Hopefully, nothing serious.

  • Okay, I know it couldn’t have been down to just Xhaka coming off, but thought to make the point, anyway. 😜

  • Thanks Kev,

    I figure their champions league distraction is our cup distraction, so about 50:50 on that one…

    Saw an interesting article noting that if, for example, Chelsea and Arsenal are 5-6 in whatever order and Spurs 4th (again, for example), but Cheslea wins CL and Arsenal win UEFA, then only top 3 progress to CL spots .. A weird form of St Totteringham’s Day?

    cheers all — jgc

  • Geoff, I’m sure you meant if the Spuds win the CL, since Chelsea is in the Europa league. I saw a similar article too, which suggested that for Arsenal, coming 4th in the EPL won’t guarantee a CL spot if Chelsea and Spurs were to come 5th & 6th and win the UEL & CL, respectively since English sides can only get a maximum of 5 CL slots.

    The implication is that the five teams to be admitted for 2019/2020 CL will be 1st, 2nd, 3rd, CL winners and UEL winners. It is an unlikely scenario which will only heat up if Spurs progress into the semi-final along with Chelsea, and both teams get consigned to 5th and 6th on the table. It is a stretch to assume Spurs will win the CL (but stranger things have happened).

  • Eris/Geoff, yes I’ve read stuff along those lines, it kinda makes you realise that winning the Europa is more important than finishing 4th..?

    Of course if we finish 3rd then happy days…

  • arsenal we shall make t if we only stay focused on our major issue ,#top 4

  • If is correct, then both Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey should be ok for the Newcastle game on Monday and definitely for the crucial Everton match up in a weeks time.
    Keeping everyone fit and rotated during next months intense programme is going to test Emery, his coaching staff and our medical team to their limit, it’ll be the first time for many of them that they’ve experienced an English programme of this nature, so it’ll be fascinating to see how they all cope with it – good luck…

  • You’re right, PE. I guess one forgot them as it’s hard to see them go past Messi’s Barca. 😄 Of course, nothing is impossible, but you get the drift….

    Kev, I like to think we will have a full complement of the squad, pre-break; also like to think the boys have their eyes on the task at hand and have considered club availability over national team duties, at least, at this stage of qualifiers. Only Auba had a really crucial encounter, for instance. Well, it restarts tomorrow (the tension).

  • Eris et al

    Yeah, yeah, I meant the others.. Anywho! .. 😀 … This one is better and notes things like opponents in major Cups (Chelsea have it easier in theory than our ties vs Napoli). Good read, so fyi:

    Interesting days indeed. IMO, barring collapse and I watch a lot of NZ cricket so that is eminently possible (sigh!), we should be thinking Emery has done a great job year 1.

    cheers — jgc

  • United barely got a 2-1 win, against Watford, after being under the crush at Old Trafford for much of the game. I guess there is something to say for winning when not playing well.

  • Éris,

    Winning “ugly” is a hallmark of better / best teams. IMO, of course…

    Equally, and in contrast, so is not making hard work of certain games.

    All in the context I suppose! 🙂

    Cheers — jgc

  • United were the luckier team and so it often goes in a game. If winning ugly means being luckier than the opponent then I am in full agreement.

  • I didn’t think much of Man Utd, but yes, they sure were lucky, but as Geoff says playing poorly and winning is the hallmark of the better teams, we did a bit of that in our early season unbeaten run and I’ll settle for being lucky in our remaining 8 EPL games.

    Watching MOTD last night, it struck me how good Watford played, hmm, that’s going to be a tough game. Then I saw Wolves lose unluckily at Burnley and thought they both looked difficult teams to beat, then I saw saw Everton and they looked good, finally I saw Leicester, and guess what, they looked good… 15 points from that lot is going to take a huge effort from our squad, especially with Napoli in between and absolutely no assistance from the TV companies and the Prem.

    We have the best squad and imo the best coach, but they have home advantage and our away record is iffy. All the same, if our players are right between their ears then we should be able to take 13/15 points.

  • Chelsea too just got “lucky” vs Cardiff City, with a little help from the assistant Ref. Don’t they say ‘You make your own luck’? I will take such luck, all day long

  • Well, that was a tense 90 (or so) minutes at Anfield. Spurs have opened the way for Arsenal to go 3rd, expectedly. Now, it’s all about the small matter of making it happen. So, expect an equally tense atmosphere at the Emirates and a difficult game against Newcastle.

    Benitez knows how to set up teams to be hard to beat and has began to trust his front men to deliver. We would need a fast start to unsettle them early. Hopefully, the team show the mettle they have developed under Emery.

  • It’s a crazy race first for the title between City and Liv and then for the remaining 2 Champion League spot by the other big 4.

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