Are we on a slide?
Is it fair to say we haven’t played well these past four matches? 4 teams below us in stature, and yet we struggled to put them away easily. Southampton, fast becoming our bogey team, scrambled a draw. A bit of bad luck in all four and we could have lost all of them. Cries of Arteta out, Edu out, Kroenke out, and cleaning ladies out would be ringing around the halls of the Emirates. Is it fair to say we were lucky, then, to have come out with 3 wins and a draw from these encounters? I say yes. I said in an earlier blog that beating teams below us is what matters and that is exactly what we have done here.
Bodø/Glimt - our equals?
Bodø/Glimt, Leeds Utd and Eindhoven all one nil to the Arsenal, our good old reliable score and then we got to sing it against Southampton but they didn’t let us finish with it. In the context of what we can achieve, these wins and the draw are the important ones. Lesser teams have to be put to the sword if you want to win trophies.
Only City better than us?
Arguably there is only one team better than us in fans and pundits minds, if Liverpool are indeed on a fall from grace, and that is Man City. Chelsea and the Spuds are bubbling around us and also last year there was little difference between us. Man Utd and Newcastle are the best of the rest. Liverpool are always capable of putting together a run. That leaves 7 teams chasing Champions league, if no one pops up from below. All with big squads and plenty of money. It now comes down to various factors, confidence, managers, team styles, the will to win, and luck. If it is fair to say we have had some luck so far in the past 4 matches, we will also need some again.
So, against Southampton our goalmouth stats were only slightly better than the hosts, our 12 shots to their 10 and both 3 on target. We had 10 chances to their 8. We had a lot more possession. So we should have won, just. We didn’t, so that could be classified as bad luck. Or bad finishing.
Bad finishing is the problem?
For PSV Eindhoven it is very clear, we had lots of chances, 25 to their 4 and 18 chances to their 4. We had 8 on target to their 4. All other stats were in our favour so that could also be classified as bad luck. Or bad finishing.
Against Leeds it was all a bit different. A team struggling near the bottom created more shots, 16 to 9, more chances, 11 to 7, and we both had the same shots on target at 4. Possession for us was a bit better then them. Surely good luck is clear here? Still worrying finishing from us, though.
Against Bodø/Glimt the stats were remarkably similar. One shot on target apiece, our 7 shots to their 6, and our 6 chances to their 5. We were better with possession. We can’t say bad luck or particularly good luck. I feel we deserved to win, just.
We have to beat lesser sides
Worryingly, if we are talking about the luck factor, as I have said, bad luck could have seen us lose all four. To me, though, the biggest worry is conversion of chances. The figures are clear up above, we are creating chances, even on this bad run, and it is a bad run, as all teams are clearly below us in standings. What would Bodø/Glimt be the equivalent of? The Championship? PSV? At best a midtable Premiership side? And Leeds and Southampton looking like they will fight against relegation.
So, let’s be clear, this is a bad run in which we have come out smelling of roses. We fought and we scrapped but didn’t play well for anything like 90 minutes for 4 matches in a row. And got 10 points!
Xhaka - converting chances
We do need to start playing well again, that is very clear. Even if my argument is that we were only truly lucky in the Leeds match and a touch unlucky in the Southampton one, we lost our goal scoring touch. 4 games and 4 goals is not going to win us the league unless we live up to the old one nil to the Arsenal trope.
A bad spell to come?
Should we be worried? Maybe. I don’t mind us having a bad spell but what I have suggested above is that it is not a bad spell at all. We deserved to win two of the 3 we did win and probably should have won the 4th.
Which means the inevitable bad spell is still to come. Games we deserve to lose which we actually do. We had many such matches last term. This year we are much better. We seem to have found a solidity, a will to win, and a staunch defence to get us out of trouble. The Leeds second half was our worst so far. It happens all teams every season, they go to an unfancied side and fail to win. We won this time.
Scored a wonder goal against Leeds
I solve our problem
So are we on a slide? The stats suggest otherwise. Are we looking tired? The stress of playing every week is hitting our big stars? If we discount being lucky as I have said, then it could be that factor. Do we have the strength in depth? A certain amount for sure. But I am sure of one thing, we need to score more goals. We need comfortable wins sometimes. If we are scrambling to get goals every game that will come back to bite us bigtime.
Xhaka and Saka have been scoring wonder goals. My proposal is that all players get their names changed legally to an Aka ending to give us a big chance of winning everything.
Xhaka (no change)
Saka (no change)
My problem is that no one at Arsenal ever listens to me. Please Artaka, our wonderful manager, listen to this Irishman and we will win everything, be Arsenal and send these teams home crying.