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The Table of Doom Update Arsenal Current 78 Max 90 Man City(a) Newcastle (a) Brighton(h) Man City Max 94 Brighton (a) Arsenal (h) Man Utd Max 81 Brighton(a) Newcastle Max 80 Arsenal(h) Gone: Brighton Max 73 Man Utd(h)Man City (h) Arsenal(a) – kept because they play key matches. Liverpool Tottenham The Table of Gloom And so it is the Table of Gloom now. City destroyed us and Arteta is now useless, the players mediocre and we will be relegation candidates next year. Oh, woe is me! Jesus and Zinchenko - overrated? Nonsense! Rubbish! If I had said at the start of the season we would qualify for Champions league in April and still top of the league in May after beating Chelsea, plus fighting with City for the title close to the end, people would have said typical Gus optimism, never writes about reality. The reality is this week we have had a reality check and that we do need to strengthen, and maybe get rid of some players that are loved by Arsenal fans. Am I the only one who feels that Guardiola knew what he was doing when he dumped Jesus and Zinchenko? And that Xhaka still has a tendency to implode? And Partey seems to be playing with an injury? But despite all that, another win and we are guaranteed second, and in fact, we may already be second as the 2 Uniteds need close to maximum to catch us. We wouldn’t care that City thrashed us if we win the league In fact, before the start of the season in July, I wrote a comparison between City and us in which we came out badly. I had compared a possible top City 11 against a possible top 11 for us plus rated the managers and gave 11-0 to the Citizens. I gave only one draw which now looks ridiculous. On the basis that some players fail in the Premier league and Jesus was proven, although never a great goal scorer, I gave him a draw with Haaland. I did say I didn’t really believe that but I was trying to be optimistic. I predicted I would probably look stupid giving Jesus a draw. And so I accepted that City are better and on that basis should win the league. But I also said this: “Judging player by player doesn't win championships - confidence, form and a winning mentality does. We need our players to step up, to play without fear, and take the game to the opposition. We need a bit of luck, we need momentum, and a good consistent start. “ We did all that, except we have had some bad luck, particularly with VAR and injuries. I feel we need, at the minimum, a killer striker and centreback and midfielders not injury prone like Partey or capable of blowing up like Xhaka. And I am not happy with both Jesus and Zinchenko seemingly allowed to do what they like and ending up way out of position. They are not good enough players to do that. They should do their primary jobs, respectively score goals and defend, first. I, for one, would be happy to see them in their City role, warming the bench. But replaced with better players, whether bought or from the Academy. We have hope in our hearts Cancelo would be a great addition Despite all that, we could still win the league, we have had a great season and tremendous support from the fans. We have excellent reasons to be cheerful, our players are the youngest in the league and should get better. We have several times come back from setbacks and shown character in scoring late. I feel Arteta knows all this, he knows he has moulded a team capable of challenging even the mighty City. It is his job to make any improvements necessary, and plan for the seasons ahead. I am confident he will. As would Declan Rice There is talk of Cancelo and Rice. I would be very happy to see those two. Also Mane if he will come. He is only 31 and could have a few more years. Those 3 and improvements from the young players as they get more football wise plus one or two Academy players pushing for places means we have tremendous grounds for optimism. A cohesive winning collective can be accomplished by cleverness City are a giant who have owners who are far more concerned about whitewashing their public image than making a profit. They have unlimited money and the recent spike in oil prices has made them richer. The Kroenkes, by contrast, are in it for the money, their public image seems secondary, and they are running it as a business. It means that Arteta and Edu must be clever, they must nourish what they have, and be ruthless in discarding those who are not of the class to create a long-term winning team. Sheik Mansour - City's owner wants to make the UAE look good Wenger did it against Manchester United, putting a priority on developing the players rather than buying big. United were the City of that time, big moneybags with top players in every position. And yet, despite all that Wenger went toe to toe with them, picking up trophies which Man Utd had easily won before then. United were hated by most opposition fans, just as City are now. Anyone remember ABU? Anyone but United. That would be ABC now. That seems to gel with what City are doing, they do make things look as simple as ABC, at their best. Stan Kroenke runs Arsenal as a business I believe we will, as long as we stay hungry, be capable of getting in the faces of City and anyone else who emerges. We could be Arsenal, the team who sends others home crying. The team with class, with tradition, and a fighting spirit which makes us greater than the sum of our parts. Forget the Table of Gloom or the Table of Doom, we have had a great season. C’mon the Arse!. The true Table of Doom and Gloom Everton were champions nine times On a different note, at the bottom, it will probably be 2 former champions who go down. Leicester, Leeds, Everton and Notts Forest have all had their glory days. Southampton, who look doomed, have never won the league. But if they somehow manage a miracle, it will be 3 former champions heading for the door. I will feel most sad for Everton as I grew up among many Everton fans. They are by far the longest team in the top flight after us and I have always been happy they survived the several scares they have had. This year is harder, though. I suspect something like 36 points will be necessary. That is 7 points from 4 games and they haven’t come close to that this season. We play Forest and we could help them a little but they badly need to win and they are running out of time. I suppose they will bounce straight back up but their proud record will be gone.
Where now for Granit Xhaka? Granit Xhaka was substituted in the 79 minute against Aston Villa on Saturday. He had a yellow card and probably that was part of the reason. He has accumulated 56 yellows and 4 reds in his time at Arsenal which means at least 56 times he was in the manager’s mind to be subbed out of 211 total appearances in the Premier League, more than a quarter of all matches. That is not good, obviously. Now I had it in mind that he has improved his disciplinary record but it is a bit difficult to truly say that. Last season, despite 3 months out through injury and only 27 games, he managed to get 1 red and 10 yellows, almost half the matches. This season, so far, he has been better with 4 yellows from 23 games, but still close to a quarter and if he has a bad disciplinary record to the end of the season could reach his previous average. Too many yellows for Xhaka Now, I am aware he seems to get worse treatment than some other players but, still, I think we have to accept that he has a discipline problem. So, we now have Jorginho, highly experienced and is a proven winner. And guess what? In 146 Premier League games he has never been sent off and has 29 yellows, a far better return. He will surely push Xhaka for his place and I am going to compare their respective records on the pitch. I am going to throw into the mix Declan Rice, who is a constant mention as a summer signing. That will be three players for one position, assuming Partey is available. Rice, if he comes, will be a big money signing and there is always pressure to play such players. Can statistics provide the answer? Let’s imagine, for now, that Jorginho gets in this season and keeps Xhaka out as first choice or at least plays so well when on, that a lot of fans would choose him over Xhaka. Where would that leave Declan Rice? Remember also that we have some superb midfielders coming through plus Lokonga, Maitland Niles and Tavares out on loan. Not to mention Fabio Vieira and Mohammed Elneny as backup. Can Jorginho displace Xhaka? I will take a look at all three main contenders and see if the stats give any clarity. Their amount of games make them fairly comparable. For discipline it is easy, Xhaka is far worse then Jorginho. And Declan Rice? Only 24 yellows, no reds in 190 appearances. A clear winner, then. Discipline matters, by the way, it increase the pressure on the managers because a yellow card means they have to think of subbing the player. We lost a Champions League final due to a red card, in my opinion, and a red can mean losing a game you could win. Both Jorginho and Rice would ease the pressure on the manager, based on their past records. Xhaka has 281 fouls to 211 games, Jorginho 137 to 146, and Rice is best on 130 to 190 games. I have always believed that English players get preference in such areas and that could be a reason to play Rice. Discipline: Declan Rice. Are goals the clue? Of course, there is more to football than discipline. So I will take a look at other metrics. The most important thing in football is goals so Xhaka has 13 in 211, Jorginho 21 in 146 but 19 penalties, and Rice 7 in 190. So it is easy. Assists Xhaka 22 in 211, Jorginho 5 in 146 and Rice 10 in 190. Xhaka 33 in total, Jorginho 26 in total and Rice 17. I was thinking I have to give it to Jorginho as he played less games making his record better although we do have Saka to take our penalties. Tight enough on this metric. Goals: Maybe Xhaka or maybe Jorginho. I can’t really make up my mind. What if this guy comes? Tackles are next. Xhaka has 353 and 63% success. Jorginho 310 and 54% success, and Rice 440 and 55% success. Blocked shots and interceptions, Xhaka 68 and 187, Jorginho 16 and 227, Rice 34 and 315. Rice has played in a team that has to defend more than the other 2 so that is probably why his stats are bigger but still I feel he just about has the edge here. Tackles, blocks and interceptions: Declan Rice. Maybe winning duels is the key Passes are critical in this position as a stray pass can lead to a goal. Xhaka 14,334, Jorginho 10,095, Rice 8,880. Success rate Xhaka 87.3%, Jorginho 88.7%, Rice 87.8%. Passes per match Xhaka 67.93, Jorginho, 69.14, Rice 46.74. Jorginho then is the winner. Passes, success rate and passes per match: Jorginho. Recoveries, duels won and lost next. Xhaka 1324, 948, 903, Jorginho 1030, 587, 612, Rice 1405, 904, 657. Rice comes out a clear winner here and that could be crucial to us continuing our assault on the big prizes. Recoveries, duels won and lost: Declan Rice. Aerial battles won and lost + successful 50/50’s. Xhaka 105, 269, 255, Jorginho 67, 67, 111 and Rice 173, 248, 184. Only Rice has a clear division between duels won and lost and I feel a clear winner again. Aerial battles won and lost + successful 50/50’s: Declan Rice. Goals truly matter I am going to finish the assessment on goals as they are the most crucial element in football, you can play badly but if you score you can win. This time I will focus on areas connected to goals - Shots, shots on target and free kicks scored, Xhaka 214, 58, 3, Jorginho 68, 32, 0, Rice 137, 35, 0 although 1 penalty. This time Xhaka is a winner on shots, shots on target and free kicks scored. One sure metric for Xkaka I will mention one more statistic about goals and that is errors leading to goals with Xhaka way out in front at nine compared with 2 for Jorginho and Rice. That's too many. Red card for Xhaka? Of course all 3 have played a different amount of games and mostly for 3 different clubs so this assessment has flaws but a statistical analysis throws up Rice as a better player than either of Jorginho or Xhaka and even Jorginho is coming out better than Xhaka. Will we give him the red card? So what would this mean for Arsenal if we do buy Declan Rice or similar? He seems willing to go from what I hear. I suspect one of Jorginho or Xhaka has to go. I don’t feel we will keep all 3. Xhaka, being almost a year younger, would probably fetch more in the market although if Jorginho displaces him this season that may not be the case. I would imagine, of the two, Xhaka is less likely to opt for a minor role whereas Jorginho, by coming to Arsenal in the circumstances he has, probably would. 20/30 appearances including subs and a trophy or two may well seem a better prospect than going down a level. He may come back. If my assessment is right, and we buy a truly top class midfielder such as Declan Rice, this could be Xhaka’s last season. I have a feeling, even if that is the case, he will be back. He is taking his coaching badges. I think he would make a tremendous coach with his never say die attitude, his willingness to die for the team, and yes, his effectiveness as a player in one of the most challenging positions would render him able to impart immense knowledge to young players coming through. He now has Arsenal in his DNA and that will always be a part of him. And he can go with his head held truly high as a League winner if all goes well. We will never forget Granit Xhaka.