One of our regular readers sent in an interesting analysis for the rest of the fixtures to see the chances of Arsenal getting ahead of either Chelsea and/or Spurs. As he says, it’s worth focusing on something immediately relevant and possibly positive rather than speculating wildly about the future.
Mick from Brisbane/Sydney is an avid Gooner who has been supporting the Gunners for nearly a decade. Over to him,
When I wrote to Desi initially with the idea of writing a piece providing some analysis on the run in to the end of the season, it was fuelled by my usual ‘blinkers on’ optimism for all things Arsenal. However, like many Gooners, I didn’t see the results of the last fortnight coming or, at least, not the extent of the results and have been left somewhat numb, shell shocked, and more than a little angry. But let’s see if I can dig deep for a sprinkle of optimism and provide some much needed relief for what’s left of another dark season.
Before I get to the analysis let me just say that I am not going to talk about anything other than what I feel we can achieve this season. We can only speculate about what will happen in the summer. Whether Arsene will stay, whether he gets the rumoured transfer war chest and actually spends it, and if he does will he bring in true world class quality or more unproven potential?
So let’s put that to a side and concentrate on what’s left. I may not associate myself with those who currently hate on the club, the board or Arsene (although I am obviously not happy about the current situation), but I’m also not optimistic enough to suggest that we’re still alive in the Champions League. So that leaves the ‘trophy equivalent’ top 4 finish.
Well, fortunately, this is where the good news begins. Of the teams realistically competing for spots three and four (Arsenal, Tottenham and Chelsea in my opinion: feel free to disagree) I believe we have the easiest remaining fixtures and at minimum an even money chance of continuing our impressive run of Champions League qualifications.
So this is where my analysis comes in. As you can see in the chart below I have focused solely on two factors:
1: Difficulty of each fixture (open to debate) from Well above average to Relegation battler and;
2: An average of table position for each remaining opposition as the table currently stands 21/02/2013 (Hopefully a strong unbiased indicator of difficulty)
From the table we can make a number of inferences. To keep it as concise as possible I’ll list them in dot points:
- Average opposition position shows us that independent of whether the fixture is home or away Arsenal (11.91) play a significantly higher proportion of games against inferior opposition than Chelsea (8.75) and Spurs (9.25).
- We will also play a significant role in the relegation battle and so too will it play a major role in determining the outcome of our season. With games remaining against Aston Villa, Reading, QPR and Wigan all falling at the wrong end of the season, when, as we know, players, managers, and clubs are desperately fighting for their survival, we are left very exposed.
- Tottenham have the highest proportion of games falling into the Well Above Average and Above Average categories, 8 of the 12 remaining fixtures in fact. With 5 of those 8 games being played away from White Hart Lane with fixtures at Liverpool, Swansea, Chelsea, West Ham and Stoke.
- Chelsea have the to play all of the current top four teams (excluding themselves obviously) with two of those fixtures played away to both Manchester clubs.
All of this is to say that despite all the setbacks, disappointments, and pessimism maybe the strong chance of us retaining our Champions League position for next season can be seen as some sort of consolation. Who knows? Maybe the season has gotten to me so much that I’ve started to see it as silverware.
Let me know what you think about anything and everything I have written about in the comments section and up the Mighty Gunners!
My Two Cents:
I think it’s a very good idea to focus on the short term. There is one objective left in the season (don’t see the point in expecting miracles in the Champions League) and it’s still achievable (which does say something about the impact of transfer activity at other clubs?!).
If we look at the results of the reverse fixtures of the ones remaining in the run in, we get the following table –
Arsenal definitely have a good chance of getting more points but a vital question is – Compared to the rivals, how many more can they get? If the teams get exactly the same points as they did in the reverse fixtures (highly unlikely), the Gunners will fall short.
This does boil down to consistency. Spurs have lost 5 of the reverse fixtures but 4 of those defeats came against the current top 6 and one was a surprise result against Wigan. If they can get some points in those games they could get more than the 19 they have against these sides.
Chelsea have drawn more games than they’ve won or lost. And given their inconsistent performances under Benitez, it’s very hard to predict just how much they can improve.
The Gunners will probably have to get more than 21 points if they want to keep matters in their own hand. It’s highly unlikely that 65 points will be enough for a Champions League spot. The lowest under Wenger has been 67 in 05-06.
We also have to see the impact that results in Cup competitions have on League form. Chelsea and Spurs might have more games to play and that could affect their League form. On the other hand, we saw how exits from the three Cups affected the team’s confidence and form in 2010-11. Will they be able to perform better this time around?
Also, Everton do deserve a mention even if they’ve not been included in this analysis. I think it’s a race between four teams for two spots.The results in the games between these four sides could be decisive as they’ll all be six-pointers.
What’s already happened this season is in the past. The next few weeks can still salvage some respectability because finishing above either Spurs or Chelsea will be an achievement given all the transfer business they’ve done.
Thanks Mick for a practical, informative, forward-looking article with an upbeat tone.Follow @goonerdesi