Arsenal’s Top Four Record Is Poor But Is It As Poor As They Say?
I read an article on the Mirror Football website this morning about Brendan Rodgers and his comments on Jose Mourinho and I had a little Twitter rant about it.
The main premise of my tweets was about how some Arsenal fans consider Rodgers to be a tactical genius and Wenger to be a brain-dead moron because Wenger famously does not have a “Plan B”. Here are some of Rodgers’ quotes that made me rankle at the diatribe aimed at Wenger’s tactics.
I get the stuff about having a Plan B or a Plan C all the time, but if people think we need to get a 6ft 5ins striker then they are wrong. It is clear to me that my methods work. On any given day, sometimes it doesn’t.
So basically he is admitting to not having a Plan B and also recognising that despite sticking to his guns and have one set way to play the game regardless of the opposition, sometimes, just sometimes, it isn’t going to work out.
Is that not the thing people complain about Wenger doing all of the time? Is he not famed for sticking to his principles and never changing his system?
If Liverpool do not win the league then ultimately his methods would have failed just as much as Wenger’s but crucially, Arsenal has an FA Cup final to play. Would you really swap fourth and a chance of a trophy for second on goal difference or a point or two?
I’m not saying one coach is better than the other, I’m just pointing out the inconsistency and hypocrisy of the opinions of some people. Effectively they are tearing down one manager and building up another who share a similar principle of sticking to your own style. The whose style is more effective argument doesn’t come into it because the original point was a lack of a Plan B.
People appreciate that Plan A works most of the time and most aren’t asking for Plan A to change permanently, just temporarily for certain opposition. The key difference between Wenger and Rodgers this year is not one manager having a more flexible approach than the other – it is results. Liverpool have had better results than Arsenal and I am not going to take that away from them but results come with variable circumstances.
Injuries, amount of games to be played, competitions to compete in, big results etc. If you take out Arsenal’s three biggest losses and do the same for Liverpool then the points difference remains the same but Liverpool’s goals conceded column only loses 7 goals whilst Arsenal’s loses 17.
On one hand that shows Arsenal, over the course of the season, has a better defence which has been proven by the amount of high scoring games Liverpool has been in where they have conceded 2, 3 or 4 goals to mid-table opposition. If Liverpool do not win the league it will be because their defence was not strong enough. Arsenal did not win the league because their attack was not strong enough. Similar problems at opposite ends of the pitch, potentially the same result.
Liverpool obviously had fewer games to contend with and Rodgers even admitted he needs 6 more players to cope with the additional Champions League games but that is not an excuse for Arsenal because they didn’t have enough players to cope with all of the games they were playing.
In the course of my Twitter rant I had it pointed out to me by a few people that Arsenal’s problem is they haven’t won enough games against the big teams and whilst I agree with that I also found myself getting quite annoyed at media hyperbole that antagonises the fans into believing a fallacy. This image is the culprit.
This image is a portraying a fallacy. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I think Arsenal are great against the big clubs – I just don’t like downright lies. I got annoyed when everyone said Giroud had the worst conversation rate in the league – not because I think he is amazing, I know he misses a lot of chances, but because it’s a lie.
This “one win against the top four in five years” is just utter bull. First, we play 3 other top four teams, as we make up the top four, and we play them twice. That’s 6 games per season which is 30 games over 5 seasons so where in the f*cking world does 15 games in 5 seasons come from? Are they just considering home games or away games? Why the distinction?
Second, it does not take into account the fact the top four is an ever changing beast. In the past 5 seasons only one club has been a constant and that is Arsenal. City, Chelsea, United, Tottenham and Liverpool have all made it in or out of the top four in the past five years.
If you are going to make a list of Arsenal’s record against the top four over X amount of years you need to consider all of the teams that made the top four in any given year. I also think you should consider teams who made the top four the previous season as the additional games can sometimes put a strain on you ie Spurs.
And what about when Chelsea were out of the top four? They won the Champions League that season so why are they no longer worthy opponents to rank Wenger’s tactical astuteness against? They were the year before and the year after so why the short omission? Because it doesn’t fit the narrative that is why.
Surely we should also consider those teams that ran us close for a top four spot for had we not clinched a space they would have been a top four club.
I’ve gone through all of the results over the past 5 seasons and whilst things aren’t great it’s certainly a far cry better than the 1 game Sky Sports would have you believe we have won.
2009/10 – Top 4 = CFC, MUFC, THFC
P6 W1 D0 L5 F6 A12
2010/11 – Top 4 = MUFC, CFC, MCFC
Considered from last season’s top 4: THFC
P6 W3 D1 L2 F7 A4
P8 W3 D2 L3 F12 A10 – Inc THFC
2011/12 – MCFC, MUFC, THFC
Considered from last season’s top 4: CFC
P6 W2 D0 L4 F10 A15
P8 W3 D1 L4 F15 A18 – Inc CFC
2012/13 – Top 4 = MUFC, CFC, MCFC
Considered from last season’s top 4: THFC
P6 W0 D1 L5 F5 A10
P8 W1 D1 L6 F11 A14 – Inc THFC
2013/14 – Top 4 = LFC, MCFC, CFC
Considered from last season’s top 4: MUFC
Special mentions – Everton & Tottenham due to recent top 4 history and close battle this season.
P6 W1 D2 L3 F7 A18
P8 W1 D3 L4 F7 A19 – Inc MUFC
P12 W3 D4 L5 F10 A23 – Inc THFC & EFC
Total vs top 4 finishers:
P30 W7 D4 L19 F35 A59
Total with considerations:
P42 W11 D8 L23 F54 A77
Of course 7 wins against top four finishers in 30 games is not great but it’s almost four times – proportionately – than Sky give us credit for. They make out like we’ve picked up 4 points against top four teams in the past 5 years when it has actually been 25 points. Or if you accept the considerations I presented then it is 41 points.
As I said, these still aren’t great figures but they are the truth. Arsenal do need to pick up their game against their rivals but don’t be fooled into thinking we never beat them or this absolute b*ll&cks that we’ve only won one game in 5 years. It’s just plain wrong.
Don’t be fooled by the agendas of others.
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