The Soccer Saturday panel looked perplexed. Even the ‘banter’ stopped. We knew it was serious.
‘Stoke go 1-0 up after 20 seconds’
‘2-0 to Stoke’
‘Walters makes it three!’
‘4-0?? It might actually be 4-0. We’re not sure. No wait, it’s not’
The goals kept coming and the lads refrained from teasing Paul Merson. Everyone looked on nervously, expecting him to have a breakdown, throw down the headphones and storm out of the studio sobbing “it’s not fair. Those boys are bigger than us”.
Arsenal’s defeat to Stoke provoked a strong backlash from fans. Losing in the potteries happens to a lot of good teams, but this time the ire seemed more focused and more unanimous. Whereas once he was seen as untouchable and his departure would be decided by him alone, the groundswell of dissent seems to have reached a high watermark.
At the start of the season, he was a 100/1 shot to be the first manager sacked back in August, but a steady stream of bets has seen that price contract into 16/1, enough to see him considered in the same bracket as ‘Arry, Paul Lambert and Neil Warnock.
But is it really that bad? Without wanting to fashion a rod for his back or a shield for his defence, the Paddy Power Blog has looked back over Arsene’s full seasons at Arsenal to see how this one ranks in comparison to others.
The results are middling. Or more accurately, the slightly shit side of middling – kind of like what it’s like to live in Milton Keynes. Arsenal have had better starts to the season and ended up winning nothing. They’ve also had worse starts and still ended up at the udders of the Champions League ready to that cash cow another firm milking.
Based on the average start from Wenger’s tenure at Arsenal, they are behind the curve, but not as massively as they ‘Wenger Out’ brigade might success. In short, they:
- are 2.44 wins behind where they’d normally expect to be (6 wins v 8.44)
- have lost one game more than they usually do (4 v 3.05)
- are outside the top four at this stage of the season for just the fifth time in 18 of Wenger’s full seasons
While the defeats have been notable, it’s really not hugely different from the average start. They have one more than they’d normally expect to have at this stage of the season, but they’ve also faced Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United along with admittedly ropey but always irritating derby rivals, Spurs.
Making A Point
Their points tally is also lagging. The 23 they’ve amassed to date is the second lowest at this point of the season under Wenger, only slightly above the 21 of that 2012-13 season. It’s also the nature of the points they’re dropping. Losing to United isn’t nice, but it’s somewhat more palatable than getting spanked in Stoke
Goals are also a problem – at both ends of the pitch. For all but one of the last 10 seasons, Wenger teams have coughed up at least 1.6 goals per game for their opponents. That’s not too bad as long as they compensate for it at the other end, but that’s where they’ve struggled.
Their rate of just 1.53 goals scored per game over the first 15 games is the second lowest of Wenger’s era, made all the more frustrating by the fact Alexis Sanchez has taken to the Premier League like Justin Bieber has taken to making shit decisions in his life.
Arsenal and Arsene are capable of going on the kind of run that can make this crisis blow over and they can return to the usual standards of making heavy weather of qualifying for the Champions League. But they might not, They face a mostly tricky run of fixtures from now until the end of January. At some point they may decide that failing to make a change is just a pointless case of Arsene around.