Seeing results unfold like yesterday, with United losing away to Watford and then the Tomy Totts at home to Chelski, really does make me irritable that we’ve fluffed this season up so much. If we’d have just converted three of our eight draws this season into wins, we’d be within just three points of Chelski with the opportunity to cancel that out with wins over this festive period.
It is fair to say that the teams above us have more than given us ample chance to play catch up, yet the meltdown we’ve had in the league has meant that realistically, it probably is still beyond us. NIne points is the gap between fourth and where we are and whilst that in itself isn’t insurmountable given how points are being dropped by lots of teams this season, it doesn’t feel like it’s something that we can catch given the confidence levels of this Arsenal team.
I went for a long run yesterday and as I was trotting along I started to do some calculations in my head about how many points we could get in a good, bad or indifferent season from now on. That’s the sort of thing you do as a football fan – projecting the possibilities – and with a new manager at the helm and with no real ability to know whether Arteta will be a roaring success or unmitigated disaster, I started to play our “what if?” scenarios in my head.
SO I started to map out the “what if?” in my head in terms of the job he gets and, given the fact we’ve just seen United and the Totts lose yesterday, that projection starts to whirr in my mind like a cog. We’re on the verge of the halfway point in terms of number of games and we have 20 games and 60 points to play for. So the absolute maximum number of points we could get this season is 83 points. That’s totally unrealistic though and simply won’t happen. We don’t have a team good enough for that, we don’t have a side that is strong enough confidence-wise to go on that kind of a run, so that possibility of maximum points return has to be ruled out.
So what if we have a replication of what’s happened in the first half of the season? Where would that put us?
Well, we’ve got 23 after 18 games so assuming we match that in the second half of the season that has us finish on 46 points. that would be the lowest points tally since 1976/77. Beofre I was born. But that’s not even a comparator because there was only two points for a win, although there was 42 games played. I guess what I’m trying to say is that another half a season like we’ve just had and things will look rather dark indeed.
So what about the top four? What is the average benchmark for that in recent history? Well, i’ve had a little look at the average mean points for the last 10 years for fourth spot and it works out at 71.6 points, so in other words, it’s 72 points. I think given that we’ve got so many teams other than City and Liverpool dropping points (and maybe Leicester too), we could probably drag that down by a couple of points, maybe three and at max, we’re looking at four. That’s 68 points at the lowest. Which means that in order for us to stand a chance of top four we need to pick up 45 points from a possible 60. That’s 15 wins from our next 20 games, no defeats, no draws.
We still have to play Chelski home and away, Liverpool at home, Leicester at home, City away and the Tony Totts away. Given our appalling record in away games against the bigger teams, I’d not mark us down for a single point in those. That means we pretty much have to be flawless against the rest and we have to beat United and Chelski in the next week at home, as well as turning over what looks like a juggernaut of a Liverpool team right now.
As I write this I’m genuinely not trying to put a downer on you, fellow friend and Arsenal fan, just trying to see what might happen to us logically in the next five months. I think it also highlights the massive task facing Arteta which, if i’m honest, feels impossible if we’re looking at Champions League or financial austerity in the summer.
My gut feel is that a good return on a points tally for the remainder of the season, would probably be 30 to 35 points. 30 points means we’ve turned three draws into wins compared to the first half of this season, as well as a defeat into a draw. If we turn more into wins then great, but I think we have to be realistic. Arteta has to build this teams confidence back slowly and start impacting some changes in the style of play in the next few months, then we need to see the team react to this and start to build belief that if we can go into a summer with a little bit of momentum (think Leicester under Rodgers last season and now) then we have something to be excited for in 2020/21.
Just some thoughts for you to ponder on this Christmas Eve Eve. Let me know what you think.
Catch you all tomorrow.