I saw a stat this morning that Arsenal have now scored more goals and conceded less goals than at the 24 game point in the Premier League this season compared to last season. Which feels crazy and almost as if it’s not true, given how we were five points better off last season. At that point we were on 57 points to the 52 that we’re on now. We’d beaten Leicester 1-0 away and having played 24 games the table looked like this:

  1. Arsenal = 57
  2. Man City = 52
  3. Man United = 49
  4. The Scum = 42

This season it is Liverpool on 54, City on 52 having played 23 games (and easily swatting aside FC Copenhagen last night to win their 11th in a row in all competitions), us on 52 and the Scum on 47. I think it’s fair to say it feels a lot more congested towards the top and with the addition of Liverpool back towards the top of the league (last season after 24 games they had 39 points – so they’re 15 points better off this time around), it feels like this season is an even harder one to win than last season was. So it’s just as well we appear to be finding a bit of form because you just get the feeling that it’s going to be won at the 90 point mark and that at this rate there will be three teams going in at the 80+ mark this season, compared to just us and City last season (Man United finished third on 75 points).

But that stat about our goal difference and our goals for and against made me think about what has happened. Is it The Arsenal who have dropped off? Or has the Premier League just elevated itself in terms of the quality this season compared to last season?

Is it us or them?

It’s hard to truly answer that, but I can give you my views, as I always do on this daily rambling. It does feel to me as though we are in a good position to ‘have a go’ this season, but the conversations are still rumbling on about the fact that a lack of a recognised striker is going to cost us. Those conversations and that narrative didn’t exist last season because we weren’t top by a few points, but they’re here now, and I think it’s probably because we’ve dished out a few hammerings more than we did last season. If you’ve bagged a bunch of goals in five games, you still get the points as five 1-0 wins, so perhaps we are just dishing out a few more hidings than we have done previously? That is my theory, anyway. So I had a little look at last season to see if that rings true.

I class a ‘hammering’ as anything more than a four goal margin, so if you look back at last season we had the following which ticked that box:

  • Forest at home in October = 5-0
  • Everton at home in March = 4-0
  • Wolves at home in May = 5-0

This season we’ve had:

  • Bournemouth away = 4-0
  • Sheffield United at home = 5-0
  • Crystal Palace at home = 5-0
  • West Ham away = 6-0

So that’s three games last season adding 14 goals to our tally, whereas this season we’ve had four games contributing to 20 goals this season. So I guess there’s your answer as to the weird stat from last season compared to this season, which is that whilst we’ve got a few more big wins and hidings we’ve delivered, we’ve got more of those tighter games that we’ve come on top of from last season. And it does feel as though we’ve been on maybe just the wrong side of a few results this year compared to last year. The draw at home to Fulham, the defeat to Villa, the West Ham defeat at home – those three games alone feel like matches that last season the margins probably just went for us and if you turned those in to wins you’re talking about us being eight points better off.

But at this time last season we were about to head in to game week 25 and the 3-2 at home to Bournemouth. At that time it really felt like it was ‘on’ after that game, but the manner of it had a few people like Gary Neville starting to build their rhetoric about how as a team we are ‘too emotional’. This season the only time you’ve heard that is tired examples from the likes of Neville when it comes to talking about Zinchenko earlier in the season when we beat Bournemouth. That’s the only time – then the Liverpool game the week before last – that he’s been able to reference as Arsenal being too ’emotional’. But I’d actually argue the complete opposite. I feel like we’re actually more composed this season. You never know, we might have another game like Bournemouth, maybe even this weekend against Burnley. But I feel like this Arteta buzzword of this season as ‘dominance’ has been quite true in the way we’ve controlled games and I don’t think – Luton aside – we’ve seen as much harem-scarem football as we saw last season. This season we are built from more solid foundations and I think we’re in a better position – assuming our back line and spine remain fit – to tackle what we already know is a relentless Man City and a free-flowing Liverpool. That’s my hope anyway.

Will we stay the course? Will we be able to maintain this form until the latter parts of May? That’s a difficult one to know because we have some really hard games coming up, particularly away from home, but as it stands right now the team is looking in good shape and there are plenty of reason’s for optimism as we head in to another Premier League match week this weekend away to Burnley.

Catch you all tomorrow.