At this point it’s fair to ask if Arsenal will make it to 50 points. Historically, 50 points has been about the break-even point to reach the top eight, with a small amount of deviation above or below 50. With only 14 matches left in the season (I know, crazy right?), Arsenal have the potential to earn a total of 42 more points, bringing them to 72 for the season. However, out of a possible 72 points thus far, they’ve only earned 30, only 42% of all possible points. 42% of 42 is only 18 points, which would mean that, for the first time since 1995, Arsenal would finish outside the top eight, assuming 50 is the benchmark. Additionally, Arsenal’s form has worsened as of late, meaning that there is a real chance of finishing outside the top ten. The likes of Southampton have had a brilliant run of form recently, climbing all the way from the relegation zone to ninth place, notching ten points in their last five matches along the way. Wolves, Sheffield United and Tottenham have all struggled recently, and their struggles have provided the Gunners with a path to climb as high as sixth, but six points out of their last five matches has done nothing to improve their situation, which sees them sitting in a five-way tie for fifth place. The question has to be asked of such a big club with a storied history: when is enough, enough? Arsenal have one of the richest owners in the Premier League, yet have spent very little over the past decade compared to the other big six members. They have been able to achieve solid results throughout the decade, rarely dropping out of the top four, but it seems as though time and a lack of incoming talent has caught up with them. A non-European league finish could see significant changes at Arsenal, and could well spell the end of Arsenal as a member of the big six.
As much as it’s tempting to make it so, this is not a column purely on Arsenal’s woes, so let’s look at what happened around the league during the past week (which included two matchweeks, because apparently the FA in all their wisdom thought two matches in three days was better for teams than a match every week. This weekend will feature FA Cup 4th round fixtures, but in Matchweek 23 shock results were the name of the game, with every single one of the current top six dropping points (three of them losing) except for Liverpool, who beat Manchester United. In fact, over the last two weeks, Chelsea has only picked up one point, despite playing Newcastle and Arsenal (at home for Chelsea), a lapse in form which those outside the top four haven’t capitalized on. The gap between fourth and fifth actually widened to six points over the last two matchweeks, with Manchester United managing to lose both of their games. Let’s dive in to some statistics:
Aston Villa clawed their way out of the relegation zone by beating Watford, despite having trailed at half-time, the first time the club have done so in a league match since September 2013.
65%: the percentage of points Southampton have taken this season in away fixtures, the most of any club.
43: Sergio Aguero maintained his average of being good for a goal or an assist in every match he has played against newly promoted sides, with 43 points (35 goals, 8 assists) in 43 games.
No side has lost more points from winning positions against Arsenal than Chelsea–they have squandered 33 points.
725: Raul Jimenez’s goal in Wolves’ loss to Liverpool was the first Premier League goal Liverpool have conceded in 725 minutes.
300: David Silva became the first player for Manchester City to notch 300 Premier League appearances.
Wolves highlighted their role as comeback kings in the league against Southampton, and have now picked up 18 points from losing positions this season, seven more than the next closest team.
Everton have now gone unbeaten in their last eight Premier League matches against London sides, thanks to their draw against West Ham. Additionally, Everton have had their best run of form all season over the past five matches, only losing once, helping them draw level with Arsenal on points.
Liverpool became the first club since the Arsenal team of the 2001/2002 season to score in their first 22 fixtures of a season. The Gunners went on to win the league and score in every match of that campaign.
Last week’s Pick ‘Em went awry thanks to the top six deciding it was a good week to bring back reminders of last season’s end to the campaign. The tally for the week’s picks was 2-2, a tally that brings this newly started decade’s tally now to 4-3. Unfortunately, for this next week, I’m loath to pick any of the matches, with all of the spreads remarkably close, as is common immediately after major sides drop significant amounts of points in quick succession. The only match that would make sense to bet on is Liverpool against West Ham, where Liverpool’s spread is at -1.5, but Liverpool have had a nasty habit of winning by close margins recently, wrecking several spreads in the process (not to mention the fact that Liverpool are away for this fixture). I will most likely be pocketing my money this week, unless odds change.
Chelsea Side Note
Chelsea’s media team thought it was a good idea to troll their fans this week with a joke that quickly went sideways after they posted the following tweet:
“You wait 24 days for a signing and then Three come along at once!”
This tweet was their way of announcing that Chelsea will have a new shirt sponsor for next season, the cellphone provider Three, signalling the end of their relationship with Yokohama. It served primarily, however, to anger fans, highlighting that Chelsea has yet to make any sort of move in the transfer market despite January’s ban being waived, with supporters bemoaning a lack of both defensive and attacking options.
The fans were quick to trash Chelsea’s upper management–and the social media team for this impudent way of announcing the new sponsorship. In fact this new deal appears to be a good one for the club, bringing in more money (and for a change promoting a UK company), and it will make Stamford Bridge into the first 5G supported stadium in the Premier League. Just don’t troll your fans next time!
With that tidbit, best of luck to anyone with the guts to bet this week. That’s all from Connor’s press box!