“All points in the league are equally valuable!”
Last season was nothing short of extraordinary. Our 2015/2016 second place finish was beaten only by the freakish and inexplicable crusade of Leicester City. I’d like to review exactly which matches lost us the league. This is immediately relevant to our current do-or-die position in the title race.
Any long-time Arsenal supporter will have lived through the strain of watching needless goals conceded and simple points dropped repeatedly. This is a problem that I have monitored and loathed for ages. Pundits and supporters will cite a lack of intensity, resolve, or mental strength. It happens to us on both, a micro and a macro scale! Whether it’s an early goal for the opposition or a needless draw and two points lost, these are the events that have buried us in recent years.
Where the League was Lost
These are fine margins that we are up against in the Premier League. A loss to West Ham on the first day of the season sent the Arsenal support into a full-on doomsday sentence. We will wipe that loss and ignore it (for now). Looking above, one could completely understand the draws against Liverpool, Spurs, Stoke of 15/16, Southampton, and Manchester City. While there is no excuse for dropping two points against the likes of Crystal Palace, Norwich, and Sunderland, this is the Premier League and teams come to play. The subpar results are multiplied by the fact that many teams and opposition managers have our number when it comes to stagnant tactics.
The obviously painful losses against Swansea, Southampton, and West Brom are surely embedded in your memories. The matches that hurt me the most to this day are the four draws versus Liverpool and Tottenham. Both sides have done well in recent seasons to work their way back to challenging for Europe, but we would like to think of ourselves as a tier just above. If Arsenal truly wanted to take the league in the 2015-2016 season, they should’ve stamped their dominance on the teams that were closest to us. Instead, we were unable to break the deadlock.
After an exciting draw, fans are sometimes happy to wipe the sweat from their brows for getting out unscathed. I fear that we are starting to see the same problems this season. Last season’s title evaded us by ten points. You can choose the five draws, three losses, or combination of the two that you feel were avoidable. There is an argument to keep in mind that some volatility is acceptable. I am stating the obvious by noting that a win and a loss is better than two draws. Death in the league by an inability to break ties has occurred to the modern Arsenal repeatedly.
It is always difficult to hear the manager and commentators claim “it is still early in the season” or that Arsenal can afford to a slight dip. I am hoping to shed some light on the sentiment that all points in the league are equally valuable! Matty from Gunners Down Under made an excellent point on the podcast saying that points cannot be “gained”, only lost. Eliminating the moments of weakness from our game and season would have an enormous impact over time. With a strong push through the end of the season and a run of victories, the best is possible!