There is no doubting that Arsenal have got off to an absolute flyer this season, but how much does that tend to indicate the overall success of a season? Let’s look at some history:
Arsenal’s first six games : Villa(h) 1-1, Man City(a) 0-1, Boro(h) 1-1, Man Utd(a) 1-0, Sheff Utd(h) 3-0, Charlton(a) 2-1, 11 points, final position 4th
Man Utd’s first six games: Fulham(h) 5-1, Charlton(a) 3-0, Watford(a) 2-1, Spurs(h) 1-0, Arsenal(h) 0-1, Reading(a) 1-1, 13 points, final position 1st
Even on a three game winning streak, Arsenal were behind Man Utd from day one, and never got closer than this. Ten goals in three games from the eventual champions set them off and running.
Arsenal: Newcastle(h) 2-0, Chelsea(a) 0-1, Fulham(h) 4-1, Boro(a) 1-2, Everton(h) 2-0, West Ham(a) 0-0, 10 points, final position 4th
Chelsea: Wigan(a) 1-0, Arsenal(h) 1-0, WBA(h) 4-0, Spurs(a) 2-0, Sunderland(h) 2-0, Charlton(a) 2-0, 18 points, final position 1st
There’s a good start, and then there’s Chelsea’s start from two years ago. It put massive pressure on everyone, and in the end no-one got close to them.
Arsenal: Everton(a) 4-1, Boro(h) 5-3, Blackburn(h) 3-0, Norwich(a) 4-1, Fulham(a) 3-0, Bolton(h) 2-2, 16 points, final position 2nd
Chelsea: Man Utd(h) 1-0, Birmingham(a) 1-0, Palace(a) 2-0, Southampton(h) 2-1, Villa(a) 0-0, Spurs(h) 0-0, 14 points, final position 1st
The exception. Arsenal got off a flyer with a special performance against Everton and an amazing comeback from 3-1 down against Boro, but Chelsea kept up and then sped past when the form dipped. I still maintain that winning the Premiership this season was Chelsea’s finest hour – they were absolutely relentless.
Arsenal: Everton(h) 2-1, Boro(a) 4-0, Villa(h) 2-0, Man City(a) 2-1, Portsmouth(h) 1-1, Man Utd(a) 0-0, 14 points, final position 1st
Chelsea: Liverpool(a) 2-1, Leicester(h) 2-1, Birmingham(a) 0-0, Blackburn(h) 2-2, Spurs(h) 4-2, Wolves(a) 5-0, 14 points, final position 2nd
The top two after six games were also the top two at the end of the season, but of course Arsenal maintained this form throughout the entire campaign, remaining unbeaten, while Chelsea lost seven games and finished well back.
So a good start is imperative if you want to be challenging for the title, Man Utd’s 13 points from six games being the weakest start by eventual champions for some time. A word of caution is that we started in similar fashion three years ago, but finished miles behind Chelsea when all was said and done.
I tend to find a truer reflection is found in comparing the results you’ve had against the previous season, to see just how much you’ve gained. After all, we all know the fixtures have been kind so far, so just how good a start have we had?
2006/7: Fulham(h) 2-1, Blackburn(a) 1-1, Man City(h) 1-0, Portsmouth(h) 3-1, Spurs(a) 3-1, Derby(h) 5-0, 16 points
2005/6: Fulham(h) 3-1, Blackburn(a) 2-0, Man City(h) 3-1, Portsmouth(h) 2-2, Spurs(a) 2-2, Watford(h) 3-0, 14 points
Arsene Wenger is right to ensure that everyone keeps their feet on the ground, as we’re actually only two points better off than in the corresponding fixtures from last season, replacing Derby with Watford, as the two teams that will come bottom. It was not these fixtures that cost us so badly last term.
West Ham(a), Sunderland(h), Bolton(h), Liverpool(a)
West Ham(a) 0-1, Bolton(h) 2-1, Liverpool(a) 1-4
But now we have a chance to right a few wrongs. West Ham did the double over us last season, and the performance at Anfield was an absolute shocker. The next four games, including another home game against Sunderland, give a huge opportunity to put a big gap between Arsenal of 2006-7 and the Arsenal of today.
Let the good times continue.
In other news, financial results have been revealed to counter everything Dein has been saying recently about Arsenal requiring massive investment. We are officially the richest club in Britain, with Wenger having an enormous transfer fund, should he need it. To read more on this, I suggest you take a look at both Arseblog and Gunnerblog for excellent analysis of the story.
It’s a good day.