Wenger's wonky maths has some merit

"Arsenal FA Cup Parade 2015" (CC BY 2.0) by  joshjdss 
As the rest of the football media turns its attention to the international fixtures, now is the ideal time for us to take stock of precisely where Arsenal stand. This has been a season that promised much and, in the absence of meaningful title challenges from Chelsea or the Manchester clubs, it is one that really ought to have seen the Gunners prosper. That it has clearly not been such a season is the sort of understatement that gives sarcasm a bad name.

There is no getting away from the fact that Arsenal have drawn and lost too many games in this inconsistent season. Arsenal ought to be better than that. Even if they were to win all of their remaining fixtures, the chances of even making it into the top two are remote. Such has been the consistency shown by Leicester and Tottenham that Arsene Wenger’s enduing optimism - for all its mathematical merit - looks to be more wishful thinking than a genuine belief. The Gunners are way behind Leicester and are also trailing Spurs - albeit with a game in hand. At this stage of the season those are big deficits to make up and it is a reason why Arsenal have drifted out to odds of 6/1 in the Bet365 Premier League football betting for the title.

To run with Wenger’s positive thinking may seem either romantic or naïve, but there are still thin straws of hope to cling to. The run in is not overly demanding as, aside from the trips to Upton Park and the Etihad, the Gunners will not face a team in the top half of the table. On current form, Manchester City are also hardly an opponent to be feared.

And then there is the personnel. The emergence of Mohamed Elneny may yet prove to be the most positively significant development in Arsenal’s season. If he can forge a partnership with Francis Coquelin the attacking free spirits may at least be given the freedom to truly cut loose. As ever with the Gunners, it is what happens behind the lines that is crucial. Perhaps Elneny will be the man to finally prove to Wenger that there is a need for more than a single defensively capable midfielder in front to his back four.

That defensive solidity - not words associated with the Gunners since the days of Vieira and Petit - is all the more important given the goalkeeping situation. David Ospina is expected to shake off the knock he took at Goodison Park, but the sight of the Colombian hobbling around whilst Wenger refused to entertain the introduction of Matt Macey did nothing for the collective sense of security.
In the attacking sense, the emergence of a striker with the directness of Alex Iwobi has also added another key attribute. The 19-year-old is undeniably raw, but he also offers undoubted promise and his inclusion in the first-team squad constitutes a timely warning to the likes of Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud that they can take nothing for granted.

A maximum return from the Gunners’ remaining games would put them on 79 points. Only in 1996/97 (Man United - 75pts) and 1997/98 (Arsenal - 78pts) has the Premier League title been won with a lower points total. It would be highly unlikely, but Arsenal still have a reason to approach the season's end with a wholly positive mind-set.

1 comment:

  1. I just think with the current set up Arsenal are destine to finish near the top but never win the title unfortunately