“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day. — ‘Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.’ — Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.”
Good morning, not much going on here in Arsenal world. I guess there’s the story about consistency and Arsenal finding it, or not finding it, and why can’t we find it, did we ever have it, and what consistency are we really talking about, something watery or something more like concrete, both have a consistency.
Personally, I lean toward: Arsenal have been consistent, you just didn’t notice it because they were also unlucky and lacking a little bit the sharpness. I also lean toward: every team in the Premier League is inconsistent at the start of this season.
From January to May, Arsenal were the best team in the League. They played a very consistent pressing style of football, they limited the number of big chances that the opposition created to about half of what they had in the 19 games before, and they scored on par with averages in terms of finishing.
What has happened at the start of this season is more of the same. Arsenal are second in the league in fewest big chances conceded, they lead the league in fewest shots in prime positions allowed, and they lead the league in big chances created and shots in prime created. They have been insanely consistent in terms of chance creation and limiting the opposition’s chances.
What has held Arsenal back is that they are only finishing 23% of their own big chances and 19% of their shots in prime. Those are both well below what I have seen from Arsenal over the last few years.
We have also seen a number of high-profile errors cost Arsenal some goals this season. From the start of the season last year to January 1st, Arsenal committed 7 errors for goals. From January 2nd to May, Arsenal committed just 1 error for a goal and that was on the last day of the season. These errors cost games early, especially the match against West Ham.
But every team in the Premier League has been inconsistent this season and, in fact, most seasons start off looking like a statistical car crash. If you map the points per game, league positions, or really almost any stat to start almost any season, they look like a seismograph during an earthquake. After about the first 10 games we start to get a clear picture of what the league is going to look like and patterns start to emerge.
Even if we throw in Champions League matches, where Arsenal have been astonishingly poor, we see that a lot of the English teams, with the exception of Manchester United (who have the easiest group ever put together), are struggling in Europe.
Just to illustrate: you have so far this season seen West Ham beat Arsenal and then turn around and lose two in a row to Leicester and Bournemouth. Then West Ham beats Man City and draws two in a row against Norwich and Sunderland.
Even the team which I felt was going to be runaway league winners this year, Manchester City, suffered two consecutive defeats at the hands of West Ham and Tottenham. I guess they don’t like hams.
And, of course, there’s Chelsea and Liverpool who have been a lollercopter of inconsistency this season. Chelsea only has two wins, one of which was gifted to them by the incompetence (or worse) of Mike Dean. The only thing consistent about either of those teams is that Mourinho will say something crazy after every match and Brendan Rodgers will say that his team played “excellent”.
I’m not at all saying that there weren’t frustrations with the way the team played at the start of the season. Just pointing out that for whatever reason every team in the Premier League has struggled with consistency this season.
I like what I see, statistically, from Arsenal and I’m firmly in the camp that Arsenal need to keep doing what they are doing and they will be legitimate title challengers.