Sun. Oct 13th, 2019

The Impact of Arsenal’s Poor Away Form

The process of ushering in the Unai Emery era of Arsenal has seen plenty of differences from the way the Arsene Wenger legacy ended. The integration of Emery’s tactics has catered to their fast-paced attack, on good days. The Spaniard’s injection of energy into the squad shows in the way Arsenal maintain high pressure. An increase in intensity has seen the Gunners pull out results they wouldn’t have in previous years.

However, one similarity has plagued Arsenal in the past two seasons. In both Wenger’s last hoorah and Emery’s humble beginnings, Arsenal have been abysmal away from home in the Premier League. They’ve managed to keep up with the rest of the top six thanks to incredible form at home, but the catastrophic away record is quite costly.

From the beginning of the 2017-18 season until now, Arsenal won 27.8% of their away matches in the Premier League. Their record of 10-18-8 produced a measly 38 points within that span. Keeping them afloat in the competition for European play has been their 91 points at home, which is the second most in the PL in that time (Manchester City – 101 pts).

Compared to the rest of the top six, this record is laughable at the very least. Considering the fortress that has been built at the Emirates, any improvements to their away form would provide some relief to the torture Arsenal fans have to endure. Adhering to the away numbers of the rest of their immediate competitors could remove the title of laughing stock from the Gunners.

Every team plays 19 home games and 19 away games in the season, one of each against every other club. Simply transferring each teams away record to Arsenal helps reveal some of what might have occured. .

Forewarning: All hypotheticals are assuming Emery replaces Wenger regardless of what “happened” last season. Thank you.

Chelsea

Chelsea boast the second worst away record within the big six, but it’s still a solid gap to the bottom. Since the beginning of last season the Blues have claimed victory in 47.2% of away games in the PL, picking up 62 points along the way.

Breaking it down further, Chelsea earned 33 points away from home last season winning 52.6% of those games. In comparison, Arsenal won 21% of their away games last season mustering up a whole 16 points.

Say Arsene Wenger led his side to an away record identical to the aforementioned form of Chelsea. Combining it with the insane home record Arsenal held last season, Emery’s beginning would have looked a bit different.

Arsenal earned 47 points at home last season. Introducing the Chelsea away record raises Arsenal’s season-ending point total from 63 to 81 points, enough to place the Gunners third in the table. The return to the UCL comes at the expense of that season’s finalist Liverpool, who would bump down to fifth everything considered. This is especially interesting since Liverpool have been considered one of the favorites of this year’s European tournament.

If the two teams swapped away forms, Chelsea would have tanked big time. Integrating that horrid spell away from home into Chelsea’s season would have brought their season point total down from 70 to 53 points, putting them in seventh. The Blues would have lost out on that sixth and final European spot to Burnley’s 54 points. Imagine European Thursday nights at Turf Moor.

This season would have less of an impact in terms of numbers, but the current situation doesn’t take much for dramatic change. Chelsea have earned 29 away points this season compared to Arsenal’s 22. Had the London rivals found themselves in each others shoes, things would look a lot different in the table.

Arsenal would see their current total rise from 67 points to 73 points, lifting them into third and moving Tottenham down to fourth. Meanwhile, Chelsea would see yet another descent from 71 points to 64 points.

The drop isn’t as drastic, keeping them clear in the top six. However, the switch completely changes the top four race. Arsenal would have top four and Champions League qualification clinched, with little pressure heading into Thursday’s Europa League semi final at Valencia. But Chelsea’s drop leaves them cemented into the Europa League, right alongside Manchester United.

Needless to say, even keeping up with the second to last would have been profitable for the Gunners. To think the possibilities only get better from here.

Manchester United

Next up on the list is Manchester United, who has flexed its away form at the Emirates in style recently. The numbers are only slightly better than Chelsea’s, so there isn’t much of a difference in terms of what Arsenal would have achieved. However, the Arsenal-away effect would have hit Manchester United hard.

United earned 34 points last season and 29 points this season away from home in the PL, winning exactly 50% of their games on the road. Both teams gathered 47 points at home last season, so their point totals would have switched overall. Arsenal would have taken second with 81 points, again returning to Champions League play.

This season, the switch lifts Arsenal crucially just like the Chelsea switch. In fact, the difference between United and Chelsea away from home is a matter of one point. Arsenal would be sitting in third place with 73 points, a full result above North London rivals Tottenham.

The switches in the respective seasons would not have treated Manchester United well. Jose Mourinho’s side would have dropped to sixth at the end of last season with 63 points, swapping directly with the Gunners. The Red Devils would have returned to the Europa League once again, as they are set to do next year. After seeing the reactions to this season, you start  wonder if that result would have spelled an earlier end for “The Special One”.

This season, the drop would be unnoticeable on the surface. Dropping from 65 points to 57 points, United would remain in sixth just as they are now. However, this would have the Red Devils well out of the question for top four and even at jeopardy of being caught out by Wolverhampton (54 points) for that last Europa League spot.

Swapping the away forms of these two clubs proves less as a support of United’s record and more an indication of just how important Arsenal’s results at home are.

Tottenham Hotspur

As we climb up the away record charts we come across Tottenham Hotspur. The UCL semi finalists have won 55.3% of their away PL games since the start of last season. In times where the Spurs fan base finally feel they have a hold over their cross-city rivals, a swap of away records would be far from ideal.

Tottenham earned exactly the same number of away points as Manchester United last season with 34. Arsenal would have risen to 81 points yet again, tussling with United over second place by matter of goal differential. The Gunners would settle easily back into UCL play and set themselves up for a successful following season.

This season, with the swap, Arsenal definitively take third and increase their total from 67 points to 78 points. The Gunners would have comfortable point buffers on either side of them, practically cementing their spot for the rest of the campaign.

Spurs would find themselves much less fortunate in Arsenal’s shoes away from home. Last season, Spurs 77 points would have become 59 points and Pochettino’s men would have sat in sixth. Tottenham would potentially be preparing for Thursday night against Valencia as opposed to Wednesday night against Ajax.

Interestingly enough, the result of the swap for this season would be nearly the same for Tottenham as last. Going from 71 points to 60, Spurs would be sitting in sixth with one game left to play. Considering they would be 10 points away from fourth and Wolves behind them by three points, their spot in the race for the top six could very easily be compromised.

Again, the clubs who have stuck closer to Arsenal serve more as billings to support just how good Arsenal have needed to be at home to keep up. That being said, it doesn’t take away from the fact that Gooners around the world know full well the detriment of the away record considering the potential.

Liverpool FC

Liverpool, who have become a household topic of conversation in the past two years, conjured wins in 57.9% of their away league matches in that time just like Spurs. Interestingly enough, Liverpool actually earned the second least amount of points away from home – 32 – among the top six last season. It’s this season that makes things change severely.

Doubling their point total away from home last season would lift Arsenal to third place with 79 points. The Gunners would bump the Reds out of the top four and finish above Tottenham yet again by two points.

This season, Arsenal would adopt Liverpool’s 44 points away from home to replace the 22 of their own so far. The Gunners would find themselves in second place with 89 points, inching themselves closer to the title race with reigning champs Manchester City. Arsenal fans have only been able to imagine a shot at the trophy since the days of the Invincibles, so this chance would potentially feel past due.

On the other hand, if Liverpool were to half their away point total last season, they likely would’ve been sucked back into the Europa League. The 59 points would mean a UCL Final victory over Real Madrid would’ve been imperative if they wanted to return for the following season.


Speaking of the following season, Liverpool wouldn’t be all that bad if they cut down away points from 44 points to 22 points. The large difference would only take them down to third with 75 points, securing a place in the Champions League. A lack of a title race might shed a different light on Jurgen Klopp’s side though, especially if the UCL success wasn’t the same.

In all fairness, with teams like Liverpool you start to see form stay consistent regardless of where they are. With Arsenal’s numbers at home resembling that of contenders like Liverpool, it’s clear to see that the failure to translate that consistency severely diminishes the Gunners potential.

Manchester City

Alas, we approach the summit of the list, and we see what a perfect scenario would be for the Gunners. Over the last two seasons so far, Manchester City have won 78.4% of their away games in the PL.

From that span City earned 91 points, which is just under Liverpool’s season total this season. Last year was especially novel as the citizens split their league-winning 100 points evenly between home and away. Those 50 points would have gone a long way for Wenger’s farewell tour.

Arsenal’s total would obviously skyrocket, emerging from 63 points to 97 points. Arsene Wenger would bow out of Arsenal as Premier League champion one last time, Mesut Ozil on one arm and Olivier Giroud on the other. The Frenchman’s shoes would be as big as ever to fill, or he’d take a huge sigh of relief after years of banter.

In similar respects, Arsenal would thrive this season with Man City’s away record. Taking City’s 41 away points so far, the Gunners would sit comfortably in second with 86 points. Though out of the title race, the seven point gap would be a respectable result at the end of the season.

City would be absolutely devastated with Arsenal’s away form considering their recent dominance. Rather than winning the league with 100 points, Guardiola’s side would have settled for life in the Europa League with 66 points in fifth place. On top of that, the Citizens would have to bear watching United lift the Premier League trophy. Perhaps we’d all have the pleasure of enjoying more years of Mourinho in England.

This season would see a less severe drop in place for Man City, all things considered. Currently in pole position with 95 points, City with Arsenal’s away record would drop down to third with 76 points. City’s advantage over then-fifth placed Tottenham would be six points, keeping their spot in the UCL certain heading into the final week of the season.

But the problem that would pose is that City would only have the FA Cup to play for after being knocked out of the two trophies prioritized since Guardiola’s arrival. Further inability to win such trophies would certainly bloom questions of whether the Spanish manager is capable of winning them again with such deep pockets.

Conclusion

So what does this all mean? What’s the point of spitting out all these numbers and hypotheticals if they never actually did happen?

It’s easy to sit here and bag on Arsenal’s play and criticize their results. Ultimately, none of these situations will change the last two seasons. But the lack of points Arsenal has earned away from home is frankly concerning.

Even just keeping up with the rest of the top six would bring Champions League play back to the Emirates. Arsenal are in the Europa League semi finals for the second year in a row, falling to champions Atletico Madrid last season. This year they take a 3-1 advantage into Valencia for a spot in the final. Normally, this would be considered a fairly successful season by most clubs.

However, prior to the Europa League runs, Arsenal qualified for 19 straight Champions League seasons. The down spiral in away form has seemed to coincide with the dwindling presence Arsenal hold in Europe. The one thing Arsenal could keep consistent has been compromised and it’s starting to have an effect on the levels of success the club is able to reach.

Arsenal have been such an enigma in recent years that trying to explain their place in the soccer world could take eons. It’s undeniable that the Gunners have the potential to be among the best clubs in Europe, but they seem to have never fully figured everything out since the Invincible season.  

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