Since Arsenal defeated their North London rivals at home back in October, a thought came to me about what happened the last times Arsenal defeated a top six rival at home, they got defeated in the corresponding fixture away from home. This has happened four times in the last three seasons, I’ll backdate:
2013/14 – Arsenal v Liverpool
November 2013: Arsenal defeat Liverpool 2-0, including a memorable goal from Aaron Ramsey to go top.
February 2014: Arsenal are downed 5-1 by Liverpool, a game that saw their defence fall to pieces within 20 minutes! (That game saw BT Sport cunningly rile up Arsenal fans in the Summer of that year).
(Didn’t happen in 2014/15)
2015/16 – Arsenal v Manchester United
October 2015: Arsenal dispatch Manchester United 3-0 with goals from Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez in a first-half blitz.
February 2016: Arsenal succumb to a 3-2 defeat – a game that saw Marcus Rashford rise to prominence.
Ok. That’s just a one-off, it’ll never happen again, right? Roll on the next season…
2016/17 – Arsenal v Chelsea
September 2016: Like Manchester United at home the previous season, Arsenal score three past Chelsea before the break with goals from Alexis Sanchez, Theo Walcott, and Mesut Ozil. There seemed to be a good feeling in the air as Arsenal fans thought their club could challenge for the title (in third at the Let’s fast forward to February 2017…
February 2017 – Chelsea 3 Arsenal 1. Still third, but the title is well out of reach!
Alright, that’s twice now. Surely, it can’t happen for a third time, surely not?! Well, let’s see…
2017/18 – Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur
November 2017 – Arsenal earn a first NLD home win since 2013/14 thanks to goals from Shkodran Mustafi and Alexis Sanchez.
February 2018 – A solitary goal from Harry Kane (his seventh NLD goal at the time) sees Arsenal fall short.
What is seen there is a certain pattern. Why is that though?
Let’s start off by looking at the 2015/16 season. Arsenal had two games before the loss at Manchester United (28th February), Arsenal had an FA Cup tie against Hull City (20th February). And then a Champions League tie at home to Barcelona (23rd February). So that was three matches in nine days. Was that a factor though?
Next, we delve into the 2016/17 season. Arsenal didn’t have any relating issues, unlikes the previous season. I’d say it was just a case of being outplayed.
Finally, the 2017/18 season. Following the loss at Wembley, Arsenal had a Europa League tie v Swedish outfit Ostersunds to figure out (five days later), but to suggest Arsenal were “distracted” by European commitments would be ludicrous, so again, I’d put down the Wembley loss to being beaten by the better team.
So now we move onto this season. How do Arsenal get over “away day backlash”. Firstly, its important that they start out on the front foot. Secondly, its a good thing that no players are suspended, nor are there any new injury issues.
Maybe (just maybe) its a good thing Arsenal aren’t competing in the FA Cup anymore, so that doesn’t need worrying about.
On the match itself. Obviously, pundits, and commentators alike will be talking about Arsenal not winning away at the big clubs (seriously?! How on earth are Tottenham a “big club”?!) but its important that we see Arsenal bring their “A game”, and silence Harry Kane who has scored eight NLD goals.
Note: (Although Arsenal drew at home v Liverpool, then suffered a heavy defeat in the corresponding fixture, I’m only counting matches in which Arsenal won the first time around).