So here we are, entering phase 4 of the season. The last international break of the year has passed, and we’re about to hit a traditionally muddy part of the season. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that the next few weeks will go a long way to deciding our #Top4Fate.
We’re currently high off the fumes after an exhilarating hit of unbeaten. 16 is a big number, a crazy amount of games no one really thought possible this early in the project. However, the statistics point to us being in a bit of a bubble. You can cover your eyes, you can hide behind the couch, you can scream SHUT UP AND BACK THE MIRAGE, but ultimately, it’s clear we’re at a crossroads.
We’re 11th position in the xG league. That you dislike the metric of measuring luck matters not. Simple fact is, the methodology is sound enough to be used by elite management and it states we’re overperforming. Sky ran numbers yesterday showing our save percentage of 72% was the best in the league (about time) and our conversion rate is about 23%, which is again, the best in the league. That’s not sustainable, and we all know it. If our level drops on either one, as we’re currently playing, there will be an almighty correction.
This weekend, we play Bournemouth who sit 4 points behind us in the league and occupy 5th in the xG league. They’re where they are because they deserve it. This game is going to be very tough, especially after a fairly drab run of draws. Bournemouth are going to come at us. Teams don’t really fear Arsenal, we’re wide open at the back, we’re easy to get in behind and we’re susceptible to the basic counter. This is a massive banana skin.
We absolutely have to win, because we have Spurs and United coming up. The shape of the league this year looks very much like the top 4 are going to pull away from the chasing pack quite early on. If we have a disastrous few weeks and find ourselves 7 or 8 points back, that could be very hard to chase considering the lack of quality we have in the squad compared to the others.
This is the phase of the season where I think we’ll find out whether the ideas have settled. The ideal is that in the next month, we see that the defence has settled. Hopefully, the manager finds a way to bring composure to the back line, and works out a way of integrating Mesut into the side so we release his attacking prowess at the same time as finding a way for him to defend. Hopefully, we can find a way of being more creative as a team, because at the minute, we’re winning because we’re unbelievably clinical in front of goal.
There’s a lot we’re going to find out. Bournemouth is the perfect test. Let’s see what Emery has in store, and let’s pray he’s found a formula that brings us home a December to remember.