Arsenal’s terrible form against “tough opposition” revealed (5-year stats)

The Man City game was a one off! by ThirdManJW

What I found quite interesting after Arsenal’s shocking 2-0 win at the Etihad, was the response from the pundits and fans alike. I think everyone was a little stunned at our compact, counter-attacking setup. Rarely do we see our defensive line so deep, with all the defenders within touching distance of each other. Looking back, it seems strange Wenger hasn’t used this tactic more often, especially when you consider the amount of players we are usually missing due to injuries. Surely Wenger should be taking a more cautious approach when up against good opposition that are tough to beat even with your best XI, let alone the fact you may be missing three or four first team players regularly. The problem is, Wenger is a terrible defensive coach who prefers to concentrate on the attacking side of the game. He has always been a fantastic offensive coach, one of the best, but even this side of our game has been on the wane for the last few years. No longer do we create chances for fun, and stuff teams here and there. In fact, we often struggle to even get by poor/average opposition.

I decided to do a little research into this, painstakingly looking at results and clean sheets over the last five seasons (including this season) against what most people would consider, tough opposition. People in defence of Wenger may say I’ve cherry picked some of the teams and results, but I’ve spoken to a lot of football fans about what teams I’ve picked, and almost everyone agreed that these games are the tough opponents you look out for at the beginning of each season. I’ve not included Southampton (which actually helps Wenger in this case), because it’s only this season and the last that they’ve become very tough opponents. I’ve also only included Stoke away, because they never travel well, but are very tough to beat at the Britannia, not just for us.

The teams I’ve considered home and away going back to the 10/11 season are:

Man City, Chelsea, Man United, Liverpool, Tottenham, Everton, Stoke (away only), Monaco, Dortmund, B. Munich, Napoli, AC Milan, Barcelona.


Played – 68
Won – 21
Drew – 20
Lost – 27
Clean Sheets – 17
Win Percentage – 31%

Against the “big three” of Man City, Man United, and Chelsea:

Played – 31
Won – 6
Drew – 8
Lost – 17
Clean Sheets – 8
Win Percentage – 19%


Played – 17
Won – 7
Drew – 2
Lost – 8
Clean Sheets – 5
Win Percentage – 41%

As you can see, the results overall aren’t great, especially against the “big three”. Obviously I acknowledge that the Premiership is the toughest league in the world, injury problems every season, and lack of funds for most of this period, whilst other clubs have been spending like crazy. But winning is not all down to money and world class players. Look at what Diego Simeone has achieved at Atletico Madrid. Madrid’s budget is a million miles away from the likes of Barcelona and Real, and Madrid’s squad isn’t packed full of world class players. Yet they won La Liga last season. It will probably Simeone’s greatest ever achievement.

But like I’ve already stated, problems such as finance and injuries will often make it harder to win, so it becomes even more baffling as to why Wenger almost never takes a cautious approach, especially for away games. You also need to take into account that Wenger has kept his best players of late, and has had lots of money to spend over the last two summer transfer windows, yet he still refuses to strengthen the weak areas of our team. This is evident in the awful performances and results going back to last season.

Fans have been a lot more optimistic this year, even saying we’re improving. Before the game last night it was, played 10, won 8. But once you look at the games individually, it’s the same problems over and over. Apart from the Man City game, all our wins have come against poor/average opposition. We’ve now faced four tough opponents this year, losing three, and looking awful in all three. We’ve even looked poor against the likes of Palace and Leicester.

I would love to see us try and get Simeone when Wenger leaves, but in the meantime…it’s not going to be great.


Tags Chelsea Man City Stoke


  1. I read on here each and every day, Fans saying that they dont like Wenger and they want him OUT !!! I could not agree more i think Wenger and 60% of the players we have now should not be at the club, Lets face facts
    How many of our players would get in any of the top teams in europe ?
    How many of the top teams in europe would put up with Wenger as manger ?
    How many other top clubs fans would sit back and allow this to go on season after season ?
    Arsenal as a club are the fan base with out us fans there is now club, so it is up to us fans to put a stop to this rubbish, we dont like what is going on so lets put a stop to it now, Each and every match we play we should have Banners also the Fans should voice what they think, lets make lots of noise and make sure every person & every tv station is talking about what us fans want. We want a new manger, We want some how can take us forward, We want a manger that buys players that will give there all and will be proud to wear the Arsenal shirt each and every week, We can not and will not win every match and there is disapointments at each and every club in the world but we will exept that as long as we as fans can see some passion and commitment from our club manger and players


  2. Says it all really.

    Someone would be great. The Argentinian George Graham. Bring back some steel, do or die by organising and cultivating an effective winning unit.

    Either that are get Guardiola the man whose team style AW tried to emulate and failed.

      1. Doesn’t help people’s moods no doubt but personally I am all for bringing AW’s frailties to light. They have been long hidden.

  3. Time for everyone to calm down and get behind the team. Yes Arsenal were woefully bad on Wednesday but we’ve got a big game on Sunday and a winnable FA Cup game in a week. Wednesday aside our recent record is good. Move on.

  4. Sorry but Arsene & the Board only accepts the stats that takes into account last 17 seasons and not 5 like yours!

  5. Yes the blood letting has to end soon
    as the games come thick and fast now.
    Arsenal should get the EPL 3rd place
    which will be a step up from last season.
    It also means no qualifier for the group stage.
    Also Arsenal can get players in earlier.
    The FA cup is very open still and if Arsenal win
    Arsenal will be the most successful FA cup winning team with 12.
    Toss in the Community shield and its decent season after all.
    And we are still alive in the ECL … where there’s life there’s hope.
    Lets get stuck into Everton.

    1. I am afraid Arsenal will get the usual 4th. Not that I am wishing my club bad, but that is Wenger’s ambition. He has all his energy fixated on coming 4th!

  6. I think Arsenal’s Bad form in last few matches was down to the fact that Cazorla has to play in deeper role and Ramsey is injured. I know Ramsey is not the same Ramsey of last season but when he is in the team, his energy gives so much team and defensively he was quite good. He can very quickly close the opposition down with his speed and can make himself available very quickly in opposition’s box. This also allows Cazorla to play more freely in offensive third and he was devastating there. Cazorla can still affect game at deeper role but 1. he is best at no 10 and 2 with Ramsey in the team we looked more balanced. But that means Ozil has to be benched which Wenger will never do.
    wenger can be little ruthless after the horrible performance by the team and must drop Ozil and Welbeck.
    OX and Walcott should get chance now as well as Rosisky.
    Per was also very poor but not sure if Gabrial is ready to replace him.

    1. I am afraid you will get a lot of thumb down for daring to mention Ozil – clueless fans’ best player. Cazorla had to be dropped deeper to accommodate Ozil. For the records, the team was playing very well before Ozil arrived from his recent injury. Drop Ozil to the bench now before it is too late.

    2. more balanced with ramsey…what u been watchin this season….no serious team would bencj ozil for ramsey…so we are doing something else wrong….ozil needs the right players ahead of him the kind that look for space and anticipate the pass….giroud walcott and welbeck aint good enough at that…carzola has to drop deeper because the defensive option are so poor…anyway said it once and will say it a million times we should have had ozil carzola and wolshere working together….that was the frogs job and he has failed miserably..another nail in his already nailed down coffin

  7. One thing dat I awfully hate wen v r losing in d big matches is dat fans go quiet even in home fixtures and wen dat happens we no longer get d benefit of playing at home. Just luk at d Liverpool support, even on dere poorest days dey keep cheering loudly.

    1. It was Highbury the Library
      Now it’s
      Barbituates and the Emirates.

      Drop the prices to reflect footballing achievements and not to line the boards pockets without spending and investing in
      Both financial and non-financial (I.e football!) matters.

      Then the working/lower middle classes might actually be able to get near a game and the stadium might have some noise inside it on match days.

      Bu$$ine$$ as usual at AFC.

  8. OK, we can all do selective stats that “prove” whatever we want them to. Beating the bigger teams confers nothing more than bragging rights and does not get you any more than 3 points. I would have thought it a bigger crime to lose to the so called lesser teams in your league. Those of you old enough to remember will know we used to have a reputation for the precise reverse, doing well against “bigger” teams and messing it up against the “lesser” ones. In the last 11 full PL seasons, our “crisis period”, stretching back to the Invincibles we average 6.7 losses a season. The comparable stats for the usual suspects are as follows: Man Utd (6.0), Chelsea (5.6), Man City (11.8 – admittedly skewed because this includes the “small City” pre-Mansour), Liverpool (9.1), Tottenham (11.7). So on average we have lost one more PL game a season than Chelsea and less than one more game than Man Utd. Hardly a pattern or stat that smacks of criminal negligence. If we are appalling against the “bigger teams” then you would have to conclude that these “bigger teams” must be losing a lot of games they shouldn’t against lower ranked teams.

    1. You are obviously trying to cover the obvious with your analysis. Loosing against the big teams is not the issue. The issue is, if you have to win/achieve something, you must win the big teams consistently. Compare our achievements over the past 10 years with those of the big teams and you will better appreciate the the mindset of the writer

  9. We drew Monaco and we all got excited, thinking that our failure to get through the round of sixteen in recent past was due to the quality of opposition we’ve had to face. We are being proved wrong. Our problems appear to be deeper than that. The only way Wenger can convince me that he still has what it takes to be relevant in modern football is go to Monaco and get a result that will take us to the next round. Anything short of that is nothing but pure S***!

  10. We are…how can I say…vulnerable against big teams? Defensive teams are bad for us. Always have been. These teams have good defences and often play counter attack football against us. Thus we lose. Wenger tried to change that against City – it worked. He went back to his old ways against Monaco, we had a MARE and we lost. I don’t think City was a “fluke” because it’s clearly a possibility. SINCE the City game we have been consistently awful though. It was like playing rope a dope knocked our game out of us for the next month!

    The fact is, if you play end to end game, we lose because we haven’t got end to end players. Cazorla was fantastic in the Man City game because he WAS an end to end CAM. Ozil will never be that. If you play end to end like the big games generally are, you HAVE to have a mobile, energetic midfield. Whether they’re passing well or being direct, you HAVE to be energetic and be able to close out the other team. Your back 4 should be the same, mobile and energetic. Wenger’s decision to end the end to end style game we usually try to play against big teams brought us a result. Had we played half decent, it would have at Tottenham too I reckon. Monaco we got beat on the counter falling back into our old ways and not having the mobile midfield (or more notably, defence).

    A lot of blame goes to Wenger. A lot of blame goes to players. They are SO weak willed sometimes. It doesn’t help when our captain is a Donkey and our real Captain is injured…we need a leader who can lead by example on the pitch. Sadly Rambo is injured and hasn’t been himself this season so we probably need to buy someone who will become captain. Still think we need a Schneiderlin type who can B2B or DM instead of another CAM/B2B. We need to make ourself tighter in the middle, wider on the wings and for heaven’s sake Giroud needs to not have nights like Wednesday!

Comments are closed

Top Blog Sponsors