End of season jitters! Fact or myth?

Ever since our move to The Emirates, from the start of the season 2006/2007 we have come to expect the end of season jitters which seem to hit Arsenal from 1st March onwards.

SAF calls it squeaky bum time,  I prefer to call it END OF SEASON AFFECTIVE DISORDER.

The time when it seems that our players’ grey matter that lies between their ears goes haywire, looses all the software that has been installed in the previous months and their engines start mixing oil with water and start spluttering.

What once was a finely tuned engine which left everyone stuttering in its wake has suddenly become a car which seems to need all hands on board to push it over the finishing line.

I started this post from the season 06/07.  The season in which we started playing at the Emirates.  I could have started it earlier, say from the year 2000, however it seems more appropriate that we start off from the moment the first game was played on The Emirates surface.

The first thing which strikes the eye is the playing surface, it is longer and wider then the one at Highbury.  The present surface is 105 x 69 metres while the one at Highbury was 100 x 67 metres.  The surface at Highbury was narrower than the present one at the Emirates.

Now while I am not blaming the pitch width for our defensive abilities, or lack of, I do happen to think that this might play a bit in the opponents’ favour.  At Highbury, opponents often used to comment on how much narrow the pitch was and our mean defence did not leave too many spaces to be exploited either.  Nowadays the pitch is wider and our defence seems to be in Christmas mood for presents all year round, seeing that sometimes we go out of our way to give our opponents a warm welcome with some freebies to make their stay an enjoyable one.

Now let us analyze some facts.  In the following table one can see how we finished the season from the beginning of March till May, circa the last 11 to 12 games for each season.

Season                                                                    Pos

06/07             P12 W5    D4     L3     f15    a13    pts19           4th

07/08             P11 W5    D4     L2     f18    a12    pts19           3rd

08/09             P11 W8    D2     L1     f30    a12    pts26           4th

09/10             P10 W5    D2     L3     f17    a10    pts17           3rd

10/11             P11 W2    D6     L3     f14      a16    pts12          4th

 11/12            P12 W7    D3     L2     f21    a12    pts24           3rd

Funnily enough this season has not seen the worst ending ever since we have moved to the Emirates.  That honour has to go to season 2010/11.  Amazingly this season can be classified the 2nd best ending since we moved to the Emirates, having secured more than 20 points in 10-12 games for only the 2nd time in the last  6 seasons.

This season has been one hell of a roller coaster one, our emotions where going up or down more than a heart rate meter.   Obviously we could and should have wrapped up 3rd with more than a few matches to spare and some of the injuries did not help either.  We could have done with sealing 3rd with around 3 or 4 games left and with nothing to play for Arsene Wenger could have easily played the like of Coquelin, Yennaris, Miguel, Jenkinson etc, safe in the knowledge that whatever happens the league position would not have been influence and in turn, give them precious game time for their future..

Looking at the above, as I said earlier, the table shows that this season has seen the 2nd best season end since our move to the Emirates and while I agree that it is not enough since we have lost or drawn games which we should have won, it is not during the last three months of the season that we lost the league.

It is what we did throughout the year that counts, although a good finish always helps and the league table rarely lies.

It shows how good or bad you have been throughout the season, it does not show how good you were during the first three months or the last three months.  It usually reflects your performances during 10 arduous months.  There are moments which influence what happens at the end of May, however it is a sum total of all these issues not a singular event.

Last season saw our team concede far more goals to set pieces than goals to open play but this season the trend has been reversed.

While the goals from set pieces have dried up, we have conceded more due to having a more cavalier approach which leaves us more open and vulnerable when attacking.  The goals against Wigan, Norwich and WBA come to mind.

The majority of AFC fans usually complain about the end of season blues, however there is enough proof that although the end of season usually gives us jitters the results of the last 6 years are not that much more different then previous years.  Some of the media pointed out that Manchester United have imploded in the final part of the race but taking a look at the table below, which takes into consideration the final 12 games of the season we will become aware that this is not the case.

In fact Manchester United fared much better than the champions in the last 12 games, having more points and a better goal difference.  Arsenal did not fare badly than the first two being only 2 points behind City and just 4 behind United.  Tottenham on the other hand are 5 points behind Arsenal and 9 points behind United.

Mini Table from 1st March.

Manchester United          P12   W9    D1     L2     F26  A7     Pts 28

Manchester City              P12 W8    D 2    L2       F26  A 9     Pts 26

Arsenal                            P12   W7    D3     L2     F21   A12   Pts 24

Tottenham                       P12   W5    D4     L3     F14   A13   Pts 19

Going a little bit further, I compared this season with the Invincibles and the Championship Winning season of 1988/89.  If anything, this season this team have fared better than the season 1988/89 and are only 2 points worse off than the team which is rightly dubbed THE INVINCIBLES.

Comparison with previous title winning seasons.

2003/2004  P12   W7    D5     L0     F22   A9     Pts26 Champions

2011/2012  P12   W7    D3     L2     f21    A12   Pts24 3rd

1988/89      P12   W6    D4     L2     F21   A11   Pts22 Champions

So as everyone can see, the end of this season was not all that bad as some may seem to want to point out.  It compares favourably to the results obtained by previous Arsenal title winning teams and the current Manchester clubs.  We did not fare badly, however, had the team not been careless in certain games we could all have been shouting a different story.  Not necessarily a title winning team, but a more enjoyable ride to the final games.

A note to the AKB’s and the AWB’s

I would like to end this article with this point.  A side note to the AKB’s and the AWB’s (AW bashers).  You all have right to your opinion and we all respect it.  However remember that if you are an AKB and you have every right to be, it is not always that Arsene Wenger is right in what he does and if you are an AWB, and you have every right to do so, not what AW does is wrong.

Remember that he, like you and me, is a mortal being and is prone to commit mistakes.  What is unacceptable is that you try to shove your opinion down our throat and call us names.  In this article I tried to stay impartial without committing myself to one side or the other and I hope that in the future, whatever happens with our club, we all get behind the team and support it.

We all have a whole summer to analyse and criticize and I think that that, is about enough.

Written by Devilgunner

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