One of the desirable outcomes of Arsene Wenger announcing his departure, of course, is a strong finish to the season, both in Europe and domestically, to send the beloved boss out on a high note. With yesterday’s struggle to do well in Europe in the books, and with a Manchester United match at the weekend to look forward to, things look a little less sunny on that front than they did a week ago.
But, for fans of high finishes, there’s a table out now that has exactly that! Trouble is, it’s not the kind of table a team wants to finish high up in. In my Q&A with Into The Calderon prior to yesterday, I had the following exchange:
ItC: What do Arsenal need to do to advance to the final?
TSF: It’s more about what they need to not do: switch off defensively. I haven’t done any analysis of this, but I have a sneaking suspicion that Arsenal have given up more dumb goals than any team in the Premier League this season. For whatever reason, Arsenal defenders are very prone to having those single-second moments of inattention which end up being deadly when the other team pounces on them. It’s happened a ton this year against much lesser teams than Atlético Madrid, so if Arsenal want to advance, they have to put in 180 solid minutes of defending, not 175.
Well, it turns out someone did do that research. And after said research, Arsenal “won” two categories in what the Guardian calls their “defensive ineptitude” table - goalkeeper howlers and outfield errors that lead to goals. Those, uh, strong performances led Arsenal to an overall third place finish in the table. Watford are your winners, by some margin, Stoke finished second, but Arsenal are comfortably in the Champions League of Ineptitude in third place.
So, congratulations to Petr Cech, Granit Xhaka, Shkodran Mustafi, and the rest of the Arsenal defense. Your lack of hard work has really paid off!