It’s a bit hard to believe that the last Arsenal match was 94 days ago. That’s basically a summer break’s worth of time-off that, at least for me, has felt like much longer. So you’ll excuse me (and I’ll do the same for you), if I need to get myself back up to speed on where things stand in the Premier League and what the Gunners have left in front of them.
Arsenal sit 9th in the table on 40 points, three out of a Europa League place and eight off Chelsea in 4th. The Gunners have a game-in-hand over all the teams ahead of them save for Manchester City (who they face) and Sheffield United. City have already won the Carabao Cup, which means the EL place that normally goes to the winner will be decided by table finish. The EL spot that goes to the FA Cup winner is likely, but not certain, to be pushed to table finish as well. The European places could be pushed further down the table pending the results of City’s appeal of their 2-year Champions and Europa League ban, which was argued in front of the Court of Arbitration for Sport on June 8th. A decision is expected in mid-July. If the ban is upheld, 8th place could be good enough to make the EL.
Arsenal have 10 Premier League matches remaining (4H, 6A) and the FA Cup quarterfinal. That’s 11 matches in 46 days, one every 4.2 days. If the Gunners make the FA Cup semifinal, that number drops to a match every 3.8 days. Fortunately, whoever makes the FA Cup final will have a whopping five days off to rest and prepare.
Arsenal have the 8th most difficult remaining schedule by opponent’s average table position. Critically, of the teams ahead of the Gunners, only Tottenham (by 0.1 average places) and Sheffield United (by 1.1 average places) have tougher schedules. Manchester United, 5 points ahead of Arsenal, have the easiest remaining schedule in the PL.
Six of Arsenal’s remaining league matches are on the road. As has been well-documented, the Gunners have struggled away from the Emirates this season, although there were signs Mikel Arteta was starting to turn that trend around. While it would be infinitely better not to be forced by a global pandemic to play the remaining matches behind closed doors, from a strictly footballing perspective, the Gunners are probably better off playing to empty stadiums on the road.
Since the Bundesliga returned to play, home teams have won approximately 22% of their matches compared to 43% pre-shutdown, and they are scoring almost half a goal less per game. If that translates to the Premier League, Arsenal have a better shot at picking up points from those six away matches than they would have pre-shutdown.
The conventional wisdom, if such a thing even exists right now, is that the “better” and “deeper” teams should benefit more from having 5 substitutions per match and playing without the crowd influence — the thought being that underlying quality will carry the day. Where Arsenal fall along the “better” and “deeper” sliding scales is open to debate. We should also keep in mind that the Gunners will be on the opposite side of those not-so-great home statistics for their four matches at the Emirates.
Arsenal’s remaining schedule (for your sanity, I recommend you don’t look at the reverse fixture results, they’re not great):
@ Manchester City - June 17th, 10 AM ET
2nd, 57 points
Reverse: Arsenal 0 - Man City 3
@ Brighton - June 20th, 10 AM ET
15th, 29 points
Reverse: Arsenal 1 - Brighton 2
@ Southampton - June 25th, 1 PM ET
14th, 34 points
Reverse: Arsenal 2 - Southampton 2
@ Sheffield United (FA Cup QF) - June 27th, 8 AM ET
7th, 43 points
Results: Sheffield 1 - Arsenal 0, Arsenal 1 - Sheffield 1
Norwich - July 1st, 1 PM ET
20th, 21 points
Reverse: Norwich 2 - Arsenal 2
@Wolverhampton - July 4th, TBD
6th, 43 points
Reverse: Arsenal 1 - Wolves 1
Leicester City - July 8th, TBD
3rd, 53 points
Reverse: Leicester 2 - Arsenal 0
@Tottenham - July 11th, TBD
8th, 41 points
Reverse: Arsenal 2 - Tottenham 2
Liverpool - July 15th, TBD
1st, 82 points
Reverse: Liverpool 3 - Arsenal 1
@Aston Villa - July 18th, TBD
19th, 25 points
Reverse: Arsenal 3 - Villa 2
FA Cup Semifinal (if qualified) - July 18th/19th
Watford - July 26th, TBD
17th, 27 points
Reverse: Watford 2 - Arsenal 2
FA Cup Final (if qualified) - August 1st
As with before the shutdown, we’ll have match previews, threads, and recaps along with live tweeting from the TSF account, as well as links to where you can legally watch/stream every match.