There is a lot to like about Arsenal Football Club right now. They’re winning matches, playing better, and have an exciting crop of young players who are breaking through / have already burst onto the scene. They’ve also got the current best odds of winning the Europa League, according to 538.
Those odds are undoubtedly affected by the 2-away goal lead the Gunners hold heading into their second leg against Olympiacos, but whatever. We’re doing positive here. Arsenal have as good a shot as anybody to win the Final.
Speaking of winning, it’s really nice to be winning matches again. It definitely beats the prolonged streak of futility back in the fall. Remember when Arsenal won the North London Derby last weekend? That was pretty sweet.
Looking at 538 again, the Gunners recent improved results have actually increased their chances of finishing in a European place in the table compared to a few weeks ago. The odds are still more likely they’ll end up on the outside looking in, but to paraphrase Dumber and Dumber, you’re telling me there’s a chance?
The Gunners have the second-easiest run-in of any team in the league, at least according to some ELO metrics. West Ham, Liverpool, Everton, and Chelsea are tricky, but I’d peg current-form Arsenal around even odds in all of those matches. Arsenal are fifth in the “since Boxing Day” table — those are winnable games. The rest of the matches are against bottom-fourth clubs, save for Crystal Palace, who are currently in 11th. Hopefully the Gunners rack up the points.
I’ve referenced this tweet a few times, but the charts here are a good illustration of why I’m bullish on Arsenal. Basically, the underlying metrics confirm what the “eye-test” is telling me — that the Gunners are both attacking and defending better. That’s particularly important for Arsenal fans because as we saw with Unai Emery’s long winning streak, a string of good results can trick you into think things are okay when they are very much not okay.
accompanying this, here's the "actual non-penalty goal difference 10-match rolling average chart compared to the expected goals. No matter how you slice it, Arteta is making us better. https://t.co/O09vIi8do6 pic.twitter.com/vuiljyls4Y— 7amkickoff (@7amkickoff) March 7, 2021
With the obvious caveat that growth isn’t always a constant, upward trend, I can safely say that I’m cautiously optimistic for next season. Actually, screw it. I’m hyped for next season. I expect Arsenal to be legitimate Top Four contenders and not being there will be a let off.
And separate from all the table-related stuff, Arsenal have so many young, talented, and exciting players who are already doing big things. Stars in the making (or already made) Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith Rowe, Kieran Tierney, Gabriel Magalhaes, and Gabriel Martinelli. To a slightly lesser extent, Reiss Nelson, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Joe Willock, and Eddie Nketiah. A wealth of talent on-loan that will either break through soon or fetch a nice return for reinvestment — William Saliba, Dinos Mavropanos, Matteo Guendouzi, and Lucas Torreira. There’s a lot to like about how the Arsenal roster as shaping up as Edu and Mikel Arteta remake it. And that’s before you even get to the U23 guys.
So yeah, I’m excited for the final two months of the season (and beyond). It’s a really nice change from the usual existential dread that comes from being an Arsenal fan.