It’s no longer news that Arsenal are about as poor a side can be away from home. On the road, the Gunners have struggled in recent years and have even seen “lesser” sides dominate them away from home. Ask bottom-placed Watford how they managed 31 shots against Arsenal if you still have doubts. However, one area that has been slightly overlooked or not given as much attention is the North London side’s brilliant home form at the Emirates – an area that could fire the Gunners an advantage over the likes of Tottenham, Chelsea and United in the top four race.
Last season, Arsenal were abysmal away from home and could only manage a total of 25 points from a possible 57 on the road. Compare to their home form where they racked up 45 points (almost double the away points) from a total 57 and the message becomes clearer. Away wins have been so expensive to achieve that the 1-0 win against Newcastle at the start of the season saw the Gunners equal their away clean sheet tally from the whole of last season. Relief as there are 32 games left to go. Right? Well not so much. At this rate, it honestly won’t come as a shock if the Gunners don’t manage any other away clean sheet till the end of the season.
Hence it’s no surprise Arsenal were the only team to finish in the top six last season that wasn’t in the same bracket on the away table. Unai Emery’s men finished in eighth position on the away table and even the likes of Leicester City and Crystal Palace finished above the Gunners in that regard. (via Soccerstats)
Their away struggles can be forgiven as Arsenal seem to have made the Emirates a fortress to compensate for it. And since the start of last season, only Liverpool and Manchester City have gotten more home points than the Gunners in the Premier League.
Correcting the away record might prove to be an herculean task at the moment, especially with David Luiz and Sokratis around. However, this brilliant home form exists already and it’s where the Gunners could have an advantage that could see them clinch a top four spot – should the consistency be maintained.
As per the infographic above, Arsenal have managed eight more points than Tottenham or Chelsea at home since last season. Sadly, they only needed a quarter of those points to have qualified for the prestigious Champions League.
Even out of all the fellow top-six sides, only Manchester City were able to win at the Emirates last season and Liverpool were able to take a draw. The Gunners dispatched Tottenham, Chelsea and United at the Emirates. When it came to away terms though, all their efforts were undone as Arsenal could only manage 2 points (a draw against Tottenham and United) from a possible 15 – a sour run that included a 5-1 trashing at the hands of Liverpool.
Not surprisingly, Liverpool have started that trend again as they’ve won Arsenal convincingly on the road yet again this season. But there is hope and the impressive home form is the door of opportunity the Gunners must strongly capitalize on over the course of the season. This term alone, Arsenal have come from 2-0 down to take a point against rivals Tottenham at home and much more recently they further showed their character at the Emirates when they came from behind twice to win 3-2 against a spirited Aston Villa side. Even more impressive that the Gunners were with only ten men on the pitch for a large period of the game.
And it is this strength at home that Arsenal must improve on and further fortify to rack up as many points as possible at home. Emery’s men might be bad away but guaranteed they won’t lose all the games on the road come May. So if the Gunners take at least 79% of total home points available (like they did last season) or do even better and scrap out slightly more away points than they did last season, it could be just enough for a top-four finish.
Even better that Chelsea, United and Tottenham seem to be struggling at the moment and now is the period Arsenal must rack up as many points as possible (regardless of the venue). With three out of Arsenal’s next five league games coming at home(Bournemouth, Crystal Palace and Wolves), the Gunners will be hoping to continue their good form at the Emirates and steal the early advantage over their rivals in the race for a top four finish.