A great man once famously turned water into wine. An even greater man is charged with the harder task of turning draws into wins.
Arsenal have lost 6 games this season. Only table topping Liverpool, 2nd place Manchester City and Wolves have lost less. It is the same amount of defeats as Leicester City, and less than Chelsea, Manchester United and Tottenham.
But Arsenal have won just 6 games this season. Only bottom side Norwich City, 2nd bottom Watford have won less. Leicester City have won 15, Chelsea 12, Manchester United 9.
No team has drawn more games than Arsenal this season – 11.
Of our 11 draws in 2019/20, 5 times Arsenal led and failed to win the game.
We led 2-nil at Watford, only to draw 2-2. It was the same story at home to Crystal Palace. 2-0 up only to draw.
1-nil up at home to Wolves, 1-1. Leading 1-nil away to Crystal Palace, another draw. Finally at home to Sheffield United, leading 1-nil. You know the next bit. Draw.
That is 10 points Arsenal have lost from winning positions this season – and does not include leading against Chelsea before losing.
These are not tough games. They are not Liverpool or Man City away where you leave the ground content with a draw even if you were winning. These are games against mid-lower league teams. Sides who you would expect to beat. Especially after taking the lead. Especially at home.
The fact that 3 of the games were at home is even more infuriating.
It does not take much to turn these draws into wins.
Leading by 2 against Watford, we let our opponents back in with one of those silly goal kicks. Sokratis gave the ball away in the area and Watford scored. With 10 minutes to go David Luiz bought down a Watford player needlessly conceding a penalty.
Against Crystal Palace, leading 2-0, the South-London side won a debatable penalty which was originally given as a dive before being overturned by VAR. Arsenal were then denied a late win when VAR ruled out Sokratis’ “winner” late on. An apparent foul by Chambers in the lead up, it is a decision that no referee has been able to explain.
The draw to Wolves came when Arsenal were at their lowest under Unai Emery. A week later he was sacked.
Arsenal were never really on top of the game, despite taking the lead. Wolves had 25 shots on target. Emery had clearly lost the dressing room at this point.
Against Crystal Palace Arsenal went down to 10 men following a VAR decision. Nicolas Pepe nearly won it at the end.
Finally we have Sheffield United. Another game influenced by VAR.
1-nil up, Nicolas Pepe had a penalty appeal waved away that was very similar to the one that Wilfried Zaha won months before in the 2-2 draw with Palace. On one occasion VAR intervened awarding a penalty against Arsenal. On this occasion VAR decided not to award a penalty.
So 5 draws from winning positions. A handful of VAR decisions that went against us. An inability to get that 2nd goal in 3 of the games. A couple of silly penalties given away.
It would not take much to turn those 5 disappointing results into five positive ones. That 10 lost points would see Arsenal move level with Chelsea on 39 points.
Football is a game of fine margins. 5 times Arsenal have led against lower teams. 5 times we have failed to win.
If Arteta can turn draws into wins we will soon start climbing the league table once more.