Last season we only won 11 of 19 home league games, picking up 37 points in the process. Certainly reasonable home form, but nowhere near title winning, in contrast to our relatively superior away record. Interestingly we only conceded 15 home goals, not a bad record given the media's hype about our defending, while we scored just 33 home league goals. Interestingly last season's home record was rather similar to that of 2008/9, it let us down then too, only 31 goals scored and 38 points picked up at home.
The following things back even further, a trend become rather apparent as I shall demonstrated to you. Here are the goals scored at home and home points, season by season from 2002/3 to the present day:
Season - home goals scored - home points
2002/3 47 47
2003/4 40 49
2004/5 54 44
2005/6 48 45
2006/7 43 42
2007/8 37 47
2008/9 31 38
2009/10 48 47
2010/11 33 37
Maybe I am reading too much into things but it seems to be that we are struggling to open up teams at the Emirates and this is not a new thing. There are many factors at play here, a big one for me is the 4-3-3 formation, the way in which playing with a lone striker can leave that player a tad isolated and make it too easy for a team to sit back against us, park the bus and then hit us on the counter. For me we need wise up tactically, tempt teams out a bit more and play more counter attacking football as we used to with our last great side. Players like Henry and Pires were masters of the counter.
Yesterday summed this up, it was a very even game, one which we were genuinely unfortunate to lose, but no one could argue that we created enough in terms of clear goal scoring opportunities. Liverpool did defend well but we made it too easy for them. There was not enough support provided for RVP with the front three system, for the 4-3-3 to work properly we needed the wide forwards to play more centrally at times. I would like us to revert back to a more traditional 4-4-2 formation for some home games, the squad certainly needs more adjustment for this to occur though.
Liverpool didn't create much either though and they needed the help of the officials, as well as lady luck, to break us down. Emmanuel Frimpong had a cracking game until his early bath and was rather unfortunate with both cards in my opinion. The first was bad refereeing, a minor confrontation when Frimpong believed the throw in was his, the second a late clip of Lucas' shin that could be argued to be a yellow of course, but it was relatively tame for me though, he had half pulled out of the challenge, it was not out of control and Lucas was looking to get him sent off with the grossly exaggerated reaction. Frimpong was niave though, with experience he will completely pull out of those kind of challenges and not give Lucas the chance to roll.
Liverpool were very average throughout and that it what makes the defeat so concerning. They didn't create much of note other than a Carroll header until Frimpong had harshly seen red. The opening goal should also never have stood, Suarez was offside when the ball was played to him, Miguel's clearance then freakishly deflected in off Ramsey's torso, a really unfortunate way to concede. With ten men we never looked like getting back in the game and the second goal was simply academic, other than demonstrating the stupidity of FIFA's ridiculous offside rule.
We were terribly unlucky not to come away with a draw yesterday but the fact that we didn't create more against such a mediocre Liverpool side is very worrying for me indeed. A lot has been said of our defensive problems of late, but for me an issue of at least as much concern is our inability to break teams down at home. We have only one striker who can score goals (RVP), Chamakh looks like a lost sould and Bendtner is looking for a move away. Andrei Arshavin has never looked at home on the left flank and that leaves Theo Walcott who is still developing. We badly need more offensive options.
Interestingly it has now been proven that we did not get our fair share of decisions last season, this is from a neutral journalist too. Other statistics also make out that all teams and players are not treated equally by referees. I did by own bit of digging to come out with these statistics from last season, here are the average disciplinary points (1 point yellow, 3 red) per fouls committed each game for these teams: Arsenal 6.9, Manu 5.9, Chelsea 5.2, Man City 6.4, Bolton 5.9, Newcastle 7.
I am certainly not a 'conspiracy theorist', I just happen to think that refereeing standards are pretty poor and the officials need for more help from technology in order to minimise error. Certainly yesterday England's 'leading' ref Howard Webb provided yet more evidence of just how bad refereeing is in this country. He lost control of the game by keeping his cards in his pocket early on, he tried to keep things even rather than enforce discipline consistently and he got a lot of big decisions wrong. Ryan Taylor got away with swinging an elbow at Gyan's head, Bardlsey got only a second yellow for a rather brutal tackle on Coloccini, there were many other poor decisions too.
Good refereeing is all about using common sense when interpreting the laws of the game, admittedly this is very hard these days given how stupid FIFA have been in introducing unworkable laws and diktats. It is also about being consistent, something we very rarely see in the Premier League. How often do we see a team come to the Emirates and commit five early fouls without a booking, the ref than books one of each side just to be seen to be fair. This is just useless on so many levels, the cards are pointless if one gives them out evenly regardless of what is going on on the pitch.
Inconsistent refereeing like this is like haphazardly parenting, they are designed to create confused and undisciplined players or children, they will both lead to complete loss of control whether it is on the pitch or at the home. If every player who raised his hands against us this season were to get a red card, I would not complain about Gervinho's harsh sending off at Newcastle. The sad fact is that we all know that we will see players do far far less than Gervinho and Frimpong have done and stay on the field of play for the full duration.