It took a while for Unai Emery to convince Arsenal fans that he was the right man to replace Arsene Wenger at the Emirates Stadium, but suffice to say, the Spaniard has done it now.
With seven games of the Premier League season left, the Gunners have assumed third place in the top flight, leaping above north London rivals Tottenham with Monday night's 2-0 win over Newcastle.
After the game, radio host David Sheehan noted that Arsenal have now equalled last season's shoddy points tally from Wenger's final season, with 21 still up for grabs.
The Gunners have won 14 of their 17 matches on home soil this season, losing only to Manchester City in their opening game of the season, which is a small increase on last season's point-per-game average at the Emirastes Stadium (2.59 in 2018/19 vs 2.47 last time out).
It's away from north London, however, where the greatest gains have been made. Last season, Wenger's Gunners were hopeless on the road and won only four of their 19 matches – against Everton (2-5), Burnley (0-1), Crystal Palace (2-3) and a meaningless clash at Huddersfield (0-1) on the last day of the season.
The defeats were much more miserable: seven in a row before that final-day dead rubber, including losses at Newcastle, relegated Swansea, Brighton and Bournemouth, after going down 1-0 in August to the Championship-bound Stoke.
Emery has pulled off a revitalising turnaround in his first season at the helm, and Arsenal had matched last season's haul of wins by November 25. And while their record on the road has been far from perfect this term – still enough of an issue for them to lose at Southampton and West Ham, and fail to beat Brighton – their points-per-game average is up to 1.36 from that embarrassing 0.84 in 2017/18.
Liverpool and Manchester City may be streaks ahead this season – as our Long Table obviously demonstrates – but Arsenal fans will be thrilled that they have a genuine shot at Champions League football next season. The Gunners haven't been in the competition since 2016, when losing heavily to Bayern Munich was becoming A Thing, so Emery deserves at least a knowiong nod for the progress so far.
After that, we'll see: Arsenal still have tricky away games at Everton, Watford, Wolves and Leicester to come, so the hard yards lie ahead.
While you're here, why not take advantage of our brilliant new subscribers' offer? Get 5 copies of the world's greatest football magazine for just £5 – the game's greatest stories and finest journalism for less than the cost of a London pint. Cheers!
Get the best features, fun and footballing frolics straight to your inbox every week.
Thank you for signing up to Four Four Two. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.