Why Arsenal are the weirdest, most volatile team of the modern era

If you want to feel good about Arsenal, here's how to do it.

You look at the table, and you see the team in fifth place, one point out of fourth. Given that they've finished eighth in manager Mikel Arteta's first two seasons at the club, that's progress! Well, until your eyes continue to scan to the right and you see that they've actually been outscored by three goals over the course of 14 matches. Given that only one team has finished in the top four with a negative goal differential since the turn of the century, that's not progress.

But that second point ignores just how Arsenal got their goal differential.

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Three of the five best teams in the world right now are in the Premier League. Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City are like if there was a third team in LaLiga just as good as Real Madrid and Barcelona in the mid-to-early 2010s. Manchester City has a plus-21 goal differential, Chelsea a plus-27 and Liverpool a plus-31. Figuratively, they're in their own league; no one else in England even has a goal differential in double digits. In all six matches against the Big Three this year, everyone else is going to be a massive underdog. Maybe you luck into a win or grind out a draw here or there, but the expectation ahead of each match is zero points.

Sure, Arsenal have been systematically obliterated by Chelsea, Liverpool and City to varying degrees -- zero goals scored and 11 conceded -- but what if that's actually a feature and not a bug of Arteta's tactics?