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FeaturesSuper statto: SearsKeeping it clean: Arsenal eye best defensive start to a season

Keeping it clean: Arsenal eye best defensive start to a season

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By Brian Sears

14 September 2012

Arsenal have started the 2012-13 Premier League season with three games in which they haven’t conceded a goal: against Sunderland,  Stoke and Liverpool.

This means they are already inside the top 20 best defensive starts in the Premier League’s history.

To be precise (and see table below for details), Arsenal’s start is already the 17th best, defensively, among the 426 teams who have started Premier League seasons in the past 21 years.

If Arsenal don’t concede in the first minute against Southampton this weekend, they will move up to 15th.

If they don’t concede inside half an hour, they’ll move up to 12th.

If they keep a fourth clean sheet of the season, they’ll move up to 5th.

On only four occasions in the 21 seasons to date has any club started a Premier League season with four or more clean sheets.

Chelsea in 2005-06 hold the record for the best ‘clean start’ – more than six whole games, or 584 minutes. They won the title that season.

Next come Portsmouth in 2006-07, then Manchester United in 1997-98, then Liverpool in 2005-06.

Chelsea’s record run came to an end when Luke Moore scored against them after 44 minutes for Aston Villa in the seventh match of the season.

United went five complete games without conceding in 1997 before John Hartson scored for West Ham 14 minutes into their sixth game. And Portsmouth also went five in 2006 before Kevin Nolan scored for Bolton 22 minutes into their sixth game.

The Liverpool side of 2005 claimed four clean sheets before a match against Birmingham, where Stephen Warnock conceded an own goal 72 minutes into Liverpool’s fifth game.

The 16 clubs before Arsenal with three clean sheets to start went on to a wide range of outcomes. Chelsea twice found those runs were a launch pad to becoming eventual champions, but in 1998-99 Charlton ended up relegated.

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