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Despite of or because of all that happened in the summer, can Arsenal win the league?

~By Tony Attwood

It is the Independent newspaper that put me on the trail of this article.  They say today…

“Only three Premier League clubs (Newcastle in 1995-96, Chelsea and Liverpool in 2008-09) have made better starts than Arsenal this season, and not won the league.”

They also add

“Only twice in the last 10 seasons have the eventual winners not been leading after 13 games.”

But stats can be tricky things – because look at the league table in 2003/4 after 14 games

 

P

W

D

L

F

A

GD

Pts

1

Chelsea

14

11

2

1

28

9

+19

35

2

Arsenal

14

10

4

0

28

10

+18

34

3

Manchester United

14

10

1

3

25

9

+16

31

4

Fulham

14

6

4

4

24

18

+6

22

5

Charlton Athletic

14

6

4

4

20

17

+3

22

6

Liverpool

14

6

3

5

21

15

+6

21

7

Newcastle United

14

5

5

4

20

19

+1

20

8

Birmingham City

14

5

5

4

12

14

-2

20

9

Manchester City

14

5

3

6

22

19

+3

18

10

Middlesbrough

14

5

3

6

12

15

-3

18

11

Bolton Wanderers

14

4

6

4

13

19

-6

18

12

Southampton

14

4

5

5

10

9

+1

17

13

Leicester City

14

4

3

7

22

22

0

15

14

Portsmouth

14

4

3

7

17

20

-3

15

15

Tottenham Hotspur

14

4

3

7

13

18

-5

15

16

Blackburn Rovers

14

4

2

8

19

24

-5

14

17

Aston Villa

14

3

5

6

11

17

-6

14

18

Everton

14

3

4

7

15

19

-4

13

19

Wolverhampton

14

2

5

7

9

27

-18

11

20

Leeds United

14

3

2

9

12

33

-21

11

Arsenal were at that moment second, and yet as we know won the league.  Also notice who else was in the Premier League ten years ago.  Fulham, Charlton, Birmingham, Bolton, Portsmouth, Blackburn, Wolverhampton, Leeds…  Who says stability is not worth anything.

At least the papers are starting to admit that some people didn’t predict this start to the season – although of course it is never themselves who got it wrong.  As the Telegraph says, Arsenal “is baffling well-paid pundits to stumble and stutter through reasons why they cannot win this league…”

Not baffling the Telegraph writers of course, because, presumably they are not very well paid.  Oh well lads, try working somewhere else.

But to be fair to the old right-wingers, they do make a good point.   We made it earlier on Untold (naturally) by talking about the way the midfield five that sit behind the single centre forward, can rotate.  This came up very early on when someone wrote in to say that you don’t have to debate Arsenal’s inadequacies this season, for any team that has no recognised defensive midfielder is bound to fail, and is clearly run by an idiot.

Untold then went into a number of articles about the new rotation – and indeed but for the general view that while repeating ourselves twice is ok, doing it 20 times is a bit much, we could still be talking about defensive Flamini scoring etc etc.

Now the Telegraph have tried it from a different angle… ambidexterity.

“With the rise of 4-2-3-1 over the past decade… comes an evolution of the central attacking midfielder – most pertinently, with the necessity to have a player who is comfortable with using both feet. Wesley Sneijder and Henrikh Mkhitarayan are two, but Mesut Ozil is king.

“Using both feet may seem standard fare for a £42m player, but it is something Ozil can do in that role behind Giroud. Dangerously for the opposition, Aaron Ramsey and Santi Cazorla… are also comfortable with both feet….

“…in Arsenal’s narrow system, [this] allows the ball to be moved quickly, accurately and devastatingly. Against Cardiff… Arsenal constantly moved the ball, never passing to somebody static. Left foot, right foot, inside, outside; Arsenal completed 79 per cent of passes Cardiff’s half, with Ramsey touching the ball 91 times….

“The weaknesses of Arsenal are known, but they can be rectified – and Arsenal’s potentially biggest asset, ambidexterity, would cost hundreds of millions. In a season where everybody is beating everybody else, this unique style has taken them to the top.”

So are we going to win the league with ambidexterity?

Well, no, at least not according to the bookies.   Most go with this sort of response:

To win the league…

  • Man City 13/8
  • Arsenal 5/2
  • Chelsea 3/1
  • Man U 10/1
  • Liverpool 14/1
  • Tottenham 66/1

I won’t bore you with the rest but Norwich are 10,000/1 as are Crystal Palace.

Meanwhile on relegation Palace are 1/7 which isn’t really worth doing.  Here are a few others…

  • Hull (who we play on Wednesday) are 11/4
  • Tottenham 3000/1 (worth a £1?)
  • Chelsea 5000/1
  • Arsenal 10,000/1
  • Man City 10,000/1

So Chelsea are twice as likely to go down as Arsenal.  Like the man said, with stats you can do anything.

Recent posts

27 comments to Despite of or because of all that happened in the summer, can Arsenal win the league?

  • the big teams will continue to beat up on each other. our performances against the slippery slopes like southampton, cardiff, swansea and newcastle could be the deciding factor and we are doing well against them so far. if chelsea and city continue to trip up against these teams we should be able to maintain our lead. why, even the totters could do us a favor and act as spoilers from time to time. should we beat chelsea and city at least once, it will be party like its 2004.

  • Interesting how the bookies keep changing their odds. I was debating with a poster here the criterion for deciding who is going to win the league. As ALWAYS, I went for consistency while they went for the bookies and “majority opinion”. Well in August, the bookies had us 4th or 5th favourite. Now, they have us as 2nd. In other words, the bookies change their odds as the wind blows, much like as the “majority opinion” changes. The consistency of the team has changed the “majority opinion” and forced the bookies to change the odds too :-) Interesting.

    Like those of us who believe that it’s all about consistency, the team just needs to continue to be consistent and we’ll be crowned champions in May 2014.

    Come on Gooners, BELIEVE!!!!!!

  • We look good , too bad S’ton got done by two set pieces, I was hoping they would nick points off Chelsea. – definitely didn’t expect hull to do what they did.

    On a tangent, don’t people always go on about how strong the premier league was when compared to other major leagues and how many many many teams fight for the title, well the table above after 14 matches has a clear gap of 9 points between 4 and 5. Not such a strong league then. Also with a bit of stats –
    Winners of major leagues since the last time we won.

    EPL & BPL

    MUtd – 5
    Chelsea – 3
    City – 1
    Arsenal – 1

    La liga
    Valencia – 1
    Barca – 6
    Real Madrid – 3

    Bundes liga

    Bremen – 1
    Munich – 5
    Dortmund – 2
    Stuttgart – 1
    Wolfsburh – 1

    Seria A
    Juventus – 2
    AC Milan – 2
    Inter – 5

    Ligue 1

    Marsille – 1
    Lyon – 5
    Bordeaux – 1
    Lille – 1
    PSG – 1
    Mont’er – 1

    The league with many different winners is France followed by Germany then the premier league by FA of England and Wales and then come the Spanish and Italians. So the PL is only better then the most dominated league and the league with the most scandals. Not the strongest as is boasted by the pundits.

  • correction – gap between 3 and 4

  • avatar Shakabula Gooner

    R.Iris 4:13& 4:14
    The Table in Tony’s piece above is the 2003/04 league table. In today’s Table, there is a 4point gap between the 1st (Arsenal – 31pts) and 2nd (Chelsea – 27pts) 2point gap between the 2nd and 3rd (ManC 25pts)and 4 point differentials between the 3rd team up to the 9th (Tots – 21pts) before another 4 point gap appears between the 9th and 10th, Hull, 17pts.

    Now, if that is not a keenly competitive league, I don’t know which league is more competitive. Your historical analysis of winners in the respective leagues the years makes the point though, that EPL shouldn’t sing its own praise too highly.

    I am with Boo though all the stats in the world never handed any trophy to any club. Only consistency does. Currently, we are the most consistent against”smaller” teams and that is why we are where we are.

    More consistency please, against Hull and Everton (inspire of their stellar results to date this season) big results against Chelsea and Man City and we shall glance at the Table again.

    All I want is that we keep our heads down and keep grinding out winning results until May! The Table is a pastime useful for bettors, pundits and fans. It is a dangerous distraction for players and coaches.

  • avatar menace

    How does corruption work in footballs EPL? One would think it is done by targetting bookies in the Far East! No, it begins at home like charity. It starts with a closed shop control of the game by the FA. They appoint a set of carefully chosen ‘match officials’. These ‘officials’ do not make it obvious to the passionate football fan but are clearly visible to those who love the Game and understand theLaws of the Game. They choose who to target over a period, so that the impact is made in specific games, Cards have a cumulative impact and target specific players for specific games. Teams that benefit are clearly chosen for financial benefit of the ‘association of cheats’.

    Do not mistake TV pundits for people that understand the Laws of the Game. They make their own Laws. ‘A piece of the ball’ is not in the Laws but has become part of the EPL excuse for allowing a foul to go unpunished.

    Players in the favour of officials or their masters are allowed leeway and get away with fouls by selective vision from officials and without any FA questioning and very little media hounding.

    Over the season (one can check from previous seasons) players from some teams miss important games because of fine tuned cumulative bans. Bias from officials have an effect but it is the cumulative undue corrupt pressure that selectively forces teams to the top over the season.

    Teams like Arsenal have had to get success in spite of the bias. Mr. Wenger has in his wisdom learnt to be better and bigger than the cheats by making the game more beautiful and cleaner than ever before.

  • avatar nicky

    Whether we win the EPL title or not, the fact remains that currently we are playing the most delightful and attractive football in the country.
    To take the Championship would be the icing on the cake but better by far to continue to entertain the football crowds in the way we are performing.

  • avatar andy bishop

    We are looking more like the real deal and as Wenger says this team will continue to improve. We have a lot to be optimistic about but it is far too early to talk in terms of being champions. Consistency and staying injury free is the key. I personally take no notice of pundits and referee conspiracy theorists just what I see in every game myself. This squad has learnt the champions art of taking each game as it comes and fear no one. If its not this year it will be next. A word of caution with this great run we are on. The last 38 premier league games has yielded 85 points. That would win one premier league in the last nine years.

  • avatar AL

    I have been getting congratulatory messages from utd, chelsea, city and other teams’ fans. Everyone says the same thing; that we are the only team that IS playing well, and that utd were lucky to get 3 points against us. I think if refs taylor are kept away from matches involving our team then we should win. What muppets like hansen, shearer & co think is not going to matter. COYG!!!

  • avatar Chippy Brady

    @Bootoomee- bookies change their odds according tho the amount of money being bet on the result. Hence, a horse can be 9 to 1 in the morning, and 5 to 2 by the time the race is starting. It all depends on the money being placed on the result.

  • avatar Sid

    Thats in a horce race tho Chippy, with betting on a long drawn out title race, the bookies also change their odds depedning on other factors too. Not just the amount punters stick on a particular team.

  • avatar nicky

    @Chippy Brady,
    Couldn’t put it better myself. Bookies’ odds have no connection with the eventual result.

  • avatar Chippy Brady

    Indeed Sid, form comes into it too

  • avatar blacksheep63

    I think you are forgetting or overlooking something Tony. We haven’t played any matches yet – the 13 games we have supposedly we either against small teams that don’t count or too early in the season to matter or took place when Alan Hansen was looking the other way.

    Only when the season is over and Hansen and Shearer are comfortably wrapped up in the jackets with very very long sleeves will we be able to judge whether we have indeed won anything

  • avatar Strus

    It clear that only both Oilers can challenge Arsenal.
    Man City and Chelsea have very good home record, but both played 7 matches. Arsenal only 6, and besides that infamous AV match, Arsenal won all of the rest 5
    Chelsea recond on the road is average(but they played much more top teams away), MC record is just awful.
    Both Oilers will play 2 away matches in this week, let’s see how this will develop.
    Arsenal have tremendous away record, but played away just one team of the upper half of the table . The are only 2 matches left like that (MC @ Newcastle) in the first round.
    Only after March fixtures there will be time to predict the outcome of the season, not sooner.

    The 38 match points stat will only get better in few weeks. Last season the were 2 major bad times for Arsenal: fixtures 10-15(just 6 points) and 21-25(5 points).

  • Chippy Brady & nicky,

    I agree with you both but doesn’t “majority opinion” influence how the public make their bets? Why weren’t so many placing bets on Arsenal in August? Why are they doing so now?

    Naturally when a team is consistently doing well, more people have confidence in and bet on them and the bookies adjust the odds accordingly. It’s all down to consistently doing well.

  • avatar nicky

    @Bootoome,
    I think all we are saying is that if, at Arsenal’s next home game, 60,000 fans went to the nearest bookie and all bet £10 each that Arsenal would win the EPL, the odds would lower quite a bit. In reality though, the actual chance of Arsenal winning the Championship wouldn’t alter one way or another by such a massive bet.

  • avatar Chippy Brady

    Couldn’t agree more nicky- the only reason a team will be favorites to win the title is because that is who most the people are putting their hard earned greenbacks on. It’s just the way it is. Favorites are often beaten- that’s why people bet

  • avatar jambug

    Boo and all

    Betting. I am a small stake punter but have bet for nearly 35 years and like to think I know a bit about it……..except how to win of course !!!!

    Odds are almost exclusively compiled with regards to the amount of money wagered. This is a basic principle of how a ‘book’ is formed.

    Mathamatics, aligned to the desire to not go bankrupt dictates that this has to be the case.

    Yes ‘opinion’ will shape the market but not as a direct result of the opinion but of the ‘money’ that followed that opinion.

    Yes ‘form’ will shape the market but not as a direct result of that form but the ‘money’ that followed it.

    In other words it would’nt matter how well Arsenal played or how many people in the media et al said they thought we’d win the PL, if no money was layed Arsenals odds would NOT shorten.

    It is not opinion or form that dictates odds (except in a very small way) but MONEY !!!

  • avatar Chippy Brady

    Bootoomee

    Not even the most optimistic gooner could have predicted in August that AR would have 13 goals already, that Ozil would come, the Flamini renaissance, that we would keep so many clean sheets recently, that Gibbs would be the best left back in England, that Sagna would be back to himself, that Per and Kosw are the best central defensive pair in the league, that the handsome French bloke would be working his socks off the way he does, that Serge G would be scoring winners, that Sez would be the best keeper in the PL. And that Arsene seems more competitive and serious now than he was 10 years ago. Its all good

  • Guys,

    I think this has turned to a “which comes first, egg or chicken?” debate :-)

    All I said in my original comment is that the key pointer to how well a team would do in the long run (win the league, qualify for ECL, etc) is the consistency (or form) of the team. That was how we snatch 4th from Tottenham last season. That is how Man United have won their several league titles.

    As a non-betting person, I really don’t care one way or another what the bookies say the odds are. But do you know of any time when people rush to put MONEY on an inconsistent (or off-form) team?

  • avatar Chippy Brady

    jambug- fully agree, if no money was layed Arsenals odds would lengthen. But even if Hansen, Owen and that window licking spud danny murphy do not recognise it- the fact our odds are shortening means people with money are betting on us and we are now being taken seriously

  • Chippy Brady @10.27pm,

    Agree totally! I’m absolutely loving it!

  • avatar Chippy Brady

    bootoomee that is very true. To be honest i bet a few accumulators every week- but never on Arsenal. i want to enjoy the gunners without anything else in my mind, Even if we never won a trophy again I love my club- its funny how mancs and the likes cannot understand that!

  • avatar nicky

    On a slightly different topic, I still cannot get over our good fortune in signing Flamini as we did. For the guy to be club-free and be successful in persuading Arsene to let him play for us again, is luck in the extreme. Whatever success comes our way this season, I’m sure will be greatly due to his contribution.

  • avatar ARSENAL 13

    @nicky,

    I wouldnt do that. Flamini has been credited for the solid performances this season, but lets not forget that this run had started a long back.

    Flamini will be a contributor to success, but lets not forget other names….

  • avatar para

    A BIG NO NO to the video on this page. At least ONLY put it on the MAIN page, and NOT on the links, PLEASE.