By Tony Attwood
You may have seen on a number of other sites an analysis of the last 38 league games played by Premier League clubs. It has turned up without attribution on a number of sites but I think it originated with @goonerdesi. If I’ve got that wrong my apologies.
Anyway, it was a really interesting piece of work, although some people who reproduced the table managed to lose some vital detail en route. I’ve set out the top bit again, complete with two extra columns.
Of course no one is saying that there are prizes for the last 38 league games, but rather that a measure such as this gives a broader indicator of comparative strength of the top teams, and removes short term blips, and all the nonsense that people spout in relation to measuring one team or even one player on the basis of one match.
I’ve added my favourite extra column – the average net spend per year on transfers over the past five years to see just how much transfers (the area that the blogettas and their friends in the press and broadcast media love so much) actually determine success. And then after that the last turnover figure (2014) for the clubs.
Turnover figures are helpful in telling us how much money each club has available – but not too helpful in terms of how the money arrives. Man U get a lot of their money from a world-wide marketing campaign stretching back to 1958. Chelsea and Man C get it from their owners and sponsorship deals which are perhaps a little over the top in their largesse. Arsenal get it from income from the ground, Tottenham from selling players. Or one player. Everyone gets it from TV.
So here we go.
|Club||W||D||L||F||A||GD||Pts||5yr Av net spend||Turnover|
What is remarkable is the similarity between Man C and Arsenal – yes they have outpaced us on goals, but we’ve bettered them to some degree in defence – and all done at a third of their annual net spend on transfers.
That last comment about annual net spend does show the point made over and over – that buying big doesn’t guarantee success. It can do, but since only about a quarter of top price players come very very good at their club, it is a rather wasteful process.
So what we also have here at the moment is a clear top two, then a second group of two (Man U and the PGMO’s personal team, aka Chelsea) and then another gap to the rather spread out wannabes.
One might also notice that over the last five years Liverpool have a net spend of £13m per year more than Arsenal and have earned 19 points less over the last 38 games, scored 24 goals fewer, and let in 14 goals more. Not a very clever use of money perhaps. One wonders what they are smoking at Anfield.
Even more interesting is that Liverpool have done this on an income that is much, much smaller than Arsenal’s which ultimately makes the whole process unsustainable. And although Tottenham’s income will rise when the new stadium emerges, that is still quite a long way away. If they don’t have another Bale to sell, they might not sustain the challenge until the new ground is opened.
Indeed three of the top six are in stadium rebuild mode – and we all know what that means for available money. Of course Chelsea’s and Liverpool’s owners might well finance this personally, and it makes no impact for what is left of FFP, but still it is disruptive and can leave lingering debts. Which is not to say that Liverpool, Tottenham and Chelsea will all fall away during this period (although if Chelsea fall any further this season they will be in the Championship) but it is just one more issue to consider. An issue that the top three don’t have.
But above all, it means that although taken over the course of 38 league games Arsenal are clearly in very fine fettle indeed, the media and their blogetta chums have been able to cast the image that we are struggling somewhat. The power of the argument without any supporting evidence!
In fact all we have to do is keep up the form of the last 38 games but incorporate a slightly better defence and a slightly better goal-scoring ability, and we stand a very good chance of winning the league.
And there’s that other point that I have kicked around of late. Each season there are, rather obviously, three domestic trophies available. Now I think in saying that I am being rather generous because it includes the League Cup, but I don’t want to be accused of manipulating the figures by leaving it out.
Over the last two seasons Chelsea have won two of the six competitions available, Man C two, and we’ve got two. So let us not think we are wannabes ourselves. For the past two seasons this has been a league of three seriously, consistently challenging clubs and I suspect this will continue – with Chelsea replaced by Man U.
But the key is, we are winners. Indeed if we were to win the FA Cup for the third successive season that would be a triumph unprecedented since the earliest days of competition football.
Let’s hope it all continues.
- 9 October 1897: Arsenal boasted a crowd of 14,000 for second time in the league, in a 3-0 win over, perhaps reflecting anticipation among the crowd over the fact that Arsenal had beaten Luton 2-0 away the previous week.
- 9 October 1910: Jack Crayston born. He played for Arsenal from 1934 to the outbreak of war. He became assistant to Tom Whittaker in 1947 as manager and then took over on Tom’s death.
- The Untold Arsenal Banner is now on permanent display inside the Emirates Stadium
- A Memorial to the founders of Arsenal’s Highbury dynasty.
- And we’re on Twitter @UntoldArsenal
The Untold Books
- Woolwich Arsenal: The club that changed football – Arsenal’s early years
- Making the Arsenal – how the modern Arsenal was born in 1910
- The Crowd at Woolwich Arsenal