By Tony Attwood
It is all getting a bit desperate at the Independent this morning as it uses up a whole article on the fact that someone running Arsenal’s official Twitter account pressed the send button three times over the same tweet – making out of that mistake (the sort of cock up that happens 20 times a minute when I’m publishing anything on Untold, as you have probably noticed) meant that Arsenal actually believed Ramsey had scored a hat trick.
Amazing what you can dream up when there is nothing much to write about. (In another piece they write, “Aaron Ramsey must accept that Mesut Ozil is the creative focus for Arsenal and embrace a more defensive role, according to former Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard.”)
Well, jolly good show, is all I can say.
But as we know, to the media everything only relates to now, preferably without any proof.
However Untold Arsenal can always take a broader perspective and so here it is – a broader perspective going forward towards the rest of the season.
One way to work out what the Premier League table after 16 games tells us, is to look back at previous seasons and see what happened to the clubs in the upper part of the table after 16 games compared with their final placing in May.
In the tables below I have added two columns – the final position and the difference between where the clubs were after 16 games and where they ended up.
Last season after 16 matches the top two were already settled, but there were some big movements with West Ham and Newcastle slipping considerably and Arsenal moving up the table.
|4||West Ham United||16||8||4||4||27||19||+8||28||12||-8|
But these declines of seven and eight places were very unusual. If we look back to the previous year we see less movement.
2013/14 again had two of the top four already in their final places. In fact this time all the top four stayed in the top four.
2012/13 had three of the top four already in their final places with one dropping out, and Arsenal rising up.
|6||West Bromwich Albion||16||8||2||6||24||21||+3||26||8||-2|
|11||West Ham United||16||6||4||6||21||20||+1||22||10||+1|
So what does this tell us about this top 12 this season?
I think the first thing to note is that across those three seasons we had one club drop 8 places, one drop 7 and one rise 5. I suspect these are the outer limits of movement. My guess is that at least three of the clubs in the top four will stay in the top four, and quite possibly two will stay in their current positions.
But we can’t say the top four positions are not fixed at this point – normally there will be changes although it is always possible that this will be a season completely apart from others.
However this is what we can say from these figures. Each time a team from outside the top four after 16 games has entered the top four by the end of the season, they were only outside of the top four by two points. Making up more than two points looks very, very difficult.
Which suggests the current top four will stay as the top four by the end of the season, although not necessarily in the order we see now.
On that basis it is time to add a few ideas as to where clubs will end up by the end of this season…
|8||West Ham United||16||6||6||4||25||21||+4||24|
Another thing to notice is how similar this year’s table is after 16 compared with 2013/14 where the top team had 35 points then, and now.
Using these figures and the limits seen in previous seasons’ achievements, we end up with Arsenal winning the league, and Leicester coming fourth, with the third and fourth teams moving up a place.
The 5th club after 16 games in two of the three seasons looked at comes 5th once again. I would also expect Liverpool! to rise two places to their customary sixth, claim it as a major triumph and try and sell more season tickets.
Incidentally, doing this bit of looking up, I noticed that in 2010 after 16 games we had Bolton in 6th – and today they are at the edge of going out of business. Nothing is certain in football which is why 4th really is a trophy – a trophy for staying in business without outside investment.
The last time we had a real outsider in the top four after 16 games was 2009 when Aston Villa were fourth – they ended up sixth. In 2008 Liverpool were top after 16 but ended up second. In 2007 Portsmouth were in 5th but ended up 7th.
In 2006, Portsmouth again did ok abd were fourth and Reading sixth after 16, and ended up 9th and 8th respectively. They are now in the fourth division.
In 2005 Bolton were 5th and ended up 8th. In 2004 Everton were second and Middlesbrough 5th while Villa were 6th. Everton ended up fourth, Middlesbrough seventh and Aston Villa 10th. You’ll see the pattern. The unexpected interlopers after 16 games always fall away as the season goes on.
We can say that we’ve not had an unexpected runaway success like Leicester in the Premier League this century, but still, given what history shows us, we might anticipate that Leicester, once they lose a game or two, will start to slip.
But let me leave you with one more. The league table from 4 December 2000.
|7||West Ham United||16||6||6||4||22||17||+5||24|
Leicester ended that season 13th. Ipswich clung on to 5th West Ham slipped to 15th, and the Tinies were 12th.
So if Leicester were to make it to the top four, they would break all the records from this century. I’ll try and remember to revisit this foolhardy prediction as time goes by.
Anniversaries on this day
15 December 1890, Luton offer five shillings (25p) per week offered to 3 players leading to the suggestion they pre-dated Arsenal as the first southern professional club.
15 December 1934: Arsenal 8 Leicester 0. This game included Drake’s 6th hat trick of the season. Arsenal thus far had scored eight twice and seven once in 19 league games. Hulme also got a hattrick, and Bastin the remaining two.