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Exactly how has Arsenal been so successful when spending far less money than other clubs?

By Tony Attwood

Before I answer that question (and if you are impatient, the answer is here, but at the end) let me prove our current success.

Let’s start with the final table for the 2015 calendar year reads thus…

Club P W D L F A GD Pts
38 25 6 7 70 31 39 81
38 22 6 10 79 41 38 72
38 19 11 8 67 44 23 68
38 19 10 9 66 49 17 67
38 18 10 10 71 34 17 64
38 19 6 13 50 37 13 63
38 17 10 11 55 47 8 61
37 17 10 10 47 45 2 61
38 16 10 12 47 41 6 58
38 13 13 12 54 47 7 52
38 14 9 15 48 41 7 51
38 13 11 14 38 47 -9 50
38 12 11 15 38 50 -12 47
38 10 15 13 42 47 -5 45
37 7 9 21 34 63 -29 30
38 7 9 22 37 69 -32 30
19 8 5 6 24 20 4 29
38 6 7 25 35 69 -34 25
19 5 5 9 22 32 -10 20
19 5 5 9 22 34 -12 20
19 5 4 10 15 25 -10 19
19 4 5 10 14 24 -10 17
19 3 3 13 21 30 -18 12

Upon inspection you may find that Arsenal are not only top of the league but also by quite a sizeable chunk.  Interesting though that Tottenham have got up to third after years of perennially being stuck in 5th or 6th.  Interesting too that whichever way you look at it, Liverpool! are a mid-table club.

And here’s two more things: best goal difference and best defence.  And that at a time when every single bloggetta and every journalist was criticising Arsenal for not buying players.  Even with half the squad injured and no suitable back ups (according to the media) we still have the best goal difference and best defence.

Indeed what about Mertersacker?  Endlessly hounded by the, well, hounds of the media I suppose is the right expression, for being tooooooo slow and yet here he is captaining and playing in the best defence throughout 2015.

But they don’t give trophies for calender years, so what of the real table?  Here’s the top ten.

Club P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Arsenal 19 12 3 4 33 18 15 39
2 Leicester City 19 11 6 2 37 25 12 39
3 Manchester City 19 11 3 5 37 20 17 36
4 Tottenham Hotspur 19 9 8 2 33 15 18 35
5 Crystal Palace 19 9 4 6 23 16 7 31
6 Manchester United 19 8 6 5 22 16 6 30
7 West Ham United 19 7 8 4 28 23 5 29
8 Watford 19 8 5 6 24 20 4 29
9 Stoke City 19 8 5 6 20 19 1 29
10 Liverpool 18 7 6 5 21 22 -1 27

Not the strongest defence in the league this season – that goes to Tottenham, and only the third best attack – and this gives the clue as to the effect on the team of the injuries.  We are using efficiency to get the results, because the flamboyance given to us by Alexis has been removed temporarily.

The Five Things we learned since we last learned Five Things

Now we can do the five things we have learned as a result of yesterday’s football.

  1.  The media cannot bring themselves to say “Arsenal is top of the league” instead the new phrase they are saying is “Leicester are level on points”
  2. While Wenger is “forced to make changes” Ranieri “is not afraid to experiment.”  If you are writing about football it is vitally important you get that right.
  3. “Ex-Man United midfielder says Van Gaal wrong to let Hernandez leave” is the Independent’s lead story in its Arsenal section which must prove something but I am not sure what.
  4. The media is waking up to the fact that buying players is not the solution (see below).
  5. Özil is the new Bergkamp, only different.

Going back to point four the Telegraph actually has a list of all the worst buys of the last transfer window.  Obviously Arsenal don’t figure because we only bought Cech and he is officially a “good thing” at the moment.

Anyway, the Telegraph lists 20 awful purchases from the summer, and that in itself is new – a couple of years back no one ever admitted any purchase of any player was anything other than the right thing to do.

The disasters are fairly evenly spread among teams but the winners in the disaster league are Chelsea and Man U each with three from their summer spending.  Or put another way, 30% of the worst buys came from just two clubs.

One of the Chelsea transfers is a loan, but is included because of the cost to Chelsea of the “loan”.

The worst transfers of the last window

  • Baba Rahman (Augsburg to Chelsea, £21m)
  • Radamel Falcao (Monaco to Chelsea, loan*)
  • Papy Djilobodji (Nantes to Chelsea, £2.45m)
  • Bastian Schweinsteiger (Bayern to Manchester United, £6m)
  • Matteo Darmian (Torino to Manchester United, £12.7m)
  • Memphis Depay (PSV to Manchester United, £19m)

The most widely quoted figure for Falcao is £6m loan fee and £285,000 a week or £14.82m in wages plus £6 loan fee – total £20.82m.

£40.15m plus the cost of Falcao, pretty much down the drain from two clubs in one transfer window.  (Nearly £62m if you include Falcao).

But the biggest disaster in the Telegraphian eyes was Christian Benteke (Aston Villa to Liverpool!, £32.5m).  You can always rely on Liverpool!

So what else have we got in this early round up of the year?   Five lovely quotes about Özil put together by the Metro…

Jose Mourinho
‘Özil is unique. There is no copy of him – not even a bad copy. He is the best No.10 in the world.’

Philipp Lahm
‘Anybody who has played with Mesut will tell you how intelligent he is as a player. His vision is probably the best I have ever seen.’

Cristiano Ronaldo
‘He was the player who best knew my moves in front of goal … I’m angry about Özil leaving.’

Joachim Low
‘Özil is different. Short passing and combination play are his forte. He spots passes rather than takes the ball past people.’

Robert Pires
‘If I had to compare Özil with someone I played with in my career, I think I would say that he has a bit of Zinedine Zidane in him, in terms of vision, touch and genius to make others play around him.’

Of course it is almost transfer time so the Express tells us

Arsenal have a history of poaching Barcelona’s best youngsters, with Cesc Fabregas and Hector Bellerin the biggest success stories.

Ah, so if Arsenal sign a player it is poaching, but if Man U, Chelsea or Man C do it, it is a carefully considered and well structured transfer which is of benefit to both clubs.  I get it.

Anyway they tell us that Arsenal have been given the all-clear to seal the transfer of Barcelona youngster Sergi Samper for just £4.4million.

So if they have the all-clear how come this is “poaching”?   Or could that be a misuse of the word by the Express?   Surely not!

They then cite the newspaper Mundo Deportivo, (“Sports World”).  I’ll leave the rest to Sir Hardly who may (or may not) recover from Christmas to give us the latest before vanishing into a new year’s eve party that lasts until February.

(Actually I would like to start a newspaper dedicated entirely to invented transfer stories and call it “Vanishing Spray”.  The Spanish edition would be “Spray de fuga”).

Best Assistants

Let’s do something else for the moment however.  Here’s another table I found.   The best assist providers after 19 games.  This comes from TransferMarket.co.uk

Player Season Club Games Assists
1
2015/16 Arsenal 18
2
2014/15 Chelsea 18
3
 
2009/10 Arsenal 17
4
2010/11 Man U 17
5
2013/14 Man U 16
6
2013/14 Liverpool! 14
7
2010/11 WBA 18
8
2009/10 Man U 14
9
 
2007/08 Arsenal 15
10
2012/13 Man C 18
11
2012/13 Chelsea 19
12
2011/12 Man C 19
13
 
2004/05 Arsenal 16
14
 
2004/05 Arsenal 19
15
2015/16 Man C 15
16
2015/16 Everton 17
17
2014/15 Southampton 17
18
2014/15 Swansea 18
19
 
2013/14 Arsenal 15
20
2012/13 Man U 19
21
 
2012/13 Arsenal 18
22
2011/12 Man U 19
23
 
2010/11 Arsenal 18
24
2009/10 Chelsea 18
25
2009/10 Aston Villa 18
    Just look at the the total per club:
  • Arsenal 8 players
  • Man U 5 players
  • Chelsea 3 players
  • Man C 3 players
  • Liverpool! and other clubs 1 player each

Want to know why Arsenal has been such a constant success even when having far, far less money than its main rivals?

It has sought out the very best assist players, year after year.

Some more anniversaries

30 December 1893: Arsenal’s first ever away win in the league: Ardwick 0 Woolwich Arsenal 1.  Henderson got the goal in front of a crowd of 4,000.  Arsenal went on to win away twice more in the season, including a 3-6 win at Middlesbrough  Ironopolis.

30 December 1961: Charlie Nicholas born.   He played 84 times for Celtic scoring 48 goals.  He brought great hope of a renaissance when Terry Neill signed him in 1983 but ultimately did not live up to his high promise.

Coming up in a short while on The Arsenal History Society site, the next part of the history of Arsenal in the 70s.  July to December 1974.

 

31 comments to Exactly how has Arsenal been so successful when spending far less money than other clubs?

  • insideright

    Of course being by far the best of the ‘big’ clubs at bringing youngsters through also means that Arsenal have relied less on the transfer market to fill their squad. In turn that means that transfers are perhaps less panicky and knee jerk reactionary. They are more ‘for the future’ and can be given more time to assimilate and become part of the furniture.
    That basic strategy has been in place and has been ruthlessly maintained for a very long time by a manager who has been given the time to do it by a non-panicky. non-knee jerk Board.
    Short term planning can only ever lead to short term success. Long term planning can lead to short term success but over the long run.

  • Jai ram

    If you’d said we’d do that without Tomas Rosicky, Jack Wilshere or Danny Welbeck playing at all; with our first choice central midfield due sidelined with pretty serious injuries until March; without Walcott, Ramsey and Oxlade-Chamberlain for periods; without Arteta for the most part; without Alexis Sanchez for going on a month now (since his injury we’ve won 5 and lost 1 from the 6 games we’ve played); you’d have think that the players who did play have shown plenty to be given credit for

  • WalterBroeckx

    Someone dislikes the truth 🙂

  • WalterBroeckx

    I must say I knew we did rather well this calendar year but having won 9 points more than the money team is even something that amazes me a lot.
    It shows that this team has what it takes to win something at the end of the regular season. It is no guarantee to do so as there is never a guarantee in sports. Not even for Chelsea or City or United who have done what the media and the aaa are saying that should be done to win. But in the end 2 of those teams will end up empty handed. As all other trophies are now non-trophies because of Arsenal winning the FA cup and the CS over the last years, there is only one trophy left : the PL. Till we win it. Then the only trophy that counts will be the CL. Moving the goalposts… 🙂

  • We have attacked arsene for many years now… He is doing well, great in fact. He deserve praise. Jeff Reine Adelaide, Crowley, Iwobi, Zelalem, Pleguezuelo. These are going to be top top players and they are already on our books. Easily saves us R100m is transfers. You have to love Arsenal.

  • ARSENAL 13

    Do I see a copy paste job here!!!!… Word to word!!!

    @Jai Ram, is it your own thought. Do you have to pay royalty for the usage??

  • ARSENAL 13

    A word on Ozil.

    I’ve never seen Bergkamp play. Only youtube videos here and there. BUT watching Ozil play, I now know for sure how Bergkasm felt like.

    Ozil is probably the most underrated player of our era. Its a pleasure to have him as a Gunner. Long may the Ozgasm continue. He may not win a those individual accolades, but he will forever be in our hearts. Legendary status awaits….

  • Jambug

    It seems some folk just cannot see what is in front of there eyes, and no, I’m not talking about Arsene 😉

    This from Charlie Wyett in the Scum:

    “Arsenal have an excellent chance of winning this league. They would be helped if Wenger strengthened with a couple of key signings next month – but we all know this wont happen.”

    It’s statements like this that epitomise the utter ignorance of these people. Lets have a look at exactly what this numpty is saying.

    Well, the first sentence is fine. Yes, we do have an excellent chance. But Charlie, how on earth has that happened?

    Wasn’t you one of those shouting all Summer that unless we bought a new central defender, holding midfielder and striker we had NO CHANCE? Now, by some miracle we have an ‘Excellent’ chance, despite Wenger failing to head a word of your advice. How’s that happened?

    Strange how you fail to mention quite how wrong you where.

    But that’s the point isn’t it? You still don’t think you’re wrong do you? Because despite Arsenal being, by some way, the best PL side in the year 2015, you’re still banging on about those same signings.

    Nothing like sticking to your guns I suppose no matter how wrongly directed they may be.

    Then you repeat another myth with your suggestion that, even if he DID need to buy, that ‘we all know he wont’.

    And how do we know that Charlie?

    Perhaps you missed it but Wenger has actually been spending a fair bit (See previous thread) these last few years. Not the eye watering amounts spent by City, Chelsea and united of course, but quite a bit. So, if the right player is available Wenger will spend. If not he wont. But to some it seems, getting it right in the transfer market isn’t the point, it’s just about ‘spending the f***ing money’.

    Then we have this in his little sound bites box headlined ‘Battlers or Bottlers’:

    And under ‘Bottlers’ we have………..you guessed it: The Defence.

    So despite the best PL defence in year 2015 (see above) we have this from the myopic Mr Wyett:

    “Arsenals defence is still a major worry. Per Mertesacker struggled at the back and missed a good chance”

    So there you have it. Despite statistics that suggest to the contrary, our defence is not just a worry, but a MAJOR worry.

    And of course you cant judge Per over a year, you can only judge him on the odd apparition you care to highlight, whilst completely ignoring of course that every defender/player has them.

    I know this is a lot of words to dissect so little said, but to me,
    in so few words Charlie Wyett managed to beautifully capture just how ignorant, and just plain wrong our media really are.

  • serge

    Arsenal13

    Well spotted’
    Not the first time he’s done that.

  • colario

    WalterBroeckx
    December 30, 2015 at 10:10 am

    ‘Moving the goalposts… :)’

    How true we had a classic example of this on on Talk spit’ the other night.

    It was announced ‘Your daily Arsenal’ spot would not be anymore.

    Adrian the presenter who makes a brainless dog sound intelligent,
    explained that it would be replaced in the New year with a surprise item.

    And ‘your daily Arsenal’ he informed us it was only on until Arsenal won a trophy.

    Someone said ‘ Shouldn’t you have given it up when Arsenal won the FA Cup?’

    ‘Oh that trophy doesn’t count.’ said the Amazingly brained Adrian.

    He has the brain of the older brother who when playing monopoly changes the rules when he is loosing and then claims he is a natural winner!

    The rest of the UK media is no different from him.

    He is a true monkey parrot example of the moronic culture he lives in.

    So it is not his fault he is as he is.

  • Andy Mack

    AWs press conference on Arsenalplayer does suggest he’s negotiating for Elneny.
    That rather surprises me since he’s been so cautious buying potential ACN involved players for a few years now. But I guess he sees enough ‘quality’ in him to work around that…

  • Greetings from Nigeria…..
    Untold Family, keep the Faith men of valour
    2016 shall be a Double Double year.

    No thanks to the aaa and aae

  • Mick

    @Jambug

    ‘But that’s the point isn’t it? You still don’t think you’re wrong do you? Because despite Arsenal being, by some way, the best PL side in the year 2015, you’re still banging on about those same signings.
    Nothing like sticking to your guns I suppose no matter how wrongly directed they may be.’

    And yet, despite him and his kind pig-headedly sticking to their (proven wrong) mantra they have the sheer effrontery to accuse Wenger of stubbornness.

  • Jambug

    Great point Mick.

  • Mick

    Do you suppose Falcao feels just a little bit embarrassed picking up his £285,000 a week wages?

  • Mick

    Whilst mentioning Falcao and slightly off topic but footballers wages make my blood boil.

    The basic state pension I receive is £115.95 a week and Falcao gets £285,000 a week. He and I (I am retired, some would say he is as well) both do the same each week, ie nothing, so why don’t I get the same as him?

    I would need to draw my pension for 41.4 years to get the £250,000 he gets in a week!!!

  • Andy Mack

    Mick, go and tell Chavski FC that you’re available and you’ll do Falcaos job for 5% of his weekly salary. In fact I think you could offer your services for a few of their squad players at the same time. It’d save them a fortune!!!!

  • Mick

    Andy Mack
    You are not wrong!
    I reckon even at my age, 72, I could probably do as well as a few of them.
    Probably Nicky could as well and he’s in his 90’s.!

  • serge

    Mick

    On the other hand the likes of Falcao are a drain on the club’s resources, and I remember Sully Muntari at Portsmouth getting £80K per week and only playing a handful of games.. Adeybeyor ( apparently ) still costs Spurs £100K per week.
    We’ve not had a situation like this since Nik Bendtner.

  • Jambug

    serge

    I’ve never had that big an issue with Bendtner.

    I certainly wouldn’t put him in the ‘Nicking a living’ (no pun intended) category.

    Sad to say a lot of his problems where of our own making.

    As is so often the case, at the slightest opportunity the media turned against an Arsenal player, and sad to say, again as so often happens, it didn’t take long for a section of our own fans to turn against him as well.

    It got to the point where he couldn’t do or say anything without getting it in the ear from both the media and the fans.

    Where many would see an expression of self confidence as an admirable, indeed requisite trait of a professional footballer, in Bendtners case it was depicted as arrogance. From then on he was in a no win situation. He either played like Henry every time he took to the park or he was ridiculed.

    Personally I quite liked him. Okay no Henry but if he was given a fairer crack of the whip I feel he could of been a valuable squad player.

  • Porter

    Mick I saw a quote from Dennis Law .When asked if his United team would beat the present one he replied that his team would win 1 – 0. And that’s with he and Bobby in their 70’s and Best dead.

  • SamuelAkinsolaAdebosin

    By the way, is Christian Benteke a disaster signing for Liverpool as I read through in the 1st comment of this article?

    Arsenal are now top of the table going into the 2nd half campaign of the next 19 EPL games, a possible successful 5 FA Cup matches to lift the trophy for a 3rd time running and also a possible 9 victories to lift the Ucl trophy for the 1st time in our history if my workings are correct.

    The 2nd half campaign will be tougher than the 1st half were if my imaginations are to become real. Arsenal have 2 big BPL games at away and at home to play against liverpool & Chelsea in January. And followed with a away game against our bogey Stoke City team. The Newcastle, Sunderland(FA Cup) games shouldn’t be difficult for us to win. There is also an unknown FA Cup fixture we’ll play also in Jan if we overcome Sunderland.

    So, for sure, Arsenal will play a total of 5 games with a possible 6th all in January. I don’t want to go into our February games yet. Let’s finish with January first. The month of January is a serious month for us to handle properly so as not to drop any BPL points or got knocked out of the FA Cup.

    The likely to be true rumour is, the Boss will sign Elneny, who I believe is a deep lying midfielder to understudies Ramsey. It’s goodnews if it comes to pass as we are short in this position as Arteta, Rosicky and Cazorla aren’t available to play in January and no ground should be lost. Even if the 1st 2 are, they may not measure up to the required standard.

    But there is this arising issue of striker option signing the Boss should equally addressed in this almost open Jan window. Giroud has no specialist striker mate to lead the line for cover and option. Save if Walcott is transfered to the no9 position to lead the line if Giroud is rested as he is showing the signs of been overplayed in the last Bournemouth match. Welbeck is not available in Jan.

    We will be short of striker option in Jan to late Feb campaign, except the Boss addresses the issue as soon as the Jan window opens to avoid any loss of ground in our 5 or 6 games campaign in January.

  • SamuelAkinsolaAdebosin

    By the way, is Christian Benteke a disaster signing for Liverpool as I read through in the 1st comment of this article?

    Arsenal are now top of the table going into the 2nd half campaign of the next 19 EPL games, a possible successful 5 FA Cup matches to lift the trophy for a 3rd time running and also a possible 9 victories to lift the Ucl trophy for the 1st time in our history if my workings are correct.

    The 2nd half campaign will be tougher than the 1st half were if my imaginations are to become real. Arsenal have 2 big BPL games at away and at home to play against liverpool & Chelsea in January. And followed with a away game against our bogey Stoke City team. The Newcastle, Sunderland(FA Cup) games shouldn’t be difficult for us to win. There is also an unknown FA Cup fixture we’ll play also in Jan if we overcome Sunderland.

    So, for sure, Arsenal will play a total of 5 games with a possible 6th all in January. I don’t want to go into our February games yet. Let’s finish with January first. The month of January is a serious month for us to handle properly so as not to drop any BPL points or got knocked out of the FA Cup.

    The likely to be true rumour is, the Boss will sign Elneny, who I believe is a deep lying midfielder to understudy Ramsey. It’s goodnews if it comes to pass as we are short in this position as Arteta, Rosicky and Cazorla aren’t available to play in January and no ground should be lost. Even if the 1st two are, they may not measure up to the required standard.

    But there is this arising issue of striker option signing the Boss should equally addressed in this almost open Jan window. Giroud has no specialist striker mate to lead the line for cover and option. Save if Walcott is transfered to the no9 position to lead the line if Giroud is rested as he has started showing the signs of been overplayed in the last Bournemouth match. Welbeck is not available in Jan.

    We will be short of striker option in Jan to late Feb campaign, except the Boss addresses the issue as soon as the Jan window opens to avoid any loss of ground in our 5 or 6 games campaign in January.

  • Al

    Gervinho and Eboue are other good examples of players who were made to look worse than they really were by the fans and media. Said player has one poor game, gets unfairly slaughtered by the media, and a certain section of fans pick it up and take it to the stands. I’ve never really understood the concept of booing your own player, it’s just plain stupid.

  • Florian

    Al,

    It’s a strange psychological effect. When most of the tissue is white (and I mean, over 99%), it’s easy to notice the little black spots. That’s exactly what the media do, and the gullible fans who stare in their mouth just propagate and amplify it, to the point where the little black spots are carrying more weight than the whole sea of white. It’s antidote is of course sense of perspective, but how many (apart the Untold readers;) are capable of doing that?

  • Jambug

    Florian

    “It’s antidote is of course sense of perspective, but how many (apart the Untold readers;) are capable of doing that?”

    That’s a very good point. Far be it for me to suggest that Untold has a monopoly on ‘perspective’, but it is a trait that I think underpins our views and opinions on all things Arsenal.

    Contrary to accusations of never seeing any wrong in anything Arsenal or Wenger does, I’m sure we can all see when we don’t play great as a team, or a player has a poor game, or indeed Wenger gets something wrong. But rather than go in to hysterics and pronounce any of the above as a catastrophe on a biblical scale we see it as just one of those black spots of which you speak, on an otherwise brilliantly white canvass.

    And rather than focus on these black spots in such times we would much rather try to find the positives. And where there is no positives then we tend to try and just shrug it off as a bad day at the office, because we know, being Arsenal and Wenger, come next Saturday things will, by and large, be back to the beautiful white canvass that we are so used to.

    Black spots on a white canvass indeed Florian. A very good analogy if I may say.

  • Al

    Florian
    That IS one of the best analogies I’ve ever heard 🙂

  • Florian

    Thanks guys. Little practical psychology tricks I had to learn to keep myself afloat at times. I find it incredible that Arsenal is such a good subject:)

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Hold your tongue !

    Medical professor : “The sperm is made up of Glucose , the same material Sugar is made of .”

    A female medical student raises her hand : “Then why doesn’t it taste like sugar? ”

    Suddenly silence in the hall .

    Girl :” Oops ! ”

    The Medical professor’s reply was a masterpiece :” My dear , that’s because the taste buds are located on the tip of your tongue and not at the back of your throat !”

  • Menace

    SAA – wait for 4 minutes after posting your comment. I wish you were a striker for Arsenal – you would score 2 goals each time!!!

    Jai ‘copy cat’ Ram – Happy New Year. SWe are watching you!!

    colario – one monopoly playing older brother read your post!!! 😉

  • para

    Arsenal has (re)built the club over the last 10 years to become one of the top teams, not just in football but in the business side of the club in order to compete (at least a little) with the money of the dollar clubs. This is a great effort and is mainly we know, thanks to AW. We did have some moments but luck or some very strange decisions caused us to fall at the last hurdle, no mean feat for a club that was in our position.

    But i sense things are changing/are going to change as Arsenal can now be a better player in the transfer game. This does not mean that AW goes wild in the transfer window, i think not, but that he is more able to possibly get the exact (type of) players he wants. Also i have a feeling there may be some big changes(or unexpected happenings)at the end of this season.

    All in all, just stay on course for the PL crown and then we can start to turn our attention to the grail, the CL.