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October 2016
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The top 4 mini league table

By Walter Broeckx

Many seasons we have been told that Arsenal couldn’t win the top matches against the other top 4 teams and thus was never going to win anything. This despite there being a few years when Arsenal did in fact got good results against other teams in the top 4.

But it was seen as evidence that Wenger didn’t know what he was doing and used as a stick to beat him. Did you hear the people who have been unfolding banners use this mini league top 4 table this year? Well I haven’t heard them and with the teams currently in the top 4 I have done this little exercise.

And these are the results I could find for this season with the teams now in the top 4 with one match to go for 3 of those top 4 teams. Now there still is a chance that the order of the teams might change a bit. And there still is the chance that one Manchester team will be replacing the other team but I have taken todays league table to do this article and if it would change then I will be doing it all over again next week.

So here are the results with all the matches played between the teams in the top 4 :

Leicester Tottenham Arsenal Man City
Leicester / 1-1 2-5 0-0
Tottenham 0-1 / 2-2 4-1
Arsenal 2-1 1-1 / 2-1
Man City 1-3 1-2 2-2 /


Now we must say that a few of those results have been heavily influenced by what we could call “honest refereeing mistakes” but we also could call it big PGMO incompetence. Like the PGMO guided win of Tottenham at Man City where Clattenburg gifted Tottenham a ludicrous penalty for handball when the ball bounced of the chest of a City player.

We also take note that Arsenal has been the only team that won both their matches against the champions Leicester. We could say that Leicester finally winning the league was down to the other 18 teams not producing the results against them that everyone expected to happen at the start of the season.

But the results are what they are of course and are now set in stone despite the numerous referee errors. And if we then make up the little table of these matches we get this as a final result:

Team Played W D L For Against +/- Pts
1 Arsenal 6 3 3 0 14 9 +5 12
2 Tottenham 6 2 3 1 10 7 +3 9
3 Leicester 6 2 2 2 6 9 -3 8
4 Man City 6 0 2 4 6 13 -7 2

So yes Arsenal has won this mini competition between the other teams in the top 4 (standing as today).

So now it is clear why we don’t hear any talk this season of the top 4 league table. Because it doesn’t suit the agenda some have. Because when they would talk about it they could only come to the conclusion that Arsenal is doing rather well in the top matches this season.  And that goes against the general impression people have been told that Wenger doesn’t know what he is doing.  And can’t have that impression being wrong can’t we?

In fact Arsenal is the only team that hasn’t been beaten by the other teams currently in the top 4. It shows that in the top matches even when being a man down on the field we had the character to come back when we were behind like we did in the match at Tottenham.

What this also might show is that in the top matches we did much better than in the matches against the other teams further down the league table.

It also shows and that has been my point of view in the past that those matches against the other top teams only count for as much as the other matches. If we had won more of the other matches our season might have ended up differently.

The conclusion is for me still the same. Winning more top matches is good of course but it shouldn’t be the ultimate goal. Winning all the matches should be the goal and even more the matches against the so called lesser teams.

Lesser teams that are no longer lesser teams one should say. As this season has shown is that also lesser teams can produce surprising results. If they are able to do this each season remains to be seen of course. Winning the mini league between the top 4 only counts for around 15% of the points that can be won in a season.

So we need to do better in all the matches and not just in the top matches as we did this season. But the same can be said about the referees of course. If they had done their job in a better way we would have had more points than we have today. A lot more points. We had far too many referee assisted dropped points in most of the other matches. Maybe the PGMO wanted to be smart this season and make us drop points in low profile matches?

Anyway, the top 4 mini league table is what it is. Tell me how this would have been possible with a clueless manager and useless players? The biggest task for next season will be to win more of the other matches. And that is what we usually are rather good at but failed to do for whatever reason this season. Bring the good of the top 4 clashes together with the winning of the smaller matches as in the previous seasons and we could be fine for a great season.

A note about comments.

Untold Arsenal is a web site set up by people who support the manager, the players and the club, for people with a similar outlook.  Over the 8 years we’ve been in operation we’ve had thousands of comments posted which are from people who don’t share our views, and as long as these comments were not abusive we’ve generally published them and answered them.  However despite our patience in answering such points with evidence, we have some people sending in posts reiterating the same old issues while utterly ignoring the evidence based answers we have presented.  Reading the same stuff over and over again, without any attempt to carry the debate forwards based on evidence is making the commentary part of the site tedious, so we won’t be publishing any more of these.

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27 comments to The top 4 mini league table

  • Pete

    Walter – you beat me to it with this article. Exactly. Goal posts keep being moved. For example, lost track a few years ago of how many comments stated that “Arsenal would never win another trophy under Wenger”. Don’t hear that now…

  • Pete

    And Kudos to Bootoomee – sadly missed on this site recently – who used to make this point vociferously a year or two back.

  • porter

    Switched round this season but effectively it matters little where you drop points as the haul is the same whoever you are playing .

  • Anthony

    While you have made a good point that Arsenal have improved in the so called bigger games over the past 2 year, the issue is the same that when it comes to the crunch and they are expected to win, the team fails to deliver. The end of the 14/15 season the only big game against a top team that Arsenal had pressure to win was against Monaco and they lost. This season they go top by beating City then when suddenly we are expected to win the league we go on an awful run which includes losing to a Man Utd B team when again we were expected to make a statement and win.

    I’m not saying the players should be exempt from blame, but this has been happening for years now and the players are different from 3-4 years ago when it was also happening. The manager is failing to motivate the team to get the job done and is showing too much loyalty to players who do not deliver on a consistent basis.

  • Luscious Lisa

    Nice to see the narrative debunked, albeit you don’t believe it’s value (the narrative I mean.)
    The thing about football is that it’s a game of measure and counter-measure. This year the lower clubs seemed to have worked out a gameplan to stop/beat Arsenal more than we’d expect, or maybe it’s just that lower teams are getting better and will be increasingly difficult for all ‘top four’ teams take 6 points from. Challenge next year is to find our counter-measure to the PTB/counter-attack game-plan. Key to that, as Wenger has said, is increasing goal to shot ratio and reducing goals conceded from set-pieces/ crosses. I haven’t done the analysis, but those two things are probably an imperative irrespective of who Arsenal is playing.

  • Gord

    Breaking Corruption News

    Platini lost his appeal, will quit UEFA presidency.

    Who’s next? Septic bladder? The (new) infant?

    Sure, I’ll do this work for you and wait 10 years to get paid an excessive amount of money. Nothing could possibly be wrong with this arrangement.


  • Anthony I think you miss the historic point. There were many people who came on this site and said that the reason Arsenal were not doing well enough was because Arsenal were not good enough against the bigger teams. That was the failing and that was what had to be fixed. Now we have people saying, Arsenal are not good enough against the middle ranking teams. The point is that both analyses only touch the surface of the issue, and both are fairly typical of the arguments made by people who suggest that a change of manager or ownership or players could solve the problem: they take this year’s or this week’s the last game’s issues and then derive an entire explanation from that. It rarely, if ever, works.

  • Gord


    Nice interview with Dan Crowley on about the U21 playoff final tomorrow. Apparently Jack Grealish is expected to play for Aston Villa. I wonder how much of Santi wore off onto Dan Crowley?

    There is also some tiny story about a bunch of former Gunners playing a bunch of former AC Milan players. Who could have possibly heard of Maldini or Baresi? I think in September (during a break where international players get injured playing games without meaning :-)).

    And there is no bus or subway from NE BC to London. Speaking of subways, Ars Technica has an article on the Elizabeth line. It mentions some spud station, but nothing about Ashburton/Arsenal. How close is Emirates Stadium (Wenger Stadium) to this new subway line?


  • Brickfields Gunners

    I think that somebody proudly put up a poster reminding all and sundry that we are the only ones to beat the new champions home and away !

  • Brickfields Gunners

    The day will surely come when all men ( and women ) be equal , just and comfortable (if they so choose to be ) , not only as per gender equality , or societal roles , or in the putting forth well informed and researched opinions and facts , as well as being civil and courteous to their fellow beings in all spheres of life .

    We would all then live with such honesty , unanimity and concord ,as well as in general well being and bliss .

    Not buying that shit ? Me too ! Too many of ‘them’ for us to educate and not enough time ! And a sheer waste of time for the AKBs , who have better and more productive things to do.

    Anyway , here’s an old reworked politically correct but funny fairy tale that I had posted here many years ago , that I think that you’d find to be a worth a read .
    Enjoy !

  • Luvyourclub

    We all look to positives about our teams and all clubs do it even as far as the top 6. A good thing to shout about is how well you did against the teams around. Sadly I have no stats but one that interests me is how well teams do against the park the bus teams.

  • Al

    Nice read. The media and their lapdogs are masters at changing their tunes; Arsenal are dismal against the big sides, Arsenal will never win anything with Wenger in charge, you can’t win the PL without spending money…are just a few of their favourite lines, but you won’t be hearing any of these any time soon. Unfortunately they’ll just be replaced by some other equally daft statements.

    I personally hold the view, as I know many others do too, the pgmob robbed us of the league this year. After all, the sun,the telegraph and the Metro all agreed with that view too, when they bothered to do a little digging.

  • Al

    PTB teams do NOT park the bus against all and sundry. No. This is especially reserved for certain teams, teams that play keep the ball, teams that’ll pass you off the park, teams that draw rings and triangles in your box. Let’s just say one such team is called Arsenal. And another team that doesn’t really do the above is called Utd. And let’s just assume there’s a lowly side called Norwich.

    Now Norwich know if you give Arsenal space they’ll cause you all kinds of damage. So they all retreat into their box with the furthest outfield player in their half near the halfway line, and pray for luck from a set piece or such. Against united Norwich will think ok, Utd will not make you chase shadows all match so best to try and have a go here, we might get a goal, or even two. And also, to appease their fans and the paying public, no team wants to have around 27% possession every match, so they’ll select matches to ptb carefully. Of course this approach will not always work, as Utd will have sufficient firepower to down Norwich. So that can explain why other side’s will do better than others when playing these lowly sides, even though you may find Arsenal will have had over 70% possession to Utd’s say 56%..

  • thierryhenry22

    Great article Walt, and fair play regarding the comments. Some of them are ridiculous. I honestly welcome rational debate, but that’s hardly ever what Anti-Arsenal Arsenal fans want to do.

  • Pat


    Great analysis of how Arsenal suffers from park the bus more than other teams. There was a song when we had just done the 49 games ‘We’re the team to beat!’ Weird, isn’t it, that in spite of the press and others endlessly criticising Arsenal, we’re still the team to beat!

  • nicky

    Re your 4.35 Tony, some confused folk, following our great Club, still maintain they are not fickle!

  • Porter

    You are correct in noting that PTB tactics are used by teams often exclusively against us . they use them because they can refine the art because they can predict the way that we will play. They force our play into a kind of funnel to founder on the rocks of a wall that has no way through. This forces us to go square or back to keep the ball and start another wave to repeat the process again. It is assumed that the supposed AAA want change of management however some wish to see some originality when combating the tactic.

  • goonerwin

    A managers job it to beat the team in front of them! and teams will always park the bus when they come to the emirates because if they don’t they will be picked apart by some of the best players in the world, if I had to face Cazorla, Ozil, Sanchez and Ramsey all capable of unlocking any defence and not forgetting the full backs of Bellerin and Moneal charging at me!! I would park the bus!! its the only way to beat Arsenal! Leicester got hammered by us because they tried to play us at our own game! So did Man United and any other team that try to attack us! so of course they are going to park the bus and will do it next season! Arsenal are the masters in England at taking advantage of open space and catching teams on the break, we have to find away of dealing with teams who prefer to sit back! peppering the box with crosses or players who will shoot outside off the box! Elneny looked like a player who would do that, I really do think we will get the three world class players we need to complete the team, a new centre back, a worldy striker and another midfielder to replace flamini, arteta and rosicky, I would love Marquinhos, Griezmann and Pogba, howeverI cant question a manager who can still pay 5m for a player like Elneny! total class buy for no money at all, Wenger is still a genius at uncovering great players for no money

  • Gord

    > A manager’s job is to beat the team …

    Taken from Goonerwin

    I will suggest the basketball is the best sport for managers, in that it is possible to manage how many points are scored in the attempt to win the game.

    But, the manager’s intent notwithstanding, the probability of random factors influencing which team wins a basketball game is still large (20% maybe?).

    In football, the influence of random factors is probably more than any other sport. I have never seen or read a technical document which tries to estimate just how much random chance plays in results. I think Walter and many other people would assume 50%.

    What does that mean? If team A plays team B and team A is acknowledged to be the better team, there is still a 50% chance that team B wins the game.

    A better team can play lesser teams, and there is no guarantee of a win. If it was possible to do any given games multiple times, you would still find that the lesser team wins some games.

    This concept, that being better doesn’t guarantee a win, completely escape most fans. But, for most fans this isn’t a problem, following football is a past-time.

    But there is a fraction (I hope a minority), who cannot accept this.

    I am sorry, but the way football is structured; the ability to better defend or the ability to better score does not translate into more saves/blocks or goals.

    Your team (Arsenal) may have been the better team on the day. They may not have won, they may have lost. And this has nothing to do with what the manager did or didn’t do. It is just the luck of the draw.

    What I want to do, is to get rid of screwy officiating that is PGMO. Having officials chosen for games on the basis of who they might favour is atrocious.

  • Anthony

    Tony I get the point regarding the big/lower teams, but what I’m saying is the manager cannot identify the right balance to be able to be consistent against all the teams in the league throughout a whole season. I accept you cannot always be the best team but come the turn of the year we always have the same issues if we are in a good position to win the league.

    And my opinion isn’t from this/last years games, its from seeing us top of the league countless times over seasons and fall away when it matters, 07/08, 09/10, 10/11, 13/14 (although I accept injuries for 13/14).

  • Untold Warrior

    are we going to see these teams as the category A fixtures next season then and the matches v Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United designated as category B? Incidentially against these teams we gained 5 points out of 18.

  • Goonermikey

    @ Anthony

    Yes, you’re quite correct, we do have the same issues. SHIT REFEREES!

  • What an extraordinary idea. I think it is highly unlikely.

  • Fishpie

    Walter, is there a reconciliation of points summary somewhere that you are aware of? As in re refs: “If they had done their job in a better way we would have had more points than we have today.” Presumably some refs made mistakes on some of our goals too so when ref mistakes (both for and against) are factored in, what points total would we have had? Does this total exist anywhere?

  • ob1977

    PTB teams have been slightly more effective against us this season due to playing Ramsey and DM in CM, Ramsey isn’t efficient on the ball, he has great energy but slows out game down and when you take goals out of his game is just a runner.

    With Elneny next to Ramsey and the emergence of Iwobi it has worked slightly better the last couple of months, but not quite to our usual standard, but put in passers ot mobile players (which Arsene would love to have been able to) like Santi, Jack, Rosicky, even Arteta or The Ox, and then PTB teams have a much harder time containing our natural game, too much emphasis and responsibility unfortunately out of necessity has been placed on Ozil to keep our game fresh and mobile.

    This is no major fault of our manager, as lets remember that with a bit more fortune in front of goal, or our forwards not drying up, or even getting half the decisions that we should have, then this season could have been completely different, think offside winner against Liverpool, both Chelsea games, Dier and Lamela staying on at Spurs, both Swansea goals at Emirates, and thats before we mention the ridiculously low penalty award rate…

  • ob1977

    Great comment, have tried to make this arguement so many times, strangely enough a section of my friends refuse to understand this…

  • Fishpie

    As for your overall point Walter that this year we nailed the better teams but get criticised for not nailing the smaller or weaker teams which is so unfair of those fans who criticised us in the past for not beating the bigger/stronger teams and therefore they are so inconsistent …eh…methinks the fans just criticise whichever bit we failed at. And the shame is of course there’s always a bit to criticise. Winning the league, as you point out, is about trying to nail both bits. In the end, if you for instance beat the champions and the runners-up twice you deserve credit for sure but if you also lose for instance to the two bottom teams, you get criticised. Did we overachieve in doing well against the more difficult teams or underachieve in doing less well against the so-called easier teams? Which is the real Arsenal? The real Arsenal is of course a combination of both and that is the eternal problem. Now I know you don’t feel qualified to offer a way to resolve this kind of form, and fair enough, you are not qualified. But Mr Wenger is. He’s had quite a few attempts at resolving it too, but he hasn’t. And that’s the real fuel for the criticism. Justified, fair and completely consistent, in line with and in response to the performances and the results.