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October 2016
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The predictions for this coming season: and rather cheery ones they are too.

By Tony Attwood

This is the time when the newspapers publish their summary of their predictions, and by and large they are all going with the same story.

This is the season when Arsenal will drop out of the top four for the first time in 20 years, and will come below Tottenham for the first time in rather a lot of years.   Here are the details of the last time around this happened

Pos Team Pld W D L F A GD Pts League
1 Blackburn Rovers 42 27 8 7 80 39 +41 89 Champ.
2 Manchester United 42 26 10 6 77 28 +49 88 Prem.
3 Nottingham Forest 42 22 11 9 72 43 +29 77 Champ.
4 Liverpool 42 21 11 10 65 37 +28 74 Prem
5 Leeds United 42 20 13 9 59 38 +21 73 Champ.
6 Newcastle United 42 20 12 10 67 47 +20 72 Champ.
7 Tiny Totts 42 16 14 12 66 58 +8 62 Prem.
8 Queens Park Rangers 42 17 9 16 61 59 +2 60 Champ.
9 Wimbledon* 42 15 11 16 48 65 −17 56 League 1
10 Southampton 42 12 18 12 61 63 −2 54 Prem
11 Chelsea 42 13 15 14 50 55 −5 54 Prem
12 Arsenal 42 13 12 17 52 49 +3 51 Prem
13 Sheffield Wednesday 42 13 12 17 49 57 −8 51 Champ.
14 West Ham United 42 13 11 18 44 48 −4 50 Prem
15 Everton 42 11 17 14 44 51 −7 50 Prem.
16 Coventry City 42 12 14 16 44 62 −18 50 Champ
17 Manchester City 42 12 13 17 53 64 −11 49 Prem
18 Aston Villa 42 11 15 16 51 56 −5 48 Champ
19 Crystal Palace (R) 42 11 12 19 34 49 −15 45 Prem
20 Norwich City (R) 42 10 13 19 37 54 −17 43 Champ
21 Leicester City (R) 42 6 11 25 45 80 −35 29 Prem
22 Ipswich Town (R) 42 7 6 29 36 93 −57 27 Champ
The last column shows where those teams are now.   Ten of the teams in the Premier League that season are now in the Championship, and one is in League One.  (Incidentally it doesn’t matter whether you consider Wimbledon to be MK Dons or AFC Wimbledon, both are in League One.)
So quite a different football league.  And yet the Arsenal team (which apart from the first week of the season never made it above 9th in the league) contained some famous names: Seaman, Dixon, Winterburn, Davis, Adams, Wright, Smith, Merson, Bould, Keown, Parlour – although to be fair to Ray Parlour he was an up and coming lad at the time, not established.   Maybe a few of those established names who love to slag off Mr Wenger so readily these days, should remember their contribution to that dreadful season.
I don’t know what today’s Wenger Out “supporters” would have made of it, but I can certainly tell them it was fairly dire stuff.  And yet we opened with a 3-0 home win over Manchester City.  Unfortunately we then went five games without another win and dropped to 15th in the league.  By the time George Graham was dismissed we were 10th.   But perhaps the difference was that despite that lowly position we kept on turning up, kept on supporting, and stayed with the team and the manager til the bitter end.
Anyway, the press is universal in its thoughts that we are on the way back to something akin to the latter day George Graham experience, with Man U winning the league followed by Man Airport, Tottenham and Chelsea making up the top four.
It seems that their view is that our squad isn’t strong enough.  Not with Ozil, Sanchez, Cech, Koscileny and a few other rather highly rated players.  Nor indeed with the youngsters like Bellerin, Coquelin and Iwobi.  Nor indeed with the possibility (if recent history is anything to go by) that we will suddenly pluck from the ranks of the youth another player of quality.  Nor with Santi Caz, Ramsey, Granit…

And this is where the simplistic analysis of the press falls rather flat.  The widely accepted view is that players improve until they are about 28, after which they can hold their level of performance because as the physical ability begins to slip a little, the knowledge, guile and maturity continues to hold sway for a few more years.

Which means that youngsters do tend to improve and we do rather well with youngsters.  So whereas it is less likely that other teams will themselves find an improving youngster again this season, and whereas not all other teams have players who will greatly step forwards this year, we have young men like Iwobi and Bellerin who by the end of the season could be considerably better than at the start.

And who knows who will join them.  Gnabry, currently at the Olympics.  Akpom who kept scoring pre-season.  I must admit I don’t know, I am always taken by surprise as to which youngster comes through.  But I would be very surprised if we did not have another major star emerge this year.

I think our biggest weakness is the fact that coming runners-up was seen as a reason to sack the manager.  The whole response to coming second is enough to make any young man with the opportunity of playing for Arsenal decide to turn away.  Much will depend on whether the supporters in the ground are willing to give the sort of comprehensive support that some of the teams who came lower in the league than Arsenal will get.

But we do have the great advantage that Arsenal has not brought a load of new players who will need to be sorted out and bedded into the team.  I know that readers do write in saying, “surely you must admit that xxx would be an upgrade on Giroud” or whatever, and the answer is no, I don’t admit that.  Because as I have indicated so many times, 75% of big money transfers don’t deliver in their first season, and a sizeable number simply disrupt the team.  Buying a big name player, as often as not, does more harm than good.

It can work, and when it does, that is a bonus.  It can have zero effect, or it can be a total disater for them.

The fact is that as the earlier post today showed, the same clubs spend the most money each year, but don’t necessarily win the league.  And as we all know, everyone got the predictions of the final league position wrong last season.  None of the normal tipsters got either Leicester as first or Arsenal as second.  Indeed, as has happened every year for the past six years or so, there were people saying that this was the year in which we would return to the state that George Graham left the club in.   And year after year it doesn’t happen.

Of course it will one day.   And quite possibly one day Arsenal will be relegated for the first time since 1913.  But I am not at all sure it will be now.

For me, and of course it is just my opinion, based on the evidence that has been presented through this summer, having youngsters coming through into the first team not only warps the transfer figures (given that Coquelin, Iwobi and Bellerin are quoted in Transfer Market as being worth a total of £30m – a £30m that is not shown in Arsenal’s transfer figures) but also lowers the estimation of our potential.

And I would argue that those figures are under estimates.  Iwobi is quoted as being worth £3.4m which I think is wrong in the current market.  Akpom is down as £850,000 which is well within the grasp of every Championship team, and there would be an absolute scrum for him if he came on the market at anything like that price.

So, as with last year’s predictions, and the year before, and the year before and the year before, I am going to end by saying that I think the newspapers have got their predictions wrong, and really their journalists should stop reading, or at least stop believing, the newspapers.

Extract from the details on Transfer Market of player values.
# Player(s) born/age Market value
May 20, 1982 (34)
Aug 31, 1988 (27)
Centre Back
Sep 10, 1985 (30)
Centre Back
Nov 26, 1990 (25)
Centre Back
Jan 20, 1995 (21)
Centre Back
Sep 29, 1984 (31)
Centre Back
Sep 20, 1995 (20)
Centre Back
Jan 4, 1998 (18)
Feb 26, 1986 (30)
Sep 26, 1989 (26)
Mar 19, 1995 (21)
Feb 8, 1992 (24)
Jul 28, 1985 (31)
Defensive Midfield
May 13, 1991 (25)
Defensive Midfield
Jul 11, 1992 (24)
Central Midfield
Dec 26, 1990 (25)
Central Midfield
Sep 27, 1992 (23)
Central Midfield
Jan 1, 1992 (24)
Central Midfield
Dec 13, 1984 (31)
Attacking Midfield
Oct 15, 1988 (27)
Left Wing
May 3, 1996 (20)
Right Wing
Aug 15, 1993 (22)
Left Wing
Dec 19, 1988 (27)
Left Wing
Jul 14, 1995 (21)
Right Wing
Mar 16, 1989 (27)
Right Wing
Jun 26, 1992 (24)
Centre Forward
Sep 30, 1986 (29)
Centre Forward
Nov 26, 1990 (25)
Centre Forward
Oct 9, 1995 (20)


I guess the big difference between people like Blacksheep, Walter, Andrew and myself, who gather at the Swimmer and sup our drinks of choice before games, and those who subscribe to the anti-Wengerian persuasion, is that we enjoy ourselves.  We’re happy to be Arsenal fans, pleased to be at the match, happy in each other’s company, and welcoming the release from the strain and toil of everyday life.  There’s something to be said for that.

So my prediction: more laughter, more smiles, more fun, more good company, and more enjoyment.  Which seems fair enough to me.

Recent Posts

Untold Arsenal has published five books on Arsenal – all are available as paperback and three are now available on Kindle.  The books are

  • The Arsenal Yankee by Danny Karbassiyoon with a foreword by Arsene Wenger.
  • Arsenal: the long sleep 1953 – 1970; a view from the terrace.  By John Sowman with an introduction by Bob Wilson.
  • Woolwich Arsenal: The club that changed football.  By Tony Attwood, Andy Kelly and Mark Andrews.
  • Making the Arsenal: a novel by Tony Attwood.
  • The Crowd at Woolwich Arsenal by Mark Andrews.

You can find details of all five on our new Arsenal Books page


32 comments to The predictions for this coming season: and rather cheery ones they are too.

  • So come on then Tony put up your prediction for the top 4 for the end of the season , I think this was suggested earlier . Bit of fun

  • Andy Mack

    There’s far too many variables to make any firm predictions, but IMO ;

    The top 4 is likely consist of us, $iteh, DisUtd and Chavski with Liverpoo possibly levering their way in as they don’t have any European commitments.
    Spuddies, Sotton, Everton and two others (probably state aid utd and the Orcs) will fight for top ten.
    The Foxes will be lucky to stay in the top ten as the extra CL commitments must start to give them an average injury list and the PGMO cannot help them that much for another season.

    If the PGMO play a fair game for a change then we’ll win the PL but if they continue in their usual manner then I don’t know who’ll win, But I hope it’ll be us!

  • Brickfields Gunners

    As I start my 47th season as an Arsenal fan , I am as hopeful as I ever was that we will this year be successful . That we will try our darnest best against all odds ( most especially biased refereeing ) and we will finally overcome all obstacles .
    I stopped worrying about other teams and ‘them’ . And wine shall give me euphoria and solace in equal measure. But more euphoria this year , please ! Cheers !
    WOO HOO , HOO !
    Up the Gunners !

  • Brickfields Gunners

    So my prediction is –
    EPL CHAMPIONS – Arsenal
    FA Cup – Arsenal
    Champions League – Arsenal
    League Cup – Arsenal B

    And a very Happy and early St. Totteringham’s Day . 1st. April would be nice !

  • Brickfields Gunners

    And finally some fine advice for ‘them’ ! It’ll be so nice here if they choose to heed it !

    ‘ Learn to be happy alone . If we do not enjoy our own company , why inflict it on others.’
    Swami Chinmayananda .

    Why indeed ?

  • Gord

    Brickfields, I think it would be much nicer if St.Totteringham’s Day was even sooner. Valentine’s Day would be nice. New Years Day would be wonderful!

  • Polo

    My top 5:

    1) Arsenal – Alexis, Ozil, Ox, Theo, Iwobi, Ramsey to fire on all cylinders.
    2) ManCity – Alot of top class players but need time to fit into Peps style
    3) Chelsea – Improve after last seasons debacle.
    4) Liverpool – Klopps style begin to take effect, but still defensive problem
    5) ManUnited – Players revolt against ‘The Spending One’ towards mid-season, Rooney will lead the charge.

  • Josif


    Champions: Chavs. They have most of their title-winning team from 2014-15 around and a manager who had gone through the whole season unbeaten with Juventus. No European boredom should be their biggest advantage. They’ve got Kante.

    Rest of the Top 4: Man City, Man United, Arsenal. Guardiola has inherited a very strong team and with a few additions of his own, they should be around the top. Manchester United have a rather suspicious easy start, a manager who doesn’t care what he has to do just to win and PGMO will do a lot to help them to return the league title to Manchester but that won’t be enough.

    Arsenal have a tough set of fixtures in the opening few weeks with three best central defenders set to miss the opening against Kloppopool. We haven’t found a striker either which means we won’t win the league. Even if we somehow overcome that deficit, PGMO would do their job anyway.

    As for Tiny Tottes and Kloppopool, I see them both outside of Top 4, with a solid chance to get pipped for a European place by State Aid FC. Everton might be the surprise package though.

  • Firey

    My top 5
    1.City- Made some good additions the best one being their new manager Pep.Once he gets to grips with the premiership he will be the difference with his tactical nouse.
    2.Spurs-They will go close again.Got a good defence, midfield and one of the best strikers in the prem.
    3.Man utd- Moriniho will be a damn site better than Van Gaal .Also they have made 3 great additions in Ibrahamovic, Pogba and Mkhitaryan.We will rue the fact we didnt show enough to sign him .
    4.Arsenal-A great signing in xhaka and we have a great midfield ,probably the best of the lot,but we are very short and inexperienced at the back and seriously needed another striker.Whats the point of having over 100m in the bank if were not going to use it to strengthen.
    5.Chelsea-Another team that hasn’t really strengthened much and think conte will take a while to adapt.
    6.Leicester-They wont go as well as last year because the surprise factor isn’t there any more but will have enough to be the best of the rest.

  • Mandy Dodd

    As a Wenger fan, going to enjoy this season and back them all as if it were his last. I sincerely hope it will not be, but we just don’t know at the moment.
    But just get a strange feeling……wengers smirks…..then his claims of anxiety for the coming season…….just think he has some plan nobody else has really sussed out yet. If you believe some…..the usual suspects , AAA, media, Merson…..Robbie savage and other savants, the cards are stacked against him……that may suit Wenger just fine
    Last season, were amongst the favourites…….the media and pgmol tried to derail……this year, nobody gives us a chance……we shall see…

  • Domhuaille

    I’ve had some success at predicting where we’ll end up over the last few seasons, so here is my best guess:

    1) Arsenal tied for the top with one of either Liverpool,City or Chelsea,but win it on goal difference?
    2) The Spuds out of the top 4, probably 6th,
    3) United in 4th place,
    4) WHU 7th
    5) Leicester 8th

  • para

    Arsenal win win PL outright.
    Not bothered about other places except hope Manu come 7th.

  • GoingGoingGooner

    John Oliver’s take on the demise of print media…explains much of the football rubbish online.

  • Ramsey'shaircut

    I’m sure this season will be a very unpredictable and exciting one. Any number of teams could win it and compete for the top four. There will be a lot of ups and downs and it will lead to melt down.

    As for our season I don’t think we’ll compete for the title. We haven’t boosted the squad quite enough. There is plenty to be positive about. Holding is a good signing for thefuture while Xhaka shohuld prove a very shrewd signing. Compared to the 2nd half of last season we now have Coquelin, Santi, Wilshere and the Ox fit to play.

    We haven’t bought the CB we really need to cover Mert and now Gabriel. As soon as we learned of Per being out for months we needed a CB in quickly. We still haven’t got one. We also haven’t bought competition for Giroud. We bid for Vardy so Wenger obviously wants a forward. After that nothing. No plan. Very poor.

    I won’t go into the strengthening other clubs have donein terms of managers or players. Due to another really poor transfer window we need the likes of Ox, Walcott, Giroud, Ramsey to have the best season they’ve ever had if we are to compete.

    Oh we need all our main players to keep fit

  • Ramsey'shaircut

    Ps I’m enthused about Elneny and Iwobi having their first full season. They’ve looked strong pre season

  • John L

    Tony, Thank you. I agree with you completely.

    The media / pundits make the prediction about Spurs overtaking Arsenal at the start of every season. It would be a surprise if they changed their forecast now.

    No doubt, one day, it may happen. Then they will claim that their foresight and wisdom will be fully proven.

  • Menace

    The winners will again be the FA & PGMOL. Proves that cheats prosper.

    The football – Arsenal will win everything despite the biased slope we play on. The bookies do not lie as they have to put their money where their mouths are. They make City to with Manure & Chavs following because of gambled money. More money is backed on manure & then City than all of the rest. Arsenal to win no trophies is 4/9 & 40/1 to do a cup & EPL double.

    Man City will be close followed by Tots & Liverpool.

    Chelsea will host a lot of controversy & Manure will stink more this season because they have Jose (an ideal starter for decomposing).

  • Pat

    Strange that the press has not noticed our very positive pre season, with its hundred per cent win record including victory over Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City. It ought to be an indication of something, surely.

    However, with journalists they just keep on trotting out the same ingrained message, so I’m not really surprised.

    As Tony says, for Arsenal supporters the main thing is to enjoy the matches. So have a great time, all Untolders who will be there.

  • fabrechenko

    football isn’t a movie where everything follows a well-written script, last season should have thought some people lessons(i guess it’s considered a one-off), i don’t get the drift why someone would just come up with prediction of events that are governed by so many factors, and expect things to pan out like a director knows how his script would end, for instance, saying leceister would struggle because of their involvement in the ucl, claiming that arsenal will once again finish 4th even a ball has been kicked, it’s both parochial and myopic to just reel off such predictions like a drama recital because you get an erection from swiping your fingers over your keypad. for the sake of your health please, i’d advise us to go into the season with no expectations at all and build up our hopes as the season pans out.

  • fabrechenko

    line 20 should read ‘ even before a ball has been kicked’

  • Andy Mack

    The BBC idiots predictions mainly go for $iteh as the champs, which means that won’t happen 😀
    Actually they do have a very strong squad except far too many of them are 30 or over, which will probably either restrict their ability to play a high pressure game that Pep wants, or will lead to loads of injuries. Or maybe all the oldies will have a stellar year with the best injury record of the PL, but I doubt it
    Playing that type of game in Spain or Germany isn’t such a problem as they can easily rest players against over half the opposing teams but they’ll be lucky to do that in a couple of games in the PL.

  • Andy Mack

    I agree that it’s absolutely guessing but there are certain elements to base thoughts round. As you say, the Foxes results last season couldn’t possibly have been predicted. But there are certain things that can be predicted vaguely. Leicester don’t have a very deep squad and although they’ve added some class this summer, they’ve also lost possibly their best player from last season (and could lose more). Add this to their unbelievable Injury record last season and the very solid support of the PGMO, neither of which can be expected to be repeated (that’s not to say they won’t but highly unlikely). Plus the extra games of the CL which are usually tough games with potentially awful travel involved.
    So a prediction that they won’t stay top 4 is just a calculated result.
    Like last season it could be wrong but… 😀

  • westwing

    Tony if you are so happy why are you complaining every hour. Missus says you have little faith and nephew says you not big or long a Gooner. Thinking Totts will finish above and Chelsea may score six again. We are all very happy here. Laughing like Googlebox.

  • West Wing, the news that you and your family are spying on me is sad rather than disconcerting. But I do think you will find greater affinity with your world inside other people’s brains on other web sites.

  • Andrew Crawshaw

    On my way to the PL2 game last night I was approached by a complete stranger on Borehamwood who claimed that he was a Tottenham supporter through and through and he KNEW that Arsenal were going to be the PL Champions this year. Kind of took me aback but I agreed that that was my hope and wish as well.

  • westwing

    Tony you are a celebrity in our community but Walter not so well known as he goes to only two games a year. All good fun and maybe you feel all are spying on you. Do not go into hiding.

  • I think you under-estimate the level of Walter’s commitment as President of Arsenal Belgium, westwing. But as for me, I spend very little time under a bushel. (Did you know that a bushel, under which light is not to be hid, is a measure of capacity equal to 8 gallons (equivalent to 36.4 litres), used for corn, fruit, liquids? Nor did I. But I shall be very careful in future.

  • fabrechenko

    Andy Mack
    am not disposing the elements on which those predictions are made, as far as i’m concerned leicester could end up 14th and manure could still end up in the europa(my wishes actually), my qualms with most of the predictions made is the tone of certainty that accompanies them. except there’re skybet insiders on this site.

  • Polo

    Leicester benefited from a penalty that’s not a penalty. Some things don’t change.

  • fabrechenko

    seriously, it baffles me when people say leicester won the league because of the suprise factor, i’m trying to imagine epl team being suprised by leicester each time they met them on the pitch, it’s just as if they were expecting to play shrewsbury town, and lo and behold leicester miraculously appeared on the field. leicester won the league through consistency, a wonderful injury record, weekly favors from the pgmo and dedication from the entire team. suprise factor? i’m not buying

  • Andy Mack

    Fabrechenko, Yes, it’s all a big guess. With no guarantee of anything 😀

  • Andy Mack

    Who would have predicted with any confidence that Hull would ever be top of the league this season, even if it’s only for a few hours 😀