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Is this the worst ever Arsenal season?

By Tony Attwood

We used to have lots of people writing in saying that the start of one season was the worst start ever for Arsenal.  In the end it went on and on so much, and I started to be accused of “not facing facts” and “trying to cover up Wenger’s failings” so much, that I decided to spend a rather boring half an hour pointing out worse starts to the season.

Of course it didn’t achieve much – people just went on and found another way to slag off Mr Wenger.

But as I tend to do these days, I kept the notes I made, and was able to dig them out quickly upon spotting the Independent writing today that “The Gunners’ victory should not mask the fact that after 20 league games they are sixth, with 37 points. At the equivalent stage last season they were fifth with 41 points and it is hard to argue that they are making any kind of progress.”  You probably realise I’ve touched on this before.

The point here is that comparing one season with another and nothing else is ludicrous.  If you use that approach then one would say that Arsenal in 1931/32 had not made “any kind of progress”.  In 1930/1 Arsenal had won the league and scored 127 goals.  In 1931/2 they came second, gained 12 points fewer, and scored 37 goals less.  Absolutely no progress.  Club going backwards.  Sack Chapman at once and get a manager who could take the club forwards.

Except for the fact that in the following three seasons in a row Arsenal won the league.  Under three different managers.

Or to bring it up to date in 2002 Arsenal won the league, but the following season got nine points fewer, being beaten to the League title by Man United.  Quite clearly no progress then.  Except that the season after that Arsenal won the league again without being beaten.  The writer in the Independent might like to note that one.  It was called the Unbeaten Season (can’t think why).

The point is there are multiple issues going on in football all the time, and if you want to consider if Arsenal is going nowhere, it is not bad to start with a bit of reality.   The figures below are drawn from the Wikipedia table of Arsenal’s history and the 11v11 site.

Here we go with a table relating to where Arsenal were in the league in recent years after 20 games.  The date of reaching 20 games changes from year to year depending on how the weekends fall and if the League want to get the competition done and dusted by a certain date to fit Fifa demands.

Season Date Points Position End of season
2012/13 1 Jan 13 34 5th 4th
2013/14 5 Jan 14 45 1st 4th
2014/15 5 Jan 15 33 6th 3rd
2015/16 5 Jan 16 42 1st 2nd
2016/17 5 Jan 17 41 5th 5th
2017/18 29 Dec 17 37 6th ?

So we can see that placements after 20 games can go up (twice) or go down (twice) or stay the same (once), in relation to when we get to the end of the season.

One simple point to learn from this is that if it were easy to make predictions about anything in life we wouldn’t have any gambling on sport or any form of  online games.

The reality about progress is of course that I, along with everyone else who supports the club rather than doing the “I hope Arsenal get relegated so we get rid of Wenger” thing wants Arsenal to win and be higher up the league.  And absolutely of course I would like us currently to be higher.  But I do note that in 2013/14 from a position of being top of the league after 20 games, and having more points (45) than any other season in the past six years we slipped backwards to fourth.

In effect most of the time for most clubs there is as much certainty about where any club is going to end up by looking at the table at New Year, as there is certainty about where the balls are going to land in casino games.

However I say “most clubs” advisedly because I doubt anyone is going to get very good odds on Manchester City winning the title.  Or come to that Barcelona.  Or come to that PSG.  And that makes the whole thing a lot more boring.

At least after 20 games in the Unbeaten Season there was still all to play for: Arsenal were second, three points behind Man U, the leaders, and we had an inferior goal difference.  Chelsea were third, a further four points behind us.  The feeling at the time was that we would not win the league because we were drawing too many games that we ought to have won, because we were not ruthless enough.

Now that was a fun season!

Anyway, can we climb higher?  Yes of course we can.  Here’s our position at the moment.

Pos Team Pld W D L F A GD Pts
1 Manchester City 20 19 1 0 61 12 49 58
2 Manchester United 20 13 4 3 43 16 27 43
3 Chelsea 20 13 3 4 34 14 20 42
4 Liverpool 20 10 8 2 46 23 23 38
5 Tottenham Hotspur 20 11 4 5 39 20 19 37
6 Arsenal 20 11 4 5 37 25 12 37

All four clubs immediately above us are going to slip somewhere along the line – injuries, an unexpected loss of form, a suspension, anything can happen.  What the table at the top shows is not that we will do x or y, but like I said, anything can happen.  Except that I think Man City have the sovereign wealth fund of a nation behind them, and when that happens, it pretty much closes down a lot of the fun.  Just try and see what odds you can get on them not winning the league.

From the History Society: March 1919: The vote to extend the league and what the media said

From Untold Arsenal: Back from the palace and its the same old same old: Knock, knock, knock, kncko, konck

11 comments to Is this the worst ever Arsenal season?

  • Merlin

    My perception that this was a slightly worse than average ‘Arsenal’ season is borne out by your stats. While we’re not in any way likely to win the PL we can still improve to a fourth or even third place finish. That’s what the target must be as far as the League goes, and win a cup or two.
    Nobody is going to pull City back and they’re looking even more certain to do an Invincible’s and crash through the 100 point barrier. After that who knows what they can achieve…..

  • porter

    Is this the worst ever Arsenal season?

    No ! Just symptomatic of what we have been conditioned to expect in the last few years.
    Everybody expects City to go on and win it. The best of the rest positions are up for grabs but in reality we are fighting for 4th rather than 2nd.

  • Nick S.

    I can only speak for myself but the hardest part of this season has been my progression into the fifth stage of grief, acceptance. Acceptance that Arsenal is nowhere near the top tier of Europe. Acceptance that AFC is no longer in the top tier within the EPL. Acceptance that AFC is merely an investment vehicle for the Kroenke family. Acceptance that the threshold for managerial accountability does not involve winning the league. Acceptance that there probably is not a succession plan in place for the manager, and for that matter, the general manager (using an American term here). Acceptance that we have become a mid-to-upper-table club.

  • Goonereris

    Of course, it isn’t the worst start for Arsenal, but in the age of social media, in addition to the “damage” the conventional media and pundits can do, we are having to be more discerning when reading headlines and articles.

    It would have been nice to show the club’s position at the end of the season for each of the seasons listed on the table which showed “where Arsenal were in the league in recent years after 20 games”; just to RE-emphasize the fact that a lot can still change for the teams at the top of the table, bar one team.

  • porter

    Sure lots can change in the second half of the season and as always it’s The Arsenal that gets the finger pointing . There are of course reasons for that the club is media gold dust. We sell papers , get clicks on news now and are the mainstay of Talk sport . However as much as we may take all of this with the proverbial pinch of salt there are undeniable facts. Sanchez and Ozil are going out of contract and in a couple of days are able to officially hold talks with whoever they chose. Wilshere too is at the end and despite stating he wants to stay the deal has not been done. Furthermore it seems that the lions share of our first team squad are nearing the end of theirs too . This information is pushed out by the agents into the public domain as they do their jobs trying to pressure the club or start the process of moving them on. It doesn’t look good and it gets publicity. The club is described as reactive rather then pro , and from a distance it is hard to argue any other way.

  • Goonereris

    Therein lies the problem; somehow, the agents have been brainwashed into believing Arsenal are susceptible to pressure and likely to budge if there’s a “threat” of other clubs interested in our players. It’s a shambles, really, how we are targeted.

    Like I have stated before, United have 10 players who are out of contract in 2018 yet, inexplicably, no such coverage is given to their situation. At the last count, there were over 107 professional players in the EPL whose contracts expire next year. But the situation of two super stars at our club, and Jack becomes the news. I think it is to Jack’s advantage that we are delaying his contract extension if you ask me. Had we put a contract before him when he was still in the 2nd team, he’ll probably sign anything. Now, he is able to push for his true worth in terms of wages.

  • Gord

    I got fed up with the crap comments a few days (weeks?) ago. But you look in the news, and it is nothing but bashing. Theory Henry, close your mouth! Unless your objective is to destroy Arsenal. But we don’t need former Gunners bashing Arsenal, when former players of other teams are looking to promote the club they used to play at.

    I’ve no idea as to the capabilities of wordpress, and/or the people behind UntoldArsenal. Well, neither Tony or Walter are programmers. Others might be.

    Tony thinks UntoldArsenal must allow others who are not supporting the club (various definitions). Which is fine.

    If a person can provide a “hook” on submitting a comment, whenever a person submitting (which is a tag and an email address in an ideal world, it might be an array of tags and an array email addresses) a comment submits, what gets posted is two comments. One is the comment they submitted. The second, is a link to every comment they have every submitted. Or some kind of summary page on their comments.

    I suppose I will have to monitor this thread for a while, if Tony allows this posting (as maybe I’ve been banned?). But my intention has been to not read or post to UntoldArsenal until after the transfer window closes.

    There is just too much crap when the transfer window is approaching, or open.

    I thought Arsenal has done well enough since I last posted. I think there were controversial points in terms if the IDJUTS at PGMO, but as The (sweet) FA doesn’t seem to want to fix things this won’t change.

    Moan-inho is back moaning (did he ever leave?).

    I hope all true Untold Arsenal followers had a wonderful Holiday Season. I hope all these twits who just come to crap on us, had a lousy Holiday Season. And I hope the rest of your life is lousy.

  • Merlin

    ‘The second, is a link to every comment they have every submitted. Or some kind of summary page on their comments.’
    Gord, with respect, why would anyone be interested in reading or referencing ‘every comment’ a poster has ever submitted? What would be the benefit of such a facility? I assume there are serial commenters whose total input on UA may run into thousands of words.
    Are you suggesting that readers are offered a chance to compare previous comments/views with current ones for possible contradictions? Or have I completely misunderstood your idea?
    For me an improvement would be to make comments and replies to them self contained in the way that eg 7amkickoff does.
    Happy New Year to you.

  • porter

    They are not brainwashed they are very astute business people and whatever you or I might think about their actions , they are doing what they are paid to do. It’s down to the clubs as to how they are handled and it is reported that Arsenal are not particularly good at it. I understand that following the Graham affair the club is wary of certain people but these are people that control the market nowadays.
    Also I wonder if since the departure of Dein the connect between the board and the players has lessened and that’s why it seems to allow the contract sagas to drift on.

  • Gord

    I think that having ready access to all the negative comments a person might make; might be a drag on someone who is either an anti-arsenal supporter, or a supporter of some other team who comes here to troll.

    I’ve been following Mike Dean “fallout” and while some media sites seem to be agreeing with presence of a problem, none really seem to be pursuing this.

    I think most of the ex-referees that are or have been in the medja, are online with the idea that with the idea that Mike Dean had no need (duty, requirement, …) to issue a penalty kick.

    Mike Dean would not be doing this, if Mike Riley didn’t want this. And nobody is taking that leap. They are all treating this as an isolated problem. Not the endemic problem it is.

    —-

    There was a blurb about bad tackles (Daisy Cutter?), that this has been a recent phenomenon (the last month). It is not a ‘last month’ phenomenon, it is a many years phenomenon. Arsenal has had multiple athletes “removed” or held up by idjuts who practice this.

    Ryan Shawcross is one name which comes to mind. And as Hughes continues to think this idjut is valuable, hopefully he gets sacked soon.

  • Gord

    From Marca:

    > defender Scott Dann and midfielder Jason Puncheon will miss the rest of the season after suffering knee injuries against Manchester City on Sunday.

    In the context of rotational/tactical fouling, I will bet you that both Dann and Puncheon were following instructions from the “manager” (a dinosaur who probably shouldn’t be managing any more). And it is only fitting that both of them got year ending injuries in doing something shouldn’t be allowed.

    I am disappointed that The (sweet) FA has charged Wenger, for saying that someone who has no professional attitude, has no professional attitude.