- The set of predictions that tell us exactly how the final table will look
- Decline and rise: will Arsenal break their PL goal scoring record this season?
By Tony Attwood
“It is that a small group of super-wealthy clubs are now so financially insulated that they are winning more games than ever before, by more goals than ever before, to break more records than ever before. They are stretching the game in a way that has caused the entire sport to transform and shift.”
That comment comes from the Independent and like so many broad statements it needs examination. So let us take an earlier period in footballing history: 1927/28 to 1938/39, A run of 12 seasons
- Arsenal: 5
- Everton: 3
- Sheffield Wednesday: 2
- Sunderland: 1
- Manchester City: 1
Or let’s try 1975/6 to 1990/91
- Liverpool: 10
- Arsenal: 2
- Everton: 2
- Nottingham Forest: 1
- Aston Villa: 1
or 1992/93 to 2012/13
- Manchester United: 14
- Arsenal: 3
- Chelsea: 3
- Blackburn Rovers: 1
And in each of those periods, I am listing all the winners, not just a few hand-picked clubs to make the point.
So when the author of the article writes “The entire sport has been increasingly conditioned so that Leicester City situations – where a club from outside the financial super elite actually wins a major title – are close to impossible,” he is quite right in the sense that a small club like Leicester winning the league is very rare. But quite wrong in saying this is a new thing. It has always been like this.
What has happened however is that over time some of the big clubs, having got to the top have either overstretched themselves or become so arrogant, that as a result they can’t keep winning as they used to. The Golden Age in which a Leicester could suddenly pop up from nowhere and win the league has not happened before – and indeed it needs a very particular set of circumstances to make it happen.
And indeed there was a very clear explanation as to how Leicester achieved that remarkable triumph. Leicester City won the league with 81 points. Only twice this century has a club won the league with fewer points – when Manchester City twice won it with 80 points.
And what about the notion of scoring more goals? In fact when we look here, the top scorers through the Premier League era come from earlier times, not now. Nine players have scored 30+ goals in a season in the history of the Premier League. The most recent time that happened was five years ago. Four of these were in the last century. It is unusual.
Plus there is a point to be made beyond the fact that the basic premise of the whole article by Miguel Delaney, the Chief Football Writer is based on a notion which helps make a headline but actually isn’t true.
What the piece is trying to do is say that in earlier times all sorts of odd clubs popped up to win the league – but the reality which the writer ignores is that only 24 clubs have ever won the top division in the whole of English football from its very start. Eight clubs have won the league six plus times and only one club has ever popped up just the once to win it then, and never before or since: Leicester City.
In the coming month (for which the fixtures are below) there are still a few tricky games for both Manchester City and Arsenal: I don’t think anything is a foregone conclusion just yet… and it is possible that one or two of these games could well decide where the title ends up.
Saturday, April 1
- Manchester City vs Liverpool, 12.30pm
- Arsenal vs Leeds, 3pm
Saturday, April 8
- Southampton vs Manchester City, 5.30pm
Sunday, April 9
- Liverpool vs Arsenal, 4.30pm.
Saturday, April 15
- Manchester City vs Leicester, 5.30pm
Sunday, April 16
- West Ham United vs Arsenal, 2pm
Friday, April 21
- Arsenal vs Southampton, 8pm
Wednesday, April 26
- Manchester City vs Arsenal, 8pm
Saturday, April 29
- Arsenal vs Chelsea, 5.30pm
- Arsenal transfers: what happened in January, and the rumours for now
- The first ever analysis of how referees see each Premier League club
- Tackles fouls and cards: where Wolverhampton have managed to go wrong
- Tackles fouls and yellows: how Arsenal have learned to handle the refs
- Arsenal v Wolverhampton: the Arsenal team and predictions