Comparing Arsenal today with the Arsenal of the unbeaten season



By Tony Attwood

As we have noted before, the last time Arsenal had 74 or more points from 31 games was the unbeaten season, and of course we went on to win the league.   Here’s the comparison between then and now.


Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 AFC Today 31 23 5 3 74 31 43 74
1 AFC 2003/4 31 23 8 0 62 22 40 77


But what is interesting is that this season we have scored 12 more goals so far than in 2003/4.  And indeed even with a worse defence this season compared with the unbeaten season, (31 goals against 22 in 2004) we are still better off in terms of the goal difference.

And now we can put into perspective not just where Arsenal are in the league (which is obvious from a glimpse at the league table) but also in terms of what results the club needs to equal previous good records.   For example one win and one draw in our remaining seven games would give us the same number of points as Arsenal had at the end of the season, in winning the league, in 1997/8.

To go the other extreme, to reach the 90 points that Arsenal got in the unbeaten season Arsenal need 16 points more.  That is five wins and one draw from the remaining seven games.   So Arsenal could afford one defeat and one draw, but nothing more, to equal that record

Of course no one has been talking about equalling or even beating that all-time Arsenal record in the premier league.  And besides, such points totals don’t guarantee the league will be won.  But these comparisons are a very handy way of seeing just how far this team has gone under Arteta and just how much higher the bar of winning the league has now been set.  

It is very likely indeed that Arsenal will exceed the number of points of the 1997/98 title winning season, since the club only needs four more to achieve that.   Put another way one more win and one more draw in the remaining games and Arsenal will have equalled the points total that won the club the league in 1997/98.

To beat the points total of the Unbeaten Season Arsenal would need five wins and one draw from the remaining seven games, and although after the last two results that might seem rather ambitious the fact that the club is coming this close to its best ever PL season shows just how far Arteta has taken Arsenal in the last few years. 

And I think we should not forget how there was a move to get Arteta sacked in the early days of his time at the club, because some fans wanted success much more quickly than it has been achieved at Arsenal.

It should also be remembered just how many points are needed in recent times to win the league. 

This total has changed quite considerably in recent years with the winning team often getting 90+ points.  In the last decade to win the league a total in the 80-89 point range was the norm.  Indeed Manchester United won with 80 points in 2011.   Leicester won in 2016 with 81.

But the bar moved up in 2016 when the league was one with 93 points and only in 2022 has the total number of points of the winning team slipped back down into the 80s.

What this shows is that each season one or two teams have been able to get the recruitment, motivation and performance right, leaving the others trailing.  In short, season by season the league is becoming less competitive with one or two teams shooting ahead of all the rest.

What Manchester City clearly want to do is emulate, and then beat, the Manchester United run from 2006/7 to 2012/13 in which the club won the league five times in seven seasons.   Manchester City are currently on four times in five seasons, and if Arsenal continue to falter as we have seen in the last two matches, Manchester City will exceed Manchester United’s run.

It is quite possible of course that the current enquiry will eventually find that Manchester City’s vast number of alleged contraventions of the rules did in fact take place, and then strip them of the titles (simply because fining the club will be pointless given that it is the use of their owner’s wealth that has taken them to their current position) but in the meanwhile this is the level Arsenal have to seek.

Of course I want Arsenal to win the league this season, but I also want more than that.  I want Arsenal at the level of repeat winners without the financial  shenanigans of Manchester City.  In 1930/31 Arsenal won the league for the first time.   By 1934/35 the club had won the league four times.   Four titles in five seasons was Arsenal’s original measure of success, and now once more it is the new measure of success.  These days, as then, one title is not enough.


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