Manchester City v Arsenal: how the mighty have utterly collapsed



Manchester City, Arsenal and historical perspectives

How different it has all turned out to be.  Not for Manchester City of course, because everyone predicted they would win the league again, [beware that link claims the writer has access to a supercomputer], but for the likes of Liverpool, Tottenham, Chelsea, Aston Villa, Brighton and Hove Albion… and Arsenal.

Just two years ago to the very day the top half of the table ran as shown below – although I have added an extra column at the end showing where the clubs are now.  And you will see (if you take a quick glance) that only two clubs from the top ten of two years ago are now in a better position than they were two years ago.   Arsenal have gone up nine places, and Tottenham up one (although in Tottenham’s case their recent performances are such that further decline seems inevitable).


Then Team P W D L F A GD Pts NOW
1 Manchester City 33 24 5 4 69 24 45 77 2
2 Manchester United 33 19 10 4 64 35 29 67 4
3 Leicester City 33 19 5 9 60 38 22 62 17
4 Chelsea 33 16 10 7 51 31 20 58 11
5 West Ham United 33 16 7 10 53 43 10 55 14
6 Liverpool 33 15 9 9 55 39 16 54 7
7 Tottenham Hotspur 33 15 8 10 56 38 18 53 6
8 Everton 32 15 7 10 44 40 4 52 18
9 Leeds United 33 14 5 14 50 50 0 47 16
10 Arsenal 33 13 7 13 44 37 7 46 1


And here’s the point.   Of course we want Arsenal to win tonight and to go on and win the league.   But whatever the result tonight, and by the end of the season, there’s another big issue at stake.  Where the club is next season and the season after.

For looking at this table, it is clear that most clubs don’t have enough resistance built into their system to ensure that they not only reach the top half of the table but they stay there.

Which is exactly the opposite of what the media predicted last summer, when virtually everyone predicted this season’s top four to be the same as last season’s!

And the reason for this surely must be that the whole approach of the majority of Premier League clubs and the commentators on the PL clubs, is totally and utterly short term.   As for example, all this changing around of managers – 13 so far this season – which is not solving the problem of instability but enhancing it.

Even though tonight everyone will be focussed on Manchester City v Arsenal and will immediately draw conclusions from the result as to which club will win the league, there is still this “other” issue.  The issue, not of where the clubs will be in the league table tomorrow morning, (Arsenal will of course still be top no matter what) but where all the managers will be next season.

Arsenal could have sacked Arteta when the media and a fair number of fans were calling for him to go on 15 December 2020 as Arsenal sat 15th in the league.  The top two at that moment were Liverpool and Leicester City.  Everton were fourth, Southampton seventh, Manchester City eighth.  It really was only two and a half years ago.

Thus today the Guardian runs the headline that says, Guardiola admits City will be scared with the comment, that with Arsenal dropping points of late they will be more determined.  It makes a good story, but as ever it is short termist.

As does “Spurs players to refund fans who attended Newcastle game.”  That doesn’t repair the damage done to that team’s credibility nor solve any long term issue.

And in the commentaries about tonight’s match there is some hope given to Arsenal given that “Zinchenko and Jesus have achieved it all before and now comes the chance, ahead of schedule or not, to validate Arteta’s reasons for bringing them in.”

And the Telegraph has “Arsenal must invoke spirit of 1989 against Manchester City to pull off title upset”   So yes there is some knowledge of history, but not what to do with it.  “Invoking the spirit of…” is journalistic gibberish.  It is not a plan.

What no one in the media will tell you, is that in the clubs that know what they are doing (which by and large looks to be Arsenal and Manchester City, and maybe two others) they seriously are making plans for next season and the one after that, while everywhere else there is short-termism and panic.

At this moment I would guess that quite possibly Aston Villa (if they don’t throw their toys out of the pram at the first hiccup) and Brighton and Hove might also show that they are clubs that have a longer-term vision.   But for the rest, I suspect that the short-termism that the media so love (because it gives them news without having to do any work) will prevail, which can only be to the advantage of Arsenal and Manchester City.

As for why insanely rich men who are used to winning at everything else they do in life, can’t understand why football doesn’t work the same way, the media, as ever, must take the blame.   For in the media hysterical commentaries on the need for change, rather than historical perspective or analysis, seems now to be the dominant force.  The failure of the majority of clubs is that they believe what they read in the media.

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