Arsenal v Chelsea; two clubs in recent decline – but why?



By Bulldog Drummond

Through this season we have, before most matches, had a look at the league table based on the last six games, as this can often indicate which way a match is likely to turn, better than looking at the conventional table for the whole season.

And normally in doing this we don’t run the whole “last six” table, but just the bit at the top showing Arsenal, and wherever the club Arsenal are playing is sitting.

But really, to fully appreciate the drop in Arsenal’s form of late and the position of Chelsea, we do need to see the full table

Premier League Form (Last 6)
Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Man City 6 6 0 0 18 5 13 18
2 Newcastle 6 5 0 1 20 8 12 15
3 Liverpool 6 4 2 0 17 9 8 14
4 Crystal Palace 6 4 1 1 13 7 6 13
5 Aston Villa 6 4 1 1 9 3 6 13
6 Man Utd 6 4 1 1 8 4 4 13
7 Bournemouth 6 4 0 2 9 9 0 12
8 Brighton 6 3 1 2 15 9 6 10
9 Wolverhampton 6 3 1 2 7 9 -2 10
10 Arsenal 6 2 3 1 16 13 3 9
11 West Ham 6 2 1 3 12 13 -1 7
12 Brentford 6 2 1 3 6 7 -1 7
13 Fulham 6 2 0 4 7 8 -1 6
14 Leicester 6 1 2 3 7 10 -3 5
15 Tottenham 6 1 2 3 11 17 -6 5
16 Leeds 6 1 1 4 7 19 -12 4
17 Nott’m Forest 6 1 0 5 7 12 -5 3
18 Everton 6 0 3 3 5 12 -7 3
19 Chelsea 6 0 2 4 3 9 -6 2
20 Southampton 6 0 1 5 5 14 -9 1


Yes indeed.  Arsenal, in terms of current form, are a mid-table team, and Chelsea are on the edge of relegation.

Of course this doesn’t actually mean that Arsenal are not qualifying for the Champions League next season, nor that Chelsea are heading for the Championship, but it does show the decline in both clubs of late.

But there is more to this “last six” table than expressing our dismay at how the challenge for the league title fell apart in one prolonged blip (as we have been calling these downturns).  And that is the level of goals.   In the past six games, despite the downturn,  Arsenal have scored 16 goals, while Chelsea have scored… err…. three.

And that is with Mykhaylo Mudryk who cost €70.00m, Raheem Sterling at €56.20m, Noni Madueke (€35.00m), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (€12.00m), David Datro Fofana (€12.00m), and João Félix on loan for a hefty fee (of which no one is quite sure how much it is).

All of which really ought to indicate to everyone, that buying players can help but is not guaranteed to help.  Tactical awareness and careful planning is needed.

Of course there was a time in the long dim and distant past that Chelsea used to beat Arsenal.  For example between April 2004 and February 2017 the clubs played each other 32 times in the Premier League, Champions League, Community Shield, FA Cup and League Cup.  Chelsea won 19 of those games, seven were draws and just six were won by Arsenal.    Put another way, 59% of the games were won by Chelsea and just 19% by Arsenal.

It really is a frightening statistic, not least because it starts in 2004 just after the end of the unbeaten season, when Arsenal were still a force and a half to be reckoned with.

But let us move on.  Between 27 May 2017 and 6 November 2022 the clubs played each other 17 times and in those games Chelsea won four, there were four draws and Arsenal won nine.  24% won by Chelsea, and 53% won by Arsenal.   One might consider a metaphor of a pendulum at this point.

This change of fortune and the change in league position with Chelsea now lying 12th in the league also comes at a cost.   Abramovich is said to have bought Chelsea for £140m, spend £1.6 billion on the club after that, and then been forced to walk away because of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine.  

So there we have it.  After buying Chelsea in 2003, Abramovich ended up with nothing. Not even a return of the 1.6 billion pounds of loans he had to write off to allow the club to be sold and continue playing.

As for the club, Chelsea spent £546.1m last summer and in the January 2023 transfer window while Arsenal spent £171.8m.   And yet despite the greatest and clearest proof ever that just buying and buying and buying does not in any way ensure success on the pitch, the media’s coverage of football day by day is still by and large, about transfers most of which will, of course, never happen.

Oh yes and Manchester United looks like it might be sold to a very rich person.

Next up: the team.

2 Replies to “Arsenal v Chelsea; two clubs in recent decline – but why?”

  1. Yes Chelsea spent £546.1m. But they did it without buying a centre forward, the one position everyone could see they needed to fill. Looking deeper its not clear what their strategy actually was or if they even had one. The big difference from the Abramovich era is that Roman would hire a manager then go out and buy the players the manager wanted. Then when the manager was inevitably fired he’d do the same thing again. The current owners on the other hand bought a bunch of players then hired a manager to try and turn them into a team. So yes spending doesn’t ensure success but its worked pretty well for Manchester City over the years and Chelsea under the Russian. Clearly though its not just how much you spend but how well you spend it. Chelsea have spent about as badly as its possible to spend.

  2. jod

    Very well said.

    I have said, and have demonstrated it many times with statistics, that spending big is the ONLY way to succeed.

    Yes, you can spend big and fail, especially now as so many teams spend big, but you cannot, not spend big and expect to succeed.

    We are back were we are not simply because we have Arteta, but because we have Arteta, AND we have allowed him to spend a lot of money, in fact one hell off a lot more money that Wenger was ever allowed to spend.

    Chelsea are where they are because they have an idiot owner who has so much more money than sense. Simple.

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