10 more goals than in the Unbeaten Season. Arsenal still going strong


By Tony Attwood

Yesterday was a great relief, not just because Arsenal won, nor just because the team won so well, but also (in relation to a much smaller matter) because it once again proved that reading the dips helps understand the game.

The theory is very simple.  Poor results are not evenly distributed among a season, but come together in groups – and the aim of the club must therefore be twofold.  Reduce the number of dips that the club falls into, and when in one, come out of it faster.

Arsenal have had two dips this season – as opposed to five last season, starting with the notorious loss of the first three league matches which led to calls for Arteta to be removed.  (Although to be fair Just Arsenal were running “Seven reasons why Arteta should be sacked now” back in April 2021).

The first dip this season ran from late January to mid-February this year involved three defeats (Manchester City twice and Everton) and a draw (Brentford).   And that shows us the problem of dips – the better club loses to, or draws with, a far less able club that it would not normally lose to,

The second dip is the one the club has just come out of: three draws and a defeat, the draws including to West Ham and Southampton.  So two dips instead of five is good.  But jus how good is this team?

First, I am only going to look at 38-game seasons to get an answer to that question – although in fact there were only three 42-game seasons that took Arsenal to 83 goals scored, and above, which shows how far the club has come  

So second, let’s have a look at Manchester City.

Manchester City also had two dips this season, but they were less damaging.   The first came in October with two draws in the Champions League and a defeat to Liverpool in the league (a run that was ended by a 1-0 win over Leicester).

And then the second dip involved two successive draws in January: one with Leipzig and one with Nottingham Forest.

Thus the point is clear – every club gets some unexpected results and they normally come in a bunch.  But that’s not the point: the point is how fast the club comes out of them.  If a dip is defined as consecutive defeats, Tottenham this season have had six of them – and  recently they have embraced the idea of the continuous dip, wholesale.  Throughout March and April they had 11 games in League, FA Cup and Champions League and won just two, drew four and lost five.   That’s a dip, megasize and knocks on the head any notion that Tottenham remain a big club.  They are a club in a near-permanent trough.

So those two dips of Arsenal’s are annoying, but when we look at the progress overall we can see just how far Arsenal have come in recent years.

Below is a list of Arsenal’s best seasons in the Premier League era.  The very best season was of course 2003/4 with 90 points.  And thinking of that, an interesting point emerges…

Year P W D L F A GD Pts Pos
2003–04 38 26 12 0 73 26 47 90 1st
2001–02 38 26 9 3 79 36 43 87 1st
2004–05 38 25 8 5 87 36 51 83 2nd
2007–08 38 24 11 3 74 31 43 83 3rd
2022/23* 35 25 6 4 83 39 44 81 2nd
2013–14 38 24 7 7 68 41 27 79 4th
1997–98 38 23 9 6 68 33 35 78 1st

*Three to play

So Arsenal have already done better than 1997/98 when the league was won, and with one more victory in the final three games will have become the third-best Arsenal team ever in the Premier League.  And the club has scored 10 more goals than in the Unbeaten Season.  

But supposing, just supposing Arsenal win all three of their remaining games.  That would give Arsenal 90 points – the same as in the Unbeaten Season!  And if each game were won by a single goal that would equal the goal difference of the Unbeaten Season.   If one of those three games were won by two clear goals, this would then be Arsenal’s best Premier League season ever!!  (I rarely use two exclamation marks, but I think they are worth it for that thought).

Of course, naysayers always like to know the worst side of things too – such as what was our worst Premier League season ever.   That was 2019/20 in which the club won 14, drew 14 and lost 10, scoring 56 and conceding 48.   The 56 points gained left the club in eighth, but we might also recall that in the course of that season Arsenal also won the FA Cup, for a record 14th time.  If Manchester United win the final this season it will be their 13th win – still behind Arsenal.

And to round this off, that defeat of Chelsea by Arsenal in 2020 started a run of three successive cup finals in which Chelsea lost.  No team has ever achieved that before – since the first final in 1872.


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