The next step for Arteta: more of the same and then emulate Wenger



What Arsenal need next

By Tony Attwood

“The signing of a new contract is of monumental significance,” says the Athletic and yes it is true that it would have seemed like a tremendous blow if Saka had not signed his new contract. Bukayo Saka’s £60m Arsenal deal is just the beginning shouts the Telegraph, and others agree. 

It would certainly have felt like a blow and a half if Saka hadn’t signed because it would have suggested that from the inside, it either didn’t look to the player as if the future was bright at Arsenal, or the club was being outbid by others.   If the latter had been the case the answer would have resulted in the usual “lack of ambition” stories that flowed all day long during the period of paying off the stadium debts.

Besides which Gabriel Magalhaes, Gabriel Martinelli and Aaron Ramsdale have all signed new contracts and there seems to be a general expectation that William Saliba will sign and there will be a new contract for Martin Ødegaard.

And of course, as each new deal is signed so the next one gets easier for each subsequent player has yet more assurance that the club wants to keep this team together.  As obviously is beneficial seeing it is the second youngest team in the league – or maybe the youngest depending on which data you read.   Southampton’s squad is apparently a few days younger, but all that shows is that the age of the squad only counts for something in the future, if they perform.  After all, anyone can put together the youngest squad and then get relegated.

The oldest squad incidentally is Fulham at 27.9 years, which seems only a trifle older than Arsenal’s 24.4 years.  After all with a difference of just under three and a half years, why the fuss?  The answer is that to see the overall impact you’d have to multiply the average age by the number of players.  If we take that to be 30 (the registered 25 plus the under-21s who get the odd game) then the total age difference between Arsenal and Fulham is 837 years minus 732 years meaning Arsenal is 105 years younger than Fulham.

This seems rather silly, and indeed so is the issue of the youngest team… in every way except one.   Older teams have players who can play less or who are losing their form, and so need to leave.  Younger teams have players who are still growing in ability.   

Which in turn is rather interesting when you look at the top scorers’ chart which uniquely includes four Arsenal players in the top 20 (as we have noted before) all of whom are under 27.  After all if Martinelli and Ødegaard can each score 15, Saka cna get 13 and Gabriel Jesus ten, just think what might happen with them all a year older and no world cup to mangle Jesus.

But aside from keeping all these players, is this really an Arsenal team to compare with the past?

Arsene Wenger joined Arsenal in 1996.  The previous season the club finished fifth.  In his first year Wenger took Arsenal to 3rd with 68 points and a goal difference of +30.  In his second Arsenal won the league with 78 points and a goal difference of +35.

Arteta’s trajectory has, as we know been different.  His first half season ended with Arsenal in 8th, and an FA Cup win. The second season Arsenal were 8th again.  Then the club finished 5th and then 2nd.

And how does that compare with others?  

Sir Alex Ferguson came to Manchester United (Arsenal’s big rivals as it subsequently turned out) in November 1986.  His end-of-season positions read, 11th, 2nd, 11th, 13th, 6th, 2nd, 1st.

So that took him his introductory incomplete season and six more seasons to win the league.  Against that, Arteta’s 8th, 8th, 5th, 2nd, doesn’t seem too bad.   But with enough money anything is possible…  Guardiola joined Manchester City in the summer of 2016.  In his first season the club came third, and then the run of 1st, 1st, 2nd, 1st, 1st, 1st.

So looking at these figures Arteta is doing better than Ferguson, but is some distance behind both Wenger and Guardiola who managed 3rd and 1st in their first two seasons

I can’t imagine how ever that Arteta will be given any leeway by the media who love to see Arsenal fail, and who are still trying to cover up the demands made for Arteta to be swept aside early on.

On the other hand, having seen the club rise to second, the owners must surely be ready to allow a certain amount of spending on players, in addition to keeping the current squad together.

But the problem remains just how much is needed by way of points and goals to win the league.  Here are the recent totals.  The points total seems to be growing…


Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
2023 Manchester City 36 28 4 4 93 31 62 88
2022 Manchester City 38 29 6 3 99 26 73 93
2021 Manchester City 38 27 5 6 83 32 51 86
2020 Liverpool 38 32 3 3 85 33 52 99
2019 Manchester City 38 32 2 4 95 23 72 98
2018 Manchester City 38 32 4 2 106 27 79 100
2017 Chelsea 38 30 3 5 85 33 52 93


Now remember that under Wenger the highest number of points Arsenal got in winning the league was 90, this shows a further step up in form at the top of the league with Arsenal currently sitting on 81 points.

So it would seem Arsenal need more of the same (with players re-signing) and a bit more.


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