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By Bulldog Drummond
Based on recent Premier League years, Arsenal are going to need somewhere between 90 and 102 points to win the league next season. So what would that mean in practice?
To get a perspective on this let’s see if that sort of total has ever happened before, or whether we are now trying to set up a season better than anything Arsenal has ever done in the 38-game era.
And in doing this I have chosen to search for any seasons where Arsenal got 80 points or more, given that as we recently showed the number of points needed to win the league can vary.
It turns out that only six seasons approach this total – which is a reflection on how much the standards have risen of late.
*First Division as opposed to Premier League, but same number of games played.
What’s immediately interesting is that only once in those high-point seasons noted above have Arsenal exceeded the number of goals that the club scored last season. But at the same time in previous seasons, the defence has often done better than last season.
And yet, at the same time, Arsenal’s defence was not that far out of alignment with the top clubs. The following table is one that is generally never shown by the media as it reflects rather poorly on Tottenham, but it is nonetheless rather interesting. It is organised not by points but by goals conceded. The first column shows where the club ended last season, but the second column shows where the club is on “goals against”. Arsenal are third.
To consider this further let’s look at the best defences in the league last season…
Now most clubs are fairly close to their points position if one takes a league on goals conceded, except for Tottenham whose ability to defend is way worse than their ability to attack, which once more reveals just how totally they rely on Kane. He is not a player who is playing in front of a solid defence, but actually quite the reverse. Put another way Leicester City who were relegated conceded only five more than Tottenham.
|6||10||Brighton and Hove Albion||38||18||8||12||72||53||19||62|
|14||12||West Ham United||38||11||7||20||42||55||-13||40|
Arsenal gained 84 points this last season, with 26 wins, six draws and six defeats, scoring 88, and conceding 45. So let’s say that they might need 12 more points to win the league. That could be achieved by turning three of the defeats into draws, and three of the draws into wins. At the same Arsenal had a goal difference of 16 fewer than Manchester City, so across the season Arsenal might need to score eight more and concede eight fewer. So let’s see how.
In terms of draws and defeat there are 12 games that Arsenal might improve on, and what we are doing here is looking at where the clubs that took points off Arsenal last season ended up in the league.
Using this approach we might expect that with a slightly stronger squad, the drawn games away to West Ham and at home to Southampton could become wins which gives the club four more points.
Of course, I know that Southampton have gone down, so substitute them for one of Burnley, Sheffield United and Luton Town to get the same effect.
The away defeats to Everton and Nottingham Forest would need to become victories also – another six points, which gives Arsenal 10 more. All that leaves is for one other defeat to become a draw. The 0-3 home defeat to Brighton and Hove was a shocker, but it said a lot more about the moment (Arsenal in a dip, Brighton aiming for the Europa League) than the relative merits of the team. Next season Brighton will have at least six extra games through being in Europe so there is a chance that could at least be a draw. So there we have the extra points.
Of course it does also mean that all the games won last season continue to be won, which means in short the current standard needs to be maintained and built on. Not impossible, but difficult. The problem is that with the seasons in which the club got between 83 and 90 points, the following season was always worse. This time it’s got to be better.
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