- Arsenal will replace Xhaka with Havertz this week to help Chelsea resolve their finances
- What difference did last summer’s transfers make? (Apparently most were flops)
By Sir Hardly Anyone
Just before the start of every season a number of websites and newspapers run a story with a headline along the lines of “5 Reasons Why Arsenal Won’t Win the League”.
And of course given that Arsenal has not won the league since 2004, that’s really not much of a wild guess, but it is the sort of thing that pundits like as it makes them look good when they come to the end of season, “As we predicted Arsenal did not win the league…”
It is a shame that they do keep focussing on that story because within the Premier League, there is actually a much more interesting story; one that focuses on how fortunes fluctuate in the Premier League.
This season’s first six league games are Nottingham Forest, Fulham, Manchester United and Tottenham at home, plus Crystal Palace and Everton away.
The first three games (Forest at home, Palace away, Fulham at home) are all played while the transfer window is still open. The final game of the opening six (Tottenham Hotspur at home) is on 23 September.
So it seems a fair bet that if Arsenal do not win all three of those opening three games, there will be screaming and shouting for more transfers in the final days of the window. Indeed even if Arsenal do win all three there will still be screaming and shouting.
This makes me think it is worth looking at the league table for the first six games of last season while adding a final column that shows where each team ended the league.
|4||Brighton and Hove Albion||6||4||1||1||11||5||6||13||6|
Highest change: -6 Chelsea
Now what makes me smile is that after six games, although there was a bit of uncertainty about what Chelsea was up to, it was mostly put down to the newcomers bedding in. Indeed the next three were not too bad either wiith three straight wins. Indeed after nine games Chelsea were fourth in the league. Yet as we know they ended up 12th. The club that everyone expected to collapse (Brighton and Hove) did slip, but only from fourth to sixth.
But maybe that was an especially spooky season Let’s go back two years. And this time I’m taking the table after six games all the way down to 11th, just to include the noisy neighbours.
2 years ago 2021/2
|6||Brighton and Hove Albion||6||4||1||1||8||5||3||13||9|
|7||West Ham United||6||3||2||1||13||8||5||11||7|
Highest change: – 11 Everton
The fact is that after six league games all the top four in the league ended up in the final top six, so quite a decent indicator. Except that Everton were fifth at that stage and ended up 11th. And although we had a laugh about Tottenham being 11th after six, they climbed above Arsenal to come in fourth.
Thus far the biggest rise was seven places, the biggest fall was 10 places. Let’s try one more go...
3 years ago (2020/21)
Highest change: -10 Wolverhampton.
Wolverhampton fans must have been happy after seven (I can’t find a date when everyone had played six games) and so were Everton, but those clubs dropped eight and ten places between them. Manchester City rose up seven.
Just one more: 2019/20
|5||West Ham United||6||3||2||1||8||7||1||11||16|
As we can see there were two teams in the top six who ended up in 16th and 18th – 18th of course being a relegation spot. So yes, from sixth in the league after six games, to relegation at the end of the season.
Chelsea did go up seven places from where they were after six games, but overall the issue is one of a few teams doing well at the start but then slipping. It has happened each season, so we can now watch out for the early leaders and predict which will fall down and by much.
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- Arsenal v Tottenham: the key fact the media won’t to tell you – and why they won’t
- Arsenal v Tottenham: different clubs, different managers, different successes