- Why do you want to mess with football’s rules? Because it improves the game
- Nothing will stop “Young Boys” supporters – ever
By Tony Attwood
As I have said so many times, journalists and broadcasters don’t admit to the errors they have made with their predictions in the past, and so tend to go on making the same errors over and over again.
Last season, the opinions among the journalists when predicting Arsenal’s final position for 2022/23 was at best fifth, sometimes sixth. Arsenal actually ended 17 points above fifth and 22 points above sixth. (And to be clear I always admit Untold got it wrong too. We predicted third).
In terms of goals scored Arsenal were second highest scorers, 18 goals above the fifth highest scoring team. In terms of defence, Arsenal were the third best in the league last season.
So Untold was a rare exception: we went for third. In our calculations, we thought Liverpool would fall back, but we didn’t think Liverpool would slip quite so far so quickly.
But the journalists concluded that 2022/23 would be a replica of 2021/22, and that the same four teams would be in the top four. This was a catastrophic error, but here they all still are, still telling us who is buying whom, still not admitting they were wrong, and most importantly still not exploring WHY they got it so utterly wrong. Which is why it is a good idea not to believe a single word they say.
A comparison of 2021/22 and 2022/3 shows how much the Premier League changed between those two seasons. So surely the starting point for any prediction should be the possibility of a continuation of this level of change rather than yet again saying it will all be much the same as the year before.
However there was of course one constant: Manchester City – they scored five fewer, let in seven more, and got four fewer points – but those were minor changes compared to what happened to other top clubs.
Liverpool went down 25 points. Chelsea went down 30 points. Tottenham got 11 points fewer. West Ham went down 16. The winners were Arsenal (up 15 points) and Manchester United (up 17 points).
And it wasn’t just points that changed. Liverpool had goal difference in 2022/3 which was 40 goals worse than the season before. Chelsea had a goal difference that went down by 52 goals. For Tottenham it was down 22 goals. Arsenal and Manchester United went up 32 goals and 14 goals respectively in their goal difference.
So again, utterly clearly and there for all to see, the fact is the notion of the top four being the same year after year, last season was nonsense. They simply were not. Which suggests they probably won’t be this time around either.
Of course Manchester City have the finance to have built a mechanism of being at the top. Whether that has been done legally or illegally we shall find out in about three years, but for the moment all we have are their figures – six seasons with five top places and one second, although even there they gained 19 points fewer in 2020 than they did in 2018.
Or take Manchester United. Their points total went from 66 in 2020, to 74 in 2021, to 58 in 2022 to 75 in 2023. As a way of predicting what Manchester United will do next year, last year’s totals have historically not been a very good starting point.
Then again take Liverpool’s points totals over the past four seasons: 99, 69, 92, 67. I suppose you could see a pattern here and predict 88 next season, but really that would be a bit of guesswork. Or Chelsea: 66, 67, 74, 44 points season by season across the last four years.
And of course we can’t finish a little analysis like this without a glance at Tottenham, again looking at their points over the past four years. Their progression from 59 to 62 to 71 was followed by a drop back to 60 last season.
So what we are seeing here are drops of 11 by Tottenham, 30 by Liverpool, 16 by Manchester United, 30 by Chelsea and going back a bit, 14 for Arsenal (2018/19 to 2019/20). Huge decline in points numbers are commonplace beyond Manchester City.
But there is one thing that makes Arsenal a little different and that is the club’s progress over the last four years with points of 56, 61, 69, and 84. It is in fact the only club in the top group that has shown four years of progress.
Now I think the reason for this is that Arteta came to the club in 2019 he had a very clear plan, that I have often mentioned before: start by tackling the referee issue. Other managers don’t do that, either because they don’t stay long enough, or because they don’t have a plan in mind. Arteta did, and in playing terms it has been to use the Manchester City model
Below is the full table showing differences across the last two seasons. The DIFF columns show the difference between 2022/3 and 2021/2. GF is goals for, GA is goals against. The alternating colours are there just to make the chart slightly easier to read. The Diff (“difference”) column shows the change in the column before. So Manchester City got 99 points in 2022 and 94 in 2023, and thus showed a decline in points of -5.
|2022||West Ham United||60||51||9||56|
|2023||West Ham United||42||-18||55||+4||-13||-22||40||-16|
Our conclusion is simple: we are in an era where the chasing pack are changing dramatically from one season to the next. Arsenal’s task it now to obtain stability at the current level and edge upward.
- Arsenal continue to make more progress than the rest of the big seven
- Arsenal v Tottenham; the team and some rather jolly recent history
- We are running out of referees, and the reason is the PGMO.
- 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