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By Tony Attwood
Much is being made of Tottenham Hotspur becoming less Spursy – a comment I don’t really understand in the light of their recent ups and downs, so I thought I’d have a quick look at exactly what progress clubs have been making in recent years.
Compared to recent years. The “change” is the rise or fall in the number of points achieved after six matches compared with the previous season.
In the tables that follow a final “change” column has been added showing the change in positions from the previous year after six games. Throughout we have taken as our models that clubs we called the “Big Seven” last season – a list derived from their recent positions and/or current spending power.
All the figures are below but in case you want to cut to the chase here are the key points.
1: There is no consistent growth or improvement in clubs over the first six games, year on year. Manchester City have gained more points in the first six games than the season before in three out of five of the seasons measured here.
2. Liverpool have gone up in two of the seasons measured compared with the season before, over the first six games, and down in two of the seasons. In the other season it was no change.
3. Tottenham have exactly the same record: up twice, down twice and once no change compared with the year before.
4. Arsenal, contrary to some of the negative feeling this season, are only one point down on this time last season. Overall they are up in two seasons across the first six games, and down in two seasons, with one unchanged.
5. Manchester United have been up in two seasons over the first six games and down in three seasons over that period.
6. Even Chelsea managed to get more points in the first six games compared with the season before twice in the last five seasons. But they have declined twice and stayed the same once.
7. Finally Newcastle are the big stars of the season improvers, being up on the previous season four times and down only once.
So what does this prove? That the opening six games of a season are volatile, and that the fractional decline in Arsenal’s points total this season after six game (14 points now compared with 15 last season), is typical of the sort of movement that we see. No club keeps on improving in the opening games of every season.
If you really want to make a progress chart out of the start of the season try comparing where the club is now, to where it was after six games in 2018/19. We’ll do that calculation after the charts.
This season 2023/24 and change compared to 2022/23
So here the big improvers over last season at this time are Liverpool, up seven points on last season. The big losers at Chelsea.
Last season 2022/23 and change compared to 2021/22
Last season compared with 2021/22 in terms of the start, the big improvers were Arsenal and the big losers were Liverpool.
2 seasons ago 2021/22 compared with 2020/21
This time the big gainers were Manchester United while the losers were Newcastle United.
Now already something of a pattern is occurring, clubs that are gaining one year (for example Manchester United here) then slip back the following year.
3 seasons ago 2020/19
Manchester City, seen these days as ever marching on, dropped five points compared with the season before, as did Liverpool.
4 seasons before: 2019/20
5 seasons ago: 2018/19
The big improvers in terms of the opening six games of the season between 2018/19 and today are Arsenal (5 points better off) and Newcastle (7 points better off).
The big losers are of course Chelsea (10 points worse off). And for all the shouting about this wonderful new Tottenham team, they are in exactly the same place as last season.
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