Just how does this Arsenal team compare to past league winners?




By Tony Attwood

Trying to keep up with Arsenal while living in Australia, where interest in English football seems modest, I began to wonder just how well Arsenal, now sitting on top of the league, having been doing in comparison both with Arsenal sides of recent years, and in comparison with other clubs that were top of the league after 17 games.

The former point is obvious – Arsenal are improving generally and I wanted to see by how much.  But the second point is perhaps more unknown – or at least more readily forgotten.  How is Arsenal doing compared with teams that were top of the league in other seasons?

As ever with these comparisons I am taking a look at the Arteta seasons, since such comparisons also show how and what he has changed.


Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Arsenal today 17 12 3 2 35 15 20 39
1 Arsenal 2022/23 17 14 2 1 40 14 26 44
4 Arsenal 2021/22 17 9 2 6 23 22 1 29
11 Arsenal 2020/21 17 7 2 8 20 19 1 23
10 Arsenal 2019/20 17 5 7 5 24 27 -3 22


So as you probably remember the Arsenal team of last season was still powering ahead after 17 games with 44 points compared to this season’s 39.   We can also see that the club this season is 10 points above two seasons ago, 16 points above 2020/21 and 17 points above 2019/20.  Good progress by any standard.

The goals scored is also a major improvement overall but not on last year.  But we are only five goals behind last year and a whacking great 15 goals above this moment in 2020/21.

The really comforting thought however comes with the defence.   Arsenal are pretty much on a level with two years ago, and certainly better off than the defences of other recent seasons.

And it is where the goal difference tally is compared that we can see just how far forward Arsenal have been driven as a club in the last 18 months.  From goal differences of around the zero mark, last season’s goal difference at this point was 26, now it is 20.   A massive improvement on those earlier years of the Arteta regime.

But such analysis leaves the question of what the top club looked like after the first 17 games of the season.   Here we can see…


Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Arsenal 2023/24 17 12 3 2 35 15 20 39
1 Arsenal 2022/23 17 14 2 1 40 14 26 44
1 Manchester City 2021/2 17 13 2 2 40 9 31 41
1 Liverpool 2020/21 17 9 6 2 37 21 16 33
1 Liverpool 2019/20 17 16 1 0 42 14 28 49


As we can see Arsenal have slipped behind the club’s position last season  – we are five points worse off.   But Arsenal are doing better than Manchester City at the top of the league after 17 in 2021/2 and better than Liverpool 2020/21 at the same point.

And this surely reminds us that the issue is not just how good the top team is after 17 games, but how good the other teams are around them at this stage.   If there are four teams all fighting for the top spot, then the number of points achieved is going to be lower than in a season where one or two teams are charging ahead.

There is also the issue of just how far adrift the bottom clubs are.  For example at this stage in 2019 Watford had nine points and the bottom three had 33 between them.    In 2020 the bottom three had 21 points and the bottom club Sheffield United, just two.

In 2021 it was 31 points, while in 2022 it was 41.   This season it is a situation in which the bottom three are already seriously adrift…


Pos Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
1 Arsenal 17 12 3 2 35 15 20 39
17 Nottingham Forest 17 3 5 9 17 30 -13 14
18 Luton Town 16 2 3 11 17 32 -15 9
19 Burnley 17 2 2 13 16 36 -20 8
20 Sheffield United 17 2 2 13 12 43 -31 8


Looking at another metric we can consider yellow cards.  Here we have been reporting all season how many fewer yellow cards Arsenal are getting than other clubs.  This story of course does not match with the approach that the media want, and so they won’t publish the data


Rank Club Stat
1.   Sheffield United 52
2.   Chelsea 50
3.   Brighton & Hove Albion 46
3.   Tottenham Hotspur 46
3.   Wolverhampton Wanderers 46
6.   Aston Villa 45
7.   West Ham United 42
8.   Newcastle United 41
9.   Brentford 40
10.   Manchester United 39
11.   Nottingham Forest 39
12.   Fulham 37
13.   Burnley 34
14.   Luton Town 33
15.   Everton 32
16.   Manchester City 31
17.   Bournemouth 30
18.   Crystal Palace 30
19.   Liverpool 30
20.   Arsenal 22

Last season Arsenal were 18th in the yellow card chart with 52 cards.  Bottom of the pile were  Manchester City and West Ham.   Obviously, the West Ham position shows that low card numbers don’t automatically mean a high position in the league, but with Arsenal and Manchester City being 1st and 2nd in the league and 19th and 20th in the card table with 44 cards each it shows there is a link between cards and success.

This season Arsenal have 22 yellow cards with their nearest rivals being Bournemouth on 30.  Top of the league is Sheffield United with 52.  Manchester City are on 31 and Tottenham are on 46.

At the present rate Manchester City will end up with 69 cards – 57% more than last season.

Tottenham will end up with 102 cards  Arsenal will end up with 49 cards.  In short Tottenham are running at twice the number of yellow cards as Arsenal.  Manchester City are getting 40% more cards than Arsenal.

Curiously, when Arsenal were top of the yellow card league in Arteta’s first season the media regularly noted it with some glee.  Strangely, this season they are rather quiet on the subject.

5 Replies to “Just how does this Arsenal team compare to past league winners?”

  1. Back in late November I did a ‘next 6 games’ prediction to see where we may be after the Christmas weekend. My predictions were as follows:


    Wolves H = 3
    Luton A = 3
    A Villa A = 1
    Brighton H = 3
    Liverpool A = 0
    W Ham H = 3

    Total = 13 pts tacking us to 43 pts


    Spurs H = 3
    A Villa A = 1
    Luton A = 3
    C Palace H = 3
    Everton A = 3
    Sheff Utd = 3

    Total = 16 pts tacking them to 45 pts


    Fulham H = 3
    Sheff Utd A = 3
    C Palace A = 3
    Man Utd H = 3
    Arsenal H = 3
    Burnley A = 3

    Total = 18 pts tacking them to 46 pts

    So after those initial 6 matches I had the top 3 looking something like:


    As a point of interest I had both Tottenham and Villa on 37 points giving them both a point in that days yet to play fixture, plus their next 6 matches. Since then Aston Villa have been on an extraordinary run, including victory over us and Man City, which has put them well and truly in the title race. Spurs, despite winning the title back in October, are still somewhat adrift and at best can finish the year on 39 pts, but with 2 tricky matches, home to Everton and away to Brighton, even that is by no means guaranteed.

    On the other hand Aston Villa have to be entered in to equations, and as such this is where the 4 of us currently sit and what could lay in store in our final 2 games including the Christmas weekend.

    So to recap, 4 games in to the 6 this is how the teams are fairing.


    As expected Arsenal took maximum points from the first 2 games. We followed that with defeat at Aston Villa and victory at home to Brighton. That has left us 1 point down on my original prediction with a revised total of 42 points


    So far in comparison to what I expected they have unexpectedly dropped 2 extra points at home to Spurs, like us another point away to Aston Villa, and most surprisingly of all, another 2 points dropped at home to Crystal Palace. That means they are now 5 points behind my original prediction. That has left them with a revised total of 40 points. But, with an away trip to high flying Everton on the horizon even that may be being optimistic.


    As expected they won their first 3 games. But yesterday they unexpectedly came unstuck at home to lowly Man Utd, surprisingly dropping 2 points. That leaves them with a revised end of year total of 44 points.

    Now as said above, given Aston Villas remarkable run of results we have to include them in this mini table table. What’s more, with a home match against Sheff Utd and an away game at Old Trafford, I have to give them a 6 points return from those 2 matches, also leaving them on 44 points.

    These is how I think the top 4 will now look after the Christmas weekend fixtures:

    LIVERPOOL (46 pts) 44 PTS
    ASTON VILLA (37 pts) 44 PTS
    ARSENAL (43 pts) 42 PTS
    MAN CITY (45 pts) 40 PTS

    A win at Anfield would probably see us top. A loss would probably see Liverpool top. But a draw on the other hand would possibly see Aston Villa sitting top after Christmas. Quite remarkable really.

    Either way, I have to say a big well done to our old boss Unai Emery. Remarkable achievement.

    As for ourselves. I’d like to be top, but even if it’s as above. I can take that.

  2. Arsenal’s yellow card total can be expected to increase markedly, following the independent verdict concerning Arteta, which has prompted a lot of outrage from the media and the PGMOL.

    Yesterday was an exampled of what to expect from now. Milner scything down Saka gets a word of warning. Ben White then gets an immediate yellow for a minor foul. Arteta gets his customary yellow card for standing / sitting down / looking happy / looking unhappy / etc.

    I expect at least a penalty against us at Anfield, and a red card would not be a great surprise.

  3. I’ve been seeing today how VAR is getting it in the neck for creating all this manager and player angst currently doing the rounds.

    Ex-Premier League referee Jeff Winter says VAR has created a ‘powder keg’ of anger towards officials after yet another weekend of shameful dissent and bad behaviour by top-flight players and managers

    Apparently Mail Sport has launched a major campaign to stamp out abuse at all levels.

    Well that’s all well and good, but why hasn’t The Mail launched a campaign to fix what ex referee Winter thinks is behind this angst? The diabolically incompetent VAR. This is what Winter has had to say about it.

    “I blame everything on the ills of VAR because everyone is frustrated. All the players, all the management, the referees are all frustrated by it,” he tells Mail Sport.

    “We have players and managers at the top of their profession, referees certainly with tons of experience, and all of a sudden VAR comes along and everyone is left scratching their heads.”

    Which is ironic really, because when Arteta said something along the same lines a few weeks ago Mail Sport said he was simply having a ‘rant’!!!.

    If The Mail was actually serious about trying to fix the problem they would of given Arteta their full support, but no, they simply slaughtered him, as did nearly all the main stream media.

    It seems to me, running a campaign to fix what’s behind all this angst would be a far better place to start. I always thought it was preferable to fix the cause not the symptoms? But hey, that would involve lending support to an Arsenal manager, and that just wouldn’t do would it.

  4. Nitram I agree with you on results from the next 2 games except the game on Saturday when we play Pool. Last season we received a draw, which should have been 3 points there, but for our ‘angst’ when ahead & then allowed them back into the game. Even my pool friends said we should’ve won and that doesn’t happen often. My prediction for it would be a draw (at least) as we did at Everton this year to shatter the 5 years without a win @goodison and the past weekend where we beat Brighton for the first time in3 seasons at home. There is enough to show that the side has more mental strength than before so Pool is not a ‘feared’ field to visit any more than Goodison was to go beat Everton.
    I have an idea that we may see Villa on 44, Arsenal on 43 points at least, Pool on 42 & City on 40. I will be happy with this but 45 for us & 40 for Pool will be great. Villa may find United buoyed by their draw at Pool & could even beat Villa, so that may throw all of this around again…..

  5. Dawie

    In a PIGMOB free World I would agree. Alas it is not a PIGMOB free World and it will just not be allowed to happen.

    Playing at Anfield is never easy. Our record at Anfield is not good, even when we were far superior to them. They raise their game when we come calling, as they tend to do when most ‘big boys’ turn up.

    As we are all aware, football is a game fine margins. So many decisions are subjective.

    Those two factors are what makes football matches so easy to manipulate. And that I fear is what will happen this weekend. And the media will be behind everything we have coming. We are due some serious payback for daring to question ‘officialdom’.

    We have a penalty appeal. ‘Not enough for me’.

    They have a penalty appeal. ‘yep, there was definitely contact’.

    Saka will be in the air longer than the wright brothers maiden flight but will get absolutely nothing, on the other hand will be given a card the moment he puts in a late smile.

    As you can probably tell, I am not hopeful.

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