Comparing this season with previous campaigns: the ups and downs: 6 years of ups and downs


By Tony Attwood

In this little exercise we’ve selected the traditional big six clubs and their positions in the league today and then compared this achievement with where they were last year at the same time.

And what comes across is that the level of change is larger than we imagined.   Perhaps it is because we have become used to Manchester City winning the league year after year that we haven’t really noticed just how much points totals can change.

In a moment we’ll be looking at this year compared to last year across the six teams, but for Arsenal let’s take that a little further.  (Data from 11v11)

In this first table, we look at Arsenal after 23 games across this season and the previous five seasons.  Arteta you will remember, was appointed in December 2019,  so the figure for the bottom line (Arsenal 2018/19) refers to the the season in which Unai Emery was in charge.

Arteta took over in December 2019, so the figure for Arsenal on 23 games in 2019/20 meant he had only just started.   Before he came in Arsenal suffered a run of just two wins in 19 league and cup games under Emery and stand-in manager Freddie Ljungberg.   (Incidentally, Freddie left Arsenal in the summer of 2020.  Does anyone know what he has done since?)


Team P W D L F A GD Pts
3 Arsenal 2023/24 23 15 4 4 47 22 25 49
1 Arsenal 2022/23 23 17 3 3 51 23 28 54
6 Arsenal 2021/22 23 13 3 7 36 26 10 42
11 Arsenal 2020/21 23 9 4 10 27 23 4 31
10 Arsenal 2019/20 23 6 11 6 30 32 -2 29
5 Arsenal 2018/19 23 13 5 5 48 32 16 44


So in 2019 Arsenal were on 44 points after 23 games and a goal difference of +16, and were fifth in the league.   One year later that had collapsed with the departure of Emery and Arteta having only just arrived.  We were 10th.

By 2021 matters looked stagnant – Arsenal were just two points better off and the defence had been tightened up considerably, but the club was 11th in the table.

By 23 games in the 2021/2, the points tally had grown as had the goal difference, and this happened again in 2022/23.   So in essence from 2019/20 to 2022/23 Arsenal had three consecutive years of improvement.   Across that time the number of goals scored after 23 games had increased by 24, the number conceded had gone down by 11 and the points had risen by 25.   A mega-rise.

In fact by the end of 2022/23 Arsenal had reached the highest number of points (84) since the unbeaten season when the club got 90 points – which shows how great the turnaround had been.

So I began to wonder what sort of leaps up and down other teams had made.  It would take an awful long time to complete these table across a number of years for lots of clubs, so I have just done this year compared with last for the traditional “big six”.


Pos Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
1 Liverpool 2024 23 15 6 2 52 22 30 51
7 Liverpool 2023 23 10 6 7 38 28 10 36
Change   +15
2 Manchester City 2024 22 15 4 3 54 25 29 49
2 Manchester City 2023 22 15 3 4 56 22 34 48
Change   +1
3 Arsenal 2024 23 15 4 4 47 22 25 49
1 Arsenal 2023 23 17 3 3 51 23 28 54
Change   -5
5 Tottenham Hotspur 2024 23 13 5 5 49 35 14 44
5 Tottenham Hotspur 2023 23 12 3 8 42 35 7 39
Change   +5
6 Manchester United 2024 23 12 2 9 31 32 -1 38
3 Manchester United 2023 23 14 4 5 38 28 10 46
Change   -6
11 Chelsea 2024 23 9 4 10 38 39 -1 31
10 Chelsea 2023 23 8 7 8 23 23 0 31
Change   0


The biggest change in this period by a very long way is Liverpool who are currently 15 points better off than they were a year ago.  No one else comes near that and a quick look at other tables suggests this is very much a rare event.  Not unprecedented, but rare.

Apart from Liverpool, Manchester City are one point better off and Tottenham Hotspur are five points to the good.   Chelsea are unchanged, Arsenal are down by five and Manchester United are down by six.

But can these things change?

Arsenal have been laid low this season by the same sort of “dip” that occurred last season – only bigger.  Between 9 December 2023 and 7 January 2024 Arsenal played seven games, five in the league, one in the Champions League and one in the FA Cup.  

Only one game was won: a 2-0 home win in the league against Brighton and Hove.   Two were drawn (Liverpool at home in the league and Eindhoven away in the Champions League) and four were lost – three in the league (Aston Villa away, West Ham at home, Fulham away) and Liverpool at home in the FA Cup.

So the issue of the “dip” – a sudden set of poor results after a longer run of good results – has not yet been eradicated.

But just as there are dips there are rebounds from dips.  Arsenal have, in the last three games, scored ten and conceded two, all in the Premier League.  This late revival won’t be enough to win Arsenal the league unless the top two slip up, but hopefully it is providing more information for the management as to what causes these wretched dips, and how they can be either reduced in size, or stopped overall.

8 Replies to “Comparing this season with previous campaigns: the ups and downs: 6 years of ups and downs”

  1. Arsenal are on the right track this year, but teams are finding a new way to defend against us. Arteta has made some improvements and we have been unfortunate to loose key players like Partey and timber to injuries. We are almost there with our passing and defending, but just lacking strength upfront against low blocking teams.

    Saka looks like he has lost a little bit of acceleration and the fact that he is the most fouled player in the league where the opposition is unpunished tells me that Refs are too forgiving to the fouls committed on Saka especially the first half of games where there is a 95% no card show to Saka’s offending fouling opposition. So it is not just the doubling up, but also the refs turning a blind eye.

    Against the low block, Arsenal are crying out for a strong center forward that can hold up the ball and back into defenders to create space in a low block situation for Saka, Odeguaard or Martinelli to run into those spaces created by the center forward.

    This is the best way to beat a low block, you either pass the ball at super speed or you muscle your way through, and with the right type of players that can do that by investing in a strong 20 goal center forward that can also hold off defenders and hold up the ball. Jesus and Nketiah cannot hold up the ball or back into defenders to create space, the are physically not strong enough. We need an ibrahimovic, drogba type forward. Man City have this type of strong center forward in Erling Haaland, this is what we need to win the league.

  2. As an alternative point of view – could it be that the ‘perceived’ lack of performance of Arsenal this year (compared to last) is a deliberate fitness tactic by Arteta? Looking at last year, as a team Arsenal appeared tired both mentally and physically in the last 10 games. Could it be that the coaching team are ‘limiting’ performances’ by setting up the team to gain the maximum points from a minimal effort. Obviously, not with the intention of losing matches, but rather conserving ‘energy’ for performances at the end of season run-in where we have often fallen.

    Looking at last year, we had Saka, Martinelli, Jesus, Odegaard all chipping in with the goals (from positions which were attacking in nature, but not the necessary the traditional focal point). All were on fire for the first half of the season and tailed off.

    I’ve made the assumption for a midfielder/winger to score 15 goals would require more effort to be expended than a striker, who theoretically is positioned on the pitch to be in the ideal place to finish chances, our midfielders generally had to get into that position and then finish it. Over a season this will take its toll.

    It’s been notable this season though that Saka, White, Odegaard, Martinelli have appeared to be making less bursts forward (like last season), on occasion they have – like Martinelli against Crystal Palace (2 goals in a short cameo, with not much energy used, against a tiring team).

    Havertz has had his critics but has been utilised by Arteta to slow matches and control the tempo, slower than before. Drawing criticism because it isn’t as ‘explosive’ as last year. Perhaps he was signed to do exactly what he is doing, a perceived boring role, but one that could also help with game-management of the squad, where Arteta does not feel he has strong enough back-up players.

    If we have an energised first team for the last 8 games of the season, and are still in touching distance. We may appear to be worse off, but perhaps we are better off. Who knows…?

  3. @northgooner,

    last game we saw how much Havertz was physically able to stand up to any challenge. I think when we need that level of physicality, he is absolutely able to play the role.

    Arsenal have always had that blip in november-january. With Wenger, with Emery and with Arteta.
    I really wonder wher that comes from ? A squad not deep enough ? The local climate ? Some curse ?

    I believe that teams now have learned how to restrain Arsenal, or at least try to. But Arteta seems to have found ways around and the team now has learned better how to.

    As for Saka, I fully agree. He is getting fouled so much with no consequence. I wonder if there is another player in the leagu who gets such a treatment ?

  4. Les – an interesting point, and thanks for taking us back to gaslighting. Maybe I should try an article on “Is it gaslighting or delusion” – the point being one is a deliberate policy the other is just mis-thinking. Yes, a good point.

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