Do you remember that old thought: “Fourth is not a trophy”?




By Tony Attwood

Yes it used to be thrown at those of us who were supporters of the work of Arsene Wenger even in the days when he was given little money to spend on transfers because of the cost of the new stadium.  “Fourth is not a trophy”.

Now Tottenham are struggling for fourth, and the view is being put about that this is rather like Arsenal of old – they are simply a bit behind on the stadium building front.

But no, not quite.

You see from 1996/7 through to 2015/16, which I make a total of 20 years, Arsenal finished each and every season in the top four.   And part way through that run they built a stadium (it was opened n 2006).

So I have been looking at Tottenham from the same angle.  And yes they had a run of finishing in the top four.   It started in 2015/16 and lasted until 2018/19.

Now my maths is often rather dodgy with this counting malarky but I make that four seasons, although there might be a bit of give or take in that calculation.

But assuming the two calculations are right, Arsenal had a run for 20 years in the top four and Tottenham had four.   And yet somehow the media are suggesting the two clubs are much the same, and that somehow one should expect Tottenham to be in the top four by rights – perhaps because they have a big stadium.

However, returning to the tables, again all I can see is that in the last four seasons, Tottenham have finished in the top four once.  A bit like Arsenal over the same period.    The difference is that Arsenal could still win the league and need just two more points from the last four games to be utterly sure of a place in the Champions League next season.

Indeed Tottenham could technically win the league, but to overcome Arsenal who are as you may have noticed, are currently top, Tottenham would have to win all six of their remaining matches to give them 78 points, while Arsenal would have to lose all four of their remaining matches.  Manchester City and Liverpool would also need a similarly dire run of form.

Now of course this is not going to happen, but Tottenham could scrape into the top four.  Two wins in their two games in hand over Aston Villa, each by three or more goals would move them up to fourth.   We shall all be interested to see if they can do it – starting with their home game against Arsenal.

And thus talk turns to previous Tottenham v Arsenal games.   All told the clubs have met 208 times in leagues and cups, but such totals include offerings such as the United League, the Southern and District Combination League and the London League.

And we can see why Tottenham might like to have these ancient and now forgotten leagues included because out of 14 matches played in these historic competitions between 1896 and 1903 Arsenal won just five.  Tottenham also won five and rather logically four were draws.  That’s a better average for Tottenham than they have achieved with league games.

Arsenal’s dominance started later but lasted longer.   Take those forgotten leagues out of the calculations, and only include FA Cup, League Cup and league matches and Arsenal have won 81 (42%), Tottenham 62 (32%) and 51 (26%) were draws.

But enough of the ancient history; what of late?  Since January 2014 there have been 23 games between the two sides, one FA Cup, two League Cup and 20 in the league (Tottenham not having visited the second division since 1978).   Arsenal have won nine, Tottenham seven and seven were draws.

The most goals scored by either side in any of these games was four by Arsenal in 2018 winning 4-2.  In 2021 and 2022 there were three consecutive games in which a team scored three:   Arsenal beat Tottenham 3-1 early in the 2021/2 season, while at the end of the season Tottenham beat Arsenal 3-0, and then in the next game in October 2022 Arsenal beat Tottenham 3-1 again.

But to bring matters right up to date, of the last six games (those played from March 2021 onward) Arsenal have won four, Tottenham have won one and one was drawn.

This time however we have (as we noted in a previous piece) the second best home team playing the best away team – that is based on the last six games in each case.  (Taking the whole season it is the sixth best home team against the best away team).

And here is a nice final thought just for the moment.  In their last 10 games Arsenal have a goal difference of +25.  In their last 10 games Tottenham have a goal difference of +2.

In the season as a whole Arsenal have a goal difference of +56 while Tottenham have a goal difference of +16.

More later.

6 Replies to “Do you remember that old thought: “Fourth is not a trophy”?”

  1. Somewhat off topic. Our U18s are currently in action against Norwich and with 64 minutes gone are leading by seven goals to nil. A name for everyone to watch out for in the future is 16 year old Chido Obi-Martin who has scored all seven goals!

  2. Final score in the U18 game. Norwich City 0 – Arsenal 9. No further goals for Chido Obi-Martin who will have to be satisfied with a mere seven – yes 7 goals in the match. The last two were scored by Andre Annous and Dan Casey. An outstanding result for Jack Wilshere’s youngsters.


    I do indeed Tony. And the ridicule Wenger received for that is as ridiculous today as it was at the time. I have gone on record here many times suggesting that what Wenger actually achieved during those tough ‘austerity’ years was arguably as good as all the trophies he won before and after.

    To give an example as to why you only have to listen to the admiration being heaped on Klopp today.

    The accusation being addressed was that with just the one Premier League title during Klopps eight and a bit years at Liverpool, had he in reality done as well as perhaps is the perception.

    The answer is, yes of course he has, and the defence being put forward was the difference in spending between Klopps Liverpool and Peps Man City. Well on the face of it that’s fair enough, but surely if that defence can be made for Klopp, surely it could of been mad for Wenger when he was suffering? But I don’t remember that ever happening?

    As such I thought I’d look at how Klopps 8 full seasons compared to Wengers 8 trophy less seasons specifically with regards to Premier League finishes and comparative Nett spending.

    The period for Wenger is the 8 seasons ’05 – ’06 to ’12 – ’13

    The period for Klopp is the 8 seasons ’16 – ’17 to ’23 – ’24 (Following todays result I have taken the liberty of assuming a 3rd place finish for Liverpool).


    Finishes 4 4 3 4 3 4 3 4 = Average finish of 3.6

    Arsenals Nett spend over the 8 seasons = £42 Million PROFIT. Yes that’s a Nett GAIN on transfers of PLUS £42 Million.

    Man City’s Nett spend over the 8 seasons = £430 Million LOSS. That’s a Nett LOSS on transfers of MINUS £430 Million.

    A difference heading towards HALF A BILLION QUID


    Finishes 4 4 2 1 3 2 5 3 = Average finish of 3rd. And of course there is a title in there.

    So yes, with regards to finishes Klopp betters Wenger. But not by that much on average, and that wasn’t really my point. My point was the excuse for not doing better was Liverpools Nett spend as compared to Man City. So lets see if that can be used as an excuse?

    Liverpools Nett spend over the 8 seasons = £254 Million LOSS. That’s a Nett LOSS on transfers of MINUS £254 Million.

    Man City’s Nett spend over the same 8 year period = £730 Million LOSS. That’s a Nett LOSS on transfers of MINUS £730 Million.

    A similar difference in Nett spending of approaching half a Billion quid.

    So, what immediately strikes you is the similarity in the actual Nett difference in spending. Both having a Nett spend of around £500 Million less than Man City.

    But in reality they are nothing like as close. First of all in ‘real terms’ £500 million was much more 10 years ago. But more importantly is the percentage spend.

    Although a considerable way behind Man City’s spending Liverpool’s spend was still about 33% of there’s.

    With Arsenal actually in profit it’s actually beyond my CSE grade 5 (yep, that bad) Maths to work out the percentage, but I’m sure it’s nothing like 33%.

    Anyway, my point is, all through Wengers austerity years the money was never allowed to be used as an excuse, despite the fact he was literally not spending a penny.

    I’m not having a go at Klopp, or Liverpool. He has put together some fantastic teams and have been great to watch.

    It’s just the double standards applied by the media when it comes to how Wenger was treated to how Klopp, and others are treated.

  4. Guys,

    the extent to which the guardian does PR work for Sp*rs is just mindboggling….

    I am quoting a story today….

    “One key change to the Spurs narrative this season is that they do not have to deliver Champions League football to keep Harry Kane. Would any of Postecoglou’s squad demand a move if they were to remain outside of Europe’s elite competition? He is on record as saying that he does not want players who sign purely for the Champions League.”

    Yeah, you do not dream…no CL is fine, and Sp*rs do not want players with ambition…. Going to the CL would mean playing the players more money… NO WAY !!! And it was all Harry Kane’s fault anyway, glad we got rid of him and he still can’t win any trophy so the proof is out there. Remember the vitriol when Henry, van Persie, Fabregas – to mention just these 3 – left Arsenal ?!?! How it was the proof Arsenal had no ambition, could not win, etc etc etc ? Suddenly it is all fine and well. Glad this is now clear.


    “So maybe bear with some of the supporters who have seen the Champions League last-16 exit movie before and wonder whether there might be greater opportunity in a Europa League campaign. Especially as the competition will no longer feature Champions League dropout teams.”

    So, the way I see it, the fans wanting Mr Wenger and Mr Emery fired were all wrong, the press should not have supported them and accepted the fact that the EL is easier and a better opportunity. I do not have any remembrance of such a positive reaction to failure and lack of ambition. Maybe the Arsenal management ought to make an offer to Sp*rs fans and allocate them some seats at the Emirates…. get rid of the pressure of the ambitious Arsenal fans.

    Later it is written :

    “The game-changer for Spurs has been the stadium rebuild, which has put the club in a strong and sustainable financial position”

    I mean, from what I read, we are talking hundreds of millions of debt, not far from a billion…. and this is a strong sustainable position ? After all the crap Arsenal took with it’s stadium build and then 15 or more years ot took to be competitive again ?

    Had the club been Arsenal, can you imagine the shitstorm we’d be getting into ? Can you envision the headlines :

    – Total lack of ambition
    – Searching for excuses
    – Fire the manager, fire the owners, sell the club
    – Broke club not even capable of financing its stadium with regular CL revenue – please go to their crowdfunding page
    – Come join us, the one no-stress-for-CL club in the world : we mind the gap
    – Our stadium : the ideal place for your favorite team to win the PL.Thank you for your tip to help maintain the place

    Guess that in the case Arsenal do not win the PL, this writer will sing the praise of Mr Arteta and be all positive and encouraging in his comments….

    For anyone interested… here is the link

  5. … and don’t forget that Chido Obi-Martin scored 10 goals against the Liverpool Under 16s earlier this season.

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