What does this year in the Premier League tell us about next


By Tony Attwood

One of the big problems for Arsenal in chasing Manchester City is that Manchester City are working with the benefits of the 115 financial issues that they have been charged with not being resolved  They have spent a lot of money and brought in the very best players, and are reaping the rewards.

Of course, if Manchester City have done nothing wrong and all  115 cases are fantasies or misunderstandings then everything we see in the league tables is a fair reflection of reality.  But if Manchester City have gained a benefit from any of those contested cases that could mean that the League table might have to be re-written.

At present it reads


Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Manchester City 37 27 7 3 93 33 60 88
2 Arsenal 37 27 5 5 89 28 61 86
3 Liverpool 37 23 10 4 84 41 43 79


If in the worst-case scenario Man C win their last game and Arsenal lose theirs, then a six point penalty for this season would see Arsenal as champions.  But of course we simply don’t know how long the case will continue, if Manchester C will be found guilty of anything, and if so what the penalty might be.

(The only thing I do feel fairly certain about is that future historians of professional football in England will look back and see this era as totally bonkers, and wonder how any of us actually put up with it.).

Further, as we have noted before, an outcome of innocent on all charges could lead to a wholesale resignation from the league of other clubs (as they did when leaving League Divison One to set up the Premier League).  On the other hand, Manchester City could face the sort of punishment Rangers got in Scotland, which would take them to the Conference.  A six-point deduction for last season would give Arsenal the 2024 title, and so on…

In such a muddled situation all we can do in looking forward is to assume that somehow, irrationally, that nothing happens – which is the least likely outcome.   However, unlikely as it is we have to assume that, Manchester City get no points deduction (or maybe just a few) and the rest of the league shrug their collective shoulders and carry on playing them as if nothing had happened.

That seems the unlikeliest scenario of all to me, but in the absence of evidence, it is the only one we can work with.

But it means that if we make a prediction for what will happen next season we have to do it on the basis of two giant assumptions: a) that Manchester City will have no penalty either of a big points deduction or removal from the league and b) the rest of the league will simply accept the situation and be willing to go on playing Manchester City.

So assuming that what next?

Let’s start with goalscoring, which we have been looking at of late on the site.   This season now drawing to a close, has seen Manchester City doing pretty much the same as last year.   93 goals scored (with one game to go, of course).

Historically, five teams have scored 100+ goals in a PL season and another four have scored between 94 and 99.  That is across 30 years so around about a third of the time a club gets 94 goals plus.  With one game to to go Manchester C are on 93 goals and Arsenal on 89, so we can certainly say that it is quite likely next season’s top team will be scoring 90 goals or more next season.

Only three teams are within reach of this level – Man C on 93, Arsenal on 89 and Liverpool on 84.  Next in the goal-scoring is Newcastle on 79.  They could of course buy one top scorer and get another 11 goals but I’d say that is a big leap forward in one season.

Aston Villa have one of the biggest jumps up this season, gaining 25 goals to total 76.  The question is therefore, can they maintain that sort of leap next season?  They will need to since they are still 15 goals behind Arsenal and 17 behind Manc City.

My guess is that this is unlikely, as is any real step forward for Tottenham who have been static when it comes to goalscoring, just one more goal this season than last season.  Chelsea could rise again, but not enough to reach the 90 goal mark even though they have been the sixth highest scoring team this season – a remarkable leap from being the fifth worst goalscoring team the season before.  

So let’s think about the big seven clubs in terms of goals scored this season with one game to go, and last season.  The stable clubs (meaning they are within a goal or two of the total last season) are Manchester City, Arsenal and Tottenham.    The advancing clubs are Liverpool (up 9 on the season before), Villa (up 25), Newcastle (up 11), and Chelsea (up 35).

Only one of the top eight declined in goal scoring this season, Manchester United who with one game left are six goals down.  They might improve next season, but not enough in terms of goals to challenge the top group.

In next season I would expect Manchester City (assuming they win or there is no proper resolution to their dispute), and Arsenal will be scoring at or slightly above this season’s numbers while Liverpool might build slightly on their 12% rise in goalscoring this season against last.

But although clubs like Aston Villa and Chelsea might continue to develop their goal scoring the rate of growth will decline and they won’t get to Arsenal and Manchester City’s level in one season.

So on the basis of goals scoring the top three next season will once again be Manchester City (if they win their disputes) Arsenal and Liverpool.   But not necessarily in that order.

5 Replies to “What does this year in the Premier League tell us about next”

  1. To be honest , we have performed raster well this season. We have had a few blips and some inexcusable slip ups , but on the whole , we have progressed.
    I do get uneasy when we go all defensive , and am more comfortable when we go for goals . But I have learned to curb my enthusiasm to a great extend .
    Just hope that we again keep a clean sheet , while smashing in a few goals . Let us finish this season in style .
    If the Gods are just , maybe , just maybe , we will get of reward !
    Up the Gunners !

  2. Just being able to have a (slim) change of winning the league against Man C115 without us doing anything wrong financially shows how wonderful we have performed this (and last) season. It is like being a sprinter and having to compete against Ben Johnson…..
    One can only admire how close we are.

  3. It would be interesting to know how much City owners have spent in keeping the 115 charges at bay. Is it more than what they spent buying their most expensive footballer? No doubt the owners are playing the long game like they did previously when charges were dismissed because of dragging out the process and getting past the time limits.
    The result of the discrepancy in financial clout between City & Everton is all too clear to fans, just as the financial doping on the field is plain for everyone to see when they lift their 4th title in a row this weekend.
    We know how business operates in the Middle East but it’s a shame the government, who took a long time to figure out what the oligarch was up to at Chelsea, & FA allowed them to operate the same in the Premier League thus making a mockery of our footballing history.

  4. My Tramere supporting friend end of last season actually called for the “three red giants of english football” to resign from the Premier League over Man City & Chelsea corruption, Arsenal have been cheated out of 4 English League titles, Liverpool 3 and Man Utd 5 Even Spurs were cheated in 2017, not that their supporters seemed to have noticed that it actually happened, judging by recent events. Time to rejoin the Football League I reckon. How many titles are Oil City going to win if we stay in the PL? City Chelsea & Newcastle can carry on by themsleves.

  5. Can’t the PL clubs ask the Premier League to do something about the PGMO? It seems to me enough clubs have been affected by the referee incompetence to warrant such a demand. Dumping VAR, as Wolves have suggested is not the solution. Spinning off VAR from the PGMO and handing it to another entity to manage might be a solution to the nonsense that now prevails. Limiting refs to two games per team per season is another item i”d like to see.

    I can’t understand why the clubs wouldn’t want these changes. Are they unable to dream of a better way? It’s not rocket science fellows.

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