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How many years since various clubs won the league

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By Tony Attwood

Newspapermen like dreaming up statistics.   Not necessarily important statistics, but just statistics.

Many of them don’t get picked up by others and so quietly die a death, but others get repeated and repeated – and so some people start to think that the statistic matters.

A little while ago we had the thing about Arsenal players all being short – we couldn’t defend we were told because our players were shorter than those of previous teams.

Go back to the early days of the Wenger reign, and journalists started counting the number of red cards players go under Wenger.   The resultant figures were “shocking!” and “a scandal”, and there were calls for the FA to do something about it.

In fact those figures were completely wrong in every regard.  The number of reds quoted was wrong, and just as importantly, there was no reference to the number of red cards gained by other clubs.  Arsenal were in fact an average team in terms of sendings-off, but the “50 Red Cards Under Wenger” screaming headline made an impact, and no editor was ever going to go back and say, “ooops, sorry, it was actually 37, and six clubs have had more over the same period of time.”

More recently we’ve had a different game: the mindless repetition of the number of years since Arsenal won a trophy.   Now at least in this regard the facts are correct, but there’s still the issue, does it matter?

Supposing we had won the league cup three years ago, so it would now only be three years since we won a trophy.  Would that make Arsenal a better team?  Would that stop the journalists crowing about Arsenal’s “failure?”

I doubt it, because the measure itself is rather silly especially when one remembers that Wenger used the League Cup as a part of the process of taking us towards having two teams that could play and stand a fighting chance of winning each match.

To my mind, if you want to have some sort of measure of success, it is better to start with the League, and ask the simple question, how many years is it since each team won the top league in England.   That gives a clue as to what the club has been doing over the years.

Strangely, when I started asking people around me if they could draw up a table based on recency of winning the league, I got some very curious results – and no one actually got the order of clubs right.

Here’s how it goes for the 20 clubs most recently to have won the top division in England.  Now I have to admit I did this late at night and may well have miscalculated somewhere, but if so the numbers are only going to be out by one or two, and I am fairly confident of the order and general direction that the table shows.

Position Club Years since last winning the league
1 Chelsea 1
2 Manchester United 2
3 Arsenal 7
4 Leeds United 19
5 Liverpool 21
6 Everton 24
7 Aston Villa 30
8 Nottingham Forest 33
9 Derby County 36
10 Manchester City 43
11 Ipswich Town 49
12 Tottenham Hotspur 50
13 Burnley 51
14 Wolverhampton Wand 52
15 Portsmouth 61
16 Sunderland 68
17 Sheffield Wednesday 74
18 Newcastle United 77
19 Huddersfield Town 78
20 West Bromwich Albion 83

Of course it can be said that our seven year wait it too long, and that’s a separate issue – for it would then have to bring in the economic situation of the clubs ahead of us.   But the table does reveal some other points of interest – such as the fourth most recent club to win the league is Leeds, and it reminds us of just how long it has been for those powerhouses of English football, Liverpool, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur.

Indeed I wonder what it is like as a supporter of the Tiny Totts to realise that Ipswich Town, Derby County, Nottingham Forest and Leeds have all won the league more recently than your club.  And it is a reminder to us that winning the league is one thing.  Staying up there is another.

(Also I wonder why no one outside Arsenal mentions that this is the 50th season since the Tinies won the league, the 21st for Liverpool, and just for good measure, the 77th since Newcastle won the league.)

I would agree that seven years is a long wait, especially after going a whole season unbeaten – but in a broader context it is interesting to note that the only two teams who by common consent could win the league this season are sitting in the top three in this league.

The drought will be over shortly, simply because of the quality of the two teams we can put out at the moment, plus the quality of the amazing “on loan” set of 17 or so players.  I am certain three of them will be making a serious impact in the club next season, and that means we have 3 summer transfers done already.

Not bad for February.

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25 comments to How many years since various clubs won the league

  • Snail

    Blackburn won in 95.

  • Donkey

    No Blackburn?

  • Minesy

    You did forget one – Blackburn won the league in 1994/5

  • gooner80

    you make an interesting point Tony

    the eduardo season still hurts like the champions league final we have been close TOO close,I personally believe any kind of honor would just tip this team over the edge and could see the changing of the guard, the financial doping of city is a concern because they are not going to stop and may even resort to getting the dark one of football back in england

    TOny I heard Keown might be coming back to arsenal in a article when he was commenting about the blossoming defence CB pairing does anyone know if this is true?

  • xD

    Yeah shouldn’t Blackburn be ahead of Leeds…?

  • gooner80

    also I think everyone bangs on about how competitive the prem is but it is not much different than any other league and I think with out the financial doping of chelsea it would still have been Arsenal Man U and I think we would have won honours earlier, it is the artificial rise of chelsea plus the move that has caused the problems

  • Marc

    If we win the League Cup next weekend the stories will just change from “not won a trophy for 6 years” to “not won a major trophy for 6 years”. If we win the league it will be the weakest league for years. If we win everything it be because we were lucky, cheated and the sky was the wrong shade of blue in August.

    Screw the press.

  • johnnyr

    Marc, you’re right. No matter what Arsenal achieve the press will always find a new way of introducing some negative spin. Let us hope the press continue to slag us off and Wenger uses it as motivation to ram these stats down their throats.

  • I have to admit its mystery to me. I mean how come when talking about Manure “pundits” suddenly forgot football was played between 1967 and 1992.
    And excuse me, I am foreigner, so must be I don’t know well, but someone told me Chelsea FC existed before Abramovich. Please correct me if I am wrong.
    And again, maybe I am wrong but, didn’t Portsmouth won FA Cup 2 seasons ago? So they must be more successful than us. I am so jealous. You know I wanted to send them mail of my adoration, and went on Premiership web site to find e-mail address. But guess what, you cant find them on Premiership site. If someone can direct me where to find that successful team please do.

  • Akash_MauritianGunner

    Yeah, it does not mention Blackburn, but otherwise good piece of work!

  • ugandan goon

    don’t bother! if the police hear of anything like adoration for portsmouth they might take you away for a long time!
    But what you can do to help is buy the F.A cup from them for £250 – £300! for recycling!

  • Yes, of course, I have missed out Blackburn. But I did admit that there might be an error – although in fact it was in my copying out my notes – I just missed the line out completely.

    Blackburn in 4th and everyone else shuffles down one.

    Very sorry.

  • only1

    can anyone tell me when is the last time Arsenal played in an english league other than PL or Div 1?? another stats- Arsenal had actually won the League at least once every decade since 1930s.. that is except for 1960s.. To win the league, one has to be the best in the season among thousands of club. Its actually not as easy as the way i play fifa manager~~

  • Gooneraside

    Good article, Tony, and good comments by others about the reaction that will be seen in the press after this season, during which we will win something.

    But Tony, I hope you, yourself, don’t expect any future in the press after having the nerve to apologise after a mistake. 🙂

  • Only 1: The last time Arsenal were outside the top league was in the period 1913 to 1915 (two seasons). We were in Division II. In 1913 we moved from Plumstead but still played as Woolwich Arsenal, become The Arsenal near the end of the 1913/14 season, and then not longer after “Arsenal”.

    The league was abandoned in 1915 because of the war, and when matters resumed in the summer of 1919 there was a meeting of clubs to decide on the new format of the league.

    It was agreed that the divisions would be extended by two clubs each, and as per precedent there was to be a vote of chairmen as to which clubs should be in each division.

    The bottom two clubs of division I in 1915 (Tottenham and Chelsea) applied to stay in division I, and the top eight (I think) of division II applied to be in division I.

    What made the situation complex was that Liverpool and Man U had been found guilty of match fixing in 1915. Chelsea argued quite rightly that had the match fixing not gone on they would have ended up out of the relegation zone. Tottenham had no such claim.

    The League was totally northern based and Liverpool and Man U were very powerful in the league – the thought of relegating them or kicking them out was beyond the League’s thinking – the northern clubs would not have it. But leaving them there annoyed the small number of southern clubs.

    Henry Norris of Arsenal took up the challenge, and possibly suggested that the south would break away from the Football League if the northern clubs just closed ranks and did nothing about the rampant corruption of the league for the benefit of the north.

    It was soon clear that Chelsea’s application to stay in Division I would stand, because they clearly had a grievance. But Norris would not drop the campaign against Liverpool and Man U, until eventually the northern clubs let it be known that they would support Arsenal’s application to be in Division I (Arsenal came 5th in 1915). Tottenham were voted out of the first division (they had come a very poor bottom in 1915), and Arsenal went up with the 1st and 2nd clubs from 1915.

    This sort of movement was commonplace at the time – clubs were often voted out of the league without coming bottom, and expansions of the leagues were always voted for rather than being dependent on league placings. Tottenham, for example, had ended 7th in the Southern League the year they were voted into the Football League. That’s how it went.

    These issues are covered regularly on

  • Rhys Jaggar

    My hunch is that Spurs will be in the Champions League again next year.

    Whether they’ll win the League next year I don’t know. But they’ll be in with a realistic shout. If they qualify for ECL again, so keep all their best players. One kind of wonders if van der Vaart and Bale would be targets somewhere if they didn’t make it……

    And if Chelsea fail to make the ECL, it might be a while before they win the title again……

  • Marc

    Rhys – The spuds might make the CL next season, I almost hope they do if its at the expense of Chelsea or Man City.

    As for winning the league- absolutely no chance. We’ve made the CL every season for years and still have teams take players.

    We also pay higher wages than the spuds, something that they will have to deal with if their players begin to believe the hype put out by the media and Appy Arry. All while playing in a small stadium with a manager who has a history of bankrupting clubs.

  • I agree. The persistent reference to our ”trophy drought” is typical of the media. You could do a similar table pointing out the years it’s been since various clubs last won a trophy. Then we’d see what a real trophy drought was. Correct me if I’m wrong, but Man City: nothing since 1976. Newcastle Utd: nothing since the late 60s. Also, Liverpool are exactly 1 year behind us in terms of last trophy won. Arsenal – FA Cup 2005, LFC – FA Cup 2006. Yet nobody ever mentions them not having won anything for x years. It will only make it that much sweeter when we do win something.

  • Vic

    Spot on Marc.

    As for the Arsenal not winning anything tag. I do wonder what the hell these hacks will do when we win a major honour? They have this mantra already in place for any Arsenal related article. What on earth will they do? They will be screwed. They have absolutely no intelligence or creativity.

  • critic

    we will win something if nobody breaks our player’s leg. My fingers will be crossed during the whole birmingham final.

  • Shard

    Completely unrelated, but did anybody see Crawley Town play today? They outplayed Man U. Only a set piece goal, and a few lucky escapes gave ManU a 1-0 victory..

  • Jerom J.

    Yeah i was watching it Shard, I was actually hoping Crawley Town would cause an upset. hahah

  • Shard

    @Jerom J.

    I was hoping for a replay.. to get them to play more games and perhaps drop points in the league.. But crawley impressed me today. Hope Leyton Orient don’t play like that tomorrow

  • Terence McGovern

    It will be a good game tomorrow and not that one sided.

    One has to feel sympathy for the Orient though given that their opponents arrive having just beaten FC Barcelona

    I hope they make plenty of money from the game and have many stories to tell of a brave and fair struggle that was in the end in vain, but no less noble for it.

  • Macca

    Terence McGovern
    February 20th, 2011 at 12:18 am
    “It will be a good game tomorrow and not that one sided.
    One has to feel sympathy for the Orient though given that their opponents arrive having just beaten FC Barcelona
    I hope they make plenty of money from the game and have many stories to tell of a brave and fair struggle that was in the end in vain, but no less noble for it.”

    Ye gods!!