Arsenal throughout the last 20 years. How are we doing today?

by Walter Broeckx

As someone asked if we could not only give a bit of general view on the goals that we conceded but an overall view on  all the statistics I will try to do this. I will only take a look at the league and the performances and will not speak about cup matches; one has to draw a line somewhere! As it is I think it will be difficult enough put in some words just dealing with the league.

But here we go…

Season Place Played Won Draw Lost Scored Against difference Points
92-93 10 42 15 11 16 40 38 2 56
93-94 4 42 18 17 7 53 28 25 71
94-95 12 42 13 12 17 52 49 3 51

If we look at those years we can say those were the bad years. We won the league in 1991 but after that it went downhill. And how. Finishing 10th and 12th is something we have forgotten how to do in the past ten years.

But it is part of what he have gone through in the decade before this one. Also take a look at the goal difference in 2 seasons. In 92-93 we scored only 40 goals in 42 games. And in 1995 we let in 49 goals, the worst in the last 20 years.  I think it is fair to say those where very bad years we love to forget.

Also I can say that in the year between our title in 1991 and in the last year of the old first division we finished 4th. If you take a look at the games won and lost you can see that we in fact lost more games than we could win.

Season Place Played Won Draw Lost Scored Against difference Points
95-96 5 38 17 12 9 49 32 17 63
96-97 3 38 19 11 8 62 32 30 68
97-98 1 38 23 9 6 68 33 35 78
98-99 2 38 22 12 4 59 17 42 78

I thought it would be interesting to put the last seasons before Wenger together with his first in charge. From the first full season in charge he made us better and winning us a title for the first time since 1991. From that season also we always won more games than we lost and this hasn’t changed since. I also chose to put these years in a seperate view because of the fact that from the season 95-96 we only played 38 games in the league season.

Season Place Played Won Draw Lost Scored Against difference Points
99-00 2 38 22 7 9 73 43 30 73
00-01 2 38 20 10 8 63 38 25 70
01-02 1 38 26 9 3 79 36 43 87
02-03 2 38 23 9 6 85 42 43 78
03-04 1 38 26 12 0 73 26 47 90
04-05 2 38 25 8 5 87 36 51 83

These are the numbers from what I would call the invincible years. Like I said before the Invincibles did not came falling out of the sky one morning but it was a defence built on many players with a lot of experience. I still think it is an incredible achievement and one to remember for a long time.

Season Place Played Won Draw Lost Scored Against difference Points
05-06 4 38 20 7 11 68 31 37 67
06-07 4 38 19 11 8 63 35 28 68
07-08 3 38 24 11 3 74 31 43 83
08-09 4 38 20 12 6 68 37 31 72
09-10 3 38 23 6 9 83 41 42 75

And these are the numbers from when the Invincibles left us. Wenger had to rebuild the team that was too old and he had started building on the new team. Despite this building we reached the CL final in 2006 with some very young players but that still had a foundation with some very old and experienced players in it. Pires, Henry, Bergkamp, Campbell, et al. But in the league it was clear to see that they could explode in some games but not do it game in, game out, any more.

I now will try to come up with some general conclusions. From a team that had a lot of seasons when we lost more than we won this has changed in the Wenger years to a team that always wins 20 games at least every season. The only time we did not manage to win 20 games was the first at the Emirates. We drew too many game.  Was it the change of the stadium we had to get used to?

The first 5 years after our title in 1991 are years we can only look at now with big wondering eyes and say that those were the years we were sinking low in the league. In fact even I must admit that I had almost forgotten how bad we played in those years.

Since Wenger came things turned around and we became a better team and we also played great football.

In the last seasons we always have been among the top scoring teams in the league. So I think as Arsenal fans we are double blessed by the fact that we have a team that not only wins a lot but also scores a lot of goals.

Our goal difference is very high in most seasons. If you compare this with the pre-Wenger years it is amazing in fact. Since Wenger arrived the worst goal difference was +25 and before we had years when +25 was a big goal difference.

The invincible years were the best years. No doubt in results and in goals scored. It also had players in the team that were in the best years of their career. Players like TH, who only come every now and then in a club’s history, Vieira, Pires, Bergkamp put together in one team will give you something. But the team was an ageing team and had to be replaced.

Wenger opted, or was forced to do so, to build a team almost from scratch. And because of the Emirates we did not had the cash to compete with the transfer prices that were paid by the other big clubs like Chelsea and Utd. We must also not forget that just when we began our journey to the Emirates and the temporary  financial restrictions it gave us, we faced the financial doping that arose for some teams who had rich owners who could bring money in a club without limitation.  I’m talking about Chelsea, later joined by Manchester City.

As most clubs we can see cycles in a clubs history. Years of success are followed by years of transition and rebuilding.  We have clearly been in such a phase of rebuilding and had to face some serious setbacks with some players leaving after the 2007-2008 season when almost our complete midfield went away to sit in others team benches.

But if we can add a few players now that we managed to get rid of the debt from Highbury and develop the youngsters that come knocking on the door we look ready to challenge the others. Just like we did in the last season when only a major injury crisis came in our way and stopped us with one month to go.


Editor’s note: I am going away for a few days, and Walter has very kindly agreed to take over the operation of the site during my time away – for which I am extremely grateful.  If you have an article to submit for the next week please email


Want to comment? Please read this first

Want more Arsenal stuff from totally committed absolute supporters?  Click herewith and enter therein (as it were)

Want a site that tells you who changed the entire first team one close season?   This is it.

Want want want? Well you could always read a book.

13 Replies to “Arsenal throughout the last 20 years. How are we doing today?”

  1. Walter

    1992-1995 saw Arsenal win three trophies and reach another European final.

    Yes they were the end of the success of the George Graham assembled team.

    But that was half the trophies that group won.

    Course, if you think Cups don’t matter, that’s different.

  2. Rhys,

    I do think cups matter. But I think a league tells more about a team than a cup. Winning a league is like a marathon in which a team has to overcome all kinds of things and difficulties.

    To win a cup is more a sprint or a few sprints. And I also think that to win a cup you need more luck. Luck with the draw : a difficult team/a weak team – home/away…
    Luck with other things: a bad day/a good day – bad pitch/good pitch – bad ref/good ref – …

    In a cup run one bad day and you are out as in a championship you can afford a bad day as you can make it up in the next game or so or one decision from the ref can cost you the cup.

    So I left any cup out of this in order to focus on the league. But now you mention it, I could try to do the same thing on the cups. But the problem would be to analyse the games in a cup run to see when you have been lucky or unlucky, as it can work in both ways.

  3. Wow it is so easy to forget how much we sucked back when George Graham departed and before AW arrived. It is amazing also to see the tangible effect of the new stadium. 1st or 2nd became 3rd or 4th.
    The drawback of not being able to spend perfectly illustrated. I suspect that it might be a tad different this year. It has always bothered me that AW has always taken the flak for not spending allowing the board to almost take it for granted that they receive no criticism, not that in my opinion any was justified. Training ground, youth system, new stadium, light years ahead in financial stability and ahead of the curve for new regulations.

    The board and the manager have done a spectacular job and do not deserve the abuse they get from a partisan media and an ungrateful sector of the supporters who suffer from selective memory syndrome(TM)

  4. The funny thing is I remember those seasons where we sucked very vividly. In many ways I have never been more into my football than I was then – the worse we got, the more I cared/the more it mattered to me.

    Don’t got me wrong, I love winning. Still there is much to be said about the amplification of pleasure through victories tasted in contrast to the dark days that went before. The contrast is more vivid, the appreciation greater; as the happy times are sweetened and enriched by the bitter memories of times not so very long ago.

  5. Jonny, spot on. poetically and eloquently put! I remember the end of the Graham era (and the Houston era) where we sucked majorly, and I really dont think I’d have enjoyed the invincible season as much if I hadnt also experienced the 6 (or 7?) 0-0 draws in a row that we endured in 94(?). A midfield seemingly bereft of any creativity; Hillier – Jensen – Selley. Attacking options? 1. ian wright wright wright (before he became an idiotic tabloid caricature of an opinion!) which if he didnt fire, didnt exist…
    But anyway, good article walter, shows what a difference Wenger has made to the club – lifting us out of mediocrity, turning us into challengers. And its just unfortunate that what could have been an era of dominance post-invincible’s coincided with the juggernaut of financial doping. To keep up with that despite vastly reduced resources I believe shows Wenger to be the greatest manager we have ever had. long may he continue!!

  6. i don’t know if cesc should go or not……but peter hill wood should surely go…..

    Mr. walter, sorry to say but i find ur articles very boring….sorry….

    Tony, it’s been long time since i have financial insight into epl and european football…not to say swiss ramble had some gr8 points xplaining financial condn of arsenal and barcelona…every gunner should read that……

  7. This only shows how much important Arsene Wenger is to our team. It would have been very easy for our club to fall down to 7th-8th position after the invincibles era. But that loss was well cushioned. And i’m happy even with 3rd or 4th because i know we aren’t as good as chelsea or united last few years but we have the potential to become much better than them. We only need our young players to get the required experience. Its not matter of ‘if’ but ‘when’ will we win the epl. And i can feel that time is near 🙂

  8. 1993.First team to win the domestic cup double(when we used to take winning cups seriously)

    1994 Last European trophy won by us

    Oh those bad old days!!!!

    The teams we had then werent a patch on todays team in quality but what they did have was a tactically aware manager any early day Mourinho and a team that played for the shirt

  9. Walter, these cycles of success are brought on by investment and crucially retaining your best players.Fact. Here is a list of the players that left us in three seasons before the invincibles: Malz, Demel, Sylvinho, Manniger, Wright, Upson and Thomas.Not exactly a star studded bunch.

    Here is a list of players that have left us since we last won a trophy: Viera,Henry,Pires,Campbell,Diarra,Reyes,Adeybayor,A.Cole,Hleb,Lehmann,Lauren,Flamini,Stokes,Muamba,Larsson,Toure,Cygan,Merida, Bently, Pennant,Ljunberg and Gilberto(There are many other “talented” youths released during this time).Now that is a stellar line up of players for the most part. All of them as of last season played in the top division of their countries league.

    Arsenal’s problem is not a lack of signings but rather in letting quality go.
    On the basis of the facts you cannot say that we are rebuilding since the invincibles…we have been deconstructing. siMPles.

    P.S: I am a Wenger fan, i hope he never leaves…but dont spread this claptrap.

    P.s.s: Tony im glad you got rid of all that horrendous advertising.

  10. What really strikes me about the comparison is the goals scored. From ’93-’95 Arsenal scored 40, 53 and 53 goals respectively, in 42 games; in the last three years, when Wenger has ‘lost the plot’, 74, 68 and 83 goals in only 38 games. From an average of just over a goal a game, to an average close to (or above) two a game. A further comparison: the ’89 title winning side’s record was 73 goals in 38 games with 29 against, a 22-10-6 record giving 76 points; the ’91 title winning side scored 74 goals in 38 games with 18 against, a 24-13-1 record acquiring 83 points, with two deducted.

    If the team scores one goal a game on average in the league, it’s difficult to do well, too easy to draw too many games. With 3 points for a win, too many draws are almost as bad as too many defeats. Both GG’s successful sides and Arsene’s teams have something in common: goalscoring power. And Arsene’s Arsenal also reflect the changed nature of the Premier League.

    If you look over the past 10 years, only twice has it taken less than 85 points to win the Premiership (Man Utd in 2003 (83pts) and 2001 (80pts)). 4 times it’s taken 90 or more. The bar is now set incredibly high. This year Arsenal finished third on 75 points; in 2008 third on 83 (same as the ’91 championship-winning side). To win 90 points or more you need to play attacking football, to score a lot of goals – Chelsea scored over 100 this past season. There is a direct correlation between goals scored and the amount of points you need to win a domestic title. Arsene’s attacking philosophy is correct: at the top end of the table, it’s more important to have a brilliant attack than a brilliant defence. In Europe, though, as George Graham’s Arsenal teams in ’94 and ’95 and Mourinho’s Inter showed this year, the reverse is often the case.

  11. I think the statistics of our club is all well and fine and look good. The statistics we should be compairing them to is Manutds and chelseas and liveroppls in that period and see if we are making enough progress compaired to our main rivals and whats the reason behind those statistics finance etc …Its just a lot to work out I would imagine.

  12. Good post Walter .To the younger Arsenal fans I would suggest you watch the games from the George Graham era -especially the League cup & Fa cup wins over Sheffield Wed ( 3 games )and the 2 Cup -Winners cup
    finals – I dare you !If you survive then you truly are hard core Arsenal fans.
    @ Zebidah – from your second list , only Cashley ‘love rat ‘Cole can be said to have achieved success since leaving ;and maybe Viera to some extent .Some of the others have had brushes with the law .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *