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October 2020

Just how badly has the recent dip affected Arsenal’s chances of winning the league?

By Tony Attwood

The late autumn is a time when Arsenal can dip; we’ve seen it before.  Indeed if you look at where Arsenal stood after 15 games in recent years you get this table of positions in the league

Year After 15 games Season end
2015 2
2014 6 3
2013 1 4
2012 10 4
2011 5 3

So it is not guaranteed that we will improve on the current second position, but in three out of the last four seasons we have done so.

It is also interesting to have a look at the league table over the last six games, considering points scored.

Position Club Points out of 18
1 Leicester 16
2 Watford 12
2 Tottenham 12
4 Arsenal  11
4 Liverpool 11
6 Man U 10
6 Stoke 10
8 Man C 8
8 Everton 8
8 Southampton 8
8 West Brom 8

I think this table makes the point yet again that if you take a short period of time in the season you can get all sorts of odd results, for it is extremely rare for a club to be thoroughly consistent all the way through the season.

But more to the point it seems to me that we had a fairly grotty November, with the whole injury hysteria and disappointing results, and yet over the last six league games we are equal fourth.

Of course some doom mongers will want to argue that this rather unexciting run recently will be continued to the end of the season, and we will finish up fourth.  But then they would also be arguing that the four clubs in next season’s Champions League will be Leicester, Watford, Tottenham and Arsenal.  I am not so sure this is likely.

Speaking in broad, general terms, history shows us that once Arsenal have got the annual blip out of their system, the club then powers ahead and does better in the second half of the season, and if that is the case, this does indeed look like a very promising season that is opening up before us.

In the double winning season of 1997/8, for example, after 15 games we were lurking in fourth…

That is not only interesting in showing us four points behind Man U, but also having a nine goal worse goal difference, with a worse attack and a worse defence than Man U.  It is also interesting  to notice that two of the top five at that moment are no longer with us in the Premier League and both are indeed struggling.  One of the others (mention no names but they play in blue) is occupying a significantly lower place in the league at this moment.  It emphasises the importance of the long term stability our club has had.

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And moving on to 2001/2 when again we won the double, after 15 games we were again four points off the lead.

Leeds again were in the top five, but also joined with Newcastle, who we don’t normally consider to be in that position.  Chelsea were not in the five, and of course nor were Man City.

And in 2003/4 – it is sometimes hard to forget that we were not top of the league all season despite going unbeaten from first to last…

This time the mighty Fulham joined us in the Top five and we were one point and one goal behind Chelsea, with the top three clearing space between themselves and the rest of the league.

Indeed it is interesting how different each league table looks – the distance from top to 5th spot ranging from 14 points to 5 points.  You might recall we ended up 11 points clear of Chelsea and 30 points clear of Liverpool who ended in fourth.  Indeed Liverpool were closer to relegation than they were to Arsenal.

Now my point in all this is that if, (and yes that is a big “if”) our late autumn blip has now ended, then we might well feel rather pleased with a league table that looks like this…

Looking at tables like this makes me think that all the talk about “Arsenal have not won in the last three” or whatever it was before the last game skates over broader perspectives about most clubs having a dip or a good run each season.

It also adds to the suggestion that the current Leicester position may not be maintained.  In 1997/8 Blackburn slipped to sixth by the end of the season.   In 2001/2 the top five were still the top five at the end although in a very different order.  In 2003/4 Fulham finished up 9th.

Of course you can argue that the Manchester clubs have had a dip this season too – and that reminds us that this is all speculation.   But then speculation is what the aaa do each year when things get a bit mucky.  Remember all the stuff about “Worst Arsenal start to a season in 30 years” which we get most years.  At least we haven’t had to listen to that this year.

I feel rather confident at the moment, and of course because I am putting this on the internet I may well have to eat my words.  Not confident because the quality and style of football in the last few games has been great, of course it hasn’t, but confident because we often go through a spell like this, and we’ve come out of it in second.

I think that at the very end of the year we will see Jack Wilshere and Alexis back in the squad.  Of course if another 10 players are injured by then, things would be desperate, but if we’ve had our really bad run, welcoming those two back could be a really big plus.   Rosicky could also be available by the start of the new year, and although I doubt he will be a first team regular, he could still be a helpful stand in.

And you never know, we might either buy someone or promote one of those lurking on the bench.  If anyone is going to emerge suddenly and grab a headline or two it could be Chambers (hinted as a possible defensive midfielder and as a central defender), Iwobi – who was not allowed to go on loan as Arsene Wenger wanted to manage his development from within the club, or Jeff Reine-Adelaide who has been sitting on the bench, obviously being included in the first team training, travel and events.

Any of those three could arrive as suddenly as Bellerin and Coquelin last season.

More anniversaries

  • 6 December 1987: Arsenal beat Newcastle U away 1-0 in a sequence in which the club won two out of eight but still went on to win the Double for the second time.  (Game 17)  The second double: part 1,part 2, part 3.
  • 6 December 2003: Leicester 1 Arsenal 1.  With no Henry, no Vieira, and Cole sent off for wild challenge Arsenal managed to secure a draw in the 15th league match of the unbeaten season.







35 comments to Just how badly has the recent dip affected Arsenal’s chances of winning the league?

  • Pat

    I remember reading that in our unbeaten season at the end we weren’t playing all that wonderfully and Arsene Wenger was having to gee the players up to keep going. And we did it!

    Everybody loves free flowing high scoring football best, but it would be very hard to keep that up for a whole season, especially in view of some of the challenges in the premiership.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Every reason to be confident. We have some great players in the squad, we have a manager who has proven he can cope when things are going well. And in contrast to another manager of a London club, Wenger can also cope in challenging situations.
    The only thing that concerns me about our title chances are the hidden agendas and bias of others, but if we get the majority of our players back, we can put in ref busting performances as a greater Manchester referee found out recently when we played Utd.

  • andy bishop

    Ramsey back and the Walcott option up front two key players return….The team that can put 10- 15 good results together in the new year wins the league

  • Joel

    What a complete load is rubbish.Statistics prove absolutely nothing.If Arsenal win a match they will receive 3 points,one if they draw and none for a loss.November should have resulted in 6 points from the likes of both Norwich and West Brom and certainly not a lucky point against the Spuds.The coming weeks see a depleted Arsenal having to come up with the goods against both Citeh and Chelsea and attempting to produce away to Stoke,Southampton and Liverpool.Stats suggest that Arsenal will struggle to gain points in most of these games. Form suggests a similar outcome.Without a dedicated CDM the defence can be left exposed.Flamini seems to have missed all of Coq’s performances in that particular role given his lack of understanding . Wenger ‘s failure to bulk up the squad during the close season is a disgrace.The nature of a Top 4 Team’s Season means that it’s imperative to rotate squad members to avoid injury or burn – out. Arsenal’s injury crisis cannot be considered a coincidence.Not when its hspoened for yhe third Season on yhe trot.To suggest that there aren’t any players out there good enough to step into the breach…or similarly “unfair” for certain players to find themselves competing for a starting berth is deluded.This is Arsenal’s best opportunity for a decade to win the EPL and the Manager has done his utmost to reduce their chances.Its lucky that most if Arsenal’s competitors are similarly trying their best to avoid the EPL Trophy!

  • WalterBroeckx

    What a complete load is rubbish… and then it followed 🙂

  • nicky

    “Stats prove absolutely nothing”
    “Stats prove Arsenal will struggle”.
    Now which is it Joel, you can’t have it both ways?

  • Just watching Newcastle Liverpool and have to say Liverpool getting no help from ref at all in this game maybe the refs just aren’t very good

  • Mandy Dodd

    Well well……the medics favourite Klopp, the man who wanted to replace Wenger has just led his team of the moment to defeat at relegation threatened Newcastle.

  • apo Armani

    Liverpool: Karma is such a bitch aint it…perfectly legal goal being ruled offside springs to mind.

  • bjtgooner

    Our chance to win the league is still there, but to state the obvious it depends on our consistency compared to that of our main rivals.

    Just now we can still put out a reasonably good team, but we cannot really rotate to rest players and further injuries would become a real problem. But, lets be optimistic, we did very well yesterday against the PGMO and Sunderland.

    I was pleasantly surprised at the Dipper result – always good to see the Dippers go down!

  • John

    Great post!!

  • Mandy Dodd

    Everyone loves Liverpool and Herr Klopp, but they are 7 points and 13 goal differences behind us…..but apparently we are in crisis, our manager is a disgrace….etc.

  • Dazza64

    @Joel..thanks for the pointless rant, your post added absolutely nothing to the debate in stark contrast to the author of the article.
    To accuse Wenger of deliberately sabotaging the season – “the Manager has done his utmost to reduce their chances” – is petulant and without substance.

  • Mandy Dodd

    This weekend, the big boys, have provided a very valuable lesson to Wengers critics.
    That lesson……no matter what you spend, how you are funded, how much the media/AAA love you, what reputation the manager has., what he has or hasn’t won,….sometimes…….shit just happens!

  • hrishi

    Your 5:35 pm post was just brilliant!

  • Strus

    Let’s not forget that Coquelin and Cazorla was the best midfield pair in this 2015, when Arsenal got more points that another teams.
    These 2 injuries are far more painful than another ones.
    All faith in Ramsey now. And that Flamini will sit more (like Coq) and not venture so forward.
    Another brilliant rise in front of the defense is unpredicable. It is very unlikely too hapen that Wenger will risk all for very young player to play so important position. More likely someone will become a good winger, because all Arsenal wingers now have injury or quite poor form. Chamberlain is really poor now, Campbell is hit and miss, Walcott should give Giroud some rest, where are another ones?

  • hrishi

    The whole talk of a ‘winless November’ is misleading. We played 3 games, one of them against an in form Spurs side. Yes, the other two were certainly winnable but this season has just been crazy everywhere… Imagine telling someone six months ago that if Chelsea beat Leicester on the 14th of December the gap between the two will be 14 points and that if the result was reversed, 14 changes to 20 (and not 8)!

  • ColG

    I don’t think the dip affects Arsenal’s chances. Injuries – or rather how Wenger deals with them – is far more significant. Usually Wenger is a genius at mitigating his own ‘mistakes’ (or ‘the fallout from his idiosyncratic approach’), so let’s hope that is what happens now.

    This weekend’s results were really quite unpredictably good – a few more like that and anything is possible.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Seems Caz has had surgery on lateral ligament, Wish this incredible player a swift recovery, he has done so much for this team since he has arrived, he has changed positions, captained the team, many important goals and assists, including a fate changing cup final goal, he is surely an archetypal Wenger player, he will be missed, but Wenger will make sure we prevail in his absence, hope we see him again before the season is out.

  • Gord

    This weekend was “Christmas” for my Mom’s side of the family, so I’ve been away. Wonderful job by Gunners and Gooners on Saturday. While I don’t like which goal Giroud accidentally put the ball into the first time, I hope he remembers the play for the other end of the field. It was a nice goal. Campbell’s was also very nice.

    In the earlier game (I got to watch some TV this time), I think Arno-I’m-an-idiot should have been given a yellow for unsportsmanlike conduct at the end of the game when he was trying to waste time. There was no need for him to impose himself on things so many times. The ref was a twit.

    I need to go look at some news, you guys have too many tidbits in here.

    Offtopic, any study guides to Dante’s Inferno for agnostic engineers to read with the poem?

  • Gord

    I looked around the governance area of The FA, and seen nothing. I was kind of afraid that there might be something like:

    Santi Cazorla charged with bringing the game into disrespect in faking knee injury – will be banned for 4 games after return from rehab.

    Which would then likely make this injury a season ender, which is what a lot of the medja seem to be hoping for.

    Nice to see Liverpool lose.

    Come on Lyon, I’m hoping for a 4-0 win!

    And for Arsenal to have a fantastic day in Greece this week!

    There are rumours of the appointments for the first half of matchday 6, but I can see nothing about the second half where we are.


  • Brickfields Gunners

    WOO HOO , HOO ! Well done the boys . A very good and badly needed win . Was smiling the whole weekend with those other scores . Especially after that visit by droves Man City fans on a previous post, to vent …whatever it was that they wanted to vent!.
    All the big spenders and the media darlings were defeated or dropped points. And poor old us , just chugging along at our own pace . Allegedly with a manager who does not know what he’s doing and an allegedly incompetent medical staff. And we now have double the points of last years ‘s champions !
    What will the big boys do to rectify their positions ? Easy ! Spend more fucking insane amounts of money . It apparently works !

  • ARSENAL 13

    We sit above the top spenders in the league and 1 place below the non spenders!! says a lot. And us being relatively a non spender this season and with injuries to key players like Rambo, Welbeck, Wilshere, Arteta, now Santi and Alexis just shows we have a strong squad despite the non spend.

    And almost all the injured players are scheduled to return around January start. This holiday period is crucial. Hope we emerge strong and healthy at the other end.


  • nicky

    You say Cazorla will be banned for 4 games after recovering from knee surgery (for allegedly bringing the game into disrepute).
    How can this be?
    The punishment you quote is more severe than a straight red.
    I hope Arsenal appeal because however bad the referee saw it, Cazorla was clearly in trouble with his injury and was not faking it. And one would hope a fair-minded referee would now acknowledge this in his match report.

  • John

    Arsenal 13
    I know we have all those players to come back in January and time and time again we have heard the line “They will be like new signings”but with our luck with injuries we cannot guarantee that they will all stay fit.

  • para

    One thing i moan about with Arsenal, is that sometimes the players lack the conviction to play the way we know they can.

    It’s the silly mistakes that get me, and i then expect AW to let them know, after all, he has a better overview to see certain things. I know his style is to trust his players, but sometimes, just sometimes he needs to show his pleasure/displeasure to the team from the sidelines, send instructions using players who come near him, as we can all see when the players are stuck.

    The other thing i moan about is the repeated mistakes, after all we are supposed to learn from them.

    Other than that, Arsenal the best team in the world bar none can only get better.

    I have no fear of not coming top, even with the “injuries” we have, it’s in our hands, as we know the opposition, we know the refs, adjust accordingly and we will seal it.

  • Pat

    Don’t worry, Nicky. Gord was only saying what he thought he might see when he said Cazorla would be banned. No such thing is happening.

  • Gord

    Thanks Pat. Nicky, it was a paranoid fabrication. No better than the medja do.

    Mike Riley’s 😈 troops already ignore the rules in officiating us, is not the next “logical” step for the FA to invent discipline to push on us?

  • Gord

    Our UEFA match officials are from Italy. We also have one Spaniard and one French.

    Referee Nicola Rizzoli (ITA)
    Assistant referee Elenito Di Liberatore (ITA) , Mauro Tonolini (ITA)
    Additional assistant referee Antonio Damato (ITA) , Davide Massa (ITA)
    Fourth official Andrea Padovan (ITA)
    UEFA Delegate Ainar Leppänen (EST)
    UEFA Referee observer Michel Vautrot (FRA)

  • Gord


    Gooner Ernie Crouch (90) died on the way to the Sunderland game, knocked by a gust of wind into the path of a bus.

    Anyone here know him? Nicky?

  • Gord

    Skimming the news, I see that Lukas Podolski sent a twit about Ernie Crouch dying. Good on you Lukas! Good luck in your season.

  • nicky

    @Pat& Gord,
    Thanks for that. An old man is mighty relieved. 😉

  • nicky

    Didn’t have the pleasure of knowing the late Ernie Crouch, one of Arsenal’s real supporters. It would be appropriate for Arsenal to record the Club’s regret, perhaps in the next home game’s programme.
    In the midst of life…..