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March 2021


By Mike


From time to time I’ve done the odd bit of research to find evidence to show whether AFC are as good or bad as the media circus claim.  Clearly this doesn’t always convince some people and to be quite honest I don’t know how Tony, Walter and the more regular contributors put up with the unsubstantiated opinions that come back at them day after day after day.


I read numerous comments which are laughable as they are clearly based only upon a concept driven by a media which seems determined to do all it can to tell stories which cannot be backed up by facts or which are, at best, highly selective in the stats they use.  But hey ho, that’s the brave new world in which we live.  Who needs experts or facts when writing something ridiculously impossible on the side of a bus is far more influential than stupid old facts…………….


So there we go, I’ve set my stall out and wait for the plethora of contradictory arguments based on sound-bites or some other arbitrary observation made by a bloke in a pub (or on the modern day equivalent – a blog.  It’s a strange contemporary phenomena which I will never understand; the idea that because you have the technological know-how to set up a blog, it actually makes you more knowledgeable than actual, experienced, qualified, trained people who have been doing the job for years e.g. a premiership manager.)   But I digress………… if only slightly.


My reason for this contribution is the madness that has surrounded the last couple of weeks.  According to everyone and his dog, Arsenal and Arsene are in the centre of a massive crisis.  I really thought Lineker would wet himself as he wittered on relentlessly about how Sutton could achieve the most embarrassing upset in world football.  The impartial employees of BBC were almost falling over themselves to tell us how apocalyptic things were at AFC.  Of course at the end of the game all we were left with was the fact that in the last 12 games we had achoeved 8 wins, 1 draw and 3 defeats (two of those being away to two of the best teams in Europe).  Obviously that is an absolutely appalling record and AFC should be ashamed of themselves after all no other team could ever have had such an outrageous run of form in the history of football………..


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So, having previously done a piece in 2014 which showed how many points each club had gained per £1m of net spend in the transfer market (which showed AW and AFC to be head and shoulders above the rest of the premiership whilst paying for one of the best stadiums in Europe) I decided it was time to check out the facts again to see if we really had become as bad as we are being told.  Call me old-fashioned but I find that sort of approach far more informative than believing the fevered bias we hear throughout the media on a daily basis.


Previously I looked at all premiership clubs to see how many points each had achieved for each £1m of net spend and we found Man $ity and Chelsea firmly at the bottom of that league with a meagre 1.2 and 1.4 pts per million on average over a ten year period.  Well the interesting news is Chelsea have improved (very slightly) and Man $ity have actually got worse.  Sadly, I haven’t had time to research the position of all 20 Premiership clubs so restricted my findings to the so-called ‘top six’.


The bad news is that even without including 14 of the 20 Prem clubs, I can confirm that AFC and AW are no longer top of the pile.  What’s worse is that of the ‘top six’, the Spuds have taken pole position.  Now that is hugely disappointing but in all fairness (and through gritted teeth) I have to admit that Pochettino does actually look like a half decent manager, so well done him.  But how do Arsenal compare? Aare they really the worst club in footballing history as the media and aaa would have us believe?  Just for context, let’s firstly look at net spend over the last decade.

Net Transfer Spend
Man $ity 650.3
Man u 301.7
Chelsea 290.7
Liverpool! 211.2
Arsenal 71.9
Spuds 39.9


So the only surprise there in my view is how so little has been achieved by others who have spent so much more but what did that spending over a ten year period, actually achieve?  Well I decided to look at both points per £1m of net spend and (as people seem to judge us on the misconception that we have finished fourth every year since the Napoleonic wars) the average league position.


So points per £1m

Points per £1m
of net spend
Spuds 15.9
Arsenal 10.2
Liverpool! 3.2
Man U 2.7
Chelsea 2.6
Man $ity 1.1


Yep, we’ve got worse.  But we are still five times more cost effective than Liverpool!, Man U or Chelsea and 15 times more effective than the biggest spenders.  But hey what does that matter?  We are perpetually told that we need to be finishing higher than those other teams despite not having anywhere near their spending power.  So what was the average finish of the ‘top six?

Man U 2.5
Chelsea 3.3
Arsenal 3.4
Man $ity 5.1
Liverpool! 5.3
Spuds 5.6


So there you go we actually averaged closer to third than fourth (but why let the facts stand in the way of a good media story?).  I’d love to discount Man U as I believe they were awarded a vast number of benefits by referees under Fergie but that wouldn’t be scientific so I won’t!  Aside from that, Chelsea have spent four times what we have and have achieved an average position of 0.1 better than us.  And, indeed, the majority of the other five have actually got a worse record than us.  So there we are, living proof that AFC under AW is the worst team in the world by far.


And just to show how crap our summer spending has been, we are languishing in fourth place yet again despite the fact that the team who seem welded to sixth spot and didn’t even make the Champions League this year have made a net spend of over £100m in the last close season alone.  Just to clarify, that is way in excess of our net spend over the whole decade I’m talking about.


As for Man $ity, they now have the best manager in the world (allegedly) and have managed a net spend this year alone of £165m (that’s 23 times our yearly average over the last decade).  But in fairness, what with the manager and the £165m it has to be money well spent…………they’ve accumulated a massive TWO points more than us so far this season.


Finally and for clarity, and before the regular names start slating me, I am not an AKB but I am a firm believer in thinking for myself and looking at facts before I form my opinions.


Is it frustrating being an Arsenal fan?  Yes of course.


Could it be worse?  Well I grew up on the terraces in the 1960’s, so I know it can.  I was there!!


I very much welcome well thought out comments backed by sound evidence…………….but I won’t hold my breath J


Have a nice day.


  • GMan

    Have you forgotten we are Arsenal. We are entitled to win trophies all the time. We have a big stadium, more fans than most, so it should be a cakewalk.
    Money no object!
    The media have nothing else to talk about, except sack the long serving manager. He’s achieving more than Klopp (Wolves) Potch (Gent or is it Genk) no talk of crisis or sackings there.

  • hrishi

    Nice work Mike.

    Context is never a consideration when criticising Arsenal or Wenger- though the Bayern Munich game was a terrible low.

    I wouldn’t use points per net spend as a metric though- simply because the marginal gains diminish at higher net spends. And hence, while it might cost you $50 million to get 70 points, it would cost you $100 million to get 80- and thus gets progressively costlier.
    Average position is similarly problematic. A first and a fifth vs two thirds- both have the same average, but the first one is harder.

  • Va Cong

    Brilliant Mike takes things back into contect

  • Norman14

    Well, at least Wenger is unique and top of this table:

    Number of games banned from touchline for telling the 4th official to “fuck off” – twice:

    1. Arsene Wenger – FOUR GAMES

    2-3,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 – No other football manager, player, official in the land have done it, so there!

  • Goonermikey

    @ hrishi

    I completely accept your premise, but still I believe it’s better to have some semblance of evidence rather than just repeat what some idiot on the TV said without thinking about it.

    I’d love to see us win another title. Would I want us to be taken over as a billionaire’s plaything with the knowledge that he might just up sticks one day and leave the club penniless? Absolutely not.

  • Omo r'Arsenal

    A nice piece. Thanks Mike.

  • Andy Mack

    Conte has worked wonders at Chavski, but lets look past their position in the league last season and instead look at the players they have.
    Is there anyone in their squad that didn’t cost £30m+ (yes there are but not many…).

    Peps squad makes Chavskis squad look cheap…

    Liverpoo!!! have consistently spent a lot more than most and rarely reached the top 4 on it. But they have held onto some good players and loaned out or sold on some of their biggest buys at a loss.

    Spuddies have done well but they did squander their Bale money. They’ve built a team that could end up as a top 4 team again and provided the new stadium doesn’t take all their cash, they may be able to add to the team next season. But the only reason they’ve managed 50 points so far is they’ve had some very helpful officials and that’s boosted their confidence dramatically. We’ll see what happens with them after a few games where decisions go against them for a change.

    No real need to mention Dis-Utd, but spent loads and still have an unbalanced team that will need changes in the summer…


    Interesting analysis but one problem is that you are looking at a 10-year window which includes the “austerity” years, where I think a lot of supporters were quite realistic about AFC’s ability to compete in the transfer market for the best players. If you look at the last 5 years, AFC’s net spend is 3rd behind the Manchester teams (assuming numbers below are correct). I think this is where a lot of the frustration lies as there seems to be less financial constraints but overall performance doesn’t seem to be improving. For what its worth, I’d love to see AFC win the league or CL with Wenger in charge but I’m just not sure that’s going to happen. Be delighted to be proven wrong though.

    Net Spend last 5 Years Purchased Gross Sold Nett Per Season

    1 Manchester City £565,650,000 £163,100,000 £402,550,000 £80,510,000
    2 Manchester United £528,800,000 £176,650,000 £352,150,000 £70,430,000
    4 Arsenal £298,340,000 £92,450,000 £205,890,000 £41,178,000
    3 Chelsea £507,459,000 £320,650,000 £186,809,000 £37,361,800
    5 Liverpool £365,600,000 £244,080,000 £121,520,000 £24,304,000
    6 West Ham £169,500,000 £51,000,000 £118,500,000 £23,700,000

  • Goonermikey

    @ DESNJ

    Fair point. But doing it your way then ignores the fact that in the previous five years those other clubs have invested hundreds of millions laying the foundations that one might argue we are now in a financial position to start laying. And what did Man City win for the first half a billion?

  • Goonermikey

    @ DESNJ

    Actually, I’ve just checked my figures and the net spend for the last five years from my source is as follows.

    Man U £288
    Man City £285m
    Chelsea £201m
    Liverpool £163m
    Arsenal £103m
    Spuds -£54

    I think you must be including the current season which, of course, is not yet over so who knows what value that spending might bring!

  • chibyke

    I know untold is all about stats,but if the unquantifiable isn’t relevant, subjects like psychology,emotional intelligence,sociology, wouldn’t be as important as it is in today’s world.
    Here’s the funny thing about stats,A team can go a season unbeaten (38 draws) and still go on relegation.statistically it would have equalled arsenal invincible season but it is really the same?
    3 games unbeaten(3 draws) sounds better than 2 losses and 1 win but both have the same 3 points, which,my people, is all that matters.
    The point in my ramble here is, stats doesn’t always tell the whole truth. The truth here is arsenal in the last several years has always fallen short when it most matters.
    Leicester has proven it’s not about the cost of players, it’s about a team,that ADAPTS.
    Adaptation is all I and most ask for.2 major examples of adaptation strikes me, FA cup final against manutd( we won via Patrick viera last kick as an arsenal player) and our match against man city where we surrender possession and won 2:0 @ etihad.
    Arsene can adapt but he prefers not to,because he believes that the philosophy is greater than the result.
    Untold always says” we have had worse times,we have should be grateful for what we have”
    That’s defeatist.Havard university may have been mediocre before but now? It competes with the Oxfords, the cambridges, and the MITs. U don’t expect them to be happy beating Howard and the rest of the upcomers while the heavyweights gallop away.
    We are no longer contenders,and the fact that we were once contenders means we need to look inwards,resolve the issues and get back on track, not spit out irrelevant facts like “unbeaten runs”,table-standing per-expenditure,first-19-games-table standing,new year-table standings,no-of-points-at-this-stage-this season-vs-at-this-stage-last-season, ref-bias review, all convenient facts that show our “enviable” but ultimately useless growth year on year.
    To all those be careful what u wish for peeps, remember,no one gave wenger a chance and he did well, why do u think the good luck ends with him.
    He idealizes, football of today is brutally pragmatic.He is an arsenal icon,and a football great but it’s time for him to go.

  • omgarsenal

    The issue of the media is never going to be resolved….after all they simply print what they think will get clicks,sell or attract revenue (advertising and subscriptions)so the more outrageous,hyperbolic and spun the ¨reporting¨is, the better.

    DESNJ….the issue of performance is so complex that a simplistic analysis of spend per results, like Tony’s and yours can never tell the whole story. Yes, they play a part, but Football is so dynamic and unpredictable that they represent a small % of the overall impact on each game. There are issues around the weather, the pitches, key injuries at the worst time of the year, the poor officiating that punishes top clubs, the psychological and emotional attitudes that the team as a whole and individual players bring (real or imagined) that to each game, the effect the aaa boo-boys have on players, the manager and the management, the restraints we never hear about, the media negativity barrage, the unrealistic, punctual (meaning one event based judgements) and over-inflated supporter expectations and demands, etc.

  • MickHazel


    ‘We are no longer contenders’

    It all depends on what you mean by being a contender. We are all contenders at the begining of the season and we each, apart from the ultimate winner, fall by the wayside at some stage of the season.
    My suspicion is that most folk who come out with this line actually don’t mean it literally. What they actually mean is that they want to win and that I think is confirmed by the second part of your sentence

    ‘and the fact that we were once contenders’

    I guess you are talking about the first 10 years under Wenger when of course we won it three times.
    Would you be happy if we came second for the next 10 years by a point or two each time, which I am sure you would agree is contending by anyone’s criteria?
    I suspect not.


    @ Goonermikey
    Agree absolutely re. first 5 year period building foundations for second 5 year period. In addition, teams that have been spending huge amounts in that first 5 years frequently are selling some of those assets later, offsetting net spend in later years (I’m looking at you, Chelsea). Numbers are from – no idea if they use current season so you may be right there.

    @ omgarsenal, also agree – was simply pointing out potential issue with interpretation of data.


  • Mike T

    Andy Mac
    Of the 25 players in Chelseas squad 18 cost less than £30 million. Of those 14 cost less than £12.5 million or less, 7 have come through the academy’.
    The seven most expensive players in Chelseas squad , in other words those that cost over £30 million (William, Costa, Fabregas, Luiz, Hazard, Kante and Batshyi )in total cost £226 million. The top seven most expensive players in Arsenal squad,(Sanchez, Ozil, Mustafi,Xhaka, Carzola, Perez and Wellbeck )cost £199.4 million.
    Of course Chelsea have spent big in the last five years but so have Arsenal indeed Arsenals net spend is some £20 million more in seasons 12/13 through to 16/17.

  • Dr Duh

    The relevance of net spend numbers is going to become increasingly problematic until the runaway football transfer fee inflation slows.

    I think that Pogba’s fee represents an absurd top or near top, but Mourinho, though obviously not disinterested, is vastly more knowledgeable and plugged in than I am, thinks that it will soon look like a bargain.

    If you want to make an apples to apples comparison you may have to normalize spend to the total amount spent by Premiership teams in a given year. For example a £100mm buy in a £1000mm transfer season is roughly equivalent to a £200mm buy in a £2000mm transfer season. Though of course that assumes that prices are driven by demand (club income) rather than supply (player quality). Though this too is probably testable (£ per goal or sqawka point, normalized by source league perhaps?)

  • Mike T


    The figures you quoted earlier from transfer league include season s 2012/13 – 2016/17
    Net transfer spend is something that many on here think is far more relevant than just the sums paid out. In truth Chelsea have received some ridiculous sums for players moved on which has gone a long way to bring down net spend and I suspect that trend will continue
    Other than players that have graduated from clubs academies very few players signed prior to 2012/13 are still at either Chelsea ( Courtois, Cahill and Terry) or Arsenal ( Jenkinson, Oxlaide – Chamberlain,Mertesacker, Ramsey and Walcott)

  • Rosicky@Arsenal


    I think you have very smartly down graded Arsenal feat of being unbeaten during thevwhole season by twisting words.Come on man drawing 38 games will bring you 38 points while Arsenal scored 80+ points during the invincible season which is a fact and not mere statistics. Pls put things straight.
    At UA the writers generally give there opinion with figuresvand evidence if you think they are wrong you may prove it with your counter evidence but pls dont twist words like the example you gave in your post.

    Re your opinion that we are not contenders anymore but did you realise what UA has been pointing out consistently.

    1)Ref bias towards Arsenal which is so visible that even a blind man can see how Arsenal are influcted upon by poor decisions by the refs.If you dont agree than its your choice to keep your eyes close.
    2) Big spending by United Chelsea and City which Arsenal.cant compete in financial terms.

  • David seimann

    Are you saying Wenger sells his best players so he can finish top of some net transfer table (which doesn’t include gate receipts, wages spent, TV revenue, merchandise sold etc)?

  • omgarsenal

    chibyke………….how do you come to two conclusions:

    1)Arsene can adapt but he prefers not to,because he believes that the philosophy is greater than the result……and what does that even mean? Did you speak to him recently or does your aunt work in his hairdresser’s salon and feeds you ¨inside¨information. Or, is this another confabulation from a spoilt fanboy ?
    2)We are no longer contenders,and the fact that we were once contenders means we need to look inwards…..There are still 13 EPL games left and Arsenal have 50 points. They can catch the leaders if Chelsea drop a few points and Arsenal get 27 points thereabouts, which is entirely possible. I suggest YOU look inwards and decide IF you truly support this club regardless of the results or are you a fair-weather fanboy?

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Great work , Mike . That there are so many gullible idiots out there that it should scare the daylights out of most of us , but then again , it appears that the entire world is having a shocking shortage of sane and intelligent people.

    Your comment .., ” I read numerous comments which are laughable.”, reflects my own personal feeling on the matter. I get great laughs from most of ‘them’ , whether intended or not !

    And why people ever listen to ex-players ,pundits and self appointed ‘experts’ just beats me . Do these people go to some special expert school , like Harvard , to qualify . or did they just certify themselves ?

    Especially as most of them are failures or had failings in their own careers and in private life .The should use their own life examples when explaining their opinions . Say ….” When I was a roaring drunk , using crack ,flat broke from all that betting and after my family finally dumped me , I used to give expert advice to my …….!”

    Now that would be fun !

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Why don’t we do the math then ? Prove them right ,or…..

    Let us allocate points for the following

    1. Premier League Winners – 6 points
    2. Champions League Winners – 5 points
    3. CL Qualification – 4 points
    4. Europa / UEFA Winners – 3 points.
    5. FA Cup winners – 2 points
    6. League Cup winners – 1 points
    7. Bonus points for runners
    up in EPL, CL ,Europa ,UEFA,
    FA and League Cups – 1/2 point.

    Add it all up and divide it by the number of years as manager ,even if said manager has managed 2 or more EPL clubs !

    NB – This season has yet to be concluded , so please exclude this season’s expected points .
    -Stick only to the Premier League years .
    – For the George Graham was god Club , you can do sweet FA with whatever you please !

    So how does YOUR greatest manager ever rate ?

  • Brickfields Gunners

    To those of you kindhearted souls who would like to allocate bonus points for , say , a league and cup double ; or any cup double , or going the entire season UNBEATEN , please do so at your own discretion .
    Ta .

  • Brickfields Gunners

    I suspect that there will be quite a few managers of the Spuds that get zeros.
    And some interim Chelski managers that will probably get a good score !

    So off you go ! I get headaches when I do maths , so I’ll let you guys go the work. After all we want to get to the truth , don’t we ?

    Gord ? You could try it and put it all up on pie charts and coloured graphs that ‘them ‘ fools can understand , can’t you ?

  • Sammy The Snake

    It can always be worse. But now I know why my friends say “all Arsenal fans are accountants!”. 🙂

  • Goonermikey

    @ Mike T @ 05.27

    “Arsenals net spend is some £20 million more in seasons 12/13 through to 16/17”. That’s absolutely correct but also quite convenient. As I pointed out elsewhere that includes this season which is not yet concluded so we don’t know what value 16/17 spending has had. It is also very convenient in that if you actually look at the five previous completed seasons i.e. 11/12 through 15/16, Chelsea’s net spending is actually double that of Arsenal’s i.e. £201m to £103m.

    On a general note I fully accept the point that stats don’t conclusively prove anything (and even if they did, it would make bugger all difference to the media or the aaa). What I’m suggesting is that it helps to have some factual pointers than none at all.

    For those who choose to use shorter period than the decade I chose to analyse it just muddies the already muddy water even further. What I will do one day is actually go back over the whole of AW’s time in charge and compare all premiership clubs. I don’t say that this will give us anything undeniable but I’m sure it will help us to understand perspective a little more.

    Much of our discussions these days are about asking why AFC hasn’t won the league and how the club performs against contemporaries who are much wealthier. I suspect that if we go back to the years before the Chelski and Man $ity sugar daddies, we will still find AFC performing better than the richest club in the world when compared like for like……watch this space.

  • Goonermikey

    @ Sammy the Snake

    Your friends are wrong. A huge percentage of Arsenal fans think they are world class managers, football tacticians and transfer gurus!

  • chibyke

    Fairweather fan boy, spoilt fan boy. I take it all.
    @omgarsenal,again stats help you here, arsenal has a “mathematical” chance of winning the league,but do you BELIEVE we will?(not do u hope/pray).if u are to bet something irreplaceable ( your life or that of a loved one on either arsenal or chelsea to win the league this year) will you bet on arsenal? You know you won’t!
    @rosickyarsenal, I wasn’t downgrading the feat of the invincibles, I was just trying to point out that stats can serve anyone and does not reflect the whole truth as is being projected on here.
    Again,if a team goes a whole season without a loss(38 draws ) they statistically went unbeaten because they didn’t lose any match, this is factually correct. So in the history books, they will be recorded as the 2nd team to go unbeaten in a season after arsenal.HOW they did it is another thing all together.
    Pick part of my argument that irks you and ridicule it,no problem but I am saying something that we all can at least partly acknowledge. Which is …..we are not good enough ( to seriously challenge for the UCL & EPL)and maybe, just maybe,never will under arsene wenger.
    If wenger proves me wrong this season,I will donate £10( which is a lot of money in nigerian naira)to any orphanage of the publisher’s choice in the UK in his name.

  • Andy Mack

    Mike T, I haven’t checked but on reflection guess you’re right about the Chavski spend for 2 reasons, firstly I should really have said £20 or £25m rather than £30 and secondly because I’d forgotten how many players they’ve sold on or have out on loan. Still I’d expect their Net spend to be much lower as we don’t have 10 plus years of spending money to build the bricks of an expensive squad.

  • Mike T

    Andy Mac/ Goonermikey

    If you had lowered to £20 million 3 additional players fell into that bracket. matic £21 million, Alonso £23 million and Pedro £ 21.4 million.

    I fully acknowledge the 5 year period suited my argument but likewise tithe majority of articles published on here pick a timeframe that supports the authors argument. For instance this and the previous argument uses10 years and uses points gained as one of the measures of success but no where are league titles even mentioned. I also agree that this season is not yet finished unless a player is sold to say China in the next few days then the net spend figures aren’t going to change and

    I saw a very interesting comment posted the other day regarding squads went something like this.
    Cech cost more than Courtois,
    Kos cost more than Cahill
    Mustafi cost more than Luiz
    Monnreo cost more than Azpiculeta
    Oxlaide Chamberlain cost more than Moses
    Ozil cost more than Hazard
    Sanchez cost more than Costa

    Alonso cost more than Bellerin
    Kante cost more than Coquelin
    Pedro cost more than Iwobi
    Matic cost more than Walcott

    Ok that’s a very selective way of looking at things but one thing that is supposedly demanded for on here is facts and those are facts.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Ok , since no one has done the math , here is AW’s record up to 2016.

    1 .EPL WINNERS – 3 (X 6 ) = 18
    2. CL WINNERS – 0 = 0
    3. CL QUALIFICATION – 16 (X 4 ) = 64
    4. UEFA CUP WINNERS – 0 = 0
    5. FA CUP WINNERS – 6 (X 2) = 12
    6. LEAGUE CUP WINNERS – 0 = 0
    – EPL – 6 = 3
    – CL – 1 = 1/2
    – FA CUP – 1 = 1/2
    – UEFA CUP – 1 = 1/2
    -LEAGUE CUP – 2 = 1

    TOTAL = 99.5

    Over a period of 20 years – 4.975 .

    What did your favourite manager get ?