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June 2021

What do the first three league games of the season tell us?

By Tony Attwood

As you will of course be fully aware, we’ve only got three points out of the first three games.  And I was pondering, as one does, whether this had happened before in recent years, and if so, what it meant.

So I just doodled away a spare half hour making up a chart to show how many points we had after three games and what the final outcome of the season was.

I went back to the first title winning season of George Graham in 1988/9 and then forwards from there, recording our position in the league, the round we got to in the FA Cup and the round in the League cup, and then in the final column showed the points after three games in the league.

The long and the short is that we had three points or fewer on just five occasions, and our final league positions were:

4th, 10th, 12th, 4th and 3rd.

So sadly no league titles after a start like that.  We did however do the league cup and and FA cup double under George Graham in one of those seasons.

The lowest number of points that we have had in three games and still won the league, across this time period is six.

Season League pos FA Cup round Lge Cup round After 3 games
1988-89 1 3 R3 6pts
1989–90 4 4 R4 4pts
1990-91 1 SF R4 7pts
1991–92 4 3 R3 1pt
1992-93 10 W W 3pts
1993–94 4 4 R4 6pts
1994–95 12 3 QF 3pts
1995–96 5 3 SF 5pts
1996-97 3 4 R4 6pts
1997-98 1 W SF 6pts
1998–99 2 SF R4 5pts
1999–2000 2 4 R4 7pts
2000–01 2 RU R3 6pts
2001–02 1 W QF 6pts
2002–03 2 W R3 7pts
2003–04 1 SF SF  9pts
2004–05 2 W QF  9pts
2005–06 4 4 SF  6pts
2006–07 4 5 RU  2pts
2007–08 3 5 SF  7pts
2008–09 4 SF QF  6pts
2009–10 3 4 QF  6pts*
2010=11 4 QF RU 7pts
2011–12 3 5 QF  1pt
2012–13 4 5 QF  5pts
2013-14 4 W R4 6pts
2014-15 3 W R3 5pts
2015–16 2 QF R3  4pts
2016–17 5 W R5  4pts

*10 goals in first two games – I thought I’d just mention that as it was quite good fun.

So not that hopeful in terms of that analysis.  Which raises the questions:

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a) is there anything that supporters can do to change things?

b) if there is anything, what is it, and should loyal supporters do it?

These seemingly simple questions actually cause quite a bit more difficulty than one might imagine, because they allow us to by-pass the rather simplistic attitude that we  should do all we can to get the sacking of the manager, and force us to look at the effectiveness of such actions.

The media does love managerial sackings because they are simple to follow – so that even their most intellectually challenged readers can get the story.  And in fact there has been one already, just down the road from where I live: Northampton Town sacked their manager Justin Edinburgh.  Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink has taken over.   At the moment the bookies make Mr Wenger fourth favourite to be sacked.

The majority of Premier League managers have been in their job for under two years, and the vast majority have never won the title, or indeed even the non-trophy FA Cup.  Which of itself suggests that changing managers doesn’t generally work.

Indeed last season there were 56 managerial casualties in the League out of 92.  In simple terms just over 61%.   But only four teams (by definition) won their league – and as we all know coming fourth, or indeed second (as we did the season before last) or winning the cup (three times in the last four seasons) doesn’t count anymore.

So at best only four of those 56 managerial changes last season could have come up trumps and won their league.  In short, sack the manager and you have got a 7% chance that the new man will win the league for you.

Which goes to show that although, of course, just occasionally a new manager gets results straight away, it doesn’t happen very often.  The vast majority never come good.

But there’s another fact.  As we showed yesterday the most successful managers don’t win their leagues on tactics or clever low cost purchases, they spend billions.

Pep Guardiola has spent just over one billion Euros during his career at FC Barcelona, ​​Bayern Munich and Manchester City together.  1,000,000,000 euros.  The other two members of this very exclusive club are… the current Bayern coach Carlo Ancelotti (1.13 billion) in second place and leader is… José Mourinho (1.43 billion).

So when we talk of top managers, we talk of these men, and this is amount of money they spend.  Which raises the question, if we were to replace Mr Wenger at Arsenal, would the owner bring in a man of that ilk who would spend that much?

The answer is simple to find: just look at the other sports franchises he owns, and no he will not bring in a manager like this.  As and when he does replace Mr Wenger he will do so with another modest spending manager (that is “modest” within today’s football terms).

Now I have seen it written (in comments here as much as elsewhere) that if Mr Usmanov puts in a big bid, Kroenke will be forced to accept.  I don’t think that is right, because Kroenke doesn’t do that.  He just sits on his sporting investments and watches them accrue in value.   It is the sort of thing you can do when you are a multi-billionaire.

In fact I can see only two ways forward for Arsenal.

One is to repeat what Mr Wenger did at the start by bringing in unknown extraordinary players at low prices.  Of course we can’t get another Vieira for £3.5m.  But we do have rather a good bunch of young players coming through.  That might help over the next few years.  Now I know “might help” is not what most people are hoping for with a new manager, but since the new manager only has a 7% chance of winning the league, then if there is a 20% chance with a bunch of talented youngsters like Nelson, that would be a better option.

The other is for something so catastrophic to happen to Arsenal that even Kroenke has to sell.  And by that I mean, Arsenal starts losing money, because no one uses the club shop, and people don’t turn up to games.

Now I know the Telegraph has tried to say the latter is happening by using fake photographs of times in the Emirates when Arsenal were not even playing, but if it ever really happened, then that could make a change.  It has happened in the past – with crowds dropping to 20,000 and lower, and I suspect we’d need it again to make Kroenke move.

What I can say is that changing the manager has less than a one in ten chance of working.

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31 comments to What do the first three league games of the season tell us?

  • KoFi

    I still have hope that Arsenal will do well this season, per the crop of players Arsenal has! It could be possible that, the six points lost, could be the only to have been lost! Arsenal can win all remaining matches!

  • nicky

    Short of a catastrophe I cannot foresee the day when match-day attendances will fall significantly.
    I cannot forget the horrendous waiting list for season tickets, which never seems to shorten. 😉

  • Sammy The Snake

    Sitting on one’s ass while results are less than perfect is generally not a great strategy for success. The best companies/clubs in the world keep reinventing themselves and changing for the best. Like you said, Kronke has a habit of sitting on his ass and milking his mediocre clubs.

    I for one am not paying any more $$$ for tickets & merchandise until the club get their act together.

  • Josif

    I couldn’t fail to notice that AKB (Arsene knows best) and ABK (Anyone but Kroenke) have the same acronym. Food for thought.

  • Josif

    same letters in acronym*

  • para

    It tells me, at least for this season up to now;

    1: Wrong team selections.
    2: Abysmal team performances.
    3: Highlights(again) the lack of any strategic planning of our manager.
    3: The frailties of our way of training and playing.
    4: We are now playing at the level (EL, FA) Arsenal is really at, and still having a hard time because of the above 3 points.

    I would be so glad if these 3 points were worked on and the team improved, but i have no more hope of that, after all, this has been the case for a number of years now, even with some “world class players” joining the squad, which allowed Arsenal to try to play with the “big boys”.

    Arsenal were brutally found out and kicked back down to play with the rest(others).

  • Chris

    Well if the fans could behave like the fabled 12th man from min 1 to after the game, then maybe some things would change.
    Can’t but admire travelling fans of lower table teams who never stop supporting their team…..
    Maybe at Arsenal, people and fans are spoiled…..

  • Nitram

    Sammy The Snake

    “……get their act together.”

    This type of comment always make me laugh. I mean it’s so vague isn’t it. What exactly does it mean?

    Does it mean like Spurs who have won one CC in 10years ?

    Or Liverpool who similarly have won one CC in 10years ?

    They’re great ‘acts’ to follow aren’t they.

    Or Man City who have got themselves a sponsor who at present has pumped how much into the Club? I have no idea as I lost count at a £Billion.

    Or Chelsea who similarly, although they have calmed down a bit now, but only a bit, and not entirely through choice it seems, have been sponsored to the tune of around a £Billion.

    I don’t know. What ‘act’ exactly is it they have to get together ?

    Look, lets be honest, we all know what they mean don’t we? Why don’t people just be honest and say it? What they really want is for Kroenke to do a Roman and pump a Billion Pounds of his own money in, or do one and get someone in who will, which is fine, if that’s what they want, but why not just say it ?

    Rather than this ambiguous, ‘get there act together’, which is rather vague and misleading, especially considering the success the current ‘act’ has bought us these last for years and beyond.

    Unless of course they don’t class what we’ve done these last 4 years as success, which I can only guess they don’t.

    Oh well, no pleasing some I suppose.

  • Nitram


    Are you serious? Honestly man listen to yourself.

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    If the football passionateless Mr Stan Kroenke will not sell his majority shares at Arsenal to say, a passionate football investor e.g. Usmanov or Dangote who have claimed to be passionate for Arsenal FC and will see club win the bigger titles of the PL and CL it has kept missing on for the past 13 years and more. But until Kroenke sees the value of his shares start plummeting before he’ll consider selling. But until then will continue to renamin the Arsenal majority owner and keeps on watching the value of his shares holding at Arsenal rising up and up as it has ever been the case since he acquired the controlling shares at Arsenal. Then, we at Arsenal FC who are the Gooners, will continue to remain in Kroenke’s mediocre title winning trap as long as he remains the Arsenal controlling shares owner who will not change from his mediocrity winning mentality but preferred lucurative financial profitability far above Arsenal bigger titles win ambitions. Then, only God in His companion on us the Gooners will set us free from Kroenke’s set trap as our beloved club, Arsenal FC continues to remain the unfulfilled big rich club side which it has been in the past 13 years and more it has not won the bigger titles which it should be winning on a regular basis to befitt it.

  • MickHazel

    And yet despite all our defects, faults and shortcomings and irrespective of our managers ineptitude we still won three FA cups and three charity shields in the past four years. That should be something to be happy about but apparently all you can see are the negatives.
    For goodness sake get a grip and stop moaning, you’re like a cracked record.

  • Polo

    For a guy who ‘disappears’ how did Ozil achieve these records?
    ‘The 28-year-old has always sparked debate on how good he really is. It’s clear that someone who has made the most final third passes completed (3015), created the most chances (409), made the most successful crosses (229) and recorded the most assists (42) in the Premier League since joining in 2013 is undoubtedly a world class player whose statistics cannot be argued with.’

    Can Arsenal win the league this season? Ofcourse they can. How? Get Ozil, Alexis, Lacazette, and Giroud play at their best.

  • Para is drifting to the Dark side never seen that on Untold before scary

  • jjgsol


    “Wrong team selections”.

    Whose point of view is this?

    Someone who knows the players very well,knows how they are feeling, knows them well enough to be able to consider their psychological mood at the time and someone who has researched the opposition and has many years experience at preparing a tram for a game, or someone who doesn’t have all or even any of these?

    Hard choice isn’t it?

    AW had his reasons for choosing the players he chose and directing them to play the way he wanted them.

    He either got it wrong, or the players, or some of them had their own reasons for not taking notice, or it was a combination of all of these.

    I dare say he will acknowledge that he may have got things wrong and that Klopp out thought him.

    Evidence of a failing manager or a reason for him to be sacked, it was not.

  • Vivek Arulnathan

    Tony, you should really learn how to use statistics better. Numbers are only as good as their interpretation. You say only 4 out of 92 teams can win the league and only 4 of the 56 new managers could win the league? Do all 92 teams compete for the title? Did all 56 managerial changes happen because they weren’t in the title fight? Where is the logic to your argument?

    Next to your exclusive billion dollar club. Yes, Guardiola, Ancelotti and Mou have spent a lot of money. We’ve spent over double the money Chelsea have on transfers in the past 4 years. And our wage bill is 15m a year less than Chelsea’s. They have won two league titles in that period while we’ve won three FA Cups. So spending money isn’t the answer to every problem. You hear the sheer number of former players who say Wenger doesn’t coach well or can’t drill teams in defence. I doubt for one second Adams, Keown, Petit and Squillaci all conspired to deliver the same message. So, clearly there is a problem there. And a good manager should recognise that and either let others (like Bould) do it or if Bould isn’t good enough, get someone who can do it. Also, you don’t need to spend billions to get players to have full commitment and fight. Where was that at Liverpool? Liverpool have one gameplan and never change. Yet we weren’t prepared for it. We couldn’t get around it for even 5 minutes of the 90. That doesn’t need money. It needs better planning and training.

  • Arsenal_62

    How dare you speak do much sense, vivek? Go back to le grove…

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Lost two games and the morons are losing their minds ?
    What’s that you say ? They already lost it long ago ?
    How did Arsenal in their previous games competitive games before that ?
    What’s that ?
    They won the FA Cup and the CS ? Against Chelsea you say ?
    Damn ! How easy we forget !

    My prediction is that we will have more supporters inside the stadium than those disgruntled ones outside ?

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Didn’ t we beat Bayern Munchen somewhere in between, albeit on penalties ?

  • Polo

    ‘We’ve spent over double the money Chelsea have on transfers in the past 4 years.’ Where’s the evidence?

    According to

    The purchase value consists of all transfer fees which a club has spent on all squad-players. Players who are loaned out to other club are not included.

    1. Manchester City £672.26 million
    2. Manchester United £658.74 million
    3. Chelsea £469.26 million
    4. Liverpool £345.33 million
    5. Arsenal £321.57 million
    6. Spurs £300.09 million

  • para


    I go from the Dark side to the Light side and back depending on circumstances, that is natural to me, because of my emotions, and try to be balanced.
    No point trying to dampen any of my emotions, that will make me ill, i learned that a long time ago.

    I worry for those who stay on the one side or the other, disregarding their emotions.

    This does not mean i discard Arsenal. When Arsenal creates good emotions, i am happy, when they create bad emotions, i am sad.

  • Nitram


    If you think some of the things you are saying are ‘balanced’ then balanced is one thing you are not.

  • Menace

    If anything, the first 3 results tell us that the Transfer Window is a joke as it closes after the league has started. Just imagine being able to change your F1 car after the 3rd lap!

    No windows for transfers in my world but severe punishment for tapping up & agents banned from the game.

  • goonersince72

    Brickfields my often hilarious friend –

    Have you forgotten lasts season’s 2 hidings from Bayern? I love the club dearly but it is not at Bayern’s level competitively or the level of teams that will actually compete for the EPL or UCL this season. Some supporters seem to have forgotten AFC were 18 points behind the winner’s last season. I don’t see how that deficit can be made up with only the additions of Lacazette, who the manager apparently didn’t feel was up for Liverpool and Kolasinac who is a good, strong left back playing in a system that doesn’t use one. If he’s to be played out of position let him play DM FFS, a position more suited to his abilities. Just doesn’t seem like enough to make up 18 pts.

    To all other Untolders: stop defending Ozil to the blind. He’s the playmaker for the defending World Cup Champion Germany side and German Footballer of the Year. But according to the British ‘experts’ he’s rubbish. If England had a few with his talent maybe they’d win the odd international title. Oh yeah, let’s get ‘stuck in’ and clatter the foreign bastards, that’ll teach ’em how to play our game’. Maybe so but it won’t win a Europe or World Cup title any time soon, if ever. The France “B” squad has a better chance. Polo has already listed just some of Ozil’s stats and I thank him. One talent can’t be quantified – vision. Have his detractors ever played the game? I hoping he finishes his career in the Arsenal shirt but I’m concerned he might go. No Ozil? No Sanchez?
    No chance. And as I’ve been adding to my posts lately – it’s just my opinion. I’m not claiming omniscience or the ability to see into people’s heads like some on here do. COYG!

  • Flares

    To be fair to Ancelotti, he has won the league in four different countries and the Champions League three times. He’s no Fergie but has delivered value for money everywhere he’s managed.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    goonersince72 – 05/09/2017 at 9:55 pm – “…’often’ hilarious ..”? That really hurt !

    Jokes aside, I think we both have seen some terrible shit from Arsenal teams over the years . As I have often mentioned , I have been a supporter since 19712-72 , and have survived much trauma and tribulations with all my mental faculties intact. Or most of it I think !

    I don’t like us losing and do really enjoying us winning stuff . But nowadays both wins and losses afterglow does not linger as long as they used to in my youth . Case in point , it me quite long to get over our loss to West Ham in the FA Cup in 1980 . To a Trevor Brooking header , no less ! Then further compounded a few days later in the UEFA Cup final.

    But it was not that losses , but rather my mental state then that delayed my getting over it . I was stressed out as a medical student , as well as with matters of the heart. Today I can think back and laugh at it , but then it was as though the whole world was conspiring to screw with my happiness .

    So I do understand that many feel that the Arsenal’s success is integral to their as well as defining their well being and happiness . And the club’s failure , personally reflects on them too. No issues here from me. Each of us defines his/her borders of our own happiness and despair.

    What I have very mild issue with is that people are offended if some of us don’t share their anguish, angst, anger and resentment with them. They are rude , aggressive and show their stupidity and naivety. Often I dismiss it as youthful misdirection and indiscretion .

    After all ,’ A young man is oft to think himself smart , as a drunken man is oft to think himself sober !’

    This IS a pro Arsenal and pro Wenger site . Probably one of the last .
    We believe . If you believe us delusional , so be it . Find yourselves another site that is to your liking and go wallow there to your heart’s content.Why , you may even be considered a messiah !

    They could always leave us with the thought that we will be suffering and regretting their loss , their wisdom , their insight-fullness and that eternal damnation awaits us AKBs !

    Will they heed and leave us on our path to hell ! NAH ! They ‘ll be back !

  • Brickfields Gunners

    In the meantime I would like this to be played on the big screens at the Ems-

    ROAR !!

  • Brickfields Gunners

    And when we AKBs have been proved right , we in our good faith , will allow those repentant , and those whose flesh was week to come back to our fold .

    But they will have to confess their digressions and crimes against AW , and the Arsenal , in the dreaded automatic confessional booth. Similar to this one.

    Guess who will be your confessor ?

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Maybe people come on here to bitch and moan because they are really unhappy ?
    You think ?

    Maybe there is problems at home or at work , and not able take it out on the wife or their boss , there think we are easy targets ? That they think that they can unload their crap on us ?

    Wrong ! Ain’t gonna happen here . No siree !

    Anyway , to those young and fazed parents , here is a fine product to have peace and quiet at home. Can be used for older kids too. Not advisable for your bosses , for obvious reasons .

    I never had this problems myself , as the wife and me could out do them any time of the day . And embarrass them shitless before their peers, other parents and teachers .

    Am hoping to come out with one that can be uploaded on to this site and blast all of them who have meltdowns and tantrums and are regarded as being unreasonable.

    I know that many would like to volunteer for free here to administer the ‘treatment ‘ , but only the administrators will be allowed initially to ‘pacify ‘ the undesirables .

  • Jared

    Tony just wrote an article about this a few months ago, including extensive statistics.The “title fight” or “challenge” is a myth. Teams rarely challenge down the stretch. Somebody usually runs away with it. It’s just another stick to beat Arsenal with.

  • Flares

    On the subject of counting Charity Shield wins as ‘trophies’ (once again), it occurred to me that the honours listings for football clubs on Wiki always include items such as the Supercopa de Espana, Supercoppa Italiana, UEFA Super Cup, World Club Cup etc. They all feature the winners of different competitions playing each other and as such are considered legitimate competitive matches with a historic trophy record. As I mentioned earlier, I don’t follow the League Cup but would never question it’s legitimacy for those who go on and win it. The Community Shield is the champions of England versus the FA Cup winners. It means something. We should be proud of our recent record.