Does the first eight league games of a season tell us how it will end?

By Tony Attwood

The last time we had a great start to the league, in terms of the first eight games, was in 2016 when on 18 October the league table looked like this…

Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Manchester City 8 6 1 1 19 8 11 19
2 Arsenal 8 6 1 1 19 9 10 19
3 Tottenham Hotspur 8 5 3 0 13 4 9 18
4 Liverpool 8 5 2 1 18 10 8 17
5 Chelsea 8 5 1 2 15 9 6 16
6 Everton 8 4 3 1 12 6 6 15
7 Manchester United 8 4 2 2 13 8 5 14

And from what I recall we were all fairly satisfied with that start.

Indeed if we take that season as a judge as to where we will end up at the end of the campaign, it is quite a good reference point.  We were second after eight games, and we ended the season second.

But then I started to wonder – does it always work like this?  I was fairly sure it did not, but as my memory plays tricks on me these days I thought I would try and work things out.

In this table we can see where we have been after eight games in the League season for the past six seasons, plus the current season above that, with in the right hand column, where we ended up.

The point of all this is that Untold stated before the season started that Arsenal would end up fourth or third in the league this time around, with the extra points rather obviously coming from an improvement in away form.  Top numbers are in red.

Season Pos on six games Pld W D L F A GD Pts Final pos
2018/19 4 8 6 0 2 19 10 9 18
2017/18 6 8 4 1 3 12 10 2 13 6
2016/17 2 8 6 1 1 19 9 10 19 5
2015/16 2 8 5 1 2 13 7 6 16 2
2014/15 6 8 2 5 1 13 11 2 11 3
2013/14 1 8 6 1 1 18 9 9 19 4
2012/13 9 8 3 3 2 13 6 7 12 4

As can be seen, over the past six seasons, and then adding in the current season at the top we have ranged from being 1st to 9th in the league.  In terms of top fours we have been first once, second twice. This season is the first in these years we have been fourth at this point.

In terms of the position at the end of the season, we have one second, one third and two fourth positions. So just looking at the six completed seasons (that is to say, excluding this campaign) we have been in the top four three times at the end of the season, but we’ve done slightly better by the end of the first eight games, getting into the top four, on four occasions.

But only once in all those years have we actually finished in the league in a higher position than we had after eight games.  In 2012/13 we finished fourth after being 9th at this stage.

Twice we have finished in the same position at the end of the season as we had occupied after eight games, once giving us second, and once giving us sixth.

So does this exercise tell us much?  Well, a bit, but clearly looking at the table after eight games doesn’t predict exactly what is going to happen.

At this point in the programme we have the highest number of wins (equal with 2016 and 2013). We have had two defeats – only once has it been worse.  But we have scored 19 goals – the highest, equal to 2016.

Only one season have we let in more goals, but only once have we had a better goal difference.  Only twice have we had more points at this stage than now.

So does that tell us anything?   Not that much – but I am publishing this because I have done the little bit of research in pulling the list together, and I don’t cut out research just because it gives the wrong answer.  What it does show me however is that the first eight games give a rough indication as to where we will end up – and that is within five places of where we are now.  So somewhere between 1st and 9th.  But I think we probably guessed that.

However there is a point in just finding out that where we are after eight games is only a very crude indicator of where we will be at the end.  So maybe we should diminish the excitement.

In reality Mr Emery is not producing noticeably better results than Mr Wenger did over the first eight games.  He’s at the top end of Mr Wenger’s range – but not off the scale.   There is nothing record breaking here compared with Mr Wenger’s recent years, so as always, let’s try and enjoy the football, the friendships, and the appalling catering at the ground, and not expect too much.

I’m staying with third or fourth as the prediction, primarily based on a return to form of previous years away from home.  And let’s not forget, most commentators, from TV stations to bloggettas, predicted 5th or 6th.

2 Replies to “Does the first eight league games of a season tell us how it will end?”

  1. Hmmm. I’ll like to believe the 18 points Arsenal have garnered so far from the 24 on offer after 8 games have been played by all the clubs in the division has indicted Arsenal might win the PL Title this season as they currently placed 4th in the table. More so, if the Gunners keep on racking up wins after wins on the run in the League as they are currently doing and be leapfrogging all their 5 big clubs Title win rivals in the table until they get to the top and remain there on top to win the Title with 2 games to spare. This is my personal dream that I’ll like to see come true for Arsenal this season in the PL.

    Is to finish 1st on top, 2nd, 3rd and 4th in the table the same, as all the top four positions give 4 Champions League spots? No. To finish 1st wins the League Title and gives one CL spot. That’s a double achievements. While finishing 2nd, 3rd & 4th give one CL spot each. But in terms of money, maybe there is a difference in money earned for finishing 1st as Champions, 2nd as runners up, 3rd as bronze winners and 4th as consolation price winners.

  2. Something very different from this topic, but very familiar to Arsenal yet different reaction from the media “[Levy] said that, concerning budgets, the stadium won’t directly impact on the transfer policy. There is a certain amount earmarked for transfers and the club can only spend what is available. [Levy] also said that transfers were complicated with several variables so it was not possible to work out in advance how much you could spend in a given window.

    “[Levy] felt a bit of luck was needed in the transfer window. Spending big did not guarantee success. [Levy] said the club could not do more than it was doing, that they had come a long way and that they needed to be mindful not to stretch themselves too far sometimes.”

Leave a Reply

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