The relative spending of Arsenal and Liverpool: across the decades

By Nitram

Regarding the debate about the relative spends between Arsenal and Liverpool here they are running from Arsenal’s last Premier League win back in season 2003/04 up until last summer, season 2018/19.
I have divided the review into two periods. Basically Arsenal’s 10 years of  austerity from season 2003/04 through to season 2012/13. Then from season 2013/14 when the purse strings were loosened to this season 2018/19.
The austerity period 2003/04 through to 2012/13.
Nett Spend.
LIVERPOOL: £177 Million LOSS
ARSENAL: 1 PL Trophy, 1 FA Cup
LIVERPOOL: 1 Champions League Trophy, 1 FA Cup, 1 League Cup.
League Finishes.
ARSENAL: 1-2-4-4-3-4-3-4-3-4 = an average  finishing position of  around 3rd spot.
LIVERPOOL: 4-5-3-3-4-2-7-6-8-7 = an average finishing position of around 5th spot.
The more expansive period 2013/14 through to 2018/19.
This period through which the purse strings have been loosened starts from 2013/14, when we purchased Mesut Ozil, through to the current season 2018/19.
Nett Spend.
ARSENAL: £254 Million LOSS
LIVERPOOL: £194 Million LOSS
League Finishes.
ARSENAL: 4-3-2-5-6 = an average finishing position of 4th spot.
LIVERPOOL: 2-6-8-4-4 = an average finishing position of a fraction better than 5th spot.
And just  a couple of observations:
Arsenal certainly endured a difficult 8 year period between seasons 05/06 and season 12/13 over which they failed to win a trophy. BUT given the financial restraints under which they were operating, and the fact that they were actually posting a Nett PROFIT on transfers over that period, in my opinion, (and that’s all it is, my opinion), simply maintaining a top 4 position was a remarkable achievement in itself.
Liverpool over that same period were spending an average of  around £17 Million Nett per season on transfers. This was less than Man Utd and Chelsea as well as Manchester City towards the end of the period, but more than everybody else.
Was 1 Champions League title, 1 FA Cup and 1 League Cup a fair return on that investment? Given that they up against the same financial juggernauts in the PL as we were, I would suggest maybe just about, but again it is only my opinion.
When Arsenal came out of what I am calling the Austerity Period two things happened.
1- We started winning things again: that is 3 FA Cups.
2- Despite a second place finish, our actual average Premier League position then regressed even to the point of us missing out on Champions League qualification.
The question is was that a fair trade? Well given how we had been told for all those years that 4th wasn’t a trophy and it’s all about winning then surely yes it was a fair trade.
Alas as it turned out it wasn’t, because apparently the FA Cups were not actually trophies after all, and in fact coming 4th was the tophy! Oh well.
As for Liverpool, yes it is fair to say that over the last six years their Gross and Nett spend is below Arsenal but they have paid the price because they still haven’t won anything and still have an average Premier League finish below that of Arsenal.
I meant to say:
……….they still haven’t won the Premier League………..
In fact, if you do these sums over the last 10 years this is what you get.
Club Nett Spend Trophies Average PL finish
Arsenal £212m 3 FA Cups 3.4
Liverpool £256m 1 League Cup 5.2
Personally I think however you dress it up Arsenal have achieved more for less than Liverpool, despite everything you may of heard.
All data courtesy of Transfer League
And when it comes to FFP

18 Replies to “The relative spending of Arsenal and Liverpool: across the decades”

  1. And whilst on the subject of Liverpool.

    This from BT Sport:

    “…Virgil Van Dyke was maginificent at the weekend. I’m almost at a point where I put him in Hansons class”

    Ooops. Then again.

  2. They are two nil down at halftime away against Red Star Belgrade.

    Mind you that is better than Henry’s Monaco who are three nil down to Club Brugge

  3. To be honest I cant see Red star hanging on. For all that Liverpool have looked a bit ropey at the back they look like scoring almost every time they go forward.

    With their firepower wouldn’t be surprised to see them turn this round to be honest.

  4. FromSKY Sports:

    “I learned how to play football again at 30 years old. After what I had achieved at club level, Arsenal, Monaco, Juve – even if it was only for a short period – but also at international level, I suddenly saw the game in a different way – understanding space, understanding staying in your position, understanding you have to give 100 per cent at everything.”

    Not a word for the guy that helped transform him into a World class striker.

    If you need someone to tell you that you need to give 100% you should be ashamed.

    From the Guardian:

    “Thierry Henry checks in at Monaco and aims to emulate Guardiola’s approach”

    Well in that case he needs to spend £375 Million before he starts as that seems to be Peps usual approach.

  5. Great post Nitram. Hope you can continue with writing these articles on a regular basis. Will be looking forward to a similar comparison like above between Arsenal & Spurs.

  6. Thanks for that Nitram.

    If people are interested in medians on finishing place.

    First period. Arsenal had a median finish of 3.5, and spent half of that period bouncing between 3rd and 4th (MAD=0.5). Liverpool had a median finish of 4.5 and spent half of that interval bouncing between 3rd and 6th (MAD=1.5).

    Second period. Arsenal had a median finish of 4th, and spent half that period bouncing between 3rd and 5th (MAD=1). Liverpool also had a median finish of 4th, and spent half that period bouncing between 2nd and 6th (MAD=2).

    To me, the biggest difference is that Arsenal was that Arsenal were more consistent in both periods. That Arsenal tended to be slightly better in the first period is a bonus.

    If you like medians.

  7. Thanks for the encouragement lads.

    I have ‘posted’ similar stats quite often but never in an ‘article’.

    I found the recent discussions regarding relative spends, both Nett and Gross, very interesting, because I’ve always been of the opinion that success is very closely related to spend, especially Nett spend.

    It doesn’t always work out over short periods but once a club starts engaging in high Nett spends over any length of time they start to win trophies.

    Man Utd got going first on the back of premier league money and magnificent World Wide marketing and started to dominate the trophies as success bogot money begot more success. How it should be done.

    Whist they were the only team engaged in this annual high NETT spending Arsenal were the only team that could compete, and even they knew they had to increase there spending power to maintain thier challange, hence the Emirates being built.

    Then along came Chelsea and their persistent high Nett spending at around £50 Million per season for 10 years plus, and bobs your uncle they start winning trophies.

    Then along came Man City with their high average Nett spending that started at around £50 Million per season and bobs your uncle they start winning trophies. That Nett spend has susequently jumped to £100 Million per season over the last 6 years and bobs your uncle, they look like totally dominating the domestic scene for the forseeable. Well there’s a surprise.

    Liverpool have tried to keep pace over the entire PL era, and in fact with the help of their owners are still trying to do so, and as such are managing to maintan an annual NETT spend of around £20 Million, but as I have shown this has still not been enough to make a dent in the big 3 and has bought them just 1 league cup in the last 12 years.

    As for Arsenal who worked for over 10 years with a possitive Nett spend, competing was just about impossible.

    Yes there have been the odd freaks, liecster City winning the PL being the biggest of course, then Cups being won by minnows such as Birmingham, Swansea, Portsmouth and Spurs, but by and large the domestic trophies have been dominated by the 3 big long term Nett spenders, namely Man Utd, Chelsea and Man City, and if not them Arsenal or Liverpool.

    So in conclusion Man City’s domminance is looking in total proportion to there dominance in the Nett spendstakes and is to be totally expected.

    They are currently Nett spending a minimum of double what anyone else is spending.

    What Pep is doing is the minimum he should be doing given his massive financial advantage, which is why I find it pathetic the way some people fawn over everything he does.

    I would love to see what he could do on a nil annual budget over 10 years, but it will never happen.

    Do I like the man? Yes.

    Do I like the way his teams play football? Yes.

    Do I think he is a great manager? Yes.

    Do I think he’s the genius he’s claimed to be by some? No.

  8. The clubs who have been spending big regularly to enhance their PL title win charge have the money to spend, do they not have it? But hey have it, That’s the reason they’ve been spending big regularly every transfer window to enhance their PL title charge win. And some of them like Man Utd, Man City and Chelsea have been dominating the PL title win in the last 10 seasons. But Arsenal have not lag behind in the art of winning titles as they’ve won the FA Cup 3 times in 4 recent past seasons in the last 10 seasons under review. But have Tottenham Hotspur won any title in the last 10 seasons? What of Liverpool? Did they win any title in the last 10 seasons? What of the League Cup? Did they win it? Let’s hope Arsenal will extend their unbeaten runt in all competitions to 16 by beating Sporting CP and Wolves before the international break.

  9. OT: Joking about Xenophobia

    England and the USA seem to have big xenophobic problems at the moment. The (sweet) FA wants more English players in the game.

    Will we ever see an English team where all the starting 11 and the substitutes bench all have the same surname (most likely Smith)?

    A Welsh team where everyone is a ‘Jones’?

    A Russian team of ‘Ivanovich’?

  10. I think it’s worth considering a couple of aspects here as well. The TV money increase I don’t know what year but since that additional money was objected it seems to be a trigger for clubs spending increased 10 fold. Added to which the amount of money other clubs were spending look at Fulham and Wolves spending this summer when joining the PL the spending just accelerated the price of transfers. It therefore seems that the more money clubs are now being paid it’s actually driven substantial losses rather than the supposed reality of having more disposable income.

  11. OT: Game statistics

    There actually appear to be some games, where a team had a player injured after all their substitutions were finished. Is there any place to actually verify that this has happened? In some circumstances, the injured player has to come off, in others they might continue but of some reduced usefulness. Any ideas on how to “weight” that?

    Any numbers you are looking for from the season so far?

  12. Off topic but about Liverpooh
    It seems they can’t keep their high pressing game going after the exertions of playing Arsenal on Saturday evening , I always thought this might happen after Christmas but maybe happening sooner
    This could also happen to MC and Sp#rs also with the amount of World Cup players in theirs squads

  13. OT: Game Statistics

    I think Nitram has looked a bit into this before, others probably have as well.

    In any event, some people have an expectation that the number of cards should be related to the number of fouls.

    Quickly grabbing the percent home possession data for this season, the median home possession is about 52.5%. The MAD is about 9.5%. Which says that about half the time, we expect the median home possession to be between 43% and 62%. Or, the home team has possession between 39 minutes and 56 minutes of the 90 minutes (half of the time).

    If a team had possession 50% of the time, they would have the ball for 45 minutes and be chasing the ball for 45 minutes. When chasing the ball, you are probably more likely to commit a foul than if you are passing the ball around the back (playing keep away from forwards and midfield of the opposition). Where there is a chance, is when you have possession in the attacking third, there is the chance of shooting no net, which increases the odds of the team in possession fouling the defending team. It also increases the chance that the defending team would foul the attacking team. I would guess in the attacking third, the chance of a defender fouling is about the same as that of an attacker. But none of the data I have, talks about possession in the attacking third of the field.

    If a team was to foul 9 times in a game at 50% possession, that means they fouled 9 times when _NOT_ in possession of the ball (which was 45 minutes). Or 5 minutes between fouls.

    If the home team has possession between 39 and 56 minutes (half of the time), that means they don’t have possession between 51 and 34 minutes. And so we would expect the number of fouls they are called for would range from 10.2 fouls per game to 6.8 fouls per game. If the ratio of fouls to cards is 3:1, then we would expect the range of cards to be from 3.4 cards per game to 2.25 cards per game.

    So, that’s a bunch of hand waving to show why a person might need to consider how much possession a team has, in order to look for circumstances where the cards issued seems high or low.

    Or do you see holes in my logic?

  14. It hurts to say this, but it’s true.
    Liverpoo! are one of the biggest clubs in the world.
    It doesn’t make sense following their results since the PL started, but they were such a big team in the 70s and 80s at a time when you only really learnt about foreign football teams by reading the newspapers/goal magazine etc a few days after each game.
    To win the European Cup (Now CL) as often as the did (and get the appropriate TV coverage globally) was massive PR for them.
    Despite their lack of recent success there are lots and lots of new Liverpoo! shirts (Genuine and fake) all over the world, in numbers that don’t make sense. But the kids are wearing them because their dads, grand dads and great grand dads still think of them as a globally big team.
    That generates very big money for the club, so even though they spent more than us (for a questionable return results-wise) they could have spent a fair bit more than they have done.

  15. OT: Game statistics

    The problem about not knowing attacking third possession might be avoided, if people tracking possession data would give up this idea that at any given time, one of the two teams has possession.

    If a ball is kicked from player A to player B on the one team, and midflight the ball path changes (deflection, gust of wind, …) at that moment the ball is in possession of neither team.

    Another case in point, is a corner. If the player taking the corner passes the ball short to a team mate, that team still has possession. But to direct the ball towards the penalty area, what the player is doing is giving up possession, as there is usually no guarantee that the ball reaches the target player in mind.

    I think either mechanism works. Give us possession and possession in attacking third for both teams, or don’t assume that the ball is in possession of one team or the other at all times.

  16. OT: Game statistics

    Hopefully I have fixed my data, and it is now easier to play with.

    Through Game Day 11, we have had 110 games. I am showing 1180 fouls issued to the home team and 1166 fouls to the away team.

    From that; we have 173 yellows to the home team and 184 to the away team, 9 second yellows to home and 8 second yellows to away, and 4 reds to home and 6 reds to away. There were 13 penalties which resulted in a goal to home and to away. There were 4 missed penalties to home and 6 missed penalties to away.

    I believe in the past, there was some data for treatments which did not require a physio to go onto the field to tend to the player (the player was just “down”, and after the third game this year, that data disappeared. And that polluted my data a little.

    There were 219 treatments required, of which 106 were to the home team. Of those 219 treatments, only 8 cards were issued (equally split home and away).

    The largest number of treatments a team has had to deal with is 18 (Southampton, who lost 30 man-minutes of game time and required 4 substitutions).

    Two teams lost 36 man-minutes of time to treatments (Brighton from 16 treatments requiring 6 substitutions and Cardiff also from 16 treatments requiring 5 substitutions).

    Six was the largest number of substitutions required.

    The largest number of treatments inflicted on the opposition was 17 (Everton, whose opposition lost 25 man-minutes to treatment and required 3 substitutions).

    Opponents of Burnley lost the most man-minutes to treatments at 37 (8 treatments and 2 substitutions required).

    The largest number of substitutions inflicted on opposition via treatments was 5 (Huddersfield from 11 and 12 man-minutes; Newcastle from 11 and 23 man-minutes; the Spuds from 16 and 21 man-minutes).

    The leader in the caution league is Fulham at 972 man-minutes. Last place is Liverpool at 347. The Top-6 group are:
    Liverpool 347
    Chel$ea 388
    Spuds 481
    Man$ity 638
    Arsenal 648
    ManU 828

    The median caution is 659 +/- 142 (mean is 651), and there wasn’t a gap in this caution data near the centre. Probably because this caution is more complex (cards, penalties and treatment data goes into it).

    Perhaps more later.

  17. If you were wanting to consider a split distribution of the caution data (and we regard Fulham as an outlier), we would have a low group of Liverpool, Chelsea, Newcastle, Wolves and the spuds. A little suspicious, but ManCity is 3rd lowest (Arsenal 4th) in the high group. If PGMO were manipulating the “caution” applied to teams, this high placing of ManCity could be just temporary. I suspect Wolves and Newcastle would be treated well so as to throw off ideas of fixing.

    With ManU being the third highest caution in the list, I would suggest that ManU is being hung out to dry. They would then be unlikely to see much in the way of favorable decisions the rest of this season.

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