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How is Arsenal doing compared with half way through previous seasons?

By Tony Attwood

Last season the media and some fans made a lot of noise about getting rid of Mr Wenger as manager.  Within the noise there were claims that Arsenal were clearly not keeping up with the rest of the league, and demands that at the very least Arsenal should be challenging to win the league, if not actually winning the league at the end of  each season.

So I thought at this half way stage in the season it might be interesting to compare the table with the same position (ie after half the games have been played) for a few previous seasons.

Pos Season P W D L F A GD Pts Top Diff End
5th 2014/15 19 9 6 4 34 23 11 33 46 -13 3rd*
1st 2015/16 19 12 3 4 33 18 15 39 39 0 2nd
3rd 2016/17 19 12 4 3 41 19 22 40 55 -15 5th*
6th 2017/18 19 10 4 5 34 23 11 34 51 -17 6th
5th 2018/19 19 11 5 3 41 25 16 38 51 -13

The tables presented show in the first column the position in the league after 19 games played.  The date of reaching 19 games for everyone varies year by year, largely depending on what international fixtures are inserted into the early part of the summer.   So as can be seen Arsenal has been between top and 6th on the 19 game mark (not necessarily at the end of December).  This year of course we are 5th.

Then comes the regular league table.  The “Diff” column shows how many points we were behind the leaders at the moment of 19 games being played by all clubs.   Thus in 2015/16 we were top of the league at the half way point, and so were obviously zero points behind the leaders – we were the leaders.  The worst season was last season.

The final column shows where we were at the end of the season.  The asterisk* shows the two seasons in which we won the FA Cup.

Of the four complete seasons in the chart above we have improved our position once, gone down the league twice and stayed the same once, when comparing the 19 game league table with the tablea t the end of the season.

Considering the number of points that we have had at this time in other seasons this is a middling season – twice in the past four years we have been better off, and twice worse off – but the differences are slight.

There is much talk about our defence needing improvement and yes with 25 goals conceded after 19 games this is the worst defence in the table.  We have let in seven more goals than in 2015/16 at this point.  In our best ever 38 game season, in terms of defence, we let in just 17 goals all season.  That was in 1998/9.   Mind you that didn’t mean we won the league that year – we came second.

Being 13 points off the leaders at this stage is the same as 2014/15 when we ended up 3rd – the one season in the chart in which we improved our league position between 19 games and the end of the season.

However overall, if we ask the question, is there a significant change this season from previous recent seasons the answer is no.   We are 13 points behind the leaders, which is in the range that we have been in for each of these seasons except for 2015/16 when we were top at this point.

We have won 11 games this season which is a midpoint in terms of recent seasons.  In terms of defeats, three defeats is what we were at in 2016/17.  Two seasons saw one more defeat by now, one season we had two more defeats by now.

Goal scoring is at the high end  – a return to 2016/17 when we had 41 goals as now, but this is the worst defence out of the five years, by this point having conceded 25 goals – seven more than the season when we were top of the league after 19 games.

But being 13 points behind the leaders at this point could still mean that we will make up at least one, maybe two places.

In many regards therefore this is a season rather akin to those which have gone before – a factor which seems reasonable in that it can hardly be expected that a manager would be able to transform the club from a 5th placed team to a top of the table team in half a summer and half a season.

And we should not get carried away with what other clubs are doing near the top of the table – this season with the top club being on 51 points after 19 games, is not exceptional.

What the table does show is that there is still every chance for Arsenal to make it into a Champions League spot – the final positions in the league are not settled by half way through the season.

And yes we do have the worst defence of recent seasons – but only by a couple of goals, and this could be put down to a bad injury run.   That is not to say that the club might not be improved by buying a new defender – that could happen – but the figures suggest that the change will only be in terms of a slight decline in the number of goals against.

Here’s the top of the league table with silly names

Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Liverpool! 19 16 3 0 43 7 36 51
2 Tiny Totts 19 15 0 4 42 18 24 45
3 Manchester £ 19 14 2 3 51 15 36 44
4 Chelsea Soviet 19 12 4 3 37 16 21 40
5 Arsenal 19 11 5 3 41 25 16 38
6 Manchester Oops 19 9 5 5 37 31 6 32

Final score and live match report Brighton H&A – Arsenal: 1-1

Today’s anniversaries: The FA decide, no matter what happens, the players are responsible, not the club.

22 comments to How is Arsenal doing compared with half way through previous seasons?

  • Rosicky@Arsenal

    Tony an eye opener for the Wenger haters who thought we will be winning the league and the champions league once we get rid of Mr Wenger. Infact we are worst as our historical position was 3rd in the premier league and today we are 5th and declining as United catching up fast.

    Our injury position is the same we experienced at this time of the season which the Wobs attributed to Mr Wenger’s outdated routines.

    I am pretty sure we will miss the top4 as Mr UE is going to sell Ramsey in Jan and we will be left with bare bones.
    Our only chance seems qualification through Europa.

  • Rosicky@Arsenal

    Can anybody ask Le groaners and Arsebliggers when they are starting the Unai Emery out campaign?

  • Pat

    There’s nothing Soviet about Mr Abramovich. In fact he ‘acquired’ the workers’ property when the Soviet Union went down, making himself a very rich man.

  • Rosicky@Arsenalkh

    Last night I was expecting a win as we stand little chance to get points at Anfield so it should have been wise to play full strength Ozil Laca Auba Ramsey full 90 min in tandem but I fail to understand why UE is persisting an understrength first 11.Let’s see what the manager has in mind.

  • Rosicky@Arsenal

    Last night I was expecting a win as we stand little chance to get points at Anfield so it should have been wise to play full strength Ozil Laca Auba Ramsey full 90 min in tandem but I fail to understand why UE is persisting an understrength first 11.Let’s see what the manager has in mind.

  • insideright

    I have no idea as to how to track it across time (although I’m sure OPTA stats could have a go) but I’m convinced that there is now a much more established tactic of being content to play defensively at home against ‘big’ teams, hoping to hit them on the break and get at least a point that would otherwise be lost. In this way having often very low levels of possession has been almost exploited. Yesterdays match at Brighton was a case in point.
    Passing it around at the back in order to draw opponents out (again as per yesterday) does work frequently but it puts even greater pressure on the accuracy of the final ball and what the recipient of that ball does with it. Scoring from fewer but perhaps more clear cut chances may now be more the order of the day than it was in year gone by.
    Lumping it up to a big centre forward seems now to be restricted to those in the lower half of the table and is the reason why even a top club needs a Mertesacker type defender to cope with it. We have missed Holding more than we might have imagined and even Mavropanos could have done a real job for us in that regard based on how he played against Burnley last season.
    Unai Emery and his support team have had very little time (by comparison to say Klopp) to change/improve things. Arguably not going backwards is a very good sign and the data, by and large, says we haven’t. Away results have definitely improved but we may be being over rewarded for actual performance.
    In the circumstances I’m far from disheartened and am more encouraged by emerging youngsters than I’ve been for a long time.

  • nick

    Tony I was one who wanted a change of manager last year.I thought the club needed a new approach with a new manager with new ideas and a different way of managing and coaching.I was not alone either as the crowds showed in a lot of the games when they stayed away.The only fans who wanted him to stay were Arsene Wenger fans and fans of our rivals.The same could be said of Mourinho as fans of other clubs wanted him to remain at UTD because they could see that he wasnt the manager he once was.They were both taking their respective clubs backwards.
    What i didnt think would happen was that Emery would get it right straight away and that it would take time for him to stamp his authority and way of playing on the team.Two of the best managers in world football didnt get it right overnight in Pep and Klopp .It will take a few transfer windows to get the squad he wants and the way he wants Arsenal to play.
    On a final note its wierd that there doesnt seem to be the same ammount of posters on here since Wenger left and the majority that are still here want to mention him on every occasion or bull him up when we have a poor result like yesterday

  • Rosicky@Arsenal

    Nick
    I appreciate your measured response to my post. As above article has highlighted that we have made little or no progress at all under UE bar minor positives my point is that why some idiot fans made the situation worse for Wenger that he had to leave the club when

    1) We finished top4 for 20 years bar 2016/17.I am not counting the final year as every player knew Wenger was leaving so they did not pushed for the top 4.

    2) We started to win tropies 3 Fa cups in 4 years is a great achievement considering small spendings in comparison to other top clubs. Spurs & Pool won nothing in the last decade.

    3) The squad was improving with world class players in Ozil Alexis Cazorla as Wenger had the pull to attract such players .Even later additions in Xaka& Kola have proved to be sublime. Upcoming youngster in Coquelain Bellerin proved immense for the team So after the stadium debt was clerard we were moving in the right direction.

    In 2015/16 we finished 2nd courtesy Pigmobs gifting Leicester the trophy. 13 world record Penalties given to Vardy & Co. Even then we could have builded from there onwards but the idiotic fan base the biased media and the anti wenger pigmob left no choice for the great man and he had to leave whilst he wanted to continue with work.

    You may argue that everybody is supposed to retire someday so it was good that wenger left. I would have supported the argument if Wenger would have retired. But since he wished to continue the fans should have supported the great man who devoted his life for the club making it the top 10 club in the world.

  • GoingGoingGooner

    I was and am a Wenger supporter but I am an Arsenal fan. Unai Emery is our manager and I support him, now. I don’t think Arsene Wenger supporters on this site are taking aim at Unai Emery but rather those that were so vitriolic in their hate of Mr. Wenger. The things they said about him were shameful; the things they said about our players were shameful. Let’s hope that the honeymoon period of Unai Emery continues and he is given the time to bed in his ideas with a new generation of up and coming Arsenal players.

  • Maybe UE simply does not like to have highly skilful players in his team, preferring the automaton who does what he is told, rather than the more inspired type of player who does what comes to him at the moment.

    That may explain how he was unable to cope with Naymar.

    We are used to having an Ozil type of player, which is why some of us found the 2nd half, without Ozil, as being so bad.

    It was as clear as day to me that without Ozil, even if he is having a quiet game, there is no one for the special ball that opens defences.

    Get rid of Ozil and we will have the boring team that one blogger referred to about yesterday.

    I, for one, cannot stand to watch the constant passing between the back 4, which a few times led to small crises as passes went astray. I was tempted to switch off.

    I certainly do not think that we have our Arsenal back under UE, on the contrary,

  • Dom

    couldn’t agree with you more Rosicky.
    However we have to see what the new man proposes for the future.So far I would suggest that he has brought in a mini Cazorla in Tereira and an interesting player in Guendouzi, not sure about sokratis or Liechsteiner and totally unsold on the Leno/Lilo player. But he does need time.
    Should Nick be right in his assessment that Arsenal’s woes would be addressed by the departure of Wenger…we can look forward to some great football and great results.

  • Nick
    Like most sites we have a solid number of people who are interested in the style and approach of the site, and then others who join in when there is a big issue.
    As we approach the new transfer window this gives a chance for another issue to arise – whether Arsenal can and do actually buy anyone.#
    It is issues that take the number of correspondents up and down, once the basic format of a blog is established.

  • porter

    Ozil is a,conundrum.To play him is expect to be one man short when defending a quick break. It was his man that scored yesterday he was left adrift juust outside their box but motioned to Guendouzi when the gap was too big to catch up.
    His brain is not tuned to defending and lets players go past him too often.,However this not his problem but Emery’s .He can’t expect him to do what he never has done.
    He is a number 10 like Dennis but not as good . We need to find a way to accommodate him.Dennis had Vieira and Petit to allow him to play. Ozil has not got such luxury.

  • MickHazel

    porter
    It has always puzzled me why attacking midfielders like Ozil (especially Ozil!) get enormous amounts of stick for not defending when defensive midfielders do not get critisized at all for not joining in attacks!

  • Pat

    Please lay off Ozil. We are luckily to have such an intelligent and gifted player.

  • Daud

    @rosiscy, I also wanted Wenger gone as I didn’t see the improvement in the team that you saw. I saw last 2finishes of 5th and 6th, and I expected it to happen sooner than it eventually did. I also saw consistent humiliation in the champions league. I wasn’t insultive of the great man, but I agreed his time was up. I didn’t think Emery was the best man for the job based on his performance at PSG, but I must say I’ve been pleasantly surprised the way he’s quietly gone about his work. I didn’t expect him to make top4 this year, I believe few people did. It’s my opinion that a lot of damage was already done, even if Wenger had left a winning team like Ferguson did, it would still have been a tall order.
    I hope however he has a plan for the defense, that shakiness we came to dread in the last years of Wenger still seems to remain. As impressed as I am with his work, I believe he can only take us up to top 4 and maybe favorably competing with the league champions, but to win it, in my opinion we’ll need someone like Simeone.
    Compliments of the season..

  • Brickfields Gunners

    @ MickHazel – 27/12/2018 – Sweet ! Many great teams are built around classy and skillful players like Ozil. I do agree that we seem devoid of ideas in the second half when he was substituted . But he does tract back when we are not in possession of the ball. I would love him to be in and around center circle to kick start an attack or deliver that pass which splits the opponents defence.

    If ever we were to sell him , god forbid, I’m sure we ‘d have a very long queue at our door. I do hope that UE works it out and uses Ozil to his full potential.

    And Tony , it appears to me that the more the braying got worse , the worse we became . Who would have thought ?

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Some fine words of wisdom.

    If you get angry with somebody?
    Think before you talk.

    If the person is junior to you .. count to 10 and then talk.

    If the person is equal to you .. count to 30 and then talk.

    If the person is your senior .. count to 50, then talk.

    If the person is your wife .. keep counting ..don’t talk.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    ‘ The older you get , the more quiet you become. Life humbles you so deeply as you age. You realise how much nonsense you’ve wasted you’re time on. ‘

  • nick

    Porter
    I agree about Ozil.He is like marmite you either love or hate him.For me i wouldnt play him. To ignore his defensive frailties hed have to be a player who performs at the top of his game regualrly offensively like the Messi’s ,Hazards and like bergkamp used to be.Hes got plenty of assists but nowhere near enough goals to be put in that bracket.People on here defend him saying that his job isnt to tackle and track back but you tell that to managers like Pep and Klopp.He wouldnt get anywhere near their first 11 because to do so you have to have that side of your game as well.Sane ,De bruyne,Silva,sterling,Mane ,Firminho and Salah are all attacking players but work so hard to get the ball back when its lost.Defending isnt all about the defenders ,its about every player working hard to get the ball back.Those teams defend as a team from the front line back.Ozil sadly wont do this and its why Emery is benching him and finding it more and more difficult to play him.
    I remember not long back Sturridge and Aguero were dropped and benched because they didnt work hard enough without the ball and they are centre forwards.The money that ozil and Ramsey would bring in from being sold could be use to restructure a large problem in our squad which is the defense.Youve only got to look at Van dijk and what hes added to liverpool this season.

  • nick

    Brickfields
    Sadly i disagree .There might be a long queue but they wont be the elite teams who pay the big bucks ,and a lot that dont, will be put off by his rediculous wages.Nobody really wanted him when he refused to sign 18 months ago but with Sanchez wanting out as well the club had to show they were still in the elite..

  • nick

    Brickfields it is usually you that has the last say with your crap jokes but it must be me this time on this post!!