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Just how far does Arsenal have to go, to get back to the top?

By Tony Attwood

Although you might not know it from the daily blogs and newspaper websites Arsenal are one of the most successful teams in the Premier League.  Not in terms of the number of times teams have won it – Manchester United are way out in front of everyone on that score; but by other measures we have done rather well although we are not at the top.

Man U have won it 13 times, Chelsea 5, Arsenal and Manchester City 3 each, Blackburn and Leicester once each.  You’ll notice an absence of the wannabes on the list such as Liverpool and Tottenham neither of whom have ever won it.

But I wanted to go further to see how we were doing now against the average of our performances in the league since it was started, just to get an idea of the overall standard against this current season.

Here’s a chart of the six clubs that have the highest average points totals across all the PL seasons – including only those six clubs who have been in the Premier League for each and every season.  The best number in each column is put in bold.

Club Win Draw Loss F A GD Pts 1st 2nd 3rd 4th Avg
Pts
Best
Pos.
Manchester United 629 215 156 1924 875 1049 2102 13 6 3 1 80.85 1
Arsenal 544 253 203 1772 962 810 1885 3 6 5 7 72.50 1
Chelsea 537 248 215 1707 963 744 1859 5 4 4 2 71.50 1
Liverpool 499 255 246 1685 1024 661 1752 3 5 7 67.38 2
Everton 362 287 351 1303 1265 38 1373 1 52.81 4
Tottenham Hotspur 423 255 322 1480 1267 213 1524 1 2 2 58.62 2

So we have overall the second highest number of wins, the second lowest number of defeats, the second highest number of goals scored, the second lowest number of goals against, the second best goal difference, the second highest number of points, but the third best number of titles.  However our average points total is second best.

Thus Arsenal have been second best – although we have had our sublime moments of being best of all.

In the current season we have played 22 and won 12 giving an average of 55% while overall in terms of the premier league years the average up to the end of last season of 54%.  So fractionally above average this year.

With draws this season we have drawn 23% of our games, overall up to the end of last season, in the PL years we have draws 25% of our games.

In terms of defeat we have lost 23% of our games this season while it is 20% of our games across the PL years – so that is where we are underperforming against our average – we are losing a few games that we might in the past have drawn.  (The numbers don’t quite make 100% throughout because of rounding, but I think it is easier in something like this to round everything to whole numbers).

So this season we are doing a little worse than our average across all the PL seasons.  Our average points in the league per season has been 72.5 but this season if we carry on as now we are heading for 70.8 points.

Pulling this all together, this Arsenal side, this season, is doing a little bit worse than our average performance, but not by that much.   Given the change of management it could be thought to be fairly reasonable and we can still pull ourselves up to our average performance.

But we have a situation in which through mega investment other teams are pulling ahead of us in the League.  An average Arsenal performance in the past was enough to give us anything from 2nd to 4th place.  But not now.  However this trend may not continue.

Last season the gap between 6th and 7th was seven points. In 2017 it was eight points.  But in 2016 it was just one point and neither Liverpool and Chelsea were in the top six.

Going back one year before that to 2015 the top six as we know them now were all present in the top six but the gap to seventh was just two points.

Taking just one more year – 2014 – in that season Manchester United dropped out of the top six and the game was five points.

My point here is that we tend to see the situation now as the permanent situation for all time – and while it is true that the top six are fairly strongly established, even in recent years there have been some changes.  Also in recent years there have been times when the gap from sixth to seventh has been very modest.

So Arsenal are doing about the average they have been achieving for the whole of the Premier League’s existence, and the PL itself is not performing particularly out of sync with its previous past seasons.  The gap of nine points from six to seventh is unusually high – but it doesn’t mean it will be like that for all time.

But last season’s achievements by Manchester City were unusual – just as Arsenal’s unbeaten season was unusual, just as Leicester’s achievement in winning the league was unusual.

Thus although the PL has a regularity about itself, the unusual can and does crop up.

However what is changing is the amount of money several clubs are willing to spend to buy in the best players – and this certainly was seen last season – and I think it is being seen this season too.   This is the area where Arsenal are lagging behind, and to overcome it they can either turn out to be the masters of the transfer window, buying in bargains others don’t see, or the masters of the youth development system (and last night’s U23 victory beating Manchester City 5-1 suggests once again this could be the case).

We have to hope that a combination of those two effects is enough to overcome the lack of funding.

11 comments to Just how far does Arsenal have to go, to get back to the top?

  • Jerry

    So Tony you’re now a member of the spend spend spend brigade. If you can’t beat them, join them.

  • Jerry

    But Tony where I disagree with you is when you say money is the key. It isn’t money Tony, it’s ambition. Arsenal is not poorer than Liverpool, arsenal used to have owners richer than Chelsea’s, what differentiated them was Chelsea’s owner going for the Glory while you were busy castigating our Russian billionaire, praising Kroenke’s Style and informing every Tom Dick and Harry that Chelsea and man city would fold as soon as Abramovich &co got disinterested.

  • GoingGoingGooner

    Thank you Petr for your service to the club!

  • It seems that Ozil has just got married. Mazeltov.

    Perhaps that might go some way to help us understand why he was not picked against WH. Perhaps UE perceived that he may not be in the correct frame of mind to play. If so, did he waive his £350k last week?

    Liverpool are richer than us. They did not have to pay for a new stadium and had 2 bumper sales in Suarez and Coutinho which allowed them to spend big. That they did so well in their purchases was another matter. take away salah and son and they would most likely be where they were before.

  • Gord

    Thank you Petr for the time and the memories.

    —————

    Having a great youth system is perhaps the best way to go. By great, I mean a system that consistently produces players that go on to have very successful careers.

    No matter how good a youth system is, it cannot be relied upon to produce all the players that the adult team requires. Nor should the youth in the system, believe that all of them will find work with the adult team.

    The best example of the latter statement, are goaltenders. You pretty much need at least 2 good goalkeepers in each age range. The oldest youth age group is currently U23 (PL2). It is very unlikely that a youth at 23 is going to step into the first team goaltending position. It has happened with some goaltenders, but it is very unlikely.

    It is more likely that a goalkeeper will “break” into the top league(s) somewhere at an age in the upper 20’s. A team like Arsenal could easily find themselves in the position of having 4-6 good goalkeepers who are too old to play in the youth system, and not yet able to challenge for a first team position.

    Goalkeeper or not, all players coming out of the youth system have been trained to a consistent philosophy. But each player has it within themselves to interpret that philosophy in their own way. At the end of their youth system training, they may be fantastic players who happen to not be what the first team needs.

  • Alex

    Jigsol: Özil didn’t get married last week-end: he confirmed his engagement.

  • According to someone on Positively Arsenal quoting Ozil’s instagram (which I do not have) says he got married.

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    Ozil confirming his engagement with his girlfriend means what footballingly for Arsenal in the PL?

    Was Ozil getting engaged with his girlfriend the reason for Emery taken the “tactical reason” action according to him that he took last weekend to leave him out altogether from his Gunners 18 man match day squad team for West Ham?

    The main reason for Arsenal not winning the PL title in the past 14 consecutive season’s campaigns they’ve campaigned which they ought to have won it not only just once during thpse 14 seasons on the run that they’ve missed out on winning it, but they should have won it 5 to 6 times, is because one, the Gunners are found of having the mental weakness mentality attitude of caving in to collapse in title win sustaining campaign which has seen Arsenal out of many the title wins even when Arsenal are on top of the table after challenging seriously during the campaign to be there and giving us Gooners hopes they’ll be there. But the Gunners in their mental strength falling in title win sustaining performance mentality will fail to sustain the advantage they’ve earlier had in top performance that saw them topping the table to cave-in to failings to sustain the performances which saw them topping the table. Which if they had done, that 13 PL title wins to Man Utd may likely wouldn’t have been more than 8 title wins to them and Arsenal would have had 8 title wins too.

    But what should the way forward be that can followed to halt the mental weakness in PL title win challenge performance sustaining which has been plaguing the Gunners whenever Arsenal are on top of the table in the seasons they’ve topped it, and have a good or bright chance to win it but can’t sustain their topping the table with a sustained title win campaign performance to win the title at the end of the seasons that they had that good or bright chance?

    This season in the PL, Arsenal were at a stage in the campaign behind Man City and Liverpool in the table with only 2 points. But on to week 22 in the PL this season, Arsenal who looked at week 21 in the PL to be out of the title challenge have looked further to have confirmed the notion that said they are out of this season’s PL title campaign with an away lost to West Ham last Saturday. And not only that, Arsenal chance to qualify for the Ucl next season could be hinged on the club winning the ELC this season. Which is a gamble that may yield a win dividends for the club or may not. I think should Emery fail to guide the Gunners under his coaching to qualify for the Ucl this season, well, let me join those Gooners who have said he should be given a season more to the one he’s currently on it to see if he’ll be the kind of the head coach that can turn the Gunners around to win the PL title next season. My believe is, Arsenal almost always have the top quality senior and the youth Gunners at the Ems and at the Hale end of the club on ground in every season campaign in the PL who should be winning the title for Arsenal but if the right coach that can do this hard job is found and employed.

  • Jerry

    Just to avoid any confusion, that is not the usual Jerry above that posts supporting the work of Untold and has written articles for untold about the uneven distribution in referee appointments.

    Keep up the good work Tony!

    From the original Jerry

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    With the regular goals scoring human machine that Harry Kane is hitting the floor at Wembley Stadium to a serious knee injury to be out for 2 months on the sideline for Tottenham. But how will his absent for Spurs in the PL for 2 months impact on Tottenham top four place finish campaign exploits in the PL this season become? Will Spurs’ quest to get a top four place finish this season suffer a serious setback as a result of their goals scoring and assist making talisman – Harry Kane has become sidelined? For, his goals scoring and assists giving prowess could be missed by Spurs which could likely lead to them dropping points in number for 2 months in the PL that could allow Arsenal a good chance to capitalise on any dropping of points in numbe by Spurs to recover the lost ground the Gunners have lost in the table. But first, in anticipation of Spurs points collection suffering a likely setback, will Arsenal seize the chance if the chance happens to start recovering the lost ground that they’ve lost in the table by first at home in a big game on Saturday beat Chelsea in the PL?

  • Sammy The Snake

    One of our sources of income are sale of players for big bucks, something that Arsenal have not been able to do for a good few years. We haven’t found a gem for a while, and our better players are leaving on a free. That shows the lack of management in the club.