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October 2020
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Could Arsenal win the league this season / next season / season after?

by Tony Attwood

Give me sport, a rather bizarre website, has run the headline today “Aliens being found in 2019 is 10 times more likely than Arsenal winning Premier League title”

Now to understand this piece of gibberish it is worth noting that bookies odds are not based (as Give me sport imply) on the likelihood of anything actually happening, but rather than the amount of money placed on this happening.  So lots of people have been placing bets on aliens being discovered this year.

But has anyone been betting on Arsenal to win the league this year?

Arsenal are currently 42 points behind Liverpool in the league table with 30 points left to play for, and therefore it seems somewhat difficult for Arsenal to win the league even if Liverpool lost every remaining match and Arsenal won the lot.  We would still be 12 points adrift.

Thus bookies are not taking any money on Arsenal winning the league, since it cannot happen.  But technically yes aliens could arrive, so it is more likely.  So you can get odds on the aliens not on Arsenal.

The piece of course tells us far more about the very odd anti-Arsenal people who write Give me sport than it does about the betting habits of the public, and this is one of the most mindless pieces of gibberish seen this month (although there has been so much mindless gibberish it is hard to keep up with it).

But I thought it might be interesting to see just what does happen to clubs in the run up to winning the title, by comparing what happened to the title winners one, two and three seasons before.

Here’s the table. I’m assuming Liverpool are going to win this season.  The points number in brackets is the number of points the club was away from the title winner in that earlier season.

Season Winner 1 Season before 2 Seasons before 3 Seasons before
2020 Liverpool 4th (25 points) 4th (17 points) 4th (16 points)
2019 Manchester City 1st 3rd (15 points) 4th (15 points)
2018 Manchester City 3rd (15 points) 4th (15 points) 2nd (8 points)
2017 Chelsea 10th (31 points) 1st 3rd (4 points)
2016 Leicester City 14th (46 points) Championship Championship
2015 Chelsea 3rd (4 points) 3rd (14 points) 6th (25 points)
2014 Manchester City 2nd (11 points) 1st 3rd (9 points)
2013 Manchester Utd 2nd (=GD) 1st 2nd (1 point)
2012 Manchester City 3rd (9 points) 5th (19 points) 10th (40 points)
2011 Manchester Utd 2nd (1 point) 2nd (1 point) 1st

Of course the season is not over yet so the gap between Arsenal and Liverpool could still increase or decrease, but we can see that as things stand Arsenal are, as noted 42 points behind Liverpool.  But that is less than the gap between Leicester and the league winners in 2015 at the end of the season, but Leicester won the league.

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The second biggest gap was Chelsea, in the following season as it happened.  They were 31 points behind the winner’s and then won the title the next season.

In terms of making up a gap the third biggest jump is Liverpool – making up a 25 point gap in one season.

But it is also interesting to note that over the past three seasons the gap between Liverpool and the eventual winners has been increasing – they have not been gradually edging towards top spot.

So the whole notion of a club gradually getting closer and closer to the title, step by step, year by year, does not always happen.  In 2015 Chelsea followed the model we might expect, creeping closing year by year to the top, missing it by 25 points, 14 point, and four points before winning the title.

But that is the only time we can see a club making regular progress, getting closer and closer to the title, before finally clinching it.

This is not to say it won’t happen.  But the norm is that clubs get closer to, and then further from the title, before finally winning it.

All of which makes the headline of Give me sport even more bonkers than one might imagine.  Since Arsenal can’t win the title this season because there are not enough points to play for, yes aliens are more likely to land.   And indeed a tidal wave is more likely to sweep across Northamptonshire where I live – a county which is just about as far from the sea as it is possible to get in England.

Equally it seems more likely that we shall experience the second coming of Jesus, that Boris Johnson will reveal an unexpected ability to walk upon the sea, and that every shoeshop in the country will explode with spontaneous combustion.

Also it is possible that Give me sport might actually publish a reasonable and balanced piece about Arsenal.  But I wouldn’t bet on that either.

3 comments to Could Arsenal win the league this season / next season / season after?

  • Ed

    Hi, the table should show that Liverpool 1 season before were in second place and 1 point off the top.

  • Laos Gooner

    Boris Johnson walking on water? It is not clear if he can tie his own shoelaces yet.

  • Nitram

    And as non of the following, Leicester, Chelsea, Man Utd, Wolves, Sheffield or Spurs can catch Liverpool either we have to assume there is more chance of Aliens landing than any of them Winning the title, which begs the question, why did GMS not see fit to point any of those out, especially our perennial bottlers from down the road, rather than us?

    Simple, because taking the piss out of Arsenal is what the media do.

    Yet we still have muppets coming on here saying everyone else gets the same media abuse we get.

    Of course they do.