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July 2021
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Arsenal’s results are on track for top four finishes – from next season.

By Tony Attwood

One of the things I enjoy about going to Arsenal is the chat with the guys who sit either side of me in the stadium.  And I’ve really missed that, which is why this weekend I reached out to Steve who sits on my right and we had a 90 minute chat on the phone on the topic of why he thought Arteta was the right man to be Arsenal’s manager.

In essence he put the point that since Boxing Day Arsenal have been very much a team on the up.

Certainly, the Premier League table last Christmas Day did not make for good reading

Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Liverpool 14 9 4 1 36 19 17 31
2 Leicester City 14 9 0 5 26 17 9 27
3 Manchester United 13 8 2 3 28 21 7 26
4 Everton 14 8 2 4 25 19 6 26
5 Chelsea 14 7 4 3 29 14 15 25
6 Tottenham Hotspur 14 7 4 3 25 14 11 25
7 Southampton 14 7 3 4 25 19 6 24
8 Manchester City 13 6 5 2 19 12 7 23
9 Aston Villa 12 7 1 4 24 13 11 22
10 West Ham United 14 6 3 5 21 19 2 21
11 Wolverhampton Wanderers 14 6 2 6 14 19 -5 20
12 Newcastle United 13 5 3 5 17 22 -5 18
13 Crystal Palace 14 5 3 6 19 25 -6 18
14 Leeds United 14 5 2 7 24 30 -6 17
15 Arsenal 14 4 2 8 12 18 -6 14
16 Burnley 13 3 4 6 8 19 -11 13
17 Brighton and Hove Albion 14 2 6 6 16 22 -6 12
18 Fulham 14 2 4 8 13 23 -10 10
19 West Bromwich Albion 14 1 4 9 10 29 -19 7
20 Sheffield United 14 0 2 12 8 25 -17 2

A win for Burnley in their match in hand would have left us 16th, four points above Fulham in 18th – the first relegation spot.

And indeed leading up to that league table, our results apart from in the Europa League had been pretty awful.

Date Game Res Score Competition
29 Nov 2020 Arsenal v Wolverhampton Wanderers L 1-2 Premier League
3 Dec 2020 Arsenal v Rapid Wien W 4-1 Europa League
6 Dec 2020 Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal L 2-0 Premier League
10 Dec 2020 Dundalk v Arsenal W 2-4 Europa League
13 Dec 2020 Arsenal v Burnley L 0-1 Premier League
16 Dec 2020 Arsenal v Southampton D 1-1 Premier League
19 Dec 2020 Everton v Arsenal L 2-1 Premier League
22 Dec 2020 Arsenal v Manchester City L 1-4 League Cup

Two wins (both in the Europa), one draw, five defeats in eight matches

Two things were on the cards.  Arteta could have decided he couldn’t take this or didn’t want to take this any more, and he could have left.  Or the board could have sacked him.  Just as they sacked Mr Emery.

So I wondered, was Mikel Arteta doing as badly as Unai Emery at that stage.   Unai Emery’s last nine games before he was sacked were:

Date Game Res Score Competition
24 Oct 2019 Arsenal v Vitória Guimarães W 3-2 Europa League
27 Oct 2019 Arsenal v Crystal Palace D 2-2 Premier League
30 Oct 2019 Liverpool v Arsenal L 5-5 (5-4) League Cup
2 Nov 2019 Arsenal v Wolverhampton Wanderers D 1-1 Premier League
6 Nov 2019 Vitória Guimarães v Arsenal D 1-1 Europa League
9 Nov 2019 Leicester City v Arsenal L 2-0 Premier League
23 Nov 2019 Arsenal v Southampton D 2-2 Premier League
28 Nov 2019 Arsenal v Eintracht Frankfurt L 1-2 Europa League

So to summarise,

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Emery: One win, four draws, three defeats.  He was removed

Arteta: Two wins, one draw, five defeats.  Remained in office.

So the next question is, was keeping Mr Arteta in post worth the risk?  The way to find out is to compare Mr Arteta’s results up to Christmas Day 2020 when he was settling in, and then after that day.

Here are the figures:

2020/21 P W D L F A GD Pts
Games up to Xmas Day 14 4 2 8 12 18 -6 14
Games since Xmas Day 15 8 4 3 28 14 +14 28

Thus we can see Christmas Day was the turning point for Mr Arteta.  Since then we have been doing just about twice as well as were doing up to Christmas Day.  Double the number of points, more than double the number of goals, double the number of wins.  And we have been playing tougher matches in the Europa League, but still continuing to get through those as well (unlike some we could mention).

So Christmas Day was our turn around day.  Since then, we have gained the equivalent of 18.67 points a game.  We now have nine league games left in the League.  At 1.87 points a game that will take us to 59 points. Better than last year but otherwise we have to go back to 1994-5 to find a lower number of points.  So not get good enough.

However it is reasonable to ask, what would happen if we maintained this level of around 1.87 points per game all season.   Over the course of a season that would give us 71 points.   Is that good enough?

In Mr Wenger’s first season we got 68 points and came third, so yes I would say that is good enough.  Indeed although fourth is not a trophy, qualification for the Champions League was achieved a number of times with around 68 points….

In 2006 we came fourth with 67 points, and the following season fourth again with 68 points..  Same again in 2011.   In short, if we can keep up the post-Christmas results then we would be back in “fourth is not a trophy” territory.  Not a guaranteed fourth, but close.

However there is no reason why we should stop there.  With the sort of progress Mr Arteta has made in the two halves of his tenure so far, we should continue to improve and get ourselves into the position where we can have seasons with points totals in the 70s and 80s, as Mr Wenger achieved.

On the basis of this analysis, we are on the right track, and should be back to what many of us would consider an acceptable level, given that we don’t have the endless wealth of Chelsea and Manchester City.

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5 comments to Arsenal’s results are on track for top four finishes – from next season.

  • CLAUDE

    POINTS TOTAL ARE IRRELEVANT POSITIONS ARE

  • Claude, I am sorry to say I don’t quite understand the point you are making. Positions in the league are obtained by two things: the points that Arsenal have achieved, and the points that other clubs have achieved. Aside from bribing referees I am not sure that we can influence what other clubs do, other than in our two games against them each season. So the only thing we can do week in week out to affect our position is win points by beating teams.

    Your position seems to me rather as if one looked at a car and said fuel is irrelevant, speed is everything. Or rather, to follow your example saying FUEL IS IRRELEVANT SPEED IS EVERYTHING. I am not sure that using capital letters all the way through actually helps, but I guess, each to his own.

  • apangu iddi amin

    We can only do that when we have two or three players who can always save for us points when we are badly off and who can do magics any time to make teams fear us. and are ready to surrender points because of some particular players. And right now this is what we are missing in Arsenal. Its not M A its the share holder. if he would offer to bring just two expensive players to up the marketing of the team and club as a whole then we could be some where challenging for the title.

  • MAXCAT

    Absolutely no sense whatsoever. Why Christmas and not Dec 29th?
    What about the level of opponents between the two periods based on the form for the current season?
    How do you project a run of form based on one season onto a future season? By your reasoning, what should the previous form of Sheffield and Liverpool say about their positions this season.
    Only thing that matters is the position in the current period. Midtable!
    Any projection into the future without a significant change to some aspect of the team, be it playing or management personnel will have to be similar to what the position is at the close of the season.

  • Well MaxCat, I’ll take one of your questions.
    You are basing your prediction on 29 games, I am using a smaller number, we are both making predictions.