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Arsenal are once again a top four club, and the figures since Xmas prove it

By Tony Attwood

It was our commentator Seismic who pointed out just how much the club has improved since Christmas Day this season, and I thought it was most certainly worth looking at this interesting observation, in a lot more detail.   This first table shows the table on Christmas Day,

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

OK our position really is pretty awful in that table.  I mean we were below such luminaries as Leeds, Palace, Newcastle (NEWCASTLE!!!) and the media’s favourites: the mighty tiny Totts.

So then I thought, let’s compare the pre-Christmas achievement of Arsenal and the club’s post-Christmas achievement.  According to the media, and those rather droll supporters clubs who seem to want to claim that they are the biggest supporters clubs, (AST and BSM) we were awful before and awful after.

These figures are of course just Arsenal…

Time P W D L F A GD Pts
Pre Xmas 14 4 2 8 12 18 -6 14
Post Xmas 22 12 5 5 38 20 +18 41
Overall 36 16 7 13 50 38 12 55

Now clearly we have been improving dramatically in the second half of the season; and this needs saying because the mass media and the bloggettas and those two Arsenal supporters clubs both claiming to be the biggest supporters clubs, and all their hangers on, won’t actually say this.

To make these differences clearer we can look at the results per game measured with the wins, draws and losses as percentages, and the goals and points shown per game.

Time P W D L F A Pts
Pre Xmas 14 29% 14% 57% 0.86 1.29 1.00
Post Xmas 22 54% 23% 23% 1.72 0.91 1.86
Overall 36 44% 19% 36% 1.39 1.06 1.53

That shows the magnitude of the achievement.  29% of games won before Father Christmas came down the chimney, but 54% after the wrapping paper was scattered on the floor.  Our defeats dropped from over half to under a quarter.  Our goals per game are over double as well.

So we had a truly rotten first part of the season up to Christmas Day.  But how are we comparing after 36 games, with recent seasons.

Pos Team / Manager P W D L F A GD Pts
9 2020/21 Arteta 36 16 7 13 50 38 12 55
10 2019/20 Emery/Arteta 36 13 14 9 53 45 8 53
5 2018/19 Emery 36 20 6 10 69 49 20 66
6 2017/18 Wenger 36 18 6 12 72 48 24 60

Clearly, we are still a way behind the full season of Mr Emery and the last season of Mr Wenger.  But as we have seen, Mr Arteta’s reforms only really kicked in after Christmas, so are our post-Christmas figures now comparable to these earlier seasons?

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And here, to be clear I am taking the previous seasons’ full figures and comparing with this season’s post-Xmas, because I want to see if post-Christmas we are performing at the level we were at under previous managers.

Pos Time span P W D L F A Pts
9 2020/21 post-Xmas 22 54% 23% 23% 1.72 0.91 1.86
10 2019/20 all season 38 37% 37% 26% 1.47 1.26 1.43
5 2018/19 all season 38 55% 18% 26% 1.92 1.34 1.84
6 2017/18 all season 38 50% 16% 22% 1.94 1.34 1.66

Yes this season post-Christmas, we have outperformed the whole season in percentage terms, for each of the past three years.  Our points per game is better than anything in the last three seasons.

Of course none of this means anything if all the other top clubs are still doing much better since Christmas.  So I thought it might be worth looking at what the allegedly big six and the rather amusing interlopers have done this season, looking at these two points in history.

First on Christmas Day

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
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
15 Arsenal 14 4 2 8 12 18 -6 14

Now I woke up this morning, 14 May, and found

Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Manchester City 35 25 5 5 72 26 46 80
2 Manchester United 36 20 10 6 70 41 29 70
3 Leicester City 36 20 6 10 65 44 21 66
4 Chelsea 36 18 10 8 55 33 22 64
5 Liverpool 35 17 9 9 60 41 19 60
6 West Ham United 35 17 7 11 55 45 10 58
7 Tottenham Hotspur 35 16 8 11 61 41 20 56
8 Everton 35 16 8 11 46 42 4 56
9 Arsenal 36 16 7 13 50 38 12 55

So who were the winners and losers in the second half of the season?  This is the number of points these allegedly top clubs and challengers have got since Christmas – and remember the media and allegedly “largest” fans clubs’ knocking of Arsenal has continued every second of every day since Christmas.

  • Manchester City: 57 points
  • Manchester United: 44 points
  • Arsenal: 41 points
  • Chelsea: 39 points
  • Leicester City: 39 points
  • West Ham United: 37 points
  • Tottenham Hotspur 31 points
  • Liverpool: 29 points

Measuring like with like – Arsenal compared with the rest, but taking just the games after Christmas Day, Arsenal are now once more a top-four club.  Of course, those old-time un-reformed anti-Wengerians, led as always by the Mail and the Mirror, will tell us at once that Fourth Is Not A Trophy.  (Or to be more exact, Third).

And some poor turnips will repeat this, thinking it is clever.

But it is the best we have achieved since Mr Wenger left.   And that is where we are now, in the form that has been running since Christmas Day.

Arsenal is not in crisis, Arsenal should not sack Arteta, Arsenal should not touch its defence, and Arsenal should think carefully about touching its attack.   Since Christmas, we have been performing as a top-four team and we need to let them settle.

Don’t let the revolutionary militants such as Black Scarf, and Arsenal Supporters Trust destroy this achievement.  Don’t let the newspapers and bloggettas and broadcasters convince you otherwise.

We are back to being a top-four club.  Now we need to consolidate for a season and let the form since Christmas Day settle in for a year.  Get back in the Champions League, let those brilliant youngsters shine for a year, and then maybe add one or two to just take us that final distance.

Untold will continue to point out the lies that the newspapers and certain supporters’ groups are perpetrating in their desperate attempt to undermine our club.  Please don’t join in the negativity.  Celebrate what has been achieved.

And remember this terrific turn around has come in the midst of some very strange refereeing.

The proof that something is seriously wrong with football refereeing and reporting

20 comments to Arsenal are once again a top four club, and the figures since Xmas prove it

  • James

    Great Post and I agree, our performance with an unbalanced dysfunctional squad has been good. I had seen this a month ago and wondered how it would have played out.

    Additionally If you were to take poor VAR calls in 4 games (the big blunders) in the latter part of the season against Burnley (that handball that apparently wasnt) Wolves (that Luiz red card without an attempt to tackle) Fulham (the two offsides 1 for 1 against and the dive for a pen very similar to parteys “DIVE” the other night) Everton (VAR Using Pepes forearm agaisnt the offside line).

    We would have been looking at an additional 10pts putting us 6pts behind Citeh in 2nd. All whilst missing one of the best full backs in the world for a good period missing one of the best midfielders in the world for a big period and missing 2 of the best attackers in the world in different periods. Then cut out the silly mistakes who knows what our overall tally would have been.

    People forget Emery had the very fortunate and lucky 22 game unbeated run. Which papered over the cracks and made his record look better than it actually was. During Emerys tenure the football we played was dire, we were conceding at least 20 shots a game even against weaker opponents, our possession stats were awful again even against weaker opposition and we consistently conceded the first goal. This is big, conceding the first goal means players have to work harder to draw a game, 3x harder to win it. No wonder we ran out of steam at the end of the year and blew those pts that would have got us in the CL and lost that final to the chavs so badly.

    Green shoots are there just wish everyone else in the world could see it

  • hans andersson

    This is mental masturbation. Arsenal is a gang of jerks in position NINE of the table. And with Arteta (an unexperienced nogooder) next season will be exactly the same. After twelve rounds in mid December 2021, at the number ten position, or worse. And by that time trying to get a top coach/ manager will not be easy. The decision must be taken this summer… Ralf Rangnick, Diego Simeone, Alex Allegri, Brendan Rogers… If not, it will take a decade for the Gunners to recover. AFC is not top four, AFC will not play european football next season. Wake up from that wet dream!

  • billy andrews

    thank you!

  • Benny

    I have to say what I just read was a astonishingly confusing beginning but yet finished with an informative ejaculation to finish off. Well done Sir!

  • John L

    Brendan Rogers?

    No, thank you!

  • Sorry about that Benny, I’ll try and do a clearer version shortly

  • Hans Anderson, the problem with your comment is that early on you state

    And with Arteta (an unexperienced nogooder) next season will be exactly the same

    There is no evidence for that statement. whereas my article shows that he has, since christmas, had Arsenal performing as a top four club. What you really need to do is give a reason why that is to be discounted.

    You are also tending toward abuse rather than put forward any sort of logic or reasoned argument. I’ve published your comment this time, but no more abuse or you won’t be published.

  • Sundaram

    Incidently, I just went throught the fixture list and points table for Arsenal, yesterday night. It made me realise that injuries to key players for Arteta’s game plan had hampered the form in the first half of last season. Again, second half was better because most of the key cogs were available to play. The second half of this season gives me hope that with a little more refinement and less injuries to key players, we can be competitive next season.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    We have made much improvement since that victory over Chelsea in December , I do admit there are still more improvement to be made in transforming defence into attack.

    We have lost some amount of pace in this transition . I do hope that we will regain it next season , and become a force again once again.

    Just surprised that quite a number of our fans don’t seem to want to quit , and support one of those moneyed teams , where all their dreams can become reality.

  • Jack

    We win a game from a defensive error, defensive play with a bit of of luck (Giroud hit the crossbar from a crossbar) and suddenly we are a top 4 team.

    I bet if we’d lost or drawn against Chelsea sentiments would be totally different and that would only be 2 or 3 point difference.

    Exuberance and renewed hope is normal after a win and of course the only way you can go from the bottom is up.

    Christmas is only 7 months away, I’ll reserve my judgement till then but if a top manager can be found, there is no harm in swinging the axe.

    Bayern replaced Jupp Heynckes despite winning CL the previous year simply coz Pep was available and theoretically offered better chance of sustained success. He didn’t replicate his predecessor’s success, but it’s the balls of steel. We need some of those at Arsenal.

  • Coach Kerr

    Hey Tony

    It’s another interesting article. I agree to some extent that yes, there has been improvements since that Chelsea game on boxing day. ESR has come into the side and linked well with Saka whilst bringing tempo to our game. We’ve also been steady in defence throughout the campaign I think Mari is an underrated player; we just have to eradicate the individual errors from defenders and goalkeeper. Transferring away Kolasinac and Mustafi was a good start!

    But if you take away the Chelsea match and the subsequent three matches, our form has remained patchy especially going forwards. For years under Wenger attacking was our big strength, we’d easily carve opposition defences open. However under Mikel we’ve lacked cohesion and direction in numerous games. This shouldn’t be the case with the amount of talented attackers we have. I feel there’s room to be more tactically flexible with this cohort to yield better results. I haven’t seen it from Mikel, not this campaign.

    You also have to think is he the man to bring through our talented youngsters? I’ve not been particularly impressed with his management towards some of our younger guys in recent times, i.e. Nelson, Willock, AMN, Saliba; in fact apart from ESR and Saka, his handling of every young player has been… questionable. I realise he’s young himself its his first full managerial year learning on the job but given the increased level of competition each season, you could see Arsenal being left behind if this management perpetuates into next season.

    As a former player for Arsenal, I felt Arteta was underrated amongst the footballing media. He was my favourite ever Arsenal captain (I’m a fairly young gooner) because he influenced the group well back then; being the connection between Wenger and other players. He’s always had great respect for Arsenal and clearly wants the best for this club. Having said that, after observing him all season in press conferences, interviews and the touchline; I am not convinced Mikel regardless of inexperience, as a manager is in line with Arsenal’s values and traditions. Every other month or so you hear him talk about needing investments to bring players that suit his style. It’s as if he’s indirectly telling our current playing personnel, they lack the ability to play here. I repeat that I acknowledge his age and I’ve heard him several times take full responsibility following a bad result. But constant comments about requiring transfer funds comes across as weak to me and totally at odds with Wenger’s philosophy, which we should in my opinion, always be the aspiration.

    Ultimately, I just feel the lack of experience combined with some personal characteristics leads me to the conclusion that he’s the wrong manager for this football club. We need to appoint someone capable of pushing this talented group of players on and make us a competitive side in the top four again, which won’t be easy with several club’s emerging as real contenders this year for European spots.

    Anyway, another interesting article and I’ll try to wake up more Arsenal fans to how the media constantly lies to keep the fan base in a perpetual state of low vibration and pride towards the club.

    Good day!

  • AKH

    Is it rather surprising that over the last two weeks there has been less comment concerning the so-called poor defensive record of Arsenal from the National and Social media sites. Perhaps certain commentators have been viewing Untold Arsenal and have finally realised that the simplified statistics continuously presented on this site, might indeed be helpful in their understanding of Arsenal performance! Likewise the above information might help observers accept that Arsenal have shown marked improvement since Christmas, and this has also been an improvement relative to some other teams within the Premier League! Sometimes the tactics utilised from the coaching staff and the team have not been as one might have expected, nor have they been executed as one would wish. However, the evidence produced above should help commentators (including myself) in any review of Arsenal performance. There has been a marked improvement! The defence has improved, as has the creativity due to the introduction of Saka and Smith-Rowe into the mid-field (and to a lesser extent Odegaard perhaps). As James observes, ‘green shoots are there…….’ whilst Jack seems less inclined to feel more optimistic as he points out that the defeat of Chelsea was obtained through ‘a defensive error’! (This error could well be due to the positive tactics of the pressing applied by the Arsenal players on Chelsea players………) According to many, Mr Emery is/was also a top manager!……..

  • Dublin Gooner

    Well an interesting observation re post Xmas form and something that was mentioned in a BBC article.
    I think you have also done analysis that shows teams rarely move up or down many places from one season to the next. Plenty of exceptions though, Villa and Wolves this season for example.
    I think our performances and results this season against other top clubs have (mostly) shown there’s a significant gap between Arsenal and the best, particularly Man City and Chelsea, and possibly Liverpool. But the biggest gap, the defence, has been fixed.
    So reasons to be optimistic and certainly IMO Artera has eant another season.

  • Good article, Tony, and containing some very informative tables.

    By Christmas day, our defence was on track to concede 49 goals for the entire season (not a terrible stat, but not exactly pulling up trees). Now we are on course to concede 41, which is certainly good enough for a top-4 finish, over the course of an entire season. Next season, if we can maintain the post Christmas concession rate, we could possibly make 35.

    Similarly, extrapolating the goals scored since Christmas, we could reasonably expect to score 66 goals next season. This is not a particularly spectacular total when compared with past seasons, but a For/Against total for the season of 66/35 next year would be good enough for a comfortable top-4 finish.

    So, what was responsible for our change in fortunes?

    1) A few players shipped out, a few came in. (This is the same for all clubs, but Arsenal were already a team in transition).

    2) Lack of proper pre-season (Again, the same for all clubs, but this was more important for Arsenal, given the transition I mentioned earlier).

    3) Getting the defence sorted out. The change in the pre- and post-Christmas goals against total is massive, and Arteta deserves a lot of credit for addressing this issue (which has persisted for quite a few seasons) so effectively. Changing the way the defence does its job is always going to have a knock-on affect upon the way midfield and the attack do theirs, because the “non-defensive” players have been asked to do things in a different way.

    4) Improving the effectiveness of the attack. The goals for figures pre-Christmas were horrific. Part of the cause for this was undoubtedly due to the defensive re-organisation, and the midfield/strikers having to adapt to a “new defensive normal”, but I think other factors were at play. I think Aubameyang was quite badly affected by his mother’s illness which lasted for quite a while. The team was as low as 15th in the league, and I think the strikers bore the brunt of the confidence burden at this time. The Chelsea win was a great tonic for the team after a winless run of 7 PL matches (which included 3 red cards).

    There is still work to do. I would really liked to see the team breaking from defence to attack with pace. It hasn’t happened enough for my liking this season, but on the infrequent occasions when it does, we look very dangerous, and always capable of scoring. If we can do something about this, there is no reason why we shouldn’t get back to scoring over 2 goals per game. This begins with the goalkeeper. He needs to be aware of the position of his team-mates immediately after taking possession of the ball in our penalty-area, and being ready to distribute the ball quickly (and accurately) whenever practical. This comment equally applies to the outfield defenders and midfield.

    When Alex Song made it to the Arsenal first team, he was regularly dispossessed in dangerous areas after taking too long on the ball. He went out on loan to Charlton for half a season, and when he came back to us, he was a different player. He always seemed to have plenty of time, because he was more aware of what was going on around him. Fabregas had that vision from the beginning. If the defenders and midfield can take this on board, the Arsenal sprint-relay team may re-appear.

    All of the above without even considering the way the referees do “their job”. How many points have they cost us?

  • James

    Hi Coach Kerr

    I agree and disagree, I agree with the fact we have been patchy in attack and with our boys that shouldn’t be the case. Arteta identified that we did indeed lack in creativity until ESR and the Odegaard came in. I believe there is another issue at play in our squad.

    The ability or having the type of player that earn us the right to play, so challenge opposition possession in the middle third. We have Partey, Xhaka, Elneny, Cebellos, Odegaard and ESR. They are not Petit and Viera or Gilberto and Viera. In my opinion only 2 of those players “consistently” earn the right to play in the midfield. Only one is tidy enough with his possession and that’s Emile. The others are either not quick enough, too lightweight, not committed enough, not willing to be a pain in the arse consistently enough and close down opposition possession. You might say Torriera could have done this, but when you get booked your playing with a limp and he would get booked often and early.

    In midfield we lack dominance, we’re still conceding far too much possession and we don’t put the opposition in a stranglehold. Also De Bryne pointed out that playing against Arsenal, its a matter of time before you score. Arsenal’s midfield leave too many gaps to exploit cause they don’t work hard enough. This also effects our transition from defence to attack. Teams are allowed too beat us by simply working harder than us off the ball and transition quickly.

    If it were me I would be targeting this area bringing in players like or are in the mould of Bisouma, Kante or Fenandinho. Put them alongside Partey with Emile just in front. Make sure their positionally disciplined and are tidier and intelligent in possession. Then we’ll see us gain more effective possession and dominance

  • James

    Agree totally @ Seismic, people forget what a bad state Arsenal were/are still in. Emery made these problems even worse Post Wenger. Arteta has had to knock the house down, rip up the rule book as it were and rebuild. He targeted defense and we’ve seen an improvement. Don’t forget we regularly conceded 3 or more goals against top sides under wenger playing our best football some times. I don’t feel we would do the same as often if at all now with our team on form and fully fit. There are still problems Arteta knows this I don’t think the media or some sections of our fan base understand what needs to be done here.

    Wenger, an inexperienced manager at the top level came to Arsenal. Inherited the best defense in the country had 2 of the best strikers in the country and still signed 7 players to make us champions the following year. Arteta had a great pair of strikers and dysfunction through the rest of the squad. His task is far bigger he has the mind to do it he just needs the time and support of the owners and the fans

  • Coach Kerr

    Hi James

    I agree that Arsenal have lacked a midfield ‘facilitator’ for awhile now. Back in January when links to numerous No.10s surfaced, I was more keen on getting a proficient partner for Partey, i.e. Paulhinha, Moreno, Bissouma. These type of players would certainly take Arsenal to another level.

    Midfield efficiency still ultimately boils down to the coaches tactics and instructions. Mikel throughout this season has regularly chopped and changed midfield pairings every week. This leads to a lack of cohesion and understanding between players in a key area. Additionally, players like Ceballos have been given endless chances to play even when it’s clear they bring nothing. Elneny hasn’t been used sufficiently and has been treated unfairly since he caught covid in November. With how he’s playing at Newcastle, Willock should have gained more opportunities to cement his place and offer the team a different dimension through his breaking runs.

    We’ve played good possession football this campaign especially with Xhaka-Partey or Elneny-Partey; but our ball retention abilities doesn’t match Chelsea, City or Liverpool. I also feel we’re much better at keeping the ball when Bellerin and Auba do not play. Both have their uses, but lack some technical aspects particularly when there is not lots of space. On Wednesday night at Chelsea, although it was a gallant defensive Arsenal performance; Aubas inability to either hold the ball up or move towards the ball stifled our possession game.

    Obviously, agree with much of what you wrote, we clearly do need more competence in midfield to transition and create productively. But Arteta hasn’t given me confidence that he’s capable of working with top players. This current squad shouldn’t be in ninth, Auba’s having the worst season of his career and talented youth have been discarded. Arteta and the British media make out the squad needs a big overhaul, but really it’s Mikel himself who is out of his depth at this level. If Emery took a worser squad to fifth on 71 points in a more competitive premier League season two years back, alongside a Europa League final; then obviously Mikel is badly underperforming. As I mentioned in my first message, I also don’t think he as a manager mirrors Arsenal’s values.

  • Coach Kerr

    I disagree,Emery stopped the slight decline we experienced in Wenger’s final year. Arteta had made things worse through his limited experience.

    Wenger wasn’t an inexperienced manager when he joined as he’d already been coaching for 15 years and won the league with Monaco. There has been no concrete evidence to suggest Arteta is up for the task; talent wise or even personally.

  • Gazza

    A league season is over 38 matches not 20 approx just not good enough tbh

  • Gazz that is a bit like saying a day is 24 hours long, and if I have a headache for half an hour, then all life is shit.

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