In 10 of the last 15 seasons one of the big six hasn’t been in the top six. It’s normal.

By Tony Attwood

There is a feeling around that Arsenal slipping outside of the top six is somehow abnormal, a crisis, the end of the world, time to rip everything up, something that never happens to other clubs.

But actually a season in which one of the big six ends up outside the big six happens far more often than all six of the big six actually ending up in the top six.  If you see what I mean.  The media pretend its an aberration but that’s just them being pathetically anti-Arsenal.  It’s normal.

In fact in 10 of the last 15 seasons at least one of the Big Six has finished outside the top six places.   The difference these last two seasons is that it has been Arsenal, and thus has been classified as a national humiliation – or at least an Arsenal humiliation- not least because Arsenal holds the record for the longest consecutive run in Europe (25 seasons) of any club in the universe except for Real Mad.

But of course some fans decided fourth was not a trophy, and so we had to get out of the top four.  And we did.

Arsenal’s season 2019/20 was seen as a disaster for the club, coming in eighth in the league, with 56 points.   The reason we slipped of course was that we had three managers in the season Emery, Freddie and Arteta.  And the season is forgiven to some degree because Arsenal won the FA Cup – already being record holders in the competition.

It was in fact our worst finish since 1992/3 – and year in which we also won the FA Cup – and indeed became the first club to win the Domestic Cup Double.

The talk however now is of Arsenal in an unprecedented crisis, and yet last season was nothing like the worst season for one of the big six clubs (or “so-called big six” as the media sometimes call them, for reasons that will not become clear in this article).

In fact in a third of the last 15 years one of the big six has garnered fewer points than our 56 points of last season: Chelsea with 50, Liverpool 52, Tottenham with 51 and 46 and Manchester City with 42.  Although to be fair to Manchester City they were in 2007 a football club rather than a colony.

As for the season just past with 61 points, that happens to be the same as Liverpool got in 2013, and they still seem to be surviving and winning the occasional odds and ends.

But what about our awful attack that needs to be completely replaced?  Surely none of Le Grand Six have done worse than scoring just 55 goals in a season.

Well, Manchester United did in 2017, Liverpool in 2015, and 2012 and 2011, Tottenham in 2009 and Mancheseter City in 2007 (incidentally the only season in the last 15 where any of these teams got a negative goal difference).

But let’s try one more.  We apparently had a shocking defence last season – as can be understood by the fact that the media are desperate for us to rip up the defence and replace it completely.

Well, actually only twice in the past 15 seasons has the bottom club in the top six had a better defence than Arsenal’s defence this past season.   We conceded 39 goals in the league.  Only Manchester United in 2017 and Liverpool in 2010 have been the bottom of the big six clubs and conceded fewer.

Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
8 Arsenal 2021 38 18 7 13 55 39 16 61
8 Arsenal 2020 38 14 14 10 56 48 8 56
6 Manchester United 2019 38 19 9 10 65 54 11 66
6 Arsenal 2018 38 19 6 13 74 51 23 63
6 Manchester United 2017 38 18 15 5 54 29 25 69
10 Chelsea 2016 38 12 14 12 59 53 6 50
6 Liverpool 2015 38 18 8 12 52 48 4 62
7 Manchester United 2014 38 19 7 12 64 43 21 64
7 Liverpool 2013 38 16 13 9 71 43 28 61
8 Liverpool 2012 38 14 10 14 47 40 7 52
6 Liverpool 2011 38 17 7 14 59 44 15 58
7 Liverpool 2010 38 18 9 11 61 35 26 63
8 Tottenham Hots 2009 38 14 9 15 45 45 0 51
11 Tottenham Hots 2008 38 11 13 14 66 61 5 46
14 Manchester City 2007 38 11 9 18 29 44 -15 42

Of course being out of the top six isn’t good, but it is not unique.  In fact only in five out of the above seasons has the top six places been occupied by the “Big Six”.   The difference is that only with Arsenal is coming outside of the top six said to signal the end of the universe.  

The good news, which you’ll already know if you are a regular reader of my ravings is that we had the third best defence in the league all season, and were the second best team in the league across the last two thirds of the season, which bodes well for the future.

What’s more the club found a unique way of overcoming not just the opposition in those 25 games but also the referees, as we have discussed endlessly on this site.

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