By Tony Attwood
For several years on Untold we played a game of predicting the winners of various leagues around Europe at the start of the season. And mostly we got it right.
The point wasn’t to show how clever we think we are (although that is always fun), but to show how easy it was to predict football in Europe, and what a problem that is for football.
Our predictions throughout for the next winners of each league were
- England: Manchester City
- Spain: Barcelona
- Scotland: Celtic
- Italy: Juventus
- Germany: Bayern Munich
- France: PSG
and by and large most seasons by repeating that prediction we could get it right.
Now things indeed have changed. If we look at the same list we find
- England: Manchester City in third, Chelsea at the top
- Spain: Real Sociedad at the top (just), Barcleona in ninth, nine points behind
- Scotland: Rangers at the top, Celtic four points behind
- Italy: Napoli at the top, Juventus in ninth, 16 points behind
- Germany: Bayern Munich still at the top but only by one point
- France: PSG at the top, eight points clear – although we might note that PSG didn’t win the league last year.
So the mighty have to some degree slipped if not utterly fallen, and that I think is rather important. If we were to take a look back to last season’s final table we would see that Manchester City won by 12 points, with 17 points between them and Liverpool in third. Gaps like that are hard to overcome and there was not doubt that Manchester City were aiming for the sort of domination that Bayern and PSG have established.
In France PSG have won the league in six of the last eight seasons. In Germany Bayern Munich have won the league nine seasons running. In Italy Juventus won the league nine years running until last season.
Only in England are things slightly different with four different league winners in the last six seasons, five in the last eight.
Which is rather good news for Arsenal. This century, as you’ll know of course, we have had two titles as league winners, and four runners’ up spots. Interest has been maintained by seven FA Cup wins as well, but of course we want to be back winning the league.
Which in turn may seems rather a pointless statement given that we are currently in sixth place, eight points behind the leaders.
But on this site we have long been interested in form as much as in history, and why we took such a lot of interest in the league table of the last two thirds of the season, which showed us as the second best team over that period of time.
That league table is important because it showed that far from saying that Arsenal had to improve dramatically in order to get into the top six again, it also showed that had already been achieved. What we really wanted to avoid was a poor start to the season again.
Sadly that didn’t happen because of covid, injuries and the wholesale rebuilding of the defence (which certainly surprised me given that we had the third best defence in the league last season – but that just shows what I know).
Looking at the current league table the first teams we need to overtake of course are West Ham and Manchester United.
|4||West Ham United||10||6||2||2||20||11||9||20|
And if we want to see if this is likely then that oft-derided last six games table is about the best we’ve got as a guide. And indeed we might also care to look at who each of the teams shown to be in form in the last six games, is playing next.
|3||Wolverhampton W||6||4||1||1||9||7||2||13||Crystal Palace (a)|
|4||Liverpool||6||3||3||0||20||7||13||12||West Ham (a)|
|5||West Ham United||6||4||0||2||10||6||4||12||Liverpool (h)|
|6||Manchester City||6||3||2||1||9||5||4||11||Man Utd (a)|
By a curious twist of fate Manchester City are away to Manchester United and Liverpool play West Ham. A win for Arsenal this weekend isn’t going to let us overtake anyone except Manchester United (assuming they lose or draw with Manchester City), and even if it all plays out right for us, we are still only going to be fifth (which like fourth is not a trophy) but even so, it would another step up the ladder.
And one that probably would not have happened if the journalists and the AAA had had their way and had Mr Arteta dismissed.
- Clubs are showing signs of fighting back at journalists
- Are Arsenal really making progress, or are we starting to slip back?
- Luton 3 Arsenal 4: maybe it is time to say positive things
- Luton v Arsenal – the referee, the team, Saka and Cliff Bastin
- Luton Town – how do they play the game. The tackles, fouls and cards.