How many points do Arsenal need for fourth place this season.

By Tony Attwood

I’ve not seen anyone publish details of just how many points a club needs to get to fourth place each season, so I created the list myself, and immediately I was struck by the variability.  Over the years anything from 66 to 79 points would be needed to not get a trophy.

Likewise, there is a huge variation in the number of goals scored (58 to 84) and conceded (36 to 54).  And of course goal difference (22 to 46).

Final data of teams reaching 4th in the Premier League over last ten years.

Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
4 Chelsea 2021 38 19 10 9 58 36 22 67
4 Chelsea 2020 38 20 6 12 69 54 15 66
4 Tottenham Hotspur 2019 38 23 2 13 67 39 28 71
4 Liverpool 2018 38 21 12 5 84 38 46 75
4 Liverpool 2017 38 22 10 6 78 42 36 76
4 Manchester City 2016 38 19 9 10 71 41 30 66
4 Manchester United 2015 38 20 10 8 62 37 25 70
4 Arsenal 2014 38 24 7 7 68 41 27 79
4 Arsenal 2013 38 21 10 7 72 37 35 73
4 Tottenham Hotspur 2012 38 20 9 9 66 41 25 69

The average number of points is 71.2 to make it to fourth, and Arsenal today are on just 39 with 16 games to go.  This means we need an average of two points a game to get us to the average fourth spot number of points.  And yes we have got an average of 2.2 points per game in the last six games but it still looks difficult.

But perhaps a better way is to compare the position of the club that finally came in fourth at the end of the season, with where that club was after 22 games.

Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
6 Arsenal today 22 12 3 7 34 25 9 39
6 Chelsea 2021 22 10 6 6 36 23 13 36
4 Chelsea 2020 22 12 3 7 39 29 10 39
3 Tottenham Hots 2019 22 16 0 6 46 22 24 48
4 Liverpool 2018 22 12 8 2 50 25 25 44
4 Liverpool 2017 22 13 6 3 51 27 24 45
3 Manchester City 2016 22 13 4 5 43 21 22 43
4 Manchester United 2015 22 11 7 4 36 21 15 40
1 Arsenal 2014 22 16 3 3 43 19 24 51
6 Arsenal 2013 22 9 7 6 41 26 15 34
3 Tottenham Hotspur 22 14 4 4 41 24 17 46

So what can we learn?

First it is quite possible (although not exactly common) for a team that is sixth after 22 games to make it to fourth by the end of the season – it has happened twice in the last ten years.

On the negative side, no team in the last ten seasons has made fourth having scored just 34 goals or having a goal difference of just +9 at this point.

But three times in years 39 points after 22 games has been enough to make it to fourth.  2013, 2020 and 2021.  However more importantly, we can also say there is something very different about this season in that although Arsenal have played 22 games, all the clubs above have played more games than Arsenal

If therefore we create a table in which all the clubs have played 22 games (that is, taking their league results after they had played 22 games this season) we do find Arsenal in fourth.

Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Manchester City 22 18 2 2 54 13 41 56
2 Liverpool 22 14 6 2 58 19 39 48
3 Chelsea 22 12 7 3 45 17 28 43
4 Arsenal 22 12 3 7 34 25 9 39
5 Manchester United 22 11 5 6 36 30 6 38
6 West Ham United 22 11 4 7 41 30 11 37

Not much room for error there – just one point above Manchester United, but another indicator that fourth is still perfectly possible.  Tottenham have not yet played 22 games, but if even if they did win their game in hand to take them to 39 points they would have to win it 9-0 to take them above us given their poor goal difference at the moment.

So fourth is possible although our run in looks tough in terms of the games we have to play.

Now of course none of this is being mentioned in the media just now, because they are not in the business of running any positive stories about Arsenal.  Except that there has been a very slight change of direction by the Daily Mirror which is suggesting that “Pep Guardiola may have given Mikel Arteta a plan on how to thrive without a natural centre forward at Arsenal.”   They suggest he has done this “by explaining how he uses Phil Foden as a false nine at City, a tactic which the Gunners boss could replicate with attacking midfielder Emile Smith Rowe.”

Foden has scored eight goals in 19 games this season according to 11v11 although the Mirror says he has scored six and assisted three so far this season”.

They don’t tell us anything about Smith Rowe’s figures because that rather knocks the idea of Guardiola being the source of this development.  Smith Rowe has scored nine in 17.

Given that Smith Rowe has scored more than Foden, and the Mirror’s statistics are wrong, I guess we can ignore their notion that poor Arteta has needed to go cap in hand to his former boss for advice.  But the subsequent point in the Mirror that “with Smith Rowe playing as a false nine, Odegaard may be able to play in midfield and run in behind” makes sense.

This would leave “Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli… more space to run in behind, especially the latter considering the Brazilian is expected to be the long-term striker in North London.”

In fact the whole Mirror piece is designed to suggest that Arteta doesn’t have an original idea in his head, adding, “Smith Rowe can take inspiration from the way that Foden has adapted and grown into the role of a false nine, whilst also taking the pressure off of his club as they look for a striker.”

Arsenal are sixth in the league goal-scoring table, four goals behind Manchester United in fifth in terms of goal scoring, with Arsenal having two games in hand.

So the need for a goal scorer is not desperate, given how young Saka, Smith Rowe and Martinelli are.

As for fourth, I think it could be tough, especially looking at the fixture list, but it is very possible, although the handing out of yellow cards without following the rule book could be problematic.

16 Replies to “How many points do Arsenal need for fourth place this season.”

  1. I’ve still got my eye on third, Tony. If we win our games in hand, including the one against Cheslki, we go above them.

  2. Wouldn’t looking at getting one more than the number of points the 5th place team achieved be a better metric than what the forth place team got?

  3. As Tony says, and as I pointed out on in and earlier article, our run is just about as difficult as it can get. We are playing the following teams by current position in our run in:

    2nd home
    3rd away
    4th away
    5th home
    We are 6th
    7th away
    8th home
    10th away
    11th away
    13th home

    If you take us out of the equation, obviously, we are playing 6 of the other top 7, and all 9 of our opponents are in the top 12.

    That is tough.

  4. @Steve,

    at least we’ve got that game done and won….
    Let’s see if Leicester can get some points from the Hammers…would be nice !

  5. Following the weekend results so far, even if West Ham win today, we have put ourselves in the best position of the 4 main protagonists, 5 if you include Wolves, and I don’t see why not.

    Given how we cant buy a player, sell a player, defend or attack, that’s quite remarkable.

    That being said, our run in is pretty daunting.

  6. Thanks for that Tony.

    It is and it isn’t a daunting run in. Nitram lists the steepness game after game. Against that, the youngest team in the Premiership, their biggest prize. If they can’t go for it, the first mountain peak they have to climb in their career, a lifetime of regret beckons. So they have to trust in their football, their skill, their resilience, their hunger. They have shown that already this season.

    The unknown factor, PGMO’s strategy. You’re not looking at a reasonably straight, decently run, fair, competition. Riley runs an organisation stamped with a disregard for transparency and enforcing the rules of football equably. You only have to look at the speed of Oliver across the pitch on the trail of Martinelli to see a man, like a fucked-up third-form teacher, hellbent on making certain he was the most important person on the pitch.

  7. @Zedsaunt,

    ” like a fucked-up third-form teacher, hellbent on making certain he was the most important person on the pitch. ”

    Dude, you made my day…….

    IAM is my take : Incompetent Arrogant Moron.

    But fucked-up third-form teacher or FTFT does sound very good as well !

    Thanks for the laugh !

  8. Guys,

    pretty daunting ? I mean we’ve got 22 games done, and there are 16 more. So not far away from half a season. So yeah, 9 of the teams will be above 14th place….

    On the other hand all other teams will have to play as well, some less then others as we have some games in hand.

    So personally I see no reason to worry. We’ve got a fully motivated team of youngsters, with a few seniors who relish a fight (think Lacazette….), our manager is up to the task, the Emirates is behind the players, and we’ve got time on our hands as there is no other competition. Ah and yes, we’ve got ourselves a defense as good any any in the past 15 years at least.

    The games in hand are not every going to be easy, but then winning them will have a psychological effect : positive for Arsenal, rather negative for the competition.

    A CL place is a distinct and plausible possibility. But then again. 4th is not a trophy so who the hell cares anyway !?!?! Come back in August, because spoiler alert… . Arsenal will not win the PL.

  9. Chris

    You could be right.

    Sorry, just being my pessimistic self.

    All I know is, we’ve given ourselves a very good chance.

  10. Well the LA Ram’s have won the Superbowl.

    Let’s see how the so-called press will spin it to make the Arsenal owners look bad for having won the Mother of all leagues… ;=))

  11. Chris

    I thought rather than be so pessimistic I would have a look at just how many points I think we will end up with. I have actually got a system I use as a sort of ‘rule of thumb’ predictor and over the years it has proved pretty good at predicting points totals. This is the basis on which I work out the amount of points we will get, and where we might get them.


    Against the 1st and 2nd = 0 per match
    Against the 3rd and 4th = 1 per match (If we are in the top 4 then I go to 5th for this. Because of our games in hand for the purpose of this we are 4th)
    Against the rest = 3 per match


    Against the top 4 = 0 Per match (If we are in the top 4 then I go to 5th for this. Because of our games in hand for the purpose of this we are 4th)
    Against the next 6 = 1 per match (or down to half way if you prefer)
    Against the rest = 3 per match

    So using this very factual, non emotional method this is what we get:

    H Brentford = 3
    H Wolves = 3
    A Watford = 3
    H Leicester = 3
    A Villa = 3
    A Palace = 3
    H Brighton = 3
    A Soton = 1
    H Man Utd = 3
    A West Ham = 0
    H Leeds = 3
    A Newcastle = 3
    H Everton = 3


    A Chelsea = 0
    A Spurs = 1
    H Liverpool = 0

    That = 35 points meaning we finish on 74, which as Tony points out is no guarantee but is slightly above the average requirement for a 4th placed finish. My method takes no account of loss of form or indeed improvement in form, for us, or anyone else.

    What I have found is that of course we may get a win at the empty trophy cabinet but we may drop points away at an improving Bank Of Saudi Arabia. So no, not an exact science but it’s proved a pretty reliable barometer over the years.The question is, even if we get that many points, will it be enough ?

  12. If you apply those same rules to our top 4 rivals we gaet:

    Arsenal = 74
    Spurs = 72
    Man Utd = 69
    West Ham = 67

    It goes without saying that how we all perform against each other is going to be crucial.

    For example my system has us getting a draw at Spurs. If we were to lose that then we would be on 73 points and Spurs on 74.

    My system has us beating Man Utd at home. If they come and get a win at the Em’s that puts us on 71 points and Man Utd on 72.

    These clashes are going to be absolutely crucial.

  13. its time we revive this post, with just 8 league matches to end the season, yet Arteta and his team keep lossing a vital game to Crystal palace something i would have place my life on. its obvious we aren’t ready for a top four finishing this season.

    Chelsea lost, man united lost and we have the opportunity to close the gap to Chelsea and edge past united but Arteta and his guys find pleasure in jeopardizing with our emotions.

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