Why Arsenal will finish above Chelsea in third place this season.

By Tony Attwood

Now there’s a headline I am pretty sure you won’t see written anywhere else.  But let’s see just how possible it is for Arsenal to finish above Chelsea, based on the games to come and recent results.

Here is the league table

Pos Team P W D L F A W D L F A GD Pts
1 Manchester City 26 10 1 2 36 9 10 2 1 27 8 46 63
2 Liverpool 26 10 3 0 36 7 8 3 2 34 13 50 60
3 Chelsea 25 6 5 1 27 10 8 3 2 22 8 31 50
4 Manchester United 27 7 3 4 21 16 6 5 2 23 18 10 47
5 Arsenal 24 9 2 2 22 10 5 1 5 16 17 11 45

We can all see that with three games in hand over Manchester United, it is quite likely that we will be able to get at least one win from those games meaning that thereafter if we match Manchester United’s record we would get that top-four finish.

But to end up above Chelsea?  That surely is a step too far!

To work out if that is indeed the case we have taken Arsenal’s form across the last 14 games the club has played and Chelsea’s form across the last 13 games that they have played.  Then, rather obviously, we have added the results to the existing league table, to create a season’s end league table based on recent form.

And let me add that of course, I am not so naive as to believe that just because the last 13 or 14 games have ended in a particular manner, the next 13 or 14 will be the same.   Form ebbs and flows, there can be injuries, and there is always the notorious PGMO to consider.

But still it gave me a bit of amusement so I thought I would share it with you.

So we can look at Chelsea’s last 13 and Arsenal’s last 14 games.  And let me stress, this is not the average across the season but the 13 and 14 most recent games the two clubs have played in the league.

But we need to go a bit further than this.  Each side has 19 home games and 19 away games overall, and looking at the table we find that Arsenal have six home games left and eight away games.  So we need to take the last six at home and last eight away and add them to our current league position, rather than just the last 14 games.

Meanwhile, Chelsea have seven home games left and six away games.   So now we start adding in the requisite numbers for each side and thus incorporating the fact that although Chelsea have fewer games to play, they have more of a home advantage.

Here is the table of Arsenal’s last six home games and last eight away games, plus in comparison Chelsea’s last seven home games and their last six away games.

    H O M E A W A Y      
Team P W D L F A W D L F A GD Pts
Arsenal 14 4 1 1 10 4 4 1 3 15 10 11 26
Chelsea 13 2 5 0 11 8 2 2 2 7 6 4 19

Thus based on the last 13 and 14 games divided into home and away according to the number left for each side, Arsenal will get 26 points and Chelsea 19.

Meanwhile the current league table shows

Pos Team P W D L F A W D L F A GD Pts
1 Manchester City 26 10 1 2 36 9 10 2 1 27 8 46 63
2 Liverpool 26 10 3 0 36 7 8 3 2 34 13 50 60
3 Chelsea 25 6 5 1 27 10 8 3 2 22 8 31 50
4 Manchester United 27 7 3 4 21 16 6 5 2 23 18 10 47
5 Arsenal 24 9 2 2 22 10 5 1 5 16 17 11 45

So adding the results of recent home and away games in the number needed to the current league table we create a final league table of… 

Team P W D L F A W D L F A GD Pts
Chelsea 38 8 10 1 38 18 10 5 4 29 12 37 69
Arsenal 38 13 3 3 32 14 9 2 8 31 27 22 71

Thus Arsenal would come in ahead of Chelsea.  

Obviously, the future is never a total re-write of the past.  But this little bit of fun does emphasise the phenomenal progress that Arsenal have made this year, and the consistency of their approach.

This is very reminiscent of last season where the approach of not tackling was perfected by Christmas, and then used by the team to create a major upturn in results. 

This season again has shown a bit of a slow start again because of the illnesses that we had just at a time of introducing a totally new defence, but the performance that we have been seeing of late shows just how well this has gone.

Obviously, the media will publish none of this, just as last year they refused to recognise that extraordinary turnaround in our tactics after Christmas.  So in response Untold likes to continue its tradition of covering the stories no one else, with their ceaseless anti-Arsenal bias, will ever cover.

I must stress I am not saying I am certain we will end up third.  All I am saying is that if we continue to the end of the season, playing as we have in the last 14 games, we are likely to get to third.  Which means no Champions League Group Stages 4th Preliminary Round.

8 Replies to “Why Arsenal will finish above Chelsea in third place this season.”

  1. Well, I certainly hope your numerical logic comes to fruition.

    At this stage it’s now down to 4 teams for 4th place. Wolves loss to West Ham puts them out. Let’s hope the dross from the lane are out of it too. But unfortunately I’m not yet certain of that.

    3rd? – probably not but we’ve a pretty reasonable chance of 4th or at worst 5th. Either way, some form of European competition next season. Gotta be good

  2. Tony

    “And let me add that of course, I am not so naive as to believe that just because the last 13 or 14 games have ended in a particular manner, the next 13 or 14 will be the same. Form ebbs and flows, there can be injuries, and there is always the notorious PGMO to consider.”

    Following your article yesterday about the next ‘tactical change’ I thought I would have a look at what, if anything, had changed in our style of play, to bring about our improved form. In your analysis you mentioned shots and passes, which are obviously a factor, a very important factor. I expanded the analysis to include possession, because I believe the amount of possession you have feeds directly in to the amount of passes you make. Similarly regarding shots my figures include shots, shots on target and associated ratios. because of course they too are inter related.

    By coincidence I divided our season in a way that matches your analysis, by way of statistics for the first 15 matches, up to and including the defeat away to Everton, followed by the last 9 matches.

    Anyway these are the comparative statistics for those 2 periods, and again before I start my apologies for the way it configures because I haven’t got the skills required to do it properly, but I’ll try to make it as clear as possible:


    Possession : Average Per Game = 50%

    Passes: Average Per Game = 454

    Shots: Average Per Game = 14

    Shots OT: Average Per Game = 4.6

    Goals: Average Per Game = 1.1

    1 in 3 Shots OT

    1 Goal every 4 Shots OT


    Possession: Average Per game = 56% This is a 10% increase

    Passes: Average Per game = 478 This is a 5% increase

    Shots: Average Per Game = 18 This is a 25% increase

    Shots OT: Average Per Game = 6.2 This is a 30% increase

    Goals: Average Per Game = 2.3 This is a 100% increase

    1 in 2.8 Shots OT. As you can see this is almost identical

    1 Goal every 2.6 Shot OT. This is about a 25% Improvement.

    So what to make of that ? Well the first thing to say is that just about everything has increased/improved, whatever you want to call it.

    We keep the ball better, which means we make more passes.

    So from a 10% increase in possession led to a 25% in crease in shots on goal which filtered down to doubling of the amount of goals scored per Game.

    Of the shots we get on target the amount that beat the keeper has stayed at around 1 in 3

    So the more possession we have had, the longer we have kept the ball, the more shots we have got away, the more times we have hit the target. The more we hit the target, the more we hit the back of the net.

    It all sounds pretty obvious, well it does to me, but this is not always the case. Iv’e lost count of the amount of times I’ve heard, “It’s not about possession it’s what you do with it that counts” which is true to a degree, but it is ultimately a little misleading.

    Of course if you cant hit a barn door from 2 yards you can keep the ball all day and it wont do you much good, but that sort of profligate finishing is rare.

    I had a look at a few other teams and as a rule of thumb the more possession a team has, or the longer they keep hold of the ball, the more chances they create, the more goals they score, the more matches they win.

    Now of course when it comes to winning football matches there are other factors, not least of course is how many you let in, that determine if you can do that or not.

    Leeds are a prime example. Their attacking stats stack up pretty well, but when you let the amount of goals in they do you are going to be in trouble.

    And finally just as a for example as to how this relationship between possession and goals works these are Liverpools numbers for the season:

    Possession: Average Per Game = 63%

    Passes: Average Per Game = 615

    Shots: Average Per Game = 19

    Shots OT: Average Per Game = 7.3

    Goals: Average Per Game = 2.7

    1 in 2.6 shots on target.

    1 Goal every 2.7 shots

    Liverpools possession is 12% more than ours which filters down to them scoring 6% more goals.

    As Tony showed in an earlier article, over the last 10 Games Liverpool have acquired 23 points we have acquired 22 points, that’s a 5% difference.


    It is obvious that over the last 9/10 Games Arsenal have upped their game. More possession. Better possession. Resulting in more shots. More goals. All this has bought us very close to Liverpools performance. But now those little differences can make all the difference.

    In very crude terms Liverpools 12% better possession has led to 5% better points return.

    Now of course there are other factors feeding in to this. Who we have both played. The refs. Luck.Etc. But I believe there is absolutely no denying that what this shows is that ‘keeping the ball’ or ‘possession’ is crucial.

    Yes you CAN have the ball and make poor use of it, but as a general rule the longer you keep the ball the more points you will get.

    Obvious really, but from my experience it’s not something everyone agrees with, but the stats do back it up.

    Any mistakes please just point them out. I have tried to be accurate.

  3. @Nitram,

    to me one of the striking things I have seen is the capacity our forward line has developped to get into position in the adversary’s box. I can remember vividly in the past when Arsenal would be playing the ball around the bus parked in front of the goalkeeper.

    What I see now is players going one on one or rather one on many, foot on the ball and penetrating from right, left or center. There is a will and technical capacity to take the risk. In this regard, there was a mindset shift and probably as well a shift coming from who is playing. Our young guns have confidence. They are having fun, they know they can. And they have bonded, they are a unit. They are hungry.

    Arsenal have now got multiple players with penetration powers, and except for Lacazette, they are all from the new generation. And, I hope Arsenal find a way to keep him as well as Nketiah. Because both have that capability as well and this is something we were sorely lacking (since the Invincibles ?)

    The Wolves game stats of shots on goal was telling in this regard. This against a team expert at parking the bus and not taking in goals.

  4. Just to add, I know this isn’t an exact science. Of course you can have games in which you completely dominate on all parameters from possession to shots and still lose, and visa versa, but they are exceptions. For example:

    Brentford 2 – 0 Arsenal

    65% Possession

    22 Shots

    4 On Target

    0 Goals


    Leicester City 0 – 2 Arsenal

    36 % Possession

    9 Shots

    5 On Target

    2 Goals

    Even Liverpool:

    Leicester City 1 – 0 Liverpool

    63% Possession

    21 Shots

    4 On Target

    0 Goals


    Chelsea 2 – 2 Liverpool

    45% Possession

    10 Shots

    6 On Target

    2 Goals

    So it can happen. You can dominate the ball and not win, or be dominated and get a result, but that doesn’t change the fact that in the long term it pays to keep the ball.

    I will say that something that does stand out, and again it is pretty obvious, hitting the target with your shots is crucial as well, especial in an evenly balanced game.

    By coincidence Leeds were an example of this yesterday.

    Possession in the match against Spurs was exactly 50/50, a close game you would of thought.

    Shots at goal would bear this out. In Fact Leeds out shot Spurs 19 to 15. But here’s the crucial part. Leeds only hit the target twice, Spurs 11 times.

    Which shows you, in an evenly balanced match possession wise other factors then become crucial, and it’s not really surprising that ‘finishing’ is often that crucial factor.

    At the end of the day Spurs had a £150 Million (Not my evaluation) striker and Leeds didn’t.

  5. Chris

    I agree 100%

    As I said, it seems from the statistics we’ve upped our game all round, and yes it is almost certainly down to the increased confidence, and with it, bravado for want of a better word, that that we are seeing from our young guns.

    As for Laca and Nketiah, I too hope we can find a way of keeping them.

  6. One thing is going to happen in the next transfer period : a multitude of players coming to th merket from Russia and Ukraine.
    Sure, they may not be the best players, but still, they will put a downward pressure on the standard type player.

  7. Chris @ 12:24 PM

    Right you are! These attacking players are comfortable in possession, comfortable in traffic and fearless. They attack the box and it’s great to see!

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