Arsenal’s move toward winning the league: how is it progressing?

By Tony Attwood

A lot of football commentary is based on certainties.  Certainties about the number of points needed, the number of goals needed, the need for a top scorer to get those goals, the need for a new defender….

Indeed the general tenor of commentary is that there are absolutes.  This player is not good enough, this manager doesn’t know what he is doing, we need player x…

And yet the reality is that in football there are no certainties and no absolutes at all.

Take these as an example:

In 1990 we got 62 points and came… fourth.   In 1990 Liverpool got 79 points and … won the league.  In 2014 we got 79 points …. and came fourth.

So clearly the number of points needed to win the league is variable but is generally on the rise.  Indeed looking back to our best season, in 2004 when we got 90 points, we can see that figure has been exceeded six times since then.  Of course, no one has created an unbeaten season since Arsenal, but in six of the following 17 seasons our total number of points for that magical season has been exceeded.

In four of the last five years the winning club has got over 92 points.  Since 2003 the lowest number of title-winning points has been 80.

So if Arsenal are aiming for another title that is the route we have to take.  Get up to 80 points, and then go up into the 90s.  

Now Arsenal has only achieved over 80 points on five occasions.  Once in 1990/1 in Division 1, and four times in the Premier League

  • 90 points in 2003/4 winning the Premier League scoring 73 goals.
  • 87 points in 2001/2 winning the Premier League scoring 79 goals.
  • 83 points in 2007/8 coming third in the Premier League scoring 74 goals.
  • 83 points in 2004/5 coming second in the Premier League scoring 87 goals.
  • 83 points in 1990/1 when we won the First Division scoring 74 goals.

And here’s a thought – in all of the Premier League seasons in which we got 80+ points we had a striker scoring 30 or more goals in the League.  In 2007/8 it was Adebayor, in the other seasons it was Thierry Henry.  So either we need one of those, or our amazing midfield needs to be knocking in even more goals.

So now how many points and how many goals should we be looking for to be winning the title?  Not that I am saying we should aim for the title next season – next season I am hoping for a further improvement and maybe a cup, not the league.

This is what the winning Premier League club has got in recent seasons:

  • 2021 – 86 points and 83 goals.
  • 2020 – 99 points and 85 goals
  • 2019 – 98 points and 95 goals
  • 2018 – 100 points and 106 goals
  • 2017 – 93 points and 85 goals
  • 2016 – 81 points and 68 goals
  • 2015 – 87 points and 73 goals
  • 2014 – 86 points and 102 goals
  • 2013 – 89 points and 86 goals
  • 2012 – 89 points and 93 goals

What is also interesting is that four of those six seasons, when over 90 points have been reached, have come together in the last five seasons.

In other words, the way things are at the moment means that we going to have to target getting over 90 points and over 80 goals to win the league.  Neither will guarantee a position at the top of the league, but they will help.

Now 90 points mean 2.37 points per game on average across the season.  This season we are running on 1.93.  However across the last 20 games we are running at 2.15 points per game.  Not enough to take us top of the league, but certainly a very strong move in the right direction.

As for the goals, if we were to set 85 goals as a target that would mean 2.23 goals per game.  This season we are running at 1.57 goals per game.  But in the last 20 games this is up to 1.87 goals per game. Again not there yet, but on the way.

So if we are not there in terms of trying to win the league, what about moving up one position to third?

Last season Liverpool scored 68 goals and 69 points through the season, which works out at 1.79 goals per game and 1.82 points per game.  In the last 20 games, we have been exceeding that.  So we have been operating at the level of the third-best team in the league.  A good starting point for the next campaign.

None of this means that I will rush out and celebrate, but I am realistic enough to know that getting up to the points and goals totals that Manchester City and Liverpool are now achieving is not going to be achieved this season.  And unless something quite extraordinary happens, won’t happen next season either.

But I want that progression to move on – and to move on in a realistic way, rather than a great rush followed by a slip back.  A regular place in the Champions League, as Mr Wenger delivered from 1998 onward, is the next step forward.  And when we’ve got that I don’t want it to slip away because the foundations were not right.

3 Replies to “Arsenal’s move toward winning the league: how is it progressing?”

  1. Inasmuch as i agree with all you’ve did Tony but i think we can fight for the league next season,with the right amount of players in some specific positions and Arteta already getting the enough experience in the league,who says we can’t do a Leicester? We keep the core of our players,get in ones to replace the ones that will leave with a mixture of youth and experience,which we already have in the team, Arsenal can definitely fight for the league title.

  2. after playing 28 games this season and looking at Arsenal current position in the league, the club target is playing in the CL next season. i agreed that even if we don’t challenge for the PL title for the next 3 season, the club ambition is to keep our place in the CL spots every season without slip up. for me, realistically that’s the standard or level the club should set and our biggest challenge of course to maintain our consistency. yes, we shouldn’t rush things but i think if we manage to get back into the CL, the club and the players of course will evolve into greater height. it’s scary (in a good way) to think what this group of young players with resolute ambition will turn into once they got the taste of CL football. once they set their goals for themself and collectively as a group (aiming for CL football), this ambitious and fearless young team will be sight to behold. (wow, my imagination just run wild) but i hope i got to see it sooner rather than later

  3. I fully agree that with the actual squad and coming from where we are coming, Arsenal are on an upward trajectory.
    However, there is no way that I can see now to compete financially with the 3 teams in front of us, United or Newcastle.

    So to me what needs to be done and accepted as a goal is a few years of stabilisation in the top 4, with Cl each year so that the financial situation gets stabilised and a new series of CL participations is started. Add an FA Cup or 2, and it would be perfect. in 2 or 3 seasons, finances will be in far better shape, the lub will have an aura that is much more positive and today’s youngsters will be experienced and see to it that the next generation integrates the team. Keep them together as much as possible. Groom that identity.

    Let’s not pressure the youngsters too much. I’m sure they want to win it all, but having a bonfire à la Leicester should not be the aim.
    Long term planning and development of the club is the important thing Liverpool understood that in the last decade and it took them more then 2 or 3 seasons to mount a comeback.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *