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Premier League Betting and Odds

Why beating the Little 14 is more important than beating the rest of the Big 6

By Tony Attwood

Today’s kick around story in the media is that Arsenal are in a dire position because we have a terrible record against the other members of the traditional “big six” (which is today Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, and Manchester United).  And this is the reason why Arsenal are (according to the critics) unlikely to make it into the top four come the end of the season.

As ever, when an assertion starts to be made widely, Untold likes to have a look at the data and see if this backs up the claim.

And certainly, Arsenal’s Premier League results against the other “big six” teams have been poor this season with six defeats and one victory.

Date Match Res Score
22 Aug 2021 Arsenal v Chelsea L 0-2
28 Aug 2021 Manchester City v Arsenal L 5-0
26 Sep 2021 Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur W 3-1
20 Nov 2021 Liverpool v Arsenal L 4-0
2 Dec 2021 Manchester United v Arsenal L 3-2
1 Jan 2022 Arsenal v Manchester City L 1-2
16 Mar 2022 Arsenal v Liverpool L 0-2

As for Tottenham they have lost five, drawn 1 and won two such games.

Date Match Res Score
15 Aug 2021 Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester City W 1-0
19 Sep 2021 Tottenham Hotspur v Chelsea L 0-3
26 Sep 2021 Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur L 3-1
30 Oct 2021 Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester United L 0-3
19 Dec 2021 Tottenham Hotspur v Liverpool D 2-2
23 Jan 2022 Chelsea v Tottenham Hotspur L 2-0
19 Feb 2022 Manchester City v Tottenham Hotspur W 2-3
12 Mar 2022 Manchester United v Tottenham Hotspur L 3-2

And then we come to Manchester United who have won three, lost three and drawn one.

Date Match Res Score
24 Oct 2021 Manchester United v Liverpool L 0-5
30 Oct 2021 Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester United W 0-3
06 Nov 2021 Manchester United v Manchester City L 0-2
28 Nov 2021 Chelsea v Manchester United D 1-1
02 Dec 2021 Manchester United v Arsenal W 3-2
06 Mar 2022 Manchester City v Manchester United L 4-1
12 Mar 2022 Manchester United v Tottenham Hotspur W 3-2

So on the basis of the premise that it is the results against other members of the big six which determine success or failure, what we should find is that Arsenal are behind the rest by quite a way, with Manchester United comfortably leading the charge of the also-rans.

But in fact, that is not reflected in the league table as it currently stands, because Tottenham and Arsenal are on the same number of points, but with Arsenal having a game in hand, while Manchester United are three points behind Arsenal, Arsenal once more having a game in hand

Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Manchester City 30 23 4 3 70 18 52 73
2 Liverpool 30 22 6 2 77 20 57 72
3 Chelsea 29 17 8 4 58 23 35 59
4 Tottenham Hotspur 30 17 3 10 52 37 15 54
5 Arsenal 29 17 3 9 44 34 10 54
6 West Ham United 31 15 6 10 51 40 11 51
7 Manchester United 30 14 9 7 49 41 8 51

So how come success or failure in the Premier League doesn’t relate directly to success or failure against other members of the “big six”?

The fact is that of the 38 games in a season, rather obviously only ten of these are against other big six clubs.  So 84 points are up for grabs against other teams and only 30 points are available against the other members of the traditional “big six”.

Thus although many of us can get a particular emotional thrill from beating other members of  the “big six” such an action is far less important than beating the other 14 clubs in the league.

But – and this is the big problem – journalists love, above anything else, simplicity.  So suggesting that a club is not making any progress because it is not beating the other members of the big six enough, is a nice simple easy to write an article.

In fact, there is not a big six, there is in fact a big three.  Now of course in the minds of journalists changing around from a big six to a big something else is a little bit too much either for them or their readers, and so they stick with the big six, even though for much of this season there has been an interloper in West Ham.

Speaking of which, what have they been doing in playing the members of the big six their results

Date Match Res Score
19 Sep 2021 West Ham United v Manchester United L 1-2
24 Oct 2021 West Ham United v Tottenham Hotspur W 1-0
7 Nov 2021 West Ham United v Liverpool W 3-2
28 Nov 2021 Manchester City v West Ham United L 2-1
4 Dec 2021 West Ham United v Chelsea W 3-2
15 Dec 2021 Arsenal v West Ham United L 2-0
22 Jan 2022 Manchester United v West Ham United L 1-0
5 Mar 2022 Liverpool v West Ham United L 1-0
20 Mar 2022 Tottenham Hotspur v West Ham United L 3-1

They have won three and lost six against the “big six”.  If we calculated Arsenal’s figures to include West Ham they would be “won two and lost six” – so West Ham are still above us in the “Big Seven table” … except that in the actual league Arsenal are three points ahead of West Ham with two games in hand.

The point is such tables as the big six can give some insights, but normally they do nothing other than confirm what the league table shows us.  Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool are out in front, with Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester United straggling.  

Of course it is nice if Arsenal beat other members of the big six, but it is actually of more value if we can regularly pick up the three points against the rest. 

The last time Arsenal lost a match against one of the little 14 was on 6 December when we lost to Everton.  Since then we have played 12 games against members of the Little 14 and lost one of them.  That is the form that gets us back into the top four.  Victories over other members of the top four can come in the future.  For the moment it is winning against the little 14 is the priority.

7 comments to Why beating the Little 14 is more important than beating the rest of the Big 6

  • bushido

    i wouldn’t go as far as to say it’s unimportant because when you are fighting for the same positions, the matches between the big 6 become massive considered what’s at stakes and allow the team lot of breathing space if we manage to pickup decent result against big 5/6 oppositions. to dismiss that notion as unimportant is somehow kind of undermines our own team and if this young Gunners what to evolve into greater height they have to somehow stamp their authority onto the big 5/6 rivals. and it’s humiliating when our big club sometime get his butt kicked by the little 14 clubs

  • Mikey

    The “big six” is a figment of the media’s imagination. We play 19 other teams each season. If we lost every game against the other five of the “big six” we’d drop 30 points. If we won every other game, we’d collect 84 points over the season.

    That would have been enough to see us in the top 3 every year for the last ten years and been enough for one premier league title. The media make up stories to suit an agenda and that agenda certainly isn’t about showing Arsenal in a good light.

    What matters is how we do against the “big 20”, not just against a small minority of them.

  • jod

    If and only if clubs always beat the clubs they should beat then matches against clubs you wouldn’t expect to beat would be important. But in practice that doesn’t happen, certainly not this season. Every game is worth three points regardless of the opposition, whoever wins most games comes out on top, there are no extra points for beating better teams. Maybe the City v Liverpool game is a season decider this time around. But if it is its only because of City losing to Spurs when everyone still had them down as title winners. Its not just journalist who like simplistic analysis, plenty of fans make similar comments.

  • John L

    The obvious point, however, is that in addition to the 3 point which we would hope to get against all 19 opponents, there is significance in being able to deprive the opponents of their potential 3 points. Thus a win against a top team does have added importance.

    The converse is true for teams fighting relegation, epitomised in Burnley v Everton this week. I don’t suppose that either club cares what happens in matches involving teams near the top of the table.

    The plus 3 is the same in any match; it’s the minus 3 which may count for more!

  • Nitram

    Tony

    “Today’s kick around story in the media is that Arsenal are in a dire position because we have a terrible record against the other members of the traditional “big six” (which is today Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, and Manchester United). And this is the reason why Arsenal are (according to the critics) unlikely to make it into the top four come the end of the season”.

    Well, Part One of that statement is true. Part Two most definitely isn’t. If it was we wouldn’t be where we are would we ? 5th, on level points with Spurs and with a game in hand.

    When I do my predictions my system never has us doing great against the ‘big six’ yet even with Chelsea, Spurs and Man Utd left to play I still have us to finish level on points with Spurs.

    ARSENAL

    H Brighton 13th = 3 pts
    A South’ton 12th = 3 pt
    A Chelsea 3rd = 0 pts
    H Man Utd 7th = 3 pts
    A West Ham 6th = 1 pt
    H Leeds 16th = 3 pts
    A Tottenham 4th = 0 pts
    A Newcastle 15th = 3 pts
    H Everton 17th = 3 pts

    Total = 54 pts 19 pts = 73 POINTS

    TOTTENHAM

    A A.Villa 11th = 3 pt
    H Brighton 13th = 3 pts
    A Brentford 14th = 3 pts
    H Leicester 10th = 1 pts
    A Liverpool 2nd = 0 pts
    H Arsenal 5th = 3 pts
    H Burnley 19th = 3 pts
    A Norwich 20th = 3 pts

    Total = 54 pts + 19 pts = 73 POINTS

    As you can see I have us to lose against both Chelsea and Spurs, which I think is likely, and even dropping 2 points at West Ham. The one big team I have us to get a result against is Man utd at home. Now given they are currently languishing down in 7th place, and given their current level of performance, I am reasonably confident we can beat them at home.

    Obviously with the system I implement for my predictions we do have to ‘put away’ all the others from the ‘Little 14’, but that’s what we have been doing. Why should that suddenly change? And if it doesn’t we are still in a great position to come 4th.

    But as I said prior to the Crystal Palace game, which I predicted a draw for, and it was always going to be extremely tough, any defeat there was going to mean that all of a sudden we are the worst team in Europe.

    So as much as doing better against the traditional ‘Big Six’ would give us more latitude against the ‘Little 14’ it is not a problem as long as we put the ‘Little’ones away.

    Plus of course with my system, we have an ‘ace in the hole’ because any sort of result at the Toilet Bowl swings things massively in our favour.

  • Sammy The Snake

    EPL consists of four mini-leagues:

    Top 3: Fighting for a championship

    Next 5: Fighting for Euro spots

    Mid-table: 8 teams happy to stay in EPL

    Bottom 4: Fighting for relegation

  • Lakh

    You’ll have to revise your predictions sir

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