Arsenal’s salvation: After 30 games we always improve

By Bulldog Drummond

It has taken us four years of mucking about with managers to get us back to the position where we were in 2017 – the penultimate season of the Wenger years.  30 games played, 54 points.    Since then Wenger has been forced out, and we have had one full season with Unai Emery where we were unlucky not to get at least fourth, given that 60 points is normally good enough for fourth if not third.

But let’s check this through the question

“How many points did the club that finally come fourth, have after 30 games?” 

Arsenal currently have 54 points.  This season after 30 games Tottenham were fourth also with 54 points.

  • In 2021 Chelsea game fourth with 67 points.  After 30 games Chelsea had 51 points.
  • In 2020 Chelsea came fourth with 66 points.   After 30 games Chelsea again had 51 points.
  • In 2019 Tottenham came fourth with 71 points.  After 30 games Tottenham had 61 points.
  • In 2018 Liverpool came fourth with 75 points.  After 30 games Liverpool had 60 points
  • In 2017 Liverpool came fourth with 76 points.  After 30 games Liverpool had 59 points.
  • In 2016 Manchester City came fourth with 66 points.  After 30 games Man C had 51 points.

So as you will know, after 30 games Arsenal have 54 points which would turn out to be enough to move on to fourth place by the end of the season, in three of the last six seasons.  So on that basis it could still go either way.

To look at this another way we can look at what the fourth and fifth-placed clubs got by the end of the season…

Season  4th placed club 4th club pts 5th club pts
2020/21 Chelsea 67 66
2019/20 Chelsea 66 62
2018/19 Tottenham Ho 71 70
2017/18 Liverpool 75 70
2016/17 Liverpool 76 75
2015/16 Manchester City 66 66
2014/15 Manchester United 70 64

The gap between fourth and fifth varies year by year between goal difference and six points.  This season it looks like goal difference is unlikely to help us.

So to achieve fourth (which is to say, achieve one more point than the fifth-placed club) the clubs have needed to knock up anything between 63 points and 76 points across the years – which is a fairly large range.

And we must note that Arsenal in 2016/17 got 75 points which in any other season in recent campaigns would be enough to get at least fourth and in 2019/20 more than enough to get third, and yet it wasn’t enough to do the job of securing the Champions League position.

So what we can see is that this is not just about getting enough points.  It is rather obviously all about what sort of season the other top teams are having.

In which case maybe it is just best to look at Arsenal’s progress in recent years and not compare with other teams, in order to see if we are actually making progress.  After all the board has done what the media and some fans wanted in changing managers – not on the scale that Southampton does, but still more often than normal for Arsenal.

So with this in mind, here is the league table in recent seasons after 30 games, plus a note in the penultimate column to show where we actually ended up and in the final column the change between 30 games and the end of the season.

As you will see with 54 points after 30 games we are exactly where Arsenal were in 2017 under Mr Wenger.

30 games Season/mgr W D L F A GD Pts End Change
5th 2022 MA 17 3 10 45 36 9 54
10th 2021 MA 12 6 12 40 35 5 42 8 +2
11th 2020 UE/MA 9 13 8 41 41 0 40 8 +3
4th 2019 UE 18 6 6 63 39 24 60 5 -1
6th 2018 AW 14 6 10 55 41 14 48 6 0
7th 2017 AW 16 6 8 61 39 22 54 5 +2
3rd 2016 AW 16 7 7 48 30 18 55 2 +1
3rd 2015 AW 18 6 6 58 31 27 60 3 0
4th 2014 AW 19 5 6 53 34 19 62 4 0

But reiterating the point made at the start, only once in the past nine years have we finished lower than we were after 30 games – and that was in 2019, one of the three years when 70 points was not enough for fourth.

Pull all this together and given Arsenal’s propensity to go up the league in the last eight games, it would seem we have a fighting chance of still grabbing fourth.  But we need to start by beating Southampton!

So next we will look and see if recent history can tell us anything about our chances of achieving that, and at what Southampton have been up to of late.


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