By Tony Attwood
- Albert Stuivenberg and “North London Forever”: two events from the weekend
- How many points does it usually take to win the league: or come fourth?
Of late I have been taking a look match by match at Arsenal’s position after a set number of games, just to see how the club is progressing compared with previous seasons.
I thought I would take this one stage further this time around and add an extra column on the right hand side which would show how far we were from the club at the top of the league, and how many points behind them we were at this stage each season.
The aim of this is to find a further measure as to how much Arsenal are progressing year on year, (or not).
So I’ve plotted a chart which shows where the club was after 35 games in each of the past 10 seasons, along with that bit of extra information.
Under “Year” I’ve noted the managerial change (the meaning of the asterisks is at the foot of the table).
And in the final column (Pts from top) I’ve noted how far behind the league leaders we were after 35 games in recent years. I’ve also added some managerial details
|Pos||Year||P||W||D||L||F||A||GD||Pts||Pts from top|
|4||2022 A||35||21||3||11||56||42||14||66||20 (Man City)|
|9||2021 A||35||15||7||13||49||38||11||52||28 (Man City)|
|9||2020***||35||12||14||9||51||44||7||50||43 (Man City)|
|6||2018*||35||17||6||12||67||48||19||57||36 (Man City)|
|5||2017||35||20||6||9||68||42||26||66||18 (Man City)|
|4||2013||35||18||10||7||66||36||30||64||21 (Man U)|
- *Arsene Wenger left at the end of the season and was replaced by Unai Emery
- **Unai Emery season
- *** Unai Emery sacked and replaced eventually by Mikel Arteta
- A: Mikel Arteta’s seasons.
The first thing to notice is that we have to go back to 2015 and 2014 to find a time when we had more than 66 points at this stage. Indeed it has only happened twice in all of the last ten seasons. that we have had over 66 points after 35 games. So there is real progress
In 2013/14 we finished fourth
And in 2014/15 we finished third
So this season is our third-best performance in terms of points, across the last ten years.
But of course we are not completely back to the Wengerian level yet since although the points total is getting better, it is still quite a way below what we were used to. The nearest to the current level of 56 goals was 58 in 2016. But the decline in goal scoring since 2019 has been reversed to some degree and we are above the last two seasons with the number of goals scored.
Our defence however is worse than last season, despite spending £150m on defenders last summer, but it is better than all the years going back to 2015/6, and really not that far off the level that was achieved under Wenger.
But it is goal difference that needs to be improved to get back to the Wenger “fourth is not a trophy” years where a goal difference in the 20s and 30s was the norm.
So this is progress, but it is a step by step affair. And to be fair, we are still some distance from those seasons under Wenger when we would (to the derision of some fans) end up fourth – for generally then we were only 10 to 18 points behind the leaders at this stage.
So moving on, we now have Tottenham and Newcastle away, and then Everton at home to finish off the season.
The Tottenham game away is of course a law unto itself, and there is no telling what might happen. They have had a defeat, two draws and a win in their last four, in comparison with our four wins, but the drive for Tottenham to try and get back into the top four (having finished 6th and 7th in the last two seasons) is as strong as Arsenal’s.
Newcastle have recovered by are still below midway in the table, and they have won two and lost two of the last four (although to be fair the two defeats were against Liverpool and Manchester City.
Finally Everton are looking safe, having a point more and a game in hand over Leeds and Burnley, so they could well be completely safe by the time of the last game, although they have been showing much more resistance of late beating Chelsea and Leicester in the last two matches.
Tottenham could end up with 71 points if they win two of their final three matches, their other two being against Burnley and Norwich, both of whom look very beatable. They have a better goal difference than Arsenal so we would need 72 points – which means two wins out of those three – Newcastle away, Everton at home. Our best bet would be to beat Tottenham on Thursday, for that on its own would be enough to secure fourth.
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