By Tony Attwood
Across the last five years, the average number of points gained by the fourth-placed club is 70. Which of course doesn’t mean that 70 points guarantees fourth place, but it is a good number to aim for at the start of the season.
And it is a reminder of how far Arsenal have slipped in the past five years when we note that only once in these past five seasons have Arsenal got 70 points. The Arsenal average in fact across the last five seasons has been 63.8 points.
But of course, 70 points is just the average, and there is no saying that next season will be an average season.
So although the club needs to be looking for third, for which the average points total is, rather interestingly, only a little above that for fourth place, at 71.6 points across the last five seasons, that does not mean 72 points is definitely going to be enough.
It is perhaps a measure of how far Manchester City and Liverpool have been allowed to creep above the rest of the league that while the average points total for third and fourth place across the last five years is indeed around the 70 to 72 points mark, the average total of points across the last five seasons for the top two clubs of these years was 91.6 for Manchester City and 86.4 for Liverpool.
In short, all the mucking about with managers and booing one’s own team, while ceaselessly getting at Xhaka, has left Arsenal a long way behind as the table below shows. The numbers in each column show the number of points while the last column (“Pos”) is each club’s average position across the last five seasons.
|7||West Ham United||42||52||39||65||56||50.8||8|
Two things really leap out here. One is that Arsenal have been allowed to sink a long way across these five seasons, not just with being sixth in the average points league but having an average number of points 27.2 fewer than Manchester City. That is one hell of a gap to make up. The other is that over the last two seasons we have improved.
We may take some pleasure in noting that the gap to Manchester United who have the fourth-highest average number of points in the past five years, is just 5.2 points. And the fact that we finished 11 points above them last season. But that column showing the average number of points over the past five years does bring home just how disastrous this period had been – if we hadn’t realised already.
However, we might also note that big leaps in the number of points have been achieved by clubs in recent years on one or two occasions. Liverpool for example in 2018 got 75 points, and in 2019 got 97 – a leap of 22 points.
And although we might be thinking of Manchester City as eternally sitting in the top spot, in 2019 having got 98 points they sank down 17 points to finish with 81 the following season.
Chelsea however have been less varied ranging from 66 to 74, a mere 8 points difference between their best and worst achievements in the last five years.
Tottenham Hotspur are more varied going down to 59 in 2020 from 71 the year before, and indeed getting 71 again two years later.
Manchester United however have the biggest variation across the five years going through a drop of 23 points in 2018 down to 58 in 2022.
But what these figures show most of all is that both sudden drops and sudden rises in the number of points a club gains from one season to the next, are not that unusual…
- Manchester City dropped 17 points from 2019 to 2020.
- Liverpool dropped 30 points from 2020 to 2021.
- Arsenal dropped 14 points from 2019 to 2020.
- Manchester United dropped 16 points over the last two seasons
And then we might look down to the club with the next highest average points total – the media’s darlings (in terms of breaking into the top six) Leicester City. Leicester’s average points total has been eight points lower than Arsenal during this period, which might not seem much but this has been headlined as the period in which Leicester will be breaking into the top six.
As the average column shows, they, like West Ham who have also been touted by the media for greater things, are still a very long way behind when we start looking at consistency.
And above all that is the message. The top six really is the top six and although a club from outside the group might slip in occasionally, getting into the top six and staying there is going to be nigh on impossible.