By Tony Attwood
Since the Premier League was reduced to its current size of 20 clubs playing 38 games, in 1995/6, there have been 26 seasons. In ten of those seasons (so that is just over one third) the top club has got 90 points or more.
But, five of those ten seasons have been the last five seasons of the Premier League. 90 points plus to win the league has become the new normal.
Only five clubs have managed 90 points in a season in the 38 game era and those are Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, and Manchester United.
So it seems if Arsenal seriously are aiming for the top, 90 points or more is what they have to be aiming for.
In the table below in the final line I’ve added what Arsenal achieved last season to compare with teams that have won with 90 plus points…
And of course it is not only points that are needed, it is goals too. The average number of goals by a team scoring 90+ points to win the league is 85.2. The average number of goals against was 27.4.
Now I am not sure anyone is actually saying that Arsenal is going to jump from fifth last season to title contenders this coming season, but it is nonetheless interesting to see just how far behind Arsenal have slipped since the end of the era when Arsenal always ended up in the top four.
Last season, Arsenal were 24 points behind Manchester City, 38 goals behind that club and conceded 22 goals more than Manchester City.
In the simplest of terms 24 points means turning eight of the league defeats of last season into victories – and in looking at this I am not suggesting that the club is going to achieve this in one go, but rather just note it as the target.
Now in the article “What are Arsenal’s chances of the top 4 next season” we ran the big six table for last season, and rather depressing reading it made. But depressing or not, if we are going to look at the level of improvement needed that table needs to be contemplated
Getting a win over Manchester City is what is needed as one step to picking up those 24 points. And this shows the depth of Arsenal’s problem. For the last time we beat them in the League was 21 December 2015. Since then there have been 13 league games without a victory, including ten consecutive defeats.
If we are looking for a hint of sunlight in such a gloomy list it must be that three of the last four have only been lost by one goal (although the other match was a 5-0 drubbing).
That shows how far we have to travel. But what about other members of the top four from last season? For if we are not going to aim for the top but seriously aim for the top four we have to be beating some of them.
With Liverpool, the record is not quite so horrific. It is just four defeats in a row since we last beat Liverpool – on 5 July 2020. But in those four subsequent games we have conceded 12 and scored just one. The League Cup matches last season were closer but even so, we lost.
Chelsea have proven to be much easier pickings for us of late, for in the last four games we have won three and lost one. The goal scoring has been better too, eight in our favour, five against.
And so to the games against Tottenham. In the last eight league matches, we have won three, they have one three and there have been two draws. We have scored 14 and they have scored… 14.
So across the recent years, we have been very much on a par or above Tottenham and Chelsea, but a million miles behind Manchester City and Liverpool. The target must surely be cementing that position concerning Tottenham and Chelsea and trying to pick up draws rather than defeats against the top two.
But finally what about Manchester United who were sinking without much trace last season, and yet who the pundits all seem to think will have a miraculous revival this coming year. Across the last ten league games between the two Arsenal have won four, Manchester United have won three and there have been three draws. In fact, just take the last eight and it has been four wins to us, three draws and just one to them.
In every regard, the big gap is between Arsenal and the top two. Our target really is moving up to third, and leaving the assault on the top for later. Third or fourth may still not be a trophy, but they are better than fifth.
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