Arsenal’s opposition in the coming season: Manchester United



Arsenal to finish sixth?  Not likely!

By Tony Attwood

And now of course the Sun has discovered a supercomputer which can be taken away from its day job or predicting the world’s weather or analysing what is going on in the heart of a black hole, and instead tell us who is going to win the Premier League.  (See previous articles for the chance of any supercomputer being turned over to such a primitive task).

Indeed why bother with a supercomputer when in fact everyone is giving you the same as last time except Arsenal slip a bit?

  • 1: Manchester City
  • 2: Liverpool
  • 3: Chelsea
  • 4: Tottenham Hotspur
  • 5: Manchester United
  • 6: Arsenal
  • 7: Newcastle United

… and at the other end suggesting the three newly promoted teams all going down again.

In fact, there has never ever been a Premier League season in which the top four remained the same from one campaign to the next, and this for the simple reason that despite all the money, the tactics, the curious behaviour of referees, and everything else, things outside the control of clubs change.

Players get injured, there is luck, there is the variance in which refs get which teams, there is the influence of the weather, and even the impact of sudden changes of fixture details because of TV requirements….

And yet across the media with all its wealth of insight and knowledge (!) outlet after outlet is suggesting that this coming season, the top four will look the same as last year.

Indeed only three times in the history of the PL has the same club come second, two years running, and two of those were Arsenal under Mr Wenger.  Top four the same? Never!

Thus what the media is universally predicting is a freaky season – and this quite simply as a way of putting the boot in against Arsenal with AFC shown to be dropping to sixth, or even seventh.  And why?  Well, we are never told.  It’s a mythical supercomputer thing.   And I suppose if you believe in supercomputers predicting football results, well, you’ll probably also believe in the man in the moon.

But if we take the Manchester United story from mid-February onward, last season, what we find is… on 22 February they were fourth although Arsenal and Tottenham had played two games fewer.  The tipsters at that moment were pretty much saying the top four would be the top four as it then was.

Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Manchester City 26 20 3 3 63 17 46 63
2 Liverpool 26 18 6 2 70 20 50 60
3 Chelsea 25 14 8 3 49 18 31 50
4 Manchester United 26 13 7 6 44 34 10 46
5 Arsenal 24 14 3 7 38 27 11 45
6 West Ham United 26 12 6 8 45 34 11 42
7 Wolverhampton Wanderers 25 12 4 9 24 20 4 40
8 Tottenham Hotspur 24 12 3 9 31 32 -1 39

What happened is that in their remaining 12 games (fractionally under one third of a season) they lost half their games.  Yes half.  They drew a quarter and won a quarter (which in case you have lost count, is three games).    They beat Tottenham, Norwich and Brentford.

So what has happened to make a team performing like that now outperform Arsenal and rise up to fourth?  Sadly we are not told, but instead, we are asked to take it as a given from a non-existent supercomputer.  The Mighty Reds, the darling of the media, will rise up once again.

Just to show the implication of this, here is the league table based on the last six games of the season (I’m taking six as it is one that we often used last season as a guide to which way Arsenal were travelling). And I’ve put in the whole table because… well, because we are talking about Manchester United.

Also, just for a bit of fun, although it is not relevant to the thrust of this little piece, included are the newly promoted clubs, with of course their record across the last six games in the Championship.

 
Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Manchester City 6 5 1 0 24 6 18 16
2 Liverpool 6 5 1 0 11 4 7 16
3 Tottenham Hots 6 4 2 0 13 2 11 14
4 Bournemouth 6 4 2 0 12 4 8 14
5 Nottingham Forest 6 4 1 1 12 3 9 13
6 Arsenal 6 4 0 2 12 9 3 12
7 Newcastle Utd 6 4 0 2 8 7 1 12
8 Brighton and Hove 6 3 2 1 13 7 6 11
9 Crystal Palace 6 3 2 1 7 5 2 11
10 Leicester City 6 3 1 2 15 8 7 10
11 Brentford 6 3 1 2 9 8 1 10
12 Everton 6 3 1 2 9 11 -2 10
13 Chelsea 6 2 3 1 9 6 3 9
14 Aston Villa 6 2 2 2 10 8 2 8
15 Fulham 6 2 1 3 12 8 4 7
16 West Ham United 6 1 2 3 9 9 0 5
17 Leeds United 6 1 2 3 4 11 -7 5
18 Manchester Utd 6 1 1 4 5 13 -8 4
19 Wolverhampton Wand 6 0 2 4 5 15 -10 2
20 Southampton 6 0 1 5 5 15 -10 1

Now I am obviously not saying that this is how it will be next season and yes sometimes transfers can work wonders.  But let us look at where Manchester United were… if you could be relegated for performances in the last six games, they’d be on the way down.

Of course, I am not saying Manchester United are going down (although, unlike Arsenal, they have been relegated since the first world war), but I am just pondering what this belief in a Manchester United revival is based on.   Quite possibly a view that no matter what they can’t be that bad again.

Yes, Arsenal are indeed sixth in the table above, but although some prognosticators with their make-believe supercomputers are predicting an Arsenal decline, I most certainly don’t think we’ll do worse than the newly promoted clubs.  I’m still going for third or fourth and for Manchester United to slip, not Arsenal.

 

 

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