When a club wins the first 3 games of the season, does it win the league?

By Tony Attwood

So now we know; after three games Arsenal are out on their own: three games, three wins, two points ahead of our nearest rivals.

 

Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Arsenal 3 3 0 0 9 2 7 9
2 Manchester City 3 2 1 0 9 3 6 7
3 Leeds United 3 2 1 0 7 3 4 7
4 Tottenham Hotspur 3 2 1 0 7 3 4 7
5 Brighton and Hove Albion 3 2 1 0 4 1 3 7

 

But what does that mean in terms of the rest of the season?

Last season, the media implied throughout all their hyperbole after the first three matches, that the first three games of the season were somehow extra important, as if they told us how the season would develop and end.  The calls for the manager to be sacked suggested that the season would continue in the same course unless he were to leave.

He didn’t leave, as we know, and Arsenal did not end at the foot of the table.  In fact we ended up fifth, and have started this season rather well.

And now that Arsenal are out on their own the media have, of course, changed their tune although the Mirror has renewed its “Saka to Liverpool” tale, not because it’s true, but, well, just in case we felt things had gone too far with the current set of results.

For the one thing about the media is that they never learn.  Just as no one bothered to look at what happened to a club that has lost its opening three matches in the Premier League, so I have also not seen anyone enquire as to what happens to clubs to win their opening three games.  One question is, “how often does it happen?” and another is “how often do they go on and win the league?”

Yet one of the key arguments against the hype concerning last season’s opening three games was that the opening three games don’t always tell you very much.  And indeed that turned out to be the case last season.  But it really would be helpful to know what the media is very much not telling us (once again).  Do the first three games actually mean anything in relation to how the season ends?

And since they won’t do the work, as usual we’ve had to by going back through the last ten years to work out which clubs have won their first three games, and where they ended up at the end of the season.

2021/22

Last season the tiny totts were top with three straight wins without conceding a single goal, which was impressive stuff.  But they then lost their fourth game 3-0 away to Palace and their fifth game in the league 3-0 at home to Chelsea as well as losing their next game 3-1 away to, well, since you ask, Arsenal.  In fact, including games in the Europa Conference league Tottenham started out with just one goal conceded in their first five games, and their first three matches in the league showed…

 

Team P W D L F A GD Pts End
1 Tottenham Hotspur 3 3 0 0 3 0 3 9 4th

 

But in fact by 26 September they had sunk down to 11th in the league with a goal difference of minus five.  It is a good reminder to us all that winning the first three games don’t mean a thing.  Especially if you are Tottenham Hots.

2020/21

 

Team P W D L F A GD Pts End
1 Leicester City 3 3 0 0 12 4 8 9 5th
2 Liverpool 3 3 0 0 9 4 5 9 3rd
3 Everton 3 3 0 0 8 3 5 9 10th

 

It is worth pausing at this point because yes it really is true  Everton won their opening three games – but they finished 10th in the league.  So this winning the opening games lark might not be all it’s cracked up to be.

2019/20

 

Team P W D L F A GD Pts End
1 Liverpool 3 3 0 0 9 3 6 9 1

 

Except that sometimes it is!

2018/19

This season we really did have four clubs getting maximum points in three games, but none of them won the league!

 

Team P W D L F A GD Pts End
1 Liverpool 3 3 0 0 7 0 7 9 2
2 Tottenham Hotspur 3 3 0 0 8 2 6 9 4
3 Chelsea 3 3 0 0 8 3 5 9 3
4 Watford 3 3 0 0 7 2 5 9 11

 

And yes it seems hard to imagine that Watford won their opening three games.  Yet they finished the season in 11th, losing more games than they won!

2017/18

 

Team P W D L F A GD Pts End
1 Manchester United 3 3 0 0 10 0 10 9 2

 

I know it seems funny to think of Manchester United winning three games in a row, but in the old days they tended to win a few things.  Not now of course.  And in 17/18 they came second.

2016/17

 

Team P W D L F A GD Pts End
1 Manchester City 3 3 0 0 9 3 6 9 3
2 Chelsea 3 3 0 0 7 2 5 9 1
3 Manchester United 3 3 0 0 6 1 5 9 6

 

And yes in the days before we realised that Russians were our enemies and weren’t allowed to own our football clubs, they could win the first three games, and win the league.

2015/16

 

Team P W D L F A GD Pts End
1 Manchester City 3 3 0 0 8 0 8 9 4

 

Manchester City were fourth at the end of the season 15 points behind Leicester City.  Arsenal finished runners-up.

2014/15

 

Team P W D L F A GD Pts End
1 Chelsea 3 3 0 0 11 4 7 9 1
2 Swansea City 3 3 0 0 6 1 5 9 8

 

And so another unlikely name in the “winning the first three games” charts: Swansea City.  They finished 8th that season.  Last season they finished 15th in the Championship.

 

2013/14

 

Team P W D L F A GD Pts End
1 Liverpool 3 3 0 0 3 0 3 9 2nd

 

2012/13

 

Team P W D L F A GD Pts End
1 Chelsea 3 3 0 0 8 2 6 9 3

 

So now we know.  In three of the last ten years three of the 18 clubs that are unbeaten in the first three games have won the league.  It happens, but it is not guaranteed.  Five of the 18 have not even finished in the top four – so even that aim is not yet guaraanteed.

But given the choice, I’d sooner have us win the first three games than not.

8 Replies to “When a club wins the first 3 games of the season, does it win the league?”

  1. It was interesting that the Express actually found this stat though:

    “Arsenal’s victory over Bournemouth on Saturday made them the first team since 1939 to win their first three matches of a league season after losing the first three matches of the previous campaign. Everton were the turnaround kings all of 83 years ago and, in a spooky Premier League omen for Mikel Arteta’s men, the Toffees went on to win the league title that year.”

    So, building s to knock us down is my bet!

  2. Mikey,

    not only that, but the problem they have is that it’s kind of difficult today to knock Arsenal on the reality the space continuum we live in.

    The fans are happy as they have not been for years, football played is reminding many of days of yesteryear and showing others that ‘Yes we can’, the manager and the sports director send out positive vibes and get good players, the owners invest and have patience.

    At the same time Manure is going down the drain, City has not yet found its marks, nor does Pool!, so WTF can they write about ? Probably they’re losing earnings as click-baits don’t work as well as they used to.

    In 10 days, you can bet they will start saying that Arsenal have had the easiest starting run in PL history, or even going back 200 years or more, that this is all a fluke, etc etc. not mentionning that a few months ago they were critical because Arsenal could not win these kinds of games.

    But after 3 games, it’s too early.

    as for the trivia bit, maybe they even had to go to the history website of Arsenal to find that information….

  3. Everywhere I read Arsenal are getting the credits, I don’t know the publications some of you read.

    About winning the title, it’s a real possibility. Leicester did it, Milan did it just last season. Lille and Monaco did it in France and Atletico have done it before despite all of them having far richer competition. So why not Arsenal?

    2 point lead at this stage of the season doesn’t really mean much though other than pointing towards an excellent start. We are yet to deal with adversities like injuries or loss of form to really know our character. Our starting 11 can take on any team, trouble starts when we can’t field the preferred 11.

    It would be unlikely to win the title but not entirely impossible. If we continue winning belief can set in so on to the next game.

  4. At the conclusion of Match of the Day 2 last night they could not bring themselves to state who is at the top of the Premier. A complete contrast to a year ago when much was made of us being bottom and looking forward to trips to Ashton Gate etc. It’s all too predictable!

  5. Tony, now that you’ve told us the first 3 games of the season hardly mean much in the long run, can you please stop those “what if we didn’t lose the first 3 games of last season” articles? Thanks for your understanding

  6. @ Chris

    Not much to argue about there!!

    @ Mick

    Absolutely nothing whatsoever to argue about there!!

  7. I am not sure that I have seen very many comments either here or elsewhere which simply ask the publisher not to publish articles of a certain type. After all the reader already has the power: she or he can stop reading, and then the issue is solved. I don’t quite understand why you don’t do that.

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