Arsenal: the most improved PL team over last 44 games

By Tony Attwood

The prime thing to remember is that there is not the slightest chance in the world of anyone doing football predictions using a supercomputer, so any article that claims to do so, is lying from its headline onward.  But it is still possible to use some basic maths to predict the outcome of the season.

So instead of claiming supercomputer predictions, with Arsenal preparing to play again, I thought it might be interesting to see how the league table after six games last season looked compared with this season.

The table below takes the clubs’ position after six matches and their position at the end of the season, and then, for the final column sees how much change there has been between the six-game position and the end of the campaign.

The biggest change downward came with Everton who were 5th after six games last season, then almost sank with trace and just avoided relegation at the end, slipping down 11 places to end of 16th.   The biggest rise came from Tottenham who rose up seven places from 11th to fourth.

In fact only eight teams ended up either in the same position as they were after six games or were one place either better or worse off.  So, obviously, the majority of clubs moved by two or more places.

Last season the club that was top after six games ended up second, which I am sure would disappoint if compared with where we are now, but would please most of us given that the entire media predicted Arsenal would come in fifth or sixth.

But the majority of the clubs in the league either didn’t move or moved by three of fewer places, so in fact large movements can be seen to be somewhat unusual.

Two of the three clubs eventually relegated were already in the bottom three after six matches (Burnley and Norwich) and three of the top four after six games, stayed in the top four.  The one to drop out was Manchester United who were overtaken by Tottenham.

What is particularly interesting is the position of Leicester who were lingering in 13th after six games last season but ended up five places higher in eighth, and now are bottom.  That’s the problem one can get when relying on success emerging from referees not giving fouls against the club or giving penalties in their favour.  When that pattern changes it can be that there is nothing else to replace it.  

Pos after 6, 2021/2 Team end 2021/22 change from game 6 to game 38 position NOW change from  end of last season to now
11 Tottenham Hotspur 4 +7 3 +1
17 Newcastle United 11 +6 11 0
13 Leicester City 8 +5 20 -12
10 Arsenal 5 +5 1 +4
14 Wolverhampton Wanderers 10 +4 14 -4
15 Crystal Palace 12 +3 15 -3
2 Manchester City 1 +1 2 -1
16 Southampton 15 +1 12 +3
18 Leeds United 17 +1 9 +8
19 Burnley 18 +1
20 Norwich City 20 0
7 West Ham United 7 0 18 -11
3 Chelsea 3 0 6 -3
1 Liverpool 2 -1 7 -5
4 Manchester United 6 -2 5 +1
6 Brighton and Hove Albion 9 -3 4 +5
9 Brentford 13 -4 8 +5
8 Aston Villa 14 -6 17 -3
12 Watford 19 -7
5 Everton 16 -11 16 0

Nine out of the 17 clubs that were in the league last season and are still there have moved only between 0 and 3 places, so again we see the same level of stability in the majority, and we can say that for the majority of clubs they will end up either in the same position or no more than three places higher or lower than than they are now.  For most clubs, much of the challenge is already all over!   However, we must remember three clubs have moved over 10 places.

Of course, a movement of three places can be enough to drop a club into relegation, save it from relegation, get into Europe or miss out totally on a possible European spot.  And Arsenal’s rise of four places is certainly something that could be maintained through to the end of the season.  A four-place change is definitely not completely impossible.

This is not to say I am expecting Arsenal to stay at the top of the season.  We predicted third place this season, while the media predicted fifth, so we are staying with third.as our prediction.

So in the end what history shows is that change is possible and for a few clubs significant change can happen.  But the chances are that two of the clubs that will be relegated are already in the bottom three, and three of the clubs that will make up the top four, are already in the top four.

Quite possibly one team will do an Everton again this season and sink by 11 places down to the “almost relegated” positions, and the most likely contender for that honour will be Brighton and Hove, with either Liverpool, Chelsea or Manchester United grabbing one of the top four places.

If Leicester do go down, as seems likely after 16% of the season, they would then probably be favourites to rise straight back up as most of the Championship and its referees won’t be used to their particular use the foul and penalty regulations that we have so often discussed.

Here’s the table as it now stands…

 

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

 

Tackles, fouls and yellow cards

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