By Tony Attwood
Quote of the weekend: Garth Crooks on Granit Xhaka: “On his day he’s a very good player. He should have left Arsenal years ago.”
I thought we might continue our earlier thoughts (Comparing 2022/3 to Wenger’s title seasons: more points, more goals, more wins) by tracing back how Arsenal were doing after seven games in recent years. The aim of course, was to see when we had done as well as this in the first seven league matches, and what happened in the rest of the season.
In short, does 18 points from the first seven suggest Arsenal can win the league? Here are the tables from the first seven games across the years.
Let’s pause at 2019/20 and just think about the teams that were around Arsenal on that occasion.
|5||West Ham United||7||3||3||1||10||9||1||12|
If we want to investigate how well Leicester and West Ham are doing now, looking at the top of the league is no good in this regard; Leicester are actually bottom with one point and West Ham are 18th with four points, two points from safety. Which does rather make the point that gimmicks, luck and a stadium paid for by the taxpayer (ie me) are not enough to keep a club at the top for a sustained amount of time. Both are favourites for relegation.
Leicester’s problem is reportedly the fact that they used the money of their owner to buy as many players as they fancied and so broke FFP regulations. And they did this having previously paid out over £4m in fines for previous breaches, which is a bit silly. In fact, they made £61m profit in this summer’s window, but it seems that wasn’t enough to undo their naughty behaviour. Pesky things, these rules especially as the owners were completely sure the rules didn’t apply to them, what with them having won the league and the cup.
But let’s turn back to the comparisons – remember we are looking to see if we have had more than 18 points after seven games, or scored more than 17 goals…
So we’ve gone back 12 years and not found a single season in which we scored more goals or got more points in the first seven games. We have found two seasons in which we had a slightly better defence, but that’s about it. It looks like we are going to have to go back further.
Eight of the clubs who were in the Premier League in 2010/11 are no longer in the league (West Brom, Stoke, Blackpool, Sunderland, Bolton, Blackburn, Wigan and Birmingham) and it is interesting for a moment to pause once more and look at the foot of the table after seven goals that season.
|20||West Ham United||7||1||2||4||5||14||-9||5|
I wonder, did the media go as berserk about Liverpool in 2010/11 as they did about Arsenal losing the first three games in 2021/2? They actually won just one of their first eight league games. But they were Liverpool, so I think it wasn’t really their fault.
Continuing a little further…. and we come to 2009/10, the year we were really scoring goals…
And yep, finally we have got there in 2007/8. Six wins and a draw, 16 scored and four conceded. And we may note, 24 goals scored in 2009/10 – one more than Manchester City this season.
Arsenal were top of the league on 11 February 2008 but then crashed out of the FA Cup 4-0 to Manchester United, drew at home in the Champions League with Milan (although did later beat them away to go through), but then won only one of the next six league games. And thus ultimately finished third in the league.
By chance third is what Untold predicted through the summer for Arsenal this season, while the entire national media was suggesting the club would at best finish fifth.
But having ploughed back through the records what we can say is that this is our best start since 2007/08 – our best in 14 years. Which is certainly something worth getting excited about.
Third place will take us back into the Champions League, which brings in a lot more money and makes the club more attractive to players Arteta wishes to buy.
And remember, we are doing all this with the youngest squad in the league.
- How the media got their predictions so wrong, but no one apologised.
- Reports of Arsenal being in breach of FFP turned out to be completely wrong
- Arsenal v Wolverhampton: their problems with fouls and cards, and the team
- Arsenal v Wolverhampton: the club that gets cards at over twice the rate of Arsenal
- Arsenal v Wolverhampton Wanderers: where will each team finish?
- Arsenal v Lens: what we found, what we felt, what they did
- Arsenal v Lens: the team, the home/away form and the strange coincidences