By Tony Attwood
There are many comparisons between this season and previous campaigns that can be mulled over, but I’ll just give a couple of thoughts here which relate to our present position.
The first meander considers where Arsenal were after nine games in each of the last ten seasons.
In fact, it turns out that we’ve only been top after ten nine games once before in the past decade and that was in 2013, when by this stage we had picked up 22 points as opposed to 24 this season. We had scored three goals fewer and conceded one goal fewer. (Data from 11v11.)
To the normal league table we’ve added two columns – where we ended up (Pos at End) and the difference between where we were at the end of the season, and where we were after nine games.
|Pos||Team||W||D||L||F||A||GD||Pts||Pos at end||Difference|
So across the decade we have meandered between top and 12th after nine games but across the years we have finished up between second and eighth.
What we find from the final column of that table is that over these last nine years we have taken ourselves up the league after nine games on three occasions, but slipped back on five occasions. Only once have we stayed in the same place: we were second after nine games in 2015 and finished the season in second.
In the 2013/14 season when we were top of the league after nine games we finished the season in fourth.
We started that season with a game against Aston Villa and one of the most bizarre refereeing displays I’ve ever seen at the stadium, resulting in the loss to Villa by 1-3. We then won the next ten games, in the Premier League, Champions League and League Cup. In fact, the next defeat in the league did not come until the 10th match where we lost 1-0 away to Manchester United.
We did however get some compensation for the slippage in the league by winning the FA Cup, and beating Hull City in the final.
So let’s have a look at one more table and see how things stood after nine games for each of those seasons.
Across these 10 seasons, the only times any club has had more than 24 points after nine games was in 2019 and 2017.
In 2019/2020 Liverpool won the league with 99 points, being 18 points above the club in second place, Manchester City.
In 2017/18 when Manchester City had 24 points after nine games they won the league with 100 points, 19 points above the club in second place: Manchester United.
Putting all this together, the omens for Arsenal in terms of where we end up, look good. The omens can’t be specific because in the past ten years no other team has had 24 points, but we can expect from past behaviour that the club will finish in the top four.
Of course, this is all rather tough for those journalists who predicted that the top four would be
- 1: Manchester City (currently 2nd)
- 2: Liverpool (currently 10th)
- 3: Chelsea (currently 4th
- 4: Tottenham Hotspur (currently 3rd)
but then those supercomputers struggle with the weather as well.
Of the teams that came up the expectation was that one or two of them would go back down this season. Those three promoted teams were Fulham, Bournemouth and Nottingham Forest (Forest having come fourth, and won their promotion through the playoffs).
Bournemouth are currently 8th, Fulham are 9th, and Nottingham Forest are 19th.
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