by Tony Attwood
The story that Arsenal had a horror opening fixture list, started before the fixtures were even announced, with the Sun coming out with a catastrophically inaccurate “leaked” (ie made-up) fixture list for the new season. Indeed this “leaked fixture list” was a complete load of total gibberish although curiously, the newspaper never offered an apology for misleading its readership.
So as a wish not to be associated with such a hoax, we then had headlines like Arsenal and Wolves in 3 clubs with easiest fixtures to start new PL season we tended to steer clear even though that sort of story has been popping up regularly as the season has progressed.
But with Arsenal now having played fractionally under on third of their league games this season, and while the majority of clubs have played just over one-third of their fixtures it seemed like a good time to see how Arsenal have been doing not just in the league itself (for I think we all know Arsenal are top!) but also in terms of games played against the other top sides.
And given that Newcastle now have all the money they need to break into the traditional top six it seems like a good time to consider them as part of the gang as well. So let’s look first at whether any of the “solvent seven” have had a tougher time so far this season in playing each other, than the rest of the group.
On average we would have expected clubs from the Group of Seven to have played three or four games against each other so far. Arsenal have indeed played three such games, as have Manchester City.
Chelsea however have only had two games against the other big boys, while Manchester United have had the toughest time, playing six such games. Liverpool have had four, Tottenham five and Newcastle four.
This means if we are going to make any sense out of this we will need not only to build a league table, but also incorporate a table based on average points per game, to see how each club is getting on against the rest.
So to start doing the comparisons, let’s consider the actual league table for these seven clubs. Here’s the table as it stands this morning.
And now by way of comparison, we come to the league table built out of games between these seven clubs. The position figure in the first column once again relates to the actual position in the Premier League, by way of comparison, while all other figures are just for games between these seven clubs…
And now, because the number of games played varies between two and six, we have the table for these seven selected clubs based on the points per game from these matches between each other. Again the “pos” column shows each club’s position in the complete league table at this moment.
This table is rather reassuring in my opinion, in that it shows even taking into account only those games against other top teams, Arsenal still comes out on top. It might also explain headlines such as GRAEME SOUNESS: I sense a power struggle at Tottenham which recently appeared in the Mail. Tottenham’s excuses are already being made.
The table also shows just how topsy-turvy the matches are between these seven clubs. Liverpool are performing the worst out of the seven in the full league, but when it comes to playing each other they are doing moderately well. Manchester City, however who are chasing Arsenal at the top, are only the fourth best performing team against other members of the big seven.
Of course, this can be seen as an arbitrary league made up of seven clubs, and there is something in that. But also we must note that these are the seven clubs that are expected to do particularly well. And it is interesting to see that Tottenham are struggling when they come up against their peers, as it were.
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