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By Walter Broeckx
Is losing games the worst thing that can happen to you when you want to win the title? At first sight you might answer this question with : yes.
But let us try to analyse this a bit deeper and take a look at the last 10 years in the league and look at what caused losing titles most: winning, losing or drawing a game?
In 2000-2001 we had as a final table
- Man united 38 24 8 6 80 points
- Arsenal 38 20 10 8 70 points
In 2001-2002 we had as final table
- Arsenal 38 26 9 2 87 points
- Liverpool 38 24 8 6 80 points
In 2002-2003 we had as a final table
- Man united 38 25 8 5 83 points
- Arsenal 38 23 9 6 78 points
In 2003-2004 we had as a final table
- Arsenal 38 26 12 0 90 points
- Chelsea 38 24 7 7 79 points
In 2004-2005 we had as a final table
- Chelsea 38 29 8 1 95 points
- Arsenal 38 25 8 5 83 points
In 2005-2006 we had as a final table
- Chelsea 38 29 4 5 91 points
- Man United 38 25 8 5 83 points
In 2006 – 2007 we had as a final table
- Man United 38 28 5 5 89 points
- Chelsea 38 24 11 3 83 points
In 2007-2008 we had as a final table (a rather close finish)
- Man United 38 27 6 5 87 points
- Chelsea 38 25 10 3 85 points
- Arsenal 38 24 11 3 83 points
In 2008-2009 we had as a final table
- Man United 38 28 6 4 90 points
- Liverpool 38 25 11 2 86 points
In 2009-2010 we had as a final table ( a very close finish)
- Chelsea 38 27 5 6 86 points
- Man United 38 27 4 7 85 points
So in those 10 years we always had the team that won the most of its games ending up as champions. But I think this is something even a 6 year old could have figured out. Also notice that most of the times the champion has a big advantage in points at the end of the season. Only 2 seasons we had a close finish and the title was decided on the last day of the season.
But I think the most interesting things is to see at how many games the champions have lost in the past 10 years compared to the runners up. The question: is it better to draw or lose? Or otherwise put: is it better to go for the winner or settle for the draw? When it is 0-0 with 5 minutes to go: do you attack with the risk of being hit on the break or do you lean back and keep the point you have? So let us try to find out what was the best way in those 10 years.
In the first 5 years of my comparison it is also rather clear that the best thing to do is to lean back and hold on to the point you have.
But since then things have changed a bit. Since the 2006-2007 season it was the team that lost most games of the top two that won the title. So one could say that in those years the teams went out to win more at the end and avoid a draw and even maybe lost by going for the 3 points came at the end of the season out on top. But this is not always the case and it also could be that a draw changed in to a victory in the last minute. I can remember Man United scoring a lot of goals in extra time in the last season to just win 1-0. And also Arsenal had a habit of scoring late in the last seasons at times.
But in the last season with a very close margin it was again the more normal way that decided the title. The one draw that Chelsea got more than United won them the title.
But the main conclusion is : the team that wins most of their games has the best chance to win the title and then the next thing to decide the title is : try to lose not too many games. And then avoid to draw too many games.
And let us take a look at the league table and the top 4 at this moment with all teams after their first 20 games.
So if we just look at games won we are the best team so far together with Manchester City. But they have played one more game than we have so far. But keep in mind that Manchester United also can get to 12 wins out of 20 games if they win their next game. And also keep in mind that the game United have played less is an away game against Chelsea. Chelsea who are now 5th with 10 wins out of 20 games.
And as I pointed out this is the most important criteria when it comes to winning titles. And based on this criteria we are doing as well as United so far. On the second criteria one could say that United has the best chance. But how will they react to their first defeat? Will they crumble? Will they bounce back? We still have to find out. And that is a question we cannot answer right now. Time will tell.
So are we in with a chance? If just over half way through the season you can keep up the pace in the winning games department I sure believe it can be done. We just have to keep winning as many games as possible and it doesn’t matter who we play. After all a win against Birmingham is as important as a win against Chelsea. It only is one win and it only is 3 points in the league table.
And I think we are in a five horse race with the 5 teams who are current in the top 5. The other teams don’t seem able to win as many games so far this season. And even the current number is a low one compared to last season. Last season Chelsea and Man United had already 14 wins behind their name after 20 games. A number that is out of reach for any team this season.
And in the last 10 seasons the lowest number of wins needed to win the league was 24 and I think this could be lower this season. This is of course if the league follows the same route as it has done so far this season.
So let us just go out there and try to win our games and let’s just see what happens at the end of each 90 minutes. But you do have to try to win the games to come out on top, that is for sure. And this is the philosophy we at Arsenal have had during the reign of Arsène Wenger: just go on the pitch and try to win, no matter who you play. And we can win games or we can be hit on the break sometimes, but we can never say that we didn’t try to win.
And for me as a fan that is all I really want at the end of the day. I want them to win but if it doesn’t work I must have the feeling that we have tried to do our best. So let’s just keep on trying to win as much games as possible. We will see come May where we will finish.
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