“If we look at all the times in the last 10 seasons that a club has been top of the league with over 35 points after 14 games, we find that each time they have gone on to win the league.”
By Tony Attwood
We all know this is a great season so far for Arsenal. But how does it compare with other PL seasons? And how likely is it that the team that is top after 14 games is going to be top of the league by the end of the season?
To answer this we’re having a look at the past 10 seasons, seeing how the table looked after 14 games, and how that compared with the ultimate league winners. And the first thing we noticed was that when looking at this season and the previous 10 seasons, (2012/13 to 2021/22) only five teams have been top of the league after 14 games.
- Manchester City: 3 times (won the league five times)
- Chelsea 3 times (won the league twice)
- Arsenal: Twice (not won the league)
- Liverpool: Twice (won the league once)
- Manchester United: Once (won the league once)
The missing season in that list was 2015/16 in which the league was won by Leicester who were second after 14 games.
So just five teams in 11 campaigns have occupied the top position after 14 games, and just one of those teams has not won the league in the past ten years: Arsenal. One “outsider” has poked its nose in and won the league without being top after 14 games in the past ten years – Leicester.
So let’s have a look at how the teams that have been top after 14 games have been doing at that point and in the final column how they ended the season.
The points gained after 14 games varies from 29 points up to 40 points – which is a large variation. The average number of points needed across these 11 seasons to be top after 14 games is 35, which means Arsenal are achieving somewhat above average this season for the top-of-the-table club.
Arsenal now have 37 points – the first time in these 11 seasons that the top club has had 37 points. And that can be enough to allow the club to go on and win the league. Chelsea in 2014 had 36 points and they finished the season in first place. In fact, if we look at all the times in the last 10 completed seasons that a club has been top of the league with over 35 points at this stage of the season (which is four times), we can see that each time they have gone on to win the league. A positive sign for Arsenal.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that Arsenal are going to win the league, but recent history shows that it is more likely that we will win the league in this campaign, than not.
What we can also say is that it would be very unusual for Arsenal not to meet the target that the entire mainstream media said Arsenal would NOT reach, which is fourth place. In six of the past ten seasons the club that is top after 14 games has won the league. Twice that team has come in third and twice in fourth. Not once in the past ten seasons has the top-placed team after 14 games failed to finish in the top four.
Let’s round this off with a look at how the fourth-placed team after 14 games did by the end of the season. This has a slight interest for us because after 14 games in this campaign, Tottenham were fourth.
|Season||4th after 14||Pts after 14||Pos at end||Pts at end|
Looking at this list the first thing to notice is that the range of points needed to be fourth after 14 games is very small, just 25 to 30. Second, the club that was fourth after 14 games has not won the league – but has in fact come between second and sixth. It has ended up in the top four, six times.
So what can we conclude?
The club that is top of the league after 14 games has an even chance of being top at the end of the season and a very high chance indeed of ending up in the top four.
That Arsenal are not the best and by no means the worst top-of-the-league team by this stage in the season in recent years. For top-of-the-table teams after 14 games Arsenal are above average for the number of points gained, number of goals scored, and goal difference, and below average for the number of goals conceded.
More often than not in the last ten years the team in Arsenal’s position after 14 games goes on to win the league. It’s not guaranteed, but it is the most likely outcome.
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