By Bulldog Drummond
On 14 December 2020 Arsenal were 15th in the league, five points away from the three relegation places. And the media was of course full of Arsenal’s decline. The Guardian newspaper could hardly contain itself with its excitement running the headline “Arsenal ‘absolutely’ in the relegation mix this season, says Sam Allardyce”.
By the end of the season the much heralded Allardyce (the man who you may recall was sacked as England manager after one match) saw his West Brom side relegated, while Arsenal had risen from 15th to eighth. The Guardian failed to recap on Allardyce’s commentary or its fawning interview with him.) You can read more on our full report on Key Data Tables 2020/21.
Arsenal achieved its rise through becoming the second most successful side in the league remaining 26 games of the season (something else the media missed. . By way of comparison WBA got 0.77 points per match through the rest of the season. Arsenal managed 1.85 points per game through rest of the season – more than double the effectiveness of the much adored WBA manager.
Such things are of course no longer talked about because journalists can’t bear to discuss their completely lunatic predictions that never become true. If they did they might also remember that after 12 games in the 2020/21 season Tottenham Hotspur were top of the league. They finished up seventh, one point above the apparently relegation-doomed Arsenal.
Such were our musings as we watched another encouraging Arsenal friendly this week, and wondered just what the league table as it stands during this interregnum, tells us about how the season will pan out.
A year ago, in December 2021, the bottom of the league table saw Newcastle being tipped for relegation. (Tables derived from 11v11)
As we know Newcastle escaped relegation, but Norwich, Burnley and Watford went down, which suggests that those near the foot of the table at this point of the season are very likely to slip away to the lower levels by season’s end.
Going back one more year in December 2020 we saw a table like that below. (Actually relegated were Fulham, West Brom, Sheffield United)
|17||Brighton and Hove Albion||16||2||7||7||18||25||-7||13|
|19||West Bromwich Albion||16||1||5||10||11||35||-24||8|
Deceember 2019 gives us a league table that is interesting because actually relegated at the end of that season were Bournemouth, Watford, Norwich. And Arsenal were only three points above Bournemouth.
In fact there were several big names lurking even further below us (West Ham, Villa, Everton for example)
|13||Brighton and Hove Albion||15||5||3||7||18||22||-4||18|
|15||West Ham United||15||4||4||7||17||25||-8||16|
December 2018 as with some other seasons, had two clubs at the bottom who would go down, but one team that would sink further than perhaps was expected. Actually relegated were Cardiff City, Fulham and Huddersfield:
We’ll do just one more to look at the evidence. December 2017. That season the appalling Stoke City went down with Swansea and West Bromwich Albion.
|17||West Bromwich Albion||15||2||7||6||12||21||-9||13|
|19||West Ham United||15||2||4||9||13||32||-19||10|
All of which suggests that in each of these five recent seasons either one or two of the bottom teams after 15 games will go down. The biggest drop was for Stoke who at this stage of the season were 13th and managed to collapse far enough to be relegated.
Which would put everyone from Leicester downwards in danger of relegation – although Leicester, the media’s darlings, have got one more point than Stoke had after 15 games.
|16||West Ham United||15||4||2||9||12||17||-5||14|
But the most likely scenario is that one or two of Nottingham Forest, Southampton and Wolverhampton Wanderers will be relegated, along with one or two out of Leicester, Bournemouth, Leeds, West Ham and Everton.
It will be interesting to watch.
- Are Arsenal really making progress, or are we starting to slip back?
- Luton 3 Arsenal 4: maybe it is time to say positive things
- Luton v Arsenal – the referee, the team, Saka and Cliff Bastin
- Luton Town – how do they play the game. The tackles, fouls and cards.
- Luton Town v Arsenal: Grim football, fewest goals, lowest possession rate