By Tony Attwood
After each of the World Cups held this century, prior the one that has just finished, the points gained by the club that wins the league one year on, is less than in the season before. It is generally accepted that this is because the international players (who are of course primarily associated with the top teams) have not had a proper summer break. Thus it has been expected that the big clubs will always perform more erratically and less consistently in the season after a world cup.
So we might expect the winners this season to do worse than last season given that 60% of the league games are being played in the aftermath of the world cup.
Against this argument is the fact that at the moment, Arsenal look as if they might be heading for an all-time record number of points if they carry on for the rest of the season as they have been playing so far.
The current record number of points in the 38-game Premier League is held by Manchester City. That was created in 2017/18 and that record is shown by way of comparison with an estimate of what the final Arsenal figures will be if they carry on as now.
|Arsenal 28 Dec 22||15||13||1||1||36||12||24||40|
|AFC Est end 2022/3||38||33||2||3||91||30||61||101|
|Manchester City 2017/8||38||32||4||2||106||27||79||100|
Of course the moot point there is “if they carry on as now”. Last season in winning the league Manchester City “only” got 93 points.
And as we saw in our article, “What normally happens when a club is top after 15 games?” Arsenal are on track to be top of the league by the end of the season. Except for one thing.
As we also saw in a recent article Newcastle United are top of the “Last six matches” league table and the “Last ten matches” table, meaning rather obviously that they are very much the team in form.
So Newcastle have two things going for them. First, they only had players playing around one quarter of the minutes in the world cup that Arsenal have had (458 for Newcastle to 1699 for Arsenal), and second, even before the world cup they were very much the club in form.
But we should also note that Arsenal players only played one-third of the minutes in the WC that Manchester City players played. Here’s the table again but with the percentages now added
|Club||World Cup minutes by players||Percentage of minutes played by Manchester City players||Points in last six games|
|Brighton and Hove Albion||1544||33%||10|
What we can see is that Newcastle really have a huge advantage at all three levels: their players only played 10% of the time Manchester City players had on the pitch in the World Cup finals, they are very much the team in form, and that form has extended long enough for it to narrow the lead at the top.
Following the games since the return from the WC. Newcastle have taken over in second place although having played one game more than Arsenal and two games more than Manchester City. Manchester City could of course readily overtake Newcastle but not Arsenal – at least not with Arsenal slipping up.
|7||Brighton and Hove Albion||15||7||3||5||26||20||6||24|
But what is also noticeable is the dramatic decline in form of Tottenham Hotspur who have won only two of their last six Premier League games. What’s more they are conceding for fun – having let in a whopping 13 goals in the last six games. Only one club (Leeds United) has let in more than this (14) in its last six league games.
As a final point we might also note the huge decline of Chelsea of late. They are still eighth in the league but in terms of the last six games they really are down among the dead men in 15th. (I guess that’s why they call them “The Blues”
|20||West Ham United||6||1||0||5||4||9||-5||3|
This is not to suggest that Tottenham are relegation material – any more than Chelsea who have been doing even worse of late, but the fact that Nottingham Forest have picked up one more point than Tottenham across the last six, and three more points than Chelsea does suggest that unless something big happens in the coming weeks, that it is Chelsea and Tottenham that will have a post-world cup slump.
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