Have Arsenal really moved up to the level of Machester City?



By Tony Attwood

In one sense that question seems one with an obvious answer.   Arsenal are of course top of the league:


Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Arsenal 17 14 2 1 40 14 26 44
2 Manchester City 17 12 3 2 45 16 29 39
3 Newcastle United 18 9 8 1 32 11 21 35
4 Manchester United 17 11 2 4 27 20 7 35


But can we say for sure that Arsenal are approaching the standard necessary to win the league?   One way to answer that question is to consider the average achievement of Manchester City, who have won the league four times in the last five years, coming second the other time and see how this season compares with their achievement.   Here is Manchester City’s record...


W D L F A Pts Pos
2017–18 32 4 2 106 27 100 1st
2018–19 32 2 4 95 23 98 1st
2019–20 26 3 9 102 35 81 2nd
2020–21 27 5 6 83 32 86 1st
2021–22 29 6 3 99 26 93 1st
Average 29.2 4.0 4.8 97 28.6 91.6  


Now we can have a look at Arsenal this season and see what the end of season would look like if the current form was maintained


P W D L F A GD Pts
17 14 2 1 40 14 26 44
38 (est) 31 5 2 89 31 58 98


So if Arsenal continue this season as they have performed in the first 17 games they will end up with 98 points. So now let’s compare that with Manchester City across the last five years.


Man City W D L F A Pts Pos
2017–18 32 4 2 106 27 100 1st
2018–19 32 2 4 95 23 98 1st
2019–20 26 3 9 102 35 81 2nd
2020–21 27 5 6 83 32 86 1st
2021–22 29 6 3 99 26 93 1st
Arsenal estimate 22/23 31 5 2 89 31 98  


So what we can see is that Arsenal are currently operating at a level that is above that of Manchester City in winning the league in the last two seasons, equal with 2018/19 and below 2017/18.

Thus the performance of Arsenal so far this season has been more than enough to win the league in three of the last five years.

We could also compare the current performance with Arsenal’s results in the three seasons under Arsene Wenger in which the club won the league


Season P W D L F A Pts
1997–98 38 23 9 6 68 33 78
2001–02 38 26 9 3 79 36 87
2003–04 38 26 12 0 73 26 90
2022/23 estimate 38 31 5 2 89 31 98


What this table shows is that Arsenal are indeed currently performing at a level above that of the Unbeaten Season and indeed of the other two seasons in which Arsene Wenger won the league with Arsenal.  The only downside that can possibly be found is that the current defence is slightly worse than that of the Unbeaten Season.

Now of course taking results and extrapolating them to see “what happens if” is at one level just a game, but it does have a certain important implication, which is that for Arsenal it is not a case of needing to get to a higher level, but a case of being able to get up to a level that is equivalent to the very best seen in the Premier League.

There is however another question: are Arsenal maintaining this level of performance?

In this regard the table of the last six games played which we often quote as a way of considering the comparative form of different teams, is encouraging


Premier League Form (Last 6)
Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Arsenal 6 5 1 0 15 3 12 16
2 Manchester Utd 6 5 0 1 11 4 7 15
3 Newcastle Utd 6 4 2 0 12 1 11 14
4 Manchester City 6 4 1 1 9 5 4 13
5 Brighton & Hove 6 4 0 2 17 11 6 12
6 Brentford 6 3 3 0 12 7 5 12
7 Liverpool 6 4 0 2 12 9 3 12
8 Tottenham Hots 6 3 1 2 14 11 3 10


Here we can see that the club’s nearest rival at the top, Manchester City, is performing at a level of 81% of Arsenal.

A different picture appears with the league table based on the last ten games


Premier League Form (Last 10)
Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Arsenal 10 8 2 0 23 7 16 26
2 Newcastle Utd 10 7 3 0 20 3 17 24
3 Manchester Utd 10 7 2 1 16 6 10 23
4 Manchester City 10 7 1 2 22 10 12 22
5 Liverpool 10 6 0 4 16 13 3 18
6 Fulham 10 5 2 3 17 12 5 17
7 Tottenham Hots 10 5 1 4 18 15 3 16


Comparing the last six and last ten games we can see that yes Arsenal are maintaining the standard, just indeed as Tottenham Hotspur are maintaining their own standard.  

Whichever way we look at this, it looks promising.

7 Replies to “Have Arsenal really moved up to the level of Machester City?”

  1. Statistics will tell us many things but they don’t always tell us the truth. In support of that I’m reminded of a scene from ‘To Play the King’ when Francis Urquhart asks Sarah Harding, his bright new assistant, about opinion polls. She replies. . . . “I can get you any answer you like; it all depends on how you frame the question”.
    Are we up there with Manchester City? To the man who looks at the last 17 games. . . . we’re slightly ahead of them. To the man who looks at the last 6 years . . . No. To the man who looks at the last
    25 years. . . Yes. To the man who looks at the last 120 years. . . . They’re not in the same league.
    It all depends on the sample; and how we do that depends on our point of view.
    Can we win the league???? Maybe that should have been how you framed the question.

  2. Man City are a team that Arsenal are quite capable of beating on our day but one that has the strength in depth that we do not yet have, and which we do not really have the money to replicate, so to be honest, no we are not at that level yet. I think we will be, and as long as we can keep our squad and coaching team together we may be back on that perch with the very best.

  3. @Self Righteous,

    I don’t know about City these days. Arsenal tie the game with Newcastle and suddendly their title chances are considered gone and done. City lose to Southhampton, with De Bruyne and Haaland benched and no one says they are thin upfront. If they were not they’d have scored a few goals, don’t you think so ?

    We’ve got ESR coming back into the team, so another experienced, proven goalscorer forward yet we are doomed if 100 millions are not spent right now on a player who’s never kicked a ball in the PL ? That kind of amounts seems way too much for an unproven player. Why don’t they go get Giroud back…. ;=)

    And Viera is slowly finding his marks and will, IMHO, make a place for himself now. I still find him a little frail, like Eddie in previous seasons, but I guess that can change too.

    The general lack of respect by the deadwood press and talking idiots – even ex Arsenal players – for our young team is astonishing. Which may end up being another important motivational factor for them.

    And again, let me state one fact : it’s been years, almost 2 decades that I had as much fun watching Arsenal play. The more so that we are seing an organisation build a team for years, not just one season.

  4. I don’t understand why we keep asking if Arsenal can win the league. The team perched atop the table halfway through the season can definitely win the title and until otherwise, the main contender.

    But even if we said yes, who are we telling? We are not going to convince people waiting for Arsenal to fumble and saying yes neither makes it certain nor any easier.

    All these talks are fueled by media yearning for material. And of course everyone is excited. No one was expecting Arsenal to contend for the title, at least not yet.

    But here we are. The season is still long and a lot can happen but I hope the team can remain calm. Close to 20yrs of not winning the title and now unexpectedly having a real chance can generate excitement and pressure which if not managed can be derailing.

    That Gerrard slip can serve as caution. Hopefully we’ll have more of “Sakaaaaaa!” and not mishaps.

  5. We may be one left-footed right winger and a backup dm from equaling City’s strength in depth. Cue the protests from the Haaland supporters. My response to that would be that I would rather have five scoring 7 than one scoring 18. It’s all in the math.


    A fair question.

    As you may of seen in my recent article that asked the question: DO ARSENAL NEED TO BECOME MORE EFFICIENT IN FRONT OF GOAL? you could conclude, yes we have, because it clearly showed that we score at a more efficient rate than Man City do with regard to attempts on goal.


    But when I did those stats I went further, and that was to include possession, and what we both did with that possession, and this is what I revealed:

    I’ve assumed a match lasts on average 95 minutes.

    Man City average 66.58% possession per match which is about 63 Minutes.

    They average 17.7 shots per match which is a shot every 3.55 Minutes of the possession time.

    Arsenal average 57.00% possession per match which is about 54 Minutes.

    They average 15.8 shots per match which is a shot every 3.40 Minutes of the possession time.

    So again, given our relative possession, we are more efficient at getting shots at goal than Man City.

    The conclusion is, if you can make one from all this, not that we have an efficiency issue, but rather we need to keep the ball slightly better. If we did that and upped our possession time by 10 minutes to somewhere near that of Man City, whilst of course maintaining our efficiency in the final third, we would possibly score even more goals.

    The bottom line is, at this moment in time, we are a match to, or better than, Man city in many aspects of the game, all bar one…..possession.

  7. Now as anyone who reads what I have to say will know I put great stock in statistics and what they can tell us. I believe they are crucial in evaluating, not just how a player performs, a team performs, but how the World works. But that isn’t to say they cannot be abused or misinterpreted. They can. But by and large they are crucial in explaining how things are working.

    The reason I have explained that is because when you look at those statistics above, what do they tell us? How do you interpret them? Well there’s more than one way that’s for sure. This is what I think.

    Firstly I observed that Man City kept the ball for 10 minutes more than we did. From that I concluded that man City were less efficient than us at creating shots at goal than us. But is that actually a negative as far as City are concerned? Is possession just about scoring goals? Not necessarily.

    For a start that’s 10 minutes less time the opposition has the ball. Far less opportunity for THEM to score goals.

    Secondly that’s 10 minutes more the opposition are chasing the ball. Tiring them out much more.

    So not scoring at the rate of possession we do is not necessarily a negative. Maybe it’s just about keeping the ball?

    And if I’m honest I think that is the key. That is why, despite what the table currently says, Man City still have the edge over us.


    Look, I know it’s not everything, it’s not an exact science, but look at it this way, even if you not that good a side, but somehow managed to keep the ball for 80 minutes, you wont lose many games. Your opponent cant score if they haven’t got the ball.

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