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- How are the big seven clubs doing against each other? There are some surprises
By Tony Attwood
It is always nice when someone comes along and copies one of our ideas – and that has indeed been happening quite a bit this season with our notion of comparing this season with previous seasons in terms of a) Arsenal’s position and b) what the top team at the time had achieved thus far.
But even though others are now doing it, we’ll keep going with the notion, not least because it does actually give a very clear insight into how well Arsenal are doing.
The first comparison is one that looks at how well the club that is top of the league has been doing after 18 games. This is a handy way of seeing if where the exceptional teams are season by season, as we approach the half way mark.
(And incidentally, while I think of it, it is amusing how many commentators keep remarking that this season is unique because of the interruption of events caused by the world cup. Of course I know that the spring of 2020 was an awful long time ago (over two and a half years in fact) but in that season in the dim and distant past, football stopped after the 7 March games, and didn’t get going again until 17 June. I can’t quite recall why – I think some people weren’t feeling very well…)
Anyway, back to the issue of being top after 18 games. It’s an interesting moment, for no matter how long it takes to play 18 games we are almost at the half way point of the season. Indeed Newcastle and Tottenham have already reached halfway.
Top after 18 games: the last five years
|TOP TEAM||P||W||D||L||F||A||GD||Pts||Final Pos|
So a word of warning can be found: being top after 18 games does not mean that the team wins the league. In 2018/19 Liverpool were four points clear of Manchester City on 18 games, and yet lost the league by one point – both clubs being an amazing 25/26 points above Chelsea who came third. This season it looks like they are heading for around 60 points.
2018/19 was also a remarkable season given that the enormous gap between the top two and the rest didn’t open up until after Christmas – as on 18 games Manchester City were second just two points ahead of those perennial failures, Tottenham Hotspur. But City’s goal difference was already 18 goals higher than that of Tottenham.
Thus, being top after 18 certainly isn’t a guarantee of winning the league, but it can help. (Incidentally, on 18 games in the 2017/18 season Manchester City were 11 points clear of the second-placed club. Arsenal at present are a mere eight above second-placed Manchester City – so Arsenal are not at the Man C level just yet.)
But let’s move on. Asking where have Arsenal been season by season after 18 games gives us an insight into the rebuild Arteta has done with the club. In relation to this, if you have not seen it before you might be interested in, “How Arsenal moved from 15th in the league two years ago, to top of the league today”
This is how Arsenal have been placed season by season on 18 games, and where the club ended up, including 2003/4 season.
Arsenal after 18 games …
|Season||Pos||W||D||L||F||A||GD||Pts||Pos at End|
As can be seen Arsenal are at least ten points better off than in any of the last five seasons or the Unbeaten Season. So we can now say Arsenal this season are five points better off than they were at this stage of the glorious 2003/04 season. That’s quite something.
The club has also scored eight more goals than had been achieved by this stage in 2003/4 and have a better goal difference too. That’s not a bad position to hold.
But of course we should not be carried away by thinking that such progress as Arsenal have seen in the Arteta Era is unique. In 2015/16 Liverpool gained just 60 points in the league. For the next two seasons they hovered around the mid-70s in terms of points. Then they had two seasons where their points tally reached the upper 90s, before slipping back for a season, and yet got to 92 points again last season.
Thus it is not all down to Arteta and the Arsenal players – we have to be aware of the opposition too. 47 points is fantastic, but let us not forget that in 2018 Liverpool actually had one point more than Arsenal have now after the same number of games… and didn’t win the league.
My worry is that if Arsenal slip a little and don’t win the title, the media will be full of how Arsenal threw it all away, and the phenomenal strides forward this season will be forgotten. After all, all the major newspapers and their websites predicted that the top four this season would be Manchester City (currently 2nd), Liverpool (currently 9th), Chelsea (currently 10th), Tottenham (currently 5th). In short as things stand, they only got one of the top four right!!!
So maybe the best lesson to learn is, whatever else you do, when it comes to predictions, don’t trust the media.
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