By Tony Attwood
This season we have the worst start to a season since 2011/12. In that season after six league games the table looked like this
|10||Queens Park Rangers||6||2||2||2||5||7||-2||8|
Today we are 10th with nine points. Two points better. Then in 2011/12 we had a goal difference of minus five, today it is +1, and thus we are also six goals better off. Here is the league table today for comparison.
So what should we do? We know that in 2011/12 the clamour was one of “Wenger Out!” led by a combination of newspaper reporters and bloggers. And the clamour rose and rose, and then faded away, because … well at the end of the season we came third, and were in the Champions League once again. Those newspaper people who tell us this is the worst start in nine years, seem not to know that.
Third may currently seem like a distant dream, but the fact is that in 2011/12 when after six games we languished in 13th place, and “fans” were calling for the manager to be axed, we were heading for a perfectly decent position – at least by recent standards. We ended up third.
So should we worry that we are 10th in the league at the moment?
Here is a table showing where we have been after six games each season recently, how many points we had then, and where we ended up – plus how we did in the FA Cup
|Season||After six games position||After six games points||End of Season position||End of season point||FA Cup|
|2011/12 *||13th||7 pts||3rd||70 pts||R5|
|2012/13 *||7th||9 pts||4th||73 pts||R5|
|2013/14 *||1st||15 pts||4th||79 pts||Won|
|2014/15 *||6th||10 pts||3rd||75 pts||Won|
|2015/16 *||5th||10 pts||2nd||71 pts||QF|
|2016/17 *||3rd||13 pts||5th||75 pts||Won|
|2017/18 *||7th||10 pts||6th||53 pts||R3|
|2018/19 **||6th||12 pts||5th||70 pts||R4|
|2019/20 ***||4th||11 pts||8th||56 pts||Won|
|2020/21 ****||10th||9 pts|
* Wenger as manager **Emery as manager *** Emery / Arteta as manager **** Arteta as manager
First, the number of points we have after six games is somewhat related to the number of points we have at the end of the season. We had 15 points at this stage in 2013/14 and got 79 points at the end – both were our top points total for those stages of the season.
But this doesn’t relate to league position at the end of the season much of the time. After our best first six games in the last ten years we ended up fourth in the league. In our best league finish of the decade we had one more point than now, that’s all.
In short, to get into the top four, after six games we could have anything from nine to 15 points. To miss out and come somewhere between 5th and 8th we could have anything from 10 to 13 points after six games.
Not surprisingly, winning the FA Cup doesn’t have anything to do with this either. After six games we have been 3rd, 4th, 5th and 8th.
In simple terms, where we are at the moment after six games doesn’t tell us anything much about where we are doing to be by the end of the season, except that it could be anywhere between 2nd and 8th based on previous experience.
Part of the problem is that the number of points we have by the end of the season doesn’t tell us anything much about where we will end up either. After six games we have had 10 points and ended up with anything from 53 points to 75 points.
So let’s have a look at the season when we came runners’ up and see how our first six games in the League panned out…
|02 Aug 2015||Arsenal v Chelsea||W||1-0||FA Community Shield|
|09 Aug 2015||Arsenal v West Ham United||L||0-2||Premier League|
|16 Aug 2015||Crystal Palace v Arsenal||W||1-2||Premier League|
|24 Aug 2015||Arsenal v Liverpool||D||0-0||Premier League|
|29 Aug 2015||Newcastle United v Arsenal||W||0-1||Premier League|
|12 Sep 2015||Arsenal v Stoke City||W||2-0||Premier League|
|16 Sep 2015||Dinamo Zagreb v Arsenal||L||2-1||Champions’ League|
|19 Sep 2015||Chelsea v Arsenal||L||2-0||Premier League|
We lost to Chelsea and West Ham, and beat Palace, Newcastle and Stoke, co-incidentally with this season, winning the FA Cup and then the Community Shield.
So does the past tell us nothing? No, of course not. It gives us all sorts of messages. One is that changing managers is not always a pathway to success. Another is don’t introduce too many new players at once. And the third is to stop moaning – because moaning never helps.
Sometimes however the opening of a season does tell us something…
Here’s the top ten on 25 September 2003
That gave us an indicator of where we were going that year. But it is interesting that 30% of the clubs in the top ten that season are no longer in the Premier League. Two are in the Championship and one is in League One. So maybe it doesn’t say that much after all.