A few weeks ago I write 2 articles looking at historical data from the Premier League this century and picked out 2 trends that strongly suggest what is required to win this league. The first in November looked at how important the goals conceded column was. On only 3 occasions this century has the league been won by a side who conceded more than 36 goals. The second continued the theme and considered that fact combined with the goals scored and reviewed Premier league success based on goal difference. The hard fact is that in not one single year has a team with a goal difference lower than 40 won the Premiership.
I promised at the time to review our progress and have been frequently asked how we are doing 7 weeks on? Are we still on course or have we been blown off by a combination of our own injuries and the form of our rivals?
So as we recall the salient facts, whilst remembering of course that points win prizes, here is the state of play after 24 rounds of matches. However to spice it up and to add a further dimension to the realms of probability based on past fact, this time I will add the points tally. So we are looking for a team on track to concede less than 36 goals, have a goal difference of 40 plus and here is the new factor, to be on course for 80 plus points. Yes folks, the Premier League has not been won in the 21st century by a team who has accumulated less than 80 points. On 2 occasions 80 has been enough but the average has been 87 this century. So where are we positioned after 24 matches played by the top 4 and can we still perhaps discount any of the challengers at this stage?
|Team||Week 23||Week 38||Pro rata|
NB: The figures in bold are ahead of where a challenger should be.
The figures on the pro-rata side at the end of the season, current trends continued are rounded but the conclusions are clear. Manchester City are favourites but only just. They conceded too many for sure but their scoring rates and points tally are so strong. Will the loss of Aguero impact of the only question mark at present.
Arsenal have fallen behind the curve marginally on the goal difference front. This is evidently down to us scoring less than we were early in the season and there is little doubt the club’s decisions over the next 48 hours could impact this. Our points accumulation is on track despite the draw v Saints and a few goals scored this weekend might reaffirm us as the only team on target to stay ahead of all 3 precedent pointers. The result against City at the Emirates could prove so crucial as things are so close.
Chelsea, still touted by most as stronger challenges than Arsenal are still tight at the back as we expect for a Mourinho side but are not scoring enough goals at present or indeed quite enough points perhaps. They are on track for a goal difference of 36 and points total just over 80. Chelsea like Arsenal need to unleash on a lesser team but I am not convinced that they have it in them this season, unlike the Arsenal.
Liverpool have undoubtedly been the surprise package and I am sure that many would suggest had we had Luis Suarez the title would be ours already. However Liverpool are the perfect team to prove that it is the mean defences that wins you titles. They are outscoring all bar City but fortunately for Arsenal there is not a cat in hell’s chance of them challenging for the Premiership whilst conceding at the rate of close to 2 goals per match.
All things being equal it will be the tightest Premier League for years but currently it does appear to be between Arsenal and Manchester City. I have seen it said that if Arsenal and City both win this weekend, given that City take on Chelsea it could be a genuine 2 horse race. I hate to say it but it genuinely could be decided by what Arsenal do between now and midnight tomorrow. If Arsenal add to their goal threat we are still very much on a par with City because ultimately however many they score they will concede. We are far tighter at the back and just need to slightly up the ante in front of goal.
It is the moment of truth for Wenger – Time to demonstrate if you believe in what you have, most particularly Lukas Podolski. The payer himself will be desperate to be qualifying for Word Cup squad, so if we can set the team up to allow him to play the advanced left hand role he will undoubtedly score the goals we need. But will he work back to support Gibbs and where does this leave Santi – on the right or on the bench.
Interesting times and pivotal to the destination of the league in May , but every true pointer suggests we are still right in the game if we stay resolute and together, players and fans.