Arsenal still in the title race but are Chelsea and Liverpool? History against them?

Is it still a 4 way competition?
Is it still a 4 way competition?

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
Conceded GD Points Conceded GD Points
City 26 42 53 43 69 87
Arsenal 21 24 52 35 39 85
Chelsea 20 23 50 33 38 82
Liverpool 28 29 46 46 48 76

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.

Can't score for toffee replaced by Over the Ba
Can’t score for toffee replaced by Over the Ba

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.

Decision time on Poldi?
Decision time on Poldi?

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.

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  1. A well reasoned argument, but you are missing two key ingredients. Firstly how the fixtures fall: Liverpool have now played away against every one of the top eleven teams in the table, with the exception of Man Utd and Southampton. You must therefore expect, given their home form; that they will beat their pro rata prediction and that others will fall back. Secondly you make no allowance for a team embarking on the sort of run that Man City are on where they go undefeated (and largely win) from now until the end of the season. I think there will be many twists still to come this season, but it’s still City’s to lose.

    1. It is only look at trends for interest but LFC who have to win a lot more and concede a lot less. On the second point Arsenal have that sort of run most years to be fair. I am a positive sort of chap

      1. Yes you are a positive sort of chap aren’t you but even that can’t shroud the fact that “Arsenal have that sort of run most years to be fair” is a little wide of the mark. If that was the case they would have challenged for the title more often and much stronger than they have……… or are we talking FIFA 14??

      1. When was the last time you actually stepped outside of your bedroom Dave? Serious question.

      2. What is you problem mate. I have not written blog for 20 or so days. I spend my time at present travelling the UK interviewing people for a book as it goes. I have over 30000 miles on clock in past year so I guess that involved leaving house

  2. You’ve tried to make assumptions based on both your “feelings” and statistics. There is no statistical argument for anything you have posited here. Do you take into account the fact that Arsenal have to play almost all their rivals away in the next couple months? City-“however many they score they concede”…really? I haven’t noticed that, seems more like they score about 5 times as many as they concede.

  3. I see where you’re coming from but all of the teams have only played 23 games not 24. That means all of your pro-rata calculations are wrong!

  4. The only thing I can imagine between us and EPL title is how well we cope up with these injuries. Rambo has been out. He has been scoring and defending well. His loss coupled with Wilshere can be disastrous for us. Flamini-Arteta pairing doesnt work. We will be depending too much on Rosicky and I hope he does well as he always do(& stay fit). Next 2days crucial.

  5. With the two clowns we have up front with no pace,Ramsey out for a very long time,Wenger’s arrogance and stupidity not to buy anyone is the reason we will win sweet FA, his failure to grasp this was our best chance in a very long time to win silverware and he has done nothing, and now with him signing a new contract it will be a further three years without any success apart from his beloved profit making fourth spot trophy that he loves so much, it is now Citeh’s to lose and with that squad it won’t happen. we have tough fixtures coming up and we will slip further behind the oil rags, take a bow Wenger, your refusal to spend has cost us.What is the point of us having all that money when the clown won’t invest…oh yeah a wage increase

  6. Why are you downplaying the achievements of the Invincibles by knocking 10 points off of their points total?

  7. Are my imaginations running wild or what? Wasn’t it week 23 that we drew with Southampton? You used common statistics….good…but are you saying, even at The Emirates, Arsenal will concede six again against City? Just being curious.

  8. As mentioned, pro rata can be misleading. In terms of away games Arsenal have played 12 compared to the 11 of Chelsea (I used them as a comparison). Arsenal have played 7 away games against bottom half teams for an average return of 2.7 points and 5 away games to top half teams for a return of 1.4 points. Pro rata would assume Arsenal play 11.1 away games against bottom half teams and 7.9 games against top half. Chelsea have played 6 away games to top half teams with an average return of just 1 point and 5 to bottom half with a return of 2.4 points. Pro rata assumes 10.4 away games to top half teams and 8.6 against bottom half.

    Small samples, but on current performance that would be Arsenal:
    11.1*2.7 points = 30 points + 7.9*1.4 points = 11 points = 41 Away Points pro rata

    If they played 9 away to top half and 10 away to bottom half:
    10*2.7 points = 27 points + 9*1.4 points = 12.6 points = 39.6 Away Points

    For Chelsea:
    8.6*2.4 = 20.6 points + 10.4*1 = 10.4 points = 31 Away Points pro rata
    10*2.4 = 24 points + 9*1 = 9 points = 33 Away Points

    That’s a 3.4 point swing with this simple top and bottom half methodology.

  9. Nice read Dave, a re-freshening one indeed, unlike some transfer gossips.

    I was wondering when is the next blog as you had mentioned to do it after 19 games if I am not wrong.
    Perhaps the timing of the blog could have been 2 days later or even after Palace game, such that we might be in that 40+ goal difference (estimation) zone, plus nothing to write about transfer expectation, knowing what are our attacking alternates better.

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