Have Arsenal Made Progress in 2015-16?

Progress is a big thing in football these days. You can’t be seen to stand still, and heaven forbid you should get worse. Have Arsenal made progress this season? Let’s consult the handy Progressometer that I invented last year.

The criteria are simple:

  • Has league position gone up?
  • Has the points tally gone up?
  • If Arsenal aren’t first, are they closer in points than last year to whoever came first?

Two or more ‘Yes’ answers and that’s definite progress, though last year I ruled that it was progress based on a rise in league position alone – let’s face it, getting nearer the top of the table is surely the key performance indicator. So this year, as you can see, the position is up and the gap between first and Arsenal is down, so undeniably progress has been made. In fact progress has been made seven years out of the last ten! Suck on that, Arsene haters.progressometer 2016

Could more progress have been made with some judicious spending last summer? Probably. Should Arsenal eliminate embarrassing results like losing 4-0 to Southampton if they want to be seen as really ‘progressing’? Indisputably. Is ‘progress’ actually a load of bollocks when some teams get better and some get worse every year, and you can’t possibly measure against a constant? Undeniably. Should clubs just try and win the league every year and not bother too much how not winning the league is measured? Yes. Yes they should.

However, having said that, Ziontrain in the comments pointed out that looking at the number of points the winner got each season would be instructive in ascertaining whether Arsenal really made a serious challenge for the title. So here’s the Progressometer (TM) with added column:

progressometer 2016 plus pts for 1st

And here’s how the spread of winning totals breaks down over the 20-year Wenger era:PL winning points spread 1997-2016

The first three years were the lowest title-winning tallies in the whole period. Mostly since then the winners have been in the upper 80s or above, perhaps reflecting that the mega-rich clubs found in easier to dominate from the early 2000s onwards. From this time the income gap suddenly grew as a result of Sky money going a bit more to the biggest clubs, Man Utd monetising everything not nailed down, and a couple of billionaires playing with their new toys. Meanwhile Arsenal clung manfully on to the coat tails of the richest, with Arsene’s fabled consistency guaranteeing at least a respectable points tally every year, if never a spectacular one.

Leicester’s 81 points this season is low. This may be a blip, or may signal the start of another period where greater equality in spending power means it’s harder for the biggest to steamroller everything in their path.

What do the winning totals say about Arsenal, though? You can argue – as Ziontrain has below – that Arsenal have rarely made a consistent challenge when in only two of the last 12 years have they been a single digit figure away from the title-winning total. Realistically you need to target at least 85 points for a decent shot at the title, and Arsenal’s average has been 73.67, with 83 in 2005 and 2008 being easily the standout seasons. So: progress. All subjective of course, but it does look rather as though Arsenal have been off the pace for quite some time.

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7 thoughts on “Have Arsenal Made Progress in 2015-16?

  1. There is an important, implied column missing in the table – namely the actual points total of the title winners. Adding back the gap-to-winners, what becomes clear is that you cant win the title without breaking 80 points. If you hit 84 or so, you’d be unlucky not to win it.

    But…only once in the past decade has Arsenal actually mustered a points total that could be considered a reasonable “challenge” for the title. That was the 83 points in 2008.

    In all other years in the decade, Arsenal did not actually ring up enough points to even challenge Leicester’s “surprise” total this year: 81, which is a fairly weak number for title winners.

    Also, since 2014, Arsenal has regressed from 79 points, steadily in the wrong direction. So was never really in it, to be honest. Cat-fighting with Spurs at the 70 points mark isnt exactly title challenging form.

    I am a fan of Wenger, but the numbers are clear: he is going to have to look in the mirror and either resigned or start chopping the squad and demanding much more consistency and effort of the players that he keeps. I dont think this is about spending money – Elneny is yet another that underlines this – it’s about demanding more.

    There are some promising signs here: Debuchy left to rot and Walcott jettisoned for the 19 yr old Iwobi. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg: Wenger has to do this week-in-week-out and not halfway through when the title chance has already been blown. He has to drive this guys hard from opening week through May. That’s what Ferguson was a master off: he never let his guys slack off.

    • It would appear that getting points from the so-called easy games is no longer an option for most top teams. Cheatski, Shitty, Manure, Liverpoor all dropped major points (for the most part,far more than the Gunners) and only Leicester were relatively consistent. They did lose home and away to AFC as well!
      you didn’t mention that Cazorla,Coquelin, Wilshere, the OX,Arteta, Rosicky, and Walcott ALL were out for lengthy periods and that we got only 2 penalties awarded at home out of 19 games! You also didn’t mention the poor officiating the entire league got from the PGMOL referees. You also didn’t mention that we handled the top 4 teams (Leicester,City,and the Tiny Totts) very handily this season.

      • We don’t get penalties because of our tactics, especially at home. Tippy-tappy passing football that takes whole minutes to get near the opposition penalty area means defenders are all in position and far less likely to be making desperate lunges.
        Obviously this doesn’t account for every decision and officials may still get it wrong, but on average this style of football will yield fewer penalties.

      • “…You also didn’t mention that we handled the top 4 teams (Leicester,City,and the Tiny Totts) very handily this season….”

        I didnt mention it because it’s irrelevant. As evidence by that team with Hleb, Rosicky Fabregas etc that beat all the top teams and kept flubbing it vs the rest.

        There is no point talking about “big” or “little” teams – it’s consistency that’s needed.

        This season Leicester only lost three games in the league – two of those to Arsenal. They lost only a single game to the other 18 teams in the league, home and away! Obviously they’d gladly take that. And that is what you also have to learn – it’s not “progress” to beat top teams and then lose the league on unforced errors. Consistency. Which should be the least one could expect of the squad we have of a fairly mature age – and well paid too.

    • Blimey. You’ve made a comment I agree with. I believe this may be a first. It’s a good point, and I will add that in.
      However, the danger is in people then starting to assume the league is stronger or weaker as a result of the leader’s tally, when it could be either, whichever way the tally goes.

  2. Simple answer is No we haven’t progressed..We have remained moderate.. Beating the league leaders home and away during the season, and yet get thrashed 4-0 by Southampton is not improvement..It is inconsistency..something we have suffered from for more than 10 years for one reason or another..and something that will probably not be remedied next season unless there is a major overhaul..and that sadly won’t happen.

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