For some people football is all about progress. You have to get better each season, closer to a league title, or else the manager is failing and must be sacked. So have Arsenal made progress this season? Let’s consult the handy Progressometer that I invented way back in 2015.
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?
Now in my mind if you get two or more ‘Yes’ answers that’s definite progress. I mean, the key performance indicator is surely whether you are getting closer to the top of the table. In 2017-18 Arsenal slumped to their worst league position and worst points total under Arsene Wenger. Not progress. They were also so far off the top that it was mathematically impossible to win the title from about February. This year, under Unai Emery, the position is up by one, the points total is up and the gap between first and Arsenal is down a little, so surely progress has been made. Except that some people like to measure a lot of other stats, such as goals scored, xG, even shots for and against, and on most of these Arsenal were apparently worse in 2018-19 than in 2017-18.
Does that matter? Depends how you look at it. If you think Arsenal got a bit lucky in Emery’s first season by outperforming their stats, then you might think that will probably catch up with them next season and they’ll get worse. This might well happen; then again, it might not. The statistics will vary season by season, and Arsenal do not play football in isolation, their position at the end of the season is determined by what everyone else does as well as by what they do themselves. There are many variables, and for this reason I do not pretend that the Progressometer (TM) or any other stats are a reliable predictor of future success.
What is probably not in dispute is that Arsenal have rarely made a proper title challenge since 2004, with only two of the last 15 seasons ending with a total that’s a single digit figure away from the title-winners. That doesn’t look likely to change very soon. Then again, Leicester…
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