Have Arsenal got worse over the last 20 seasons? What gets Wenger the sack?

Richard Stoddart
May 6, 2017 · 4 min read

Have crunched some numbers on Arsenal’s performance in the Premier League over the last 20 seasons to see whether they are improving or getting worse and what season performance could get Arsene Wenger the sack come the end of the season.

I pulled out the figures for the following over the last 20 Premier League Season:

Even just looking at the Finishing Position stat in isolation you can see that there was a definite sea change in the 2005/06 season where they went from finishing either first or second in the previous eight seasons to then finishing either third or fourth for the next ten seasons. 2005/06, when finishing fourth, for any other manager would have been ‘Ok, finish fourth again next season and your gone.’ And he would have been

Do the trends suggest they’re getting better or worse?

Essentially is it hard to gauge as I’m not comparing like with like every season.

But to take a crude look at this question I then started plotting their performance figures on some graphs. Firstly Arsenal’s Finishing Position, Points Off Winner and Total Points over the last 20 Premier League Seasons:

The trend line for their Finishing Position is pretty much level but the trend line for Total Points is clearly going down and the Points Off Winner trend is clearly going up. In a crude way this graph suggests they are finishing the season with fewer and fewer points and also getting further and further away from winning. Some people may think ‘Ah, well that’s obvious! If they’re getting less points they must be getting further away from winning’. But that isn’t a given as it is quite possible for them to finish with less points yet actually year on year finish closer to the winner. This latter point would then suggest the League was getting more competitive. But that is not the case, they are clearly (and yes in a crude way) ‘getting worse’ according to the trends of the figures.

This crude assertion is backed up when we analyse the graphs of their performance against the other ‘Big Five’ teams season points.

Trend v Chelsea = Arsenal expected to finish behind Chelsea and gradually get worse

Trend v Livepool = Arsenal expected to finish above Liverpool (which they won’t) with that becoming less and less of an advantage over time

Trend v Man City = Arsenal expected to finish behind Man City and gradually get worse

Trend v Man Utd = Arsenal expected to finish behind Man Utd by around 5 points and hover around that mark for a while to come, although ever so slightly getting better over time

Trend v Spurs = Arsenal expected to finish above Spurs (which they won’t) and quickly moving to finishing behind them in seasons to come

The trends pointed to the fact they’ll finish behind Man City, Man Utd and Chelsea this season, but they did have them finishing ahead of Spurs and Liverpool which they won’t. This is significant! The Finishing Position, Points Off Winner and Total Points stats trend shows Arsenal getting worse and clearly so, but in Spurs and Liverpool bucking the individual trends and finishing ahead of Arsenal it adds more fuel and confirms the crude assertion. More so is the fact that each trend line against each of the teams is pointing down — they’re simply performing worse against each team and the trends say this will continue.

What gets Wenger the sack?

Well, Arsenal obviously haven’t finished outside of the top four in twenty years. Finishing fifth by itself may not be enough to get him the sack, finishing sixth definitely will in my opinion.

The average points they’ve finished from the winner over the last 20 years is 10.35 points, last 10 years 13.00 points and last 5 years is 12.80. They haven’t finished more than 20 points off the winner since the 2006/07 season. Finishing over 20 points behind the winner by itself marks it as a sackable performance, finishing 6th and more than 20 points behind the winner makes it even more inevitable.

Finally, finishing with less than 70 points may not be a sackable ‘offence’, but when added to either of or and a 6th place finish over 20 points behind the winner then unfortunately combined it marks such a poor performance that the club could have and should have no other option.

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