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Ix Techau Evil Mastermind 13,934 pts

The average points problem: why Arsenal will never again win the title under Wenger

Posted by Ix Techau about 1 year ago · 40 replies
This article was originally posted on Arsenal Report towards the end of the 2015-2016 season.

We are now 34 games into the season and, provided Spurs win all their remaining games, Leicester need to secure 82 points to clinch the title. This is almost two points more than the the absolute minimum average needed in the last five seasons (80.2):

  • 2014-2015 = 79
  • 2013-2014 = 84
  • 2012-2013 = 78
  • 2011-2012 = 89
  • 2010-2011 = 71

Arsenal got 75 points last year in the league, so going by the average of 80-81 points needed to take it, one could wonder why Wenger thought bringing one first-team player into the team would help push us over that edge. We currently have 64 points in the league with three games to go. In other words, even if we win all our remaining games (we won't) we'd still end up on fewer points than we did last year. In fact, it's likely we won't even break 70 points this year.

Looking at the average points needed to win the Premier League over the last 15 years brings us to an average of 80.9. It's clear that in order to push for the title you're looking at reaching at least 80-81 points. It's supported by the fact that every winner since the 1998-1999 Premier League season has ended on at least 80 points. This list shows the absolute minimum needed to win it on goal difference (not the point tally that actually won it):

  • 2014-2015 = 79
  • 2013-2014 = 84
  • 2012-2013 = 78
  • 2011-2012 = 89
  • 2010-2011 = 71
  • 2009-2010 = 85
  • 2008-2009 = 86
  • 2007-2008 = 85
  • 2006-2007 = 83
  • 2005-2006 = 83
  • 2004-2005 = 83
  • 2003-2004 = 79
  • 2002-2003 = 78
  • 2001-2002 = 80
  • 2000-2001 = 70

Here's the problem: Wenger has only reached 80+ points four times in his entire career at Arsenal, and the last time he did so was in 2007-2008:

  • 2015-2016 = 71
  • 2014-2015 = 75
  • 2013-2014 = 79
  • 2012-2013 = 73
  • 2011-2012 = 70
  • 2010-2011 = 68
  • 2009-2010 = 75
  • 2008-2009 = 72
  • 2007-2008 = 83
  • 2006-2007 = 68
  • 2005-2006 = 67
  • 2004-2005 = 83
  • 2003-2004 = 90
  • 2002-2003 = 78
  • 2001-2002 = 87
  • 2000-2001 = 70
  • 1999-2000 = 73
  • 1998-1999 = 78
  • 1997-1998 = 78
  • 1996-1997 = 68

We have a manager whose capabilities stretches to an average of 75.9 points per season (73.6 since we last won the league), in a league where you need 80+ points to push for the title. Wenger is very consistent in his points tally, only deviating -9/+3 (or three losses and one win) from his average in the last ten years. Not even with Henry, Vieira, Adams and other legends did he break 80 points on a regular basis.

For comparison, this is Alex Ferguson's points chart in the same period:

  • 2012-2013 = 89
  • 2011-2012 = 89
  • 2010-2011 = 80
  • 2009-2010 = 85
  • 2008-2009 = 90
  • 2007-2008 = 87
  • 2006-2007 = 89
  • 2005-2006 = 83
  • 2004-2005 = 77
  • 2003-2004 = 75
  • 2002-2003 = 83
  • 2001-2002 = 77
  • 2000-2001 = 80
  • 1999-2000 = 91
  • 1998-1999 = 79
  • 1997-1998 = 77
  • 1996-1997 = 75

...not a single season scoring less than 75 points, and a total of 11 seasons scoring more than 80 points. His average in those 17 seasons was 82.7 points per season. In other words the type of average needed to sustain title challenges year in and year out.

So why on earth do people believe Wenger will suddenly break free from this consistent points average to start scoring the 80+ points needed to start winning titles again? Even in this season where all the big teams have collapsed it's likely Leicester still need 80-82 points to take it.

In order for Arsenal to start winning the league again, we need to realistically find 6-9 extra points in our setup. I know that sounds easy (only two or three more wins every season), but history shows us it's not.

This is simply not going to happen under Wenger. We can blame refs and injuries all we want, but the fact is that all teams get awful refs at some stage, and our injury count is improved by 40% this year but we still scored fewer points than last year. We were told by bigot John Terry that Cech would save us 10+ points every season, but that clearly hasn't happened. We've spent £105m net on players in the last five years but we still have the same points average as the five years before that when our net spend was -£20m.

So now we're looking at next season. Guardiola joining Man City, Mourinho perhaps joining Man Utd, Klopp in his second season, Conte taking over Chelsea, Pochettino continuing to improve Spurs, Ranieri perhaps proving that this year wasn't a fluke (doubtful)...the first four managers on that list are all capable of being 80+ point average managers.

So I ask again: how on earth do we expect to Wenger to suddenly become a 80+ point manager when he has never shown himself to be one in his entire career, apart from a handful of exceptions? We all need to become more realistic. Either we accept Wenger until he retires, which means around 75-76 points and scrapping for third or fourth...or we start fighting for this league again. We can't do both.

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40 Comments

Ix Techau Evil Mastermind 13,934 pts
Posted 3 months ago by Ix Techau

I know, but I was in no mood to calculate 17/20

The point was that 80+ points is not the only factor required to win the title. It's just one of a few important factors.

I think better squad is what we want.

The premise of the article is that the squad is irrelevant, and that even with Ozil, Sanchez and Cech we're at the same average as with Denilson, Chamakh and Fabianski. The average doesn't really change. The only constant is Wenger. The squad has changed in quantity and quality over the years, but average league points haven't. The only possible reason for this is that Wenger isn't capable enough to do what SAF did and have an 80+ point average.

I consider the season from which we signed Ozil as the season with complete squad.

And since we signed Ozil we have dropped four points every season.

I don't completely understand this data: the absolute minimum needed to win it on goal difference (not the point tally that actually won it). So if possible please elaborate on this

Those are the points at which a team mathematically won the title in that season. But final points tally outweighs winning points because a season doesn't end when someone is mathematically declared winner. No winner has ended on less than 80 points in a season since the late 90s. The league has been won on fewer points, but again...the season doesn't end when someone wins the title. Often the winners have to play against teams that are still battling for position, so the competition continues elsewhere in the table.

IKnowYou 164 pts
Posted about 1 year ago by IKnowYou

I think him going into next season knowing it's his last year will probably give him the extra push to win the league. Hope he doesn't get the extension but leaves with a bang -like winning the treble (FA,PL,champs).

Zizoucool 37 pts
Posted 4 months ago by Zizoucool

That looks like a very convincing argument but you are implying that Wenger is a mediocre manager who would have same results even if he had the stars of Barcelona/Madrid. That is sheer injustice to the effort put by the manager. You compare him with SAF, but both had the same number of >80 point seasons till 2004-05. Then mad money came into football and the rest is history. Add to it the Emirates loan situation at Arsenal. The inference stated don't capture these major qualitative factors!

Ix Techau Evil Mastermind 13,934 pts
Posted 4 months ago by Ix Techau

That looks like a very convincing argument but you are implying that Wenger is a mediocre manager

No, I'm saying he's a freakishly consistent manager that is capable of hovering around 75 points per season regardless of what players he has at his disposal. I'm saying 72-78 points seems to be the extent of Wenger's capability as a manager. Which is not mediocre at all, but it also wouldn't result in a league title.

You compare him with SAF, but both had the same number of >80 point seasons till 2004-05. Then mad money came into football and the rest is history. Add to it the Emirates loan situation at Arsenal.

I think blaming the stadium is an easy way out. Wenger has always been on the same average. Pre-Emirates, post-Emirates, with world class players, without world class players, etc. His surroundings and personnel have changed, but his average is still the same. £200m spent, £0 spent...same outcome. 75 points.

I also think it's ridiculous to insinuate that Man Utd suddenly came upon a treasure chest of cash in 2005 and that is why SAF managed to keep Man Utd competitive. Sure, they identified that they had to spend a bit more than usual in order to keep up with Chelsea (and subsequently Man City), but they were spending ridiculous cash before Chelsea emerged (Veron anyone?).

What happened was that SAF raised his game. That's the primary reason for Man Utd keeping up with the illicit spending power of Chelsea. He had to alter his approach, and he did. Wenger didn't. Wenger changed from a 4-4-2 to a 4-2-3-1 in the mid-noughties because he wanted to play more possession football so he wanted one more body in midfield, but that switch wasn't designed to keep up with Chelsea.

Zizoucool 37 pts
Posted 4 months ago by Zizoucool

No, I'm saying he's a freakishly consistent manager that is capable of hovering around 75 points per season regardless of what players he has at his disposal.

Season 1st Arsenal Diff

  • 15-16 81 71 10
  • 14-15 87 75 12
  • 13-14 86 79 7
  • 12-13 89 73 16
  • 11-12 89 70 19
  • 10-11 80 68 12
  • 09-10 86 75 11
  • 08-09 90 72 18
  • 07-08 87 83 4
  • 06-07 89 68 21
  • 05-06 91 67 24

The same stats I would compare with the points of the 1st placed teams to account for some factors like impact of big buys at Arsenal, turmoil at other clubs etc

There is clear downward trend in the difference from 24 to 10. So I say he is not really consistent but actually is improving with big buys and he is one/two seasons away from the title.

I also think it's ridiculous to insinuate that Man Utd suddenly came upon a treasure chest of cash in 2005 and that is why SAF managed to keep Man Utd competitive. Sure, they identified that they had to spend a bit more than usual in order to keep up with Chelsea (and subsequently Man City), but they were spending ridiculous cash before Chelsea emerged (Veron anyone?).

I was referring to Chelsea. Yeah United was spending large amounts at that point too. But Man Utd had unearthed a superb talent named Ronaldo, plus the word-class combination of Vidic and Ferdinand. And the old-guard stuck around and had a smooth transition. But for Arsenal, the Adebayors, Cescs, Hlebs, RvPs deserted year after year. Only this season I feel our squad was complete after year on year solid signings. Only to be proved wrong with the same injury demons coming back at the wrong time.

Having made these arguments(excuses), my head wants him to bid goodbye at the end of the season but the heart is still willing to wait a couple of more seasons till he lifts another PL, a tail-event as you may call!

Ix Techau Evil Mastermind 13,934 pts
Posted 4 months ago by Ix Techau

So I say he is not really consistent but actually is improving with big buys and he is one/two seasons away from the title

But that's not true. We've spent £106m net in the last six full seasons, and in that period we've had 72.6 points on average per season. In the six years before that we had negative net spend (we were £18.3m in the black) and had a 74.6 point average. You'll find similar numbers no matter how you calculate. Spending or making money has no impact on Wenger's average.

In fact, since we stopped having self-inflicted financial issues and started buying world-class players (starting with Ozil), we have actually dropped four points every season.

  • Ozil joined 2013-2014: 79 points
  • Sanchez joined 2014-2015: 75 points
  • Cech joined 2015-2016: 71 points
  • Mustafi joined 2016-2017: ...67 points?
Zizoucool 37 pts
Posted 4 months ago by Zizoucool

Spending or making money has no impact on Wenger's average.

We want the league, which is a relative thing. You just can't keep looking Wenger's performance in-silo.

  • Ozil: 4th Position
  • Sanchez: 3rd Position
  • Cech: 2nd Position
  • Mustafi, Xhaka: was hoping to be 1st. But definitely impossible now. Good chance to end up at 2nd again, which can be meaningless - an improvement that is not good enough.

80 is a good benchmark that you choose. Last week it looked not so tough. Now it is truly uphill task. Though we surpass it, we can't win the league.

Mustafi joined 2016-2017: ...67 points?

Last time we had 67 points we were in CL final! So I would take that :D

Ix Techau Evil Mastermind 13,934 pts
Posted 4 months ago by Ix Techau

We want the league, which is a relative thing. You just can't keep looking Wenger's performance in-silo.

Of course I can, that's how statistics work. Read the article above and it explains why reaching 80 points is essential to winning the league. You're only influencing challengers a handful of times during the season, rest of the time is spent in isolation from challengers.

80 is a good benchmark that you choose.

It's not something I chose or came up with, it's the points needed to win the title, historically. Every single winner since 98-99 have ended on at least 80 points. Wenger has dropped four points per season since 2014 and is now realistically hovering around the 70-point barrier.

Last time we had 67 points we were in CL final! So I would take that :D

Champions League is a different thing. Wenger could potentially win the Champions League because of the luck factor involved in knock-out competitions...but it's highly unlikely. We have to beat teams like Bayern, Barca or Real Madrid over two legs, which we simply don't have the quality to do.

Zizoucool 37 pts
Posted 4 months ago by Zizoucool

Of course I can, that's how statistics work. Read the article above and it explains why reaching 80 points is essential to winning the league.

I don't know why you say, that's how statistics work. Looking Wenger's performance alone, probability of you being correct is 4/5 and not correct is 1/5. I'm just saying conditional on having a perfect squad, probabilities can change dramatically like 2003-04, 2007-08 seasons. You can blame Wenger for not recruiting right players but can't write him off with 80% chance that even with good players he will not win a league.

Wenger has dropped four points per season since 2014 and is now realistically hovering around the 70-point barrier.

It's ok. Mid-table teams have grown really stronger. But Wenger was getting better in out-smarting most of the teams, while rest of the competitors were finding it hard. Mourinho, Pep are struggling with their super-star squads. I bet they can't do as well as Wenger with the Arsenal squads over the years.

We have to beat teams like Bayern, Barca or Real Madrid over two legs, which we simply don't have the quality to do.

We have been doing well against big teams but with many away-goals rule exits. Hopefully luck will favour us this time.

poodris 2,501 pts
Posted 4 months ago by poodris

Hopefully luck will favour us this time.

Wengers managerial approach perfectly summed up in 7 words...

Ix Techau Evil Mastermind 13,934 pts
Posted 4 months ago by Ix Techau

You can blame Wenger for not recruiting right players but can't write him off with 80% chance that even with good players he will not win a league.

It's not really 80% though, as reaching 80+ points is not the only requirement to win the title. It's just the minimum requirement. Also, we can't talk about in terms of chance...it has very little to do with randomness. It's not like a lottery with a 20% chance of winning. You control your own destiny in this league.

Mourinho, Pep are struggling with their super-star squads.

They have completely different problems than we have, it's not even comparable. Mourinho is struggling because a) he has lost his mojo siege mentality attitude schtick, and b) his players have lost confidence in his ability after losing said mojo. In the mid-noughties he was unstoppable so could get away with anything. He also has other issues with the squad, which has been deconstructed too many times in too short a time. Man Utd's squad has too many players signed for different reasons.

Guardiola's problem is that for the first time in his career he's in charge of a team that isn't filled to the brim with world beaters, which is the only type of team he is capable of finding success with. Man City have a strong squad but it's not exactly Heynckes' Bayern, nor full of players like Messi, Xavi, Iniesta or Puyol in their prime. Guardiola is used to two-horse races as well, something the Premier League is most certainly not.

Zizoucool 37 pts
Posted 3 months ago by Zizoucool

It's not really 80% though

I know, but I was in no mood to calculate 17/20

You control your own destiny in this league

You can say that about everything else in life that is complex than a lottery

They have completely different problems

We have problems but surely Wenger is not the solution to those problems. I think better squad is what we want.

My ideas after rereading the write up:

I think AW had great squad till Viera left. Since then, I believe, this season we have a real PL competing complete squad. But for the sake of argument, I consider the season from which we signed Ozil as the season with complete squad.

If I take the data points till 2004-05, and from 2013-14 to 2015-16, that is 7 seaons from the data (the absolute minimum needed to win it on goal difference (not the point tally that actually won it)) available in the article and performance by AW in corresponding seasons:

  • Absolute Min average: 79
  • Wenger's Average: 80.29

So I infer that Wenger is good enough to land a title if we continue building on the current squad.

I don't completely understand this data: the absolute minimum needed to win it on goal difference (not the point tally that actually won it). So if possible please elaborate on this and also update it for 1996-97 to 1999-00 and 2016-17 seasons.

I believe the article unduly forgets the poor squads Wenger had. The averaging leads to a misleading conclusion.

Zizoucool 37 pts
Posted 3 months ago by Zizoucool

Wengers managerial approach perfectly summed up in 7 words...

Ouch. That's stretching a little bit too far, I believe!

Ix Techau Evil Mastermind 13,934 pts
Posted 3 months ago by Ix Techau

I know, but I was in no mood to calculate 17/20

The point was that 80+ points is not the only factor required to win the title. It's just one of a few important factors.

I think better squad is what we want.

The premise of the article is that the squad is irrelevant, and that even with Ozil, Sanchez and Cech we're at the same average as with Denilson, Chamakh and Fabianski. The average doesn't really change. The only constant is Wenger. The squad has changed in quantity and quality over the years, but average league points haven't. The only possible reason for this is that Wenger isn't capable enough to do what SAF did and have an 80+ point average.

I consider the season from which we signed Ozil as the season with complete squad.

And since we signed Ozil we have dropped four points every season.

I don't completely understand this data: the absolute minimum needed to win it on goal difference (not the point tally that actually won it). So if possible please elaborate on this

Those are the points at which a team mathematically won the title in that season. But final points tally outweighs winning points because a season doesn't end when someone is mathematically declared winner. No winner has ended on less than 80 points in a season since the late 90s. The league has been won on fewer points, but again...the season doesn't end when someone wins the title. Often the winners have to play against teams that are still battling for position, so the competition continues elsewhere in the table.

Zizoucool 37 pts
Posted 3 months ago by Zizoucool

The only possible reason for this is that Wenger isn't capable enough to do what SAF did and have an 80+ point average

I agree with you that 80+ is bare minimum. That is a good observation. But if I ask why was AW unable to do an SAF, one of the factors is surely squad quality which is not entirely in his hands because of finances. The tactics, type of signings etc are directly dependent on the manager, so he has his share of the blame.

Those are the points at which a team mathematically won the title in that season.

Ah, that classic Wenger's line about being in the title race unless it is mathematically impossible. Got it now!

medintern 146 pts
Posted 23 days ago by medintern

Bumping an old thread, as the winner of the league will have at least 81 points, as previously stated. Most we can have again (winning all 5 games here on out, which I doubt we will do unfortunately) is 75.

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