Arsenal’s record in the final 10 matches: by the numbers

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One criticism of the Arsenal over the last five seasons is that they tend to up their game when the season is already effectively over. Specifically that they play better in the last 10 games of the season compared to the rest of the season. This critique is usually paired with a psychoanalysis of the squad with fans and pundits saying that Arsenal play their best only after the pressure is off.

I looked at Arsenal’s final ten games of every season since the year 2000 and compared them to the season average (which includes those final 10 games). The stats do show that Arsenal have improved performances over the last five years but when I compare those improved performances to the other top teams in the League, Arsenal are actually just playing to their relative average. Let me show you what I mean.

First, the “season” here means “year ending in…” So, “2017” is the 2016/2017 Premier League season. Second, I used the tables at Statbunker to create custom tables based on date. I would have preferred to use Statto but I believe that the site is completely down now. There is one small problem with the tables created in Statbunker: I was only able to use date instead of number of matches played. So, when selecting Arsenal’s final 10 games there were always teams in the League who played more or less matches. It was usually within one or two games, however, and I didn’t feel like putting in the time to make a League table for each of the last 17 years. Besides, if the idea is that Arsenal play better after X event (that they are out of the title race) then that should show in the data regardless of one match difference.

What the data shows is that there has been a points per game improvement and even a goal difference per game improvement by Arsenal over the last 10 games in four of their last five seasons. But the same data shows a drop in performance over the final 10 games in five of the six seasons between 2007-2012.

Between 2007 and 2012 we also see a drop in table position in the final 10 games relative to the other teams in the League. In other words, Arsenal finished 4th in the League in 2010/2011 but if we just look at the last 10 games table they were 12th in form. In 2010 they finished the season 7th in form, in 2006/2007 they were 8th in form, and so on. These data points show that Arsenal “lost the League” and/or stopped being competitive in the final 10 games of each of those seasons.

Conversely, despite the uptick in points per game and goal scoring in the last five years Arsenal’s table position has remained relatively stable or improved. Between the 2012/13 season and 2016/17 Arsenal had just two seasons where they finished the season strong: 2013 and 2017. The remainder were actually the same form as the rest of the season when compared to the League.

This is important because the League isn’t won with a set number of points. So, relative to the opposition, Arsenal have only overperformed in the final 10 games in two seasons (2013 and 2017) and have actually underperformed in 6 of their last 18 seasons. In 10 of their last 18 seasons Arsenal basically performed the same in the last 10 games, relative to the League table, as they had, relative to the League table, in the season. In other words, in the last 10 games of the season Arsenal may score more and win more, but so do all of the top clubs and as a result Arsenal don’t make up any ground.

Arsenal supporters are correct that Arsenal have finished the last five seasons strongly. And this perception is enhanced by the fact that Arsenal finished the previous six (2007-2012) seasons weakly. But the overall record for Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal is one of amazing consistency and his trend shows that his teams are more likely to finish a season in the exact same form as they would throughout.

@7amkickoff

Qq

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24 Comments on "Arsenal’s record in the final 10 matches: by the numbers"

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NewSeason

I guess that last line is the reason why so many are against Arsene Wenger. Football is the best sport in the world and one of it’s qualities is the fact that it’s spontaneous, particularly the Premier League.

The moment it becomes predictable and when ground hog day keeps appearing season after season, one doesn’t feel the same love for football. We look to it for escape from our harsh realities of life and when it results in consistency without trophy, it loses the zeal that we have for it.

Sorry if all of this was a little dour. To cheer you all up:
What do you call cheese that’s not yours?
NACHO CHEESE!

Original Paul

“and when it results in consistency without trophy”
That hasn’t happened much in the past four years.

santori

Yes 3 FA cups in 4 seasons..but never mind just details I suppose.:D

TexasGooner6

Well we got something new this year, Europa League! Yaaaaa

cazorla\'s smile

I just wanted to put it out there (unrelated to his post). I am from Pakistan. Have been following Arsenal since 2000 (more than half my life). Been here through all the ups and downs. Don’t remember the earlier years all that well, but the Invincible season I cried with joy, 2006 cried with heartache. Fell ill for a couple of days. I may have never visited North London, Highbury or the Emirates, but you know, you can’t tell me I’m not a Gunner cuz I’ve been told that. I do apologize that I fell in love with a football and a club so far away, but you know.

Anyway, the point is. I was here for the good years. And the bad. Understood that the stadium needed to be built and paid for. Arsene was and is a God to me. What he has done for the club is monumental. Yes, he is egotistical and arrogant. He was the same when he went the season unbeaten. He was the same when he made sure that Arsenal did not disappear into mediocrity like some other big clubs from yesteryear. Liverpool, Aston Villa, Forrest, Newcastle from the top of my head. For anyone who says they aren’t big clubs, you need to look at their history and compare it to ours pre-Wenger.

Again ranting a bit. I wanted Arsene to go too last year and this year. I think he is outdated and we could use an upgrade. A real modern manager. But the fact is he his here. Instead of the fans bitching and moaning, shouldn’t we be behind the team? I know how it is having hope at the start of every season which ends in disappointment. But you always hope and you always support your team. I look at it like a family. I have fought with my mum and dad, my sisters, but at the end of the day, you’re family right! That’s arsenal for me. I don’t get the hate that fans are spewing out about the manager. You may not agree with him, but he is Arsenal as much you and me. Yeah, the manager or the players arenet bigger than the club. Arsene is not just any manager. Arsenal is not just any club. We, the fans, need to be better.

Eddie McGoldrick

good man

Efosa Humber

nice analogy. lessons learnt

Original Paul

I gotta read it again slowly…

GraeB

Lots of figures there but does it answer the question as to whether we only start to play when the pressure is off? Had we blown the league already?

Maybe I’m not reading it properly whilst I’m watching the CL final that we won’t finish with next season!

santori

Arda Turam rumoured for Free. Just agreeing on fees.

If so maybe a deep midfield role ala Santi to help control better should we need to go to 4-2-3-1.

Also Mbappe up to 95m quid. That sounds very serious and certainly unexpected.

Who says we are predictable.:D

Tired of Wenger? I give you Rob Holding. Next thing they will say David Dein our Director of Football signed him.;)

North Bank Gooner

Will you stop about Holding, he cost 40+million less than Stones, so he MUST be shit. I know this is right, I read all about it in the Sun.
Whaaaaat? 😉

Dan Hunter

Your ‘analysis’ is a bit skewed because it does not take into account the number of games after which we are effectively out of the title race and then the number of games within which a top 4 place can be acquired. ’10 games’ is not necessarily an accurate marker. Surely a more accurate marker would be to determine when we started to fight for a champions league place and if the average points and goals increased from that point onwards?

Dan Hunter

Say the last 10 games are the most important in terms of ‘pressure being off’, why have you compared the average of those against the entire 38 rather than the last 10 against the previous 28? Would that not create a more accurate reflection?

caligunner

what would that point tally be that you are effectively out of the title race?

Dan Hunter

The reason I say ‘effectively’ is because it can still be mathematically possible 10 games before the end of the season to actually win the league, but the team at the top would have to literally lose all their matches while we would have to win all ours. Therefore, the marker for when we can say – ‘there’s no way we can win the league’ is a little subjective. It would, however, require statistical analysis of an average point ‘distance’ from the league leaders after a certain number of games when you can say that based on probability, we are not likely to mount a title challenge. You could say, for example, 12 points off the leaders between December and March, although it would need someone to crunch the numbers.

CechMate

Exactly! I’d like to see how many points we were off the top during this phase. My guess would be we lost points in each of those seasons when we were within striking distance off the top and gained when 4th place was under threat and performed consistently when we were perched between the 1st and 5th. In each of the previous seasons, we’ve slipped up during critical times, we’ve managed to be on top or near top and then slipped up. This stat proves nothing to me.

a different George

I think many of these comments are wide of the point that 7amkickoff is making. It may be true that some different–more complex and perhaps more accurate– statistical analysis will require modifying his conclusions. But it does not look like Arsenal play much differently at the end of the season than throughout. In general, they seem to do as well when the pressure is on as when it is off.

Insofar as people point to this season, it seems to me to prove that Arsenal played far better under pressure (for a Champion’s League spot) than in the months before. Unless you think the pressure to win the league is the only kind there is.

Lash89

This might answer the question about Arsenal playing well with 10 games left in the season or when the pressure is off. The problem over the last 10 years, has to do with the minimum target set by the board or Wenger. Which is top 4. When it needs to be achieved, then Arsenal go on a good run of form, no matter what stage of the season. If not, then there’s no motivation to up their game. Look at the stats for that and you will see that’s the case. The question is, why can’t form be maintained for a title challenge or an up tick in form when it seems like a title challenge is slipping away? This has been the case the last 4 seasons. Usually, Arsenal only have one team to fend off for 4th place in the run-in. This time they had 2. Could have been 3 if ManU didn’t have EL as priority. That’s why they fell short this time.

Samuel Ogungbayi

Why is there consistency in mediocrity for over 10 (ten) years even when new players have been coming in ?I mean players with “winning mentality” who have won the World Cup,Continental Cup in South America and the Champions League . What or who is responsible for the movements without progress like the barber’s chair in Arsenal?

Georgeycharles

The answer is 42…

David C

haha, hope everyone gets this post! well played.

Gnabry\'s arse

Mr 7am kickoff. what most arsenal supporters and pundits are trying to say is that arsenal does the bare minimum.it may not be the last 10 games it may be the last 5 or the last 3 .once the pressure of winning the league is off their shoulders they start playing well, when top 4 is eventually gotten they slack off

Gnabry\'s arse

I think a better analysis is if we can somehow compare the end of the season run with the starting position at the beginning of the 10 games

Mark

We need to treat all 10 game stretches like they are the last 10 matches of the season.

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