Jan 012009
 

1. Arsenal managed 71 points from 38 games played in 2008, with 36 from the last 18 of last season, and 35 from the first 20 of this. 71 points in a league season has always been comfortably enough to finish in the top four, which suggests that we are well on the way to Champions League football next season. Chelsea had the best 2008, with 86 points.

2. Despite many predicting that Villa will break the Big Four hold, they actually only managed 58 points in 2008, far fewer than the big teams, because they amassed only 20 points in 18 games at the end of last season. Given that their squad is no bigger this time around, and that their European interest is still strong, it would not be a surprise for history to repeat itself and their challenge to fade.

3. Statistics would actually point to Everton being the closest challengers to the big teams this season, after amassing 64 points in 2008. They’ve done it before, back in 2005, but have to come from behind to do it this time, unlike that season.

4. We have kept clean sheets in only fourteen of 38 games, only around a third, which is plainly not good enough. Proportionally however, we managed the same in the first half of 2008 as the second half, which actually suggests that the oft-mooted reason of Flamini leaving in the summer may not be the whole story.

5. We have failed to score four times in 2008, against Wigan last season, and Fulham, Villa and Man City this. Four in 38 is not too bad, but the opposition the shut outs have come against have been a surprise.

6. Fourteen times in 2008 we scored in a Premiership match but didn’t win it. On three of those occasions we managed two goals without winning, while that match against Spurs saw our four goals still not bring the points home.

7. Of the fourteen matches we scored in but did not win, we actually led in nine of them, but could not hold on to the advantage. No other big side lets leads slip as often as us.

8. The often spoken points target of 40 points to avoid relegation is now a myth. Last season six clubs failed to reach the magic number, while 36 was enough to save Fulham. This season should be similar, with Bolton 11th and still only heading for 43 points. 36-37 should be enough once again in the closest relegation battle in years.

9. Perhaps the biggest unheralded success story of 2008 has been Wigan. In the drop zone this time last year, they have managed 52 points in the calendar year and in only 37 games. If they keep that up they’ll be in Europe next term.

10. Arsenal finally managed to win again at Stamford Bridge, and mirrored the 2003/04 success by coming from behind to triumph 2-1. And that season’s team did okay, really…

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