Feb 232010

Bored at the weekend, I was flicking around the sports channels and came across Sunday Supplement. For those of you who don’t know, the concept of the programme is to take a group of newspaper columnists, and let them debate football issues from the morning papers. What it invariably turns into is a series of increasingly outlandish statements and predictions as they try to outdo each other.

One of the topics they were discussing was whether the title was a two or three horse race, and they came to the conclusion that since United are only two points ahead of us with a tougher run in, then you can’t claim them to be in the hunt while excluding us. On the flip side, they all agreed that were we to pip our two rivals and lift the trophy, we would be the most undeserving Premiership champions in history. Granted, columnists do like their hyperbole, but it got me thinking.

Their entire basis for the claim was our record against the big teams. Five of our six losses have come against the two Manchester clubs and Chelsea, and for that reason they insisted we could only win the league by chance – we aren’t as good as them. But our record against the traditional Big Four is Played 6, Won 2, Lost 4, whereas United’s title charge last season came off the back of the record Played 6, Won 1, Drawn 1, Lost 4.

Yes, that’s right. They had a worse record against the big teams than we do this campaign – it passed unnoticed because their defeats weren’t back to back. How many times did you hear United labelled as undeserving champions?

The reason they lifted the trophy last season was their remarkable ability to destroy the weaker sides in the league. While everyone else dropped points here and there, they relentlessly and routinely took all three. In fact, their record against the bottom half of the league was a frankly astonishing Played 20, Won 19, Drawn 1, the only blip being a draw with Newcastle on the opening day.

It didn’t matter that they couldn’t beat the elite, because they were more consistent than them. So it is strange to hear criticisms of our team going the same way – by playing so expansively we have found the knack of winning the so-called ‘smaller’ games, and a lot more efficiently than our supposed superiors.

To put it in perspective, here are everyone’s records against teams from outside the current top five:

Arsenal: Played 21, Won 16, Drawn 4, Lost 1, Points 52

Chelsea: Played 22, Won 15, Drawn 4, Lost 3, Points 49

United: Played 22, Won 14, Drawn 3, Lost 5, Points 45

Against those fifteen opponents, we have played a game less than both our rivals, yet have a far superior record. Given that our remaining matches are more of this type of fixture, and not the sort we have been losing, we can realistically expect to stay in contention.

This easily unnoticed record is the reason we have a genuine chance this season – the mark of champions has long been the ability to be consistent, and we are precisely that, more so than our rivals. It matters little that we lost to United and Chelsea when both were beaten at Goodison Park, a fixture we scored six in.

We have failed in matches against the top two, but United did the same last year, lifting the trophy anyway. There is no reason why we cannot do the same, and if they deserved it, so will we.

  31 Responses to “Is is possible to become undeserving Premiership champions?”

  1. Spot on! There is no such thing as “undeserving” champions of the Premier League. Everyone knows it’s a very long season and consistency has always won it.

  2. You are the first person I’ve seen pointing this out and breaking up the two sets of results, good stuff.

    Still don’t think we have a real chance however without a finisher in the side or a proper goalie.

  3. Very good points, like it. I didn’t see the Supplement but even the possibility of us being near the top on the last day has made me feel a bit guilty on the basis of our defeats to the obvious sides, but you’re right re United last year.

    Of course, there is a bit of a difference: I don’t think United last year suffered abject defeats against the big sides the way we have this year, at least in the two Chelsea games and United at home. But I still like the analysis.

    Having compared fixture lists for the rest of this season, I predict we’ll finsh on 86 points (ie. 10 wins and one draw from what remains). Then it depends on whether the Chavs manage to get enough wins from Man City, Spurs, Man U, Villa and Liverpool. I think they will unfortunately.

    Still, just shows what those dummies those who said Liverpool, City and even some of Villa, Everton and Spurs would finish above us are.

  4. This is a very interesting article and gives me another bit of hope!

    Thanks for the post.

  5. 26may1989 – you’re right about the differing nature of the defeats, and I think that is exactly the reason people keep writing us off.

    United did have one horrendous defeat last season – the 4-1 mauling at home to Liverpool, but no-one seemed to really notice their struggles against the top sides because their games were spread out.

    Ours came in a patch, and we lost each of them, so we were duly written off.

    Consistency wins the Premiership – always has, always will. If we can maintain it, we have a great chance. Of course, if Chelsea manage it, they’ll lift the title, but fair play to them if they do. It won’t be easy.

  6. Maybe I’m biased but I can’t think of a single occasion when any other team, other than Arsenal, has deserved to win the premiership.


    Not once.

  7. Well done Pete

  8. Brilliant analysis!

    The journos are getting thier excuses in early, no such thing as an underserving champion, consider this, two years ago, last year we BEAT Chelsea away, Won against Man U at home and drew to them away, who was champion? yes Man U, did we deserve to be champions, over 38 games no. The league is of 20 teams, not 4! so over the 20 teams, over 38 games whover accumulates the most points, is champion, and deserves to be. Simple. And it also helps that if we did do it, we are also recognised as a team that do playing brilliant football, who more can be deserving? remember the the 2nd Chelsea Title team of Jose? exactly, best forgotten.

    So those Journo’s talk abosolute B***cks.

  9. Great post – like the use of facts and figures, unlike most blogs.

  10. you are absolutely rite Jonny!! remember our invincible year..

  11. Great analysis; anything thing that people seem to have not noticed is that we’ve shown a lot of character this season as well. We were written off twice, but are still in the hunt. We’ve also won from being 2-0 down twice this season, including one occasion when we played absolutely appallingly.

    Whereas Chelsea have stumbled every time they look really good; after both of their wins against us and just before the Wigan game.

  12. Oh, and we were written of a even a fourth place finish before the season started; but those people (all pundits) are feeling foolish now :D

    But I suppose if you ask them directly, they’ll say that the only reason that we’re doing so well this season is that we’ve been really lucky, with all the injuries that have been avoided. /rollseyes

  13. United got 5 points out of a possible 12 against chelsea and arsenal last season – we have 0 out of a possible 12 against them this season.

    Get ur facts right mate

  14. Dont forget liverpool beat united 4-1 at very old trafford last season also, a worse defeat than any of ours have been

  15. undeserving – bollocks. first: let’s not get ahead of ourselves in this question.
    second – as is pointed out in several comments: the team that has the most points after playing all the other teams twice is – of course – deserving the title, that’s the whole concept of playing a ‘league’.
    third: if individual results between 2 or 3 teams decides who deserves to be champions it not only defeats the whole ‘league concept’, but would mean that in the case of Arsenal finishing on top – Sunderland would deserve the title as much as Arsenal, since we beat them 1-0 at home and the beat us with the same at their home. Djeezis.
    fourth: only way for a the champions to be undeserving champions would be if, say, Chelsea finished top, with the most points, but the PL decided that Hull should be crowned champions because they had won the most throw-ins.

  16. Well, if anyone needed a definitive example of an anti-arsenal media bias, this is it.

  17. It’s a load of bollocks to say we’d be undeserving champions. Two or 3 years ago we topped the ‘big 4’ league but nobody said United were undeserving champions.

  18. great article.. I learned something new today..
    thank you

  19. Nicely done.
    The Utd side that stole the title from us in 07/08 was definitely undeserving of the championship.
    We dominated that league and only ridiculous injuries and an insane number of poor refereeing decisions stopped us. Utd weren’t even that good then. Never seen more of a one-man team. They’ve improved since but I didnt see anything special about that side.

  20. Stats mean very little when we are up against the Delap long throws on Saturday ,not to mention the problems of playing our game on Wigan’s ploughed field of a pitch. Incidently just watched Jens & Alex in CL against Barca. Happy Days.

  21. Maybe the top 4 teams can have a playoff to determine the eventual champion …

  22. Yes good point i think our hardest game left is on saturday against stoke lets hope the back in form hammers do us a favour tommoro against man u and Chelsea have a realy hard game against milan and are not at there best at home to Man City this is very possible

  23. don’t take any notice of what those fat fools on the sunday supplement say. like i said before many times: the title is 38 games. not 4 against manure and mickey mouse. the team that gains the most points over 38 games wins the title and they ALWAYS deserve it. it’s as simple as that i don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.

  24. Wayne – why don’t you read the article? What facts are wrong?

    It says that Man U got 1 win, 1 draw and 3 defeats against the top four teams last season. You say they got five points against Arsenal and Chelsea. As they got no points against Liverpool, you are correct. As was this article.

    The article says that this season Arsenal have gone Won 2 Lost 4 against the tradiational Big Four teams. You say they have got no points against Man U and Chelsea. However, they beat Liverpool twice. Again, you are both correct.

    So quite how you can justify your “Get ur facts right mate” I’m not quite sure. The article is factually accurate. You decided to quote back some different facts, which didn’t involve Liverpool. Doesn’t make these facts wrong.

  25. Alan, you mean United got 1 win, 2 draws and 3 defeats ?

  26. the fact that we are still in the race this season ihs due to our remarkably good defence record against the smaller teams. Say what you may say about our supposedly weak defence which has leaked in 30 so far, but if you take away the number of goals conceded against united n chelsea (home n away) n the 4-2 drubbing at the hands of manc, our record at the back, against the rest, stands at 16 goals conceded in 22 matches which doesnt look that bad actually! this is where the contributions of Tv5, Billy Gallas and Song have made a diff… If they can remain fit n injury free for the rest of the season, think we can still win it!

  27. FUCK YEAH. great stats pointed out and such.but

    yeah exactly, we would not be undeserving champions. so we played weaker on the day to those sides, we played stronger against some of the same sides they lost or draw to.

    point is these stats pretty much show that anything can happen on a saturday or sunday.

    but given arsenals particular skill and style, they have a very good chance of taking many points for the last games. and we all know manu and chelsea (isn’t chelsea a girls name?) will drop points. good stuff

  28. @ Kevin – “isn’t chelsea a girls name?”

    LMAO – Cracking mate, do you mind if I use that one down the pub later?!?!

  29. Thanks for all your comments.

    I was going to reply to Wayne to point out that all he’s done is highlight a completely different set of stats to me, so we’re actually both right and the aggression isn’t exactly called for, but Alan put it more succintly than I could, so thanks for that!

    Put simply, I don’t think you can be undeserving champions. If Chelsea or United win the rest of their games and lift the title, they will deserve it. Same with us.

  30. Great job, mate and incisive reading too. Very few pundits care to analyse such a break down of the facts! I know I am one of those waiting with bated breath for Arsenal to lift the trophy this season, taking it one game at a time. The top 2 will drop more points than we are likely to. The signs are clear: we have been beating the lower placed teams, with relative consistency; now, of the 11 games left, we have only 3 uncertain (yet winnable)games into the run-in. So, why not the title?

  31. f****ng journos-what do they know-they’re so far up MANURES ARSE! they couldn’t give an honest appraisal if they tried…if we won the title with the amount of injuries we’ve suffered this season including missing our main striker & withoubt spending a shed load of money to acheive it,unlike the rest of the top 6/8 it would withoubt a doubt go down as wengers/arsenal greatest title successs to date-the journos are shitting themselves at the prospect of it & are getting their anti arsenal drivel in already!!

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