Premier League: Arsenal run-in record says their title wait will go on

Per Mertesacker was a regular as Arsenal transformed from Premier League title hopefuls to also-rans in 2013/14
Per Mertesacker was a regular as Arsenal transformed from Premier League title hopefuls to also-rans in 2013/14

Arsenal have a horrible habit of choking whenever they reach this stage of the campaign within six points of the leaders...


"Three of the four instances in the past eight years of Arsenal being within six points of the top at this stage of the season concluded not only with their standard sliding and their title challenge vanishing, but with them losing TWO league positions."

Betting.Betfair have used the opportunity presented by the Premier League's fortnight off to scrutinise the run-in records of every top-five side.

The findings were broadly positive for Leicester, Manchester City and Manchester United, but not so encouraging for Tottenham. Now comes the time to complete the series with a look at 2.56/4 title favourites Arsenal, which appears to be a case of saving the worst news for last.

As the other four clubs that we looked at were in their first, second or third year under a manager, our analysis focussed as much on the manager's figures as the team's.

However, because the Gunners and Arsene Wenger have spent nearly 20 years together, we opted to dig even deeper and explore how they performed in the final 12 matches on each of the last six occasions that they were within six points of top spot at the end of week 26.

Disclaimer time: the results are terrifying enough to give supporters of a more nervous disposition sleepless nights.

In every single one of the six seasons in question - 2002/03, 2003/04, 2007/08, 2009/10, 2010/11 and 2013/14 - Arsenal's point-per-game average dropped between matchdays 27 to 38, while their average positional fall was more than one place per campaign.

Given that the north Londoners are currently in third and weighing in with an unremarkable 1.96 points-per-fixture, they will almost certainly have to improve their accumulation rate over the remaining dozen encounters to finish first, yet the sample offers no precedent to inspire belief.

The most severe of their slumps took place in 2010/11, when a return of 2.04 points per game left them second and within four points of leaders Man United. Rather than kick on, they collapsed, winning just three of their closing 12 clashes - their point average was 1.25 - to fade to fourth.

Three of the four instances in the past eight years of them being within six points of the top at this stage of the season concluded not only with their standard sliding and their title challenge vanishing, but with them losing TWO league positions.

You need to look back a mere two years for the previous scenario where they were within two points of the pacesetters at this juncture - when they trailed Chelsea by one - and that was another grim tale as a drift from a 2.15 point rate to 1.92 saw them abseil from second to fourth.

In total across our six haunting examples, Arsenal averaged 2.2 points during the opening 26 contests and 1.79 over the rest. A repeat of a 1.79 pace would mean 21 more points and a final tally of 72. The Premier League has never been won with less than 75, and always required at least 80 this century.

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