The Table of Doom Update
Arsenal Current 75 Max 93 Man City(a) Newcastle (a) Brighton(h)
Man City Max 94 Brighton (a) Arsenal (h)
Man Utd Max 83 Brighton(a)
Newcastle Max 83 Arsenal(h)
Brighton Max 76 Man Utd(h)Man City (h) Arsenal(a)
And so the hapless Spuds are gone, hit by a tornado, juggernaut, hurricane, express train, tsunami and a Howe as six disasters fell upon them at the new, the shiny, and the emptying White Hart Lane. Champions league is looking difficult for them and I feel the only answer is to bring back ‘Arry. Harry Redknapp is the answer, Spuds. But don’t tell any Gooner I told you that, I might get lynched.
If Harry Kane goes, life could get worse for the Spuds
Brighton now look like kingmakers. They play Man Utd and could easily have won their FA cup semi-final. They were the better side and I think they will beat them at home, leaving the Mancs with a maximum of 80. Brighton are just hanging on to the Table of Doom but could have a big impact on Champions league places and the title. Once we destroy Man City in our next match Man Utd will have 80 max, in this scenario, leaving them almost gone from the table of doom. Then Brighton have Man City at home. They might just get something, they are a tough side home and away. And then they have us away. Beating them could be key if we are still in it. I reckon most neutrals want us to win. The City money machine is not popular. Nuke Hassle away is also going to be tough for us. Every game is going to be crucial. I hope we can stand up and be counted.
This is a great season
And if I could turn this season on its head, I feel we would have totally different emotions. If City had blazed out in front and we were coming up behind them now for top spot, winning all our matches like earlier and they were struggling a bit, and we end up a close second, ahead of Man Utd, Liverpool, Chelsea, the Spuds, and even the new moneybags, Nuke Hassle, we would be so happy.
Some happy Gooners
Oh, and by the way, if anyone had read my previous piece, The Art of Prediction, you would see that I was hit by the commentator’s curse. I said that we either win or lose, rarely draw, and now we have had 3 in a row. Let’s get back to being Arsenal, Mikel, I told you many times, the only currency you can trade in is wins. And let’s start by putting ourselves right back in it by beating City. Although, as I have said last week, it is common for teams to drop points in the squeaky bum part of the competition.
Has this been the strangest season in the modern era?
Liverpool, Chelsea and Tottenham all look pretty certain to finish outside the top four and Champions league places and only Liverpool have not gone through traumatic manager changes. I wondered if this is the first time only one of the top four remain from the previous season. I decided to go back to 1998 when Uefa changed the qualifying rules allowing multiple entrants from countries.
Frankie ready for the boot
So, in 2021, Man City, Liverpool and Chelsea all qualified but Spurs changed with Man Utd. The world is as we expect. In 2020, we had the same top four, Liverpool, City, Man Utd and Chelsea. In 2019 we had Man Utd change places with Spurs. No surprises, so. In 2018, Spurs changed places with Chelsea. In 2017, Chelsea changed places with Man Utd. In 2016, we had 2 changes, Leicester won and Arsenal came second with Tottenham and City also there. In 2015, Chelsea and Man Utd for Leicester and the Spuds. Again 2 changes.
A merry go round with the same faces
In 2014, Liverpool came in for Man Utd. In 2013 we had Chelsea, Arsenal, Man Utd and Man City with Utd replacing Liverpool. In 2012 we had the Spuds come in for Chelsea. In 2011 they swopped places. In 2010 City was replaced by the Spuds. This was the last time City was out of the top four.
Even this seismic event only produced 2 changes
In 2009, Liverpool replaced the Spuds. In 2008, same again. In 2007, again the same. In 2006, the same. In 2005, Everton under David Moyes replaced Liverpool. In 2004, Liverpool had been in, alongside the 3 main contenders, Man Utd, Arsenal and Chelsea. In 2003, Newcastle were there instead of Liverpool. In 2002, Liverpool were there instead of Chelsea. In 2001, Leeds Utd were there instead of Newcastle. In 2000, It was no change. In 1999 we had Man Utd, Arsenal, Leeds and Chelsea. In 1998 we had Arsenal, Man Utd, Liverpool and Chelsea. In 1997, the first year of challenging for multiple entrants, we had Man Utd, Newcastle, Arsenal and Liverpool which is one change.
Money is the deciding factor
I am pretty certain if I went back further it would be similar. Only one of the current top four to remain has to be very unusual. Of course, Liverpool could make it in to the top four this year but they are 9 points behind Man Utd and Newcastle with Utd having a game in hand and only 7 matches for Liverpool to make up the deficit. It’s possible but unlikely. In fact the normal seems to be one change or no change since Arsene Wenger’s fourth trophy has been up for grabs. Leicester’s remarkable season and the one before produced 2 changes.
Roberto De Zerbi has done an amazing job at Brighton
One thing that has changed in football has been money. Big money brings Champions league and Man City, Man Utd, Newcastle and ourselves have big money at their disposal. So have Liverpool, Chelsea and Tottenham. Villa, making a probably doomed late charge for CL, have billionaire owners. Brighton has more modest ownership and is the only one of the contenders who has. Also he is English, a rarity in the Premier league. Spurs have a quasi English ownership. I would love Brighton to do it but as I also want us to beat them we could make it even harder for them.
As has Unai Emery at Villa
The craziest year
And so we are left with a crazy year. Liverpool, the mentality monsters, look very fragile. Chelsea spent zillions but are playing like headless chickens. Tottenham refused to back Mr Conte and he very definitely showed his displeasure in an unexpected outburst. It all seems to have gone wrong for them. Newcastle jumped up from 11th but spent a lot. Credit must go to Eddie Howe, an unlikely choice but it seems like an inspired one. And it is probably good to have an English manager challenging.
It makes me wonder about next year. 8 teams with big money, and Brighton, Brentford and Fulham looking good. Logically, Champions league is going to be a mighty battle next year. City, surely, will be there, but of the rest? Who knows? Maybe we could go astray because we have Champions league to negotiate. We need to strengthen, particularly at centre back and centre forward. Could Balogun make the grade? Maybe a top goalkeeper as well as Arteta doesn’t seem to trust Turner. But above all else, no matter what happens this season, we need our young boys to improve, we could do with some of the academy guys pushing for places, and we need to develop that killer instinct which makes us Arsenal. The process continues and long may it reign.