Cech’s road to 50 points is more difficult than you think

Petr Cech has handed his team a points target for an end of season run which would put Arsenal firmly in the title race, 50 points from 20 matches. Sitting on 37 after 18 games and with 20 games left to play Arsenal would need to jump from 2 points per game average to 2.5 points per game. Put another way, Arsenal would need to win at least 15 of their last 20 matches and pick up a further 5 points from the other five matches in order to reach such a lofty goal.

Arsenal’s schedule is complicated by the fact that the Gunners face Chelsea, Southampton, Liverpool, and Tottenham away between now and the end of the season. These are the games in which Arsenal average just a point a game. One win, one draw, and two losses from those four would meet Arsenal’s average.

The Southampton and Liverpool fixtures are especially problematic because they are surrounded by potentially tough matches for Arsenal. For example, Southampton comes just a week after Arsenal play Bayern and a possible FA Cup tie. That cup tie could potentially be a ball buster as well because if Arsenal get past the next two rounds of the FA Cup our chances increase that we will draw another top team.

After the Southampton match is an international break and then immediately Liverpool away and Bayern at home. Alexis Sanchez will be returning from international duty late and probably battered as Chile look to qualify for the World Cup. This, plus the fact that nearly every Arsenal player is an international, means that none of them will be getting rest ahead of the Liverpool tie.

Here are the fixtures list and points needed to get to 50:

Venue Opponent Points
Home Cry Pal 3
Away Bournemouth 3
Away FA Cup Preston
Away Swansea 3
Home Burnley 3
N FA Cup
Home Watford 3
Away Chelsea 0
Home Hull 3
Away Bayern
N FA Cup
Away Southampton 3
INTERNATIONAL BREAK
Away Liverpool 1
Home Bayern
Home Leicester 3
Away West Brom 3
Home Man City 3
Home West Ham 3
Away Cry Pal 3
Away Middlesbrough 3
Home Sunderland 3
Away Tottenham 0
Home Man U 1
Away Stoke 3
Home Everton 3

When I looked at the fixtures list and did my “gut feeling estimation” I came away with Arsenal earning 43 points from the last 20 matches. That would mean Arsenal earned exactly 40 points from each half-season. I didn’t plan it out that way, that’s just how I “felt” that Arsenal would do. Here’s my gut feeling:

Venue Opponent Points
Home Cry Pal 3
Away Bournemouth 3
Away FA Cup Preston
Away Swansea 3
Home Burnley 3
N FA Cup
Home Watford 3
Away Chelsea 0
Home Hull 3
Away Bayern
N FA Cup
Away Southampton 0
INTERNATIONAL BREAK
Away Liverpool 0
Home Bayern
Home Leicester 3
Away West Brom 1
Home Man City 1
Home West Ham 3
Away Cry Pal 3
Away Middlesbrough 3
Home Sunderland 3
Away Tottenham 1
Home Man U 1
Away Stoke 3
Home Everton 3

You can accuse me of being negative because I don’t have us earning any wins against the top six teams but if Arsenal if Arsenal take 43 points that would mean that they averaged 2.15 points per game over the last 20 matches. That would be one of Arsenal’s best finishes of the last seven years! The best they have done in the last seven seasons is 2.21 points per game. That was from January 2015 to May 2015 when Arsenal were the best team in the League.

But Arsenal’s final 19 game finishes have been anything but consistent. After one of their best finishes to a season plus a strong start to the next, last season Arsenal averaged 1.68 points per game in the second half of the season.

As a point of data here are the charts for each season since 2010. What you see here is that between 2010 and 2012, Arsenal were a poor second half of the season team. Then between 2013-2015 a strong finishing team. And last season, Arsenal fell back down to being a poor finishing team. Here are the actual charts (via statto.com):

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

Historically, the top teams in the second half of the season have averaged 2.27 points per game. If Arsenal managed that over the final 20 matches of this season, they would get 45 points. Still shy of the 50 called for by Cech but only 2 points more than my gut feeling. That’s just two draws more than I predict. Maybe, say, one over Chelsea and one over Southampton. Or even just change my draw away to West Brom into a win.

Fifty points would be a historic end of season run and almost certainly put Arsenal in title contention. 43 points is more realistic and yet would still be one of Arsenal’s best ever end of season runs. But this season is so incredibly close and competition for top spots so tight, 43 points might not even be enough to finish top four! If Arsenal put in a repeat performance of last season and finish on an average of 1.7 points per game, it would mean just 34 points and possibly a 7th place finish.

Qq

11 Comments on Cech’s road to 50 points is more difficult than you think

  1. Except for some inexplicable slump by Chelsea, I can’t see Arsenal,or anyone else, as PL champions. It’s another aborted expectation, and another dog fight for top four. This time it’s going to be tough because 5 very good teams will be fighting for 3 places.

  2. Tim

    to echo what you are saying i dont think arsenal manage transitions between internationals and more importantly between tough champions league opponents veey well. Especially between Bayern , hull will be a tougher nut to crack due to them being in the relegation battle and the dark arts of time wasting and uncut pitches to kill our flow. We need too many things in the right place in order to at least get those 43. So my gut is 40. Chelsea will drop a bit but it wont be losses they will be draws.What can be done differently? My suggestions are random but here goes

    Start Perez more often. Created a good chances. the benefit being others get less fatigued but more importantly he gets high level competition so will be more useful

    Hope egypt get knockedout early. So we have another high quality body in midfield

    Stop waiting until minute 60 or 70 to make a tactical change. Be more proactive . Manage a game enough to kill it

    Theo appears to be a fatigue problematic player. so play him every other game. Same with the Ox

    Bring back Danny dat guy

    Rest sanchez somewhere ? Maybe after international break? Would be justifiable

    Be unpredictable with attack personal from game to game. Particularly against weaker teams

    Anything I missed?

  3. IF we can get Cazorla back soon enough AND match fit AND in form quickly AND keep him off the treatment table for what’s left of his season we may get closer to 50 than 40 points.

    AND we’d need Welbeck too. AND we’d need Conte’s well oiled machine to go off the rails for at least a month’s worth of games AND we’d need Liverpool, Man City and Tottenham to wobble as well AND Man United to stop their current charge up the table.

    Just too many variables to mount a serious challenge.

    • Spurs and United are behind us in the table, City are 2 points ahead and Liverpool are 3. The only team we need to really “wobble” is Chelsea. I understand pessimism but not the way people seem to go out of their way to be pessimistic.

  4. We are a better team than we’ve been for the last 7+ seasons (saying this is consistent with thinking we still evidence some of the same old problems). So, it’s not unrealistically optimistic to think we’ll do better over the second half of this season than we’ve typically done in recent years. I think getting close to 50 is possible.

    Injuries are of course always a big nemesis for Arsenal (and the fact that Liverpool and Chelsea play fewer games will be a big advantage on this front). But more to the point, since we’ve got a squad that should be deep enough to deal with injuries to (almost) anyone, I think our form will come down significantly to whether Wenger can adjust (and adjust quickly enough) to injuries that force us to find new balance in our starting lineup. Last year, the injury to Cazorla led to a terrible dip in form, in large part, I think, because Wenger failed to find an alternative starting lineup/system that compensated for Santi’s significant absence. But since then we’ve brought in Elneny and Xhaka to midfield (and the likes of Iwobi and the Ox are one year older and should perform more consistently as a consequence). I still think it was a mistake to let Jack go on loan for the whole season, but, again, the squad is stronger in midfield than almost all of our rivals’ squads, so Wenger should be able to find solutions in the absence of Cazorla. We’ve seen some evidence of that in good performances, but there was also the Everton and City matches where our midfield transition really, really, REALLY struggled. If we can sort that out, we’ll have a strong second half of the season, with options in abundance in both defense and attack (get well soon Mustafi!).

    The remaining problem, though, is not so much the number of other teams challenging for the title (again, only Chelsea have a significant lead on us, so it’s not like we’re counting on some absurdly unlikely collapse from all of them), but that several of them are BETTER than the rivals we faced in several seasons over the last 5-10 years (e.g. last year). So our being better than we’ve been for a good while unfortunately may not be good enough. Once again, screwing up last year keeps coming back to haunt us!!

    We should be good for top 4 though…

  5. Are we reveling in possibilities? If so 60 pts is even possible. Or do we step down to the realms of probabilities? If so my shot is 40 pts +/- 3pts. Believe you me, this field is incredibly tough and teams are going to take points off teams.

    My eyes are well set on the road ahead, but to be candid, ever so often am glancing at my rear mirror. My chief worry is that after Santi’s injury our best eleven is still to crystallize. In other words our performance level ever since, has not filled me with confidence, though with Cech I remain a die hard optimist or nearly so.

  6. The name of the game now is “no margin for error”. The top 7 teams all won their matches this weekend. The first time it has happened in several seasons. Mathematically it is equivalent to 7 consecutive wins by a single team. It doesn’t happen often. Don’t mind Chelsea’s current result aberration.

  7. I’d actually be ecstatic with 86 points. Over the last 10 years, the average points total for the title winning team is 86.4 points so to be “in the mix,” that ought to be the goal every season. Given that we’re currently last in the top seven mini-league, behind even Everton, it’s difficult to see us getting even that point total.

  8. I can see Arsenal come away with 3 points from WBA and 1 point from Chelsea away but it won’t be enough.
    If there’s one thing about Arsenal we can count on is the ability to drop points anywhere when least expected. I suppose the same could be true for other PL clubs as well but still…

    Third is what I predicted Arsenal would achieve this season in the league and I’m sticking with it, but if we do take 1 point from Chelsea away then Arsene Wenger can claim moral victory like he did last season against Leicester City ,where according to him it was other clubs’ failure to take points off Leicester that gave them the title.

    Our chance for the PL glory was last season and we blew it to a club that two seasons ago barely survived the drop and this season might not clear 45 points again.
    When Arsene Wenger looks back on his career once he decides to walk away from Arsenal, the 2015-16 season will give him the biggest regrets of his illustrious tenure.

  9. Assuming we beat palace, then after 19 games we’ll have had won 12, drawn 4 and lost 3 for 40 points. A reasonable return considering we picked up only 5 points against spuds, Liverpool, Chelsea, United and city. This means we need another 47 to make Cech’s target.

    If we win the return fixtures of the 12 above that’s 36 points and 11 to get from Liverpool, Leicester, boro, spuds, United, Everton and city.

    Surely that’s doable?

    I hear you say “but will we beat Chelsea again?” and i say why not? Even if we don’t i still feel we can get to the 47 points in the next 19 games. Winning the same 12 games isn’t that tricky because, and this is the key thing for me this season, arsenal have done what arsenal do best – beat the teams in the bottom half of the league. Only Leicester and boro have taken points off us.

    Throw in some big game performances and we can take 3 points of our title rivals.

    And don’t forget our like new signings Santi and Danny coming back.

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