Winning enough points to earn passage into the Champions League seems like a distant dream for Arsenal fans, especially given the squad’s woeful form in the first half of the season.
But, with the return of the Premier League less than a fortnight away, and with a renewed sense of hope and expectation, we ask: what would the Gunners need to secure a top four spot?
The short answer is undoubtedly a miracle but what does a miracle look like in numerical form? To answer that, we need to dig a little into the league’s recent history.
2014/15: Manchester United were the top in fourth place, having accrued 70 points. They scored 62 goals and conceded 37, with 20 wins, 10 draws and eight losses.
2015/16: Manchester City occupied fourth on 66 points. They had scored 71 goals and conceded 41, with 19 wins, nine draws, and 10 losses.
2016/17: It was Liverpool in fourth this year, having earned 76 points. They scored 78 goals and conceded 42, with a total of 22 wins, 10 draws, and six losses.
2017/18: Liverpool again crept in only this time with 75 points. They scored 84 goals and conceded 38, a record which earned them 21 wins, 12 draws and five losses.
2018/19: Tottenham squeezed in last year with 71 points, having scored 67 goals and conceded 39. Their record stood at 23 wins, two draws, and 13 losses.
So what does all this mean for Arsenal’s current campaign, which is scheduled to begin again on June 17 with a trip to Manchester City?
Given that we currently sit on 40 points – with a maximum of 30 points still to play for – our chances look decidedly slim. In all likelihood, the Gunners would need to win all their remaining league fixtures simply to be in with a chance of making the top four.
The average top-four finisher over the last five seasons has accrued some 71.6 points, a total that is already beyond us. The median points total is 71, another figure beyond our theoretical means.
It is worth remembering, however that this season is extraordinary and could yet produce an extraordinary set of numbers, particularly as so many teams remain in contention for a top four place and Manchester City’s ongoing court battle could see them ruled out of the Champions League next season.
It is also worth remembering that the team currently in fourth spot, Chelsea, are only eight points ahead of us and we have a game in hand (albeit against City), and a quite a few of our remaining matches are against the teams around us in the table.
But, while football will always give you cause for hope, the history and the statistics are certainly not on our side. Simply to match the fourth place average, we’d need to score another 32 goals (average goals scored in the last five seasons is 72.4) and be sure to concede no more than another four (the average is 39.4, we currently sit on 36).
While I don’t want to piss on anybody’s chips, it’s probably worth checking our expectations of what we might be able to do in what remains of this season and look ahead to how we might be better placed for a tilt at the top four again in 2020/21, when the slate will be clean and Mikel Arteta will be focused on steering the ship, rather than attempting to salvage it from the rocks.
So while the distant dream is still alive for some Arsenal fans, and there’s much to look forward to in the final 10 games of the campaign, none of us should be under any illusions.
June 17: Manchester City v Arsenal
June 20: B&H Albion v Arsenal
June 25: Southampton v Arsenal
July 1: Arsenal v Norwich City
TBC: Wolverhampton Wanderers v Arsenal
TBC: Arsenal v Leicester City
TBC: Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal
TBC: Arsenal v Liverpool
TBC: Aston Villa v Arsenal
TBC: Arsenal v Watford