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13 of 15, then we can talk title
Any talk of Arsenal as a "title challenger" is premature after just 9 matches played, so when would it start making sense to think about a title
Welcome to crab stats! A little bit of a grab bag of topics today for things on my mind this week.
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The first is trying to get a baseline of when it would make sense for Arsenal’s serious goals to switch from let’s get top four to maybe this title thing is real. The second item will also be about Arsenal, but this time about their spending over the last 18 months to help get them into this spot.
When does a title dream become real?
My current projections place Arsenal in second place but they are still quite a way behind Manchester City and with just a 9% chance of ending the season in first place. That is a good jump from the start of the season where Arsenal’s title chances were in the 2-3% range.
The betting odds are similar, Pinnacle puts Arsenal at 7.0 which translates into implied odds (without an adjustment for the house edge) of 14%.
FiveThirtyEight is at 13% and the odds from an ELO-based simulation system put Arsenal at 9% as well.
A roughly 1 in 10 type situation isn’t crazy but it is also still very much on the unlikely scale.
So what sort of run is needed to get from a 1 in 10, to say a 1 in 5?
Running a simulation where I only change Arsenal’s results it means basically taking 13 of the next 15 points (if Manchester City drop any points along the way that would only help). If Arsenal get wins against Leeds, Southampton, Nottingham Forrest, and Wolves while getting a draw against Chelsea they will very likely go into the World Cup break with title odds in the 20-25%+ range (again it depends pretty heavily on what else happens along the way but the low range at that point will be about 18% on my model).
This however still feels very unlikely. Arseanl will have to go on the road for 4 of these 5 matches and while they will be favored in all but Chelsea there is still a very good chance that there are further dropped points along the way. A more realistic expectation would be 10 or 11 points from this run.
My model has been pretty consistent in projecting that the average first-place team will need a minimum low 90’s points (currently about 93). Reaching that level would make this the best (by points) Arsenal team of all time, it is still a huge task to dream of so let’s see how things look after 14 matches which is at least a respectable sample size of 38 match season.
Arsenal’s transfer spending in context
This tweet was making the rounds and I wanted to do a little more and deeper commentary on it.
One of the lines that I have heard is that Arsenal have bought their way back to the top, and yeah fair but that really isn’t unusual because changing poor-performing players for players that you expect to perform better is really sort of the standard way teams get better.
The argument then goes, yeah well they aren’t getting the same gruff that Chelsea or Manchester City got by doing the same sort of thing.
I think this is something worth examining. Arsenal have spent a good amount of money to improve the team that is true, the actual values of transfer fees are murky but for the sake of simplicity, I am going to use transfermarkt for the analysis.
According to the transfermarkt numbers Arsenal have spent £269.52m over the last 3 windows (summer 22, winter 22, summer 21). That is the third most behind Chelsea (£359.99m) and Manchester United (£344.09m). Arseanl have also had the third highest net spend after subtracting income from sales over that period spending £219.84m net. This is behind Manchester United (£304.53m) and Newcastle United (£237.78m).
Arsenal have spent a lot of money, which is not a surprise as the team was coming off of an 8th-place finish and is among the richest teams in the world. Where the other arguments seem to fall flat is that this spending is extraordinary. Arsenal’s spend is below two teams that have similar ambitions and not much higher than rivals Chelsea or Tottenham or even West Ham.
This is pretty different than say when Roman Abramovich took over Chelsea.
Chelsea spent a similar amount to Arsenal (still more but close enough) but this was nearly 20 years ago after years of transfer inflation. The most eye-opening difference is the gap between Chelsea’s spending and everyone else. Manchester United had the highest net spend over the last two years and the gap to number two was 28%, Chelsea’s gap to the number two team was over 400%!
The story with Manchester City is similar but not quite as stark for when they were taken over by Sheikh Mansour in 2008.
Manchester City in that period spent very close to the same as Arsenal have so far but in the context of the league is still very different. The gap between Manchester City and number two was 237% which isn’t quite the same distortion of Chelsea’s but still significantly more than Arsenal not even having the highest net spend in the period.
To make a long story short, Arsenal have spent a lot of money. They have done it in a period where pretty much every Premier League team is flush with cash and can spend quite a bit of money, especially in relation to other leagues. Arsenal’s spending is nowhere close to the same level as we had previously seen with Chelsea or Manchester City. Arsenal have spent quite well to turn over the talent on their squad.
Thank you for coming to my TedTalk.
Week 11 Premier League Odds
This is the first match week of the season where we have not seen a team over 70% to win their match. That is down to the two top-rated teams facing off at Anfield on Sunday.
To kind of show how crazy Manchester City are, this match where they are still 51% to win is their lowest projected winning percentage of the season (so far).
The Arsenal match away against Leeds United is on paper a good chance to continue the winning run.
Leeds have played well this season, coming in ranked 10th just on this season’s results. Overall they are 15th when last season is taken into account, with the 13th best attack and the 17th best defense. Hopefully in this match Arsenal can continue their free scoring ways.
🤠 Yee Haw