Leaving aside Arsenal’s appalling defensive performances in recent weeks, the bigger picture is interesting or worrying depending on your point of view. The table at the top of this article shows the gaps in years between winning the league for the top 6, and let’s assume Liverpool win the title this season for the sake of argument.
What it suggests is that the longer you go between wins, the less likely you are to win the title. Based on the above, how many more years will it be before Arsenal win the title again?
It demonstrates how football works in cycles. Sure, Manchester United have had a recent uplift with the arrival of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, although they had their keeper to thank for getting a win in their most difficult fixture since he succeeded Jose Mourinho. But whether or not they will win the title again anytime soon is one that we cannot predict. 2013 may become their version of Arsenal’s 2004. It’s strange now to think that the title used to be a carve up between United and Arsenal. No other club got their hands on it between 1996 and 2004 – nine seasons in total. Now, neither club has enjoyed winning the league for six years, assuming neither stage an unlikely comeback in the current campaign.
What the table also suggests is that once you do win a title, it then becomes easier to repeat the feat. Granted, we can look at teams like Blackburn in 1995 and Leicester in 2015 as one-offs, but from the beginning of the Premier League era, other title winners have achieved the feat repeatedly, once they got their first trophy under their belt. Currently, the cycle has seen the prize largely dominated by Manchester City and Chelsea, but there is every indication Liverpool are about to join the party. History suggests they will then win the title more than once over the following seasons.
Of course, finance has a lot to do with success, but as United demonstrate, it is no guarantee. The right manager is key, and the ability to motivate millionaires is probably the main factor in being a successful first team coach at any moneyed club.
Whether Arsenal can any longer be described as one of those is a moot point, but one thing looks unarguable. The statistics show us we may be in for a long wait before we see a first Premier League title lifted at the Emirates.