Points or places? What should Emery’s barometer of success

Arsenal have 50 points from 26 games. We are on course to get 73 points in Unai Emery’s first season.

This will be an improvement on the 63 points that we got in Arsene Wenger’s final season – where we amassed 63 points and finished 6th. But it would be a little off what we got in 2016/17 where we finished 5th with 75 points.

In 2015/16 we finished 2nd with 71 points. This got me thinking.

If we got 70 points this season and finished 4th, would this be considered a good first season for Unai Emery?

It would return us to the Champions League for the first time in 3 seasons, fulfilling what most people feel is our minimum requirement – a top 4 finish.

However, 70 points would be our 3rd lowest points total in 11 seasons.

So what if we repeat the 2016/17 season, get 75 points and finish 5th. Would this be considered a good first season under Emery?

Despite not getting a top 4 finish, it would see us gain 12 points more than the previous season, and would be our 2nd highest points total in 11 years.

In 2016/17, Arsenal’s 75 points become the highest total for a team ever finishing 5th. In the last 13 seasons, the average points needed to finish 4th have been 71.

Back in the mid-00s, finishing outside of the top 4 would have been considered as a failure of a season, however we now have a situation where there are 6 sides all chasing the top 4 places.

In recent years Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham have all failed to make top 4. It is no longer really the “given” that it was for a decade or so previous.

Top 4 should be the minimum target of all 6 teams, but 6 into 4 does not go. So is finishing outside of the top 4 really a failure?

Ultimately it comes down to what points you get.

In 2016/17, Arsenal finished 5th with that 75 point total. We were just 1 point off 4th, 3 points off Manchester City in 3rd.

A year later we were 6th with just 63 points. 12 points off 4th place, 14 off of 6th place. Arsene Wenger was not sacked due to finishing 6th, he was sacked due to how far behind 4th we were.

So this leads me to the simple question.

What would show the better progression under Emery at Arsenal?

Finishing 4th with 70 points; or finishing 5th with 75 points?

The Champions League do not care about points. There is not a minimum points to get in. It is just finish 4th, whether that be one 60 points or 100 points. The flip side is would finishing 4th with 70 points should that much progression? Maybe from last season but certainly not from the decade before.

Ultimately, it will come down to getting into the Champions League. That in turn will free up finances to move on in 2019/20.

Although finishing 5th with 75 points would not represent a huge failure, just like it did not in 2016/17.

Something to think about this Tuesday morning.

Keenos

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