Arsenal, 4th on Christmas
4 min read

Arsenal, 4th on Christmas

How teams that are 4th on Christmas have done historically.

Arsenal are in 4th place on Christmas day!

This is the first time since 2016-2017 that Arsenal have been in fourth or better on Christmas day. Over the last few seasons Arsenal have been in 15th place, 11th place, 5th place, and 6th place on Christmas Day. Getting back into 4th place at this stage of the season is very positive.

The big question however is what does being 4th place on Christmas actually mean for where a team will finish at the end of the year. So to answer this I went back and looked at what happened to the 4th place teams at Christmas of years past.

I will get right to the point, going back to the 2014-2015 season the team that was 4th on Christmas has ended the season in the Champions League spots, 4 of 7 times. That's a pretty good omen for Arsenal. The other three teams that were 4th that didn't finish in the Champions League spots were Everton last season (finished 10th), West Ham in 2014-2015 (finished 12th) and Arsenal in 2016-2017 (finished 5th).

The other thing that I looked up was how the teams that ended up 4th looked at Christmas. Those teams were 5th, 4th, 3rd, 4th, 2nd, 3rd and 3rd.

So how does Arsenal compare stats wise? Let's take a look. First the other teams that were in 4th place on Christmas.

Season 4th Christmas Points Matches Goals Goals A xG xGA finished
2020/21 Everton 26 14 25 19 22.5 19 10
2019/20 Chelsea 32 18 33 25 36.3 20.9 4
2018/19 Chelsea 37 18 35 15 33.6 16.9 3
2017/18 Liverpool 35 19 41 23 40.2 20.9 4
2016/17 Arsenal 34 17 38 19 30.1 19.7 5
2015/16 Tottenham 29 17 28 14 25.5 17.4 3
2014/15 West Ham 31 17 29 19 24 19 12
2021/22 Arsenal 32 18 27 23 29.1 27.1 ??

One of the first things that jumps out is that last year is an outlier for the number of matches played. So let's put all of these on the same per match standing and then compare.

4th Christmas Points Matches Goals Goals A xG xGA finished
Everton 1.86 14 1.79 1.36 1.61 1.36 10
Chelsea 1.78 18 1.83 1.39 2.02 1.16 4
Chelsea 2.06 18 1.94 0.83 1.87 0.94 3
Liverpool 1.84 19 2.16 1.21 2.12 1.10 4
Arsenal 2.00 17 2.24 1.12 1.77 1.16 5
Tottenham 1.71 17 1.65 0.82 1.50 1.02 3
West Ham 1.82 17 1.71 1.12 1.41 1.12 12
Arsenal 1.78 18 1.50 1.28 1.62 1.51 ??

Arsenal are second-lowest on points, the lowest on goals, third-highest on goals allowed, and the lowest on goal difference. On the expected side it is similar with Arsenal ranking as the 5th best in expected goals, last in expected goals allowed, and the lowest on expected goals difference.

Compared to the average team that was in 4th Place Arsenal are 0.4 goals and 0.14 expected goals per match worse, 0.16 goals allowed and 0.38 expected goals allowed.

What about the teams that actually finished 4th and how Arsenal compare? Here is how they looked on Christmas Day:

Season 4th EoY Place on Christmas Points Matches Goals Goals A xG xGA
2020/21 Chelsea 5 1.79 14 2.07 1.00 1.86 0.84
2019/20 Chelsea 4 1.78 18 1.83 1.39 2.02 1.16
2018/19 Tottenham 3 2.33 18 2.06 1.00 1.79 1.25
2017/18 Liverpool 4 1.84 19 2.16 1.21 2.12 1.10
2016/17 Liverpool 2 2.12 17 2.41 1.18 2.07 0.82
2015/16 Man City 3 1.88 17 1.94 1.12 1.96 1.01
2014/15 Man Utd 3 1.88 17 1.76 1.06 1.28 1.20
Average 3.4 1.95 17.1 2.0 1.1 1.9 1.1
2021/22 Arsenal 1.78 18 1.50 1.28 1.62 1.51

Looking at this and Arsenal are quite a ways off the pace of the teams that ended up finishing 4th, generally because they were already better than 4th.

All of this is not to say that Arsenal cannot finish 4th this season, only that they are currently a team that is well behind the pace of the other teams that have come before them. When I run my simulation Arsenal are looking fairly good to finish in the top 4 still at this point, with my model ranking them 4th (but very closely bunched with the teams in 5th through 7th).