I have read some commentary expressing disappointment with Arsenal’s season despite the finishing position (not entirely unreasonable), and often suggesting Arsenal “should have won the League this [particular] season” (unreasonable – and disrespectful to Leicester).
This century, no team has won the League on fewer than 80 points. Arsenal has mustered this only once in ten seasons at the Emirates (83 in 2008, coming third). Since 2008, Arsenal managed 79 in 2014 (coming fourth) but has never otherwise managed more than 75, occasionally even dipping below 70. Arsenal is, in other words, a club which typically scores in the low to mid-70s, when the champion team is always on at least 80 (and often rather more than that).
Although Leicester’s 81 points is a relatively low total for the table topper, it is worth noting that 42 of those (more than half) came in the second half of the season – following in from a first half which was already astonishing. After a gutting injury time loss with 10 men at Arsenal on match day 26, Leicester went on a solid twelve-game unbeaten run to wrap up the championship. Such was Leicester’s performance, Arsenal would have had to win all ten of its last ten games, including trips to White Hart Lane and the Etihad, to win the title (something which has only ever been done once in the history of English football), and even then only on goal difference.
So, firstly, a lot of plaudits must go to Leicester, a genuinely very good team. This is far from a fluke. For nearly 50 games now back to March 2015, Leicester has been comfortably the most consistent team in the Premier League. Yes, the big teams have struggled during this time, but Leicester’s achievement is down to its own strengths, not just others’ weaknesses.
Secondly, Arsenal’s failings are nothing to do with the fact “only Leicester” ended up ahead. Since the Invincibles, with very very few exceptions, Arsenal has been a 68-75 point team – enough to qualify for the top four and the big bucks that flow into Stan Kroenke’s bank account as a result, but nothing like enough to win the League regardless of who did.
So leave Leicester out of it. The question is how does Arsenal go from typically winning 20 games a season to typically winning 25? A defender like Huth, a midfielder like Drinkwater, a striker like Mahrez, a manager like Ranieri and a team spirit like Leicester’s, perhaps…?!