Analysis – How Arsenal fared compared to Manchester City since Wenger’s declining years



A brief history of our results with Manchester City since they gained promotion to the PL in the 2001 -02 season.

After losing the 1981 cup final, the club went in to serious decline and were relegated to the third tier of English football for the first time in their history, in 1998.


They have won the PL seven times, the FA cup six times, the EFL cup seven times, the Community Shield six times and the European Cup Winners Cup once.


Manchester City were taken over by the Abu Dhabi United Group in June 2008 for a reported £81.6 million, they then managed to get the required 73% share required for a full buyout and, obviously, full control of the club.


With this new found wealth, they began their takeover (financially) of the football world, battling at this time, just the might of the Chelsea owner, as to who brought the best players.


Needless to say, they came calling at the doors of Arsene Wenger and signed Clichy (£7,000,000), Touré (15,000,000), Adebayor (£25,000,000), Nasri (£25,000,000), and later, Bacary Sagna on a free transfer.


In all, our club received over £72,000,000 for the above players…. players deemed as not good enough by some of our own fans, despite one being part of the Invincibles!!!!


But this was just a tiny proportion of the money Manchester City spent in order to become the driving force of English football and, as an example, since 2016 to 2021 they have spent a reported and staggering £870,000,000 on 59 players and the spending seems to have no signs of drying up.


So, how did we fare, as a club, while this was going on with City on a head-to-head basis?


Well, from the year of their promotion back to the PL and up and until the takeover, we had played them fourteen times – won twelve – drawn one – lost one…under AW.


From the 2008 season to 2018 we had played them nineteen times – won eight – lost eleven…under Arsene Wenger.


Since then, we have played them seven times – won one – lost six…under UE and MA.


Two of our most memorable wins were the two semi-finals under AW and MA, culminating in the FA cup final wins over Chelsea on both occasions, both after the takeover of course.


The last time we beat them in the PL? 2016 under AW.


In summary, until the buyout by the United Group (aptly described by AW as a country takeover) they were in our shadow completely and, even today, the results show us as follows:


Played 203 – Won 98 – Drawn 45 – Lost 60 – We are also the team that City have lost the most to in league competition… 85 games!!


I suggest it will take a while longer for Manchester City to catch us up and record as many trophy wins as we have.


So, when people say our record against City has been downhill since 2008:


  1. Have another look at the ACTUAL results.
  2. Take time to digest the enormous shift that the takeover made to the PL.
  3. Remember that City honed in on our players as soon as they were able to spend big and how that hampered our club’s progress.
  4. Be aware that, since AW left, the results have been worse than in our entire history against, probably, the luckiest club in the world (along with Chelsea) to have owners who are willing to spend to achieve the success they have.


Next in line, Manchester United, then Chelsea, Liverpool and the Spuds…. let’s see how we fared before and after AW, using the facts rather than fiction.




Facts and figures taken from Wikipedia – euro rivals – premier league websites.


  1. Good try Ken, but do the stats show that City won four EPL titles during that period. So what is the main point, Arsenal are an unambitious club happy to play money ball in order to stay in the game while City have bought success and are now a clinical well organisefd football enterpise with great scouting systems, training facilities and a winning mentality.

      1. Exactly HH – a head to head comparison under AW, UE and MA.

        If one wants to read anything more into the article, they are wrong.

        1. Good Article Ken, I hope this will knock some sense into fans who still abuse Wenger and always drag him into debate when we talk about failures of our club after him. But you know and I know what will happen same story will be read out again that the competition was not same when Wenger was incharge and they prefer to be out of Europe then in it just for sake of it. Why don’t these people apply same logic when talking about EPL as well because what we had been doing champions League is pretty similar to what we have been doing in league. So why don’t they day we should not be in EPL just for sake of it when we know we can not win it. No matter what anyone says for me Wenger is a legend and Arsenal won’t be what we are today if it was not him. Our results and our state after him is evidence enough of what work he did. I bet if it was Wenger who was incharge last season and showed this poor display then people would out on street asking for his head.

    1. Did Leicester spend big and won the title?

      Liverfool did not spend big to win the title

      They had a budget system too

      they had a good scouting system

      With Suarez and Coutinho together with a supporting Owner

      They manager to sign the right players, build the core and win the title with assistance from VAR

  2. City. Champions.
    Liverpool last title 1 year ago.
    Chelsea last title 4 years ago
    Leicester last title 5 years ago.
    Man Utd last title 8 years ago.
    Arsenal last title 17 years ago.
    Leeds last title 29 years ago
    Everton last title 34 years
    Aston Villa last title 40 years ago.
    Spurs last title 61 years ago.
    Burnley. Last title win 60 years ago.
    Wolves last title 63 years ago.
    Newcastle Utd last title 94 years ago
    Westham Brentford Watford Palace Brighton Southampton Norwich
    Yet to win the title.

  3. I don’t remember anybody said that Clichy, Touré, Adebayor, Nasri, and Bacary Sagna weren’t good enough. One thing is for sure, Arteta won’t succeed next season if most fans are still calling for his head

    1. You are just setting up an excuse for the future. We all want him to succeed but he’s getting loads of time. Most want him to succeed. Because if he succeeds we all do. But there are no excuses now especially blaming the fans. He should be able to handle pressure

      1. A very fair analysis Stephanie but there are a few who want him gone even if we have a successful season ahead

    2. GAI, Stephanie and SueP, anyone who doesn’t want Arteta to bring success to Arsenal is not a true supporter. A supporter should want their team to win every game and win trophies.
      However, supporters should also want managers/coaches and players to be judged fairly. Other managers haven’t survived 11 or more losses in a single season or failing to make the Champions League places two seasons in a row, or in the case of one, only one season.
      Mikel Arteta should be similarly judged; however no one knows the targets set by the owners or the performance criteria to be achieved. Maybe the bar is set lower for a learner manager, who is an ex Arsenal player?

    3. Your dead right. We should have got rid of Peps puppet, and got Allegri when he was available.

      He would have stood for no nonsense and turned us into trophy hunters again.

      I guess i will have to dream of 2004 a little longer.

  4. A nice read Ken, but to make it plain and simple, Wenger single handed built the Taj Mahal of football – the Invincibles and instead of maintaining it that way, he single handed destroyed it by dismantling and selling the marble and replacing it with country laterite stone and today the style of football has been an eyesore for the last 5 or more seasons and getting worse each season. Slowly Mikel is entrusted to remove the ugly stone blocks and replace with polished marble to restore the glory and pride of the club. Some pranksters left a few months back, the some useless ones will be removed this summer I believe. I keep repeating that if these current crop of footballers have no skill sets or loyalty for the badge (forget us fans for a moment, the club is paying is paying their wages) further keeping them makes no sense, transfer or release them.
    Finally, City and all other clubs look to improve and strengthen their squads, Wenger tried to weaken the same. Some examples – Xhaka for Kante, holding onto Ozil when Mata & Fabregas were avaliable, signing numerous clowns in the defense and attack. The difference between City and us boils down to their ruthlessness in accepting some players were flops and replacing them.We on the otherhand get sentimental and put these masqueraders above the club and manager. The end result is for all to read the league table, it does not lie.

    1. Mmmm no he didnt. Berkgamp was a Rioch signing and the defensive back line had learnt and been schooled by the original defensive brick wall unit of Adams, Keown, Dixon, Winterburn and Bould. Graham’s defensive 5 were the foundation on which Wenger brought a more progressive style of play.

      I didn’t give Wenger any credit at the time but he was working under severe financial restrictions due to a non caring owner and stadium repayments and as silent stans scapegoat and because of his loyalty took the blame for AFCs decline single-handedly.

      It proves like you say if there is no investment you simply cannot hope to compete in today’s games..

      You cannot pay the highest wages to the best managers or promise them Champions league football and huge transfer spending if you don’t have that therefore get some old boys in who have barely any experience at all to try and placate the fans and to build the taj mahal from hot butter!

      Like I said the other day, you pay peanuts you usually get monkeys , be those players or coaching staff..

      1. Sorry mate, the first title was of the players he inherited with some new, the invincibles – Lehman.Lauren, Toure, Cambel, Ashley, were those on the pitch.I give credit where it is due, the man grew overconfidant, lethargic and refused to change with time and he undid all he had done or maybe became the victim of his own success. Coupled with absolute power, his though process got corrupted and made many horrible signings paving way for mediocrity. Even some payers could not cope with the rigorous training of Sanchez! That spoke of the laxity and laziness on the training ground, which Mikel is trying to change. Emery tried it but failed as he had no backing from above.Once bitten, twice shy, hence the board is backing Mikel and his ruthless approach to indicipline and poor match day performances.Those who berate Mikel, think twice, no player or pundit berates him, except a few arm chair click bait greats.

        1. Loose Cannon, the team he inherited had finished fifth the previous year and twelfth the year before that.
          The defence he inherited were magnificent, but never Invincibles.
          As for their being only two teams when AW and AF were battling it out, why do you think that was?

      2. 👍 AOT, Dennis Bergkamp was the keystone. “The best player Arsenal has bought, or is ever likely to buy.” (Ian Wright)

    2. LC I TOTALLY AGREE! Ken will not though. HE WILL BEAR NO CRITICISM OF Wenger, whereas more realistic fans see both the good and , in his latter years, the big decline in his management. I have always believed this was explained by him becoming too comfy with the total power he was allowed and so he settled for less than he had done in his earlier years.

      I always feel that without David Dein , AW was left adrift, similar to Clough without Taylor, way back when! Dein had the drive to change what was not working that has been missing ever since DD was ousted. DD would never have kept Walcott nor Ozil so long and uselessly and expensively. He would have persuaded AW to change tack.

      He would not have sanctioned Diabys expensive “career” on the treatment table either. He would have MADE Wenger act, instead of allowing his drift. DDs forced exit was by a country mile the worst single mistake this club has made in my time as a supporter since 1958.

      1. Sorry Jon, but you are telling porkies my friend…. and the disappointing thing is that you know it!!!
        I recently did an article on what I believed AW had got wrong and you agreed and commented on it – such a bad memory.

        However Jon, it seems that the article has passed you by, as you attempt to give a false impression of me.

        This article, along with the following five forthcoming ones, looked/will look at the results during the AW reign from 2008 onwards and the three years of UE and MA that followed.

        The media and some fans have said that we have a terrible record against the top sides since 2008 and that it has improved in the last three years… all I want to explore, is is this true or not.

        Nothing to do with DD, kronkie, gazidis or any other person you care to name.

        As a supporter of the club, I want to be certain that what the media says is factual and, from the results that come out of the city probe, it is not true in their case…. funny, but I thought that you would find that very interesting, as a self proclaimed purveyor of truth and justice!!!

        As I study the manure results, you will be pleased to know that they will not tell the same story – so get off the high horse and learn some actual facts about our club – we held our own against the financial might of City… at least until the last three years that is!!!


      2. Without Dein

        Wenger had no support for signings

        Dein always manage to secure Wenger’s target and also had a hand in convincing the board to pay the extra 5 or 10m to close the deal…..

        Its the same in the Corporate world

  5. Great article Ken, informative and educational as usual. Even with the big gap in spending we were pretty much even with them under TGAW. I am glad to learn that.

    1. What is clear is that one club has had a steep upward trajectory and one has had a trajectory of constant and downward decline.

      One had investment, one didn’t.
      One had an owner that cared for the club and making it the best it could be and the other didnt.

      One club with its investment bought the best players, best manager and top talent scouts and generally made a winning machine..

      The other couldn’t and was a passive revenue stream for its negligent owner who because of his non interest in football and his own declaration of not being innit to win it, invested nothing (but took money out) , got inexperienced Edu and MA in to do miracles with a relatively low budget meaning sun-standard footballers playing for a club that SHOULD do more..

      And here we are a mid table team..

      1. Good summary AOT – but the point of the article is to compare the results versus the top teams and whether the thought that we have been getting bad results since 2008 actually bears up to scrutiny.

        1. Of course Ken and it was a good’un in that respect. I am not a great fan of statistics as they too can be manipulated or presented in a way to hide what’s really going on.

          As example the whole , oh aren’t we wonderful for having such an excellent record since xmas comparable with the big boys! Yes that may be the case but unfortunately for us the league is not started from xmas;)

          That highlighting the ‘positive’ doesn’t explain away the various negatives in our season.

          The only positive I get from this is that you didn’t have to report that we had gone down a league those years after city had joined it. As it could have happened!!

        2. Ken, the point is that if Arsenal were still competing one on one with Manchester City, the Club must have been dropping points against other clubs. The EPL table doesn’t lie. Remember when Leicester City won the League, Arsenal beat them home and away, yet they won, not Arsenal.

          1. Ozziegunner, of course you are 100% correct…. but the media have been saying for years how we were failing to compete with the other “big teams”, while some of our fans are saying we have improved under UE and MA.

            All I am trying to do, is examine how true that is and the city stats say that is incorrect, while it seems that the United stats are correct in that assumption.

            Interesting to see how the five actually pan out, wouldn’t you say?

          2. Ken, to be quite honest I would rather discuss how Arsenal gets out of its current position, than the how’s, whys and wherefores of how Arsenal got there. Bayoneting the wounded after the battle is lost serves no purpose.

      2. Not quite true.
        Yes, Man City have had much more nett spend than we have over the past 10 years, and Man U have alsd ham more.
        But the fact is, Kroenke has allowed us to have the 3’rd highest nett spend, and despite that, we have declined. A decline which already started under Wenger.

  6. The little problem we have with comparing, when wenger was at his pomp, there was only one big club to challenge us, UTD. As the competition got stiffer, Chelsea bought by Abramovich, City bought by shake yer money and Liverpool and Tottenham selling big players and spending wisely, we were run very badly. AND YES by Wenger. He built a big club but then slowly dismantled it by a lack of foresight and building a white elephant. We are where we are now because the decline of this clyb started 12 years ago and has now accelerated to where we are now under an unambitious owner and a rookie manager. Other teams have at least tried to do something to compete, including Leicester, who are brilliantly run and ambitious within their parameters. Wengers final two years were a total and utter disaster and now we are in freefall.

      1. Thank you, i think all the building blocks for where we are now were laid a long while ago. We have been poorly run and managed for a good few years now. The biggest thing that people forget, Wenger changed his philosophy and style, he tried to copy Barcelona and failed at that experiment big style. We were always better under Wenger with a big dominant midfield and big strong center backs but rubbish with 5′ 10 “technical” players that couldn’t achieve what his other philosophy did.

        1. 👍 Spot on, Reggie. It was obvious from the time the “Invincibles” were broken up. Those of us old enough to remember saw the same thing happen to Bertie Mee’s 1970/71 double winning team. The sale of Ray Kennedy to Liverpool started the rot.

    1. Poor financial and player asset management at Arsenal began following the departure of David Dein. The succession planning for the ultimate departure of Arsene Wenger was abysmal!

  7. Fact, Arsenal have massively improved against the top 6 under Arteta in comparison to Wenger’s record. When is that article coming Ken? I look forward to it.

    1. TMJW, your thoughts regarding our results versus City under MA and UE (1/6)versus AW from 2008 (8/11), wouldn’t be amiss.

      1. Ken that question you posed is completely unfair! Majority of Wengers games against city they had managers such as Mancini and pellegrini who are no doubt good but not even close to guardiola!! Also the squad city have now is 100% times better then what Wenger had to face most of the time.. So I think a better question would be.. How many times has Wenger beaten city while they’ve been managed by guardiola compared to Arteta & UE.

        1. Could not agree more! Kens constant problen which he will not accept, is that in all his well researched facts and results articles , he never goes into ENOUGH detail of the precise years that matter.

          When you lump a decade or more of results together, you do NOT get an accurate picture. You have to PRECISELY compare like wth like and that means at the precise times that count, NOT using old and largely irrelevant results from before the key time that counts., A shame, cos KEN is a highly intelligent and devoted fan but I have had this conversation with him before.

          ALWAYS compare like with like,(and at the relevant time) NOT with unlike, IF you want the REAL and WHOLE truth.

      2. Arteta is working in a much tougher situation at Arsenal, with worse players, and with more competition, yet still has a better record against the top 6!

        Well I don’t cherry pick like you Ken. What’s more important? Having a better record against City, or having a better record against the top 6? I’d rather have the more the points thank you very much.

        Now that you have been debunked, I cannot wait to read your next cherry picked, through rose tinted glasses, pro Wenger article. I know what I would lobe to see.

        How Wenger wasn’t responsible for us going 9 years straight without a trophy, or how he who’s fault it was for us not being competitive in the league for a whopping 14 years straight! Luckiest manager ever to not get the sack during those horrific runs at a big club.

        1. TMJW, I haven’t “cherry picked” anything – all you have to do is look at the results that made up the history between the two clubs… try it out.

          As for MA having it harder, aren’t you forgetting that City and Chelsea got their new owners back in 2008, that MA doesn’t have the Emirates stadium to pay for and that kronkie has given him enough money to buy seven new players culminating in over £210,000,000?
          Surely we should expect more than our worst position in over three decades?Let’s see what the facts bring out regarding the other five clubs I have mentioned and, rest assured, you can check every single statement as being factual and not cherry picking, or made up as in the club losing so many first leg away matches, it was impossible to keep count of them!!!!

  8. Great article Ken! As always so informative. The thing was, even I thought we were beaten every time against top opposition under Mr. Wenger, but this proves that we were quite even, only marginally poorer. Also, the article is only about head-to-head stats and not about the trajectory of growth of the two clubs, so I don’t get why people are referencing that (though I agree with the points presented in that regard about mismanagement.)

    1. Me neither Sid, but some fans don’t want to comment on the facts, rather on a misleading assumption… at least with regards to City.
      How it pans out with the other five will be interesting and they will, once again, be based on the facts.

  9. A nice article and I agree with everything.
    Just that his mistakes on judging players pisses me off.
    And some of Wenger’s downfall only rest on him and not all rest on the owner of the club as people say, if you don’t believe me, let me give you some examples…

    Yaya Toure(100k) in 2003 wasn’t convince enough to sign for us just because Wenger do not trust him which he knew about and he sign for someone else. And we got Flamini instead.

    Vincent Kompany(7M) in 2008 just like Yaya wasn’t convince much because Wenger don’t give him reasons to believe he will start, so his agent advice him to ignore. And we end up signing Sylvester.

    Virgil van dirk(10M) in 2014 and (13M) in 2015, Wenger has the chance to sign him in both years but ignore to do so. And he was signed by Southampton for 13M in 2015 and we ended up signing G.paulista(same price) in 2015 and Mustafi(35M) the year after.

    Granit Xhaka (35M) in 2016, we have every opportunities to sign Ngolo Kante(32M) but Wenger chose to sign Xhaka more costlier than Kante.

    There are many more like that who can improve our squad but he went for another player.
    This are players we can afford during our tight budget years shown by our spending more on other players than the better players.

    This things make me go nut with Wenger but only supported him for his achievement.
    Cos believe me or not, Wenger care more about the club more than he care about his career.

      1. I wouldn’t call one season in 2007/2008 been excellent with us.

        That squad is excellent and the only time he was excellent for us

  10. Good article Ken. Writing facts as always. I for one is just waiting for Mr Arteta’s time to run out. Am not stupid enough to believe in the so called process now turned project

  11. Bobs, no one is saying that AW didn’t make mistakes, especially in some of his transfer dealings.
    What manager hasn’t?
    This article is about our games with, probably the financially powerful club in the world and how it affected us under the stewardship of AW, UE and MA… nothing more and nothing less.

      1. I try and stay away from these articles these day Ken as it’s just a merry go round of fans opinions that won’t be changed ,we all know it’s a back and forth kind of post that never really leads to any sort of conclusion,personally for me he stayed way longer than he should of but it will never take away what he done for this club and the PL on a whole no matter what some weird fans say ,his achievements will probably never be seen again as an Arsenal
        point of view certainly in yours and probably my life time ,as a fan since 88 he gave us the best football this country as ever seen and that is fact no matter what some supposedly Arsenal fans try and tell us .
        Respect to you Ken for always taking the time to back up your points but it’s a losing battle in my eyes and that’s why I never comment on your Wenger articles (except from today )
        Even the worse years in his rein are way above what we’ve witnessed from Emery and Now Arteta which says a lot in my eyes .

        1. Dan kit, we live in the same bubble, but I wanted to see for myself if the media accusation about our demise against the top clubs is true – having looked at city and, very quickly manure stats, it seems that the glass is half full/empty… whichever one wants to view it.

          1. Ken1945
            I always Respect all your articles.

            I know what you’re driving which are fact.
            I’m just only pointing out the only thing that makes Wenger piss me off.

            But I got what you’re saying and respect to that.

            Sorry if I went off the article.

  12. Ken,

    You have triggered a good debate. The only problem I have is that some of the comparisons break all the rules of science. The crisis of the lot is that science requires something called systematic matching in comparisons. What are the factors we use to match Wenger and MA. Wenger was in charge for over 2 decades; Arteta is there for less than a couple.

    The article never seemed to focus on the many comparisons made. I run the risk of being wrong; but like any other data will suggest, Arsenal let go a great manager with no succession plan. There is no evidence anywhere to show that we are going up after Wenger. That is the point. We could make all the comparisons we like – even invent some – we are not on our way up. It does not matter to me what we think of Wenger. I had many issues with him – even while respecting him – but we have not done better, nor do we have any evidence to encourage hope. I saw a detailed analysis recently that shows how we can get to 5th next season at best. How did we come to this? Mancity, ManUtd, Chelsea, and Liverpool. That is your top 4 next season. There is nothing controversial about that prediction. We got emotional, sacked Wenger and moved the benchmark. We were a top team that needed more. We had become the team to lose the most games at Champion’s League. Embarrassing! Now we are so mediocre that if we make stupid Europa we are making gains.

    Frankly, it is hypocritical to be having a spreadsheet of Wenger’s faults at this juncture. I would take someone with those faults right now if he gives me some results – and play football I understand and enjoy.

    The discussion now should be focused on how we get out of this cesspool – not how uncomfortable the toilet seat was when we were on the other side of the Shirt – minus the R.

    1. Totally agree with you Herb of the Earth and that might surprise you.
      The purpose of the article, however, was the assumption, driven by unfounded speculation, that we had not performed well under AW against the supposed top six clubs.
      Now I wasn’t sure if that was exactly the right scenario and, having read so many times, that the club failed miserably against said clubs, I decided to look up and verify if this was true or not… nothing more and nothing less.

      It doesn’t matter who was manager of city, Chelsea, spuds, pool or manure… it was the results and if they verified the accusations made.

      I suspect that the manure article will prove they are correct, but isn’t it worthwhile actually knowing the truth?

  13. Surely all of this is not just about whether Wenger was a better Arsenal Manager than Emery was and Arteta is, there’s no comparison and a fairly pointless debate

    George Graham V Wenger might be more fun to compare, Graham didn’t achieve a double but won a few domestic trophies including two League Championships, the 2nd of which in 91 with stats very close to the 04 Invincibles League win

    Plus Graham won a European Trophy, something that eluded Wenger

    1. Again, I say to you FF, the reason for doing this article was simply to see if what the media and a section of our fan base were claiming is correct – we were under performing against the other top five clubs.
      I believe the article proves otherwise, until the last three years with regards to City… it looks a different story regarding United, but let’s, as a fanbase, at least have the results presented.

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