Are Man United and Arsenal really six years behind Liverpool right now?

Are Arsenal and Man United really 5-6 years behind Liverpool? by AndersS

The other day, I had the audacity to hint that we are actually not doing so bad with our current 4th spot. It provoked a lot of debate, which is fine.

One of the arguments against my claim, comes up in several discussions, and that is, we are only 4th because others, like Man United, are doing particularly bad this year, so we are not in our “rightful” place.

A very degrading look at ourselves, I think. But is there any truth in it?

We currently have 63 points and 4 games to play. My prediction is, we will finish with something between 66 and 73 points when the season is over. It could of course be less, and we could also win all 4 games and end on 75 points. But I believe 66-73 should cover nearly all probabilities.

Last season (20/21) 3rd place was 69 points and 4th was 67 points. The year before both 3rd and 4th were 66 points. Using that as a yardstick, we are possibly on the way to get more points than 4th in the previous 2 years. Hardly a sign that that we would be getting Top 4, due to abnormal performances by other teams, if we were to get it.

Over the past 6-7 weeks, I have come across some interesting facts about Manchester United, and also something which I find quite astonishing.

Firstly, the facts. If you do a “league table” in the years after Sir Alex Ferguson left Man United at the end of the 2012/13 season and up to the middle of March this year, Manchester United would come in 5th. Just ahead of us.

Now, everybody have been able to see that Man United have been struggling and haven’t challenged for the title in those years. But to me, it was still very surprising to see this. I can add an extra fact. We look like almost certain to finish above them this year, and that will actually be the 6th time in 9 seasons that we finish above them. So, in reality, it is not an odd occurrence, for Man United to be behind us, as some may think.

I admit that I used to think the recipe for success in the PL is fairly easy to understand. It only takes 2 ingredients:

1) Buy a lot of expensive world class players

2) Hire a world class manager to manage

If nothing else, Man United have proved that it isn’t quite so simple. Over the years their spending on players is almost top of the pile. It is right up there with their local rivals, Man City.

And their list of managers who have failed to achieve what was expected, includes at least 2 managers you would call world class. The list also includes a hand picked manager profile (David Moyes), a former player and now an internationally renowned manager, albeit it in a somewhat strange mix of being a temporary manager and partly responsible for selecting the next manager.

No matter how you look at it, Man U have proved that the recipe for a successful team is a bit more complicated.

A team, which have proved they have the right recipe at the moment is Liverpool. Exactly what it is, isn’t quite so obvious. Of course Klopp seems to be the main factor. As I see it, he has built a very strong team with an intense pressing playing style almost all other teams struggle to cope with. But he hasn’t done it through buying a lot of expensive world class players. In his time, Liverpool’s nett spending is below ours, and a lot below that of Man United.

That leads me to the earlier mentioned astonishing thing about Man United. After United lost heavily to Liverpool a couple of weeks ago, their manager Rangnick, was quoted as saying that Man United are six years behind Liverpool!! If that is true, Man United in 9 years have managed to go from being champions to be 6 years behind Liverpool, while spending a h… of a lot more money on players, and on managers too. Some accomplishment, if you ask me.

I wish the press had been a bit more alert, and had asked Rangnick, how he has reached thar conclusion. What exact factors are we talking about, and why exactly 6 years?

Now, I am not blind to the fact that some things can be said “in the heat of the moment”. But nor am I qualified to rule out what an internationally renowned manager says. Even if I were to say that Rangnick has probably exaggerated a bit, I can’t help thinking that getting back to the top for us, is a long process, as it is for Man United. Maybe not 6 years, but certainly some years. I am also convinced it can only be done with a carefully thought out plan, and the right people to implement it.

Do we have that plan?

I think we have plan, which may work. The youth strategy may not have been 100% from the beginning of Arteta’s reign, but I believe it is now, and I believe the whole organization is behind it. An absolute must for any plan, I think. And I don’t see any other trustworthy plans suggested.

Do we have the right people to implement it? That remains to be seen. I think that those claiming, you can’t compare Arteta to Klopp are absolutely right. Klopp’s achievements speak for themselves in that comparison. But where do we find another Klopp? Anyway, the current state to me, is, we are clearly progressing at the moment, and no matter, what happens for the rest of the season, I will eat my hat if Arteta gets sacked before next season.

Whether you are for or against Arteta, I suggest you accept that fact and hope for the best. Maybe even find positives in it. After that, he will still need to show more progress.

Will it take us 6 years? You tell me.

Anders S

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Video – Mikel Arteta Talks about Arsenal’s massive win over West Ham, injuries and the team’s “character”

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Video – Mikel Arteta Talks about Arsenal’s massive win over West Ham, injuries and the team’s “character”

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  1. Hard to say.

    Liverpool have already paved away for Salah to leave by buying Jota and Diaz (both primarily wingers). They plan quite well for the future.

    We, I think, have a good core at the moment but lack IT-factor. A class striker and possibly a winger who plays with unlimited confidence is what we are lacking up front. If I would have to give an example of such player, I would say Nkunku at the moment.

    Midfield obviously needs a revamp so when we are linked with players like Aurelien or Fabian Ruiz, I do hope such players are on the agenda. Elneny should stay as a squad player, Xhaka too if we have no good bids coming and Partey’s fitness issues scream ‘unreliable’ at the moment.

    Defense is okay, but I wouldn’t mind reinforcements there either. Gabriel is our only left-footed centre-back. Tomiyasu could play LCB but as MA hasn’t put him there yet, I think he will stay on the right side.

    Also, Tierney being on the same boat with Partey and Nuno being very shaky at times, a decent, reliable LB wouldn’t hurt us either.

    Our squad is thin and we need players. 2-3 incoming players will not be enough.

    1. Nuno will improve no need to write him off. Nuno and Lokonga seems to be having dip in form atm, both are young players from another league adapting to life in another country, it’s expected. The talent is there, we are saw it in them at the beginning of the season, they just needs to focus and improve. Let’s not get rattled.

      I feel we need cdm or cm and a striker.
      Bring back Saliba, sell off Mari, extend Nketia and Mo contract, if Pepe is happy to stay, fine if not sell and buy another winger that can compete with Saka.

      At times I feel Saka is tired and needs rest but am not confident Pepe would give us same performance, he seems to be more concerned about fancy dribbling than overall team play

  2. The centre-back positions will be a difficult one to solve.

    So we have decent squad player in Holding, then the super expensive White. Saliba is most definitely coming back and Gabriel on the left.

    I personally still hope Mavropanos could be brought back as he represents every aspect in a defender that I admire. It looks like Stuttgart will be relegated which means they will only have the option to sign him permanently (not obligation) so maybe there’s still hope there.

  3. Man United board made a blunder by signing the old Ronaldo. He’s scored plenty of goals, but his non-existing high press has made his team highly inconsistent

    On the other hand, Arsenal have sent their ineffective high pressers away to Super Lig and La Liga. After Lacazette leaves, the club can invest in a much younger CF

    Based on FSG’s timeline at Liverpool, I predict a major achievement in 2027, if a new manager comes in the summer. This is why Arsenal had better extend Arteta’s contract as soon as possible, to expedite the process

    1. Gai, I think I agree with you. In fairness to Arteta, he may not be the perfect coach many Arsenal fans want but he’s got loads of potential and doing OK. A minimum of two years contractract extension for him would help the process of returning to top4 regularly. He did somethings right ie released some deadwoods, disciplined and sent out an ineffective captain and also gave a promising Odegard an opportunity to captain for 4 matches, he bought well in the market. Arteta should be backed with more funds in the summer I believe he will do better. Though not without his own flaws as he could be vindictive with certain underperforming players. But he is a positive coach. Top6 is sure for Arsenal but if he can get us top4 he would be highly revered.

      1. Yes, his players have been doing pretty good in EPL. I’m looking forward to Saliba’s return next season

      2. Actually, I’m not sure what kind of ‘perfect’ coach or manager people want. This mythical person does not exist. Klopp and Guardiola are great managers but they both have a great support structure in place. Certainly, better than anything Arsenal have had for many years. They also both have much stronger squads than most other teams in the premier league and clearly much stronger than Arsenal’s.
        I also do not agree with the view that he is vindictive. He has certain standards that he will not compromise. This is essential if Arsenal are to achieve any kind of success.

  4. When you look at klopp at Liverpool you notice something. He doesn’t just buy a player, he buys the right player , a player he feels and knows will fit right into his style of play and system. Take Mane for instance, united wanted him but were not really sure , so when he scored a brace against l/pool , kloop immediately had is eye on him . Klopp has is eye on our martinelli . he brought back salah who was a flop at Chelsea and wasn’t really that extraordinary at Roma . He brought in Matip whose career was nose diving then he bought van dijk and it all just gelled. Took a few years but when it cliqued boy did it clique.
    Arsenal needs a solid recruitment office with a good eye for the ‘right’ payers. Wenger bought Freddie Djunberg, Anelka, Hleb, Eduardo to name a few , they were cheap , not really known by the world , but were the ‘right’ players.

    1. Emperor you are right. If you observe Arteta is not far he bought T.Pathey, Odegard, B. White, Tomiyasu and Tavares and renewed Bukayo Saka’d contract. I think only Tavares is not up to scratch among them. If Arteta could get his own CF Arsenal would do better next season. With Arsenal thin squad he is still bringing the best out of our thin squad. I think there is hope for Arsenal next season. Especially if we finish in Top6 or top4 and the coach is backed with funds.

    2. @emperor augustus
      It took years to build the Roman empire 😉
      But I agree with you.
      Klopp/Liverpool have worked patiently according to a plan. Not afraid of selling valuable players to raise money to get exactly the missing pieces.
      Hopefully, we are on the same type of track.

  5. I don’t believe we are as much as 6years behind Liverpool at the moment. But smart procurement will ensure it stays that way. If we buy smart and reasonable, we will reach their level in 2-3years. More importantly, if the group of players continue to play for themselves and have the same goal, we will do very well soon.
    Defence is key, sorting it out completely is paramount. Liverpool went the final step when they signed Virgil van D.

    I remember a time during Kloop’s earlier times. They played against Sunderland and came from 2-0 to get a draw and celebrated. These period, they would do well against bigger teams and struggle against lower opposition. It was like a formation period for this team we see now. They bought right to complement gradually.

    We can get there with continued hardwork, dedication from players and staff, smart buying.

  6. What a brilliant article.
    6years? I doubt it, we must not get carried away but I think if we stick to this coach and back him, there is sign of good things to speak of in 2years.
    He is yet to sign any attacking players, that’s why am doubting his ability to sight a good striker for us this summer, as fact has proven, high buys doesn’t mean a player is good enough for us, we just need the right recruitment.

    He has manage to improve so many players this season, like Xhaka, Saka , ESR and Nketia.
    I don’t know how Pepe would react, will he prefer staying as 2nd choice to ever reliable Saka or prefer to leave?, what of Saliba? Will he want to come back and compete with our already settled defence without Guaranteed spot every week. Though with European competition we now have reason to accomodate those guys but I still don’t know.

    On their day I do think this team is good enough only with addition of a more prolific striker and we can compete with Liverpool and city. This idea is from my observation on our games with Liverpool and city this season. Though we lost all, it doesn’t seems like we are far far off them apart from the thrashing in this 1st half of the season when the team is still not well organised

  7. Personally I get irritated when I hear or read someone say the only reason we are in the top four right now is cause other teams are struggling.
    That has to be the most one sided and foolish statement regarding our position, because if you look at it. We’ve all played the same teams, not one team gets to play some teams in the league more than others. We all play each other twice, and we get to make our results ourselves.
    I don’t see how United or Tottenham struggling got us 3 points before or after we play.
    I don’t see how the United loss to Everton meant we got 3 points without having to play our own game, or the Spurs lost to Brighton giving us 3 points before we lost to Southampton. You still don’t see how stupid you sound if you say reason we are there is cause the others are struggling?
    Okay, a case could be made then that over the last 5 years, the only reason United and Spurs made UCL above us were because we were struggling too. Do you see how stupid that sound now?
    What do you mean it’s cause others are struggling. We play, we win, the points increases and we keep climbing the table. How TF does other struggling affect our own results on matchdays?

    1. Stat has shown whoever got 4th this season would acquire more points than last 2seasons , so you don’t need to argue with those unreasonable fans who only wants the team to perform bad just to fulfill their agenda against the coach

      1. I guess I am of those who think that one of the main reason we are 4th at the minute is because of our usual rivals, most of them going through difficult times.
        MU:manager circus
        WH, Leicester…injuries and European football
        Sop*rs:new manager,i could go on….
        I have one question for AndersS.what does that says that despite losing 11 games, drawing 3 so far,we are 4th?what about that teams which have themselves lost 15 games are 7th 8th?

        1. One more question @AndersS to which I really don’t know the answer to.
          -when was the last time a team which lost 11 games finished in the top 4? qualified for CL?

          1. Siamois, I think the answers to your questions are quite easy.
            Table position is determined by points won, not points lost 😉
            And we are on track to winnig more points than 4’th spot the 2 previous years.
            Also, since Ferguson left Man U nearly nine years ago, we are more often than not ahead of them in the table.

        2. Siamois, while I much agree with Anders and his reply to your question( below your post) about points won , not simply lost, I have another explanation which has not, seemingly, occurred to you.
          Under the three points for a win and one for a draw, it advantages those teams eg US AND SPURS, who have drawn the fewest.
          Palace have lost the same as us, 11, but are in bottom half having drawn 14 to our 3 only. It helps to either win or lose, as against drawing loads of games.
          But that is a lesser point than the correct argument Anders made so well.
          By definition if a team finshes fourth, all those teams below will have had more “difficult times” anyway.

          Obvious them? Or not? You decide!

    2. @Eddie
      I gave up on trying to argue about stupid things like that. People have their personal agendas and will use any reason to however cringeworthy it is in order to comfirm their own personal deep seated biases.
      I have asked people if they have looked at it the other way, or may be they overhyped / overrated the likes of United, Spurs, Chelsea etc to begin with. I keep saying, May be we overestimated our rivals abilities in the first place? No?

    3. Eddie , you really need to stop writing such good common sense on here! Don’t you realise how badly it upsets some of the agenda merchants who WISH to despise MA, NO MATTER HOW WELL WE DO!


      Must all be down to other teams weaknesses! Oh and BTW, the Earth is flat and Covid vaccine kills people. Now, wherever did I leave that straitjacket??!

  8. Welcome to the tottenham hotspur stadium where the north london derby is taking place,The environment is always hostile when these two sides meet hoping they put their rivalry aside and give us a great game.

  9. We are ahead of schedule in my opinion and certainly not six years behind Klopp.

    The club must get the recruitment right, names like Fabian Ruiz, Osimhen, Tchouameni etc , will take us close.

    It would take a very bold fan to agree with me that if we should land top four the gaffer would have force his self to atleast be in the conversation of manager of the season.

    Strongly agree with the writer, the gaffer going nowhere soon and in my opinion why should he?

  10. Arsenal have now won 20 games out of 34 played. This stat is only just behind Liverpool and Man City. Therefore, I would say we are more like 2 – 3 years behind subject to maintaining the core of the team. If we win the next 2 games and Tottenham loose to Liverpool, we are in the CL.
    I think CL qualification is crucial to maintaining the core.
    We seem to be going down the Ajax model of youth development which I have to say I am in favour.

  11. We’r FIVE wins away from Liveroool wich is not that Big….IF and a big IF WE jeep thèse players together for a couple of years ,unlike Wenger’s Nasris Fabregas ,WE ‘r defenitly going to challenge.,..

    1. If only we could have kept that core of Fabregas, Nasri, Van Persie and Walcott we could have challenged if not won the league under Wenger.

      1. If wishes were horses……Wenger was too dogmatic Transfert wise if You Ask me.Kroenke even more…..

        1. I agree with you on both Wenger’s dogmatic transfer and Kroenke even more at that time.

  12. Presumably he meant that MU can’t go out and replace all the players they need to replace in one season. If he thinks they need 6-12 players then 1-2 a year may be possible (it needs the right player each time, not just any old player for a certyain position).

    The Ferguson era at MU can’t be compared to now. Big money wasn’t the same factor then. IMHO it has spoiled football, especially since the “owners” set up complex company structures that mean the club owe them the money when they decide to leave.

    Chelski may have dodged a bullet with Abramovic being sanctioned, because they had a lot of debt to his holding company structures.

    All in all, there’s a lot to be said for sustainable football. I’d like to see more clubs in fan ownership.

    1. Stop This fan ownership crap Dear I Dont Know…..Football club are a business would You love it or not…I would rather have an Abramovitch with the same success he had at Chelsea than a Kroenke with his penny pinching policy….Fans also need to get Real …….You have to be ruthless in the transfert market invest well AND You get rewarded in termes of revenues…..So it’s not about “love” and “passion”…….

  13. They have sold at the right time and bought in the right players , were we held on and let go for nothing.
    If we had cashed in on our flops , maybe we would be better off now than we are.
    But we seem to be getting there as Arteta wont take crap from spoiled players.

  14. A predictably excellent article from Anders S and his fine brain! My main reason for United and ourselves (until MA came) being way behind Liverpool and City is the lack of an owner who has any real input, money aside.

    You need an owner with his/her /their fingers on the pulse and who is daily aware of what is going on behind the scenes Neithe we, nor even more so in Uniteds case, have switched on and football savvy owners. In fact both clubs have disastrous owners who have presided over a string of appalling desions in who runs the club, above manager level that is, and so both our clubs(til MA )HAVE DRIFTED BADLY.
    I totally agree that with MA we are rapidly making up SOME LOST GROUND.
    Because an asset is all we have ever been to Kroenke and this week I will submit a detailed long article explainINg EXACTLY WHY I so loathe and detest Kroenke and his lack of football caring or know how.

    Yes, of course I know about Josh but unlike so many, I do not lightly buy into the KSE attempts to fool us into thinking son cares more than Father. That very much REMAINS TO BE SEEN. Expect my in depth article before next weekend.

    1. Jon, you could very well be right about the owners.
      But looking out over the “landscape” of owners, I don’t know, if there are owners, who actually live up to the demands. Do Liverpool’sowners truly care for emotional reasons? Do we know for a fact?
      Are we really hindered by the Kroenke’s? Maybe, but let me put a theory forward.
      When Kroenke bought Arsenal, he saw a club, with a legendary “Mr. Arsenal” (aka AW) very much in charge of almost everything. A man who had brought tremendous success, also financially, and who had so much belief in his own ability, he thought, he could both run the club and manage a successful team. If that is what Kroenke saw, it made sense at the time not to interfere, especially as he probably didn’t know much about football, as you say.
      Maybe the mistake was not to be critical and notice, things weren’t rosy underneath, as other teams were catching us and were about to overtake us. Not until we were also taking financial hits, did he become aware, he had to more on top of things. So now we have different set-up altogether, and maybe it will work?
      Just a theory 😉

        1. Anders, what kronkie saw, was a manager who never finished out of the top 4 and brought CL football.
          Up and until the arrival of Ozil, he really didn’t have to put his own money into the buying of players, because of the said success.
          What he has finally realised, in my opinion, is his self sufficient model, has seen the money backed clubs (we all know who they are) have been pulling further and further away and AW ‘s time ran out.

          He decided to take Wenger’s advice regarding Arteta and appointed him with a view to support him financially and time wise.
          Let’s not forget that he has sanctioned over £200,000,000 in players since the end of the 2017/18 season and given Arteta and Edu complete control over players and contracts – a decision to that has cost him dearly with regards to players leaving for nothing…. but he backed the manager 100%.

          It took Mikel over a season to realise the talent at his disposal, via Hales End, but he has certainly capitalised on this, along with recognising that senior players such as Xhaka, Elneny and Holding are so important for their progression.

          I do believe that he has cut the playing staff down to the bone and it will take a lot more of kronkie’s money to build a squad capable of playing European football, alongside the ambition to finish in the top four season after season.

          Therefor, it depends on kronkie and his continued backing of MA that will decide how far behind city and liverpool we are at the end of each season.
          At the moment, as we have seen this season, on our day, we can give both teams a run for their money, but we fall down on consistency and depth of squad – both down to Mikel in my opinion.

          Just as a footnote, these “fans” who belittle those who question some of Mikels decisions, are the same bunch of “fans” (in the main) who, day in day out, crucified Wenger and, to a lesser extent) Unai, even going so far as to wish harm to them!!!

          We certainly don’t need them to lecture others on how to support a manager or, in fact, the club.

          1. @ken1945
            I do agree with your first sentence, and as mentioned earlier, I think Kroenke missed, we were slowly loosing ground already.
            As for the self sustaining model, it is basically how every club is run, except for City and Chelsea (+ maybe Newcastle in the future). Liverpool is of course the perfect example, that shows, you can compete with a self sustaining model, if it is done well.
            Personally, I think it requires a long term plan, and now is the first time for many years, I see, we might have a plan, that can work.
            I am no way belittling people, who don’t believe in this plan. But I admit to being very critical to some of the arguments, that have been put forward.

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