Wenger's Winter Curse

Halloween may have passed but Arsenal's fans will remain fearful throughout November. This is the month where, historically, Wenger's team have tended to perform significantly below par. Since Wenger took charge in 1997, Arsenal have collected an average of 1.6 points per game in November, compared to a season average of 2 points per game.

In fact, as the figure below demonstrates, Arsenal don't really recover until mid-December. The thin blue line shows the average number of points that Wenger's Arsenal collect in each gameweek of the season; the dashed blue line shows a 3-game moving average. The Nov/Dec curse is clearly visible[1].

For comparison, I've also plotted the same results for Man United under Ferguson. For both teams, I used data from the seasons 97/98-12/13, the period in which the two managers overlap.

Average number of points collected by Arsenal (blue) and Man United (red) over the seasons 97/98-12/13. Solid lines show the average for each game week, dashed lines show a 3-match moving average.

It's interesting to compare the seasonal performance of the two managers. In the first and final thirds of the season, Wenger's points-per-game closely matches Ferguson's. However, while Ferguson's teams would step up their performance in December (perhaps after the group stage of the Champions League finished), Wenger's seem to struggle in early winter before improving in February.

I have no idea what causes Arsenal's end-of-year blips: injuries, Champions League involvement, fear of the English winter, or excessive bad luck? Whatever it is, we'll all be watching with interest to see if they can overcome it this year.

[1] And significant, in the statistical sense.


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