Theo Walcott gave an interview to the Chinese media recently, highlights of which are posted on the mothership today. Everyone's of course focusing on this quote (emphasis mine):
In this calendar year, we've been the best team in Europe. It's the strongest the squad has been and everyone is staying fit as well. There aren't many injuries in the squad, which is important. If we had an injury-free season, I think we could lift the title.
Of course, people who don't like to use their brains have a field day with quotes like that, with the Guardian's piece on this story actually saying that Theo will have "risked widespread ridicule" by saying what he said.
You know what else he risked, The Guardian? Someone actually doing the work and checking the math to see if Theo's claim holds water! Which I did!
Caveats, of course, apply - I looked at the top four teams in the major Western European footballing countries, so if some Latvian team has ripped off 14 straight wins, good for them but I have no idea. I also looked only at league form since January 1 - no cups, no Champions League, only the domestic league games. I also included Dortmund, who have risen from the ashes of relegation to their current eighth-place spot, to see what their 2015 form looked like.
So, given all that, what did I find? Theo's right, that's what I found. Highlights:
- Arsenal and Barcelona are joint best in Europe this calendar year, at 2.6 points per game. Barca have more wins and points, but have also played five more games.
- Leaving aside the aforementioned Barca - and Real Madrid, who have also played five more games - Arsenal have the most wins in 2015.
- Dortmund are actually fairly pedestrian in 2015 - seven wins, three draws, three losses.
- Roma have 10 draws in 2015.
- Lyon and St. Etienne have the most losses in 2015 - five each - while Arsenal are tied with four other teams that have only one league loss.
So yeah, before you read too much about how Theo Walcott is delusional, either do the math yourself or check the math I did- Arsenal are, in fact, the (joint) best team in Europe in calendar year 2015.