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The Rise and Fall of Arles-Avignon

Ligue 1 struggles Arles lead for a while against Lyon last week but remain winless at the bottom and face a long season ahead.


Arles have found life hard this season, but that should be no surprise given they’ve enjoyed four promotions in five years, initially as an amateur side and despite having Ligue 2’s smallest budget last season. That, however, has left the club weakened financially as they’ve had to fund ground improvements to comply with Ligue 1 regulations and attempt to improve their squad.

After losing their opening five games of the season the manager who oversaw all four promotions, Michel Estevan, was fired (somewhat harshly) for the second time, having been removed and reinstated by new owners during the summer. However, five games later and they’re still winless; making this the second worst start to a Ligue 1 season in the past 14 years (Grenoble lost their opening 10 games last term) and Arles the ninth side to be winless at this stage.

The good news is that three of the previous eight sides in this position did survive, but the five that went down, however, all finished bottom-two and of the four sides that didn’t win by week 14 the only one that didn’t finish last came 19th in a season where two sides were winless to that point. Furthermore, they’re already nine points from safety and since Ligue 1 switched to 20 teams in 2002/03 five of the six sides to be bottom and at least four points from safety at this stage went down in 19th or 20th.

However, no side has failed to win any of their first 20 games, and only one of the past eight teams in this position lost more than half their next 10 games as five drew at least four, with Grenoble going W1-D4-L5 last season. Moreover, of the five teams that went down four earned 0.8-1.0 points per game till the end of the season, with the average record of those four sides being W5-D8-L13.

What also bodes poorly for Arles (and also for Caen and Stade Brestois) is that promoted teams generally slide backwards during the season as 16 of the 25 promoted sides have done in the past eight seasons, compared to just seven improving their position after 10 games to the end of the season.

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