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Sunday 24 March 2013

Comeback kings: Man Utd’s tough road to the top

Man Utd break record for points gained from losing positions en route to topping the league

  • The win over Southampton was one of nine Man Utd achieved from losing positions

  • Man Utd went behind three times before Javier Hernandez made it 4-3 against Newcastle

  • In 1999/00, Man Utd's Roy Keane scored a late winner against title rivals Arsenal at Highbury

  • Paul Scholes' hat-trick helped Man Utd to come from behind to beat West Ham in 1999/00

  • Eidur Gudjohnsen scored as the 2004/05 Chelsea recovered to draw with Arsenal

  • Chelsea also recovered to beat Man Utd 3-1 at Old Trafford. Joe Cole scored the third

Manchester United are favourites to lift their 13th Barclays Premier League title, with a 15-point lead over present champions Manchester City at the top of the table after 29 matches.

Sir Alex Ferguson is also eyeing the record points total set by Chelsea in the 2004/05 season of 95, for which United remain level with Jose Mourinho's side at the equivalent stage.

"If we get to 95 points I would be absolutely delighted," said Ferguson. "That would be a fantastic season."

But the commanding advantage that Ferguson's team have masks the battles they have had in reaching this position which underline the competitiveness of the competition.

Sir Alex Ferguson's team have some way to go if they are to beat their points margin of 18 in the 1999/00 season, while they are ahead of schedule to exceed Chelsea's 12-point lead in winning the title 2004/05. But what differs from these seasons is how United have earned these points.

Compared with 1999/00, Ferguson's side this season have already earned more points from losing positions with nine matches to go than at the turn of the century. This campaign, United have won 27 points after being in a losing position, three points more than in the whole of 1999/00 and 23 more than Jose Mourinho's Chelsea in 2004/05.

In some instances, they have recovered from losing positions more than once in a match. At home to Newcastle United, they went behind three times to Alan Pardew’s team before emerging 4-3 winners and trailed twice against Reading at the Madejski Stadium before winning by a similar score. Away to Southampton they were 1-0 and 2-1 down before Robin van Persie struck twice to claim a 3-2 victory.

Points earned from losing position

Man Utd 2012/13 (P29)
Man Utd 1999/00 (P38)
Chelsea 2004/05 (P38)
Man Utd 3-2 Fulham
Arsenal 1-2 Man Utd
Chelsea 2-1 Soton
Soton 2-3 Man Utd
Man Utd 1-1 Wimbledon
Arsenal 2-2 Chelsea
Liverpool 1-2 Man Utd
Man Utd 3-3 Soton
Chelsea 1-1 Birmingham
Man Utd 4-2 Stoke
Man Utd 5-1 Everton
Man Utd 1-3 Chelsea
Aston Villa 2-3 Man Utd
Sunderland 2-2 Man Utd
Newcastle 1-1 Chelsea
Man Utd 3-1 QPR
Man Utd 1-1 Arsenal
 
Reading 3-4 Man Utd
Wimbledon 2-2 Man Utd
 
Man Utd 4-3 Newcastle
Man Utd 1-1 Liverpool
 
Man Utd 2-1 Soton
Man Utd 7-1 West Ham
 
  Middlesbrough 3-4 Man Utd
 
  Soton 1-3 Man Utd
 
  Man Utd 3-2 Chelsea
 

 

The big difference to 13 years ago is that this United team come from behind to win. Both of their draws this season (away to Swansea City and Tottenham Hotspur) have come after being ahead. The 2000 team came from behind on more occasions (12) than this season's side have but on five occasions they could only draw.

Only once has a come-from-behind victory for United this season been by more than a goal and such narrow wins characterise Ferguson's team this campaign. Their goal difference is +38 at present and they would have to have, on average, a winning margin of two goals over their remaining matches to emulate the +57 difference the Chelsea side of 2005 achieved, while the 2000 United team had a goal difference of +52.

Of United's 24 victories so far, 14 have been by a single goal. This has already surpassed the 12 times that the 2000 United team and the Chelsea side of 2005 achieved across the 38 matches. Only four times this campaign have United won by a margin of three goals or more so far, half the total that Chelsea in 2005 and their counterparts in 2000 managed.

Victories by one goal

Man Utd 2012/13 (P29)
Man Utd 1999/00 (P38)
Chelsea 2004/05 (P38)
Man Utd 3-2 Fulham
Arsenal 1-2 Man Utd
Chelsea 1-0 Man Utd
Soton 2-3 Man Utd
Coventry 1-2 Man Utd
Birmingham 0-1 Chelsea
Liverpool 1-2 Man Utd
Liverpool 2-3 Man Utd
Chelsea 2-1 Soton
Chelsea 2-3 Man Utd
Derby 1-2 Man Utd
M'brough 0-1 Chelsea
Man Utd 2-1 Arsenal
Man Utd 1-0 M'brough
Chelsea 1-0 Liverpool
Aston Villa 2-3 Man Utd
Sheff Wed 0-1 Man Utd
Chelsea 1-0 Everton
Man Utd 1-0 West Ham
Man Utd 3-2 Coventry
Chelsea 1-0 Aston Villa
Reading 3-4 Man Utd
Leeds 0-1 Man Utd
Liverpool 0-1 Chelsea
Man City 2-3 Man Utd
M'brough 3-4 Man Utd
Blackburn 0-1 Chelsea
Man Utd 4-3 Newcastle
Man Utd 3-2 Chelsea
Everton 0-1 Chelsea
Man Utd 2-1 Liverpool
Watford 2-3 Man Utd
Chelsea 1-0 West Brom
Man Utd 2-1 Soton
A Villa 0-1 Man Utd
Chelsea 1-0 Charlton
Fulham 0-1 Man Utd
   
Man Utd 1-0 Reading    


United require another 22 points from their remaining nine matches if they are to beat Chelsea's record but, if the season so far is anything to go by, it will not be easy.

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Key Points

  • Man Utd have gained 27 points from losing positions en route to opening up a 15-point lead at the top of the Premier League
  • They have also won by one goal on 14 occasions this season
  • They have surpassed the records set by Chelsea in 2004/05 and Man Utd in 1999/00