Wednesday 23 April 2014

Great Escapes: How Premier League clubs have beaten the drop

Premierleague.com looks back at eight of the greatest escapes from relegation

  • Wigan's Jordi Gomez celebrates scoring against Arsenal

  • Danny Murphy's goal against Portsmouth saved Fulham from relegation

  • Alan Curbishley celebrates the victory at Old Trafford that kept up West Ham

  • Portsmouth's Pedro Mendes scores against West Ham

This is promising to be one of the most tightly contested battles against relegation from the Barclays Premier League with only four points separating the bottom five clubs, and West Ham United in 12th not yet mathematically safe from relegation. 

The biggest concerns are for the teams in the relegation zone and Fulham, Cardiff City or Sunderland have all been marooned in the bottom for three for the past two months. If any of these teams do stay up, and they could all do , theirs will be the latest in a series of "great escapes" over the past 21 seasons of the Barclays Premier League.

Premierleague.com looks back at eight clubs who have successfully battled against the odds to rescue themselves when all seemed lost.

Wigan Athletic, 2011/12

Despite being in the thick of a relegation scrap after only one win from their previous 14 matches, Wigan Athletic went on a run of form fit for a title-challenging side, and seven wins from their final nine matches enabled them to secure comfortably their status in the Barclays Premier League.

Wigan were five points adrift of safety at the start of February, and remained rooted to the bottom with one win from their next six matches. But Roberto Martinez's side turned it round by shocking Liverpool 2-1 at Anfield to start an incredible run that took them seven points above the drop zone by the end of the season.

After their win at Anfield they beat Manchester United, Arsenal and Newcastle United and safety was secured in the penultimate match of the season, when they won against Blackburn Rovers to consign their opponents to relegation.

End of season run-in:
24 March 2012: Liverpool 1 Wigan 2
31 March 2012: Wigan 2 Stoke 0
7 April 2012: Chelsea 2 Wigan 1
11 April 2012: Wigan 1 Man Utd 0
16 April 2012: Arsenal 1 Wigan 2
21 April 2012: Fulham 2 Wigan 1
28 April 2012: Wigan 4 Newcastle 0
7 May 2012: Blackburn 0 Wigan 1
13 May 2012: Wigan 3 Wolves 2

21 Mar 2012 P Pt GD   Final table P Pt GD
15 Aston Villa 28 33 -4   15 Wigan 38 43 -20
16 Blackburn 29 28 -18   16 Aston Villa 38 38 -16
17 QPR 29 25 -18   17 QPR 38 37 -23
18 Bolton 28 23 -26   18 Bolton 38 36 -31
19 Wigan 29 22 -29   19 Blackburn 38 31 -30
20 Wolves 29 22 -33   20 Wolves 38 25 -42


Fulham, 2007/08

Fulham looked set to join bottom club Derby County in the Championship for the 2008/09 campaign when they were losing 2-0 away to Manchester City with 20 minutes remaining.

Roy Hodgson's side were facing the possibility of being six points adrift of safety with two matches left, but they turned it round with goals from Diomansy Kamara (twice) and Danny Murphy gaining them all three points.

Fulham then beat fellow strugglers Birmingham City at Craven Cottage and a third consecutive win, against Portsmouth, was enough to keep up Roy Hodgson's team on goal difference ahead of Reading.

End of season run-in:
26 April 2008: Man City 2 Fulham 3
3 May 2008: Fulham 2 Birmingham 0
11 May 2008: Portsmouth 0 Fulham 1

19 April 2007 P Pt GD   Final table P Pt GD
15 Sunderland 34 36 -19   15 Sunderland 38 41 -23
16 Bolton 35 32 -20   16 Bolton 38 39 -18
17 Reading 35 32 -28   17 Fulham 38 36 -22
18 Birmingham 34 31 -13   18 Reading 38 36 -25
19 Fulham 35 27 -26   19 Birmingham 38 35 -16
20 Derby 35 11 -59   20 Derby 38 11 -69


West Ham United, 2006/07

Paul Stalteri's 96th-minute goal in Tottenham Hotspur's 4-3 victory over West Ham United at Upton Park on 4 March 2007 left the Hammers 10 points adrift of 17th-placed Manchester City, having played two matches more.

With nine matches remaining, Alan Curblishley's side went on to record three consecutive wins, including a 1-0 away victory against title-challengers Arsenal.

Two consecutive defeats followed, but another three wins in a row meant their fate was in their own hands on the final day of the season, when they travelled to champions Manchester United. Carlos Tevez scored the only goal, his sixth in the club's last nine matches of the season, to ensure safety.

End of season run-in:

17 March 2007: Blackburn 1 West Ham 2
31 March 2007: West Ham 2 Middlesbrough 0
7 April 2007: Arsenal 0 West Ham 1
14 April 2007: Sheffield United 3 West Ham 0
18 April 2007: West Ham 1 Chelsea 4
21 April 2007: West Ham 1 Everton 0
28 April 2007: Wigan 0 West Ham 3
5 May 2007: West Ham 3 Bolton 1
13 May 2007: Man Utd 0 West Ham 1

4 Mar 2007 P Pt GD   Final table P Pt GD
15 Wigan 29 32 -14   15 West Ham 38 41 -24
16 Sheff Utd 29 31 -16   16 Fulham 38 39 -22
17 Man City 27 30 -13   17 Wigan 38 38 -22
18 Charlton 29 24 -23   18 Sheff Utd 38 38 -23
19 Watford 29 20 -25   19 Charlton 38 34 -26
20 West Ham 29 20 -29   20 Watford 38 28 -30


Portsmouth, 2005/06

An away defeat by Aston Villa left Portsmouth eight points adrift of West Bromwich Albion in 17th with 10 matches remaining.

But a stunning volley from Pedro Mendes in stoppage time against Manchester City at Fratton Park secured a 2-1 victory and was the first of three consecutive wins, including a 4-2 triumph away at West Ham United. Six victories in their final 10 matches, two more than they had won until then in the campaign kept them safe.

End of season run-in:
11 March 2006: Portsmouth 2 Man City 1
18 March 2006: West Ham 2 Portsmouth 4
1 April 2006: Fulham 1 Portsmouth 3
8 April 2006: Portsmouth 2 Blackburn 2
12 April 2006: Portsmouth 1 Arsenal 1
15 April 2006: Portsmouth 1 Middlesbrough 0
17 April 2006: Charlton 2 Portsmouth 1
22 April 2006: Portsmouth 2 Sunderland 1
29 April 2006: Wigan 1 Portsmouth 2
7 May 2006: Portsmouth 1 Liverpool 3

7 March 2006
P Pts GD   Final table
P Pts GD
15 Middlesbrough 27 34 -8   Man City 38 43 -5
16 Fulham 28 32 -6   Aston Villa 38 42 -13
17 West Brom 28 26 -17   Portsmouth 38 38 -25
18 Birmingham
27 23 -16   Birmingham
38 34 -22
19 Portsmouth 28 18 -30   West Brom 38 30 -27
20 Sunderland 28 10 -32   Sunderland 38 15 -43
  • Geoff Horsfield's goal helped to keep West Brom up in 2005

  • David Wetherall's goal against Liverpool kept the South Yorkshire side in the top flight

  • Southampton's win at Sunderland ensured they stayed up and their opponents went down

West Bromwich Albion, 2004/05

Up until the 2004/05 season, the team who were bottom of the Barclays Premier League at Christmas had never avoided relegation, but Bryan Robson's West Bromwich Albion side lifted the curse.

The Baggies had gone 15 Barclays Premier League matches without a victory when they beat Manchester City 2-0 on 22 January, but it was not until March that their fortunes truly changed. Three wins in four matches and impressive away draws against Aston Villa, Spurs and Manchester United meant that they could secure safety with a final-day victory over Portsmouth, provided other results went their way.

They beat Portsmouth 2-0 and moved up from bottom to 17th on the final day of the season, at the expense of Southampton, Crystal Palace and Norwich City. The 2004/05 season was the only Barclays Premier League campaign where all three relegation places were decided on the final day.

End of season run-in:
6 March 2005: West Brom 2 Birmingham 0
15 March 2005: Chelsea 1 West Brom 0
19 March 2005: Charlton 1 West Brom 4
3 April 2005: West Brom 1 Everton 0
10 April 2005: Aston Villa 1 West Brom 1
20 April 2005: Tottenham 1 West Brom 1
23 April 2005: Middlesbrough 4 West Brom 0
26 April 2005: West Brom 1 Blackburn 1
2 May 2005: West Brom 0 Arsenal 2
7 May 2005: Man Utd 1 West Brom 1
15 May 2005: West Brom 2 Portsmouth 0

22 Feb 2005 P Pt GD   Final table P Pt GD
15 Fulham 26 29 -11   15 Blackburn 38 42 -11
16 Blackburn 27 28 -12   16 Portsmouth 38 39 -16
17 Crystal Palace 27 22 -15   17 West Brom 38 34 -25
18 Southampton 27 20 -15
18 Crystal Palace 38 33 -21
19 Norwich 27 20 -26
19 Norwich 38 33 -35
20 West Brom 27 18 -26
20 Southampton 38 32 -21


Bradford City, 1999/2000

In their debut season in the Barclays Premier League, Bradford City faced relegation after six consecutive defeats had left them six points adrift of safety with five matches remaining.

But Paul Jewell's side earned a 4-4 draw with Derby County before beating Sunderland and Wimbledon. A defeat by Leicester City followed, meaning that Bradford needed to better Wimbledon's result on the final day of the season. Bradford faced Liverpool, who were needing a win to qualify for the UEFA Champions League, while Wimbledon travelled to Southampton.

An early David Wetherall goal put Bradford ahead and they held on to record a famous victory, while Wimbledon's defeat by Southampton sent them down.

End of season run-in:

21 April 2000: Bradford 4 Derby 4
24 April 2000: Sunderland 0 Bradford 1
30 April 2000: Bradford 3 Wimbledon 0
6 May 2000: Leicester 3 Bradford 0
14 May 2000: Bradford 1 Liverpool 0

15 Apr 2000 P Pt GD   Final table
P Pt GD
15 Southampton 33 40 -14   15 Southampton 38 44 -17
16 Derby 33 32 -11   16 Derby 38 38 -13
17 Wimbledon 33 32 -20   17 Bradford 38 36 -30
18 Sheff Wed 33 27 -28
18 Wimbledon 38 33 -28
19 Bradford 33 26 -32
19 Sheff Wed 38 31 -32
20 Watford 33 20 -39
20 Watford 38 24 -42


Southampton, 1996/97

With eight matches remaining in the 1996/97 season, Southampton were bottom and four points adrift, but four victories and three draws in their next seven fixtures meant they were safe when they faced Aston Villa on the final day of the season.

This run was sparked by Barclays Premier League debutant Micky Evans, who had spent most of his career in the Football League, but was bought at the start of March, and he scored four goals, including vital strikes in wins over Nottingham Forest and West Ham United.

End of season run-in:

22 March 1997: Southampton 2 Leicester 2
5 April 1997: Nott’m Forest 1 Southampton 3
9 April 1997: Derby 1 Southampton 1
12 April 1997: Southampton 2 West Ham 0
19 April 1997: Southampton 2 Coventry 2
22 April 1997: Sunderland 0 Southampton 1
3 May 1997: Southampton 2 Blackburn 0
11 May 1997: Aston Villa 1 Southampton 0

19 Mar 1997 P Pt GD   End of season P Pt GD
15 Sunderland 31 32 -19   15 Everton 38 42 -13
16 West Ham 30 30 -12   16 Southampton 38 41 -6
17 Coventry 31 30 -17   17 Coventry 38 41 -16
18 Nott'm Forest 31 29 -21
18 Sunderland 38 40 -18
19 Middlesbrough 29 28 -9
19 Middlesbrough 38 39 -9
20 Southampton 30 26 -12
20 Nott'm Forest 38 34 -28


Oldham Athletic, 1992/93

The first Barclays Premier League season had a thrilling relegation battle, where Oldham’s strong finish allowed them to stay up by the narrowest of margins on a dramatic final day.

Oldham were four points adrift of safety with 13 matches remaining of the season, having picked up only three points from the last 24 available. But a draw at Everton followed by a shock 1-0 win over Barclays Premier League champions-elect Manchester United provided a platform for a late surge for survival.

The club's only defeats came against Norwich City, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur, and, after two consecutive victories, on the final day they needed to beat fellow strugglers Southampton and hope that Crystal Palace lost to Arsenal at Highbury. Then survival would go down to goal difference.

At one stage Arsenal were winning 3-0 and Oldham looked to be comfortable against Southampton, going 4-1 ahead, but Matthew Le Tissier's two late goals for the Saints made it a nervous finale for the Latics, but they held on and secured safety by a two-goal margin.

End of season run-in:
27 February 1993: Everton 2 Oldham 2
9 March 1993: Oldham 1 Man Utd 0
13 March 1993: Norwich 1 Oldham 0
20 March 1993: Oldham 2 QPR 2
22 March 1993: Middlesbrough 2 Oldham 3
3 April 1993: Oldham 6 Wimbledon 2
7 April 1993: Oldham 1 Sheffield Weds 1
10 April 1993: Liverpool 1 Oldham 0
13 April 1993: Oldham 1 Sheffield Utd
17 April 1993: Tottenham 4 Oldham 1
2 May 1993: Aston Villa 0 Oldham 1
5 May 1993: Oldham 3 Liverpool 2
8 May 1993: Oldham 4 Southampton 3

24 Feb 1993
P Pt GD   End of season
P Pt GD
17 C Palace 29 33 -10   17 Leeds 42 51 -5
18 Everton 29 32 -8   18 Southampton 42 50 -7
19 N Forest 28 31 -7   19 Oldham 42 49 -11
20 Sheff Utd 29 31 -9
20 C Palace 42 49 -13
21 M'brough 29 30 -12
21 M'brough 42 44 -21
22 Oldham 29 27 -15
22 N Forest 42 40 -21

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Key Points

  • Premierleague.com looks at eight escapes from relegation against the odds
  • Each team finished the season strong to move out of the drop zone
  • Wigan won seven out of their last nine matches in the most recent great escape