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Thursday 09 February 2012

Swansea & Norwich fly promoted clubs' flag

Top-half meeting highlights success of newly promoted clubs in Barclays Premier League

Paul Lambert and Brendan Rodgers have led Norwich and Swansea into the top half

When Swansea City entertain Norwich City at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday, it will see two top-10 clubs going head-to-head.

With Norwich lying ninth and Swansea 10th in the Barclays Premier League, both have surpassed many people's expectations after winning promotion from the Championship last year.

Not Norwich boss Paul Lambert, however, who thought back in September that - along with Queens Park Rangers - all three newly promoted teams would be able to adjust to life in the top flight.

"I think the three teams who came up are all very good"
- Paul Lambert in September

"I've seen Swansea recently and I watched QPR the other night and I think it shows the three teams who came up are very good," said Lambert a month into the new season. "They are all more than capable of trying to hold their own."

He has not been the only admirer of Swansea this season, with the likes of Harry Redknapp, Martin O'Neill and Thierry Henry singing their praises - and it was no surprise that they awarded talented manager Brendan Rodgers a new deal on Thursday.

And five months on from his comments little has changed overall. With QPR also out of the relegation zone in 16th place, there is a very real possibility of all three still being in the Barclays Premier League next season.

But is it that rare for promoted teams to do well, or is it a myth that they immediately struggle in the higher division?

Here are some statistics - going back to the start of the Barclays Premier League in 1992-93 - which back up the fact that promoted teams do not, on average, fare as badly as many people believe:

  • 30 of the 56 promoted teams (53.6%) have survived
  • 14 (25%) went on to finish in the top half
  • 14.8 is the average finish of a promoted team
  • Only once (1997-98) have all three promoted teams gone down
  • On one occasion (2001-02) all three promoted teams stayed up
  • In 2001-02 and 2005-06, two promoted teams finished in the top half

The best average finish for the three promoted teams is 10.5 in the 2000-01 season, when Ipswich came fifth, Charlton ninth and Manchester City 18th.

If Swansea and Norwich continue their fine seasons and QPR's January transfer window signings help to push them up the table, this season could be the best yet in terms of a collective final placing.

Swans defender Steven Caulker is relishing the chance to take on Norwich, and he believes they - along with QPR - have proved they are worth their places in the Barclays Premier League.

"This year and last year as well, promoted clubs proved they are capable of doing well at this level," said the 20-year-old, on loan at the club from Tottenham.

"All three teams are doing really well and having an impact on the League"
- Steven Caulker

"Ourselves and Norwich are mid-table, with QPR not far behind. Credit where it's due, all three teams are doing well and all the three newly-promoted teams were ready for it.

"We are all doing really well and we're all having our impact on the Premier League. Against Norwich it will be interesting to see who gets the points."

If Swansea continue their success story, they could become only the fifth team to be promoted via the Championship play-offs to finish in the top half of the Barclays Premier League next season.

And as Nathan Dyer said after their stunning 3-2 win over Arsenal in January, the Swans do not fear anyone despite this being their first season in the top flight since 1982.

"We are strong throughout and we have got players who can match any team in this League," said Dyer, who has been tipped in some quarters to win a call-up to the England squad.

"We want to keep looking up and try and chase the ones above us. We're definitely not looking down."

For the first time in a decade, all three teams promoted to the Barclays Premier League might just get a second stab at it.

Finishes of promoted teams since start of Premier League:

[22-team Premier League]
1992-93: Ipswich (16), Middlesbrough (21 - R); Blackburn (4)
Newcastle (3), West Ham (13); Swindon (22 – R)
Crystal Palace (19 – R), Nottm Forest (3); Leicester (21 – R)

[20-team Premier League]
1995-96: Middlesbrough (12); Bolton (20 – R)
Sunderland (18 – R), Derby (12); Leicester (9)
Bolton (18 – R), Barnsley (19 – R); Crystal Palace (20 – R)
Nottm Forest (20 – R); Middlesbrough (9); Charlton (18 - R)
Sunderland (7), Watford (20 – R); Bradford (17)
Charlton (9); Man City (18 – R); Ipswich (5)
Fulham (13), Blackburn (10); Bolton (16)
Man City (9), West Brom (19 – R); Birmingham (13)
Portsmouth (13), Leicester (18 – R); Wolves (20 – R)
Norwich (19 – R), West Brom (17); Crystal Palace (18 - R)
Sunderland (20 – R), Wigan (10); West Ham (9)
Reading (8), Sheff Utd (18 – R); Watford (20 – R)
Sunderland (15), Birmingham (19 – R); Derby (20 – R)
West Brom (20 – R), Stoke (12); Hull (17)
Wolves (15), Birmingham (9); Burnley (18 – R)
Newcastle (12), West Brom (11); Blackpool (19 – R)

[R = relegated. Clubs listed in order that they finished in the Championship]

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Key Points

  • Swansea & Norwich are both in top half of Barclays Premier League
  • All three newly promoted clubs could stay up
  • Stats say 53.6% of promoted teams stay in League