History gives hope to teams at the bottom

25 Dec 2016
West Bromwich Albion v Portsmouth

Recent recoveries suggest sides last in table on 25 December can still avoid relegation

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For fans of Swansea City, their team’s position at the bottom of the Premier League table on Christmas Day is not as without hope as it was in the past, if recent history is anything to go by.

Only three teams have been last in the division on 25 December and avoided relegation, but, of those, two have come in the past three seasons.

West Bromwich Albion were the first side to achieve the “miracle” of recovering from being bottom at Christmas, needing a final-day win over Portsmouth to avoid the drop in 2004/05.

Geoff Horsfield, West Brom v Portsmouth
Geoff Horsfield celebrates as West Bromwich Albion beat Portsmouth to stay up in 2004/05

But the examples of Sunderland in 2013/14 and Leicester City the next season show Swansea that the chances of recovering from such a position appear to have improved of late.

In total across the 24 seasons, 29 teams have beaten the drop despite being in the relegation zone at Christmas (see table below).

Not once have all the clubs in the drop zone at Christmas avoided relegation, but Sunderland and Swansea can take hope from the fact that they were both in the bottom three last season and climbed out by the season’s end.

West Brom v Leicester, 2014/15
Jamie Vardy's goal against West Bromwich Albion sparked Leicester City's great escape from the bottom in 2014/15

As for the clubs above the bottom three, complacency is dangerous, as any Norwich City fan would tell you.

On Christmas Day 1994, the Canaries were probably dreaming of European football in seventh place and 13 points off the relegation zone but a second-half slump sent them down.

The present seventh-placed team, Southampton, are 10 points off the bottom three.

Clubs in relegation zone at Christmas who stayed up 

Season Team 25-Dec pos Final pos
1992/93 Wimbledon 21 12
1993/94 Southampton 21 18
1995/96 Wimbledon 18 14
Coventry  19 16
1996/97 Blackburn  19 13
1997/98  Spurs 18 14
Everton 19 17
1998/99 Southampton 19 17
1999/00 Derby  18 16
2000/01 Middlesbrough 19 14
2002/03 Bolton 19 17
2003/04 Portsmouth 18 13
2004/05 West Brom 20 17
2005/06 Portsmouth 18 17
2006/07 West Ham  18 15
2007/08 Sunderland 18 15
Wigan  19 14
2008/09 Man City 18 10
Blackburn  19 15
2009/10 Bolton  18 14
West Ham  19 17
2010/11 Wigan  18 16
Wolves 19 17
2011/12 Wigan  18 15
2013/14 Crystal Palace 18 11
Sunderland 20 14
2014/15 Leicester City 20 14
2015/16 Swansea City 18 12
Sunderland 19 17


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