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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

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 

SeasonTeam25-Dec posFinal pos
1992/93Wimbledon2112
1993/94Southampton2118
1995/96Wimbledon1814
Coventry 1916
1996/97Blackburn 1913
1997/98 Spurs1814
Everton1917
1998/99Southampton1917
1999/00Derby 1816
2000/01Middlesbrough1914
2002/03Bolton1917
2003/04Portsmouth1813
2004/05West Brom2017
2005/06Portsmouth1817
2006/07West Ham 1815
2007/08Sunderland1815
Wigan 1914
2008/09Man City1810
Blackburn 1915
2009/10Bolton 1814
West Ham 1917
2010/11Wigan 1816
Wolves1917
2011/12Wigan 1815
2013/14Crystal Palace1811
Sunderland2014
2014/15Leicester City2014
2015/16Swansea City1812
Sunderland1917

 

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