Two Great Premier League escape acts

 5 months, 13 days ago 0 Comments

There comes a point in a disappointing season when fans switch from bemoaning the ineptitude of their team from the terraces to providing unbridled support, the likes of which will hopefully see the team they love avoid the drop. We’re at that stage in the season and now every fixture takes on added importance.

For the clubs currently looking to evade a costly adieu to the Premier League, hope remains until survival is mathematically impossible. While the situation looks grim for some, the Premier League has seen some remarkable Houdini acts in the past and these are probably the two most memorable survival stories.

Jamie-Vardy-Lưeicester-City” (Public Domain) by ong_gia_kute_1904

2014-15: Leicester City 

With Norwich seemingly doomed, the relegation odds for Premier League 21/22 currently see Watford (9/100), Everton (31/10) and Burnley (9/25) fighting it out for 17th position and Premier League football next season. For the team that does prevail, next season should be filled with optimism as there’s always the possibility they could ‘do a Leicester.’

Leicester City became Championship champions in the 2013-14 season and returned to the top table for the first time in ten years. After promising early results, The Foxes, managed by Nigel Pearson, had a disastrous run of 13 games without a win. With just 19 points after 29 matches played, Leicester was bottom of the league and appeared destined for a return to the Championship. April saw the tide turn beginning with a 2-1 win over West Ham thanks to goals from Esteban Cambiasso and Andy King.

After that decisive victory, Leicester went on to win six of their last eight fixtures, only losing to eventual champions Chelsea and drawing with Sunderland. The goals of Leonardo Ulloa and Jamie Vardy were key and Leicester eventually finished 14th, while Hull City, Burnley and Queens Park Rangers felt the sting of relegation. This is generally considered the best ever Premier League survival story due to the extraordinary season that followed with Claudio Ranieri at the helm.

2004-05: West Bromwich Albion 

The general consensus is that teams in 20th position in the league on Christmas Day get relegated. West Brom was the first Premier League team to prove the folly of that statement and both Sunderland and Leicester subsequently performed the same feat.

The Baggies began the season with Gary Megson in charge, but with only one win after ten games, Manchester United legend Bryan Robson was appointed. Robson failed to have an immediate impact but did enough to give the team a chance of survival on the final day of fixtures. For the first time in Premier League history, no club was confirmed for relegation and the final round of fixtures decided the fate of West Bromwich (bottom), Southampton and Crystal Palace (one point clear) and Norwich City (two points clear).

West Brom did what was required on the final day by beating Portsmouth 2–0. Norwich had a nightmare by losing 6–0 at Fulham. Southampton was defeated 2–1 at home to Manchester United and Palace drew 2-2 after conceding a late equaliser away to Charlton Athletic. The last-day drama saw a pitch invasion at The Hawthorns as West Brom survived at the expense of Norwich City, Crystal Palace and Southampton.

Still, there’s everything to play for at both ends of the Premier League and while it might be stressful for fans of the clubs involved, some drama similar to that provided by Leicester and West Brom would be compelling viewing.

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