Is this the craziest Premier League relegation battle in recent history?

Adam Davy/PA via AP
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Another match week gone, and barely any more clarity from the muddled Premier League relegation battle.

We say barely because West Bromwich Albion’s latest loss, even given its soft schedule, felt like a bit of a death knell (if you can have a ‘bit’ of a death knell).

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The Baggies are now eight points back of safety with nine matches to play, and sit seven points behind 18th and 19th. Making up more than two wins on one team is difficult, let alone three. But again, Baggies supporters, there is that schedule.

As for the rest, it still feels a bit absurd. Swansea City moved up to 13th with a win after starting the weekend in the relegation zone. Three points separate 19th from 13th place, and there’s a threat that 10th, 11th, and 12th could still get drawn into the fray.

So is this really crazy compared to other years? We went back to the turn of the century and traced three seemingly important statistics:

  • Teams relegated with the most points
  • Teams relegated with the best goal differential
  • The highest in the table a club finished within two wins (six points) of the drop zone.

Relegated with top points

As it stands, there’s nothing special about the pace of current 18th and 19th placed teams, Crystal Palace and Stoke, who are on pace to drop with 35 points (35.3, actually).

  • 42 — West Ham United 2002-03
  • 39 — Birmingham City -and- Blackpool 2010-11
  • 38 — Sheffield United 2006-07
  • 37 — Newcastle United 2015-16
  • 36 — Wigan Athletic 2012-13
  • 36 — Bolton Wanderers 2011-12
  • 36 — Reading 2007-08
  • 36 — Ipswich Town 2001-02
  • 35 — Hull City 2014-15
  • 35 — Birmingham City 2007-08

Relegated with best goal differential

This one seems the most telling, because the names on this list are largely recognizable and so-called yo-yo clubs. The best teams to go down are the ones that suffer from bad bounces. Put in perspective, the 11th place PL side (Everton) has a minus-16 goal differential this season.

Assuming at least five losses adding goals to the differential, Newcastle and Southampton stand a chance to be relegated with the best goal differential ever. That’s also an argument for why both teams will find safety, but we digress.

  • -16 — Birmingham City 2007-08
  • -17 — Leicester City 2003-04
  • -17 — West Ham 2002-03
  • -18 — Hull City 2014-15
  • -19 — Newcastle United 2008-09
  • -21 — Newcastle United 2015-16
  • -21 — Birmingham City 2010-11
  • -21 — Crystal Palace -and- Southampton, 2004-05
  • -22 — Birmingham City 2005-06
  • -23 — Blackpool 2010-11
  • -23 — Sheffield United 2006-07
  • -23 — Ipswich Town 2001-02

Highest team within two results of 18th

We went with six points because of the likelihood that a team would enter May still very much concerned with relegation if they were six. To boot, a team a win above the drop could win their final match and finish six clear.

As it stands, 12th place Bournemouth is six points clear of the drop zone. The next two teams up, Everton and Brighton, are seven points above.

The last 17 seasons have seen just eight in which 15th place was as close as six points. In that time, only five teams have finished that close to the drop zone and as high as 13th. No team has finished higher than that, and it seems this could be the year that mark goes down.

  • 13th place Stoke City 2012-13
  • 13th place Middlesbrough 2007-08
  • 13th place Newcastle United 2006-07
  • 13th place Birmingham City -and- Fulham 2002-03
  • 14th place West Brom 2015-16
  • 14th place Leicester 2014-15
  • 14th place Sunderland and Aston Villa 2013-14
  • 15th place Blackburn 2010-11