Dead Men Walking: The Premier League’s Greatest Escapes
October 09, 2015
While West Bromwich Albion’s escape from relegation at the end of the 2004/05 season is considered to be the seminal example of top-flight escapology, it has arguably been overshadowed by other instances during the Premier League era. Although the Baggies became the first club to escape relegation after being bottom of the league at Christmas, other teams have since mounted superb late-season runs to overcome almost insurmountable odds and beat the drop.
So without further ado, here is our shortlist of the three greatest escapes in the league’s history…
Undoubtedly the greatest escape in EPL history, Fulham were trailing 2-0 at Manchester City with 20 minutes to go at the end of the 2007/08 season. The club were theoretically relegated at this stage, as they faced the prospect of being six points behind with just two games left and a vastly inferior goal difference. The Cottagers staged a remarkable comeback at the Etihad, as a brace from Diomansy Kamara and a goal from Danny Murphy gave the club a chance of escaping the drop. Fulham then managed to edge out fellow strugglers Birmingham City and Portsmouth in their final two games, finishing ahead of Reading by the virtue of goal difference alone.
Wigan Athletic, 2011/12
Wigan seemed doomed towards the end of the 2011/12 Premier League season, marooned three points from safety and having won just once in their last 14 games. Despite this, Roberto Martinez’s Latics went on an incredible run of form that defied both belief and their previous form, winning seven of their last nine matches to escape relegation and claim a respectable 15th place finish. While this is impressive enough, the fact that Wigan also won at Anfield, the Emirates, and St. James’ Park during this run (and defeated Manchester United at home) is even more incredible.
West Ham United, 2006/07
When Tottenham midfielder Paul Stalteri scored a 96th minute goal to consign the Hammers to 4-3 defeat at Upton Park, West Ham were an incredible 10 points from safety with just nine matches remaining. Inspired by Carlos Tevez however, the club rebounded to win their next three games, including a 1-0 win at title contenders Arsenal. Although West Ham then lost twice in quick succession, they recorded another four straight victories to extend their run to seven wins in nine outings. The decisive win came on the final day of the season against Manchester United at Old Trafford, with Tevez fittingly scoring the crucial goal.