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FeaturesSuper statto: SearsDrawing conclusions: why Manchester United and Fulham are the same this season

Drawing conclusions: why Manchester United and Fulham are the same this season

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By Brian Sears

22 October 2010

Manchester United and Fulham have a fascinating statistic in common this season and it’s got nothing to do with the amount of time they’ve been without their star strikers, either metaphorically or literally, before being gloriously reconciled in recent hours. (That’s a reference to Rooney and Johnson for those of you resident in UDFy-38135539 (left) who may have missed news respectively of a contract and return from injury).

Oh no. It’s not that kind of statistic at all.

It is . . . cue drumroll . . .

They have both drawn their first four away Premier League games this season.

I know, I know, it’s a shocker. Do take some time to have a sit down, maybe pour yourself a stiff drink, take some deep breaths.

How can Fulham and United be, errm, united in such mediocrity?

Actually for Fulham it’s no big deal. Fulham make a habit of drawing their away games, as our table below shows. Indeed no current Premier League club has a higher percentage of away draws from their time in the League. Fulham have drawn 61 of 175 away games in the Premier League to date, for a whopping 34.9 per cent. Ouch. Or rather zzzzzz.

The only club in the entirety of Premier League history – which admittedly isn’t quite as old as UDFy-38135539’s history – to achieve a higher percentage was Swindon. In their one season in 1993-94, Swindon drew eight of their 21 away games, or 38 per cent. Swindon’s problem was that they only won a single away game and Fulham have a similar infection.

When Fulham are not drawing away from home they’re likely to be losing. Fulham have lost 52 per cent of their away games, and have only therefore won 13 per cent.

Fulham’s four away draws this season: at Bolton 0-0, Blackpool 2-2, Blackburn 1-1, West Ham 1-1.

United’s four away draws this season: at Fulham 2-2, Everton 3-3, Bolton 2-2, Sunderland 0-0.

For United this is a big deal, as metaphorically big as UDFy-38135539 is wide. Well, not quite, but you get the gist.

Even including this season’s four away draws already, United have in total only drawn a quarter (exactly!) of their away games in the Premier League, and that’s because they are in the habit of winning so many of them: 55 per cent.

That leaves only 20 per cent of their away games ending in defeat.

Several times before, United have put together three away draws in a row, but never before as many as four. Oh no. Never before as many as four.

But. A word of caution to Chelsea and all other title aspirants. United have got form in bouncing back from a winless streak away to hit brutal form and romp off to glory.

United’s longest Premier League gap between away wins was six away games in the 1996-97 season, between winning 4-0 at Leeds on 7 September and 4-0 at Nottingham Forest on Boxing Day.

That away dearth included a 0-5 defeat at Newcastle and a 3-6 defeat at Southampton. And the end of that season saw United as champions, seven points clear of second-placed Newcastle.

And for all United’s perceived problems this season, it needs to be underlined that they remain undefeated home or away. In all the rest of the Football League, at the time of writing, just before 7pm on Friday, only QPR at the top of the Championship can claim such a feat.

United play at Stoke this weekend while Fulham play at West Brom.

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