By Brian Sears
13 April 2012
After the surprise defeat of Manchester United by Wigan in midweek – a result that gave Wigan their first ever points against United in 14 league meetings – the title race has become a little more open again.
With five games to play, Manchester City trail United by a mere five points, and given that the pair must still play each other, a United procession is less of a foregone conclusion that it seemed just a few short days ago.
To maintain the intrigue a while longer, City surely need to keep winning, beginning at Norwich on Saturday.
Statistically the outcome of the match is likely to remain in the balance until the end. In 25 of Norwich’s 33 League games so far this season (or 75.76 per cent of them), the result could still have changed with the last kick of the game.
Or in other words, there was only one goal or none separating the teams at the final whistle. Ten of those 25 games were drawn, and 15 settled by an odd goal, eight in Norwich’s favour and seven in their opponents’ favour. They have won by two or more goals three times and lost by two or more five times, including at City away earlier in the campaign.
The full equivalent details for how each team have won, drawn and lost their games this season is in the graphic below.
The contrast between Norwich (the club going most often to the wire) with Bolton (the least often) is stark. Bolton have had only 12 of their 32 games ‘go to the wire’ (or 37.5 per cent of them).
They have won four games by two or more goals and 16 of their defeats have been by a similar margin. With six games to go, Bolton remain on course to record the lowest number of draws in any Premier League season.
That record is held at the moment by Chelsea who in 1997-98 drew just three games in the whole season whilst finishing fourth. So far Bolton have had two draws: 1-1 at home to Wolves on New Year’s Eve and goalless at home to Arsenal on 1 February.
For the record here are the 10 fewest draws by team in a season in the Premier League era:
3 draws Chelsea 1997-98
4 draws Chelsea 2005-06; Man City 2005-06; Man Utd 2009-10
5 draws Bolton 1995-96; Barnsley 1997-98; Leeds 2002-03; West Ham 2006-07; Man City 2008-09; Chelsea 2009-10
Our full table of how games are won, drawn and lost, below, is full of stats to warm the cockles of any anorak-wearer this weekend. For those who like to have the more obvious ones flagged up:
- The Manchester teams have achieved as many as 16 wins each by a two-goal margin or more but City are the only club not to have gone to a similar margin defeat.
- Wigan and Wolves have only two each of their wins by that margin.
- Arsenal, with 11 wins by a single goal, have the most by that slimmest victory margin.
- Aston Villa have the most drawn games, 14 – which is at least four more than any other Premier League club.
- QPR have suffered the most from single-goal defeats, 11, closely followed by Blackburn and Sunderland, 10 each.
- And as already noted it’s Bolton who have suffered the most clear-cut defeats – they have lost by at least two clear goals in precisely half their games. .