By Brian Sears
23 April 2010
This is the 15th season of the 20-club Premier League, and whatever happens in the remainder of it Manchester City are already assured of one thing: their best-ever Premier League season by points total in a 38-game season.
Yes, yes, it might well have cost City approximately a squillion quid to reach this momentous landmark, but their tally of 62 points is better already by seven points than their previous best of 55 points, in 2007-08.
And at a more modest level, Wolverhampton Wanderers are also guaranteed their best-ever Premier League season, having eclipsed by one point the tally of 33 they amassed in their one and only previous season.
Four other clubs have a “best ever” season within their grasp, although they aren’t there yet. That quartet are Tottenham, Aston Villa, Birmingham and Fulham, who respectively require one, two, three and 10 points to match their previous bests, and respectively two, three, four and 11 points to beat their previous bests.
Stoke and Hull are in strange places, but leaving geography aside, they’re in peculiar territory stats-wise. Both that pair could yet have their best seasons, or their worst.
Then come a group of eight clubs who I describe as ‘in limbo’ in terms of the best and worst of times. Those eight – including all the ‘big four’ – have no chance at all of beating their best seasons, but all have already bettered their worst seasons.
All this is detailed in our table, while the chart at the bottom plots in colourful detail how the fortunes of the ‘big four’ have risen and fallen since 1995-96. Note how lowly Chelsea used to be, and how few points they used to win. Note too how Liverpool, once challengers, slid, then rose, then slid, then …
Two more clubs have yet to better their worst previous seasons but still could: Wigan and West Ham. Neither will match their bests.
And then there’s Portsmouth, guaranteed their worst ever season in the Premier League even if, for the purposes of this study today, we give them back the nine points they’ve been deducted.