On Premier League Survival Sunday, how many times during the 90 minutes do you think the league table will change near the bottom of the table? Depending on which teams score and when, the league table positions of the five teams battling to avoid the drop may resemble a roulette wheel at times as teams jump up and down the five places. This relegation battle is already the closest finish in the history of the Premier League. And it could end up being the most dramatic conclusion to a league season in the history of the English game since Michael Thomas’s last minute goal for Arsenal to win the league on the final day of the season in 1989.
It’s definitely going to be one of those days where a lot of people will have their pens and paper out to quickly figure out who is staying up and who is going down at any moment’s notice. It’s also going to be the only day in the season where almost all eyes will be transfixed on the bottom of the table rather than the top.
All this week, EPL Talk reader Stacy Richardson and I have been trying to put together a guide to the final day of the season and the different scenarios to show how each of the five clubs could stay up. But it’s a mind-boggling task especially since there are an incredible 81 different scenarios of what could happen to Blackburn, Wolves, Birmingham, Blackpool and Wigan on Sunday. Yes, eighty one. The closer to the bottom of the table the clubs are, the more scenarios there are of the club going down.
So instead of creating a complicated list of what each club would have to do to avoid relegation, which would be filled with a multitude of if and or then statements, I decided to show you, in exhaustive detail, two charts which illustrate the scenarios courtesy of the Engineering Sport website. The first one you’ll definitely find eye-opening:
First, here’s a chart showing the 81 different scenarios of what can happen between the five teams on Sunday (click the image for a larger picture). Note that the chart shows the total possible points gained by each team (the teams relegated are in red).
Second, here’s a chart showing the number of possible scenarios where each club could get relegated:
It’s fascinating that the last day of the season has come down to just a one-point difference between five clubs. It may be years or more than a decade before this happens again. Then again, it could end up being a boring end to the season if Wolves and Blackburn draw, and Wigan, Blackpool and Birmingham lose. But with so much on the line for all five teams trying to avoid relegation, teams will be fighting for their lives to score goals and keep their team up.
In many ways, Survival Sunday has become what we hope the title race would be. Often, the title race is sewn up weeks before the season ends. But the relegation battle, and the sheer luxury of teams staying in the Premier League and knowing what it means to the supporters, means that the end of the season is now more romantic at the bottom of the league. I’ll be watching closely and hoping that there’ll be a fun rollercoaster ride on Sunday. Sadly, two teams will join West Ham in their fall to the Championship on Sunday. Unless, of course, that there will be a tie-breaker where two of the clubs have to play one more game. That’ll only happen if both clubs are tied on points, tied on goal difference and tied on goals scored. The chances of that happening are slim given the nature of goals flying in during games. But it is possible. And that would be an insane way to end the season.