Greatest Premier League escapes
A look at the greatest Premier League survival stories
With the Premier League campaign entering the second half of the season, the battle for survival is already well under way, with the relegation-threatened sides desperate to avoid the drop to the Championship.
Some of the sides at the bottom end of the division are no strangers to a scrap for survival and here we look at some of the greatest Premier League escapes where teams have defied the odds to avoid relegation.
The original Premier League Houdinis, Oldham rescued their top-flight status from the brinks of despair thanks to three-straight victories in their last three games.
In a thrilling climax to the inaugural Premier League season, the Latics produced one of the greatest Premier League escapes via goal difference and picked up 18 points from their final 10 games of the campaign.
Remarkably, only champions Manchester United and an Alan Shearer-inspired Blackburn Rovers scored more goals than Oldham in that season.
A year after Stuart McCall fell off a car while celebrating Bradford’s promotion to the top flight there was more end-of-season celebrations at Valley Parade when the Bantams completed a memorable final-day escape with a 1-0 victory over Liverpool.
They were six points from safety with five games left of the campaign, but managed to pick up 10 points from their remaining fixtures to secure safety in the dying moments of the season.
David Wetherall’s thundering header went down in Bradford folklore as they downed Liverpool, with Paul Jewell’s side surviving by the skin of their teeth.
15 #PL goals for David Wetherall, and 13 of them came with his head!
— Premier League (@premierleague) July 6, 2017
West Brom 2004-05
The Baggies became the first team to avoid the drop having been bottom at Christmas when clinging on to Premier League status in 2005.
Bryan Robson was the man in the hot-seat for one of the greatest Premier League escapes, with West Brom winning just one of their last seven games and still bottom of the pile heading into their last-day shoot-out with Portsmouth.
The Hawthorns was bouncing on the final day of the season as a season-ending victory over Portsmouth secured survival and condemned Pompey’s bitter rivals Southampton to the drop.
When Alain Perrin was sacked mid-season, Pompey enticed ex-boss Harry Redknapp back to the club from neighbours Southampton.
It looked like a poisoned chalice, with the struggling side eight points from safety and stuck in the drop zone with 10 games left in the season.
But six wins and 18 points saw the south-coast side secure survival before a final-day loss at home to Liverpool.
West Ham 2006-07
This greatest Premier League escape act had some Latin American inspiration as Carlos Tevez helped haul the Hammers from bottom in the table with seven wins in their last 10 games.
A 1-0 win over champions Manchester United on the final day of the season was enough to preserve the east Londoners’ top-flight status but there was almost a sting in the tail with the signings of both Tevez and Argentine compatriot Javier Mascherano deemed to have breached third-party ownership rules.
Much to the disgust of the relegated clubs, West Ham survived the threat of a points deduction and both players went on to have decorated careers.
Roy Hodgson was entrusted with reviving the Cottagers’ fortuned having replaced Lawrie Sanchez in the December of the season and the Craven Cottage outfit were still six points from safety with 10 games to play.
However, they won three of their last five, including an inspired 3-2 victory over Manchester City.
Another side to beat Portsmouth on the final day of the season, the three points was enough to send Reading down to the second tier via goal difference in one of the greatest Premier League escapes.
Hodgson went on to guide Fulham to the UEFA Cup final in 2010, where they lost to Atletico Madrid in Hamburg.
Sam Allardyce became renowned for dragging clubs away from the dreaded drop zone during his managerial career and he did just that at Ewood Park in 2008-09.
He took over from Paul Ince with the Lancashire club 19th in the table following 17 games, but a fantastic second half of the season saw them lose only once at home with Allardyce in the dug-out.
Blackburn finished the season seven points clear of the relegation zone in 15th position.
Gus Poyet’s Sunderland needed to somehow find six points from their last seven games to survive and a fixture list that still included Chelsea and both Manchester clubs had the Black Cats staring down the barrel of relegation.
However, Poyet worked some Uruguyan magic in the north east to produce one of the greatest Premier League escapes.
Sunderland won four straight games, including victories away at both Stamford Bridge and Old Trafford and that was enough to ensure safety with a game to spare.
However, Poyet was unable to repeat those exploits in the following season and was sacked by the Mackems in March with the club hovering perilously just above the drop zone.
🗣️ "I even said I think we need a miracle"
Gus Poyet talks through his great escape with Sunderland in 2014 👏 pic.twitter.com/99zKCTJrPb
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) February 22, 2021
Leicester City 2014-15
Leicester became only the third Premier League side to be bottom at Christmas and avoid relegation after West Brom and Sunderland.
The Foxes were still seven points from safety at the foot of the table with seven games of the season to go, but a four-game winning run and just one defeat in their final five games saw them retain their top-flight status with a game to spare.
They eventually finished 14th that season and the rest as they say is history, with manager Nigel Pearson leaving the King Power that summer to be replaced by Claudio Ranieri, who guided the Foxes to the Premier League title the following season.
Crystal Palace 2014-15 and 2016-17
The Eagles were in the bottom three when they sacked Neil Warnock in December 2014 and replaced him with Alan Pardew.
The south London club were on an eight-game winless run in the top flight, but three wins from Pardew’s first four league games set a remarkable turnaround in motion.
By the end of the campaign, Pardew became the first Premier League manager to secure a top-half finish after being in the relegation zone at Christmas and also guided Palace to the FA Cup final the following season.
Pardew’s exit from Selhurst Park in the December of 2016 allowed Allardyce to excel in his firefighting speciality role once again and produce another of the greatest Premier League escapes.
His first job since being unceremoniously axed as England manager, he spent £30million pounds in the January transfer window and maintained the Eagles’ Premier League status on the penultimate day of the season before walking away from the London club at the end of the campaign.