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Thursday, June 20, 2013
Premier League all-time rankings

Norman Hubbard

If you have any questions on football facts, statistics or trivia, please send them to ESPN's team of football anoraks at asknorman@hotmail.com and they will try to answer as many as possible. Can you publish a table of Premier League teams (current and former) ranked by their average points total? When a tie happens, I would assume you would put the team with more seasons in Premier League before, Sam, a Chelsea fan from India asked. Here it is, and there are no prizes for guessing the first four. Manchester United have taken 250 more Premier League points than Arsenal. Only three clubs have averaged 70 points a season and, more surprisingly, only four average 60 or more. Leeds United's position in fifth reflects the fact that although they have only appeared in 12 Premier League campaigns, they have been relatively successful in most of them: they have seven top-five finishes. Blackburn and Manchester City, two of the five clubs to have won the Premier League, are bunched together with similar records. Among the surprises, Sheffield Wednesday stand out, reflecting their three top-seven finishes and (of which more later) the fact they played in an era when there were more games in a season. Norwich and Nottingham Forest have two and three relegations from the Premier League respectively, but they also have a top-three finish, seasons which elevated their average points tally. Among recent arrivals in the division, Swansea - average points 46.5 - are particularly impressive. There are 26 clubs averaging between 39 and 49 points per season, an illustration that, outside the biggest and richest clubs, that is the mean return for many a club. Among the underachievers, Sunderland stand out. No other club has played as many Premier League campaigns without averaging 40 points. If West Bromwich Albion's record is also underwhelming, it is at least improving: their first four Premier League campaigns brought 122 points - an average of 30.5 - while their last three have yielded 143 (average 47.7). Of those with three seasons or more, Wolves have the worst record. The trio in the relegation zone are Burnley, Swindon and Watford with Swindon below Burnley because they had a lower points-per-game ratio. The Hornets are distanced from the rest at the bottom of this table: both of their Premier League seasons ended in relegation and on neither occasion were they even close to surviving. The one thing that distorts the statistics is that the first three Premier League seasons contained 42 games so clubs who played then - such as Ipswich, Norwich, QPR, Sheffield Wednesday, Wimbledon, Oldham, Coventry and Southampton - had more opportunities to pick up points compared to those who were promoted in later seasons, such as Charlton, Wigan, Reading, Bolton, Fulham, Hull, West Brom, Wolves and Stoke. If the table were compiled on points per game, then Swansea would be fractionally ahead of Norwich, for instance. I know Clarence Seedorf holds the record for winning the most Champions League finals as a player with different clubs, but who is the player/players who have reached the final with the greatest number of different clubs (four or more clubs)? Ryan Shroff from Mumbai, India asked. Seedorf (with Ajax, Real Madrid and AC Milan) has won the Champions League with three different clubs. So, technically, has Samuel Eto'o, although he barely figured in Real Madrid's successful campaign in 2000, but he played a rather greater role in subsequent triumphs for Barcelona and Inter Milan. However, no one has appeared in the final for more than three clubs so far.


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