| Tavita |
THE media call it the Curse of Christmas. Down in the depths of the Barclays Premier League, a couple of fearsome battles are on.
Leicester away at West Ham. Hull at home to Swansea.
What’s needed today aren’t presents or cards or jingling bells. What required right now are wrapped up points.
Put simply, the Curse of Christmas means that, whoever’s on the bottom of the League by the time Santa arrives this year, is likely to end up a very sad reindeer.
And, as far as curses go, it been a pretty effective one.
In its 22 years of existence, the team at the bottom of the Premier League tree after Christmas is nearly always doomed to have its candle blown out at the end of the season.
And what a drop it is.
Remember Swindon, bottom at Christmas and bottom at the end with five wins all season and over one hundred goals against them?
Barnsley, Bradford City, Portsmouth, each one bottom at Christmas and heading off to the lower depths?
And Derby County, Reading, Nottingham Forest, Bolton, Watford, Sheffield Wednesday, Ipswich, Blackburn, Wolves?
Only West Ham, West Brom and Sunderland have ever come back and stayed.
And, after Christmas on the bottom, only West Brom, on the basement floor this time ten years ago, and Sunderland, in the same position last season, have avoided the dreaded drop in the past,
By only by miracles!
Like Sunderland confounding everyone by staying up last season, after Yuletide on the floor.
And like West Brom who were bottom at Christmas in 2006 and still bottom on the morning of the final match of the season.
They beat Portsmouth while Norwich City and Southampton lost and Crystal Palace drew.
As a result, they rose three places and now live on in BPL folklore as ‘The Great Escapers’, the only team ever to be bottom of the League both at Christmas and on the last day and still survive.
Part of Premier League history.
First a bit of math.
Historically, the Curse has come after eighteen or nineteen games. Once, in 2003, it came after a mere sixteen games and this year it will be after seventeen games.
The average points total for the bottom Christmas club has been eleven.
The highest were West Brom’s eighteen points in 2008 and the fifteen by Nottingham Forest in 1992 when there were twenty two teams in the league.
The lowest were Sunderland’s five in 2005, Sheffield Wednesday’s six in 1999 and Derby County’s seven in 2007.
The lowest number of wins by Christmas is one.
This was achieved by Sheffield Wednesday, WBA, Sunderland, Watford, Derby County and Reading.
The biggest number of losses is 14 by Sunderland, followed by Ipswich, Bolton, Barnsley Sheffield Wednesday and Derby County with 13.
So, how do this year’s lot line up?
It looks like a straightforward two-horse race between Leicester City and Hull City … unless the FA decides to impose an immediate 10-point fine on Liverpool for the cruel and unusual punishment inflicted on their supporters.
Leicester are currently on 10 points with two wins and 10 losses. A win away to West Ham today would give them three wins and 13 points and in a similar position to Ipswich Town in 1996 who stayed at the bottom for the rest of the season.
A loss to West Ham would see them roughly in the same position as Ipswich Town in 2001 who recovered to win seven more games after Christmas and climbed to 18th position with 36 points but still went down.
Hull have 11 points right now with two wins and seven losses with a heap of draws.
They are very good at drawing but if Leicester win at West Ham, they’d better do more than draw at home against Swansea.
If they can manage this today, they’ll be free of the Curse of Christmas, no matter what Leicester do.
If they lose to the Swans, however, they’ll have 11 points with two wins and eight losses and a very frustrated Steve Bruce stomping up and down the touchline.
This would leave them in the same position as Wolves in 2003 and Watford in 2006 who both finished in 20th spot out of 20.
Even 21 more draws in as many of their remaining fixtures would not save them from the drop.
Basically, the Christmas Curse doesn’t worry us here. Not round our way. We can whoop and cheer and have a Merry Xmas Watch.
And there’s no need to spend any of the festive season being nice, kind and sympathetic to any of our mates.
After all … Leicester City? Hull City?
As the ancient Rimba saying goes: Who?