With Sunderland winning last night to cap a remarkable run of form that has seen them top the form table over the last five games (Alongside Manchester City) in picking up 13 out of 15 points. What was more remarkable for Gus Poyet and his men was that at the start of the run they were the bookies favourites to go down. But after Easter everything changed with a Connor Wickham inspired draw at City, a controversial victory at Chelsea, an easy win against Cardiff, a historic victory at United before sealing survival with a routine win against West Brom. This most definitely was an escape that Bear Grylls would be proud of, but where does it sit on the best 5 escapes? Lets find out.
5. Portsmouth 2005/6
Portsmouth had amounted just 18 points from 28 Premier League games and the South Coast side looked as set for the Premier League as Fikile Mbalula is for the role of Minister of Foreign Affairs. But Harry “Houdini” worked his magic as Pompey reeled off an impressive run of form that saw them collect 20 points in the last ten games. It was a run that saw them win 6 and draw 2 of their final ten games which is arguably European qualification form. The victory away at Wigan sealed their survival with a game to spare. A team that were so abject-fully awful had survived and would go on to win the FA Cup two years later.
4. Sunderland 2013/14
I think the dust has not quite settled yet, but the fact is simple. When Sunderland lost 5-1 to Tottenham, the Sky pundits said what we all thought. They will not stay up. Cue a Connor Wickham revival and an extremely likeable Gus Poyet turned them around beating Chelsea and United in the process. The fact that they sealed survival with the a game in hand is beautiful. The ridiculous thing is now, if they win their final game, they could finish as high as 12th!
3. Wigan Athletic 2011/12
Wigan Athletic’s survival in 2012 was as much improbable as it was remarkable. A team managed by Roberto Martinez had failed to inspire any confidence throughout the season and found themselves in the thick of the relegation zone thanks to one win in 14 games. But cometh the hour, cometh the team and cue pandemonium as Wigan went on a run fit for a title challenging team. With swashbuckling efficiency they collected victories at Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal (The first ever EPL game I watched live) and Blackburn, a game that sealed their security. It was one of the finest runs in the Premier League’s history but ultimately a year later it couldn’t be reproduced as Wigan were relegated.
2. Fulham 2007/8
In 2014 they may have ended their long association with the Premier League and the Michael Jackson statue, however 6 years ago things weren’t so gloomy. Well, they were for a while as Fulham trailed Manchester City 2-0 after 70 minutes and were staring into the abyss of Championship football. But Kamara and Murphy sealed a huge turnaround victory for the Cottagers that was the catalyst for the run-in for Roy Hodgson’s team. They won the nail-biting penultimate game against Birmingham to essentially seal the League Cup winners relegation before a massive game against FA Cup finalists Portsmouth on the final day. A 75th minute winner by captain courageous Murphy meant that Fulham stayed up ahead of Reading by the margin of goal difference! Incredible.
1. West Brom 2004/5
But for sensational you have to look no further than 2004/5. Under the management of former-Albion midfielder Bryan Robson, West Brom became the first club in Premier League history to avoid the drop having been bottom of the Premier League table at Christmas. The Baggies had gone 15 Barclays Premier League matches without a victory when they beat Manchester City 2-0 on 22 January, but it was not until March that their fortunes truly changed. All three relegation spots were still available going into the final day, as “Survival Sunday” saw four clubs still scrapping for their lives for the first time in Premier League history. Southampton, Crystal Palace and Norwich all failed to win, and a 2-0 victory over Portsmouth at the Hawthorns secured West Brom’s unlikely salvation. And for us at All Things Jabu, this is the greatest of the Great Escapes
Let us know which Great Escape was your favourite?