Football Features

The last time every Premier League club found themselves in the relegation zone

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 11:17, 21 October 2019

There are few worse feelings than being in a relegation battle.

Aside from a club’s pride at stake there’s also the human cost of demotion as it’s been well-documented personnel working behind the scenes could lose their jobs.

Since the Premier League’s inception in 1992, no fewer than six clubs have played in every season: Arsenal, Chelsea, Everton, Liverpool, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur.

All, with the exception of Everton, make up the league’s renowned ‘big six’ alongside Manchester City, who for much of the 1990s were going up and down the divisions.

But these clubs have never been immune from finding themselves in the bottom three at any given moment. So, it goes us thinking, when was the last time they, and the other 14 current clubs, have been in such a predicament.

Arsenal

Season: 2015/16

Matchday: 1

Position: 19th

The last half of Arsene Wenger’s tenure as Arsenal manager was not one for the most fainthearted Gooners who saw their side go from perennial challengers to looking from the outside. The 2015/16 season was the last time Wenger – and the club – finished in the top two.

But it was a missed opportunity as Leicester City incredibly piped them to championship honours. That campaign started with a humbling 0-2 loss at home to West Ham which left them in the relegation places, but they wouldn’t stay there for too long.

Chelsea

Season: 2019/20

Matchday: 1

Position: 19th

In the 1990s Chelsea were a far cry from the side they are today. That being said, you don’t have to go far to find them inside the bottom three. A false start is what Frank Lampard would call his first official game in charge of the Blues.

A thumping 4-0 defeat at Old Trafford to Manchester United saw them end matchday one sitting in 19th place, only West Ham’s even bigger defeat against Manchester City (5-0) prevented them from holding up the table.

Liverpool

Season: 2012/13

Matchday: 5

Position: 18th

Jurgen Klopp has transformed Liverpool in the same vein as Wenger did when becoming Arsenal manager all those years ago. Under him the Reds are no longer thinking about struggling instead they’ve given themselves an incredible chance of ending a 30-year title drought.

Men before Klopp have come close including Brendan Rodgers in 2014, but the season before he was finding things hard, after matchday five they were in the bottom three – losing 2-1 at home to Man Utd which left them having claimed two points from 15 available. Better days, though, were ahead.

Manchester City

Season: 2008/09

Matchday: 18

Position: 18th

Much like Chelsea, there was a time when Manchester City were an afterthought, but unlike their west London rivals they were prone to relegation. Things would change when the first injection of cash arrived through Thaksin Shinawatra, but they were nowhere to being as good as they are now, and that remained the case when current owner Sheikh Mansour arrived in early 2008/09.

Midway through that campaign, with Mark Hughes at the helm, they suffered a 2-1 loss at West Bromwich Albion – which incredibly was already defeat number 10 – leaving them sitting in 18th place. They’d immediately bounce back on Boxing Day inflicting a 5-1 loss on Hull City now infamously remembered for Tigers boss Phil Brown giving his team a half-time team talk on the pitch.

Manchester United

Season: 1995/96

Matchday: 1

Position: 19th

“You can’t win anything with kids” was Alan Hansen’s response after a youthful-looking Man Utd team fell to a 3-1 defeat at Aston Villa which subsequently left them sitting 19th after the first round of fixtures in 1995/96, which happens to be the last time such a misfortune befell them.

In the summer preceding, Sir Alex Ferguson had said goodbye to a number of veteran players, banking on an emerging group of talented footballers. His belief would be vindicated as the Red Devils secured a famous double that season.

Tottenham Hotspur

Season: 2008/09

Matchday: 21

Position: 19th

Harry Redknapp loves reminding folks of the mess he inherited when taking charge of Tottenham more than a decade ago. Spurs had claimed two points from eight games in the 2008/09 season when the ex-West Ham boss took over the reins. He’d soon transform their fortunes but not before hitting a couple of roadblocks.

Redknapp’s men – whom included Luka Modric and Gareth Bale – were susceptible to a poor result and following a 1-0 loss at Wigan on matchday 21 they’d drop right back in. This, however, was the last time Spurs and relegation zone would be mentioned in the same breath.

And the rest…

Aston Villa

Season: 2019/20

Matchday: 7

Position: 18th

Newly-promoted Aston Villa weren’t expected to pull up any trees on their Premier League return so it’s no surprise to see them having already been acquainted with the relegation zone.

Bournemouth

Season: 2017/18

Matchday: 20

Position: 18th

Eddie Howe has worked so hard to establish Bournemouth as Premier League mainstays, it’s now been two seasons since they were in battling mode.

Brighton & Hove Albion

Season: 2017/18

Matchday: 2

Position: 19th

Brighton have technically never been relegated from the Premier League and even more impressively their only experience of the bottom three came after matchday two in their debut campaign despite flirting with relegation last season.

Burnley

Season: 2018/19

Matchday: 20

Position: 18th

Having to play in Europe impacted on Burnley’s league form early last season but their final appearance in the relegation zone came on matchday 20, when a short run of form all-but saved their campaign.

Crystal Palace

Season: 2017/18

Matchday: 30

Position: 18th

Crystal Palace these days are looking up but that wasn’t the case during the 2017/18 season when they were last under threat of being sent to the Championship.

Everton

Season: 2019/20

Matchday: 8

Position: 18th

So much was expected from Everton heading into this season but a string of poor results saw them in the bottom three instead of putting pressure on the big boys.

Leicester City

Season: 2017/18

Matchday: 8

Position: 18th

Following their incredible championship triumph in 2016 the Foxes have taken on a new identity but the old Leicester peaks through from time to time including just two seasons ago.

Newcastle United

Season: 2019/20

Matchday: 9

Position: 18th

The loss of Rafael Benitez in the summer put fear Newcastle’s passionate fanbase and they weren’t exactly delighted to be proven wrong when this campaign started on a bad note.

Norwich City

Season: 2019/20

Matchday: 9

Position: 19th

Another newly-promoted side who have struggled on their Premier League comeback.

Sheffield United

Season: 2006/07

Matchday: 38

Position: 18th

Not a great memory but the last time Sheffield United found themselves in the relegation zone they were en route to enjoying Championship football.

Southampton

Season: 2019/20

Matchday: 3

Position: 18th

Ralph Hasenhüttl’s honeymoon period at Southampton is well and truly over and they’ll be in the mix to stay up this season, only sitting outside the relegation zone on goal difference.

Watford

Season: 2019/20

Matchday: 9

Position: 20th

No wins after their opening nine Premier League fixtures sees Watford, last season’s FA Cup finalists, rock bottom of the table.

West Ham United

Season: 2019/20

Matchday: 1

Position: 20th

A humbling 5-0 opening day loss to champions Manchester City left the Hammers rooted but they’ve since turned things around even if recent results have been poor.

Wolverhampton Wanderers

Season: 2019/20

Matchday: 6

Position: 19th

Wolves were a breath of fresh air last season but they’ve somewhat regressed this term with added Europa League responsibilities.

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