The Lowest the 'Biggest' Teams in the PL Have Finished in the Past 30 Years

Liam Bewsher

The Closest the 'Biggest' Teams in the PL Have Been to Relegation over the Past 30 Years

Here we take a look at some of the worst and closest finishes to the relegation zone that the biggest teams in the Premier League have had to date. This list excludes any club that has previously been relegated from the Premier League such as Aston Villa and Manchester City, as well as those whose first spell in the Premier League started fairly recently.

Each of these teams’ titles are ranked on position rather than points, although we have listed off some of their closest points finishes above the relegation zone.

Arsenal - 12th Place (1994/95)

Since being voted into the top-flight all the way back in 1919 ahead of North London rivals Tottenham, Arsenal have not suffered a single relegation.

The Gunners worst finish in the past 30 years was that of the 1994/95 campaign where they finished 12th, their worst since that of the 1975/76 season.
This finish perhaps didn’t represent the talent in Arsenal’s squad, as they had the likes of David Seaman, Lee Dixon, Tony Adams, Paul Merson, Alan Smith, Ian Wright and more in their team, with the later mentioned player firing in 30 goals across all competitions despite their struggles.

Legendary manager George Graham suffered the consequences and was sacked in late February, allowing Stewart Houston the chance to take the reins until the end of the season, leading them to the European Cup Winners Cup final where they were defeated by Real Zaragoza in Paris, whilst the Gunners managed just 13 wins in 42 league matches.

Arsenal finished just six points above 19th placed Crystal Palace in the 1994/95 season who were the fourth team to be relegated in that Premier League campaign due to the league changing its format from 22 teams to 20 that year.

Chelsea - 14th Place (1993/94)

Chelsea have been in England’s top division since they were promoted to Division One in the 1988/89 campaign and have become one of English football’s biggest powerhouses due to the financial muscle of current owner Roman Abramovich following Ken Bates’ ownership.

The 1993/94 season is Chelsea’s worst finish in the past 30 years having finished 14th, with 51 points after 42 league matches under the management of Glenn Hoddle. This saw the Blues sit nine points above Sheffield United in 20th place following a run of just three wins in their opening 20 Premier League matches that campaign, before significantly improving in the second half of the season.

Hoddle’s side managed to pick up enough form in the tail end of the season that they made it to the FA Cup final where they were hammered by Premier League champions Manchester United 4-0 at the old Wembley Stadium.

Everton - 17th Place (1993/94, 1997/98, 2003/04)

At present, Everton’s Premier League future looks uncertain as the Toffees currently sit 16th in the table, just three points above the relegation zone after their recent 3-1 loss to Newcastle United.

The Goodison Park club have had it relatively tough since they last won the title back in the 1986/87 season, winning two Charity Shields and the 1994/95 FA Cup which remains as the Toffees last trophy win to date.

Everton’s worst finishes are those of the 1993/94, 1997/98 and 2003/04 campaigns where they finished 17th.

In 1993/94 the Toffees finished just two points above Sheffield United, whilst in the 1997/98 season, a 1-1 draw against Coventry City at Goodison Park on the last day of the season kept Howard Kendall’s side in the top-flight on goal difference ahead of Bolton Wanderers who were beaten 2-0 at Stamford Bridge by Chelsea; this is Everton’s closest finish to the relegation zone in the last 30 years, having finished six points above it in 2003/04.

Liverpool - 8th Place (1993/94, 2011/12, 2015/16)

Liverpool’s lowest league finishes in the past 30 years have all been eighth-placed ones, with the first of these being back in the 1993/94 season under Graeme Souness who was replaced by Roy Evans in January 1994, following a start that saw the Anfield club win just 13 of their opening 26 matches.

The Scotts reign at Anfield was disastrous for the Reds and ultimately set the tone for the lengthy title drought that Liverpool faced between 1990 and 2020, finishing sixth-place in back to back seasons between 1991 and 1993 before recording what is still the Anfield clubs joint-worst finish.

However, Liverpool’s worst points tally remains as that of the 2011/12 campaign under Kenny Dalglish when they managed just 52 points, resulting in another 8th place finish, whilst in 2015/16 they also finished in the same place in a season that saw Brendan Rodgers be sacked and replaced by Jurgen Klopp.

In reality, the red half of Merseyside haven’t come close to being relegated from the top flight since they last were back in the 1953/54 season, with their 16 point gap in 2011/12 to Bolton Wanderers being their closest margin out of all of the finishes mentioned above.

Manchester United: 7th Place (2013/14)

Manchester United’s worst finish in the past 30 years is more predictable than most, with this one coinciding with the exits of Sir Alex Ferguson and David Gill following their retirements from their roles at Old Trafford, being replaced by David Moyes and Ed Woodward.

Losing both of these key figures at the Theatre of Dreams at the end of the 2012/13 season in the aftermath of the Red Devils record 20th title win was a hammer blow which they have never truly recovered from, due to a lack of strategy and competence on how to run a major football club.

Moyes struggled to adapt to the mammoth task he faced at Old Trafford, replacing the club’s backroom staff which had aided Ferguson so well in his final successes, as well as not being given the tools to succeed in the transfer market and as a result, was replaced by Ryan Giggs with just four games to go in the 2013/14 season.

United finished seventh, winning 19 of their 38 league matches, accumulating a total of 64 points, 25 less than the previous campaign and if their current form doesn’t improve, then there is a chance that they could beat this unwanted record, as they are currently one point worse off after 23 league matches.

Despite this being United’s worst Premier League finish to date in terms of positioning, they were still 31 points above 18th placed Norwich City, whilst in 2019/20 when they managed a third-place finish under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with 66 points, they were actually just one point further away to the drop zone, finishing 32 ahead of Bournemouth.

Louis van Gaal holds the record of the Old Trafford club’s closest finish to the relegation zone in the 2015/16 campaign when his side recorded a fifth-place finish, 29 points better off than 18th in the table Newcastle United. The Dutchman was sacked by the Red Devils shortly after their FA Cup win that season.

Tottenham Hotspur - 15th Place (1993/94)

Last but not least on this list is Tottenham Hotspur who haven’t plied their trade in the second-tier of English football since 1977/78.

Prior to Harry Redknapp becoming their manager in the 2008/09 season, Spurs were well known for playing attractive football with a number of flair individuals, but, would typically have erratic results.
This was the case when the Lilywhites recorded their worst-ever Premier League finish in 1993/94, whilst recording their worst points tally in 1997/98 of just 44.

In the formerly mentioned campaign Spurs finished just three points above Sheffield United in 20th place when the league had a 22 team format, despite having the likes of Nicky Barmby, Darren Anderton and Teddy Sheringham in their squad.

1997/98 was a turbulent campaign, with Spurs having three different managers in Gerry Francis, Chris Hughton (caretaker) and Christian Gross. In this season, Tottenham boasted talents such as Les Ferdinand, Jurgen Klinsmann and David Ginola amongst their ranks, but, they finished just four points above 18th placed Bolton Wanderers following seven points in their last three matches, after beating Newcastle United 2-0, Wimbledon 6-2 and drawing 1-1 with Southampton on the last day, with Klinsmann hammering in six goals across these fixtures.


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