Liverpool the underdogs

Liverpool the underdogs

Those familiar with this blog may have noticed I often lament the lack of variety in the challengers for and winners of the Premier League. You can see evidence of that here, here and here. When a new champion has come along, like Blackburn, Chelsea or Man City, any surprise has been stripped out by their big spending and their ascent being from a base camp in in the top three.

However, my faith in the English top flight as a competitive endeavor could soon be restored because Liverpool are a handful of matches away from taking the title. They may have a history stuffed with major honours and have millions of fans worldwide but looking at their recent league positions within the context of the winners of the Premier League Liverpool, who finished 2012-13 a lowly 7th, are practically minnows.

The below graphic looks at how recent winners of the top flight performed in the three seasons before they won. Here’s the key:

Key for data visualisation

Yes, looking back to only 2011-12 sees a title winner that had three years prior finished as low as 10th but if you want precedent of a champion that finished low down the table in either of their two previous seasons, you have to go much further back.

Data visualisation showing past winners of the top flight

  • The last champion that had finished outside the top three the season before winning was Leeds in 1992. Leeds are also the last champion to finish below 6th in either of the prior two seasons.
  • The last champion that had finished outside the top four the season before winning was Arsenal in 1989.
  • The last champion that had finished as low as 7th the season before winning was Everton in 1985. That’s a pretty long time ago.

The days when a club could win the title straight after being promoted may never return but a Liverpool success will be a small, welcome throwback to the old, more competitive days.