The August bank holiday is not traditionally a date given over to relegation speculation, but if you can just tune out all the small talk about lollies and traffic jams, you’ll find that this is the time of year when one of the Premier League’s more sinister trends emerges.
In the last 12 years, with only one exception, at least one of the bottom three sides after just two games has gone down.
The three sides currently reassuring themselves most vigorously that there is still a long way to go: Newcastle, Crystal Palace and Swansea, make up this year’s shortlist.
Swansea, at 8/1, are the longest of the bunch, Newcastle are currently 4/1 and Crystal Palace are making the strongest case at 3/10 for the drop.
Last year, it was QPR who found themselves in the frame with just one point after two games, with Southampton and Aston Villa beneath them. Little did they know it then, but their fate was already sealed.
The season before that, Blackburn failed to ignite the rockets in the first two games and joined a roll call of past and present Premier League ne’er do wells –West Ham, Portsmouth, West Brom, Charlton, Sunderland, Crystal Palace, Wolves, West Brom (again) and Leicester – who also paid the ultimate price for ending game two in the relegation zone.
The only exception since the 2000/01 season came in 2007/08, when West Ham, Bolton and Spurs were propping up the table after match day two, yet all survived.
Perhaps that year it was the Premier League fates who were late in getting out of bed though, as the following week two of the teams who would go down –Birmingham and Derby – made the mistake of dipping into the relegation zone, perhaps thinking they’d safely avoided the two-game hoodoo.
So to all those people who favour the old method of not publishing the tables until the season is at least three games old, think again – you’d be missing a huge clue as to at least one doomed team.