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Martin brings you a tricky topical teaser. Can you get the answers?

Martin Tyler - Martin Tyler Posted 17th April 2012 view comments

Martin Tyler's stats and facts column is here!

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Given: poor record against Man Utd

Given: poor record against Man Utd

If you have spotted something from a game or have been stumped by a pub quiz question, simply email skysportsclub@bskyb.com and he will do his best to help.

Tyler's Starting Stat - Better Latic than never

Not long ago Wigan had never won at Liverpool and had never taken a point off Manchester United. That has now changed. On Monday night, they arrived at the Emirates Stadium having played nine times away at Arsenal and lost all nine (although one of those defeats was a 2-1 League Cup semi-final defeat at Highbury in 2006 that took them to the final on away goals, so it wasn't all disaster). That record of P9 L9 ended with a famous 2-1 win.

Franco di Santo scored his first goal in 18 games; his last came on November 26 in a 2-1 win at Sunderland when the other scorer was also Jordi Gomez. They've now won four of their last five games and despite their low overall goals tally, they have scored in their last seven games and in all eight away games in the Premier League since Boxing Day. When they stayed up last season, they scored in the last six games - so they seem to find another gear at the end of the campaign.

Furthermore, Di Santo's goal was Wigan's first at the Emirates in 10hrs, 2mins of playing time since Denny Landzaat scored in a 2-1 league defeat in 2007.

From an Arsenal perspective, Alex Song played his 200th game for the club and Bacary Sagna made his 150th Premier League appearance. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain played in his 50th career league game.

As has been mentioned in this column before, Robin van Persie has scored against 17 of Arsenal's Premier League rivals this term, but as we speak he has only scored home and away against Manchester United. He still has a chance of doing a double against Arsenal's remaining opponents; Chelsea, Stoke, Norwich and West Brom.

BEST AT THE BREAK
Hi Martin, I'm a Man City fan and was just wondering - I heard that the recent 3-3 draw against Sunderland was the first time we had been behind at half-time this season. I'm going to go ahead and assume that if all the games in the season so far had finished at half-time, then we'd be top of the shop. Am I right in assuming this? Also, it seems that United often leave it late to win games, so would they even be in the European places? Seb the City Slicker, Salford

MARTIN SAYS: Hello Seb, I'm afraid your assumptions are incorrect! You're right in saying that the dramatic stalemate at home to Sunderland was the first time Roberto Mancini's men had trailed at the interval in a Premier League game this term, but wrong in assuming that City would sit top of the table had the full-time whistles blown at the halfway stage all season.

You would of course be safe in the Champions League spots, but would trail to... yes, you've guessed it... Manchester United. The Red Devils would have lost four games (three more than City), but have led at half-time in no less than 22 of their 34 fixtures thus far - scoring a colossal 36 goals in the first 45 minutes of their 34 games and conceding, like City, only six.

It's also interesting to note the opposite end of the table, where Stoke would be in the relegation places as they have trailed at half-time in 14 out of 33 games... while Bolton would be three points clear of the drop zone in 14th, two places and a point behind relegation rivals Queens Park Rangers, who have led nine times at half-time. Thanks to Opta again for these stats.

I often say you don't have to win matches in the first 20 minutes of a game. These stats are an interesting guide, but 90 minutes is the ultimate test.

Premier League table if all games had ended at half-time:

TeamPWDLGFGAGDPts
Manchester United342284366+3074
Manchester City3416171276+2165
Tottenham33131552713+1454
Newcastle33131372518+752
Chelsea33121562312+1151
Arsenal34101953021+949
Sunderland3491871814+445
Liverpool3391681714+343
Swansea341013111616043
West Brom3481791823-541
Norwich34913122025-540
Fulham33912121718-139
Queen's Park Rangers34910151827-937
Bolton32812121525-1036
Everton3367101116-535
Aston Villa33714121623-735
Blackburn34810162032-1234
Wigan34615131426-1233
Stoke33613141223-1131
Wolves34415151436-2227

HALF WAY THERE
Hi Martin. As usual I keep being intrigued by your articles and am yet again intrigued by the balance of game wins to being in the top four. My question is this: does winning 50% or more of games equate to being in the top four come the season's end? I seem to recall the last few years it has been there or thereabouts and can't recall any where it hasn't been the case. If it isn't the case, what is the lowest percentage of games won by a side that has finished in the top four? Keep up the number crunching, cheers, Alex (Spurs fan)

MARTIN SAYS: Interesting point, Alex. Of the 19 Premier League seasons completed since its inception in 1992, the benchmark for making the top four does indeed seem to be a ratio of winning half of games played. In fact, the side finishing fourth has won exactly half their games no less than six times - and in each of the last six seasons the teams that have finished in the top four have won at least half of their games.

To answer your question, the lowest winning percentage of any side to have finished in the top four belongs to Liverpool, who won just 42.1% of their games during the 2003/04 season having emerged victorious in 16 of 38 fixtures. This just shades Arsenal way back in 1993/94, who won 18 of their 42 games for a win percentage of 42.8%. Both Liverpool and Arsenal finished fourth in these seasons.

Only seven sides have finished in the top four having won less than half of their games. Those sides are:

SeasonTeamPositionGamesWinsWin %
1992/93Blackburn4th422047.6%
1993/94Arsenal4th421842.8%
1995/96Aston Villa4th381847.4%
1997/98Liverpool3rd381847.4%
1998/99Leeds4th381847.4%
2003/04Liverpool4th381642.1%
2004/05Everton4th381847.4%

Furthermore, only three sides have won half their games and failed to finish in the top four. Blackburn Rovers finished sixth in 2005/06 despite winning exactly half of their matches and Everton, who were fifth in 2007/08, had the same record.

Perhaps most unlucky of all were Ipswich Town in the 2000/01 campaign, who managed 20 victories from their 38 games for an impressive winning percentage of 52.6% only to finish fifth. They are the only side in Premier League history to win more than half their games and not finish in the top four.

If you're looking for omens, Manchester United, Manchester City and Arsenal have already won more than 19 games - so a top-four finish seems inevitable for those sides. Tottenham and Newcastle have each won 17 of their 33 games and if they both win three of their remaining five fixtures then one of them will join Ipswich as the only other side in Premier League history to win more than half their games and not finish in the top four. Chelsea currently have 16 wins - and would need to win four of their last five to match Ipswich's record.

GOALS A GIVEN
Hi Martin, Sunday was the 22nd time Shay Given has faced Manchester United in the Premier League in his career according to the Sky Sports pundits. I was wondering how many goals he has conceded against them in those games and which goalkeeper holds the record of conceding the most against United? Thanks, Richard Corr (Manchester Utd fan)

MARTIN SAYS: You may not be surprised to hear that Aston Villa goalkeeper Shay Given has conceded more Premier League goals against Manchester United than any other goalkeeper. He has let in a whopping 56 goals against Sir Alex Ferguson's side and after the 4-0 thrashing at Old Trafford on Sunday he is unlikely to be caught by any currently-playing stopper.

Thanks to Opta, here is the list of goalkeepers to have conceded the most goals against Man Utd:

1. Shay Given (56)
2. David James (49)
3. Jussi Jaaskelainen (47)
4. Brad Friedel (42)
5. Mark Schwarzer, Thomas Sorensen (39)
7. Neil Sullivan (37)
8. Nigel Martyn (36)
9. Paul Robinson, Tim Flowers (31)

We have also worked out the goals-conceded-per-game average for each of these 10 goalkeepers. Given has , in fact, played against the Red Devils 23 times (for Newcastle, Manchester City and Villa) - making his goals-conceded-per-game average against Sir Alex Ferguson's side 2.43.

However, he does not have the worst goals-conceded-per-game average against United of those on our list. That dubious honour belongs to ex-Wimbledon goalkeeper Neil Sullivan, who conceded 37 goals to United in just 13 games, earning an average of 2.85 goals-conceded-per-game. Furthermore, one of them included 'that' goal from the halfway line by a certain David Beckham at Selhurst Park in 1996.

Bolton goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen, Blackburn's title-winning stopper Tim Flowers and Stoke's Thomas Sorensen are the others to average more than two goals-conceded-per-game against Manchester United.

Goals-conceded-per-game average of goalkeepers to have conceded more than 30 Premier League goals against Manchester United:

GoalkeeperGames/Goals concededGoals-per-game av.
Shay Given23 / 562.43
David James28 / 491.75
Jussi Jaaskelainen20 / 472.35
Brad Friedel25 / 421.68
Mark Schwarzer24 / 391.62
Thomas Sorensen20 / 392.29
Neil Sullivan13 / 372.85
Nigel Martyn20 / 361.80
Paul Robinson18 / 311.72
Tim Flowers15 / 312.07

GOING DOWN
Hi Martin. It's not looking good for Wolves right now, I'm wondering which teams have been relegated from the top flight most often and where Wolves stand on that list? Thanks, Mike

MARTIN SAYS: As our table indicates, Wolves' Midland rivals Birmingham have been relegated from the top flight the most times in history (12), most recently last term when they were subjected to the drop on a frantic final day of the season when they lost at Tottenham.

Leicester City lie second on the list, having been demoted on 11 occasions, with their relegation at the end of the 2003/04 campaign their most recent. Interestingly that season, the bottom three all finished on the same number of points (33).

Third, with 10 relegations, is Manchester City, who last slipped outside the top flight in 2001. City have no such worries this term, of course, and could yet end it as Premier League champions.

As for Wolves, Mike, they have plunged out of the elite division on six occasions, though that looks all-but certain to be extended to seven by May 13, while Bolton will see their tally increase to 10 if they go down. I'm sure these stats aren't any consolation to fans of those clubs!

In terms of relegations from the Premier League since its inception in 1992/93, there is a seven-way tie with each of Crystal Palace, Middlesbrough, Nottingham Forest, Leicester, Sunderland, Birmingham, and West Brom suffering the drop three times. Bolton will join that group if they get relegated this season.

Most relegations from the top flight in English league history:

TWELVE: Birmingham
ELEVEN: Leicester
TEN: Manchester City
NINE: Bolton Wanderers, Sheffield Wednesday, West Brom
EIGHT: Derby County, Middlesbrough, Sunderland
SEVEN: Chelsea, Nottingham Forest, Sheffield United
SIX: Burnley, Crystal Palace, Leeds, Notts County, Preston North End, Stoke City, West Ham United, Wolves

SEMI AUTOMATIC FAILURE
Dear Martin. By my calculations, Tottenham have now lost six FA Cup semi-finals in a row. Is this a record for consecutive FA Cup semi-final losses?Richard (Spurs fan)

MARTIN SAYS: You're absolutely right. Tottenham have now lost six consecutive FA Cup semi-finals against Arsenal (1993), Everton (1995), Newcastle (1999), Arsenal (2001), Portsmouth (2010) and Chelsea (2012). Their last success was the 3-1 victory over Arsenal at the old Wembley in 1991 when they went on to beat Nottingham Forest in the final. I was doing an around-the-world commentary with Matt Jackson on Sunday who played against them in the 1995 semi-final - and pointed out as such when the score was 4-1!

They have become only the second side in history to lose six consecutive FA Cup semi-finals. The only other side to have done that is the club that beat Spurs on Sunday, Chelsea, who between 1920 and 1966 were beaten by Aston Villa (1920), Newcastle (1932), Arsenal (1950 and 1952), Liverpool (1965) and Sheffield Wednesday (1966).

The Londoners ended that run at the seventh attempt in 1967 when they beat Leeds in the semi-finals before losing to - you guessed it - Tottenham in the final.

So if Tottenham lose their next FA Cup semi-final they will break the record for the most successive FA Cup semi-final defeats. Four other sides are currently in the midst of a four-game losing streak - Birmingham, Sheffield United, West Brom and Wolves.

TeamLast semi-final defeatConsecutive semi-final defeats
Chelsea19666
Tottenham*20126
Blackburn19255
Birmingham*19754
Derby19334
Everton19804
Manchester United19704
Sheffield United*20034
Southampton19634
Tottenham19564
West Brom*20084
Wolves*19984

*Record ongoing

Overall, Tottenham have lost 10 FA Cup semi-finals, but that is not a record. The dubious honour of having the most last-four defeats in the competition falls to last weekend's other losing semi-finalists Everton, who have now fallen at the semi-final hurdle 12 times.

Most FA Cup semi-final defeats:

TWELVE: Everton
TEN: Blackburn, Sheffield Wednesday, Aston Villa, West Brom, Tottenham
NINE: Liverpool, Man Utd, Nottingham Forest, Chelsea, Derby, Arsenal
EIGHT: Sunderland
SEVEN: Southampton, Sheffield United, Bolton, Birmingham
SIX: Wolves

Tyler's teaser

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