Blogs & Opinion


Final-day delight

Last day results, Fergie v Bruce and trophy tribulations

Martin Tyler - Martin Tyler Posted 9th May 2008 view comments

Martin Tyler's stats and facts column is coming to a close for the 2007-8 season.

But Sky Sports' voice of football and his back-up team of experts are here to answer your questions and queries on all things statistical and historical from the beautiful game.

Martin will be taking his place in the commentary box at the JJB Stadium on Sunday but first, has answered your questions regarding the title decider and indeed, other issues as the league season comes to a close.

NEXT WEEK
Martin will be on FA Cup final duty, so we want your questions on the Wembley showpiece, Portsmouth and Cardiff City!

Or, if you have spotted something from a game or have been stumped by a pub quiz question, simply Email here and Martin will do his best to answer.

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Or use the feedback form at the bottom of the page....

Starting Stat - Toon close to call

I was at St James' Park on Monday for the game that set up what promises to be a tense Final Day finale on Sunday. It was Chelsea's fourth Premier League win up there and indeed their biggest. They won 1-0 on January 1999 thanks to a goal from Dan Petrescu; in March 2000 a Gus Poyet goal gave them a similar win and in December 2001, a brace from Eidur Gudjohnsen was enough for a 2-1 win. As for the men who's goals made it possible, as I mentioned on commentary, it was a kind of hat-trick for Michael Ballack, who has scored in his last three games and as for Florent Malouda, it was his first Chelsea goal since October 24 and the Champions League. It was only his second Premier League goal of the season, the other coming way back on the opening day against Birmingham City - also in action on Sky Sports this Sunday. And looking ahead to the Champions League final in Moscow, Manchester United fans will remember he scored on his Blues debut against them in the Community Shield.

MASTER v PUPIL
Hi Martin, me and my Dad are concerned Man Utd fans. Although top of the league, we have both noticed our poor form against clubs managed by Sir Alex's former players in recent years and are not exactly relishing Sunday. Do we have a reason to be concerned or do we actually fare better than we think? Cheers, Tristan Baker
MARTIN SAYS:
What a good question, Tristan! I can understand your apprehension going into Sunday, but let me put you and dad at ease by telling you that Sir Alex Ferguson has fared far better than his former pupils whenever they have gone head-to-head in the Premier League. There have been four ex-United players he has come up against, Bryan Robson, Mark Hughes, Roy Keane and of course, Steve Bruce, who he meets again in Sunday's decider. That represents a total of 31 games and of those 31, he has won 21, drawn seven and only lost three. One of those was against Robson and twice against Hughes' Blackburn. In the nine games against Bruce's sides he has won seven and drawn two, and has never lost. But sticking with omens for the JJB on Sunday afternoon, before the start of this campaign, Wigan had never managed to take a point off the so-called big four. But what has happened this season? They have broken their duck with a draw against Liverpool, a draw with Arsenal and a draw with Chelsea. What price a full house on Sunday?

TEACHER v PUPILS - FERGIE'S RECORD
OPPONENTMANAGERWONDRAWNLOST
Mark Hughes7322
Steve Bruce9720
Roy Keane2200
Bryan Robson13931
TOTAL312173

FINAL-DAY FIGURES
Hi Martin, I'm a Chelsea fan and can't wait for Sunday to see if Lampard and co. can win another Premier League title, but I've got a horrible feeling that Manchester United have a much better record of winning on the last day of the season then Chelsea do. Is that the case? Cheers, Ollie AdeyMARTIN SAYS:
When talking about final day fixtures featuring these two Ollie, it is important to remember that in some instances both sides have already secured the Premier League title. But the basic stats suggest that Manchester United have a better record on the last day, losing just twice in 15 seasons, compared to Chelsea's fourth. But, those defeats should be put in context, because two of United's and one of Chelsea's has come when they have already been confirmed as champions. In 2001, United were beaten 3-1 by Spurs and of course, last season that Carlos Tevez goal condemened them to a 1-0 home defeat and kept West Ham up. As for Chelsea, they lost to Newcastle in 2006 after securing the title, a defeat against Newcastle, courtesy of a goal from Titus Bramble - who could well figure against United this Sunday.

THE FINAL ANALYSIS

TEAMWONDRAWNLOST
Chelsea924
Man Utd1032

DOUBLING UP
Typically, you see the trophy paraded out onto the podium for the winning team to celebrate, but with Chelsea ending play in London when United are ending play at Wigan, where will the trophy be? The odds are with Manchester United, but will there be a "faux" trophy on hand at the Bridge, just in case United slip up? Thanks! John Leake, Austin, TexasMARTIN SAYS:
Well John, it's always nice to know people across the Atlantic are tuning into the Premier League, so I can gladly answer your question because over here in England it is no secret that there is another trophy to cope with such circumstances. The real trophy will be heading to the JJB Stadium, simply because its destination is in United's hands, while a replica will be on stand-by at Stamford Bridge, should Chelsea end up winning their third title in four years. I can also confirm that the Premier League have also minted two sets of medals.

SURVIVAL OF THE LOWEST
Hi Martin, I was looking at the league table the other day and realised that both Birmingham and Fulham could avoid the drop with just 33 points, which seems to me to be an incredibly low total, is it the lowest ever? Jayesh Patel
MARTIN SAYS:
We cannot forget what is going on at the other end of the table Jayesh - or that you can see Birmingham's blockbuster with Blackburn on Sky Sports on Sunday as well! To answer another very good and appropriate question, I can tell you that if Birmingham or Fulham do get 33 points and stay up, it will be the lowest points total in Premier League history NOT to result in relegation. It will beat the previous lowest of 34, recorded by West Brom in 2004-05, when they beat Portsmouth to stay up and become the first side bottom at Christmas not to go down. That same season 33 points would have taken you down, as Crystal Palace and Norwich will testify. But as the boffins at Opta have confirmed, I think we can safely dispel the 40-point myth Jayesh, because for the last four seasons, the highest points total to go down has been 34, 34, 35 and 38. West Ham fans will not need reminding that before that in 2002-03, they went down with 42 points, which remains a record for a 38-game season in the Premier League.

OPEN SEASON
Hi Martin, love the column and look forward to your commentary every week on Sky Sports. Can you tell me who would be the top goal scorer in the Premier League this season if only goals from open play counted (i.e. all goals scored direct from free kicks and penalties were discounted). My friend, a man utd supporter says it would still be Ronaldo but I think it would be Torres for my beloved Liverpool. Sam, Belfast
MARTIN SAYS:
Well Sam, as we head to the last day, Liverpool are not involved in the major issues but you can take some comfort from knowing that at this stage, Fernando Torres does indeed have the most league goals from open play. Yet again, the boffins at Opta have taken time out from a busy week to offer us more eye-opening information and I can tell you that of the 23 Premier League goals the Spaniard has managed in his first season, only one has come from a set piece. That was a header from a Steven Gerrard free-kick in the 2-1 home win over Reading on March 15 - a goal that saw Torres become the first Liverpool player to score 20 league goals since Robbie Fowler some 12 years ago. Just behind him with 20 goals apiece from open play are Cristiano Ronaldo - so you friend is in fact wrong - and Emmanuel Adebayor of Arsenal. A little further back is Blackburn's Roque Santa Cruz, who has scored 15 times from open play in what I am sure you will all agree, has been another impressive debut season.

OPEN PLAY POACHERS
PLAYERTEAMGOALS
Ferando TorresLiverpool22
Emmanuel AdebayorArsenal20
Cristiano RonaldoManchester Utd20
Roque Santa CruzBlackburn Rovers15
Benjani MwaruwariPortsmouth/Man City15
Wayne RooneyManchester Utd12

SPOT THE PENALTY
As we approach the final game of the season it looks very like Everton will go through the whole season without being awarded a Premier League penalty. Can you tell me if it has ever happened before? By the law of averages it seems incredible. Conspiracy theories anyone? Many thanks, Roy LeathamMARTIN SAYS:
Well Roy, it is fairly unusual for a side to go an entire 38-game campaign without winning a single spot kick but I am afraid I have to put your conspiracy theory to bed! Even if Everton do not win a penalty against Newcastle on Sunday they will NOT be the first side to do so over the course of a season. In fact, thanks to Opta, I can tell you that it will be the third time in the last five years. Back in 2003-4, Blackburn were not awarded a penalty and then the following year Charlton repeated the feat. The lowest total of spot kicks won last season was West Ham with just two.

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