Every Premier League team wants to avoid being at the bottom of the table on Christmas Day.
It’s never a great time to be all the way down there, staring relegation in the face, but it is almost always the case that the team sitting 20th in the standings when we tuck into our turkeys go down at the end of the season.
That is where Sheffield United currently find themselves after an horrendous start to the campaign, but Burnley or Luton Town could easily end up there by the 25th, depending on this weekend’s results.
It’s extremely rare for Premier League clubs to avoid the drop in that circumstance. Indeed, only four teams have ever done it in the 31-year history of the competition.
The Premier League clubs bottom at Christmas who stayed up:
West Brom – 2004/05
When people think of great escapes in Premier League history, West Brom are usually at the front of that conversation after Bryan Robson inspired them to survival on the final day in 2005.
The Baggies were five points adrift of safety with just ten games remaining, but a five-game unbeaten run over March and April gave them hope of staying up.
No side had ever avoided relegation after being bottom at Christmas, or heading into the final, or even at half time of the final day, but Albion became the first club to do the lot with a 2-0 win over Portsmouth as the season came to an end in stunning style at the Hawthorns.
— West Bromwich Albion (@WBA) May 15, 2023
Sunderland – 2013/14
No club avoided relegation for so long while flirting with it more than Sunderland during the 2010s, but the most spectacular of their great escapes happened in 2014.
Paolo Di Canio was sacked just five games into the season, replaced by Gus Poyet, but the Black Cats could only manage to pick up ten points by Christmas Day.
His side won four of their next seven games to get their campaign back on track, but proceeded to go on a two month run without a victory; their fate appeared sealed.
Yet in mid-April they picked up a surprise point at Manchester City before winning four games on the trot. They even beat Chelsea to hand Jose Mourinho his first home defeat in 12 years.
Sunderland somehow finished 14th in the Premier League table despite losing to Swansea City on the final day.
Leicester City – 2014/15
After a decent start to the season that saw them lose just one of their first five games, a run that included their famous 5-3 win over Manchester United, Leicester City managed to lose all but two of their next 13 games, leaving bottom of the table during the festive period.
Nigel Pearson struggled to get a song out of his squad as they continued to struggle until April, at which point they went on a ridiculous run of form, winning seven of their final nine matches.
A 5-1 win over QPR on the final day propelled them to 14th as they continued their remarkable run into the following season, when they lifted the Premier League trophy against all odds.
Wolves – 2022/23
There is a slight asterisk on this one due to the 2022/23 season being interrupted by the World Cup last winter, meaning the Premier League took a break from mid-November until Boxing Day.
Still, 16 games had been played by that point, enough to judge any team on – and Wolves were poor. Bruno Lage had impressed the previous year by implementing a more attractive style of play, but he was sacked after one win in the opening nine games.
The club’s search for a new manager dragged on, with Steve Davis remaining in caretaker charge until the World Cup. After previously rejecting Wanderers, Julen Lopetegui took on the vacant role, but watched from afar before settling into the dugout.
It proved a good strategy, as the Midlands outfit won their first game under the Spaniard, beating Everton 2-0 the day after Christmas. It sparked a resurgence in the second half of the season as they went on to finish a commendable 13th.