Manchester United end season with least points dropped from winning positions

Dave Tickner

We’ve looked at who has won the most points from losing positions, so it stands to reason we’d follow that up by having a gander at who has spaffed points away from winning ones. The answer is mainly Leeds, who have managed to win only seven games out of 17 games in which they have taken the lead. Oh, dear…

That other scrambly ranking list is here…


20) Nottingham Forest – 27pts dropped
20 leads, 9 wins, 6 draws, 5 defeats

Back-to-back 3-2 home defeats to your fellow promoted clubs after taking the lead must be considered an unorthodox but ultimately successful approach to trying to remain in the Premier League but to be fair to Forest six months passed after those two September misfortunes before they would next lose a game in which they led, this time going down to Newcastle as Alexander Isak scored an equaliser in first-half stoppage time and a winner in second-half stoppage time. It was also Newcastle’s first win from behind all season, mainly because they very rarely go behind.

Throwing away two points at home to Wolves can be filed under ‘very careless’ but throwing away six points at Leeds and Brentford was a disaster at the time. Then Arsenal came along and handed them a first clean sheet since February 5. They dropped two points v Crystal Palace on the final day just for old times’ sake.


19) Leeds – 25pts
17 leads, 7 wins, 5 draws, 5 defeats

Leeds arguably deserve greater punishment here because one of those three defeats was the one at Spurs just before the World Cup break where Leeds led three times. We haven’t checked, obviously, but are confident this represents some kind of record. Losing a game in which you lead 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2 can’t happen that often, can it? And although getting a draw at Manchester United is to be applauded, getting a draw when 2-0 up is absolutely not. And also you can’t go around calling yourself Leeds when you drop points in well over half the games where you have leads. The mental 5-1 defeat at home to Crystal Palace was too closely followed by the 1-1 draw with Leicester. The draw with Newcastle hardly followed Big Sam’s blueprint to the letter.

And then there was defeat at West Ham which was pretty pathetic.


18) Leicester – 24pts
18 leads, 9 wins, 3 draws, 6 defeats

Christ that’s mad. Six defeats after taking the lead. That is far too many, lads. Exactly half of the games in which they go ahead end in a draw or defeat. No wonder Brendan Rodgers lost his job after the clusterf*** against Crystal Palace.


17) Wolves – 20pts
19 leads, 11 wins, 4 draws, 4 defeats

Managed to lose twice from winning positions during a five-match winless run in October and November, coming unstuck against both Palace and Brighton. Ended that streak by shrewdly not taking the lead at Everton until the 95th minute. Returned to their old nonsense in a 1-1 draw at Villa having taken a foolishly early 12th-minute lead, but did then at last manage to hold a lead for a period of time in beating West Ham. Have been in reasonable form since, with leads notably held against both Liverpool and Spurs, but were pegged back in a 1-1 draw at Fulham, then lost at Leicester and conceded an equaliser in the ninth minute of stoppage-time against Everton, which was very careless indeed.


16) Southampton – 18pts
13 leads, 6 wins, 3 draws, 4 defeats

Traditional powerhouses in this particular field, but have sought to address the issue by very rarely taking the lead. This must be considered no more than a middling performance for the south coast’s irredeemable point-spaffers and yet it nonetheless proved sufficient to cost Ralph Hasenhuttl his job. Made a glorious start to the season by managing to lose 4-1 at Spurs after going in front, and the speed with which a 1-0 lead became a 2-1 defeat to Everton was pretty spectacular even by the Saints’ lofty standards. Losing 2-1 at home to Wolves – a team who famously almost never score goals – having led with 70 minutes on the clock is really very bad indeed. A draw at Arsenal sounds like a good result until you remember they were leading 3-1 with two minutes left on the clock. Subs also cost them when leading then losing 3-1 to Newcastle.

Bowed out of the Premier League in true Saints style by taking a 4-2 lead and then drawing 4-4. Pure Barclays.


15) Chelsea – 18pts
19 leads, 11 wins, 6 draws, 2 defeats

They were a joke of a football club already. And then they appointed Frank Lampard, who was seemingly powerless as Brighton inevitably came back from a goal down to win. But they eventually held on against Bournemouth – then chucked in a lead against Forest.


14) Tottenham – 18pts
25 leads, 18 wins, 3 draws, 4 defeats

Spurs winning a bunch of points from losing positions and losing them from winning positions feels very on brand. We’ve mentioned it before, but whenever people start chatting ‘interesting stats’ we like to wheel out our favourite Premier League stat: that in the history of Our League, Spurs have both won most points from losing positions and lost most points from winning positions. People generally like it. Has a nice Spursy ring to it. Thing is, we’ve got absolutely no idea if it’s true. But it feels right, doesn’t it? It definitely feels right. We have no interest in checking because we don’t want to find out we’re wrong.

Seven of Spurs’ dropped points this season came in a four-game stretch in March and April, starting with the Conte-ending 3-3 draw at Southampton, taking in the 1-1 draw with Everton and the 3-2 defeat to Bournemouth. For added Spursy fun, Spurs conceded injury-time equalisers in the first two of those games and an injury-time winner in the other. Then they got hammered by Brentford after scoring first. They’re the best, they really are. Also tremendously on brand that a team who finished eighth have in fact led more games than anyone outside the top three.


13) Everton – 17pts
15 leads, 8 wins, 4 draws, 3 defeats

Alex Iwobi made the classic error of scoring too early against Manchester United, who duly hit back to beat Frank Lampard’s Everton 2-1, while Brentford and Leeds pegged the Toffees back in the space of four days in August. The pressure mounting on Lampard certainly wasn’t reduced by conceding a last-gasp winner to Wolves on return to action in a game they had led in the early stages. They have wisely decided to abandon the tactic and appoint Sean Dyche, who absolutely knows how to keep a lead. Or at least he did before his team twice threw one away v Forest. And then against Leicester. But they held on in the big one v Bournemouth.


12) West Ham – 17pts
17 leads, 11 wins, 1 draw, 5 defeats

Entitled to feel mighty aggrieved about the nature of the first blot on their record at Chelsea. And they certainly did feel mighty aggrieved. Also lost having led 1-0 against Palace, who somewhat quirkily have trailed in four of the six games they’ve won this season, and then started the second half of the season by foolishly, recklessly going 1-0 up at the Emirates. An absurd error duly punished. They then went ahead against Liverpool, which was very silly indeed. As was scoring first against Crystal Palace. But taking the lead against Man Utd turned out to actually be beneficial. Losing almost a third of the games you lead is distinctly careless, though, and goes a long way to explaining why relegation remained a genuine concern for so very long.


11) Bournemouth – 17pts
18 leads, 11 wins, 4 draws, 3 defeats

Made worse by those three defeats all coming from two goals up. And two of those clusterf***s came in successive games against Spurs and Leeds. They shrewdly abandoned the “going two goals up” policy for a while, but then tried it again against Arsenal. Honestly, the hubris of it. If you couldn’t hold a two-goal lead against Leeds or Spurs, what on earth made you think it was a good idea against Mikel Arteta’s mentality monsters? Silly. Still, credit where it’s due for lessons learned: they took great care not to get a second goal against Liverpool and duly trousered all three points and are not about to let the casual spaffing of 17 Premier League points stop them staying up quite comfortably in the end. Fair enough.


10) Fulham – 16pts
21 leads, 15 wins, 2 draws, 4 defeats

Losing a half-time lead to Bournemouth is really very poor but the overall record for a promoted side is pretty damned impressive. Dropped a few places on the final day by losing to Manchester United.


9) Brentford – 15pts
22 leads, 15 wins, 6 draws, 1 defeat

Brentford suffered their first loss from a winning position this season at home to Newcastle. They ought to have made the Magpies pay for a poor first-half showing, but they did not. All in all, a tremendous record.


8) Crystal Palace – 14pts
17 leads, 11 wins, 4 draws, 2 defeats

The moral of this story is not to switch off Crystal Palace games after the first goal assuming that all is now known. They have won the most points from losing positions, but Palace have been profligate when getting their noses in front. Allowing Brentford to equalise after 96 minutes a particular low point.


7) Brighton – 14pts
24 leads, 18 wins, 4 draws, 2 defeats

Their first defeat from ahead was also Villa’s first win from behind. The danger of scoring in the first minute, I guess. Silly Alexis Mac Allister. Daft World Cup winner. They then contrived to throw away a lead at Nottingham Forest, which was really very careless indeed. But they never looked in danger v Brighton.


6) Aston Villa – 13pts
23 leads, 18 wins, 2 draws, 3 defeats

Villa led 1-0 and 2-1 in two February home games and went on to lose both of them 4-2, which must be pretty rare. And also bad. The Leicester one was awful, the Arsenal one potentially seismic. They had been both pretty bloody good and excellent at keeping their leads since, but made the mistake of taking the lead at Anfield.


5) Manchester City – 13pts
34 leads, 28 wins, 5 draws, 1 defeat

Only getting a point at Steven Gerrard’s Aston Villa seems an unduly negligent piece of Manchester City behaviour, and it’s easy to forget that the comeback from 3-1 down at Newcastle actually came in a game they’d led 1-0 early doors. A draw at home against a piss-poor Everton side was bad and defeat to Manchester United after going ahead potentially violently costly. The draw at Forest was irredeemably careless and there was a needless panic against Leeds before they held on. We can forgiven them for drawing at Brighton.


4) Newcastle – 11pts
24 leads, 19 wins, 4 draws, 1 defeat

Failing to hold a 3-1 lead against Manchester City is irritating, but Newcastle are not the first and won’t be the last to suffer that particular annoyance. Pretty unlucky to get turned over by Liverpool at Anfield as well. But throwing away two points at home to West Ham was very poor. Back-to-back wins against Wolves and Forest were very needed and notable: the Wolves one was the first in almost two years where Newcastle managed to find a winner having conceded an equaliser, while the 2-1 win at Forest was Newcastle’s first from a losing position this season. Allowing Chelsea an equaliser was careless in the extreme.


3) Arsenal – 8pts
30 leads, 26 wins, 4 draws, 0 defeats

The only Premier League club not to lose from a winning position but that is small comfort when you throw away two-goals leads v Liverpool and West Ham at the business end of a title race.


2) Liverpool – 7pts
22 leads, 19 wins, 2 draws, 1 defeat

Really silly to take the lead against Manchester City in hindsight. Tempting for a moment to pretend they were still in the same class but let’s consider that a harsh lesson learned. In general, taking the lead more would be advisable. Silly Richarlison forgot that Liverpool do not drop points when leading. Unless it’s on the final day v Southampton when all rules are abandoned.


1) Manchester United – 7pts
26 leads, 23 wins, 2 draws, 1 defeat

Took a maximum 36 points from the first 12 games in which they led this season, but they were struck down by LATE DRAMA in two games, first thanks to Michael Olise’s late, late equaliser for Palace and perhaps more significantly for everyone (apart from Palace) Eddie Nketiah’s late winner at the Emirates. Held on against Palace, Leeds and Leicester at Old Trafford to restore order and say what you like about 7-0 defeats at Anfield but at least they don’t involve losing points from a winning position. A 2-2 draw with a despairing and broken Spurs after leading 2-0 at half-time did. We’re not saying it was worse than losing 7-0 at Anfield, but…