Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Will Sam's Number Be Up - or Is Survival All Figured out? THE AGENDA: What Do Sunderland Need to Do to Secure Their Premier League Safety? Sunderland Need 38 Points to Stay in the Premier League, According to Sam Allardyce, So How Do the Numbers Stack Up? Steve Brown Reports

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Will Sam's Number Be Up - or Is Survival All Figured out? THE AGENDA: What Do Sunderland Need to Do to Secure Their Premier League Safety? Sunderland Need 38 Points to Stay in the Premier League, According to Sam Allardyce, So How Do the Numbers Stack Up? Steve Brown Reports

Article excerpt

OR some, three is the magic number.

FNo more, no less. For Sam Allardyce, however, it's 38.

Yet will that - in points - be enough to keep Sunderland in the Premier League? The Black Cats are currently 19th in the table - second bottom.

To escape relegation, Big Sam has repeatedly insisted 38 points should be sufficient.

After all, in 20 years of a 20-club Premier League (so thus discounting the first three seasons when there were 22 - and, yes, we know football existed before then) that total has been enough - sort of - to guarantee safety on four occasions, more than any other tally.

Loves a stat, Sam. It's the law of probability, see.

Well, sort of? In two of those years - 1996 and 2007 - 38 points were enough, respectively, to spare Southampton and Wigan Athletic...

Yet not, with inferior goal difference, Manchester City (1996) and Sheffield United (2007). The numbers do crunch into place, though.

OK, in nine of the Premier League's 20 20-club campaigns teams have needed 39 points (Sunderland in 2013, for instance) or more to beat the drop.

Even then, though, there has been a time when a points tally was enough for one but not another - in 1998 when, on 40 points, Everton survived but (a pre-Allardyce) Bolton Wanderers perished.

That total was enough for the Wearsiders in 2002 (and Wolves in 2011 when both Birmingham City and Blackpool went down with 39).

However, it was one short of the safety requirement in 1997 when Sunderland went down and Coventry City, on 41 points, stayed up. That was unlucky on the Black Cats.

Mind, they were a country mile off in 2003 (and let's not mention 2005).

Relegated with just 19 points, they'd have needed 44 - the biggest total by a team finishing 17th between 1996 and 2015 - to even draw level that year with...

Allardyce's Bolton. …

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