In his weekly column for skysports.com, commentator and stats guru Martin Tyler was posed the following question...
There are only 10 games to go in the Premier League season and the gap between first place and fourth place is just six points - and if Man City win one of their games in hand it will be just four points. Is this the closest the top four has ever been at this stage of the season? Ruth (Ipswich Town fan)
Martin: "We asked Opta to look at the points gap between the top team and the fourth-placed team after 28 games of each Premier League season to consider whether this is the closest race we've seen. Obviously in some seasons the teams will not have reached 28 games at the same stage - as is the case this season - but we can look at how the top four looked when the team in first place had reached 28 games.
"In each of the last 11 seasons, the team in fourth was at least 12 points behind the team in first at this stage. Indeed, in 2003/04 fourth-placed Charlton were a whopping 27 points behind Arsenal after 28 games.
"However, the stats show that there is ONE SEASON where the top four were even closer than they are now. That was back in 2001/02 when Manchester United were top of the table with 57 points, but were only ahead of eventual champions Arsenal by goal difference. Liverpool were just one point further back on 56 points, while Newcastle were fourth after 28 games on 55 points. That meant just two points separated the entire top four at this stage in 2001/02. Arsenal went on a winning run at the end of that season and eventually won the league by seven points with 87 points.
Here is the difference between first and fourth after 28 games of each Premier League season:
1992/1993: 18 points
1993/1994: 21 points
1994/1995: 14 points (*4th placed team had played 27)
1995/1996: 12 points
1996/1997: 9 points (*4th placed team had played 27)
1997/1998: 12 points
1998/1999: 9 points
1999/2000: 9 points
2000/2001: 22 points
2001/2002: 2 points
2002/2003: 12 points
2003/2004: 27 points
2004/2005: 20 points
2005/2006: 23 points
2006/2007: 20 points (*4th placed team had played 26)
2007/2008: 12 points
2008/2009: 13 (*4th placed team had played 29)
2009/2010: 12 points
2010/2011: 12 (*4th placed team had played 27)
2011/2012: 15 points
2012/2013: 19 points
2013/2014: 6 points (*4th placed team had played 26)
Coming soon on Sky Sports
Live Champions League
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE - LAST 16 2ND LEG - ATLETICO MADRID V AC
Tuesday 11 March at 19:00, Sky Sports 1 HD
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Wednesday 12 March at 19:00, Sky Sports 1 HD
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MANCHESTER UNITED V LIVERPOOL
Sunday 16 March at 12:30, Sky Sports 1 HD
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Sunday 16 March at 15:30, Sky Sports 1 HD
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