...And statistics; Away form holds the key

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The Independent Online
It is one of football's truisms that championships are won away from home. The leading teams nearly always have good home form; champions must achieve similar success on their travels as well.

In their championship years Manchester United have usually performed consistently well away from Old Trafford. This season, however, there are five Premiership teams who have picked up more away points than Alex Ferguson's side. United lead the table thanks to a near-perfect home record of seven wins and one draw from eight games.

Of the likely challengers to United, Leeds, Chelsea and Blackburn have the most productive away form. Leeds, in fourth place in the Premiership, have the best away record, having taken 16 points on their travels and only 13 from games at Elland Road.

One of Leeds' home defeats was against the team with the most surprising away form this season, Crystal Palace. Despite their midweek defeat at West Ham, Palace have earned 16 points from away games. Contrast this with their home record, which shows no wins, four defeats and just three draws.

Palace's record is in sharp contrast to that of their conquerors on Monday night. West Ham have picked up only four points away from Upton Park, where they have won six of their seven Premiership matches.

At the bottom of the table Everton have earned just two points from their travels. Sheffield Wednesday and Barnsley have the worst defensive records, having both conceded 25 goals away from home.

Overall, the proportion of Premiership points won away from home this season is surprisingly high - 40 per cent.

Manchester United, predictably, boast the best away Premiership record in a single season (1993-94, when they won 13 of their 21 games away from Old Trafford), while Leeds have the worst record: in 1992-93 they failed to win a single game away from home, though they avoided relegation thanks to their good form at Elland Road, where they lost only once.

Best Premiership away record before reduction to 20 clubs

P W D L F A Pts

Man United (93-94) 21 13 5 3 41 25 44

Premiership 1997-98: away form

P Pts F A

Leeds 8 16 13 8

C Palace 9 16 11 10

Chelsea 9 13 19 11

Leicester 7 13 10 6

Blackburn 8 13 10 8

Man United 8 12 13 8

Wimbledon 7 11 8 7

Liverpool 8 10 8 8

Arsenal 8 10 12 14

Aston Villa 9 8 8 11

Newcastle 6 7 6 9

Derby 8 6 11 19

Bolton 8 6 7 18

Barnsley 8 6 6 25

Tottenham 8 5 6 14

Coventry 7 5 3 11

Sheff Wed 8 5 13 25

West Ham 9 4 8 20

Southampton 7 3 5 13

Everton 8 2 5 14

Best Premiership away record since reduction to 20 clubs

P W D L F A Pts

Man United (96-97) 18 9 6 4 26 14 33

Worst Premiership away record

P W D L F A Pts

Leeds (92-93) 21 0 7 14 17 45 7

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