Outside the Box: Travel sickness a thing of the past as away wins hit new high

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The Independent Football

Hull City's manager Phil Brown believes there are more away wins than usual in the Premier League this season. Having provided four of them with his newly promoted team, he should know, and extensive research by this column (one workie plus a calculator) proves him to be absolutely correct. Going into this weekend's programme, 51 of the 149 games had been won by the away side, a total of 34.23 per cent – more than a third – which is far and away the highest since the Premier League began. The average over a full season is 26.73 per cent and the previous high was exactly 30 per cent in 2001-02, when the champions Arsenal were unbeaten away but lost three times at Highbury. This season Chelsea, Aston Villa, Hull, Everton, Bolton and Blackburn have all won more on their travels than at home. "Maybe there's a little bit more pressure on you at home," says Brown, whose team's most startling result apart from winning at Arsenal was a 5-0 home defeat by Wigan. The other explanation is that a team like Chelsea can be frustrated at home by massed defence, while using their pace on the counter-attack to good effect against sides who feel more obliged to go forward in numbers in front of their own supporters.

Train adds to the strain

If attendances fall this season as projected, part of the blame should be awarded to train companies whose mission in life appears to be making travel at weekends as difficult as possible. Any journey to a three o'clock game that would normally involve Euston station, for instance, has become a logistical nightmare even without the added hazards of early or (worse) late kick-offs for television's benefit. Yesterday was a classic example with more than half a dozen games between teams in the south and the north-west, including Arsenal against Wigan, Bolton versus Chelsea and Fulham at home to Manchester City. Then there were the many London-based followers of clubs like Manchester United and Liverpool (OK, less sympathy for them) also heading for Lancashire. Thousands of potential travellers checking train times must despair at such heart-sinking phrases as "four changes" and "bus from Birmingham to Northampton". Spare a thought, then, this morning for any hardiest of hardy Brighton fans who were determined against all the odds to follow their team to Oldham, generally regarded as the coldest ground anywhere; a mere five changes on a journey of five hours and 50 minutes up north, with the added excitement of knowing the game might be postponed at any time, followed by six hours 55 minutes coming back via Rochdale, Leeds, York and London. Let the train take the strain. Or on Saturdays, let the bus ease the fuss.

House prices floor Neville

And finally... do not think that these hard economic times are having no effect on the stars of the Premier League. Pity (or not) Everton's Phil Neville, who has been forced to cut the selling price of his six-bedroom mansion in Rawtenstall, north of Manchester, by a cool £500,000. Now yours for a mere £3.5m, it would be particularly suitable for anyone who has the initials PN – as they adorn the wrought-iron gates protecting the Grade II listed property. Then again, you could be Steven Gerrard, who is apparently being gifted a £1m flat in Dubai – just for allowing one of the £150m apartment blocks to be named after him.

s.tongue@independent.co.uk

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