Since the Premier League's inception, the average number of points needed to survive (rounded up) is 40 (actually 39.8). This was the magic number last season.
Of course, the Premier League experimented with it's format over the first few years, so to get a more contemporary measure, I isolated the totals from the last five seasons and discovered the average number of points needed to survive is more like 37 (36.8).
It is perhaps interesting to note that Man City have been filthy rich for four of the past five seasons - the difference between the five season total and the all-time total suggests the gap between the top and bottom teams is widening, and I wonder if this is mostly attributable to Man City flooding the top of the market with money, and the other big clubs trying to keep up.
Regardless, the magic number is 37. If we call it 38, this means the Swans need to average a point per game over their season. Let's put it in mini-league terms. Dividing the Premier League into three groups, we have the big six, the little six, and a remaining eight mid-table supremacists. Who the 'little six' will be remains to be seen, but Swansea, Norwich and QPR are definitely three of them (you could throw in Wigan, Wolves, and, say, Blackburn to make up the numbers. Take your pick, it doesn't matter for this exercise). Looking at the league this way, if Swansea won all their fixtures versus the other five little teams, they could afford to scrape just a single point against of each of the mid-tablers, lose every match versus the big guns and still have enough points to probably stay up. Of course, no season is ever that neat and tidy, but you get the idea.
The example above optimistically suggests ten wins and eight draws. Last season, Wigan only managed nine wins but stayed alive thanks to 15 draws. Any combination will do, and with uncertainty hanging over established teams like Blackburn, Sunderland and Newcastle, I feel this seasons magic number will be nearer 36 or 37 than 40.
If Swansea need to be hitting a point per game this season, they'll need players with Premier League experience to achieve it.
An interesting article at The Spoiler suggests that the best transfer policy for new clubs wanting to stay in the big time is to concentrate on signing players with previous Premier League experience. Specifically, they argue if 39% of a teams new signings meet this criteria, then chances for survival greatly improve. So far, Swansea have reached 33%... and counting.
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