Leicester’s fifth 1-0 win in their past six games has got everyone talking about the importance of sneaking those tight victories if you want to win a Premier League title.
Watford striker Troy Deeney’s BBC Sport analysis focused on Leicester’s rock-solid defence forming the foundation of their seven-point lead over Tottenham at the top of the table.
Only Spurs and Manchester City have scored more goals than the Foxes this season, but after captain Wes Morgan scored the only goal to beat Southampton at the weekend, Claudio Ranieri’s side have now recorded an impressive seven 1-0 wins this campaign.
Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher said this week: “Think of the man who won most leagues – Sir Alex Ferguson – how many times you have to win games 1-0.”
But do the stats back that up? Here’s some interesting findings from Opta.
So, is seven the magic number?
Sorry Leicester fans, not really.
Only seven Premier League titles out of 23 have been claimed by the team with the most 1-0 wins (30.4%). Last season, Chelsea were the first champions with more 1-0 wins than their rivals in five years.
And Manchester United (7) missed out to Blackburn Rovers (5) by a single point in 1994-95, while Newcastle (7) were pipped to the post by Manchester United (8) who recorded five 1-0 victories in the title run-in, including a memorable victory on Tyneside.
However, seven 1-0 victories helped Arsene Wenger’s double-winning side of 1997-98 seal the title by a point from Manchester United (4), as the same amount did for United (7) in their Cristiano Ronaldo-inspired 2007-08 campaign – finishing two points clear of Chelsea (9).
But the same amount (7) was no-where near enough for the Gunners to stop Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea juggernaut of 2004-05 (11) who won the league that year with a record 95 points.
Surely nine is enough?
Nine 1-0 wins would be almost a quarter of the season’s matches, and Leicester’s next three fixtures against Sunderland, West Ham and Swansea would appear to give the Foxes a chance to reach that target.
Yet the three sides to have recorded that many narrow victories in a Premier League campaign have not won the title.
Arsenal (9) fell one point short of treble-winners United (4) in 1998-99.
And a post-Mourinho Chelsea finished second behind United for consecutive seasons in 2006-07 and 2007-08 despite more 1-0 wins (9 in both seasons) than the Old Trafford side (4 and 7).
OK, well 10 would definitely do it…
It probably won’t happen to Leicester this season, but remarkably, Liverpool finished third despite 10 1-0 victories in the 2005-06 campaign – nine points behind winners Chelsea (5) and a point behind runners-up United (4).
And a further stat that puts the nail in the 1-0 theory coffin comes from Arsenal’s Invincibles side, which went unbeaten on their way to the 2003-04 title.
They only won three games 1-0, but finished a whopping 11 points ahead of Chelsea, who picked up 10 1-0 wins… managed by Claudio Ranieri.
Manchester United – in the season that no doubt cemented the old adage “Champions win when they are not playing well” – did take the title with 10 1-0 wins in 2008-09, ahead of Liverpool (4).
In fact, United clocked up eight 1-0 wins in 11 games in the space of nine weeks from the end of November to the start of February.
Any good news for Leicester?
Eleven. That would do it. Eleven 1-0 wins would not only match Chelsea’s record tally from 2004-05, but make mathematically sure that Leicester City become Premier League champions.