Premier League Rewind: 3rd-4th November 2001

Results: Leicester City 1-0 Sunderland, Bolton Wanderers 2-2 Everton, Middlesbrough 5-1 Derby County, Newcastle United 3-0 Aston Villa, Southampton 1-2 Blackburn Rovers, West Ham United 0-2 Fulham, Liverpool FC 3-1 Manchester United, Arsenal 2-4 Charlton Athletic, Chelsea 2-1 Ipswich Town, Leeds United 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur

The top seven in the 2001-2002 Premier League season were covered by just four points going into the 11th set of fixtures. The slightly surprising early pacesetters were Aston Villa. John Gregory’s side had won four of their last five fixtures to top the table by a single point.

However, their leadership of the table would only be temporary and by the end of the weekend, we’d have new leaders in the form of the league’s only unbeaten club. Villa had the chance to put some distance between them and the chasing pack as they played on Saturday afternoon at St James’ Park against Newcastle United. However, they were no match for Sir Bobby Robson’s free-flowing side, losing 3-0. Craig Bellamy continued his burgeoning reputation with two goals and Alan Shearer rolled back the years with a spectacular volley which completely beat Peter Schmeichel. After four successive seasons loitering in mid-table, Newcastle were in the chasing pack and just three points off top spot.

So, Leeds United had the opportunity to take command of the title race. They welcomed Tottenham Hotspur to Elland Road. Spurs had managed to string three successive victories together before this fixture and sat in seventh and on the coattails of the established elite. They led here too through Gus Poyet’s beautiful curling shot. However, Leeds responded with an Ian Harte equaliser before Harry Kewell wrapped the match up for David O’Leary’s young chargers nine minutes from full-time. It finished 2-1 and Leeds were heading for the summit. They were unbeaten and looked like a serious title player at this stage of the season.

On the same Sunday afternoon, England’s biggest rivals went head-to-head at Anfield and it was Liverpool FC who prevailed. They beat Manchester United 3-1 to record a fourth consecutive victory against the Red Devils. Michael Owen had recently returned from a hamstring injury and showed no signs of weakness here with two goals. There was also a blockbuster free-kick from John Arne Riise which ranks among this game’s greatest-ever goals.

Arsenal could have taken advantage of United’s third defeat of the season but they experienced a clumsy afternoon of their own against Charlton Athletic, especially in the defensive department. Richard Wright inexplicably punched the ball into his own net and Claus Jensen chipped him from distance on a painful afternoon for the man considered to be the heir to David Seaman’s possession of the goalkeeper jersey for both club and country. Charlton’s 4-2 victory was one for clinical fans over stylish gameplay. Home form was the weakness for Arsenal so far, with just one victory at Highbury from five outings.

Much-maligned striker Ade Akinbiyi chose the fixture with Sunderland to finally grab his first goal of the season. He needed two swipes at his shot but it went into the net and Leicester had their first home victory of the campaign as they beat the Black Cats 1-0 infront of the Sky Sports cameras. That meant not only did the Foxes climb off the foot of the table but they were now out of the bottom three. Replacing them at the bottom were Derby County who were thrashed 5-1 by Middlesbrough at The Riverside Stadium.

What else happened in November 2001?

  • The music world mourns the death of former Beatles singer and guitarist George Harrison, who dies in Los Angeles, aged 58 after a battle with lung cancer.
  • The first instalment in the Harry Potter film series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone makes its premier debut in London.
  • 12 British plane-spotters are held by Greek authorities on charges of spying.
  • 260 people are killed when an American Airlines flight crashes in Queens, New York moments are take-off from JFK airport.
  • The national airline of Belgium, Sabena, goes bankrupt.
  • The governing body of the UK Singles Chart, Chart Information Network Ltd. (CIN), changes its name to The Official UK Charts Company.
  • Richard & Judy’s new teatime programme debuts on Channel 4.

 

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Seasonal Records: 2013-2014

For all the statistical fans out there, here are some of the season’s records from the 2013-2014 Premier League campaign. The title remained in Manchester again but it was City’s turn to finish as kings of the top-flight, pipping a stern challenge from Liverpool FC on the final day of the season.

FINAL TABLE

Position Team P W D L F A GD PTS
1 Manchester City 38 27 5 6 102 37 +65 86
2 Liverpool FC 38 26 6 6 101 50 +51 84
3 Chelsea 38 25 7 6 71 27 +44 82
4 Arsenal 38 24 7 7 68 41 +27 79
5 Everton 38 21 9 8 61 39 +22 72
6 Tottenham Hotspur 38 21 6 11 55 51 +4 69
7 Manchester United 38 19 7 12 64 43 +21 64
8 Southampton 38 15 11 12 54 46 +8 56
9 Stoke City 38 13 11 14 45 52 -7 50
10 Newcastle United 38 15 4 19 43 59 -16 49
11 Crystal Palace 38 13 6 19 33 48 -15 45
12 Swansea City 38 11 9 18 54 54 0 42
13 West Ham United 38 11 7 20 40 51 -11 40
14 Sunderland 38 10 8 20 41 60 -19 38
15 Aston Villa 38 10 8 20 39 61 -22 38
16 Hull City 38 10 7 21 38 53 -15 37
17 West Bromwich Albion 38 7 15 16 43 59 -16 36
18 Norwich City 38 8 9 21 28 62 -34 33
19 Fulham 38 9 5 24 40 85 -45 32
20 Cardiff City 38 7 9 22 32 74 -42 30

 

THE BASIC STATS

Goals Scored 1052
European qualifiers Manchester City (UEFA Champions League)

Liverpool FC (UEFA Champions League)

Chelsea (UEFA Champions League)

Arsenal (UEFA Champions League)

Everton (UEFA Europa League)

Tottenham Hotspur (UEFA Europa League)

Hull City (UEFA Europa League)

Longest winning run 11 games (Liverpool FC)
Longest unbeaten run 16 games (Liverpool FC)
Longest winless run 9 games (Sunderland, West Bromwich Albion & Fulham)
Longest losing run 7 games (Crystal Palace)
Highest attendance 75,368 (Manchester United vs. Aston Villa)
Lowest attendance 19,242 (Swansea City vs. Stoke City)

 

AWARDS

PFA Players’ Player of the Year Luis Suarez (Liverpool FC)
PFA Young Player of the Year Eden Hazard (Chelsea)
Football Writers’ Award Luis Suarez (Liverpool FC)
PFA Team of the Year Petr Cech, Gary Cahill, Vincent Kompany, Seamus Coleman, Luke Shaw, Steven Gerrard, Yaya Toure, Adam Lallana, Eden Hazard, Daniel Sturridge, Luis Suarez
Manager of the Year Tony Pulis (Crystal Palace)
Premier League Goal of the Season Jack Wilshere (ARSENAL vs. Norwich City)

 

HAT-TRICK HEROES

Player Teams Score Date
Luis Suarez Liverpool FC vs. West Bromwich Albion 4-1 26th October 2013
Luis Suarez (4) Liverpool FC vs. Norwich City 5-1 4th December 2013
Adam Johnson Fulham vs. Sunderland 1-4 11th January 2014
Samuel Eto’o Chelsea vs. Manchester United 3-1 19th January 2014
Eden Hazard Chelsea vs. Newcastle United 3-0 8th February 2014
Andre Schurrle Fulham vs. Chelsea 1-3 1st March 2014
Yaya Toure Manchester City vs. Fulham 5-0 22nd March 2014
Luis Suarez Cardiff City vs. Liverpool FC 3-6 22nd March 2014

 

TOP SCORERS

Position Player Teams No of Goals
1 Luis Suarez Liverpool FC 31
2 Daniel Sturridge Liverpool FC 22
3 Yaya Toure Manchester City 20
4= Sergio Aguero Manchester City 17
4= Wayne Rooney Manchester United 17
4= Wilfried Bony Swansea City 17
7= Edin Dzeko Manchester City 16
7= Olivier Giroud Arsenal 16
9= Romelu Lukaku Everton 15
9= Jay Rodriguez Southampton 15
11= Eden Hazard Chelsea 14
11= Loic Remy Newcastle United 14
13= Steven Gerrard Liverpool FC 13
13= Rickie Lambert Southampton 13
15 Robin van Persie Arsenal 12
16 Emmanuel Adebayor Tottenham Hotspur 11
17= Aaron Ramsey Arsenal 10
17= Christian Benteke Aston Villa 10
19= Alvaro Negredo Manchester City 9
19= Raheem Sterling Liverpool FC 9
19= Samuel Eto’o Chelsea 9
19= Danny Welbeck Manchester United 9
19= Adam Lallana Southampton 9
24= Oscar Chelsea 8
24= Lukas Podolski Arsenal 8

 

BIGGEST VICTORIES

Manchester City 7-0 Norwich City 2nd November 2013
Manchester City 6-0 Tottenham Hotspur 24th November 2013
Chelsea 6-0 Arsenal 22nd March 2014
Hull City 6-0 Fulham 28th December 2013
Manchester City 5-0 Fulham 22nd March 2014
Tottenham Hotspur 0-5 Liverpool FC 15th December 2013
Tottenham Hotspur 1-5 Manchester City 29th January 2014
Liverpool FC 5-1 Norwich City 4th December 2013
Liverpool FC 5-1 Arsenal 8th February 2014
Tottenham Hotspur 5-1 Sunderland 7th April 2014

 

HIGHEST SCORING GAMES

No of Goals Teams Date
9 Manchester City 6-3 Arsenal 14th December 2013
9 Cardiff City 3-6 Arsenal 22nd March 2014
8 Stoke City 3-5 Liverpool FC 12th January 2014
7 Manchester City 7-0 Norwich City 2nd November 2013
7 Liverpool FC 4-3 Swansea City 23rd February 2014
7 Sunderland 3-4 Chelsea 4th December 2013
7 Aston Villa 4-3 West Bromwich Albion 29th January 2014
6 Manchester City 6-0 Tottenham Hotspur 24th November 2013
6 Chelsea 6-0 Arsenal 22nd March 2014
6 Hull City 6-0 Fulham 28th December 2013
6 Tottenham Hotspur 1-5 Manchester City 29th January 2014
6 Liverpool FC 5-1 Norwich City 4th December 2013
6 Liverpool FC 5-1 Arsenal 8th February 2014
6 Tottenham Hotspur 5-1 Sunderland 7th April 2014
6 Newcastle United 5-1 Stoke City 26th December 2013
6 Fulham 2-4 Manchester City 21st December 2013
6 Manchester City 4-2 Cardiff City 18th January 2014
6 Southampton 4-2 Norwich City 15th March 2014
6 Everton 3-3 Liverpool FC 23rd November 2013
6 Crystal Palace 3-3 Liverpool FC 5th May 2014

 

YOUNGEST PLAYERS USED

Player Teams Age at the time Date
Adam Armstrong Fulham 1-0 Newcastle United 17 years, 1 month, 5 days 15th March 2014
Patrick Roberts Manchester City 5-0 Fulham 17 years, 1 month, 17 days 22nd March 2014
Moussa Dembele West Ham United 3-0 Fulham 17 years, 4 months, 18 days 30th November 2013
Chuba Akpom Sunderland 1-3 Arsenal 17 years, 11 months, 5 days 14th September 2013
Tom James Cardiff City 1-2 Chelsea 18 years, 26 days 11th May 2014
Luke Shaw West Bromwich Albion 0-1 Southampton 18 years, 1 month, 5 days 17th August 2013
Declan John West Ham United 2-0 Cardiff City 18 years, 1 month, 18 days 17th August 2013
Jordon Ibe Liverpool FC 5-1 Arsenal 18 years, 2 months 8th February 2014
Serge Gnabry Arsenal 3-1 Stoke City 18 years, 2 months, 8 days 22nd September 2013
Sam Gallagher Newcastle United 1-1 Southampton 18 years, 2 months, 29 days 14th December 2013

 

OLDEST PLAYERS USED

Player Teams Age at the time Date
Brad Friedel Tottenham Hotspur 0-1 Newcastle United 42 years, 5 months, 23 days 10th November 2013
Mark Schwarzer Cardiff City 1-2 Chelsea 41 years, 7 months, 5 days 11th May 2014
Ryan Giggs Manchester United 3-1 Hull City 40 years, 5 months, 7 days 6th May 2014
Kevin Phillips Crystal Palace 1-4 Fulham 40 years, 2 months, 26 days 21st October 2013
Steve Harper Aston Villa 3-1 Hull City 39 years, 1 month, 19 days 3rd May 2014
Jussi Jaaskelainen Fulham 2-1 West Ham United 38 years, 8 months, 13 days 1st January 2014
Thomas Sorensen West Bromwich Albion 1-2 Stoke City 37 years, 10 months, 29 days 11th May 2014
Kelvin Davis Southampton 0-3 Chelsea 37 years, 3 months, 3 days 1st January 2014
Georgios Karagounis Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 Fulham 37 years, 1 month, 13 days 19th April 2014
Sylvain Distin Hull City 0-2 Everton 36 years, 4 months, 25 days 11th May 2014

 

CLEAN SHEETS

Position Player Teams No of Clean Sheets
1= Petr Cech Chelsea 16
1= Wojciech Szczesny Arsenal 16
3 Tim Howard Everton 15
4= Hugo Lloris Tottenham Hotspur 14
4= Artur Boruc Southampton 14
6 Joe Hart Manchester City 13
7= David de Gea Manchester United 12
7= Julian Speroni Crystal Palace 12
7= John Ruddy Norwich City 12
10 Vito Mannone Sunderland 11

Premier League Files: Tim Krul

Premier League Career: Newcastle United (2010-2016), Brighton & Hove Albion (2017-2018)

Tim Krul is rebuilding his career in the SkyBet EFL Championship after a frustrating three years of injury and non-selection. Considering how well Norwich City have started this season, he could be back in the Premier League in the future. Previously, he had gained a reputation as one of the best Dutch goalkeepers during a 12-year association with Newcastle United.

Krul linked up with Newcastle in the summer of 2005 after failing to agree professional terms at Dutch club ADO Den Haag, where he’d spent nine years in the youth ranks. Initially, he was third-choice goalkeeper behind the experienced pair of Shay Given and Steve Harper but got his chance sooner than anticipated. In November 2006, he made his senior debut in an UEFA Cup tie away to Palermo. He kept a clean sheet and made some important saves in an impressive Newcastle victory. It was an exciting cameo for what was to come in the future.

The summer of 2007 saw Krul’s reputation continue to rise. He was part of a talented Dutch Under-21 squad that won the European Championships and also helped them qualify for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. To help his experience levels, Newcastle loaned him out for the next two seasons, first to Scottish Championship club Falkirk, then to Carlisle United.

By now, Given had moved on to Manchester City and for 2009-2010, Krul returned to Newcastle in a new no.2 role behind Harper as the club looked to rebuild in the Championship. Harper was the first-choice all season but Krul got some good exposure in the cup competitions and he finally got his league breakthrough in September 2010 when the Magpies were back in the Premier League. When Harper got injured in the 35th minute against Everton at Goodison Park, Krul seized his chance. He kept a clean sheet, continued to impress in Harper’s absence and when Alan Pardew succeeded Chris Hughton, he gave Krul more opportunities over the remainder of the campaign.

In 2011-2012, he was given no.1 goalkeeping status by Pardew as Harper was sent on-loan to Brighton & Hove Albion. He notched up his 50th appearance for the club in a home defeat to Chelsea but did save a penalty on the day from Frank Lampard. Pardew’s confidence in Krul was shown further when he took over the no.1 goalkeeper jersey from Harper for the start of the 2012-2013 season. Injuries to elbow, ankle and shoulder restricted him to 24 Premier League appearances during the campaign but in 2013-2014, he was in terrific form.

Against Tottenham Hotspur in November, he was unbeatable making a total of 14 saves to help the Toon Army record a 1-0 away victory at White Hart Lane. Widely praised by Pavel Srnicek and Pardew after the performance, Krul continued to deliver for the rest of the month and took the honour of November’s Premier League Player of the Month.

His performances ensured he would go to the 2014 World Cup finals with the Netherlands and he made a massive contribution to their third-place finish. With penalties looming in the closing stages of the quarter-finals against Costa Rica, Louis van Gaal had one more substitution left and decided to bring Krul on due to him having a better penalty-saving record than Jasper Cillessen, the regular no.1 goalkeeper. Van Gaal’s tactic worked. Krul saved two spot-kicks and the Dutch prevailed 4-3 on penalties. It was the first time in World Cup history that a goalkeeper was sent on as a substitute solely for a penalty shootout.

In October 2015, Krul suffered a bad knee injury on international duty which ruled him out for the rest of the season. Newcastle were relegated at the end of the season and in August 2016, he was loaned out in an attempt to continue his recovery from injury.

First, he went to Ajax, then AZ Alkmaar but made just nine first-team appearances across the season for the two clubs. With Karl Darlow and Rob Elliot both pressing claims for the first-choice shirt, Krul had already played his final-ever game for Newcastle United. He joined Premier League newcomers Brighton & Hove Albion on a one-year deal in August 2017 but left without making a top-flight league appearance for the Seagulls this summer. He was picked up by Norwich in July 2018 and has already started 12 matches for the Canaries as of October, helping them to be among the early pacesetters in the Championship.

Great Goals: Stan Collymore – LIVERPOOL FC vs. Sheffield Wednesday (August 1995)

In the summer of 1995, Liverpool FC broke the British transfer record to sign Stan Collymore from Nottingham Forest for £7.5 million. Collymore was seen as one of the most exciting talents in English football and his debut for his new club at home to Sheffield Wednesday saw him produce the kind of magic everyone knew he had the capability to do.

An hour had been played and David Pleat’s Owls were frustrating Liverpool with Collymore and new strike partner Ian Rush having limited chances to make an impact. Then, Collymore delivered in the grand manner. Receiving the ball slightly fortunately from John Barnes, he twisted and span past Julian Watts. Chris Waddle had a brief tug at his shirt but nothing was going to stop Liverpool’s new forward.

He curled a memorable shot into Kevin Pressman’s net and won the game for Roy Evans’ side. Collymore did come up with other vital goals and worked well with hotshot Robbie Fowler but he did generally frustrate supporters during his two seasons on Merseyside.

The Managers: Mick McCarthy

Premier League Clubs Managed: Sunderland (2003, 2005-2006), Wolverhampton Wanderers (2009-2012)

In February 2019, Mick McCarthy will turn 60. McCarthy is enjoying some time out of the game after his reign at the helm of Championship club Ipswich Town came to an end in April 2018. McCarthy has had the unique honour of playing and coaching the Republic of Ireland at two different World Cup finals. He also enjoyed a three-season stint in the Premier League as manager of Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Born in Barnsley, McCarthy started his playing career with the Tykes and that was to be his longest spell with any club in his playing days. Barnsley were in the bottom-tier of English football when he made his professional bow in 1977 and as a strong central defender, he helped them to promotion in 1980. He made 272 league appearances for the Yorkshire side, scoring seven goals. In December 1983, he moved to Manchester City, experiencing top-flight football in England for the first time.

In 1987, he went north of the border to play for Celtic which is where McCarthy enjoyed his most successful spell in terms of silverware. He was part of the Celtic side that won the Scottish League and Cup double in 1988 and another Scottish Cup followed a year later. Mick was part of the final Celtic side to win the championship before Rangers’ nine-season stranglehold on the Scottish league title. A move to Lyon followed but he didn’t play as much as he wanted and he moved back to English football on the eve of the 1990 World Cup finals with a loan switch to Millwall.

Although the Lions were relegated, McCarthy did more than enough to protect his place in Jack Charlton’s squad for the tournament in Italy and also earned himself a permanent move to London. Injuries restricted him to just 29 appearances in the next two seasons and he effectively retired from playing in 1992. However, a new challenge was to wait for him at the club where he finished his playing days.

For Ireland, McCarthy won 57 caps for his country, qualifying to play for them because he had an Irish father. He made his international debut in 1984 and featured in all three group games of the Republic’s first major international tournament which was the 1988 European Championships. His respect within the camp meant he was awarded the captaincy and he never shied away from making a crunching tackle. In fact, McCarthy committed more fouls than any other player during the 1990 World Cup. In their debut World Cup adventure, Ireland made the quarter-finals before going out to hosts Italy.

Starting out at Millwall

In March 1992, McCarthy became Millwall player-manager following the departure of Bruce Rioch. Although he was still registered as a player, Mick’s focus was soely on management – so much so, he only made one further playing appearance after his appointment.

In 1993-1994, Millwall launched a serious challenge for promotion to the Premier League, finishing in third place in the final standings and only narrowly missing out on automatic promotion. Heartbreak would follow with defeat in the semi-finals to Derby County and it was Leicester City who would win the third promotion place, despite finishing below the Lions in the table.

In December 1995, Millwall topped the table before a cataclysmic display away at Roker Park, losing 6-0 to Sunderland. It was around this time that McCarthy became the frontrunner for the vacant Republic of Ireland job after Charlton retired as team manager. The speculation did little to help Millwall’s club form and eventually in February 1996, he was officially appointed as Ireland’s new manager. Millwall ended the season with relegation whilst McCarthy was ready for his big international break.

Japan and Keane

Initially, he couldn’t weave the magic on the team that Charlton had achieved. The Republic of Ireland were beaten by Belgium in a two-legged qualifying play-off for the 1998 World Cup finals. They also missed out on the party for the 2000 European Championships in Holland and Belgium. Better luck was to follow in 2002.

Drawn in a tricky group alongside European semi-finalists Portugal and Holland, expectations were low but Ireland delivered and a 1-0 victory over the Dutch in Dublin in September 2001 guaranteed them a top two finish, ensuring Louis van Gaal’s side would fail to qualify for their first World Cup since 1986. That took them into another play-off, this time against Iran. A narrow 2-1 play-off victory over the Asian side meant the Republic qualified for their first major tournament in eight years. It was meant to be an exciting opportunity in Japan and South Korea.

However, the tournament build-up was dominated by a public spat between McCarthy and his skipper, Roy Keane. Keane openly questioned the training facilities that had been allocated by the FAI, then thought preparations were too laidback going into the country’s third World Cup finals. Insults were thrown by the player and McCarthy decided to send him home without kicking a ball in the tournament.

Despite this negative build-up, McCarthy rallied his side through the group stage. Robbie Keane scored three goals, including a dramatic injury-time equaliser to earn a draw with eventual finalists Germany. The likes of Gary Breen, Damien Duff and Steve Finnan flourished throughout the competition but Ireland were knocked out on penalties by Spain in the round-of-16 after a 1-1 draw. In total, they missed four spot-kicks in the match – one in regular time and three in the shootout.

A poor start to qualification for the 2004 European Championships saw McCarthy step down from his role in November 2002. In total, he won 29 of 68 internationals during his six-year spell as national team manager.

Sorry Sunderland

In March 2003, Sunderland sacked Howard Wilkinson and Steve Cotterill as their management team after losing six successive matches. McCarthy, who had been shortlisted for the job before Wilkinson’s controversial appointment, took over the sinking ship. Relegation was virtually a guarantee when he was appointed and sure enough, Sunderland’s Premier League fate was confirmed a month later. They lost every single game after his appointment as manager.

The 2003-2004 season in the First Division was considered as a disappointment. Sunderland did reach the play-offs but lost a semi-final penalty shootout to Crystal Palace who would eventually win the play-off final. However, the turnaround of the club was completed with the Championship title in 2005, recording 94 points on their way to the title.

In 2005-2006, life became incredibly difficult at the higher level for both the team and the manager. The Black Cats lost their first five matches and he actually never won a home Premier League game at The Stadium of Light. There were away victories over Middlesbrough and West Bromwich Albion but with 10 games remaining in the campaign, McCarthy was dismissed with the club 16 points from safety in March 2006. Ironically, Roy Keane was appointed as the next permanent boss.

Keeping Wolves in the top-flight

He was out of the game for just four months before taking over at Wolverhampton Wanderers, replacing Glenn Hoddle in the hotseat. His first two campaigns at Molineux saw the club finish sixth and seventh respectively, losing another play-off semi-final to West Bromwich Albion and missing out on a top six result in 2008 only on goal difference.

Promotion to the Premier League was secured in April 2009 with a 1-0 victory over Queens Park Rangers and the Championship title followed a week later. Wolves had spent 42 of the 46 matchdays top of the table in 2008-2009 in one of the most dominating second-tier campaigns in recent history. His fine work saw him win the Championship Manager of the Year.

In 2009-2010, survival in the Premier League was the aim for everyone connected with Wolverhampton Wanderers and McCarthy managed to achieve this. Safety was assured with two games remaining and Wolves ultimately finished in 15th place. This was despite being fined £25,000 after the Premier League authorities decided he had fielded a weakened team for a fixture away at Manchester United in December 2009.

The 2010-2011 campaign was even more dramatic. There were thrilling home victories over outgoing champions Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United – ending the latter’s unbeaten start to the season in the process. There was also a fantastic 1-0 away victory at Liverpool FC in December 2010. However, Wolves struggled to find any consistency against the teams in the relegation battle and going into the final day, they were just one point clear of the relegation zone. They lost 3-2 at home to Blackburn Rovers but defeats for Birmingham City and Blackpool meant Wolves avoided relegation by the skin of their teeth. It meant McCarthy became the first Wolves manager in 30 years to maintain the club’s top-flight position for two successive seasons.

Things didn’t go so well in 2011-2012 for McCarthy, despite topping the table after two successive victories. Results didn’t progress and Wolves dropped once again into a relegation scrap. In February 2012, Wolves were embarrassed 5-1 at home by local rivals West Bromwich Albion. 24 hours later, the inevitable happened and McCarthy was sacked after five years and 207 days in the post at Molineux. His long-trusted assistant Terry Connor took over but Wolves failed to win another game after McCarthy’s departure and they were relegated.

After nine months out of the game, he resurfaced at Ipswich Town with Connor joining him as assistant. Despite having one of the smallest wage budgets in the Championship, McCarthy worked miracles with the resources he had available to him. They made the play-offs in 2014-2015 before yet more semi-final frustration, this time at the expense of East Anglian rivals Norwich City. Eventually, things got slightly stale at Portman Road and McCarthy left the club just before the end of the 2017-2018 season.

McCarthy is currently filling his time as a pundit for both BT Sport and BBC Radio Five Live and he has already hinted he is not done with management. He has always shown a habit of working well on a shoestring budget and will be keeping an eye on potential opportunities in the coming months, especially as winter time approaches.

Memorable Matches: Everton 6-2 Sunderland (November 2015)

Goalscorers: Gerard Deulofeu 19, Arouna Kone 31, 62, 76, Jermain Defoe 45, Steven Fletcher 50, Sebastian Coates 55 OG, Romelu Lukaku 60

Teams:

Everton: Tim Howard, Seamus Coleman, Ramiro Funes Mori, Bryan Oviedo (Brendan Galloway 25), John Stones, Gareth Barry, James McCarthy, Ross Barkley, Gerard Deulofeu (Kevin Mirallas 65), Arouna Kone, Romelu Lukaku (Leon Osman 78)

Sunderland: Costel Pantilimon, Wes Brown, Sebastian Coates, Billy Jones, Patrick van Aanholt, DeAndre Yedlin (Sebastian Larsson 64), Lee Cattermole (Jack Rodwell 38), Yann M’Vila, Adam Johnson, Jermain Defoe, Steven Fletcher (Duncan Watmore 75)

Referee: Andre Marriner, Attendance: 36,617

Everton came into this match against Sunderland needing to find some consistency in the Premier League. Roberto Martinez’s side were one of the best counter-attacking teams in the division but were struggling to put teams away. Sunderland were coming off the back of a morale-boosting Tyne & Wear Derby victory seven days earlier. This was Everton’s first home match since the funeral of their most successful manager, Howard Kendall and in his memory, both teams put in a magical match.

It was Sunderland who made the brighter start and on his recall to the side, Patrick van Aanholt was desperately unlucky after just three minutes, striking the post. The visitors continued to do the early pressing with Tim Howard making quick saves to deny Jermain Defoe and Steven Fletcher, whilst the woodwork saved the home side from going behind for a second time. On 19 minutes, the Toffees were infront. Gerard Deulofeu scored his first goal since returning to the club from Barcelona. Arouna Kone’s excellent pass found him in space and he calmly slotted the ball into the net.

Kone doubled the lead with his third goal of the season just past the half-hour. Exchanging passes with strike partner Romelu Lukaku, Kone’s left-footed drive found the roof of the net. Right on the stroke of half-time though, Sunderland got back into the game. Sebastian Coates’ long-ball found Defoe who was braver to win the challenge against John Stones. He showed great composure to avoid Ramiro Funes Mori’s sliding tackle and via a deflection off Stones, his shot beat Howard.

Sunderland deservedly levelled the scores five minutes into the second half. Van Aanholt’s right-footed cross was inch-perfect and Fletcher wanted it more than Funes Mori, planting his header into the bottom corner of the net. There always looked like more goals would come and Everton regained their lead on 55 minutes. Deulofeu’s teasing ball into the box was diverted into his own net by Uruguayan defender Coates, who was attempting to stop Lukaku from reaching the cross.

Deulofeu was having a brilliant game, despite being booked for a daft dive. His superb pass on the hour mark found Lukaku who sped past Wes Brown and the Belgian rounded Costel Pantilimon to register his fourth goal in his last five matches.

Sunderland’s ambition had now caught up with them. James McCarthy’s devastating reverse pass found Kone and the striker found the net for his second of the afternoon. Everton had now scored three goals in the space of seven second half minutes. There was still time for Kone to complete his hat-trick. Lukaku’s brilliant ball into the six-yard box found the head of Kone who scored his first treble for Everton and became one of the more unlikely hat-trick heroes in Premier League history. He deserved it for an all-round action performance.

Sunderland did gain revenge later in the season with a 3-0 victory over the Toffees in May which ensured their Premier League safety and condemned Roberto Martinez to the sack. This though was Everton and Arouna Kone’s day on a goal-filled afternoon.

Shock Results: Blackburn Rovers 2-3 Manchester City (April 1995)

Goalscorers: Alan Shearer 7, Keith Curle 32 PEN, Colin Hendry 39, Uwe Rosler 57, Paul Walsh 71

Teams:

Blackburn Rovers: Tim Flowers, Henning Berg, Colin Hendry, Ian Pearce, Jeff Kenna, Graeme Le Saux, Mark Atkins (David Batty 78), Stuart Ripley, Tim Sherwood, Alan Shearer, Chris Sutton

Manchester City: Tony Coton, Keith Curle, Richard Edghill, John Foster, Alan Kernaghan, Garry Flitcroft, Fitzroy Simpson, Nicky Summerbee, Niall Quinn, Uwe Rosler, Paul Walsh (Peter Beagrie 78)

Referee: Keith Cooper, Attendance: 27,851

Blackburn Rovers were closing in on their first top-flight title in 81 years. After Manchester United’s disappointing goalless draw earlier on Easter Monday at home to Chelsea, Blackburn knew they could open up an eight-point lead at the top of the table with just four games left to play. They faced Manchester City who were amidst a group of sides firmly in a relegation dogfight. For once, the city of Manchester was cheering for one team only.

Brian Horton’s team were one of the leading scorers in the bottom half of the table and always looked capable of scoring, especially with an attack that consisted of Niall Quinn, Uwe Rosler and Paul Walsh. However, they struggled to keep clean sheets and another shutout at Ewood Park would elude them inside of seven minutes. City skipper Keith Curle played the ball back to his goalkeeper, Tony Coton. Coton’s kick was dreadful and it went straight to Alan Shearer. His reaction was instant, sticking the ball straight into the back of the net. It was a late Easter treat for the Premier League’s top goalscorer and the league leaders were 1-0 ahead.

City had beaten Liverpool FC on Good Friday, so they came into the match with a bit of momentum and as the rain lashed down on the Ewood Park turf, they found a controversial way back into the match. Nicky Summerbee’s deep cross was well-collected by Tim Flowers. However, referee Keith Cooper had spotted an infringement on Quinn, who had claimed his shirt was tugged. There were arguments from Blackburn players but Curle made no mistake from 12-yards to level the scores.

The Citizens were level for just seven minutes. A Blackburn corner was headed out into the path of Colin Hendry. He slipped as he took the strike but the ball picked up speed across the muddy surface and somehow squirmed through Coton’s body, then the legs of John Foster on the goal-line. It was another error from Coton who was experiencing a difficult evening and Blackburn were back infront.

The rain might have stopped for the second half but the pitch wasn’t playing very well. This did lead though to plenty of mistakes. Hendry was the next to make a crucial error. His clearing header on 57 minutes had no power on it and Rosler punished him with a decisive strike into the bottom corner to score his 21st goal of the season in all competitions. Blackburn looked more nervous as the game continued and it was Horton’s side that looked the more dangerous. Midfielder Garry Flitcroft was denied by Flowers before the winner arrived on 71 minutes. Quinn drew Hendry out wide before playing through Summerbee. His shot was well-saved by Flowers but the rebound favoured Paul Walsh who made no mistake to score the winning goal.

It was only Blackburn’s second home defeat of the season but despite this result and a further defeat at West Ham, they held off Manchester United on the final day to become champions. Manchester City finished 17th and just two places above the relegation zone, parting company with Brian Horton as first-team manager once the season was over.

Seasonal Stories: Chelsea (1997-1998)

Sackings and cup glory

Having been a mid-table team in the early Premier League Years, Chelsea were beginning to make an impact on the top-flight in the late 1990s. The 1997-1998 season saw the Londoners record their first top-four finish and experience cup glory, with victories in both the League Cup and UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup under the guidance of Gianluca Vialli.

This was despite having almost as many defeats as relegated Bolton Wanderers and the controversial sacking of Ruud Gullit as first-team manager in February 1998.

Continental knowledge

This was Chelsea’s ninth successive season in England’s top-flight and they went into the 1997-1998 season looking to build on the previous season’s sixth-place finish, as well as victory in the FA Cup final over Middlesbrough.

It was Ruud Gullit’s second season in the dugout at Stamford Bridge and his continental knowledge saw more foreign players recruited in pre-season to add to the depth of the squad. Gus Poyet, who had been part of the Real Zaragoza squad that defeated Arsenal in the 1995 Cup Winners’ Cup final, arrived on a free transfer.

Graeme Le Saux returned to the club after a four-year stint at Blackburn Rovers which had yielded a Premier League title winners’ medal in 1995 with Chelsea paying Rovers £5 million for his services. Nigerian full-back Celestine Babayaro from Anderlecht and a new first-choice goalkeeper in Ed de Goey were among the other new arrivals.

Setting a high standard

Despite an opening day defeat to Coventry City thanks to a Dion Dublin hat-trick, Chelsea made a brilliant start to the season, winning five of their first eight games. This included an excellent 2-2 draw at Old Trafford with reigning champions Manchester United.

In August, they handed Premier League newcomers Barnsley a lesson in how tough life is in the top-flight. Gianluca Vialli, keen to start more matches in this campaign, scored a stunning four goals at Oakwell as the Tykes lost 6-0 on their own patch. By the end of September, Chelsea had already scored 22 goals and were averaging three goals a game.

Expansion to The Shed End and The West Stand meant Chelsea played their first three matches of the league campaign away from home whilst the redevelopment work was completed. Southampton were the first visitors to the modern-day Stamford Bridge and lost 4-2, with all of Chelsea’s goals coming in the first half.

Champions-elect Arsenal were the only side to win on their visit to The Bridge before Christmas and only away form was harming a serious title tilt from Gullit’s men. By the turn of the year, five of Chelsea’s six defeats had come away from home, including disappointing 1-0 defeats to Southampton and Bolton Wanderers. Nevertheless, they still put in some wonderful away performances and the 6-1 humbling they dished out on Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane was one of the best team displays of the entire campaign. Another summer recruit, Tore Andre Flo scored a hat-trick.

29TH DECEMBER 1997 TABLE

POS TABLE P W D L F A GD PTS
1 Manchester United 21 14 4 3 49 16 +33 46
2 Blackburn Rovers 21 11 8 2 38 21 +17 41
3 CHELSEA 21 12 3 6 46 21 +25 39
4 Liverpool FC 20 11 4 5 36 19 +17 37
5 Leeds United 21 10 5 6 30 23 +7 35
6 Arsenal 20 9 7 4 35 23 +12 34

Gobsmacked Gullit

Although there was a disappointing 3-1 defeat away at struggling Everton in January 1998, Chelsea sat in second position when Gullit took his side to Highbury to face Arsenal on 8th February. The Dutchman was greeted warmly by Chairman Ken Bates when he arrived at the ground and everything seemed rosy in-terms of the relationship between manager and owner.

Two Stephen Hughes goals consigned Chelsea to their seventh away defeat of the campaign but they were still leading the chasing pack behind Manchester United and just five points away from the Red Devils too. Discussions were well underway regarding a contract extension for Gullit. Yet, there was to be a sensational story that broke from west London four days after the Arsenal loss.

Chelsea’s hierarchy held a news conference to confirm Gullit had been sacked. Bates said at the press gathering: “We were unable to meet his financial demands.” Managing Director Colin Hutchinson backed this up, adding: “There was no further scope for future negotiations.”

24 hours later, a rather stunned Gullit held his own press conference, claiming he didn’t know why he’d been sacked and demanded to know the real reason for his sudden departure. He dismissed the board’s claims that his wage demands were too high and confirmed he had been ready to sign a new deal to stay on as the club’s manager. Bates later admitted “I didn’t like his arrogance – in fact I never liked him.”

Even more surprisingly, Vialli was immediately appointed as his successor in a player-manager capacity, despite having no previous managerial experience. With Chelsea second in the league and into the semi-finals of the League Cup, plus a European quarter-final, the timing of this managerial change did have a detrimental effect on the rest of the Premier League season.

Hanging onto fourth

Chelsea’s Premier League campaign crumbled after this decision. Vialli lost his first three matches in-charge, including a 1-0 home defeat to Manchester United which saw many bookmakers deciding not to take anymore bets on where the title was going. However, United were about to be humbled by a team from London. However, it was Arsenal who went on a devastating run of form to snatch the Premier League title.

The players had seemed just as surprised as anyone by the board’s decision to dispense with Gullit’s services, plus the fact that one of their teammates was now their boss. Vialli still got the side playing some attractive football and this was demonstrated when Liverpool FC were well-beaten 4-1 on their visit to Stamford Bridge in late April. A final day victory over Bolton Wanderers ensured a fourth-place finish. However, there was a sense from within the fans that an opportunity was missed to launch a serious title challenge. Although they finished second highest goalscorers with 71 goals, Chelsea lost more games in the season than Wimbledon, who finished 19 points adrift and in 15th place. Relegated Bolton only lost one more match than what Chelsea did

There was a silver lining to the season though with double cup glory. For the second successive season, Middlesbrough were beaten in a cup final, losing 2-0 in the League Cup final. Right at the end of the season, Gianfranco Zola came off the bench to score the only goal in the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup Final against VfB Stuttgart.

FINAL 1997-1998 TABLE – THIRD TO EIGHTH

POS TABLE P W D L F A GD PTS
3 Liverpool FC 38 18 11 9 68 42 +26 65
4 CHELSEA 38 20 3 15 71 43 +28 63
5 Leeds United 38 17 8 13 57 46 +11 59
6 Blackburn Rovers 38 16 10 12 57 52 +5 58
7 Aston Villa 38 17 6 15 49 48 +1 57
8 West Ham United 38 16 8 14 56 57 -1 56

Iconic Moments: Salah’s super scoring landmark (May 2018)

Manchester City might have claimed many team records but their galaxy of stars were pipped to all the major individual prizes by the extraordinary Mohamed Salah. Returning to the Premier League after a successful stint in Italy, the Egyptian won the PFA Players’ Player of the Year, the Football Writers’ Award and claimed the Golden Boot.

He was given the prize after Liverpool FC’s final day 4-0 win against Brighton & Hove Albion which secured Champions League football for the Merseysiders for the 2018-2019 campaign. Salah scored his 32nd goal of the Premier League season in the 26th minute and that meant he held off the stiff challenge of Tottenham’s Harry Kane, pipping the double Golden Boot winner to top spot by two strikes.

That meant Salah broke a Premier League record of most goals scored in a 38-game season, beating a record that had been jointly-held by Alan Shearer, Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Suarez. He scored against 17 different opponents too which was another Premier League record. Only Manchester United and Swansea City kept Salah off the scoresheet in 2017-2018. To finish his scoring landmarks, he scored more goals on his own than the entire team efforts of Swansea, Huddersfield Town and West Bromwich Albion. It was a world-class debut campaign at Anfield for ‘Majestic Mo.’

Iconic Moments: Huddersfield beat the drop (May 2018)

The result 24 hours earlier at The Liberty Stadium meant Southampton were virtually safe barring a freakish set of circumstances on the final day. However, Swansea had one final hope and that was to see Huddersfield Town lose both of their remaining games. As they had a better goal difference than the Terriers and a fixture on the last day at home to relegated Stoke City, Swansea still harboured realistic ambitions of beating the drop.

They needed help from outgoing champions Chelsea though who were at home to Huddersfield a day after the Swansea vs. Southampton fixture. The Blues still had a chance to overhaul Liverpool FC in the race for a UEFA Champions League qualification spot but Antonio Conte left out Eden Hazard and Olivier Giroud who had inspired Chelsea to victory over the Reds days earlier.

Despite not recording a shot on-target in the opening 50 minutes, Huddersfield found a priceless goal with their first strike of anger in the evening. Aaron Mooy’s chipped ball over the top of the Chelsea backline gave Laurent Depoitre an opportunity. The Belgian was simply stronger than Willy Caballero in the Chelsea goal and produced a lovely finish to send the travelling fans believing the impossible was possible.

Chelsea did equalise through a fortunate Marcos Alonso effort and Jonas Lossl produced one of the saves of the season to deny Andreas Christensen in the closing stages. Although they recorded just 22% possession, Huddersfield’s stubborn defensive display earned the point they needed to avoid relegation.

It meant that all three promoted clubs had survived for only the third time in Premier League history and this achievement by manager David Wagner and his players was simply outstanding, not just with their performance at Stamford Bridge but throughout the season to defy the critics and earn themselves a deserved second season in the top-flight.

Great Goals: Jamie Vardy – LEICESTER CITY vs. Liverpool FC (February 2016)

In February 2016, Leicester City were still top of the Premier League table and many still believed that this amazing journey would have to come to an end at some point. In the space of a few days, they turned all the doubters into believers.

They faced Liverpool FC who were going through a transformation period under the guidance of Jurgen Klopp. The scoreline was locked at 0-0 in the 60th minute and it looked like something special was going to be required to break the deadlock. England international Jamie Vardy produced it with one of the best goals of his career.

Picked out by the eagle-eyed Riyad Mahrez, Vardy was in a one-on-one situation with Dejan Lovren. Lovren thought he had his angles covered but the Croatian was to be proven wrong. Vardy produced the most breathtaking of strikes that left Simon Mignolet flapping at thin air. It was an amazing moment for one of the players of the season. Even Klopp admitted afterwards that the goal was “world-class.”

Leicester won 2-0 and days later, stunned title favourites Manchester City to win 3-1 at The Etihad Stadium. They were on their way to completing the greatest story ever seen in the first 25 years of the Premier League.

Iconic Moments: Saints survive at Swansea’s expense (May 2018)

Going into the final week of the 2017-2018 Premier League season, the relegation battle was starting to take shape. The first team to be consigned to the drop were Stoke City, whose 10-year tenure in the top-flight ended after a 2-1 home defeat to Crystal Palace.

The big game was at The Liberty Stadium in the last midweek of the campaign as Swansea City hosted Southampton. A win was imperative for Southampton who had the daunting task of facing champions Manchester City on the final day of the season. As expected, it was a tight and tense contest with few goalscoring opportunities.

The matchwinning moment came in the 73rd minute. Charlie Austin was denied from a corner by Lukasz Fabianski but the ball fell perfectly to substitute Manolo Gabbiadini. The Italian made no mistake to send the away supporters into delirium. Southampton held on for a priceless victory.

A +10 goal difference advantage over Swansea effectively ensured their safety at the expense of the Welsh club, whilst this result ended West Bromwich Albion’s Premier League stint as they were relegated. Mark Hughes, who took over as Saints boss in mid-March, would have been hoping for a slightly easier campaign in his first full season on the south coast but already, it looks like the Saints could be set for another relegation battle this season.

25 years of the most envied league in the world!