Premier League Rewind: 6th-8th February 1999

Results: Aston Villa 1-3 Blackburn Rovers, Chelsea 1-0 Southampton, Leeds United 0-1 Newcastle United, Leicester City 0-2 Sheffield Wednesday, Liverpool FC 3-1 Middlesbrough, Nottingham Forest 1-8 Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur 0-0 Coventry City, West Ham United 0-4 Arsenal, Derby County 2-1 Everton, Charlton Athletic 2-0 Wimbledon

In the early weeks of February 1999, four sides still held genuine realistic chances of becoming Premier League champions. Just two points covered leaders Manchester United, second-placed Chelsea, early season pacesetters Aston Villa and reigning champions Arsenal. By the end of the 6th-8th February weekend, it became crystal clear that only three sides had serious title credentials.

Aston Villa’s form in the early weeks of 1999 was already concerning. They had managed just one victory at home to Everton and had been dumped out of the FA Cup by First Division Fulham. Nevertheless, John Gregory would still have been expecting a home victory against relegation-threatened Blackburn Rovers. It didn’t turn out the way he hoped. Gareth Southgate scored an embarrassing own goal and further strikes from Ashley Ward and David Dunn helped Blackburn to an impressive 3-1 victory. It meant a league double over the Villans’ whose form completely collapsed. They would take just three points from their next eight matches and dropped to sixth by the season’s end.

If Villa’s challenge had completely wilted, Manchester United’s was in top gear. They visited bottom-placed Nottingham Forest and ran riot at the City Ground. Alan Rogers did briefly equalise after Dwight Yorke had given the league leaders an early lead but it went swiftly downhill from there for the home side. Yorke added another goal and there were two for his strike partner Andy Cole. At 4-1 up with 18 minutes left, Yorke was substituted to his clear disappointment and on came Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. He would leave his mark with an incredible four-goal haul of his own from the bench. The 8-1 final scoreline means it remains the biggest away victory in Premier League history.

Arsenal were now hitting their stride too. Out of Europe, their focus was now solely on retaining the league and cup double they’d managed in 1998. They won 4-0 at Upton Park with a classy attacking performance that was reminiscent of the closing weeks of their title triumph the previous season. Dennis Bergkamp was at his best, opening the scoring and completely controlling the game. It was a home debut to forget for Paolo di Canio but at least he didn’t get into any trouble against Arsenal – unlike his experience earlier in the season as a Sheffield Wednesday player.

Whilst Manchester United and Arsenal were winning with more than something to spare, Chelsea took the prudent approach. Gianfranco Zola’s free-kick was good enough to beat Southampton 1-0 at Stamford Bridge. Gianluca Vialli’s side would continue to dig in and made it a real three-way fight all the way until mid-April when their exertions in the Cup Winners’ Cup would catch up on their title challenge.

Leeds United were having an excellent season under David O’Leary but they came unstuck at home to mid-table Newcastle United. Nolberto Solano scored the only goal of the game to mark the Yorkshire’s club third defeat in their last four outings. This galvanised Leeds though, who would go on a stunning run of seven successive victories to match the mark set by Don Revie’s great side of the early 1970s.

Elsewhere, Liverpool FC moved into the top six with a 3-1 home victory over Middlesbrough. Like the reverse fixture on Boxing Day, defender Vegard Heggem was on target for the Reds’, who were well in control and 3-0 up by half-time. Defender Dominic Matteo was sent off in the second half but Middlesbrough could only muster a late consolation through substitute Phil Stamp.

On Monday Night Football, Charlton Athletic were absolutely desperate for a victory against Wimbledon. Charlton had gone 13 games without a win since beating West Ham United 4-2 at the backend of October and that had included a seven-game losing sequence which had seen them plummet from 9th to 19th. Martin Pringle picked the best time to score his first Addicks’ goal and a comical own goal by Dean Blackwell ensured a priceless 2-0 victory for Alan Curbishley’s side although the season would end with heartache on the final day and relegation from the top-flight after one season in the elite.

What else happened in February 1999?

  • After a year of allegations, strain and defence, Bill Clinton is acquitted of impeachment proceedings in the US senate.
  • King Hussein of Jordan dies from cancer and is succeeded by his son, Abdullah II.
  • While trying to circumnavigate the world in a hot air balloon, Colin Prescot and Andy Elson set a new endurance record after being aloft for 233 hours and 55 minutes.
  • 31 people are killed when an avalanche dismantles the small Austrian village of Galtür.
  • The BBC announces that Noel’s House Party will be axed after eight successful years.
  • Kelly Brook succeeds Denise van Outen as co-presenter of The Big Breakfast on Channel 4.
  • Lauryn Hill makes history at the Grammy Awards by being the first female artist to win five Grammys in one night.
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Shock Results: Manchester United 2-3 Blackburn Rovers (December 2011)

Goalscorer: Yakubu 16 PEN, 51, Dimitar Berbatov 52, 62, Grant Hanley 81

Teams:

Manchester United: David de Gea, Patrice Evra, Michael Carrick, Phil Jones, Rafael (Will Keane 85), Ji-Sung Park, Antonio Valencia, Nani, Dimitar Berbatov, Javier Hernandez (Anderson 46), Danny Welbeck

Blackburn Rovers: Mark Bunn, Grant Hanley, Jason Lowe, Christopher Samba, Adam Henley, Radosav Petrovic, Ruben Rochina (Josh Morris 55), Mauro Formica (David Goodwillie 85), Steven N’Zonzi, Morten Gamst Pedersen, Yakubu (Jordan Slew 89)

Referee: Mike Dean, Attendance: 75,146

Blackburn Rovers arrived at Old Trafford on New Years’ Eve 2011 in real trouble. Despite a battling draw on Boxing Day at Anfield, they were bottom of the table and favourites to be relegated. Not only did Steve Kean have to deal with this problem, he was struggling to win over supporters who never seemed to accept him as the club’s manager.

By contrast, Manchester United were in devastating form. They had scored 10 goals in two matches without conceding and this was a chance to start 2012 as the league leaders. It was Sir Alex Ferguson’s 70th birthday. Unfortunately, his side decided to be rather charitable and gave him a nasty birthday surprise.

With the taxing festive programme, Ferguson elected to rotate his squad. Michael Carrick played as a makeshift centre-back whilst Wayne Rooney was rested. His move to leave his top goalscorer in the stands backfired. Blackburn made the better start and led after 13 minutes. From a free-kick, Dimitar Berbatov grappled with Christopher Samba and hauled the central defender to the ground. Mike Dean had no hesitation in pointing to the penalty spot. Yakubu took his time and converted the resulting spot-kick.

Whether it was the gloomy Manchester weather or the lunchtime kick-off but it took the reigning champions far too long to wake up. They only created half-chances in the first 45 minutes. Blackburn goalkeeper Mark Bunn only had two saves of real note to make. At half-time, Javier Hernandez was withdrawn and replaced by Anderson as Ferguson looked for more all-round balance.

However, Blackburn went 2-0 up six minutes after the restart as Yakubu struck again. He took advantage of some static defending, largely from ex-Blackburn defender Phil Jones. The Nigerian prodded the ball between de Gea’s legs to shock the Theatre of Dreams. Before the visitors’ could relax though, United immediately responded. Berbatov, who had scored a treble on Boxing Day at home to Wigan Athletic, made amends for his early penalty gaffe. He nodded home from close-range after Rafael’s wayward shot ended up in his path. The Bulgarian soon equalised. Antonio Valencia left 17-year-old Adam Henley behind on the right-hand side. His cross was guided home by Berbatov for his sixth goal in three games. Surely, the home side would complete the turnaround? Not so.

With 10 minutes left, Morten Gamst Pedersen’s corner was met by 20-year-old centre-back Grant Hanley. He was physically stronger than de Gea in the air, beating him to his attempted punch with a header. It was cleared off the line, but he reacted quickest to the follow-up. United nearly pinched a point in injury-time but Jones’ goal bound effort hit his own player, Will Keane on the line. All in all, it was a slumbering display from the usually reliable Red Devils.

It was a cracking win for Blackburn but they would end the season saying their goodbyes to the Premier League. Manchester United missed out on the title on goal difference to Manchester City. This was a damaging result for their title ambitions.

Premier League Files: Richard Dunne

Premier League Career: Everton (1997-2000), Manchester City (2000-2001, 2002-2009), Aston Villa (2009-2013), Queens Park Rangers (2014-2015)

Richard Dunne is a Premier League veteran, having featured in the top-flight 431 times for the likes of Everton, Manchester City, Aston Villa and Queens Park Rangers. His most successful time was in the colours of Manchester City, featuring nearly 300 times for the club, departing just before the club’s rich success under the Abu Dhabi United Group.

Dunne began his Premier League journey at Everton, signing schoolboy forms in 1995 and been given his debut at this level by Joe Royle at the age of just 17. Being a youngster meant mischief was bound to follow and he was disciplined by the club for two separate off-field incidents during Walter Smith’s reign. In 1999, it looked like he was going to join Wimbledon but the move fell through at the last minute and the man from Dublin stuck it out at Goodison Park into the millennium.

After 60 appearances for the Merseysiders, a move for Richard was probably best for all parties. Back in the top-flight after back-to-back promotions, Manchester City was the perfect destination where the man who had given him his Premier League debut, Joe Royle, was now in the dugout at Maine Road. £3.5 million was paid to Everton and he would start a nine-year stint at Eastlands.

Relegation was a setback in 2001 but the Irish international stuck with the club under Kevin Keegan’s tenure and helped the club back into the Premier League at the first attempt. Like at Everton, some indiscretions off-the-field led to trouble and in 2003, he was even suspended by the club for these incidents. It was at this stage that saw Dunne turnaround his career which was in danger of completely petering out. He went on a serious fitness regime programme, won back his place in both his club and country set-ups and started to set an example for the youngsters in the side. He learned from his bad experiences and therefore, that made him a decent person for the youth stars at City to listen to.

His best spell at the club came before the huge money came into the place. Richard won the Manchester City Player of the Year award for four successive seasons; becoming the first player in the club’s history to achieve this. With Sylvain Distin on the verge of leaving for Portsmouth in 2006, Stuart Pearce handed Dunne the captain’s armband. It was a huge honour that he would hold for three seasons. In January 2007, his teammate Micah Richards gave him high praise, saying: “Ever since I’ve come to this club Richard has just been quality. I play with him week in, week out and I think he’s one of the best players I’ve played with. I’ve played with John Terry and Rio Ferdinand in the England squad but Richard is right up there with them.”

He did set some unwanted history in January 2009. A red card against Wigan Athletic was his eighth Premier League dismissal, equalling a record jointly-held by Duncan Ferguson and Patrick Vieira. When Kolo Toure and Joleon Lescott arrived at the Etihad Stadium in the summer of 2009, he knew his time was coming to an end at the club. Aston Villa snapped him up in the closing days of that summer window for a fee of £5 million.

In October 2009, Villa played City at Villa Park and the teams shared the points in a 1-1 draw. Dunne scored the opening goal that night and was applauded by his former supporters for not celebrating the goal; a trait that has become fairly common in recent times across the game. He had a great first season in the Midlands. Dunne scored one of the goals in a victory over eventual champions Chelsea and was voted into the PFA Team of the Year.

That would be the peak of his career. Injuries and a loss of form followed and he was released by Villa in 2013. After one more Premier League campaign which ended with relegation in 2015 at Queens Park Rangers, Richard hung up his boots and he now does some occasional punditry work for BT Sport whilst spending his time living in the streets of Monte Carlo with his wife and two children.

Richard Dunne was a committed, fierce and combative defender who was unlucky to be playing for Manchester City in a period when they were still widely considered as the sleeping giants of English football.

Great Goals: Dennis Bergkamp – Newcastle United vs. ARSENAL (March 2002)

Dutch master Dennis Bergkamp produced some classical moments for Arsenal during his glorious 11-year stay at Highbury. He was one of football’s best players when it came to skill, intelligence and link-up with strike partners.

He demonstrated his sheer quality at St James’ Park in 2002. Early on into this match against a fellow title contender, Bergkamp produces an outrageous piece of skill, back heeling the ball on the edge of the area and spinning past a rather confused Nikos Dabizas.

This put Dennis in on goal and he showed extreme coolness to place the ball beyond the reach of Newcastle goalkeeper Shay Given. It is one of the all-time Premier League great goals and easily one of Bergkamp’s absolute best from a classy career.

Premier League Files: Geoff Horsfield

Premier League Career: Birmingham City (2002-2003), West Bromwich Albion (2004-2006)

Geoff Horsfield was one of those players who would always give a workmanlike effort. His hold-up ability and talent to back into defenders allowed his strike partners to get onto the end of decent opportunities. Horsfield’s career has been through a varied rollercoaster of emotions; from the joy of helping Birmingham City to the Premier League in 2002 to a battle with testicular cancer six years later.

His Football League breakthrough came as a teenager at the now-defunct club Scarborough before being released in 1994. Geoff had to earn his living then in part-time football with the likes of Witton Albion and Halifax Town whilst holding down a job as a bricklayer. A serious knee injury whilst in the non-league briefly threatened his longer-term football career but Horsfield would never let adversity get him down. After helping Halifax return to the Football League, he joined Fulham for £300,000 in October 1998 who were managed at the time by Kevin Keegan.

There was an immediate impact at Craven Cottage. Fulham won the Second Division title by 14 points and Horsfield was voted into the division’s PFA Team of the Year after chipping in with 15 goals from 28 games. Before leaving to take the England job, Keegan made a bold prediction: “Geoff’s your old-fashioned centre forward and we love him. He will score goals in the next divisions. He chases a lot of lost causes.”

Keegan’s successor, Jean Tigana disagreed and sold him to Birmingham City in July 2000. Horsfield proved the Frenchman wrong, featuring in the 2001 League Cup final and scoring the equaliser in the 2002 First Division playoff final against Norwich City which saw Birmingham promoted to the Premier League for the first time.

He will always be fondly remembered by Birmingham supporters for his contributions in the two Second City derbies in the 2002-2003 campaign. He capitalised on a dreadful mistake from Alpay to score the third goal in Birmingham’s 3-0 victory over Aston Villa at St Andrews. That was his first goal at this level. Six months later, he beat Peter Enckelman to a loose ball to score the second goal in a 2-0 win at Villa Park to ensure a famous league double for Birmingham as they finished a creditable 13th in their first season at this level.

However, he was slightly frustrated about his lack of starts in the top-flight and moved on in the closing days of the 2003 August transfer window, eventually to Midlands rivals West Bromwich Albion via a brief unhappy spell at Wigan Athletic.

On signing Horsfield, Gary Megson suggested: “I actually went out on a bit of a limb by saying to the chairman that I think [Horsfield] would get us promoted … I think he just gave us that little something that was missing in getting hold of the ball, a little bit of cuteness up the front that enabled us to bring other people into the game.”

Megson was correct with his view. Geoff scored seven times and helped West Brom back to the Premier League at the first attempt of asking. 2004-2005 would see him have another go at the top-flight.

It started slowly for both player and club but Geoff became a Baggies’ cult figure forever with his impact on ‘Survival Sunday’ in 2005. Going into the final day of the season, none of the bottom four were safe and two points adrift of safety, it was West Brom who were the bookies’ favourites for relegation. By now, Bryan Robson was in charge and he left Horsfield on the bench for the crucial match against Portsmouth. The scoreline was 0-0 when Robson decided early in the second half to bring Horsfield on.

Within seconds, he had scored with his first touch to haul West Brom ahead and out of the bottom three. Kieran Richardson added a second goal, set-up by Horsfield and when Crystal Palace conceded late at Charlton, the party could begin. West Bromwich Albion survived and Horsfield later admitted this was the best achievement of his football career, despite the promotions he’d achieved with Halifax, Fulham and Birmingham.

He started 2005-2006 with this confidence, scoring twice against Portsmouth again and adding another against former club Birmingham but that was to be his last goal in the Premier League. He was loaned to Sheffield United in February 2006 and although he was a member of the Blades’ Premier League squad of 2006-2007, he never played for the club at the highest level.

In October 2008, Geoff revealed he had been diagnosed with testicular cancer and was advised to retire from football. After successful treatment, he returned to the game with spells at Lincoln City and Port Vale. After doing some coaching with the latter, he walked away from football completely in May 2012 to pursue his business interests.

He was a no-nonsense footballer and there is no doubt that Geoff Horsfield left his mark on the Premier League chapters of both Birmingham City and West Bromwich Albion.

Iconic Moments: Derby nightmare for Enckelman (September 2002)

In September 2002, Birmingham City and Aston Villa faced each other for the first time in the Premier League era. There was plenty at stake and it was more than just three points too. Birmingham led 1-0 through a Clinton Morrison strike but there was all to play for with just 15 minutes remaining. Then, step forward one of the most bizarre goals in Premier League history.

Villa defender Olof Mellberg takes a throw-in and throws the ball back to his goalkeeper, Peter Enckelman. The Finnish goalie makes a complete meal of a simple opportunity to trap the ball and start a fresh attack. The ball rolls underneath his foot and trickles all the way into the back of the net. Enckelman puts his hands on his head as Birmingham supporters rejoice in their delight.

Geoff Horsfield later adds a third goal and Birmingham go onto win four of their first six Premier League encounters with their rivals in the Second City. Enckelman now works as a field sales executive for DHL. Earlier this year, he was asked whether he knew he’d touched the ball on its way into the net. He said: “The actual truth is I’m not 100 percent sure. I’m 90 percent sure I didn’t touch the ball, but I couldn’t swear I did.”

It gave us a derby moment in Premier League history that is rarely forgotten.

Iconic Moments: Howard scores from his own area (January 2012)

Not many goalkeepers have scored in the Premier League. Peter Schmeichel, Asmir Begovic, Brad Friedel and Paul Robinson are four of the five lucky keepers to score. The fifth was the American shot-stopper Tim Howard.

In January 2012, Everton were facing bottom-placed Bolton Wanderers at Goodison Park and were expected to win fairly comfortably. It was turning into a frustrating evening though for the home faithful with the scoreline remaining goalless until the 62nd minute.

Howard took a routine goal-kick which picked up plenty of speed in the air due to the blustery conditions on the evening. This completely confused Adam Bogdan in the Bolton goal as the ball bounced over him and into the net. The crowd and Everton players celebrated but Howard didn’t. He felt slightly embarrassed for his opposite number. His 101-yard clearance that went in remains the longest-distance goal in Premier League history.

He said afterwards: “It was cruel. You saw the back fours and the keepers not being able to believe balls all night, and at the back one wrong step and it can be a nightmare. For our goal I was disappointed from a goalkeepers’ union standpoint. You never want to see that happen. It’s not nice, it’s embarrassing, so I felt for Adam but you have to move on from it.”

Bolton won the game 2-1 but it was Howard’s bizarre goal that is mainly remembered in this encounter.

Great Goals: Olivier Giroud – ARSENAL vs. Crystal Palace (January 2017)

The first day of 2017 saw one of the Premier League’s best goals of the calendar year. Olivier Giroud was often used as a substitute during the 2016-2017 campaign but he got a rare start at home to Crystal Palace and he produced a goal which you won’t tire of seeing again and again.

Arsenal launched a counter-attack in the 17th minute. Typically, it is Alexis Sanchez leading the charge. The Chilean picks out Giroud who runs across the near post and delightfully produced a ‘scorpion kick’ to flick the ball from behind him, up and over Wayne Hennessey off the crossbar on its way in.

The goal came just a few days after Henrikh Mkhitaryan produced a similar kind of goal on Boxing Day for Manchester United against Sunderland. Both goals were rightful Goal of the Season contenders and in most campaigns, would have won the award.

Arsenal won the clash with their London rivals 2-0. Giroud will do well to beat this kind of effort for the rest of his career.

Seasonal Records: 1998-1999

For all the statistical fans out there, here are some of the season’s records from the 1998-1999 Premier League season; the last full season of the 20th century.

FINAL TABLE

Position Team P W D L F A GD PTS
1 Manchester United 38 22 13 3 80 37 +43 79
2 Arsenal 38 22 12 4 59 17 +42 78
3 Chelsea 38 20 15 3 57 30 +27 75
4 Leeds United 38 18 13 7 62 34 +28 67
5 West Ham United 38 16 9 13 46 53 -7 57
6 Aston Villa 38 15 10 13 51 46 +5 55
7 Liverpool FC 38 15 9 14 68 49 +19 54
8 Derby County 38 13 13 12 40 45 -5 52
9 Middlesbrough 38 12 15 11 48 54 -6 51
10 Leicester City 38 12 13 13 40 46 -6 49
11 Tottenham Hotspur 38 11 14 13 47 50 -3 47
12 Sheffield Wednesday 38 13 7 18 41 42 -1 46
13 Newcastle United 38 11 13 14 48 54 -6 46
14 Everton 38 11 10 17 42 47 -5 43
15 Coventry City 38 11 9 18 39 51 -12 42
16 Wimbledon 38 10 12 16 40 63 -23 42
17 Southampton 38 11 8 19 37 64 -27 41
18 Charlton Athletic 38 8 12 18 41 56 -15 36
19 Blackburn Rovers 38 7 14 17 38 52 -14 35
20 Nottingham Forest 38 7 9 22 35 69 -34 30

THE BASIC STATS

Goals Scored 963
European qualifiers Manchester United (UEFA Champions League), Arsenal (UEFA Champions League), Chelsea (UEFA Champions League), Leeds United (UEFA Cup), Tottenham Hotspur (UEFA Cup), Newcastle United (UEFA Cup), West Ham United (UEFA Intertoto Cup)
Longest winning run 7 games (Leeds United)
Longest unbeaten run 21 games (Chelsea)
Longest winless run 19 games (Nottingham Forest)
Longest losing run 8 games (Charlton Athletic)
Highest attendance 55,316 (Manchester United vs. Southampton)
Lowest attendance 11,717 (Wimbledon vs. Coventry City)

AWARDS

PFA Players’ Player of the Year David Ginola (Tottenham Hotspur)
PFA Young Player of the Year Nicolas Anelka (Arsenal)
Football Writers’ Award David Ginola (Tottenham Hotspur)
PFA Team of the Year Nigel Martyn, Denis Irwin, Sol Campbell, Jaap Stam, Gary Neville, Emmanuel Petit, Patrick Vieira, David Beckham, David Ginola, Nicolas Anelka, Dwight Yorke
Manager of the Year Alex Ferguson (Manchester United)
Premier League Goal of the Season Steve Froggatt (COVENTRY CITY vs. Everton)

HAT-TRICK HEROES

Player Teams Score Date
Clive Mendonca Charlton Athletic vs. Southampton 5-0 22nd August 1998
Michael Owen Newcastle United vs. Liverpool FC 1-4 30th August 1998
Michael Owen (4) Liverpool FC vs. Nottingham Forest 5-1 24th October 1998
Dion Dublin Southampton vs. Aston Villa 1-4 14th November 1998
Robbie Fowler Aston Villa vs. Liverpool FC 2-4 21st November 1998
Chris Armstrong Tottenham Hotspur vs. Everton 4-1 28th December 1998
Darren Huckerby Coventry City vs. Nottingham Forest 4-0 9th January 1999
Dwight Yorke Leicester City vs. Manchester United 2-6 16th January 1999
Robbie Fowler Liverpool FC vs. Southampton 7-1 16th January 1999
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (4) Nottingham Forest vs. Manchester United 1-8 6th February 1999
Nicolas Anelka Arsenal vs. Leicester City 5-0 20th February 1999
Kevin Campbell Everton vs. West Ham United 6-0 8th May 1999

TOP SCORERS

Position Player Teams No of Goals
1= Dwight Yorke Manchester United 18
1= Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink Leeds United 18
1= Michael Owen Liverpool FC 18
4= Andy Cole Manchester United 17
4= Nicolas Anelka Arsenal 17
6= Julian Joachim Aston Villa 14
6= Robbie Fowler Liverpool FC 14
6= Hamilton Ricard Middlesbrough 14
6= Alan Shearer Newcastle United 14
6= Dion Dublin Coventry City & Aston Villa 14
11= Gianfranco Zola Chelsea 12
11= Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Manchester United 12
11= Dennis Bergkamp Arsenal 12
11= Gus Poyet Chelsea 12
15= Tore Andre Flo Chelsea 10
15= Tony Cottee Leicester City 10
15= Noel Whelan Coventry City 10
15= Marcus Gayle Wimbledon 10
19= Deon Burton Derby County 9
19= Lee Bowyer Leeds United 9
19= Ian Wright West Ham United 9
19= Paulo Wanchope Derby County 9
19= Steffen Iversen Tottenham Hotspur 9
19= Kevin Campbell Everton 9
19= Darren Huckerby Coventry City 9

BIGGEST VICTORIES

Nottingham Forest 1-8 Manchester United 6th February 1999
Liverpool FC 7-1 Southampton 16th January 1999
Everton 6-0 West Ham United 8th May 1999
Middlesbrough 1-6 Arsenal 24th April 1999
Arsenal 5-0 Leicester City 20th February 1999
Everton 5-0 Middlesbrough 17th February 1999
Charlton Athletic 5-0 Southampton 22nd August 1998
Leicester City 2-6 Manchester United 16th January 1999
Manchester United 5-1 Wimbledon 17th October 1998
Arsenal 5-1 Wimbledon 19th April 1999

HIGHEST SCORING GAMES

No of Goals Teams Date
9 Nottingham Forest 1-8 Manchester United 6th February 1999
8 Liverpool FC 7-1 Southampton 16th January 1999
8 Leicester City 2-6 Manchester United 16th January 1999
7 Middlesbrough 1-6 Arsenal 24th April 1999
7 Blackburn Rovers 3-4 Chelsea 21st September 1998
7 Derby County 3-4 Newcastle United 3rd April 1999
7 West Ham United 3-4 Wimbledon 9th September 1998
7 Aston Villa 3-4 Charlton Athletic 8th May 1999
6 Everton 6-0 West Ham United 8th May 1999
6 Manchester United 5-1 Wimbledon 17th October 1998
6 Arsenal 5-1 Wimbledon 19th April 1999
6 West Ham United 1-5 Leeds United 1st May 1999
6 West Ham United 5-1 Derby County 17th April 1999
6 Liverpool FC 5-1 Nottingham Forest 24th October 1998
6 Coventry City 1-5 Newcastle United 19th September 1998
6 Aston Villa 2-4 Liverpool FC 21st November 1998
6 Leicester City 2-4 Chelsea 21st November 1998
6 Charlton Athletic 4-2 West Ham United 24th October 1998
6 Liverpool FC 4-2 Newcastle United 28th December 1998
6 Southampton 3-3 Middlesbrough 7th November 1998

YOUNGEST PLAYERS USED

Player Teams Age at the time Date
Owen Morrison Sheffield Wednesday 0-1 Leicester City 17 years, 18 days 26th December 1998
Joe Cole Manchester United 4-1 West Ham United 17 years, 2 months, 2 days 10th January 1999
Gareth Barry Everton 0-0 Aston Villa 17 years, 5 months, 23 days 15th August 1998
Adam Murray West Ham United 5-1 Derby County 17 years, 6 months, 18 days 17th April 1999
Paul Konchesky Charlton Athletic 2-2 Newcastle United 17 years, 8 months, 2 days 17th January 1999
Chris Doig Manchester United 3-0 Nottingham Forest 17 years, 10 months, 13 days 26th December 1998
Mikael Forssell Arsenal 1-0 Chelsea 17 years, 10 months, 16 days 31st January 1999
Wayne Bridge Southampton 1-2 Liverpool FC 18 years, 11 days 16th August 1998
Francis Jeffers Derby County 2-1 Everton 18 years, 13 days 7th February 1999
Alan Smith Liverpool FC 1-3 Leeds United 18 years, 17 days 14th November 1998

OLDEST PLAYERS USED

Player Teams Age at the time Date
Steve Ogrizovic West Ham United 2-0 Coventry City 41 years, 3 months, 16 days 28th December 1998
Dave Beasant Nottingham Forest 1-3 Chelsea 39 years, 11 months 20th February 1999
Dave Watson Southampton 2-0 Everton 37 years, 5 months, 26 days 16th May 1999
Richard Gough Blackburn Rovers 1-2 Nottingham Forest 37 years, 1 month, 3 days 8th May 1999
Hans Segers Southampton 1-1 Tottenham Hotspur 36 years, 10 months, 20 days 19th September 1998
Mark Bright Everton 4-1 Charlton Athletic 36 years, 10 months, 18 days 24th April 1999
Stuart Pearce Liverpool FC 4-2 Newcastle United 36 years, 8 months, 4 days 28th December 1998
Kevin Hitchcock Tottenham Hotspur 2-2 Chelsea 36 years, 7 months, 5 days 10th May 1999
Steve Bould Arsenal 1-0 Derby County 36 years, 5 months, 16 days 2nd May 1999
Raimond van der Gouw Manchester United 3-0 Sheffield Wednesday 36 years, 24 days 17th April 1999

CLEAN SHEETS

Position Player Teams No of Clean Sheets
1 David Seaman Arsenal 19
2 Shaka Hislop West Ham United 15
3= Ed de Goey Chelsea 14
3= Kasey Keller Leicester City 14
3= Thomas Myhre Everton 14
6= Nigel Martyn Leeds United 13
6= Mark Schwarzer Middlesbrough 13
8 Peter Schmeichel Manchester United 11
9 Mark Bosnich Aston Villa 9
10 Mart Poom Derby County 8

Premier League Files: Odion Ighalo

Premier League Career: Watford (2015-2017)

Still only 27, Odion Ighalo still has plenty of promise to fulfil and he has already shown this on the Premier League stage with Watford.

The Nigerian began his career in his native country before making his European breakthrough in 2007 with Lyn Oslo in Norway. After spells with Udinese and Granada, Ighalo made the move to Watford in 2014, initially on-loan before becoming a permanent signing after just eight appearances with the Hornets.

Ighalo played a significant part in the club’s promotion to the Premier League, scoring 20 times including four in a 7-2 thumping of Blackpool. He continued where he left off in the Premier League with a goal on his top-flight debut as a substitute in Watford’s 2-2 draw with Everton.

A devout Christian, Ighalo’s partnership with Troy Deeney in the club’s attack was scaring defenders up and down the country. Deeney’s physical prowess and Ighalo’s pace and own power meant they were a difficult combination to defend against. He won the December Player of the Month award in 2015, scoring in four successive matches including twice in a 3-0 triumph over Liverpool FC.

Ighalo ended with 15 goals for the season but his form tailed off in the closing weeks of the 2015-2016 campaign and although he signed a new contract in the summer, his confidence was hurt by personal issues and a change in Watford’s formation.

He netted just once in 2016-2017 against West Ham United before being sold in the January transfer window for £20 million to Changchun Yatai F.C. in the Chinese Super League.

For now, Odion Ighalo’s Premier League career is on-hold but I’ve got a feeling that we haven’t seen the last of him in this country just yet.

Shock Results: Aston Villa 0-1 Oldham Athletic (May 1993)

Goalscorers: Nick Henry 29

Teams:

Aston Villa: Mark Bosnich, Paul McGrath, Steve Staunton, Shaun Teale, Earl Barrett, Kevin Richardson, Garry Parker (Tony Daley 61), Ray Houghton, Dwight Yorke, Dalian Atkinson, Dean Saunders

Oldham Athletic: Paul Gerrard, Steve Redmond, Craig Fleming, Richard Jobson, Gunnar Halle, Neil Pointon, Mike Milligan, Paul Bernard, Nick Henry, Ian Olney, Darren Beckford

Referee: David Allison, Attendance: 37,247

Aston Villa went into their penultimate match of the 1992-1993 season still harbouring hopes of winning the inaugural Premier League title. However, they had to beat struggling Oldham Athletic to stand any hope of catching Manchester United. Any other result and the championship would return to Old Trafford after a 26-year absence.

They were facing an Oldham side that looked dead and buried in the battle to survive. They required three wins from their last three matches to even have a hope of catching Crystal Palace or Sheffield United. The mathematics looked against Joe Royle’s side. However, no game of football has ever been written on just a piece of paper.

It was a sunny but gusty afternoon in the Midlands and it was the visitors’ who made the brighter start. Young goalkeeper Mark Bosnich, preferred to the veteran Nigel Spink was forced to make a great save after 14 minutes when facing Oldham’s Ian Olney in a one-on-one situation. The chance came from his scuffed goal-kick but he did well to make amends. Royle’s side were showing no fear despite their precarious situation in the table and deservedly took the lead in the 29th minute.

A long-ball was played up the park. Full-back Gunnar Halle had pushed forward and managed to beat Steve Staunton in the air. As Villa’s centre-backs went AWOL, Darren Beckford raced onto the knockdown. His control wasn’t great but fortunately for him and Latics’ supporters, Nick Henry had tracked the ball and scored across Bosnich’s bows to stun Villa Park.

It woke Villa up from their slumbers. Dean Saunders was desperately unlucky with a free-kick three minutes later that smashed the crossbar with Oldham goalie Paul Gerrard completely stranded. Seconds later, the former Liverpool FC forward had a volley cleared off-the-line from a corner.

As the game progressed though, Oldham started to look more comfortable. Heroic displays from the likes of Richard Jobson and Craig Fleming helped them towards a rare clean sheet. Villa’s usual creative spark was evidently missing. Ron Atkinson admitted afterwards that he had toyed with the idea of throwing some of the youngsters into the spotlight before electing to stick with the trusted combination that had got them so close, yet so far.

On the final whistle, it was Manchester United fans celebrating. Their Greater Manchester rivals had just ended their title drought and the party could begin at Old Trafford. For the record, Oldham won their final two matches and survived on the final day at the expense of Crystal Palace.

The Managers: Alex McLeish

Premier League Clubs Managed: Birmingham City (2007-2008), (2009-2011), Aston Villa (2011-2012)

The Midlands and especially, the city of Birmingham dominated the management career of Alex McLeish in the Premier League. The Scot was a huge success in Scottish football but his English spell wasn’t so rewarding. Despite winning the League Cup in 2011 with Birmingham City, two relegations and an uneasy season at Villa Park in 2011-2012 meant it was an unfulfilling experience in the top-flight for McLeish.

Early Scottish success

As a player, McLeish was a central defender for Aberdeen during their own monopoly of Scottish football in the 1980s. He scored in the 1983 European Cup Winners’ Cup final over the mighty Real Madrid and made 493 appearances for Aberdeen across 16 seasons. His performances saw him voted Scottish Player of the Year in 1990 and it led to international recognition from Scotland on no fewer than 77 occasions.

McLeish’s first management role came at Motherwell where he made the final appearances of his playing time. Under his guidance, the Lanarkshire club finished second to Rangers in 1995 but he was unable to build on this and in the next two campaigns, relegation battles followed. He left Motherwell in 1998 to take over at Hibernian.

McLeish arrived too late to stop the Edinburgh side sliding out of the top-flight but he guided them straight back into the Premiership and soon consolidated Hibs into a comfortable, attractive side to watch. He even managed to tempt the likes of former French international Franck Sauzee to Easter Road. Hibernian finished best of the rest in 2001 behind the Glasgow dominant Celtic and Rangers combination. The latter had noted his good work and at Christmas time in 2001, he was chosen by Dick Advocaat as his future successor.

Stopping the Celtic steamroller

Any doubts about McLeish’s appointment by Rangers supporters were instantly quelled. Although the title was always going to go to Martin O’Neill and Celtic long before his arrival in 2001-2002, McLeish did preside over a domestic cup double against the old enemy. The likes of Barry Ferguson, Peter Lovenkrands and Ronald de Boer made swift contributions as Rangers swept the board in 2002-2003. McLeish was keeping the winning tradition going at Ibrox. How they wish they had these days back nowadays…

Another title followed in 2005 and also under his guidance, Rangers reached the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League, becoming the first Scottish side to get through the group stage since the competition’s reformation in 1992. However, Celtic had bounced back and regained the grip on Scottish football. With fan pressure growing, McLeish stood down in the summer of 2006.

After a brief hiatus from the game, he took over as manager of his country in January 2007. Under his reign as Scotland manager, the Scots stunned France in Paris to beat them in qualifying for the 2008 European Championships. Sadly though, a defeat in Georgia ended any realistic hopes of a first major tournament finals’ appearance in 10 years. A loss to Italy in the final round of games ensured Scotland’s brave failure was complete.

Days after the Italian defeat, he resigned and took over the vacancy at Birmingham City which was left open after Steve Bruce went to Wigan Athletic. His chapter in English football was about to begin.

Highs and lows with Birmingham

McLeish’s debut match as Birmingham manager was a memorable one. Sebastian Larsson’s stunning strike helped the Blues’ to a 3-2 away win at White Hart Lane against Tottenham Hotspur. They briefly climbed to 11th in early March but a poor run of results towards the end of the season ended with the team’s relegation to the Championship, despite beating Blackburn Rovers 4-1 on the final day of the season.

Things did improve. An immediate promotion back to the top-flight followed and then, he produced a sound 2009-2010 campaign which saw Birmingham finish an impressive ninth; their highest finish in over half a century. Among the achievements was a club-record 12-match unbeaten run in the top-flight and the Manager of the Month award for December 2009.

In 2010-2011, expectations were therefore fairly high and there was a victory over champions Chelsea, plus creditable home draws with Liverpool FC and Manchester United. In February 2011, Birmingham stunned favourites Arsenal at Wembley Stadium to win the Carling Cup 2-1. However, a nightmarish run followed in the Premier League. Just two wins in their last 11 matches saw the club relegated for the third time in just over five years. Birmingham’s plight was confirmed by a 2-1 defeat on the final day to Tottenham Hotspur.

The board wanted to keep McLeish in charge but in June 2011, he controversially resigned from his position via e-mail. Five days later, he liked the Midlands so much; he stayed in the region and became Aston Villa boss. Protests were held outside Villa Park on his appointment. He was not the fans’ popular choice. McLeish signed Shay Given and Charles N’Zogbia on his arrival. Neither signing would ultimately work out well. Villa did remain unbeaten until mid-October but there was never any comfort in the role, or a great brand of football being played by his team.

Chelsea were beaten 3-1 at Stamford Bridge on New Years’ Eve but just four wins were achieved all term at home and relegation was avoided by a mere two points. His contract was terminated by Randy Lerner after defeat at Norwich City on the final day consigned Villa to a lowly 16th-place finish.

Since then, Alex McLeish had the briefest of spells at Nottingham Forest (7 games) following by stints working in Belgium and Egypt. Alex McLeish has experienced the highs and lows in football management. His teams weren’t the prettiest to watch but they were very successful in his homeland. It didn’t quite work out though in England.