Shock Results: Aston Villa 3-1 Manchester United (August 1995)

Goalscorers: Ian Taylor 14, Mark Draper 27, Dwight Yorke 36 PEN, David Beckham 82

Teams:

Aston Villa: Mark Bosnich, Alan Wright, Gareth Southgate, Ugo Ehiogu, Paul McGrath, Gary Charles, Ian Taylor, Andy Townsend, Mark Draper, Dwight Yorke (Riccardo Scimeca 86), Savo Milosevic (Tommy Johnson 50)

Manchester United: Peter Schmeichel, Paul Parker, Denis Irwin, Gary Pallister (John O’Kane 59), Gary Neville, Phil Neville (David Beckham 45), Roy Keane, Nicky Butt, Lee Sharpe, Paul Scholes, Brian McClair

Referee: Robbie Hart, Attendance: 34,655

Manchester United felt like a wounded club in the summer of 1995. Having won the double in 1994, they ended up empty-handed one season later.

Alex Ferguson’s response was to sell star players Paul Ince, Andrei Kanchelskis and Mark Hughes. Ince moved to a new culture of football of Serie A with Inter Milan, Kanchelskis switched to Everton and Hughes moved to Chelsea. With injuries keeping out Steve Bruce, Andy Cole and Ryan Giggs, plus Eric Cantona’s lengthy suspension, it was a much-changed Red Devils line-up that travelled to Villa Park on the opening weekend of the 1995-1996 campaign. Aston Villa had undergone a huge squad overhaul themselves. The likes of Ray Houghton, Dean Saunders, Dalian Atkinson and Kevin Richardson were discarded and in came Gareth Southgate, Mark Draper and from Yugoslavia, Savo Milosevic. Villa produced a quality display on a sun-drenched afternoon in Birmingham.

Brian Little opted for a three-man defence, comprising of Southgate, Ugo Ehiogu and Paul McGrath. This allowed the more attack-minded Gary Charles to push forward and his tactics worked, especially as Charles played a significant part in the opening goal on 14 minutes. His dangerous cross into the penalty area was turned in by Ian Taylor. Taylor was in his first full season at the club after moving from Sheffield Wednesday in December 1994. He was already a hero of the Holte End.

It was a speedy counter-attack that led to Villa’s second. The new strike partnership of Dwight Yorke and Milosevic combined to tee-up Draper on 26 minutes for a debut goal. United were struggling without many of their regulars and a third goal came nine minutes before the interval. Goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel fouled Milosevic in the penalty area. Yorke routinely converted the spot-kick to make the scoreline 3-0. It was already a result that would raise plenty of eyebrows.

Ferguson probably peeled the paint off the visitors’ dressing room walls at half-time. He made a number of tactical changes, including reverting to a traditional 4-4-2 formation. He brought on David Beckham at half-time and his long-range strike with eight minutes left at least ensured some reward for a better second half display. However, the damage had been inflicted long before Beckham’s very first Premier League goal.

Ferguson defended his team in the media but the written press had a field day and BBC Match of the Day pundit Alan Hansen famously said a few hours after the result: “He has to buy players. You can’t win anything with kids!”

Manchester United would end the season with their second league and cup double in three seasons.

Advertisements

Premier League Files: Angel Rangel

Premier League Career: Swansea City (2011-PRESENT)

Angel Rangel has spent the majority of his professional career at just one club, Swansea City. His loyalty was rewarded in November 2017 when he was made club captain by Swans’ manager Paul Clement, replacing Leon Britton who moved into a player-assistant role.

Born in Catalonia, Rangel played for several clubs in Spain but never in the top-flight of his homeland country. In the summer of 2007, fellow compatriot Roberto Martinez brought him to Swansea for an undisclosed fee. Since then, Rangel has been a prominent part of Swansea’s journey into the top-flight and beyond.

When he joined the Welsh side, they were in League One. He had an excellent debut campaign in British football, scoring twice and being one of five Swansea players to feature in the PFA League One Team of the Year. Swansea were promoted as League One champions, ending a 24-year exile outside the top two leagues.

He continued to feature prominently in Swansea’s teams during their Championship days under the guidance of Martinez, Paulo Sousa and then Brendan Rodgers. It was under Rodgers in 2011 that Swansea made their breakthrough into the Premier League, beating Reading 4-2 in the Championship play-off final. During that summer, he signed a three-year extension to his contract.

In August 2012, Rangel scored his first Premier League goal, opening the scoring in Swansea’s 3-0 home win over West Ham United. He scored three goals that campaign in the top-flight. He’s only got four in his PL career. His most recent strike was a crucial one as it won Swansea three vital points against Crystal Palace in January 2017 – Clement’s first game in charge as manager.

On the announcement of becoming captain, he said: “I never thought I would end up as a captain, but I am proud and honoured and full of enthusiasm after being given this chance.”

Now 35, Rangel only featured once in the first 11 games of the 2017-2018 Premier League season but his experience and guile will be important as Swansea face another difficult campaign at the wrong end of the table.

The Managers: Mike Walker

Premier League Clubs Managed: Norwich City (1992-1994), Everton (1994)

Mike Walker turned 72 in late November 2017. He had a professional career that nearly spanned 700 games and is remembered fondly by Norwich City fans as one of their finest-ever managers. By contrast, Everton fans remember his 10-month reign at Goodison Park for all the wrong reasons. He is widely considered by many supporters on Merseyside as Everton’s worst boss.

During his playing days, Walker played as a goalkeeper and this was something that ran through his family. His son, Ian Walker would later be capped at international level by England and play in the Premier League in-goal for Tottenham Hotspur and Leicester City. He most notably played for Colchester United, spending 10 seasons as their first-choice goalkeeper. He played 451 times for the club and also turned out in the Football League for Shrewsbury Town, York City, Watford and one appearance for Charlton Athletic.

Taking Norwich to the brink

The highlight was being a part of the Watford side that knocked out Bill Shankly’s mighty Liverpool FC outfit from the FA Cup in 1970. He saved a spot-kick too which endeared himself to many Everton fans. 24 years later, they wouldn’t be so endearing after his ghoulish Goodison reign.

Having ending his playing days with Colchester in 1983, his first managerial role came at the Essex club three years later. Colchester were top of the Fourth Division table in November 1987 and Walker had won 35 of his 79 games in charge, yet was mysteriously sacked by owner Jonathan Crisp to the amazement of everyone at Layer Road. He had just won Manager of the Month honours for the previous month too.

Norwich City were quick to snap Walker up following his shock exit from Colchester. He took charge of their youth team which was a role he would keep until 1992. He was promoted to take control of the first-team just two months before the start of the inaugural Premier League campaign. The Canaries were considered among the favourites for relegation but they continued to defy the odds all season. They beat the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea and Southampton in the season’s early weeks to top the table and they remained top of the pile at Christmas. Eventually, Manchester United and Aston Villa managed to wear the East Anglian club down but Norwich still finished a fabulous third, despite ending with a negative goal difference.

Walker was seen as one of the most promising managers in British football. His Norwich side were attack-minded, positive and never afraid to take teams on at their own game. It made them one of the most attractive sides in England. In October 1993, Norwich produced one of the biggest shocks in the history of the UEFA Cup. They stunned Bayern Munich in their own backyard to beat them 2-1 in the second round. They became the first English team to win at the Olympic Stadium. A draw back at Carrow Road was enough to see the Bundesliga heavyweights eliminated. They were edged out in the next round by the eventual winners of the competition that season, Inter Milan.

However, relations had soured between Walker and his owner Robert Chase. The manager wanted to take the club forward but couldn’t as Chase was more interested in cashing in on the most prized assets. With Ruel Fox on the verge of being sold to Newcastle United in January 1994, that was the final straw for Mike and he abruptly quit, taking over as Everton manager. Everton had been without a manager for a month before his arrival and they had to pay substantial compensation to Norwich for Walker’s services.

The nightmare of Merseyside

His first game was an exciting 6-2 victory over Swindon Town but it wouldn’t get much better than that. Everton were in the midst of a relegation battle and went into the final day of the season in the bottom three. They needed to beat Wimbledon and hope results went their way. It started disastrously with the Toffees 2-0 down inside 20 minutes but they produced a remarkable recovery to win 3-2. Results did go for the Merseysiders and they stayed up with Sheffield United going down instead.

Walker had signed Anders Limpar and in the summer of 1994, added Vinny Samways from Tottenham Hotspur and Nigerian Daniel Amokachi who had starred at the World Cup. However, fans were annoyed to see fan favourites Peter Beagrie and Tony Cottee discarded so easily. Everton fans were desperate to see the ‘Silver Fox’ as he was nicknamed succeed but his lack of defensive principles and refusal to change tactics would cost him his job.

Everton started 1994-1995 so poorly. They made their worst start to a league season in their proud history and were propping up the table. With four clubs going down that campaign, desperate action was required. A win did arrive at home to West Ham United in early November but the damage had already been done.

Three days after earning a gutsy 0-0 draw at his former club Norwich in a dire game of football, Walker was sacked. On leaving, he said he was “disappointed” and believed the club had “turned the corner.” He took charge of 35 league matches, losing over 50% of these games and winning just six times. It remains the worst reign of any Everton manager in terms of statistics since the end of World War II. After his dismissal, Everton would eventually survive and win the FA Cup under the guidance of Joe Royle.

None of the players would miss him. Mark Ward, who had been a senior figure before his arrival and was eventually banished to the reserves said in his autobiography: “He was a phoney from the start and, although he’d had an impressive 18 months at Norwich, I knew this job was just too big for him.”

With Norwich on a stiff decline, fans at the Norfolk club were very keen to see Walker come back to the club. They had been relegated by the time he was back at the helm in June 1996. He stayed with the Canaries for two seasons but couldn’t rediscover the winning formula from his first reign and left via mutual consent in April 1998 after they failed to return to the Premier League. Since leaving Norwich, Walker has had a spell managing in Cyprus for APOEL, where he resides to this day.

Premier League Rewind: 19th-20th November 2005

Results: Wigan Athletic 2-3 Arsenal, Charlton Athletic 1-3 Manchester United, Chelsea 3-0 Newcastle United, Liverpool FC 3-0 Portsmouth, Manchester City 0-0 Blackburn Rovers, Sunderland 1-3 Aston Villa, West Bromwich Albion 4-0 Everton, Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 West Ham United, Middlesbrough 3-2 Fulham, Birmingham City P-P Bolton Wanderers

After an international break, the Premier League resumed on the 19th-20th November 2005 with Chelsea threatening to run away with the title. However, Jose Mourinho’s side had been beaten for the first time in 40 top-flight matches last time out by Manchester United, so that gave some flickering hopes to the challengers.

If there was going to be any let-up from the reigning champions, they didn’t show it at home to Newcastle United. Second half goals from Joe Cole, Hernan Crespo and Damien Duff set the Blues’ up for an easy 3-0 victory over the Magpies.

Going into the weekend, newly-promoted Wigan Athletic were Chelsea’s nearest challengers. Paul Jewell’s side had strung together a stunning nine-game unbeaten sequence which included eight victories. However, they were about to face some of the Premier League’s big-hitters. First up was Arsenal who were struggling to sparkle away from Highbury. However, they prevailed in an entertaining Saturday lunchtime kick-off. Thierry Henry scored twice as the Gunners won this match 3-2 and Wigan would go onto lose their next four matches.

That result pushed Arsenal into the top four and they were joined there by Manchester United, who won 3-1 at Charlton Athletic. Ruud van Nistelrooy continued his excellent season so far, scoring twice. The win at The Valley came 24 hours after United had confirmed they had parted company with skipper Roy Keane, releasing him from his contract by mutual consent. Keane would sign for Celtic a month later.

Bolton Wanderers started the weekend in the top three but would drop down to fifth spot through no fault of their own. Their Monday Night Football trip to Birmingham City was postponed by referee Phil Dowd just an hour before kick-off. Although the pitch was playable at St Andrews, heavy fog had set in and visibility was considered to be too dangerous for the game to be played.

After a slow start to the season, Liverpool FC were beginning to find their form. They recorded a third successive victory with a 3-0 win at home to struggling Portsmouth. Peter Crouch’s goalscoring drought continued as he had a penalty saved but Bolo Zenden scored the rebound effort in his final Premier League match of the campaign before a knee injury curtailed his debut season at Anfield. It was also the final match in charge for Alain Perrin. He was sacked a few days later and became the first managerial casualty of the 2005-2006 season.

If things were going better for Liverpool, they didn’t improve for David Moyes at Everton. After last season’s fine fourth-place finish, they were finding the going much more difficult this time around. Everton lost 4-0 in the Saturday teatime kick-off to West Bromwich Albion which kept them in the bottom three on goal difference, along with Birmingham and Sunderland who lost again – 3-1 at home to Aston Villa.

What else happened in November 2005?

  • The footballing world mourns the death of one of Britain’s finest players as George Best passes away in hospital, aged 59 after a long battle with illness.
  • Angela Merkel becomes the first female Chancellor of Germany.
  • Former British World Rally champion Richard Burns dies at the age of 34 from a brain tumour. Burns had won the championship with Subaru just four years earlier.
  • Digital channel ITV4 is launched.
  • The Safeway supermarket brand disappears after 43 years on the high street as Morrisons completes its conversion programme. The two companies had merged in March 2004.
  • New licensing laws come into effect which allows pubs and clubs in England and Wales to open 24 hours for the first time.

Memorable Matches: Swansea City 3-2 Arsenal (January 2012)

Goalscorers: Robin van Persie 5, Scott Sinclair 16 PEN, Nathan Dyer 57, Theo Walcott 69, Danny Graham 70

Teams:

Swansea City: Michel Vorm, Neil Taylor, Steven Caulker, Ashley Williams, Angel Rangel, Leon Britton, Kemy Agustien (Gylfi Sigurdsson 46), Joe Allen, Nathan Dyer (Wayne Routledge 81), Scott Sinclair, Danny Graham (Leroy Lita 90)

Arsenal: Wojciech Szczesny, Johan Djourou, Laurent Koscielny, Per Mertesacker (Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain 77), Ignasi Miquel, Alex Song, Aaron Ramsey, Andrey Arshavin (Thierry Henry 63), Yossi Benayoun (Tomas Rosicky 63), Robin van Persie, Theo Walcott

Referee: Michael Oliver, Attendance: 20,409

This match promised plenty and certainly delivered in January 2012. Both sides were not afraid to attack and it turned into a great end-to-end spectacle that produced five goals and a famous victory for Swansea City.

Swansea were in their first season in the Premier League and coping well. Brendan Rodgers had built an entertaining side that were very difficult to beat, especially at the Liberty Stadium. After a dreadful start to their 2011-2012 season which had seen four defeats from their first seven outings, Arsenal had bounced back to be a big part in the equation to finish in the top four. However, they had lost their last away match in the Premier League at Fulham.

It was the visitors’ who were the faster out of the blocks and took the lead after just five minutes. Andrey Arshavin found some space in the Swansea defensive line. His fine pass found Arsenal’s usual goalscoring source, Robin van Persie. The Gunners’ captain shrugged off the attentions of Steven Caulker to score his 18th league goal of a season that ended up with the Dutchman winning the Golden Boot and the PFA Players’ Player of the Year. However, Swansea’s passing movements were overrunning Arsenal at times and Arsene Wenger’s side lost their early control when Aaron Ramsey lazily stuck out a leg in the penalty area. Nathan Dyer went down under the challenge and although Dyer made the most of the contact, referee Michael Oliver correctly awarded the penalty. Scott Sinclair kept his composure to dispatch the penalty past Wojciech Szczesny.

Both teams continued to create chances and it was Swansea, sticking to their manager’s vision who claimed the lead 12 minutes into the second half. The excellent Joe Allen robbed his Welsh international colleague Ramsey of possession in the middle of the park and played in Dyer. The flying winger made no mistake with his finish to score for the third successive match. Wenger responded by taking off the ineffective Arshavin and replacing him with club legend Thierry Henry. Henry was back on a loan deal to help the club’s forwards out in the winter period. Theo Walcott seemed to have been inspired and he drew the Gunners’ level, clipping the ball over Michel Vorm after Johan Djourou’s pass carved the Swansea defence open.

However, parity didn’t last long. With their very next attack, Swansea were back in-front. Gylfi Sigurdsson, making his Premier League debut on-loan from TSG 1899 Hoffenheim played a matchwinning pass. Laurent Koscielny was taken out of the game and as Szczesny showed an indecisive approach to coming out and closing down the angles; Danny Graham raced onto the pass and fired across the dithering goalkeeper.  Arsenal pressed for another equaliser but couldn’t find one.

This was Swansea’s first win over their opponents for 20 years and the result took them into the top 10. They eventually finished 11th and by the end of the campaign, champions Manchester City and Liverpool FC had also been beaten at the Liberty Stadium. Arsenal bounced back from this defeat and would finish third in the table but a distant 19 points behind the duelling Manchester clubs.

Iconic Moments: Rosenthal misses an open goal (September 1992)

When Aston Villa met Liverpool FC at Villa Park in September 1992, the match was an early reunion for Dean Saunders. Saunders had recently transferred from Merseyside to Birmingham and whilst he scored twice for his new club in a 4-2 victory, that wasn’t the iconic moment of the match.

Israeli forward Ronny Rosenthal pulled off one of the Premier League’s most embarrassing misses ever seen. Even 25 years on, few have come close to toppling it. From a long punt up the pitch by visiting goalkeeper David James, Rosenthal got the better of Villa’s Shaun Teale and evaded the challenge of goalkeeper Nigel Spink. He’d done the hard part, now all he had to do was roll the ball into the empty net.

He elected to go for power over an easy side-footed finish and it seriously backfired. With pinpoint accuracy, he inexplicably managed to hit the crossbar with the goal gaping and begging at his mercy to score. It was an unbelievable miss and one which has gone down in the Premier League archive.

Rosenthal did score a consolation goal in this match and he did come off the bench to score a stunning hat-trick for Tottenham Hotspur in an FA Cup fifth round replay at Southampton in 1995. However, he will always be remembered as the man who beautifully managed to miss an open goal.

Great Goals: Dimitar Berbatov – MANCHESTER UNITED vs. Liverpool FC (September 2010)

With Wayne Rooney struggling for form after a difficult summer at the World Cup in South Africa, Manchester United turned to Dimitar Berbatov to fill the goalscoring void. Seen as a misfit after struggling to find any serious form in 2009-2010, the Bulgarian could be brilliant on his day. In September 2010 against Liverpool FC, he was outstanding.

Berbatov had already put the home side infront, evading some slack marking from Fernando Torres to head home from a corner. In the 58th minute, he made it 2-0 with a sublime bicycle kick. Darren Fletcher started the move with a long ball that found Nani out wide. Paul Konchesky backed off the winger, allowing the Portuguese to cross the ball into the Liverpool box. It found Berbatov who controlled it superbly in the air. Still with his back to goal, he produced a special overhead kick that left Pepe Reina completely stranded.

A quick-fire double from Steven Gerrard pulled Liverpool FC back into the contest but it was Berbatov’s day. He headed home a late winner to complete his hat-trick. This was his match and a vintage moment from a player who was always capable of the spectacular.

Referees in the Middle: Matt Messias

Premier League Career: 2000-2005

First Premier League Match: Derby County 1-0 Coventry City (16 December 2000)

Final Premier League Match: Portsmouth 1-1 Bolton Wanderers (7 May 2005)

Matt Messias first took up refereeing in 1982 whilst he was still trying to play the game. In the end, officiating would be his way into professional football and he spent five years on the Premier League referees’ list.

Injury would put paid to his playing career. A recurrent cartilage problem in 1984 forced him to look at the other alternative of refereeing. He first took charge of games in the York and District Saturday League before progressing to the Northern Counties East League. This was a weekend job for Messias. During the week, he was a PE teacher at Filey School in Yorkshire.

He continued to climb the ladder as the 1980s ended and he made the assistant referees’ list in 1991 for the Football League, followed by a promotion onto the Premier League list for the inaugural campaign of the new era. However, it would be another eight years before he took charge of a top-flight game.

The match was unremarkable in December 2000. Nine days before Christmas, Malcolm Christie scored the only goal after nine minutes as Derby County beat Coventry City 1-0 at Pride Park. This match was the first of 85 Premier League matches that Matt took control of. He showed six red cards in total.

33% of these dismissals came in the same match. Fulham’s Rufus Brevett and Steve Marlet both saw red as they lost their discipline in a goalless draw with Birmingham City in November 2002. Messias’ most famous Premier League moment would come a year later and Birmingham were right at the centre of it.

Steve Bruce’s side travelled to Tyneside to play Newcastle United. The match was in its early stages when play was stopped and Birmingham’s Robbie Savage was on the ground. He was clutching his face. Only replays revealed later that Messias had accidentally elbowed Savage in the face as the midfielder went to run past him but was struck by a flying arm!

Three years after the incident, he told the Yorkshire Post: “I was putting my arm out for a free-kick and caught Savage, who crumpled in a heap. He needed smelling salts and when he got up he pretended to show me the red card. Funnily enough, (Newcastle striker) Alan Shearer came up to me and said, ‘We have been wanting to do that for years!’

Although he was a capable referee, Messias missed out on the majority of the top events. His biggest engagement was representing England at the 2004 UEFA European Under-21 Championships in Germany, taking charge of two group matches and a semi-final between Sweden and Serbia & Montenegro. He wasn’t lucky enough to referee the FA Cup final, although he was fourth official for Jeff Winter when Manchester United defeated Millwall in 2004.

His dream was to referee at the World Cup finals but those hopes were dashed when Graham Poll was selected ahead of him for the 2006 finals in Germany. This zapped his motivation and in January 2006, the PGMOL announced that Messias would retire from the Select Group. He later admitted that professional referees are under a lot of pressure and you “learn to deal with it – to control the controllable.”

His experience though has helped in his future. Matt had set-up a business which offered help in coping with stressful occupations using his own experiences to make this a success. He did stay in the game and helped mentor a local referee from Barnsley, Ryan Newman. Newman has made the Vanarama National League list thanks to the help of Messias.

In 2008, he decided to move to New Zealand for six years and resumed his teaching career in Auckland, teaching PE, doing coaching for a girls’ football team and become a deputy principal in Howick College. In July 2014, Messias returned to the UK to take up a position at the Atrium Studio School in Devon as a foundation principal.

Matt Messias has demonstrated that there is a life after refereeing in the world’s most envied league. He was one of the most under-rated refs during his time and was unfortunate not to get slightly better breaks.

Iconic Moments: Phil Brown’s half-time dressing down (December 2008)

Hull City were a breath of fresh air into the Premier League in the early weeks of the 2008-2009 season. They won on the opening weekend at home to Fulham and then pulled off a famous London away double in successive weekends against Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur. They even were joint-top in late October after a 3-0 away triumph at West Bromwich Albion.

By Boxing Day, results had dried up slightly but the Tigers’ still sat in a creditable seventh spot in the table – only behind the traditional big four teams plus Aston Villa and Everton. They travelled to Manchester City, hoping to pull off another away scalp. This trip won’t be remembered for a shock result though.

Mark Hughes’ side were rampant in the first half and led at the interval 4-0. Stephen Ireland was in sparkling form, setting up three of the goals as Felipe Caicedo (2), Robinho and Shaun Wright-Phillips all found the back of the net. Hull were simply not at the races and manager Phil Brown was incensed with their opening 45 minutes.

So, rather than take out his fury behind closed doors, he took his players over to the supporters at the visiting end of the ground and furiously berated them for everyone to see. This must have been public humiliation for the players as Brown was seen wagging his finger at various individuals for several minutes. They did improve in the second half but still lost the game 5-1. Afterwards, Brown defended his decision to carry out his team talk in the public eye. He told the BBC: “I thought it was nice and cold and I thought I would keep the boys alive because they looked as if they were dead. Our 4,000 travelling fans deserved some kind of explanation for the first half performance and it was difficult for me to do that from the confines of a changing room. We owed them an apology for the first half performance.”

That decision seemed to have a negative effect on the rest of Hull’s season. They won just one more match all campaign in the Premier League and only managed to avoid relegation by a single point.

A year later, Hull returned to Eastlands and performed far better to leave with a 1-1 draw. Jimmy Bullard’s penalty ensured they would return to east Yorkshire with a point and he decided to mimic Brown’s team talk in a hilarious celebration that luckily, everyone saw the funny side of!

Great Goals: Ryan Giggs – Tottenham Hotspur vs. MANCHESTER UNITED (September 1992)

In the very first season of the Premier League, Ryan Giggs was one of the biggest stars. Still only a teenager, the Welshman’s lightning pace and box of tricks made him a nightmare to play against. He scored one of his best Premier League goals in September 1992 when Manchester United made the trip to White Hart Lane.

Still goalless with half-time in sight, Giggs took possession and beat two Tottenham defenders before rounding the goalkeeper and then with the angle tightening, produced a fine finish into the back of the net. This goal demonstrated all of Ryan’s strong attributes as a youngster.

Tottenham did score in the second half to ensure the game finished all-square at 1-1 but this match is only remembered for a wonderful individual effort by Giggs.

Memorable Matches: Bolton Wanderers 2-3 Arsenal (March 2008)

Goalscorers: Matt Taylor 14, 43, William Gallas 62, Robin van Persie 68, Jlloyd Samuel 90 OG

Teams:

Bolton Wanderers: Ali Al-Habsi, Jlloyd Samuel, Gary Cahill, Andy O’Brien, Gretar Steinsson, Ivan Campo, Danny Guthrie, Gavin McCann, Matthew Taylor (Nicky Hunt 78), (Grzegorz Rasiak 81), El-Hadji Diouf (Stelios Giannakopoulos 78), Kevin Davies

Arsenal: Manuel Almunia, Gael Clichy, Philippe Senderos (Theo Walcott 59), Kolo Toure, William Gallas, Mathieu Flamini, Abou Diaby (SENT OFF), Cesc Fabregas, Aleksandar Hleb, Nicklas Bendtner (Emmanuel Adebayor 60), Robin van Persie (Justin Hoyte 90)

Referee: Chris Foy, Attendance: 22,431

Arsenal visited the Reebok Stadium in March 2008 knowing they desperately needed to win to keep alive their title hopes. Having set the pace for the majority of the season, the Gunners had slipped to third in the standings and were without a win in five matches. This included a defeat to Chelsea the previous weekend.

The Gunners’ record at the Reebok was shambolic too. They hadn’t won here since April 2002 and after a nightmare opening 45 minutes in the driving rain, that run looked set to continue. 14 minutes had been played when Bolton took an unlikely lead. Gretar Steinsson produced a wonderful cross and Matt Taylor’s well-executed header flew into the back of the net. Steinsson was exposing Arsenal’s weakness at right-back. Kolo Toure had to play out of position due to an injury to regular full-back Bacary Sagna. His lack of experience in this position was clearly evident.

Arsene Wegner’s side were a goal down and soon a man down too. On 30 minutes, Abou Diaby was dismissed following a poor tackle on Steinsson. Chris Foy had no hesitation in showing the red card and replays proved he had made the right decision. Wenger was left shaking his head and the damage wasn’t over yet.

Two minutes before half-time, Mathieu Flamini was pressured into losing possession on the edge of his own penalty area. The ball dropped to Taylor and his shot deflected off captain William Gallas, leaving Manuel Almunia with no chance. Bolton led 2-0 at the break and looked to be heading towards a vital victory in their battle to preserve their Premier League status.

On the hour mark, Wenger knew he had to change things and threw his last remaining attacking substitutions on. Theo Walcott and Emmanuel Adebayor arrived. Within two minutes, Bolton’s advantage had been halved. Cesc Fabregas’ corner was inadvertently flicked on at the near post by Trotters’ skipper Ivan Campo. Steinsson failed to track the run of Gallas, who couldn’t miss from only a few yards out. All of a sudden, nerves were around the Reebok Stadium with both sets of supporters.

Six minutes later, the scores were improbably level. Gary Cahill overstretched and tripped Aleksandar Hleb in the box. Robin van Persie kept his composure to send Ali Al-Habsi the wrong way and score his first Premier League goal in five months. There always looked like being a winner in this game and it came in the 90th minute. Once again, Hleb got to the touchline and pulled the ball back to Fabregas. His shot took a crazy three deflections off Campo, Andy O’Brien and lastly, Jlloyd Samuel before nestling into the back of the net. Cue euphoria in the Arsenal away supporters’ end.

This was the best comeback victory of the 2007-2008 Premier League season and although Arsenal fell short in their bid to win the title, they fell just four points short of champions Manchester United.

Great Goals: Matt Le Tissier – SOUTHAMPTON vs. Newcastle United (October 1993)

Matt Le Tissier was a one-club man and a player who loved to score spectacular goals. Time and again, he would come up with mastery trickery that dazzled opponents and left supporters gasping with shock and delight.

In October 1993, manager Ian Branfoot disagreed. He was unhappy with Le Tissier’s approach, especially when it came to defensive duties and training regimes so he dropped him. This decision angered the Southampton fans who already were rebelling against Branfoot’s negative tactics.

For a televised match at home to Newcastle United, Branfoot recalled the Saints’ hero to the starting line-up and at 0-0 in the early moments of the second half, he scored one of the great individual Premier League goals. Receiving the ball from an Iain Dowie knockdown, Le Tissier took complete control. He flicked the ball over two advancing Newcastle defenders in Barry Venison and Kevin Scott. With both out of the game, this gave the attacking midfielder his moment. Although he scuffed the shot slightly, it easily beat Mike Hooper and Southampton led with a moment to savour from their iconic leader.

15 minutes later, Le Tissier scored another memorable goal which wasn’t quite on the levels of his first goal for skill but even he admits was a cleaner contact in terms of the finishing strike. He netted 25 goals in 1993-1994 as Southampton narrowly avoided relegation. There were many more memorable moments to come in seasons to follow from the ‘Super Saint.’