Premier League Files: Stephen Ward

Premier League Career: Wolverhampton Wanderers (2009-2012), Burnley (2014-2015, 2016-PRESENT)

Republic of Ireland international Stephen Ward is applying his trade currently in the Premier League with Burnley and he has been part of the Clarets’ side that heads into 2018 looking set to be pushing for the European positions rather than a relegation battle.

The left-back has been outstanding for manager Sean Dyche so far this season and he even scored on the opening weekend of the 2017-2018 campaign as Burnley picked up a surprising and impressive victory away at reigning champions Chelsea.

He began his senior career with Bohemians before moving into the English game with Wolverhampton Wanderers in January 2007. The fee was reported to be a paltry £100,000. Two years later, he was part of the Wolves squad that won promotion to the Premier League as champions of the Championship.

He started at Wolves as a left-sided midfielder but it was the 2008-2009 season when he began to play initially as a makeshift left-back after the regular custodian of the role, George Elokobi, damaged a knee very early on in the season. He would make the position his own over the next four seasons.

Wolves might have always been battling to maintain their Premier League status but Ward often stood out as one of their most consistent performers. In 2010-2011, he was even asked by Mick McCarthy to play as a striker on occasion and it was a role he has no issues in fulfilling. On one occasion, this worked a treat for the club.

Wolves travelled to Anfield for the final game of the Premier League calendar year of 2010. It was a Liverpool FC side that were brittle on confidence with Roy Hodgson looking like a man on borrowed time with every passing defeat the club were suffering. Nevertheless, Wolves were given little hope of winning but they pulled off a deserved and surprising 1-0 victory. It was Ward who came up with the winning goal – his first for the Midlands side in nearly four years. It was a personal triumph for the player too; who had been sent off on his first visit to Liverpool’s ground a year earlier.

Afterwards, McCarthy said: “I’m so pleased for him, if ever the cliché ‘Unsung Hero’ applied to anyone its Wardy. He came here as a centre-forward, went to left-wing, and then played at left-back, he’s played in midfield. Now he’s gone back upfront and got us the winner.”

Tougher times followed at Molineux with back-to-back relegations to League One. Ward joined Brighton & Hove Albion on-loan for the 2013-2014 campaign where he helped the club reach the play-offs. A permanent move was agreed between the clubs but interest from Premier League teams scuppered that deal. He joined newly-promoted Burnley on the eve of the 2014-2015 Premier League season beginning.

Relegation followed but Stephen stuck with the club, helped them win promotion at the first attempt and played a crucial role in helping Burnley keep their Premier League status in 2016-2017. Now, the sky’s the limit for Ward and his rock-solid teammates at the halfway point of this season.


The Managers: Martin Jol

Premier League Clubs Managed: Tottenham Hotspur (2004-2007), Fulham (2011-2013)

Martin Jol’s Premier League management career was dominated completely by one city. He managed two clubs in London, managed his first game in the English top-flight in the capital and also saw his management stint in this country ended in London. His time with Tottenham Hotspur and Fulham saw him provide exciting, creative sides that pleased their supporters. Sadly, there was no silverware to follow for his good work.

His time in this country is slightly undervalued when you consider some of the good work from managers arriving in the UK following his departure as Fulham manager in November 2013. His success since in the Middle East shows that he can win top honours around the world.

First steps in the Netherlands

During his playing career, Martin played over 400 times. He turned professional in 1973 with his local professional side ADO Den Haag and won the Dutch Cup two years later. He spent one season in the Bundesliga with German giants Bayern Munich before moving back to Dutch football with FC Twente in 1979.

He was one of the few foreign imports in the English game during the 1980s, joining West Bromwich Albion in 1982 and also going onto play for Coventry City. In 1985, he returned to his homeland and a second spell with Den Haag, winning the Dutch Footballer of the Year award before deciding to quit playing in 1989.

Jol went into coaching at the start of the 1990s and his first professional management role came in 1996 with Roda JC. A year after this appointment, he guided Roda to the Dutch Cup, their first trophy for three decades. He then spent six years with the unheralded RKC Waalwijk team, transforming them from relegation battlers to regular European football challengers. His achievements were well-known in the Netherlands. Jol won Coach of the Year honours in both 2001 and 2002.

To further himself though, he needed to move away from his home country and in June 2004, he was heading back to England for his first crack at management outside of Holland.

Biding his time at Tottenham

Martin Jol initially came in as assistant manager to Jacques Santini who was leaving his post as manager of the French national team to take over at Tottenham Hotspur. Santini’s side though were dull to watch and the fans never took to him as their boss. 13 games into the season, he walked out on the club and Jol was thrust into the limelight as Tottenham’s fourth manager in 14 months.

It was quite a baptism. He lost his first three matches but a 2-0 win over Middlesbrough in November 2004 started a brilliant run that saw Spurs to their best run of form since the inaugural Premier League campaign in 1992-1993. Tottenham strung a run of five successive victories together and managed an eight-game unbeaten sequence until they were beaten at home by impending champions Chelsea in January 2005. Tottenham would eventually finish ninth, missing out on a European spot by two points. Nevertheless, the foundations were in place for a fairly successful spell in north London.

This started by signing a three-year contract extension in August 2005 and the 2005-2006 campaign was going to be the club’s best in Premier League history until their fourth place finish in 2010. Tottenham sat in the top six all season and were in the coveted fourth position from early January onwards right the way through until the final day of the season. Their squad was struck down by a mysterious illness on the eve of the final match at Upton Park against West Ham United. Spurs would lose the game 2-1, allowing bitter rivals Arsenal in to snatch fourth position and the final UEFA Champions League qualification spot at the last possible moment. Despite this crushing late disappointment, it did mean European football for Tottenham for the first time since 1990 and it was the club’s highest league finish in 15 years.

An unfortunate end at The Lane

Inconsistency dogged the 2006-2007 season. High points including a first win in 16 years in the league over Chelsea and a run to the semi-finals of the League Cup. However, Tottenham were in the bottom half of the table by mid-February and out of the race for a Champions League challenge. Jol’s side did finish the campaign very strongly though, losing just once in their last 12 matches to ensure a second successive fifth place finish. On top of that, Spurs went deep in the FA Cup and UEFA Cup, reaching the quarter-finals in both competitions before bowing out to eventual winners, Chelsea and Sevilla respectively.

Expectations were even higher in the summer of 2007 with £40 million being spent on new talent including Gareth Bale and Darren Bent. However, all was not well between Jol and the hierarchy at the club. Reports began to emerge that he had fallen out over transfer policy with the Director of Football, Damien Comolli. It was believed that he had signed a number of players that Jol didn’t really want. One of his transfer targets, Bulgarian Martin Petrov went to Manchester City after the Spurs boss was refused the opportunity to make a bid for him. Worse was to come for Martin.

Results were extremely poor in the opening three months of the 2007-2008 campaign. Tottenham won just one Premier League game and that was against hapless Derby County. They conceded sloppy late goals to deny themselves away wins at Craven Cottage and Anfield and when a director and the club secretary were photographed in a Spanish hotel meeting Sevilla manager Juande Ramos, Jol’s die was cast.

He was sacked during their UEFA Cup defeat at home to Getafe in October 2007.

Hamburg, Ajax and back to London

Although approached by Birmingham City a month later, Martin elected to take some time out of the game and wouldn’t return to the managerial dugout before the start of the 2008-2009 season. When he did return, it wasn’t in England either.

He gave the Bundesliga a go, managing former European champions Hamburger SV. Hamburg finished a respectable fifth in the 2008-2009 table and also reached the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup. Unfortunately, they were dumped out of that competition by northern rivals SV Werder Bremen. He wouldn’t build on this impressive debut campaign though as the vacancy came up back in the Netherlands with Ajax.

He signed a three-year contract to manage the Amsterdam heavyweights in May 2009 and they broke a number of records in the 2009-2010 season. Ajax finished with a staggering goal difference of +86, scored 106 goals, won their final 14 games of the season and finished with 85 points. That normally would be good enough to win the Eredivisie title but they were beaten to the prize by just a single point. It was FC Twente who took the championship, under the guidance of Steve McClaren.

Jol would still bring some silverware to the club as they won the Dutch Cup, beating Feyenoord 6-1 across two matches. He would resign though in December 2010 after struggling at the start of the following campaign. Ajax were in fourth place when he left but would go on to win the title that season under his successor, Frank de Boer.

He would head back to London in June 2011, succeeding Mark Hughes as the new manager of Fulham.

A mixed bag at the Cottage

His first season back in the Premier League was a solid one. Fulham finished in ninth spot with 52 points, just one point off their record total, set by Roy Hodgson three seasons earlier. There was a 6-0 thrashing of west London rivals Queens Park Rangers, a league double over Liverpool FC and a creditable 2-2 draw with Manchester City, despite trailing 2-0 at one point. He did fall out though with star forward Bobby Zamora, who would eventually join Queens Park Rangers in January 2012.

2012-2013 was a step back though. Although Fulham finished in 12th spot, they finished the campaign very poorly, with just one win in their last seven matches which cost them a top half finish. Jol did bring Dimitar Berbatov into the club from Manchester United and it was his goals that kept them well clear of danger. The worry was though that a decline was beginning at Craven Cottage. Many of Fulham’s more experienced players were leaving, such as Danny Murphy and Clint Dempsey and the replacements were not as impressive.

It came to a head in 2013-2014 for the club. Fulham scrambled three league victories together before the end of November but apart from a 4-1 win away at Crystal Palace, they looked like a team bereft of ideas and on the verge of relegation. With every passing week, the manager’s burrowed look was getting bigger. After a second half collapse at Upton Park, which saw Fulham fail to register a single shot on target and lose 3-0 to West Ham United, Jol was sacked. He lost his final six matches in all competitions with the Cottagers. Fulham would finish the season as an ex-Premier League side.

He would get league glory though in the Middle East, guiding Al Ahly to the Egyptian Premier League title in 2015-2016. Unfortunately, he received threats on social media after the side’s failure to reach the African Champions League semi-finals. Fearing for his safety, he resigned from his post as manager after just six months in the role.

Martin Jol was a down-to-earth, commendable and good Premier League manager who always went down the attractive route. His record is fairly impressive too. It was unfortunate that sluggish starts to his final seasons with both Tottenham Hotspur and Fulham would prove to be his downfall.

Premier League Rewind: 25th-27th November 1995

Results: Chelsea 0-0 Tottenham Hotspur, Coventry City 3-3 Wimbledon, Everton 2-2 Sheffield Wednesday, Manchester City 1-0 Aston Villa, Middlesbrough 2-1 Liverpool FC, Newcastle United 2-1 Leeds United, Southampton 1-0 Bolton Wanderers, West Ham United 1-0 Queens Park Rangers, Arsenal 0-0 Blackburn Rovers, Nottingham Forest 1-1 Manchester United

Kevin Keegan’s Newcastle United had lost just one game all season and had a 100% record at St James’ Park for the season. Leeds United’s visit on the weekend of 25th-27th November 1995 was the standout fixture of a weekend which produced just 21 goals in 10 matches.

Leeds threatened to take that record when Brian Deane headed Howard Wilkinson’s side into the lead after 31 minutes. Newcastle responded brilliantly in the second half and two goals in two successive minutes from Rob Lee and Peter Beardsley turned the game around. The Magpies’ 2-1 win meant they would end November on top of the table and having extended their advantage over the chasing pack.

Manchester United lost ground on Keegan’s team after drawing 1-1 on the Monday Night Football game at Nottingham Forest. An Eric Cantona penalty ensured they left the City Ground with a point but it would start a worrying run of just two wins in their next nine matches that almost cost them a chance to regain the crown they’d lost the previous season to Blackburn Rovers.

The reigning champions hadn’t yet won on their travels in the season and had just returned from a painful defeat in Moscow in the Champions League which had seen the infamous clash on the field between Graeme Le Saux and David Batty. Blackburn played out an uneventful 0-0 draw at Arsenal on Super Sunday; moved to a lunchtime kick-off to make way for the Scottish League Cup Final (back in the days when Scottish football was just as important to the TV broadcasters!)

The most enterprising game of the weekend was played out between Coventry City and Wimbledon. Ron Atkinson’s side had won just once all season whilst Wimbledon were hovering just outside the drop zone. The Sky Blues’ ended with nine men as both Paul Williams and Richard Shaw were shown red cards. However, David Rennie scored a rare goal in the 83rd minute to rescue a 3-3 draw, having trailed 3-1 midway through the second half.

Atkinson’s team remained in the drop zone alongside Bolton Wanderers and Queens Park Rangers. The latter sides both lost 1-0 to Southampton and West Ham United respectively. Liverpool FC’s slide into mid-table continued. A 2-1 loss to Middlesbrough meant Roy Evans’ side collected just one point from four league matches and slid out of both the UEFA Cup and League Cup during a nightmare November.

Going in the right direction were Manchester City. Alan Ball had seen his side fail to win a match before November. Yet, 10 points from four games saw them climb out of the drop zone. The latest success came over Aston Villa. Georgi Kinkladze scored the only goal of the game with four minutes remaining.

Tottenham Hotspur ended the month in third spot after drawing 0-0 at Stamford Bridge with Chelsea but by this stage, it already looked like a two-horse race for the title between Newcastle United and Manchester United.

What else happened in November 1995?

  • The Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin is assassinated by a Jewish extremist who opposed peace with the Palestinians.
  • Piers Brosnan stars as James Bond for the first time in “Goldeneye.”
  • Diana, Princess of Wales admits to infidelity in an explosive TV interview for “Panorama” with Martin Bashir.
  • Rosemary West is found guilty at Winchester Crown Court of killing 10 women.
  • “Toy Story” is released as the first feature-length film created completely using computer-generated imagery.
  • The Today newspaper ceases publication, becoming the first long-running national UK newspaper title to close since the Daily Sketch in 1971.
  • The Queen Mother undergoes a hip replacement operation at the age of 95.

Memorable Matches: Everton 2-3 Chelsea (December 2006)

Goalscorers: Mikel Arteta 38 PEN, Tim Howard 49 OG, Joseph Yobo 64, Frank Lampard 81, Didier Drogba 87


Everton: Tim Howard, Joleon Lescott, Phil Neville, Alan Stubbs, Joseph Yobo, Lee Carsley (James Beattie 90), Mikel Arteta, Leon Osman, Simon Davies, Victor Anichebe (James McFadden 90), Andy Johnson

Chelsea: Hilario, Geremi (Salomon Kalou 46), Ricardo Carvalho, Khalid Boulahrouz (Wayne Bridge 73), Ashley Cole, Claude Makelele, Michael Ballack, Michael Essien, Frank Lampard, Arjen Robben (Andriy Shevchenko 73), Didier Drogba

Referee: Mark Halsey, Attendance: 33,970

Reigning champions Chelsea knew they were going to be in for a tricky test away at Everton eight days before Christmas in 2006. The Blues had lost ground on Manchester United recently after drawing at home to Arsenal, whilst Everton had dropped to 10th after a 2-0 loss a week earlier away at Portsmouth.

Jose Mourinho had to cope without his leader and captain John Terry for this trip to Merseyside. Terry had sustained a back injury in training and his presence was missed in a first half which the home side largely controlled. Mikel Arteta was dominating the midfield and Andy Johnson was denied an early penalty when Terry’s replacement, Khalid Boulahrouz looked to have fouled the Everton frontman. Referee Mark Halsey wasn’t in the best position and rejected the claims after some advice from his better-placed officials.

Everton did get their spot-kick though on 38 minutes. The clumsy Boulahrouz wrestled Victor Anichebe to the ground. This time, there were no doubts. Arteta scored past Hilario, who was having an extended run in the side with Petr Cech out following his depressed skull fracture two months earlier.

Chelsea needed another attacking outlay and they brought on Salomon Kalou for the second half. Within five minutes, the west Londoners were level. Lee Carsley conceded an unnecessary free-kick and Michael Ballack made him pay. The German’s shot went in off the back of goalkeeper Tim Howard. Ballack would claim but it rightfully went down as an own goal against the luckless American.

Kalou then hit the post as Mourinho’s men started to take charge but against the run of play, Everton went back ahead. Joseph Yobo headed home from a set-piece for his first goal since November 2005. Heading into the last 10 minutes and it looked like Chelsea might be tasting defeat for only the second time in the season but their big-game players had other ideas.

First, Lampard was given too much time on the edge of the area and produced another of his trademark efforts from distance that flew past Howard. Three minutes from time, Drogba chested down a flick-on from substitute Andriy Shevchenko. He turned and struck a cracking long-range drive which convincingly beat Howard. He ran to the Chelsea fans, doing an iconic knee-slide on the turf on his way. This was a game that Chelsea had stolen without playing anywhere near their best.

Mourinho’s side won both domestic cups but ultimately had to play second-fiddle to Manchester United in the title race. Everton recovered from this late blow to finish an excellent sixth and qualify for the UEFA Cup.

Premier League Files: Matt Jarvis

Premier League Career: Wolverhampton Wanderers (2009-2012), West Ham United (2012-2015), Norwich City (2015-2016)

Middlesbrough-born Matt Jarvis is now 31 and has experienced the highs of being capped by England in his career. Unfortunately, injuries and a bad career move to West Ham United in 2012 have seen his footballing spell hindered. He is still with Norwich City in the SkyBet Championship but his total of just 16 appearances in two and a half campaigns shows the battles he constantly seems to be having with the treatment table.

Jarvis got a decent upbringing before making his impact on the football field. His parents both were professional table tennis players and among the best in Britain at the time. With 10 GCSE qualifications, Matt excelled in his education but football was his pure love and he tried to make his mark at Millwall as a youth team player. It didn’t quite work out as hoped in London but Gillingham rescued him from the scrapheap, signing him initially as a trainee. The Kent-based club were forced to give him a first-team debut at the age of just 17 in the Football League when a flu bug crippled their senior players. He impressed enough to earn his first professional deal before the end of the 2003-2004 campaign.

He would make over 100 appearances for Gillingham and plenty of higher-profile clubs expressed an interest in his services. Nottingham Forest and Plymouth Argyle both had transfer bids rebuffed but Wolverhampton Wanderers were more successful and snapped him up in June 2007 with Matt stalling over a contract extension at the Priestfield Stadium. Hip and groin injuries delayed his debut for Wolves by three months but he quickly became a key player for the Midlands club and helped them win promotion back to the Premier League after a five-year exile in 2009.

Jarvis continued to shine in the Premier League, scoring three goals in 2009-2010 as Wolves avoided relegation with a strong second half of the campaign. His goals included an equaliser in a 2-2 draw with Hull City and the third goal in an impressive performance away at Upton Park. His form and goals ratio improved in the following season, even if the team continued to battle against survival. Jarvis’ highlight for the club in 2010-2011 was a winning goal in a local derby with Midlands rivals Aston Villa. However, his personal success came a few days after this winner at Villa Park. He was selected by Fabio Capello for the England international squad for games against Wales and Ghana. He was unused in Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium against the Welsh but came off the bench to feature at Wembley against the Africans. In doing so, he became the first Wolverhampton Wanderers player to feature for England since Steve Bull back in 1990. It would turn out to be his solitary international cap.

His best goalscoring season followed in 2011-2012, netting eight times including two goals in an entertaining 4-4 draw away at Swansea City. Unfortunately by this point, Wolves’ relegation back to the Championship had been confirmed and it was evident that he would have to leave Molineux to further his career.

West Ham United were the club who pursued him vigorously in the summer of 2012 and he eventually joined them in August for a club-record fee. The early signs were encouraging. Jarvis scored the opening goal in a 2-1 victory at Queens Park Rangers in October and he featured in 32 matches for Sam Allardyce. During the season, Matt made 171 open-play crosses in the Premier League which was the most for any outfield player in 2012-2013. The next two seasons were a real struggle though and he was loaned out to Norwich City for the 2015-2016 campaign. He scored on his Canaries’ debut in a 3-1 home triumph over AFC Bournemouth and quickly made the loan a permanent move. Norwich paid £2.5 million for his services which suggested a huge financial loss to West Ham, who had forked out over £10 million for the player three seasons earlier.

His last full game in professional football came in May 2016 when Norwich lost 3-0 on the final day of the 2015-2016 season to Everton. A knee ligament injury followed that pre-season which initially ruled the winger out for three months. Further setbacks have followed since which has restricted him to just one 90-minute appearance in the EFL Trophy last December against a Swansea City Under-23 side. It remains unclear whether he will play again at the top level.

Matt Jarvis is another example of a player who had plenty of talent which was shown at more unfashionable clubs but struggled when it came to replicating this for higher-profile teams. Whilst all hope he can bounce back from the injury niggles at Norwich, it is highly likely that he has already seen the best days in his career.

Memorable Matches: Everton 1-1 Coventry City (May 1998)

Goalscorers: Gareth Farrelly 6, Dion Dublin 88


Everton: Thomas Myhre, Craig Short, Dave Watson, Michael Ball, John O’Kane, Carl Tiler, Don Hutchinson, Gareth Farrelly (Gavin McCann 88), Nick Barmby, Duncan Ferguson, Mikael Madar (Danny Cadamarteri 46)

Coventry City: Magnus Hedman, Roland Nilsson, Gary Breen (Paul Williams 51), David Burrows, Richard Shaw, Paul Telfer (Marcus Hall 89), George Boateng, Trond Egil Soltvedt, Dion Dublin, Darren Huckerby (Simon Haworth 69), Noel Whelan

Referee: Paul Alcock, Attendance: 40,109

For Everton fans, the 1997-1998 season had been extremely disappointing. Howard Kendall had failed to revive the sparkle he’d shown in his previous spells with the Toffees’ and they went into the final day of the season in the bottom three. One point behind Bolton Wanderers, they needed to better Bolton’s result or face the prospect of playing Division One football in the last full season of the 20th century.

For the game against Coventry City, Kendall made two changes from the side that wilted 4-0 at Highbury the previous weekend. Peter Beagrie and Slaven Bilic were dropped and in came Mikael Madar and Gareth Farrelly. One of these alterations was to have an early desired impact.

In the 7th minute, Duncan Ferguson won a header in the air. He nodded the ball back to Farrelly. The midfielder controlled the ball and unleashed a spectacular shot with his right-foot. The ball evaded Magnus Hedman’s dive and rippled the back of the net via the post. Goodison Park erupted with a sense of delirium and joy. The goal had come from the most unexpected of sources and it was just the start they were looking for.

From the outset, Everton pressed high and harried a Coventry side that were comfortably in mid-table but could finish in the top half with a win. The formidable Coventry striking partnership of Darren Huckerby and Dion Dublin were marked out of the match completely in the first 45 minutes. Despite their high intensity, chances were still at a premium for Everton but they nearly doubled their lead just short of the interval. Hedman had to show fantastic acrobatics to tip a shot around the post from a scrambled corner when Dave Watson’s miscued shot took a deflection off his own teammate, Madar.

Coventry had to improve in the second half and they gave Everton much more to think about in the second half. Roland Nilsson was the first to try his luck and he hit a post through a deflection off the youngster John O’Kane. Then, the home supporters started to dream that survival was likely as Gianluca Vialli had put Chelsea infront at Stamford Bridge against Bolton.

With five minutes left, Everton had the chance to seal the three points. Half-time substitute Danny Cadamarteri won a rather fortuitous penalty. Replays showed that Paul Williams had made a clean tackle on the forward. Referee Paul Alcock believed he hadn’t and awarded the spot-kick. Justice was done though as Hedman saved Nick Barmby’s penalty. Then, Coventry added to the drama. David Burrows’ swung in a cross. Dublin won a header against his marker and the ball squirmed past Thomas Myhre who tried to catch the ball, but only succeeded in palming the ball into his own net.

The Sky Blues pushed for a winner but Everton completed a second ‘Great Escape’ in four seasons. Bolton’s 2-0 defeat at Chelsea meant the point here was enough for the Evertonian faithful, who spilled onto the pitch with a mixture of relief and delight. Howard Kendall resigned in the summer of 1998 but at least he had kept Everton in the top-flight…just!

Iconic Moments: Keane vs. Vieira in the tunnel (February 2005)

On the first day of February in 2005, old rivals Arsenal and Manchester United clashed at Highbury. Both sides were a long way behind the frightening pace that Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea were setting and the managers had conceded the loser of this match would be out of the title race.

The match was the first since the ‘Pizzagate’ furore after the Red Devils’ 2-0 victory earlier in the season – a game which had ended Arsenal’s 49-match unbeaten sequence. The Gunners’ were after revenge. For Patrick Vieira, that meant trying to gain an advantage in the tunnel even before kick-off.

Sensing Manchester United’s right-back Gary Neville as a potential weak link, Vieira warned Neville that if he started dishing out sly challenges on his compatriot Robert Pires, he would: “come after him.”

Keane arrived in the tunnel late having forgotten his captain’s armband but heard what was said and took issue to the words used by Vieira.

Warning: The below video contains some explicit and strong language.

Match official Graham Poll was forced to take strong action with both, informing them to leave any issues in the tunnel and not drag it onto the pitch.

Mikael Silvestre was sent off for a head-butt on Freddie Ljungberg but it was Manchester United and Keane who had the last laugh on the night, winning 4-2 although Arsenal would still finish above them in the final standings and win the FA Cup final on penalties.

Premier League Files: Arjan de Zeeuw

Premier League Career: Barnsley (1997-1998), Portsmouth (2003-2005), Wigan Athletic (2005-2007)

He was stopping attackers throughout his Premier League career. Now Arjan de Zeeuw is attempting to stop criminals in his new profession. After retiring from the game in 2009, the Dutchman decided to return to his homeland and not to coach or manage either. He is working as an investigative detective, attempting to crackdown on drugs and human trafficking incidents in the Netherlands.

In contrast to today’s modern day footballers, de Zeeuw turned professional at the more mature age of 22. That was because he was doing a University degree in medical science which shows his passion for his new career. Back in the 1990s and 2000s though, his job was to restrict the number of goals that were going into the back of the net. In 1995, he moved to England, joining Barnsley for a fee of £250,000 and he scored his first goal in the country during a 2-2 draw with Ipswich Town in December.

De Zeeuw became a vital player during the Tykes’ most successful chapter in their footballing history, inspiring them to promotion to the Premier League in 1997. The defender made an impressive step-up to the leading level of English football even if his team were the leakiest defence that season. Barnsley were relegated after their debut season and it seemed like de Zeeuw would leave the club. He turned down a new contract and Leicester City were poised to snap him up as a replacement for Steve Walsh. However, new Barnsley manager John Hendrie managed to persuade Arjan to sign a new one-year deal and try to inspire them back to the top-flight. Barnsley didn’t mount a serious challenge for promotion though and de Zeeuw did eventually leave Oakwell in 1999 for Wigan Athletic.

He became a colossus for Wigan too and won the club’s Player of the Year award for back-to-back campaigns in 2001 and 2002. With his contract running down at Wigan, Harry Redknapp was quick to convince him to move to Portsmouth in the summer of 2002. It was an inspired decision. De Zeeuw’s graft and guile was significant in Portsmouth having the best defensive record on their way to the First Division title in 2002-2003.

Voted Portsmouth’s Player of the Year as they survived their debut season in a creditable 13th position, he was given the captain’s armband by Redknapp in the summer of 2004, succeeding Teddy Sheringham who was heading to join West Ham United. 2004-2005 was de Zeeuw’s best goalscoring season. He scored in three Portsmouth victories, including the winner at Bolton in November 2004. This was the first match in charge for Velimir Zajec, who had succeeded Redknapp days earlier.

Now in the latter days of his career, Arjan wanted to play first-team football regularly but new Pompey manager Alain Perrin refused this request. They fell out and consequently, de Zeeuw was more than happy to rejoin Wigan Athletic for a second spell, and therefore, embark on their maiden adventure in the Premier League.

Again, he had an important role for a newly-promoted side. His performances even won praise from government. Prime Minister at the time, Tony Blair went on the BBC’s magazine show Football Focus in November 2005 and said this of de Zeeuw: “He’s really strong, never gives up. I could do with him at the whips’ office!”

After Wigan staved off relegation on the final day of the 2006-2007 season, de Zeeuw was released by the club and was offered a job by Roberto Martinez to join his coaching staff at Swansea City. He decided that he still wanted to play and turned the role down, electing to sign a one-year deal with Coventry City. He left a year later and retired in 2009.

Part of de Zeeuw’s new role sees him specialising in forensics. He still finds occasional time to play football and has even captained the Netherlands national police team.

Great Goals: Fernando Torres – LIVERPOOL FC vs. Sunderland (March 2010)

Liverpool FC struggled to fire in Rafa Benitez’s final season in the Anfield dugout but Fernando Torres continued to sparkle, even if injuries were beginning to take their toll on ‘El Nino.’

He shone especially against Sunderland with two goals in a comfortable 3-0 win for the home side. His first goal was what he was capable of in his absolute prime.

There seemed to be nothing on in the third minute. Torres was on the touchline and facing up to Michael Turner. Options were limited in the box, so the Spaniard decided to go for goal. He curled an unstoppable effort around Turner and the effort squeezed underneath the crossbar, leaving Craig Gordon without any chance of saving the strike.

Torres lit up The Kop with many special strikes but within a year, he was gone to Chelsea and never regained the form he demonstrated in his early LFC years.

Premier League Rewind: 17th-19th December 2016

Results: Crystal Palace 0-1 Chelsea, Middlesbrough 3-0 Swansea City, Stoke City 2-2 Leicester City, Sunderland 1-0 Watford, West Ham United 1-0 Hull City, West Bromwich Albion 0-2 Manchester United, AFC Bournemouth 1-3 Southampton, Manchester City 2-1 Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 Burnley, Everton 0-1 Liverpool FC

The final round of Premier League matches before Christmas 2016 saw 23 goals and the first managerial casualty of the season.

In a London derby, Chelsea and Crystal Palace got the weekend underway, with both sides in completely contrasting form. Palace had won just one match since the end of September, whilst Chelsea were chasing a 10th successive league victory. The league leaders were in impressive form and this was one of those matches where they weren’t quite at their fluid best but still did enough to collect all three points. Diego Costa headed home the only goal in the Blues’ 1-0 victory at Selhurst Park. The Spaniard later collected his fifth yellow card of the season, so would miss the Boxing Day encounter with AFC Bournemouth, as would N’Golo Kante. It was the final straw for the Eagles’ hierarchy and five days after this result, Alan Pardew was sacked and replaced by survival specialist, Sam Allardyce.

Chelsea’s closest challengers remained Liverpool FC. Jurgen Klopp’s team protected second spot in the table after they won 1-0 in the Merseyside Derby at Goodison Park, which was the final fixture before Christmas. On a chilly Monday evening, the visitors’ struck late on through Sadio Mane to ensure the red side of Merseyside would hold the bragging rights over the festive period.

24 hours earlier, Manchester City made it back-to-back victories with a 2-1 success over Arsenal, who had now suffered successive defeats in the North West. Arsenal came flying out of the blocks and Theo Walcott put them ahead inside the first 10 minutes. However, Leroy Sane’s first Premier League goal and Raheem Sterling’s effort ensured the three points would stay in Manchester.

Tottenham were quietly going about their business. They beat Burnley 2-1 at White Hart Lane and Manchester United made it three wins in six days, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic the pivotal difference in their 2-0 victory at The Hawthorns over West Bromwich Albion.

At the wrong end of the table and West Ham United collected a second win in four days at the London Stadium but there was plenty of fortune about their 1-0 win over fellow relegation strugglers, Hull City. Hull hit the woodwork three times and the Hammers’ fans were so fed up with their team’s performance, they voted for the post as their Man of the Match on social media! Mark Noble’s penalty saw them take three lucky points.

Sunderland claimed a 1-0 triumph at home to inconsistent Watford. Patrick van Aanholt scored the solitary goal. It would be the Dutchman’s last in Sunderland colours. The full-back would move acrimoniously to Crystal Palace in the January transfer window. It would also turn out to be Sunderland’s last home victory in league football in 364 days, before a recent 1-0 win over Fulham in the SkyBet EFL Championship.

Elsewhere, Middlesbrough recorded their biggest win of the season, beating hapless Swansea City 3-0 and despite losing Jamie Vardy to a red card before half-time, defending champions Leicester City came back from two goals down to rescue a 2-2 draw away to Stoke City. Claudio Ranieri’s side though still hadn’t won away from the King Power Stadium in their title defence season.

What else happened in December 2016?

  • Aged 53, George Michael died on Christmas Day. One of the best-selling music artists of all-time, he had sold more than 115 million records worldwide.
  • Andy Murray wins BBC Sports Personality of the Year for the third time in four years.
  • The remains of Tim Peake’s spacecraft are bought by the UK with the intention of installing it at the Science Museum in London in 2017.
  • After 30 years with ITN, Mark Austin presents his final news bulletin with ITV. He will join Sky News as the main correspondent for the USA.
  • Among the recipients in the New Years’ Honours List are Ken Dodd who is knighted and actress Helen McCrory, who receives an OBE.
  • Gogglebox’s Scarlett Moffatt wins the ITV reality show, I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!”
  • Andrei Karlov, the Russian ambassador to Turkey, is assassinated in Ankara.

Referees in the Middle: Andre Marriner

Premier League Career: 2004-PRESENT

First Premier League Match: Charlton Athletic 4-0 Norwich City (13 November 2004)

Andre Marriner has proven time and again that he is a solid referee who often produces consistently strong performances. Arsenal fans though might not agree with this viewpoint!

Based in the West Midlands, he began refereeing in 1992 by being in the right place when a referee who was meant to be covering a match in his local area failed to show! Marriner was appointed to the Football League list of officials in 2003 and just over a year later, made his Premier League debut in the middle when Charlton Athletic defeated Norwich City 4-0 in November 2004.

Marriner’s early progression was impressive. He was promoted to the Select Group of Referees in 2005 and three years later, he was invited by FIFA to take charge of international matches. Three major finals have come his way within the last decade. First, he took charge of the 2010 Championship play-off final which saw Blackpool edge out Cardiff City 3-2. Marriner was widely praised for his performance in this match which concluded without a single yellow or red card being shown.

Next up was the biggest honour for an English referee – the FA Cup final. It was Marriner’s turn in 2013, sending off Manchester City’s Pablo Zabaleta for two bookable offences moments before Ben Watson’s stoppage-time header won the cup for Wigan Athletic. In 2017, he was the chosen appointment for the EFL Cup final, won by Manchester United against Southampton although the Saints were denied a goal by a dodgy offside call in the first half.

As of December 2017, Marriner has officiated 266 matches in the Premier League, producing 870 yellow and 50 red cards. The first dismissal was dished out to Manchester City’s Stephen Jordan in a 1-0 defeat away at Everton in February 2006.

As mentioned earlier, Arsenal fans must always get the shivers when they see Marriner’s name against one of their fixtures. History can sometimes dictate preferred referees for supporters and Marriner wouldn’t be very high on that list with Gunners’ fans. First, in a fixture between the Londoners and Liverpool FC in April 2011, he awarded the latest spot-kick in Premier League history when Emmanuel Eboue clumsily bundled down Lucas in the penalty area. Dirk Kuyt converted the penalty in the 102nd minute which still stands today as the league’s latest-ever goal. That earned a 1-1 draw for Liverpool, who had conceded a penalty of their own only moments earlier that had been converted by Robin van Persie. It also drew an angry exchange between the managers, with Arsene Wenger refusing to shake hands with Kenny Dalglish.

Three years later, Arsenal were at the centre of an unbelievable case of mistaken identity in Wenger’s 1000th game in charge of the club. They were already trailing Chelsea 2-0 at Stamford Bridge when Eden Hazard’s shot was handled on the goal-line. A penalty was correctly awarded and believing Hazard’s strike was heading in, which was debatable, he sent off the culprit which in his eyes was Kieran Gibbs. However, he had just dismissed the wrong player! The guilty party was Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who even insisted to Marriner it was he who committed the offence and should go for an early shower. Despite this, it was Gibbs who would walk down the tunnel through no fault of his own.

A statement was later released through the PGMOL: “Whilst this was a difficult decision, Andre is disappointed that he failed to identify the correct player. He expressed his disappointment to Arsenal when he was made aware of the issue.”

Despite this harrowing mistake, Andre Marriner remains one of the more reliable refs in the top-flight and is often considered to be strong enough to take charge of some of the most intense fixtures in the Premier League.

Shock Results: Everton 5-0 Sunderland (December 1999)

Goalscorers: Don Hutchinson 16, 26, Francis Jeffers 41, Mark Pembridge 61, Kevin Campbell 72


Everton: Paul Gerrard, Richard Gough, Richard Dunne, David Weir, David Unsworth, Mark Pembridge, John Collins, Don Hutchinson, Nick Barmby (Alex Cleland 74), Kevin Campbell, Francis Jeffers (Joe-Max Moore 74)

Sunderland: Thomas Sorensen, Chris Makin, Paul Butler, Eric Roy (Darren Williams 32), Steve Bould, Michael Gray (Michael Reddy 45), Gavin McCann, Stefan Schwarz, Nicky Summerbee, Kevin Kilbane, Niall Quinn

Referee: Stephen Lodge, Attendance: 40,017

Confidence was high at Everton going into this match with Sunderland in December 1999. Bill Kenwright had just completed his £20 million takeover of the club and manager Walter Smith had just signed an extension to his contract. However, they were considered outsiders for this match against a Sunderland side that were flying high on their return to the top-flight and threatening to gate-crash the European positions.

However, an ankle injury meant their top goalscorer; Kevin Phillips was missing this Boxing Day trip to Merseyside. Peter Reid’s side had a real off-day and it showed as he returned to the club where he’d won two championships as a player in the 1980s. Smith had built Everton into a physical side to play against but also one who could entertain. They’d shared a 4-4 draw earlier in the campaign with early pacesetters, Leeds United.

They took the lead after 16 minutes of this post-Christmas encounter. It saw neat build-up, involving Francis Jeffers, Mark Pembridge and David Unsworth. Don Hutchinson finished the move off with a low drive into the bottom corner of the net. 10 minutes later, the Toffees doubled their advantage. Sunderland goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen was beaten once again by a Hutchinson low shot after the experienced Steve Bould had failed to properly clear Unsworth’s free-kick.

The game was pretty much over as a contest four minutes before the interval. The lively Jeffers raced onto Richard Gough’s pass and showed no nerves in dispatching the ball past a shell-shocked Sorensen. This result was not expected at all, considering that Everton had lost 5-1 at Manchester United three weeks earlier, whilst Sunderland were dismantling Chelsea 4-1 on the same afternoon.

There was a reaction from Reid’s men after the break and Niall Quinn started to win more headers against the Everton defenders. Unfortunately without the goalscoring freedom that Phillips provided, it limited Sunderland’s attacking threat. Kevin Kilbane kept battling on but he was playing out-of-position and just didn’t possess the finishing qualities that Phillips had.

The home side soaked up the initial response from their opponents and added to their score on the hour mark. Sorensen was able to deny Kevin Campbell getting onto the scoresheet but his save only came out to Jeffers. Spotting Pembridge in a better position, the young forward squared the ball for the Welsh international to score a rare goal. It could have been more. Nick Barmby had two efforts cleared off the line and Jeffers was denied a second goal by a tight offside call. Everton still had time to add the icing on a delicious Christmas cake. Campbell lost his marker in the box and finally managed to defeat Sorensen.

Sunderland got their revenge and won the return fixture in March and finished higher in the table too but this was a painful afternoon for Reid and one of the best Walter Smith would experience in his four years in the post at Goodison Park.