Iconic Moments: Sunderland’s own goal treble (February 2003)

In February 2003, Sunderland looked to be in serious relegation trouble. The Black Cats were in the bottom three and hadn’t won since surprising Liverpool FC two months earlier. However, the home faithful still believed they could record three points against Charlton Athletic. No side had recorded more away wins in the 2002-2003 season at this stage than Charlton. They had every reason to be confident of chalking up another three points on Wearside. However, they were about to get a huge helping hand from their opponents.

There were four goals scored in the match and all of them were scored by Sunderland. Unfortunately, three of them were for Charlton! A horrific eight-minute spell saw the Addicks into a 3-0 lead without them needing to score themselves past Sunderland goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen.

Charlton took the lead after 24 minutes. Mark Fish’s weak effort took two deflections on its way into Sorensen’s net. The right heel of defender Stephen Wright got the final touch. One own goal in a match can be considered as unfortunate. Two own goals look rather silly. Five minutes later, Chris Powell’s shot was stopped by Sorensen but came off Michael Proctor and trickled into the net. Worse was to come.

Sunderland’s horrific treble was completed by Proctor again. From another Charlton corner, a flick-on at the near post came off Proctor’s back who had turned his back away from the ball. It spun into the net to complete a hat-trick of own goals.

Some of the crowd already started to leave before half-time. Howard Wilkinson’s side did score one at the right end but lost 3-1. They wouldn’t win again all season and with misfortune like this, it wasn’t a surprise that Sunderland were relegated, having recorded just 19 points.

Advertisements

Memorable Matches: Manchester City 2-3 Manchester United (April 2018)

Goalscorers: Vincent Kompany 25, Ilkay Gundogan 30, Paul Pogba 53, 55, Chris Smalling 69

Teams:

Manchester City: Ederson, Danilo, Fabian Delph, Vincent Kompany, Nicolas Otamendi, Fernandinho, Ilkay Gundogan (Sergio Aguero 76), David Silva (Kevin De Bruyne 72), Leroy Sane, Raheem Sterling, Bernardo Silva (Gabriel Jesus 72)

Manchester United: David de Gea, Eric Bailly, Chris Smalling, Antonio Valencia, Ashley Young, Nemanja Matic, Ander Herrera (Victor Lindelof 90), Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard (Scott McTominay 85), Alexis Sanchez (Marcus Rashford 82), Romelu Lukaku

Referee: Martin Atkinson, Attendance: 54,259

This was the day Manchester City supporters had been waiting for. Saturday 7th April 2018 was when they could wrap up the Premier League title for the third time. To make it even sweeter, the crowning could be completed by beating Manchester United. Whilst even the most ardent of Red Devils supporters had conceded the title to the Citizens, they were determined to make Pep Guardiola’s side wait a little while longer to celebrate.

With European commitments on the horizon, Guardiola elected to rest Kevin De Bruyne and kept Sergio Aguero in reserve too after his recent injury lay-off. It didn’t seem to matter after a breathless first half display that had the visitors chasing shadows. Five years after scoring the blockbuster header that set City up for a 1-0 victory and their first Premier League title, Vincent Kompany produced a carbon copy effort on 25 minutes. He escaped Chris Smalling’s woeful marking attempt to thrash a header past David de Gea.

Five minutes later, Ilkay Gundogan almost waltzed through a dazed backline to make it 2-0. The champagne corks were on the verge of being popped. It was almost a question of how many goals Guardiola’s side were going to get. In truth, they could have been 5-0 ahead by half-time. Gundogan had another glorious chance but he headed a tame effort straight into De Gea’s arms, whilst Raheem Sterling wasted two glorious opportunities when played through on-goal. These missed chances would cost the home side with a chaotic second half defensive display.

Sporting a new ‘blue’ haircut, Paul Pogba did his talking on-the-pitch with an electrifying second half display. The Frenchman reminded us all of just why United paid a world-record transfer fee to bring him back to Old Trafford in the summer of 2016. On 53 minutes, he reduced the deficit, playing a nice one-two with Alexis Sanchez and flicking the ball past Ederson. 97 seconds later, it was 2-2. Pogba made a run into the box and powered a header into the net, leaving The Etihad Stadium in silence.

United had recently come from 2-0 down to win against Crystal Palace and they completed another incredible fightback on 69 minutes. From Sanchez’s deep free-kick, Smalling made amends for his lame attempt at marking Kompany earlier in the match. He headed past Ederson to give Jose Mourinho’s side a shock lead. It almost defied logic.

Guardiola sent both De Bruyne and Aguero on soon afterwards and the Argentine was unlucky not to win a penalty when Ashley Young wildly lunged in on him. Referee Martin Atkinson ignored the protests. There were some feisty clashes between both sets of players as the temperature rose in the closing stages but United held on to delay the inevitable for a little longer.

They ultimately ceded their challenge with an embarrassing home loss to West Bromwich Albion a week later, confirming Manchester City as champions. At least they managed to stop their city rivals from winning it against them in a direct head-to-head battle with one of the comebacks of the 2017-2018 season.

Premier League Rewind: 10th-12th March 2018

Results: Manchester United 2-1 Liverpool FC, Everton 2-0 Brighton & Hove Albion, Huddersfield Town 0-0 Swansea City, Newcastle United 3-0 Southampton, West Bromwich Albion 1-4 Leicester City, West Ham United 0-3 Burnley, Chelsea 2-1 Crystal Palace, Arsenal 3-0 Watford, AFC Bournemouth 1-4 Tottenham Hotspur, Stoke City 0-2 Manchester City

With just nine games left to play in the 2017-2018 season, Manchester City were closing in on title glory. They required just three more victories to land their third Premier League title. The Citizens were the final team to respond on a weekend that saw 29 goals and plenty of talking points.

It was an appalling weekend for West Ham United. Months of frustration and anger towards the owners of the club spilled over during the harrowing 3-0 loss at home to Burnley. Whilst Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood were showing their clinical edge to help the Clarets to back-to-back victories, West Ham completely imploded. Fans ran onto the pitch and one had to be physically restrained by skipper, Mark Noble. Other supporters ganged up on the directors’ box and for their own safety, co-owners David Gold and David Sullivan were forced to leave the match before the full-time whistle. It was an unsavoury afternoon for the club which left them in 16th spot, just three points clear of the relegation zone and in disarray both on and off the field.

West Ham were only just above Southampton who also had a Saturday afternoon to forget. The Saints meekly surrendered at St James’ Park, losing 3-0 to Newcastle United. Defeat to his former mentor Rafa Benitez was a tough one to take for Mauricio Pellegrino and the final straw for the Saints board. Two days after the defeat on Tyneside, Pellegrino became the ninth manager to lose his job in the season. The Argentine would be replaced by ex-Stoke City boss Mark Hughes.

The situation was looking completely hopeless for West Bromwich Albion. The Baggies recorded their sixth successive defeat after going down 4-1 at home to Leicester City. Jamie Vardy scored a contender for Goal of the Season to keep the Foxes in contention for a UEFA Europa League qualification spot.

After weeks of mounting pressure, there was some light relief at last for Arsene Wenger and Arsenal. After four consecutive defeats in all competitions, the Gunners got back to winning ways thanks to a commanding 3-0 victory over Watford at The Emirates Stadium. It was a day of milestones for Arsenal. Shkodran Mustafi headed Arsenal ahead after eight minutes for their 1000th home Premier League goal and Petr Cech became the first goalkeeper to reach the landmark of 200 clean sheets. To add to the gloss, he saved a penalty from Troy Deeney.

There was a real cause of concern for supporters of Tottenham Hotspur and England when Harry Kane limped off early during Tottenham’s 4-1 victory away at AFC Bournemouth. Early indications of a lengthy absence were quickly quelled and his ankle injury fortunately turned out to be just a three-week lay-off. Heung-Min Son stepped up in Kane’s absence, scoring twice in Tottenham’s excellent victory on the south coast. England manager Gareth Southgate might have had concerns over Kane but he would have been delighted to see Marcus Rashford score twice in Manchester United’s 2-1 victory over old rivals Liverpool FC, establishing a five-point gap in the table between the two sides.

However, Manchester City held on to their comfortable 16-point lead. Two goals from David Silva helped them beat Stoke City in the final game of the weekend 2-0 at The Bet365 Stadium to close to within two wins of the title.

What else happened in March 2018?

  • UK counter-terrorism police investigate the poisoning of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and daughter Yulia in Salisbury.
  • World-renowned physicist and author, Stephen Hawking, dies at his home in Cambridge, aged 76.
  • Vladimir Putin wins a fourth term in office as Russian President.
  • Donald Trump accepts an invitation from the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un for a meeting in May to discuss North Korea’s denuclearisation.
  • The Labour Party suspends Ken Livingstone indefinitely after claims of anti-Semitism against the former Mayor of London.
  • Sky Sports suspend pundit and former Liverpool FC defender Jamie Carragher for the rest of the season after video footage emerges of him spitting out of his car window at a passing motorist.
  • At least 64 people die in a fire at a shopping and entertainment complex in the Russian city of Kemerovo.

Seasonal Stories: Norwich City (1994-1995)

A dramatic collapse

Norwich City’s Premier League season of 1994-1995 was a case of two halves. Less than two years after finishing third in the table, the Canaries slipped out of the top-flight after a dreadful 1995 that saw them win just once after New Years’ Day. Selling star assets such as Chris Sutton, Efan Ekoku and Mark Robins and not replacing them adequately enough eventually caught up with owner Robert Chase and the board.

That was despite sitting in sixth position in the table in December 1994…

Summer concerns

Norwich City went into the summer of 1994 fearing the worst. Only one win in their last nine matches had seen them finish the previous campaign in 12th position, having been as high as third spot in November.

Having scored 25 goals in the previous season, Chris Sutton was hot property and realistically, it was always going to be difficult for Norwich manager John Deehan to be able to persuade Sutton to stay. Sure enough, he did leave in a British transfer record fee for Blackburn Rovers with Norwich receiving £5 million.

Mike Sheron eventually arrived as Sutton’s replacement after finding his chances limited at Manchester City with Deehan trusting on Mark Robins and Efan Ekoku to provide the goals missing from Sutton’s departure. Other new arrivals included midfielder Mike Milligan from Oldham Athletic and a seven-figure fee was paid to Leeds United for defender Jon Newsome.

A strong first half

Norwich had shown in recent seasons that they would often start well and 1994-1995 was more proof of that. The Canaries conceded just two goals in their first five matches and they came in an opening day 2-0 defeat to Chelsea.

At the start of October, Blackburn Rovers and Leeds United were beaten and Queens Park Rangers shipped four goals on their visit to East Anglia. In fact, Norwich would remain unbeaten at Carrow Road until Boxing Day when they lost at home to Tottenham Hotspur.

Ekoku was controversially sold to Wimbledon during October for £900,000. Two weeks on from his departure, he scored the only goal of the game at Selhurst Park for his new club against his old employers infront of the Sky Sports cameras. It was another example of Robert Chase’s seeming desire to cash in on his talents having done the same with both Sutton and Ruel Fox.

Money was spent in December to bring in Ashley Ward who had a great goalscoring record in the lower divisions with Crewe Alexandra. He made a dream debut, scoring twice in a 3-0 victory at home to Chelsea. Ward would finish the season as the club’s top goalscorer with eight strikes. Despite the Tottenham loss on Boxing Day, Norwich were sitting in seventh position at close of play, 11 points clear of danger and ahead of some far more illustrious sides including Arsenal, Leeds United and Tottenham.

BOXING DAY 1994 TABLE

POS TABLE P W D L F A GD PTS
7 NORWICH CITY 20 8 6 6 19 17 +2 30
8 Tottenham Hotspur 20 8 5 7 34 34 0 29
9 Chelsea 20 8 4 8 28 26 +2 28
10 Manchester City 20 8 4 8 31 34 -3 28
11 Arsenal 20 6 7 7 23 22 +1 25
12 Coventry City 20 6 7 7 20 29 -9 25

Season-changing injury

Norwich travelled to Nottingham Forest on Tuesday 27th December 1994 boasting an impressive defensive record. Only the top two, Blackburn Rovers and Manchester United had conceded fewer goals. However, a season-changing injury at The City Ground would change that statistic drastically.

Scottish goalkeeper Bryan Gunn broke and dislocated an ankle whilst blocking a long-range shot from Ian Woan. It was a cruel blow and an injury that would rule him out for the rest of the season. Gunn was a big character, both on-the-pitch and in the dressing room and his absence was instantly felt. 19-year-old Andy Marshall came off the bench and promptly conceded the only goal of the match direct from a corner by Lars Bohinen.

Efforts were made to bring in emergency cover on-loan but nothing happened and Marshall would remain as the number one for the remainder of the campaign. It was another major error in a season that was about to fall apart for the club.

They did beat high-flying Newcastle United 2-1 on New Years’ Eve but that win was followed by an 11-match winless sequence that saw Deehan’s side drop into the bottom half of the table. Robins was the next star player to be sold, departing for Leicester City in January.

There was some light relief in mid-March when John Wark’s dismissal in the East Anglian Derby helped Norwich to a comfortable 3-0 victory over bottom-placed Ipswich Town. It did briefly take Norwich back into the top half of the table but it turned out to be their last win of the season.

Deehan departs

After a 3-0 defeat away to Newcastle United on 9th April, John Deehan handed in his resignation as manager after 15 months in the post. Three worrying defeats in eight days was the final straw. Supporters, growing impatient with both form on-the-pitch and players being sold by the board started to demonstrate against Chase’s running of the club. They even started a petition in vain to try and get their former manager Mike Walker back to the club after his nightmare reign at Everton.

The under-fire owner decided to hand the position of manager to Gary Megson but there was to be no happy ending. On 6th May 1995, Norwich slipped to a 2-1 defeat at Elland Road against Leeds United which confirmed their relegation from the Premier League. It was a seventh successive Premier League defeat. In total, the club picked up just 10 points from 20 Premier League matches in 1995 and that turned this campaign into an absolute disaster.

After failing to keep the Canaries up, Megson quit and Martin O’Neill was chosen as the man to take over in Division One. They would only finish 16th in the season afterwards and didn’t return to the Premier League until 2004.

FINAL 1994-1995 TABLE – THE BOTTOM SIX

POS TABLE P W D L F A GD PTS
17 Manchester City 42 12 13 17 53 64 -11 48
18 Aston Villa 42 11 15 16 51 56 -5 48
19 Crystal Palace 42 11 12 19 34 49 -15 45
20 NORWICH CITY 42 10 13 19 37 54 -17 43
21 Leicester City 42 6 11 25 45 80 -35 29
22 Ipswich Town 42 7 6 29 36 93 -57 27

Shock Results: Chelsea 0-3 AFC Bournemouth (January 2018)

Goalscorers: Callum Wilson 51, Junior Stanislas 64, Nathan Ake 67

Teams:

Chelsea: Thibaut Courtois, Cesar Azpilicueta, Davide Zappacosta, Gary Cahill, Andreas Christensen (Antonio Rudiger 28), Marcos Alonso, Tiemoue Bakayoko, N’Golo Kante, Ross Barkley (Cesc Fabregas 54), Eden Hazard, Pedro

AFC Bournemouth: Asmir Begovic, Nathan Ake, Steve Cook, Charlie Daniels, Simon Francis, Lewis Cook, Dan Gosling, Ryan Fraser, Jordon Ibe (Marc Pugh 83), Junior Stanislas (Josh King 71), Callum Wilson (Lys Mousset 90)

Referee: Lee Probert, Attendance: 41,464

Two seasons earlier, AFC Bournemouth had stunned Chelsea in their dreadful title defence, winning 1-0 at Stamford Bridge. Now, Eddie Howe’s side were keen to repeat this success as they were enjoying a five-game unbeaten run which had included victories over Everton and Arsenal in this period.

Chelsea themselves had no chance of defending the title they’d won in 2016-2017 but were in an eight-game unbeaten league sequence of their own and among the challengers for a top-four finish. They were also able to parade Olivier Giroud at half-time. The Frenchman had been prized away from Arsenal in a three-way deal which saw Michy Batshuayi go to Borussia Dortmund for the rest of the season and Arsenal break their club-record to snap up Dortmund marksman, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Chelsea were missing Alvaro Morata and Willian to injury with Ross Barkley making his first Premier League start for the club since joining from Everton earlier in the January transfer window. The home side dominated possession but failed to create clear-cut chances in the first 45 minutes. Bournemouth were able to smother Eden Hazard, whilst defensive resources were stretched further for Antonio Conte when Andreas Christensen limped off after 28 minutes to be replaced by Antonio Rudiger.

Having kept Chelsea at bay, Bournemouth turned in a clinical 16-minute spell in the second half as they dismantled the reigning champions on their own patch. In the 51st minute, Tiemoue Bakayoko was caught in possession and from this error, the Blues were brutally punished. Jordon Ibe slipped an inch-perfect pass in-between the centre-backs Rudiger and Gary Cahill and Callum Wilson timed his run perfectly to slip the ball underneath the advancing Thibaut Courtois. It was the first goal in the Premier League Chelsea had conceded at Stamford Bridge in 489 minutes.

13 minutes later, they had conceded again. This time, Wilson had turned goal provider, sliding a pass inside Cahill and Cesar Azpilicueta for Junior Stanislas to fire home. Chelsea looked like a broken side and three minutes later, Bournemouth had scored again. From a corner, Stanislas’ effort which looked to be sailing wide of the post was steered into the net by ex-Chelsea defender Nathan Ake.

On the bench, Giroud sank further beyond his training jacket. 24 hours earlier, he’d made his farewell appearance for Arsenal off the bench in a humbling defeat at Swansea. Now, it seemed like he’d joined another London sinking ship. It was defeats like this that cost Chelsea a place in this season’s Champions League and would ultimately cost Conte his job. Bournemouth finished 12th with what was their finest result of the 2017-2018 season.

Great Goals: Antonio Valencia – MANCHESTER UNITED vs. Everton (September 2017)

In his heyday, Antonio Valencia was a flying right winger but he has been successfully converted into a fine right-back by Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho. In September 2017, he unleashed a reminder of his previous qualities with a stunning volley at home to Everton.

Just less than four minutes had been played when Valencia smashed a shot into the top corner of Jordan Pickford’s net from the edge of the area after being picked out delightfully by Nemanja Matic. His shot was measured at 104km/h. No goalkeeper was getting anywhere near this effort.

Manchester United won the match 4-0. Wayne Rooney’s first return to Old Trafford since his summer departure had been completely put in the shade by Valencia’s first-class goal.

 

Shock Results: Watford 1-4 Huddersfield Town (December 2017)

Goalscorers: Elias Kachunga 6, Aaron Mooy 23, 89 PEN, Laurent Depoitre 50, Abdoulaye Doucoure 68

Teams:

Watford: Heurelho Gomes, Jose Holebas (Stefano Okaka 82), Daryl Janmaat, Christian Kabasele, Adrian Mariappa (Roberto Pereyra 29), Sebastian Prodl, Etienne Capoue (Andre Gray 64), Abdoulaye Doucoure, Andre Carrillo, Troy Deeney (SENT OFF), Richarlison

Huddersfield Town: Jonas Lossl, Florent Hadergjonaj, Chris Lowe (Scott Malone 45), Mathias ‘Zanka’ Jorgensen, Christopher Schindler, Jonathan Hogg (SENT OFF), Aaron Mooy, Rajiv van La Parra (Danny Williams 64), Laurent Depoitre, Elias Kachunga (Tom Ince 19), Collin Quaner

Referee: Michael Oliver, Attendance: 20,026

The first top-flight meeting between Watford and Huddersfield Town in December 2017 was eventful to say the least. The Terriers left with another crucial three points in their bid to avoid an instant relegation in a game that saw five goals, a penalty and two red cards.

Watford were winless in their last four matches but still were favourites coming into the match. Huddersfield had failed to score on their travels since their 3-0 opening day victory over Crystal Palace. That drought ended after just six minutes. After the home side failed to clear a corner, Collin Quaner’s effort was tapped into the back of the net by Elias Kachunga. It was Kachunga’s 17th top-flight game and his first Premier League goal. Unfortunately for the former Paderborn and Ingolstadt forward, his day ended on a stretcher after just 19 minutes. He sustained a serious knee injury that would keep him on the sidelines for three months.

David Wagner’s side recovered from that setback to double their lead in fortunate circumstances. Quaner collected his second assist of the afternoon when his cross hit Aaron Mooy and trickled into the back of the net. Mooy didn’t know anything about it but they all count and this put the visitors in a fantastic position. Two goals up, they would be a man up also before half-time.

12 minutes before the break, Watford captain Troy Deeney was given a straight red card for a reckless challenge on Quaner who was going nowhere on the touchline. It was Watford’s fourth red card of the season and their disciplinary record was becoming a real cause for concern for manager Marco Silva. The game was virtually put beyond the Hornets when Jose Holebas lost his footing in the penalty area five minutes into the second half. This allowed Laurent Depoitre to fully punish this slip, driving the ball beyond Heurelho Gomes.

Watford were given a glimmer of hope midway through the second half when Huddersfield’s skipper Jonathan Hogg joined Deeney in an early departure in the match. Referee Michael Oliver dismissed Hogg for two bookable offences; the second in a tough challenge on Richarlison. The deficit was reduced to 3-1 on 68 minutes by a brilliant half-volley strike from distance by Abdoulaye Doucoure but in truth, Huddersfield’s advantage was simply too big for Watford to cause many problems. The scoreline got its added gloss just before injury-time. Doucoure tripped Depoitre in the penalty area and Mooy made no mistake from the spot to score his second of the afternoon.

This was the Terriers’ first victory in eight away league matches and they would complete the double over Watford, beating them 1-0 in April through a dramatic late winner by Tom Ince. By then, Watford had a new manager. Silva was sacked by the club in January. He won just one more match after this hefty loss to the Terriers.

Premier League Rewind: 24th February-1st March 2018

Results: Leicester City 1-1 Stoke City, AFC Bournemouth 2-2 Newcastle United, Brighton & Hove Albion 4-1 Swansea City, Burnley 1-1 Southampton, Liverpool FC 4-1 West Ham United, West Bromwich Albion 1-2 Huddersfield Town, Watford 1-0 Everton, Crystal Palace 0-1 Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United 2-1 Chelsea, Arsenal 0-3 Manchester City

This particular Premier League round of matches was stretched over five days due to Arsenal and Manchester City’s participation in the League Cup final at Wembley Stadium. It meant Manchester United had the opportunity to narrow City’s lead in the table to 13 points for a few days at least. They came up against Chelsea at Old Trafford in the first match between Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte since a bitter war of words had exploded in the media between the pair at the start of the year.

Chelsea started the brighter side and led after 32 minutes thanks to Willian’s goal on the counter-attack. However, Romelu Lukaku equalised seven minutes later and as Conte decided to sit back, Mourinho saw the opportunity to expose this flaw. 15 minutes from full-time, Lukaku’s cross was met by the head of substitute Jesse Lingard. He found the net and that spearheaded United to a 2-1 victory. It was Chelsea’s third defeat in four matches and saw them slip outside the top four. It was a position Conte and his side would never regain for the remainder of the season.

Tottenham Hotspur replaced them in the top four after snatching a very late win away at Crystal Palace. Once again, it was Harry Kane who delivered for Spurs. His header from Christian Eriksen’s corner in the 88th minute took Spurs to a vital 1-0 victory. It looked like it was going to be a frustrating afternoon for the visitors who dominated throughout but wasteful finishing and an inspired Wayne Hennessey display looked set to deny them the win. That was until Kane came to the rescue with his 102nd Premier League goal.

Liverpool FC consolidated their position in the top four after breezing past West Ham United 4-1 at Anfield, repeating the scoreline they’d achieved earlier in the season against the Hammers at The London Stadium. Liverpool’s goals came from Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane plus a header from Emre Can. It would turn out to be the German’s final goal for the club. He would leave in the summer on a free transfer for Juventus. Can’s header was also LFC’s 100th goal in all competitions for the campaign.

Liverpool weren’t the only 4-1 winners. Brighton & Hove Albion also achieved this scoreline in their triumph over Swansea City. Glenn Murray scored twice and Jurgen Locadia came off the bench to net on his Premier League debut. It was the first taste of Premier League defeat for Swansea boss Carlos Carvalhal and kept Swansea inside the drop zone on goal difference.

They were above Stoke City, who drew 1-1 at Leicester City in the first game of the weekend. Leading just before half-time through Xherdan Shaqiri’s fine strike, an error from Jack Butland allowed Marc Albrighton’s cross to sneak in at his near post. West Bromwich Albion remained bottom of the table after another damaging loss. Beaten 2-1 at home by Huddersfield Town, they had now lost four games in a row and slipped seven points adrift of safety. Rajiv van La Parra clearly had taken a liking to the Baggies. Having scored the winning goal when the sides met in November at The John Smith’s Stadium, Van La Parra struck the first goal in the victory at The Hawthorns that took Huddersfield 10 points clear of their opponents.

Four days after their resounding League Cup final success over Arsenal, Manchester City would repeat the triumph in the Premier League. They crushed the Gunners on their own turf by the same score as they’d managed at Wembley. Bernardo Silva, David Silva and Leroy Sane all found the net on a freezing Thursday night in the capital as City won 3-0 to regain their 16-point advantage at the top of the table.

What else happened in February 2018?

  • After nine years in power, Jacob Zuma resigns as South African president.
  • The UK’s largest toy retailer, Toys “R” Us, goes into administration.
  • The 2018 Winter Olympics are held in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
  • Saratov Airlines Flight 703 crashes shortly after take-off from Moscow, killing 71 people onboard.
  • Another school shooting in the United States, this time at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida injures 17 and kills 17 people.
  • Trinity Mirror purchases Northern & Shell, chaired by Richard Desmond, for £126.7 million.
  • Dua Lipa and Stormzy are the big winners at the 2018 BRIT Awards. Both win two awards at the ceremony, hosted by Jack Whitehall.

Memorable Matches: Crystal Palace 2-3 Manchester United (March 2018)

Goalscorers: Andros Townsend 11, Patrick van Aanholt 48, Chris Smalling 59, Romelu Lukaku 78, Nemanja Matic 90

Teams:

Crystal Palace: Wayne Hennessey, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Patrick van Aanholt, Martin Kelly, James Tomkins, James McArthur, Luka Milivojevic, Jeff Schlupp (Jairo Riedewald 80), Andros Townsend, Christian Benteke, Alexander Sorloth

Manchester United: David de Gea, Antonio Valencia (Luke Shaw 67), Ashley Young (Juan Mata 67), Victor Lindelof, Chris Smalling, Nemanja Matic, Scott McTominay (Marcus Rashford 45), Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard, Romelu Lukaku, Alexis Sanchez

Referee: Neil Swarbrick, Attendance: 25,840

Crystal Palace’s 2017-2018 season had been one of contrasting fortunes. Pointless and goalless after seven matches, they had reached the dizzying heights of 12th position in the table when they defeated Burnley 1-0 in mid-January. Now, they were in a tailspin of alarming results. Five games without a win, Roy Hodgson’s side kicked off this match against Manchester United back in the relegation zone.

The home side looked sharper, quicker and hungrier than their opponents and deservedly hit the front after just 11 minutes. Andros Townsend’s shot from distance deflected in off the unfortunate Victor Lindelof to put the Eagles into the lead. Palace’s front two of Christian Benteke and Alexander Sorloth were working hard to give United’s defenders problems. Paul Pogba was sloppy in possession and youngster Scott McTominay struggled in the central midfield battle.

If Mourinho had tried to motivate his team in the half-time team talk, his defenders clearly weren’t listening. Three minutes after the interval, Jeff Schlupp took a quick free-kick and the visiting defence were caught completely off-guard. Full-back Patrick van Aanholt exposed this horrendous miscommunication and smashed a shot beyond David de Gea to put Crystal Palace into a deserved 2-0 lead.

If the scoreline stayed as it was, Hodgson’s side were going 13th in the table. The hosts were missing 10 first-team players due to injury and suspension and one of those missing was their influential winger, Wilfried Zaha. As soon as Chris Smalling pulled a goal back, heading home from Antonio Valencia’s cross, Zaha’s presence was clearly missed.

United started to gain a grip on proceedings and moments after Benteke had cleared a Nemanja Matic effort off the line, Alexis Sanchez had a shot that deflected onto the crossbar. The ball landed back into the path of Romelu Lukaku and despite having no fewer than five players around him, the Belgian stayed composed and squeezed in the equaliser with 14 minutes left to play. Mourinho still need another wonder save from De Gea though. The Spaniard produced a remarkable stop to keep out a powerful headed attempt by Benteke.

In the first minute of stoppage-time, Palace hearts were to be broken. From nearly 30-yards out, Matic tried his luck. The Serbian, who has shown his capability of finding the net from distance during his time in English football, did it again. His dipping volley beat Wayne Hennessey, winning the game for Manchester United with a stunning strike.

The Red Devils had shown great resilience to comeback from 2-0 down but you had to feel for Hodgson and his team, who put so much effort into this contest and were left with nothing to show for it. The season had a happy ending for Eagles supporters though. They lost two of their next three matches but then went on a six-match unbeaten streak at the end of the campaign to finish 11th. Manchester United wound up second but a record-breaking 19 points adrift of their city rivals.

Memorable Matches: Liverpool FC 2-2 Tottenham Hotspur (February 2018)

Goalscorers: Mohamed Salah 3, 90, Victor Wanyama 80, Harry Kane 90 PEN

Teams:

Liverpool FC: Loris Karius, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Dejan Lovren, Virgil van Dijk, Andrew Robertson, Emre Can, Jordan Henderson (Georginio Wijnaldum 78), James Milner (Joel Matip 78), Sadio Mane (Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain 65), Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah

Tottenham Hotspur: Hugo Lloris, Ben Davies, Kieran Trippier, Davinson Sanchez (Erik Lamela 71), Jan Vertonghen, Eric Dier, Mousa Dembele (Victor Wanyama 79), Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen, Heung-Min Son (Fernando Llorente 90), Harry Kane

Referee: Jon Moss, Attendance: 53,213

Three weeks after inflicting a first league defeat on Manchester City in the 2017-2018 season, Liverpool FC welcomed Tottenham Hotspur to Anfield for another unbelievable match which saw some individual brilliance, great goals, dodgy decisions and a landmark achieved by England’s premier striker.

After beating City, Liverpool had endured the disappointment of losing away to Swansea and being dumped out of the FA Cup at home by West Bromwich Albion. A comfortable midweek victory at Huddersfield had at least restored some momentum and Jurgen Klopp could welcome Jordan Henderson back into the first-team for the first time in six weeks since limping off early on in the 3-3 belter at Arsenal in December.

They made a flying start in this encounter, scoring inside three minutes. Eric Dier’s lazy attempt at a backpass was intercepted by the sensational Mohamed Salah and the Egyptian was not going to pass up this gift. Salah scored his 20th league goal of the season and it was the Reds’ fastest goal in the Premier League since Daniel Sturridge netted against Newcastle United in April 2016. Liverpool were in control throughout the first half and their high-pressing game meant Tottenham’s midfielders were getting overrun in possession. Harry Kane was anonymous, touching the ball just 10 times in the first 45 minutes. However, Liverpool’s style does mean they can run out of energy and as the second half progressed, it was the visitors who started to dominate, both in terms of possession and creating opportunities.

Henderson and Emre Can had run out of legs and Klopp’s attempt to switch to a back-three by sacrificing James Milner for Joel Matip didn’t have the desired effect. Pochettino’s next substitution did had the impact he was looking for. With 10 minutes remaining, a cross into the box was fisted away by Loris Karius who probably could have caught the ball. His punch was returned with interest by Victor Wanyama who blasted a vicious drive from 25-yards out into the top corner, almost ripping the goal net off. It was a thunderbolt and everyone inside Anfield looked stunned. One of the Goals of the Season had just come from the most unexpected source and all this within a minute of his arrival into the game.

The drama continued moments later. Kane looked in an offside position when played through by Dele Alli but it was missed by referee Jon Moss and his assistant, Eddie Smart. Karius brought him down and a penalty was awarded. The goalkeeper was fortunate to avoid a red card but he made amends by staying tall in his goal and saved Kane’s rather tame spot-kick.

Then, out of nowhere, Salah came up with more brilliance. In the first minute of time added on. He weaved his way past the challenges of Alli and Vertonghen and cutely finished over the onrushing Hugo Lloris. Klopp raced down the touchline punching the air in delight whilst Kane looked devastated on the centre circle. His miss and Salah’s stunning moment of magic seemed to have handed Liverpool all three points. However, there was another twist to come.

With seconds remaining, Virgil van Dijk and Erik Lamela collided in the penalty area. Moss initially waved away Tottenham protests but linesman Smart felt there had been a foul. After further consultation, Tottenham had their second penalty of the match and Klopp looked dismayed, sarcastically applauding the decision in the dugout.

Kane had a chance to redeem himself and this time, he made no mistake, sending Karius the wrong way to achieve another milestone. It was his 100th Premier League goal in just his 141st top-flight appearance. Only Alan Shearer (124 games) had reached the century in a quicker time.

A point was the least Tottenham deserved from this absorbing contest and it helped them edge out Liverpool FC in the final standings to finish third, although both would qualify for the group stages of the UEFA Champions League.

Great Goals: Mohamed Salah – LIVERPOOL FC vs. Tottenham Hotspur (February 2018)

Mohamed Salah arrived back in the Premier League in the summer of 2017, determined to show Liverpool FC fans his worth. He had previously auditioned in the top-flight with Chelsea and it is fair to say, he had a testing year in west London which didn’t really work out in terms of his career. After flourishing in Italy with Fiorentina and AS Roma, he joined Liverpool FC and set about taking the English game by storm.

Against Tottenham in February, he was in peak form. The game was right in the balance after Victor Wanyama’s smashing strike, whilst Harry Kane had missed a penalty. Then, in stoppage-time, Salah produced another moment of magic. His 21st goal of an extraordinary campaign was probably his finest. Initially appealing for a potential handball, Salah re-engaged quickly in what was more important and his trickery saw him twist inside Ben Davies, avoid Dele Alli’s attempt to foul him, brush off Jan Vertonghen and then, clip the ball over the top of the onrushing Hugo Lloris. It was a glorious piece of skill, calmness and trickery from the Player of the Season.

The game did ultimately finish all-square but Salah ended the season with a Golden Boot and a clean sweep of PFA Players’ Player of the Year and the Football Writers Award. It will be very interesting to see if he can follow up on his sensational season in 2018-2019 after his World Cup heartache this summer with Egypt.

Great Goals: Victor Wanyama – Liverpool FC vs. TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR (February 2018)

At Anfield in February 2018, Liverpool FC and Tottenham Hotspur played out a thrilling encounter which saw missed penalties, goalscoring milestones achieved and two contenders for Goal of the Season.

Leading 1-0 from the third minute onwards, Liverpool were hanging on against a barrage of Tottenham pressure and they eventually buckled with 10 minutes left to play. It looked like Liverpool FC goalkeeper Loris Karius had got enough on his punch from Christian Eriksen’s cross. The ball landed at the feet of Victor Wanyama and the Kenyan international launched a missile of a shot into the top corner of the net. No goalkeeper in the world would have stopped this thunderbolt.

Wanyama had only just arrived into the game as a substitute, so this was some introduction. The points were ultimately shared and despite some individual brilliance from Mohamed Salah later on, this goal from Wanyama was surely the best of the day.