15th-17th March 2008

Results: Arsenal 1-1 Middlesbrough, Derby County 0-1 Manchester United, Liverpool FC 2-1 Reading, Portsmouth 2-0 Aston Villa, Sunderland 0-1 Chelsea, West Ham United 2-1 Blackburn Rovers, Fulham 1-0 Everton, Wigan Athletic 1-0 Bolton Wanderers, Manchester City 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur, Birmingham City 1-1 Newcastle United

With eight games left in the 2007-2008 Premier League season, there were still fine margins between three of the all-time Premier League heavyweights. Arsenal went into the weekend still on top of the table but Arsene Wenger’s exciting side were beginning to falter. They had drawn three successive matches and had reigning champions Manchester United right in their slipstream.

The Gunners seemed to be struggling with the psychological trauma they’d gone through a month earlier at St Andrew’s when Croatian striker Eduardo suffered a horrific leg fracture against Birmingham City. Questions were being asked above their resolve and mentality. Those interrogations would get bigger after Middlesbrough earned themselves a 1-1 draw at The Emirates. It could have been even better for the visitors, who were four minutes away from claiming a league double over the Gunners. Kolo Toure’s late equaliser rescued a fortunate point for the home side.

By the end of Saturday’s play, they had been usurped from top spot by Manchester United on goal difference. The Red Devils were nowhere near their best away at bottom-placed Derby County but left Pride Park with all three points. Cristiano Ronaldo scored the only goal in the 1-0 victory. Derby would be relegated just a fortnight later.

Chelsea had been through early season turbulence but the quietly-minded Avram Grant was keeping them on the coattails of the top two. The Blues extended their unbeaten run to 12 Premier League matches with a 1-0 victory at Sunderland. Captain John Terry scored the decisive goal for the Blues after just 10 minutes. Chelsea were now just three points off top spot.

Liverpool FC opened up a three-point cushion on Merseyside neighbours Everton in the battle for a Champions League place. After a poor January, Rafa Benitez’s side had been playing catch-up but made it six victories from seven outings with a narrow 2-1 home victory over struggling Reading. Liverpool did fall behind to a cracking effort from Marek Matejovsky inside five minutes. Javier Mascherano equalised with his first LFC goal before a Fernando Torres header sealed all three points for Benitez’s side.

Everton lost 1-0 at Fulham 24 hours later. Brian McBride’s goal saw the Cottagers enjoy just a second league victory for Roy Hodgson since he took over at Craven Cottage in January 2008. Despite the win, Fulham remained four points adrift of safety. Bolton Wanderers remained in the bottom three after a 1-0 loss to Wigan Athletic which made it five successive defeats for the Trotters. Having finished in the top 10 in each of the past four seasons, Bolton’s Premier League place now seemed to be in severe jeopardy.

Kevin Keegan was finding the going incredibly tough in his second spell as Newcastle United manager. He was still awaiting his first victory as Magpies manager after this weekend. They drew 1-1 in the Monday night encounter with Birmingham City and were just four points clear of the bottom three. With just eight points between Fulham in 19th place from Wigan Athletic in 12th spot, it was still too close to call at the wrong end of the table.

What else happened in March 2008?

  • Over 500 flights are cancelled after problems with the IT system at the opening of London Heathrow Terminal 5.
  • At the inquest of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, the coroner confirmed The Duke of Edinburgh would not be called into court to give evidence over the deaths that Mohammed Al-Fayed was accusing him of ordering.
  • Former ITN newsreader Carol Barnes dies aged 63 after suffering a stroke in Brighton.
  • 39-year-old Michael Donovan from Yorkshire is arrested for the kidnap of nine-year-old Shannon Matthews.
  • A plane crashes into a row of houses in Farnborough, killing five people, including former British Touring Car team boss Richard Lloyd and runner-up driver David Leslie.
  • Alistair Darling unveils his first Budget since becoming Chancellor of the Exchequer under Gordon Brown’s premiership.
  • Ex-Hearsay singer Suzanne Shaw edges out Hollyoaks heartthrob Chris Fountain to win the third series of the ITV skating series, Dancing on Ice.


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