Category Archives: Memorable Matches

Memorable Matches: Queens Park Rangers 3-2 West Bromwich Albion (December 2014)

Goalscorers: Joleon Lescott 10, Silvestre Varela 20, Charlie Austin 24 PEN, 48, 86

Teams:

Queens Park Rangers: Robert Green, Yun Suk-Young (Clint Hill 30), Nedum Onuoha, Steven Caulker, Richard Dunne, Joey Barton, Leroy Fer, Karl Henry, Charlie Austin, Eduardo Vargas (Junior Hoilett 67), Bobby Zamora (Niko Kranjcar 80)

West Bromwich Albion: Ben Foster, Sebastien Pocognoli (Cristian Gamboa 90), Andre Wisdom, Joleon Lescott, Gareth McAuley, Graham Dorrans, Craig Gardner, James Morrison, Stephane Sessegnon, Silvestre Varela, Brown Ideye (Saido Berahino 69)

Referee: Craig Pawson, Attendance: 17,560

Going into this pre-Christmas match, both Queens Park Rangers and West Bromwich Albion were in the need for three points. Harry Redknapp’s side had failed to take a single point away from home but were in fine form at Loftus Road, taking 10 points from their last four home encounters. West Brom had just beaten Aston Villa in their last match to ease the pressure slightly on their head coach, Alan Irvine.

It was the visitors’ who made the better start and completely dominated in the first 20 minutes. Craig Gardner and Brown Ideye both came close to opening the scoring but it was a defender who would ultimately break the deadlock. Sebastien Pocognoli’s corner was flicked on by Stephane Sessegnon and Joleon Lescott headed home. Lescott was a summer arrival from Manchester City and this was his first goal since September 2012.

1-0 after 10 minutes became 2-0 after 20 minutes. Silvestre Varela linked up with Sessegnon, playing some smart one-touch football and he finished coolly inside the penalty area. Varela was on-loan from FC Porto and had struggled to adapt to the physicality of the Premier League. It was his first goal for the club and ultimately, his only goal in the Baggies’ colours.

Redknapp’s side needed a swift response and it arrived via the penalty spot just four minutes later. Referee Craig Pawson punished James Morrison for tugging away at Leroy Fer’s shirt. Charlie Austin, back from suspension after seeing red in QPR’s last home match against Burnley, made no mistake from the penalty spot. This goal meant he had scored in each of QPR’s last five home matches.

Despite getting back into the game, QPR were still second-best for the remainder of the first half. Green’s agility levels were tested on two further occasions before the interval to deny Gardner from a deflected free-kick and a dangerous drive from the impressive Sessegnon. West Brom’s failure to take their chances would cost them dearly in the second half.

Less than three minutes into the second half, Joey Barton’s corner was headed onto the crossbar by Richard Dunne. The ball fell perfectly to Austin, who bundled home a loose ball to level the scores. A winning goal always looked likely for either side and with Austin on the pitch, QPR could not be discounted. Four minutes from time, he climbed highest to head home another Barton corner. It was his ninth goal in the last seven matches and his maiden hat-trick in the Premier League.

The result lifted QPR out of the bottom three and into 15th spot, level on points with their opponents. Irvine lasted another two matches before being sacked. Tony Pulis succeeded him and steered Albion clear of any relegation danger. Despite the goals of Austin, QPR were relegated before the end of the season. This was their day though and one of the best comebacks of the 2014-2015 season.

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Memorable Matches: Middlesbrough 3-3 Tottenham Hotspur (December 2005)

Goalscorers: Robbie Keane 25, Yakubu 30, 43, Jermaine Jenas 63, Franck Queudrue 69, Mido 83

Teams:

Middlesbrough: Mark Schwarzer, Matthew Bates, Gareth Southgate, Ugo Ehiogu, Franck Queudrue, George Boateng, Doriva, James Morrison (Massimo Maccarone 89), Fabio Rochemback, Marc Viduka, Yakubu

Tottenham Hotspur: Paul Robinson, Lee-Young Pyo, Michael Dawson, Ledley King, Paul Stalteri, Michael Carrick, Edgar Davids, Jermaine Jenas (Grzegorz Rasiak 81), Andy Reid (Jermain Defoe 56, Michael Brown 90), Robbie Keane, Mido

Referee: Howard Webb, Attendance: 27,614

The 27,614 crowd that turned up at the Riverside Stadium in December 2005 were given a pre-Christmas treat. Middlesbrough and Tottenham Hotspur produced a great spectacle and ultimately, a game which neither side deserved to lose.

Boro were having a tricky season under Steve McClaren. They had lost their last two Premier League games and were finding the juggling effect of Premier League and European matches tough to handle. Martin Jol’s Tottenham didn’t have that problem and they were challenging for a top-four finish alongside the top-flight’s usual suspects.

After a scrappy first 25 minutes, it was Jol’s side who took the lead. Lee-Young Pyo launched a deep cross into the box. Mark Schwarzer was challenged by Mido and under pressure, the goalkeeper lost the ball. Robbie Keane was in the right place at the right time. His strike wasn’t the cleanest but evaded three Boro defenders to score. Schwarzer looked at referee Howard Webb, feeling he had been impeded. In truth, it wasn’t his finest piece of goalkeeping.

Middlesbrough responded well though and by half-time, were leading 2-1. From a Gareth Southgate flick-on, Yakubu volleyed past Paul Robinson at the near post. He was the big summer arrival at the Riverside and returning an excellent goals tally. The Nigerian doubled his tally but in more fluky fashion. Academy graduate James Morrison was given space to run at the defence. He did just that, skipping past Michael Dawson’s tackle before releasing a shot. His effort took a wicked deflection off Yakubu and that gave the England no.1 goalkeeper no chance. Yakubu nearly had a hat-trick early in the second half. Only great reflexes from Robinson stopped him from walking home with the match ball. Morrison’s cross was met by a thumping header that was turned over the crossbar. It was a crucial save. Moments later, Spurs equalised. Jermaine Jenas produced a perfectly curled free-kick that comprehensively beat Schwarzer to level the scores.

With 20 minutes left, Middlesbrough regained the lead. Fabio Rochemback’s corner was met by a flying Franck Queudrue header. The ball hit the underside of the bar and bounced over the line. These were the days before goal-line technology but no doubts here – the linesman correctly awarded the goal. Robinson didn’t agree and was booked by Webb for his protests. However, Tottenham deserved something from the match and they got their point seven minutes from the end. Mido climbed the highest from a corner to defeat Schwarzer and ensure the points would be shared.

Both suffered heartache at the end of the season. Middlesbrough finished a disappointing 14th but went all the way to the UEFA Cup final before losing to Sevilla. Tottenham were pipped to a top-four finish on the final day of the campaign by north London rivals Arsenal.

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.

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.

Memorable Matches: Charlton Athletic 2-2 Fulham (December 2006)

Goalscorers: Brian McBride 13, Darren Ambrose 19, Darren Bent 45, Franck Queudrue 90

Teams:

Charlton Athletic: Scott Carson, Djimi Traore, Talal El Karkouri, Hermann Hreidarsson, Osei Sankofa, Radostin Kishishev, Matt Holland, Darren Ambrose (Bryan Hughes 74), Jerome Thomas (Dennis Rommedahl 45), Darren Bent, Marcus Bent (Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink 82)

Fulham: Antti Niemi, Franck Queudrue, Carlos Bocanegra, Philippe Christanval, Liam Rosenior, Moritz Volz (Claus Jensen 74), Michael Brown, Wayne Routledge, Tomasz Radzinski, Brian McBride, Heidar Helguson (Collins John 65)

Referee: Graham Poll, Attendance: 25,203

Charlton Athletic were experiencing a very difficult 2006. Long-time manager Alan Curbishley had elected to step aside at the end of the previous season and they were finding life after him incredibly tough. The Addicks were now onto their fourth manager of the calendar year.

Former player Alan Pardew was appointed to try and revive their fortunes. He replaced Les Reed days before Christmas. His appointment came just over a fortnight after his sacking by West Ham United. Pardew’s first match in charge of Charlton was a London derby against Fulham, who notoriously struggled away from home. Chris Coleman’s side had won just one game on the road all season.

It was the visitors’ who started the brighter and they took the lead after 13 minutes. Central defender Carlos Bocanegra was given plenty of space in the penalty area by the Charlton defenders. The American met Franck Queudrue’s free-kick and smashed a header against the crossbar via help from Scott Carson’s fingertips. Unfortunately for the home side, Brian McBride was the quickest to react and finished expertly to give Fulham the early advantage.

Pardew would have wanted a response and he got it. Just six minutes later, Charlton were back on level terms. Jerome Thomas tried his luck but miscued a volley which Antti Niemi made a meal of. Darren Ambrose pounced to equalise. His shot went in off the post.

Charlton went onto dominate the rest of the first half and took the lead right on the stroke of half-time. Carson’s long goal-kick was not dealt with by two Fulham defenders. This allowed the always alert Darren Bent to bear down on goal and finish calmly past Niemi.

The home side continued to show more attacking intent after the interval. Pardew brought on the pacey Dennis Rommedahl for Thomas and he was a constant menace throughout the second half. Niemi was forced into action when the Dane tried to score from a very acute angle.

It looked like Charlton were closing in on only a third Premier League win of the season but an appalling decision would deny Pardew a winning start. Tomasz Radzinski and Djimi Traore had a battle on the touchline and the ball went off Radzinski. However, the linesman gave Fulham a free-kick rather than Charlton a throw-in. From the set-piece, the Addicks’ failed to deal with Michael Brown’s ball into the box and Franck Queudrue smashed home a fortuitous equaliser. Charlton had been denied what would have been a deserved victory.

The result kept them seven points adrift of safety and ultimately, Pardew had too much to do. They were relegated in early May and haven’t returned to the Premier League since. Fulham only survived on the penultimate weekend with Lawrie Sanchez seeing them over the finish line after Coleman was sacked in April 2007.

Memorable Matches: Newcastle United 0-1 Manchester United (March 1996)

Goalscorer: Eric Cantona 52

Teams:

Newcastle United: Pavel Srnicek, John Beresford, Philippe Albert, Steve Howey, Warren Barton, David Batty, Rob Lee, Peter Beardsley, David Ginola, Faustino Asprilla, Les Ferdinand

Manchester United: Peter Schmeichel, Phil Neville, Steve Bruce, Denis Irwin, Gary Neville, Nicky Butt, Roy Keane, Ryan Giggs, Lee Sharpe, Eric Cantona, Andy Cole

Referee: David Elleray, Attendance: 36,584

On Monday, 4 March 1996, the eyes of the football world were fixed on Tyneside and the eagerly-anticipated meeting between the top two in the 1995-1996 title race. Newcastle United had set the pace all season but they were now under the most scrutiny they’d ever experienced.

In mid-January, Newcastle beat Bolton Wanderers 2-1 to go a staggering 12 points clear but February had brought about a damaging defeat away to West Ham United and a 3-3 draw with relegation candidates Manchester City. They arrived into the match just four points clear of Manchester United.

The Red Devils’ were in great form. Alex Ferguson’s side had strung together a five-game winning sequence which had included a 6-0 thumping of the league’s bottom side Bolton in their last away match. They had the confidence and the momentum. This looked like being the most crucial game of the season for both teams.

It was Andy Cole’s first return to St James’ Park since his surprise departure 14 months earlier in a £7 million transfer to Manchester United but he and Eric Cantona barely got a look-in during a first half completely dominated by the hosts. Unfortunately for Kevin Keegan’s side, Peter Schmeichel was saving his best form for this match.

Twice in the opening five minutes, Schmeichel show his uncompromising attitude to the game by denying Newcastle star striker and top scorer Les Ferdinand. He had no chance though with a Philippe Albert free-kick. The Belgian defender was desperately unlucky to see his effort crash off the crossbar. From the rebound, Ferdinand hoisted the ball over the top. The Newcastle faithful might have been beginning to get the feeling that this wasn’t going to be their night.

Six minutes into the second half, Manchester United struck the significant blow in clinical fashion. Cole was involved in the build-up, evading challenges on the edge of the penalty area. Phil Neville produced a delightful cross to the back post, where an unmarked Cantona arrived. He hit his shot into the ground and there was enough power on it to spin past Pavel Srnicek’s dive. The celebrations from Cantona’s teammates indicated what a big goal this was.

Newcastle had 61% possession in total and 16 attempts on goal but simply couldn’t find a way through. This was their first home defeat of the season and it trimmed their advantage down to just a single point, but with a game in hand. After this result, Manchester United were made favourites by the bookies’ to win the title for the first time since the 1995-1996 season began.

Ferguson’s side grew even stronger after this result. They dropped just five more points in their remaining matches and eventually won their third Premier League title by four points. This was the night where the destiny of the 1995-1996 championship swayed in favour of Manchester United.

Memorable Matches: Arsenal 3-4 Liverpool FC (August 2016)

Goalscorers: Theo Walcott 31, Philippe Coutinho 45, 56, Adam Lallana 49, Sadio Mane 63, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain 64, Calum Chambers 75

Teams:

Arsenal: Petr Cech, Nacho Monreal, Calum Chambers, Rob Holding, Hector Bellerin, Mohamed Elneny (Granit Xhaka 67), Francis Coquelin, Aaron Ramsey (Santi Cazorla 61), Alex Iwobi (Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain 59), Theo Walcott, Alexis Sanchez

Liverpool FC: Simon Mignolet, Alberto Moreno, Ragnar Klavan, Dejan Lovren, Nathaniel Clyne, Jordan Henderson, Georginio Wijnaldum (Kevin Stewart 88), Adam Lallana (Divock Origi 76), Philippe Coutinho (Emre Can 70), Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane

Referee: Michael Oliver, Attendance: 60,033

The opening weekend of the 2016-2017 campaign paired two of the heavyweights of English football against one another. Both Arsenal and Liverpool FC have enjoyed glory times down the years and they put on a real treat for the fans. A seven-goal thriller at the Emirates Stadium went the visitors’ way.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger had concerns about players who featured in the closing games of the 2016 European Championships. Olivier Giroud and Laurent Koscielny were left out of the squad as they were declared to be lacking match fitness, whilst Aaron Ramsey started but struggled and limped out injured in the 61st minute. By contrast, Jurgen Klopp had a relatively fresh squad available to him. Only Daniel Sturridge was missing through injury.

It was a slow-burner in the first 30 minutes with both sides slightly cautious in showing their attacking intentions. The game then flickered into life when Alberto Moreno’s clumsy challenge on Theo Walcott saw referee Michael Oliver point to the penalty spot. However, Walcott couldn’t convert. His spot-kick was saved by Simon Mignolet. It was the seventh penalty in Premier League history to be missed in a fixture between these two sides.

If Mignolet had given Moreno a reprieve, it didn’t last long. The Spanish left-back went walkabouts just seconds later. Walcott was given the freedom of the left-hand side and this time, made no mistake to fire the home side into the lead. Arsenal were the better side for most of the first half but were pegged back right on the stroke of half-time.

Brazilian magician Philippe Coutinho produced a mesmerising free-kick that flew into the back of the net to level the scores. This gave Klopp’s side a new-found confidence and they were simply devastating in the first 15 minutes of the second half. First, Adam Lallana chested the ball down and beat Cech to put Liverpool FC ahead in the 49th minute. Moments later, the Reds’ produced a fabulous 19-pass move which was finished off by the excellent Coutinho. Sadio Mane gave Arsenal’s full-backs huge problems all afternoon and just past the hour mark, he slammed a shot past a despairing Cech after easily getting the better of Calum Chambers. Arsenal looked shell-shocked and possibly on the end of a thrashing.

They showed some character though and reduced the deficit to 4-3. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain arrived from the bench and scored a fine solo goal. Then, Chambers made up for his dreary defensive display by heading home from Santi Cazorla’s free-kick. Despite losing Coutinho to an injury before the end, Liverpool FC held on to win this thriller. Ultimately, they finished a point clear of Arsenal in the final standings and secured Champions League football for the 2017-2018 season.

Memorable Matches: Swansea City 5-4 Crystal Palace (November 2016)

Goalscorers: Wilfried Zaha 19, Gylfi Sigurdsson 36, Leroy Fer 66, 68, James Tomkins 75, Jack Cork 82 OG, Christian Benteke 84, Fernando Llorente 90+1, 90+3

Teams:

Swansea City: Lukasz Fabianski, Neil Taylor, Jordi Amat, Federico Fernandez, Kyle Naughton (Jefferson Montero 86), Jay Fulton, Jack Cork, Leroy Fer, Wayne Routledge (Fernando Llorente 66), Gylfi Sigurdsson, Modou Barrow (Angel Rangel 80)

Crystal Palace: Wayne Hennessey, Martin Kelly (Zeki Fryers 73), Scott Dann, James Tomkins, Joel Ward, James McArthur (Bakary Sako 82), Yohan Cabaye, Jason Puncheon, Wilfried Zaha, Christian Benteke, Connor Wickham (Andros Townsend 52)

Referee: Kevin Friend, Attendance: 20,276

From an entertainment perspective, the match between Swansea City and Crystal Palace in November 2016 will go down as one of the most exciting ever played in the Premier League. If you are looking for a defending masterclass, my advice would be to stay well clear of this match.

Going into the game, neither side was in any kind of form. Swansea were yet to win under American manager Bob Bradley since he took charge in early October. Crystal Palace were on a ghastly run of five successive defeats and Alan Pardew was the bookies’ favourite to be sacked next in the top-flight. This would turn out to be the 21st Premier League game to see nine or more goals scored. However, the first half never threatened to preview what would happen in a crazy final 25 minutes.

It was 1-1 at the interval. Wilfried Zaha put the visitors’ infront in the 19th minute. Zaha, who was about to confirm he would represent the Ivory Coast at international level, easily beat two defenders before slicing a low shot past Lukasz Fabianski. The Eagles’ lead lasted 15 minutes before a trademark Gylfi Sigurdsson free-kick levelled the scores.

There was a worrying start to the second half when Crystal Palace forward Connor Wickham needed extensive treatment on the pitch. His foot got trapped in the turf whilst he was attempting to tackle Sigurdsson. The game was delayed for seven minutes. Wickham went off on a stretcher with a serious knee injury. His match and season were over. The match first turned Swansea’s way when Bradley brought Fernando Llorente off the bench on the hour mark. With his very first touch of the game, the Spaniard caused panic in the Palace backline and Leroy Fer cashed in to hand the hosts the lead. Two minutes later, Dutchman Fer slid in from close range from a Sigurdsson free-kick.

Pardew’s side looked down and out in the 74th minute. Yet 10 minutes later, they had turned a 3-1 deficit into a 4-3 lead. Now, it was Swansea’s defenders to feel the jitters. James Tomkins scored a scrambled effort, before Jack Cork flicked in Zaha’s free-kick over Fabianski and into his own net. Then, more atrocious defending allowed Christian Benteke to hit a shot off the post and rebound in. However, there was another twist in this enthralling encounter.

Llorente had a point to prove. He had been dropped from the squad for the previous weekend’s match with Everton. He answered the doubts of his manager in fabulous fashion. In the first minute of time added on, Sigurdsson had an effort saved and Llorente was quickest to flash the ball past Hennessey. He wasn’t finished. More kamikaze Palace defending in the third minute of stoppage time allowed Llorente to stab the ball past Hennessey and seal Swansea’s amazing 5-4 victory.

Neither manager survived 2016 in their post. Pardew was sacked four matches later, whilst Bradley went after a Boxing Day battering by West Ham United. Both clubs would ultimately win their fights against relegation. There were some great games in the 2016-2017 campaign but none could topple this see-saw afternoon in south Wales.

Memorable Matches: Newcastle United 1-2 Sunderland (August 1999)

Goalscorers: Kieron Dyer 28, Niall Quinn 64, Kevin Phillips 75

Teams:

Newcastle United: Tommy Wright, Nikos Dabizas, Didier Domi, Alain Goma, Warren Barton, Jamie McClen, Gary Speed, Kieron Dyer, Nolberto Solano, Paul Robinson (Duncan Ferguson 57), Silvio Maric (Alan Shearer 72)

Sunderland: Thomas Sorensen, Michael Gray, Steve Bould, Paul Butler, Chris Makin, Alex Rae, Stefan Schwarz (Kevin Ball 69), Gavin McCann, Nicky Summerbee, Niall Quinn, Kevin Phillips

Referee: Graham Poll, Attendance: 36,420

The Tyne & Wear derby has always been a passionate battle for supremacy and in August 1999, Newcastle United boss Ruud Gullit was under tremendous pressure. His side had made a terrible start to the season, conceding 11 goals in four matches and collecting just one point; a 3-3 draw with Wimbledon days earlier. His next move would ultimately seal his fate.

Captain Alan Shearer had been suspended for the Wimbledon match following a controversial red card on the opening day of the season at home to Aston Villa. He was expected to lead the line for this massive confrontation. However, Gullit incredibly took the decision to bench his skipper along with his strike partner Duncan Ferguson. In came rookie Paul Robinson and the untried Silvio Maric. It was a baffling decision amidst reports of a power struggle for supremacy at the club between the manager and his skipper.

Shearer could only watch on during a match that was played at a high-tempo despite the filthy weather conditions. Newcastle started well and took the lead in the 27th minute. Robinson did a good job in difficult circumstances and he created the opening goal for Kieron Dyer. Dyer, a summer signing from Ipswich Town was played in by Robinson and he chipped the ball over Thomas Sorensen as the Dane came out to block down the angle. It was his first Newcastle goal and good enough to ensure the home side went into the half-time interval 1-0 ahead.

It was the fourth time in a row that Newcastle had led a match this season and on all three previous occasions, they’d thrown away that position. The crowd must have feared the worst then when Sunderland equalised midway through the second half. The towering presence of Niall Quinn was too much for Newcastle’s defenders. His header flew into the back of the net from Nicky Summerbee’s free-kick delivery.

By now, Shearer had been thrown on by Gullit as he finally withdrew Maric who looked completely overawed by the occasion. Less than two minutes after the change, Sunderland were ahead through a wonderful moment provided by Quinn’s strike partner, Kevin Phillips. Back-up goalkeeper Tommy Wright came out from his goal to smother Phillips’ first attempt at goal. The ball returned to Phillips and he produced a swerving lob from an improbable angle that beat Wright all ends up and ended in the top corner.

Although Kevin Ball almost spared the Magpies’ blushes with a spectacular own goal in the final moments, Newcastle general response after going behind was lacklustre. Sunderland had the bragging rights and Gullit was out of a job. He resigned two days later. Sir Bobby Robson was his successor and guided the club to a safe mid-table finish, whilst getting Shearer back in the goals.

This was Sunderland’s night. It was the evening where Ruud Gullit gambled and lost big time.

Memorable Matches: Tottenham Hotspur 2-3 Newcastle United (January 2007)

Goalscorers: Jermain Defoe 14, Paul Huntington 16, Dimitar Berbatov 54, Obafemi Martins 72, Nicky Butt 73

Teams:

Tottenham Hotspur: Paul Robinson, Lee-Young Pyo, Calum Davenport (Hossam Ghaly 88), Michael Dawson, Pascal Chimbonda, Teemu Tainio (Didier Zokora 79), Tom Huddlestone, Steed Malbranque (Robbie Keane 75), Aaron Lennon, Dimitar Berbatov, Jermain Defoe

Newcastle United: Shay Given, Paul Huntington, Matty Pattison, Peter Ramage, Steven Taylor, Nicky Butt, James Milner, Antoine Sibierski, Kieron Dyer, Nolberto Solano, Obafemi Martins

Referee: Steve Bennett, Attendance: 35,942

This was a match in January 2007 that promised much and certainly delivered. Neither Tottenham Hotspur, nor Newcastle United were in sparkling form ahead of this encounter between two mid-table sides. Newcastle arrived with a threadbare squad but ultimately finished the afternoon as the happier side, taking all three points for their first win at White Hart Lane since January 2003.

Tottenham completely dominated their opponents in the first 15 minutes but ran into an inspired Shay Given, who put in another blockbuster performance. He made early saves to deny Jermain Defoe, Dimitar Berbatov and Steed Malbranque. Eventually, the pressure told and Spurs got a deserved lead. Malbranque made a surging run down the left-hand side and played in Defoe to convert in a position where he normally takes his chances. Television replays later showed a potential for an offside in the build-up but the goal stood and at this stage, it looked being a long afternoon for the Magpies’.

Perhaps Tottenham switched off completely because concentration levels dropped just two minutes later. James Milner curled in a free-kick. Youngster Paul Huntington had a header blocked. However, he reacted quickest to the loose ball and squirmed a shot in-between the legs of Paul Robinson for an unexpected leveller. It was Newcastle’s very first attack of the match.

As Steve Bennett blew the half-time whistle, trouble flared up between both sets of players. Pascal Chimbonda of Tottenham and Newcastle’s Nicky Butt were booked for their part in a scuffle where Chimbonda appeared to slap Butt in the face. The Frenchman was very fortunate to avoid more severe sanction. Newcastle manager Glenn Roeder was not impressed with Chimbonda’s conduct and nine minutes into the second half, his anger was bound to have grown. The right-back made an impressive run to meet Malbranque’s pass. Nolberto Solano was able to deny Teemu Tainio but Berbatov was instinctive enough to volley the ball into the floor and into the net.

Tottenham continued to control the match but failed to convert their opportunities and in the space of 94 seconds, saw the potential of three points turn into the probability of getting nothing. Obafemi Martins was having a quiet afternoon but in the 72nd minute, he burst into life. Playing a one-two with a colleague, the Nigerian forced Michael Dawson into backing off on him. Martins then delivered an unstoppable left-foot drive that sped into the top corner, giving Robinson absolutely no chance.

Moments later, Martins turned provider for what turned out to be the winner. He played a delightful ball for Butt who made a run from midfield and angled a shot across Robinson’s bows and into the net. It was a nice moment for the ex-Manchester United youngster who had been suffering from flu all week and missed a high proportion of training. Newcastle held the hosts off for an improbable and unlikely victory.

Memorable Matches: Blackburn Rovers 4-3 Manchester United (February 2006)

Goalscorers: David Bentley 35, 41, 56, Louis Saha 37, Lucas Neill 45 PEN, Ruud van Nistelrooy 63, 68

Teams:

Blackburn Rovers: Brad Friedel, Michael Gray, Andy Todd, Ryan Nelsen, Lucas Neill, Tugay (Brett Emerton 45), Robbie Savage (Aaron Mokoena 90), Steven Reid, Morten Gamst Pedersen, David Bentley (Jemal Johnson 90), Shefki Kuqi

Manchester United: Edwin van der Sar, Patrice Evra. Wes Brown (Mikael Silvestre 76), Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand, Gary Neville, Darren Fletcher, Kieran Richardson (Ruud van Nistelrooy 54), Cristiano Ronaldo, Louis Saha, Wayne Rooney

Referee: Phil Dowd, Attendance: 25,484

Manchester United travelled to Ewood Park in early February 2006 still with hopes of catching Chelsea at the top of the Premier League table. Trouble was – the gap was a yawning 14 points between the two teams. By the end of the evening, those distant dreams had evaporated through a marvellous and unexpected hat-trick by David Bentley. Bentley had been on-loan to Blackburn Rovers for the first half of the 2005-2006 season and just 24 hours earlier, had made his move into a permanent transfer from Arsenal. The midfielder was above to prove to worth to manager Mark Hughes.

On a cold Lancastrian evening, the home crowd were about to be treated to wonderful entertainment which started with Bentley’s opener on 35 minutes. Blackburn won a free-kick which Morten Gamst Pedersen took. Pedersen was one of the best set-piece takers at the time in the Premier League and he forced a save from Edwin van der Sar. The goalkeeper couldn’t hold on and Bentley pounced on the rebound to put the home side infront.

It started a crazy period of four goals in 10 minutes and Blackburn’s first lead lasted just a couple of minutes. Louis Saha, preferred to Ruud van Nistelrooy in attack equalised after Wayne Rooney forced Brad Friedel into an excellent save. Like his counterpart Van der Sar, Friedel was unlucky. Saha simply reacted quicker than the defenders to strike an immediate reply.

If Van der Sar was unfortunate with the first goal, he had to take accountability for Bentley’s second. A complete breakdown in communication between the Dutchman and Rio Ferdinand saw the England defender flick the ball over his head. Bentley was left with an open goal to finish off this unexpected gift. United’s woeful defensive display continued before half-time. Wes Brown stopped Steven Reid’s cross with his hand and Phil Dowd gave a penalty to Blackburn, converted by Lucas Neill.

11 minutes into the second half, it was 4-1. Robbie Savage picked out Bentley who had time and space to pick out his shot and find the bottom corner. Bentley became the first player to score a Premier League hat-trick against Manchester United. The last had been Dennis Bailey for Queens Park Rangers in the old first division on New Years’ Day 1992.

Just before that goal, United had thrown Van Nistelrooy on and he scored his 20th Premier League goal of the season shortly after his arrival. Andy Todd’s slip allowed Cristiano Ronaldo to pick out Van Nistelrooy who finished deftly from close range. Five minutes later, he was sent clear by Brown’s flick and drilled a shot past Friedel to make it 4-3. However, Blackburn held on to complete a league double over the Red Devils for the first time in the Premier League era.

Memorable Matches: Queens Park Rangers 2-3 Liverpool FC (October 2014)

Goalscorers: Richard Dunne 67 OG, Eduardo Vargas 87, Philippe Coutinho 90, Steven Gerrard 90+1 OG, Steven Caulker 90+5 OG

Teams:

Queens Park Rangers: Alex McCarthy, Yun Suk-Young, Nedum Onuoha (Matt Phillips 45), Richard Dunne, Steven Caulker, Mauricio Isla, Sandro (Armand Traore 60), Karl Henry, Leroy Fer, Charlie Austin, Bobby Zamora (Eduardo Vargas 79)

Liverpool FC: Simon Mignolet, Jose Enrique, Dejan Lovren, Martin Skrtel, Glen Johnson, Emre Can (Joe Allen 66), Jordan Henderson, Steven Gerrard, Raheem Sterling (Kolo Toure 90), Adam Lallana (Philippe Coutinho 66), Mario Balotelli

Referee: Phil Dowd, Attendance: 18,069

Bottom of the table with just four points from eight matches, Queens Park Rangers were struggling for form and confidence ahead of this meeting with Liverpool FC. At the end, they came off the field wondering how they’d lost a game they’d largely controlled.

Brendan Rodgers recalled Mario Balotelli after he had been dropped for the home win over West Bromwich Albion before the international break. Meanwhile, Harry Redknapp made six alterations to his QPR side following their dreary display and 2-0 defeat to West Ham United. One player reintroduced to the fold was Bobby Zamora and he was a pest all afternoon. Zamora played a part in the best moments of a scoreless first half. Twice he set-up Dutch international Leroy Fer and on both occasions, Fer was desperately unlucky not to score with his efforts bouncing off the woodwork.

Liverpool looked disjointed and stuck for ideas without the injured Daniel Sturridge. Raheem Sterling, who had complained to England boss Roy Hodgson a week earlier to rest him because of fatigue, was largely non-existent. That was until the arrival of Philippe Coutinho off the bench which set-up a barnstorming final 25 minutes.

The visitors’ took the lead on 67 minutes. Quick thinking from a free-kick saw Sterling guide in a low cross that Richard Dunne turned into his own net. It was the 10th own goal of Dunne’s Premier League career – an unwanted record. Redknapp’s response was to remove Zamora from the action and play his wildcard in the Chilean forward Eduardo Vargas.

With four minutes remaining, it looked like the decision would work wonders. Charlie Austin’s knockdown gave Vargas the opportunity to level the scores with his first Queens Park Rangers goal since joining on-loan from Napoli. The least the home side deserved was a share of the spoils but it looked like Liverpool FC were going to luck into victory as the clock struck 90 minutes.

Coutinho produced a superb finish which via a deflection off Steven Caulker’s boot, left Alex McCarthy powerless to stop the shot. Coutinho had scored the winner between these sides at Anfield when they last played each other in May 2013 and he was having the final say here.

That was until an almighty goalmouth scramble led to a second QPR equaliser. Vargas scrambled in his second goal although it was officially credited as an own goal off the Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard. Simon Mignolet’s goalkeeping left a lot to be desired.

Just when it looked like the drama was over, Liverpool flew forward and Sterling did the damage. His attempted pass was cut-out by Caulker who was desperately unfortunate to see his clearance end up in the back of the net.

Liverpool climbed upto fifth spot but this match would be the paradox for both of the club’s retrospective seasons. The Reds’ looked off-form and failed to sparkle on their way to a distant sixth spot, whilst Queens Park Rangers were relegated back to the Championship through a mixture of poor luck and naïve defending.