Category Archives: Memorable Matches

Memorable Matches: Manchester United 4-2 Blackpool (May 2011)

Goalscorers: Ji-Sung Park 21, Charlie Adam 40, Gary Taylor-Fletcher 57, Anderson 62, Ian Evatt 74 OG, Michael Owen 81

Teams:

Manchester United: Edwin van der Sar, Patrice Evra, Jonny Evans, Rafael (Chris Smalling 46), Nemanja Vidic (Wayne Rooney 84), Anderson, Darren Fletcher, Paul Scholes, Nani, Ji-Sung Park (Michael Owen 63), Dimitar Berbatov

Blackpool: Matt Gilks, Stephen Crainey, Ian Evatt, Alex Baptiste, Neal Eardley, Keith Southern (Brett Ormerod 86), David Vaughan, Charlie Adam, Gary Taylor-Fletcher, Jason Puncheon (Luke Varney 75), DJ Campbell (Matt Phillips 75)

Referee: Mike Dean, Attendance: 75,400

Blackpool had been an exciting side to watch in the 2010-2011 Premier League season. Ian Holloway’s side had beaten Liverpool FC twice and Tottenham Hotspur during their rollercoaster season and began the final day of the campaign outside of the bottom three. Despite their destiny being in their own hands, that meant the Tangerines’ probably needed to get some kind of result at Manchester United. It was a party atmosphere at Old Trafford.  A week earlier, Manchester United had become the most successful club in English football history, wrapping up their 19th league title to overtake Liverpool’s record. Blackpool respectfully gave the newly-crowned champions a guard of honour before the sides did battle in an end-to-end contest.

Both sides had chances in the first 20 minutes. Keith Southern had the first opportunity of the match but side-footed wide of goal whilst Matt Gilks had to repel efforts from Rafael and Dimitar Berbatov. However, he couldn’t stop Ji-Sung Park giving the home side the lead. A misunderstanding between the goalkeeper and Ian Evatt allowed the South Korean in, who calmly dinked the ball over Gilks to put Blackpool into the relegation zone.

All season, Holloway’s instinct had been to attack opponents and he was not going to change this tactic on the final day. It earned some reward five minutes shy of half-time. Gary Taylor-Fletcher won a free-kick after a clumsy tackle from Nemanja Vidic. Free-kick specialist Charlie Adam placed his effort perfectly beyond Edwin van der Sar, who was making his final Premier League appearance before retirement.

Blackpool did the unthinkable 12 minutes into the second half and took the lead at the Theatre of Dreams. Neat build-up involving Jason Puncheon and David Vaughan saw the Welshman’s cross deftly placed into the back of the net by the excellent Taylor-Fletcher. The away supporters were now beginning to dream. Blackpool were half an hour away from staying up in the top-flight.

Their lead lasted just five minutes though. Park found an unmarked Anderson who curled a strike into the top corner. Blackpool were now only staying up on goal difference. A more catastrophic moment would occur on 74 minutes. Substitute Chris Smalling’s cross was diverted into his own net by the unfortunate Evatt. The expressions on the faces of fans and manager said it all. With eight minutes left, Anderson’s sliding pass found an onside Michael Owen. He made no mistake to send Blackpool towards the Championship exactly a year to the day when they were promoted via the play-offs.

Holloway’s team had made many friends along the way but ultimately, their energetic season ended in disappointment as they went down on the final day along with Birmingham City. For United, they could celebrate another title-winning moment on an afternoon of contrasting emotions.

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Memorable Matches: Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-3 Blackburn Rovers (May 2011)

Goalscorer: Jason Roberts 22, Brett Emerton 38, Junior Hoilett 45, Jamie O’Hara 73, Stephen Hunt 87

Teams:

Wolverhampton Wanderers: Wayne Hennessey, Jody Craddock, George Elokobi, Kevin Foley, Michael Mancienne (Sylvan Ebanks-Blake 46), Stephen Ward, Karl Henry (Adlene Guedioura 85), Jamie O’Hara, Stephen Hunt, Matt Jarvis, Steven Fletcher (Christophe Berra 90)

Blackburn Rovers: Paul Robinson, Gael Givet, Phil Jones, Christopher Samba, Michel Salgado, Jermaine Jonas, Steven N’Zonzi, Martin Olsson, Brett Emerton, Junior Hoilett (Morten Gamst Pedersen 79), Jason Roberts

Referee: Howard Webb, Attendance: 29,009

‘Survival Sunday’ in 2011 was going to be a tense one for five clubs. Wigan Athletic, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Blackpool, Birmingham City and Blackburn Rovers went into the final day of the season still not safe. It was going to be a remarkable afternoon full of twists and turns.

Two of these sides met at Molineux as Wolves hosted Blackburn. A point would be enough for Blackburn to survive, whilst Wolves really needed the three points as teams below had fixtures that they could easily win. Mick McCarthy’s side came into the match in good form, having beaten West Bromwich Albion and Sunderland in their previous two games, whilst Blackburn, who were sitting seventh in mid-January, had been dragged into the relegation scrap in the season’s closing months.

Steve Kean was a man under pressure. Not wanted by many of the club’s fans after the shock sacking of Sam Allardyce in December 2010, Kean needed his side to deliver a perfect performance and they were sensational in the opening 45 minutes. Their display just added to the nail-biting tension of the afternoon.

Rovers settled quicker and took the lead after 22 minutes. Michel Salgado, a former UEFA Champions League winner with Real Madrid, fired a shot across the face of goal which was turned into the back of the net by Jason Roberts. That lead was doubled 16 minutes later with the direct approach working for the ex-Premier League champions. Paul Robinson’s kick was only partially cleared by Jody Craddock. Brett Emerton took aim from distance and his strike flew into the back of the net. It was Wolves who were sinking towards the Championship by the interval. The dangerous Junior Hoillett skipped past tame challenges from Craddock and George Elokobi. Once again, Wayne Hennessey was left with no chance whatsoever and at half-time, Wolves were in big trouble.

They had to improve on their dreadful showing in the first 45 minutes and they did improve. With 18 minutes remaining. Stephen Hunt rolled a free-kick back to Jamie O’Hara and the Tottenham loanee managed to find the corner of the net from 20-yards out. However, the situation was constantly changing. Wigan took the lead away at Stoke and when Craig Gardner equalised for Birmingham at White Hart Lane, Wolves were going down on goals scored. They needed one more goal, even in defeat to survive.

It came dramatically with just three minutes of normal time remaining. Hunt received the ball on the edge of the penalty area and bent a riveting shot into the top corner of the net and send Molineux into ecstasy. Even though they were still losing on the day, it looked like they’d done enough. There were celebrations at the full-time whistle from both sets of supporters. Blackburn had got the result, Wolves the goal required to keep them up and everyone inside the ground was happy. Ultimately, it was Birmingham and Blackpool who would feel the pain of relegation on a see-saw afternoon of drama.

Memorable Matches: Manchester City 4-2 Arsenal (September 2009)

Goalscorers: Micah Richards 20, Robin van Persie 62, Craig Bellamy 74, Emmanuel Adebayor 80, Shaun Wright-Phillips 84, Tomas Rosicky 88

Teams:

Manchester City: Shay Given, Wayne Bridge, Joleon Lescott, Kolo Toure, Micah Richards, Gareth Barry, Stephen Ireland (Martin Petrov 73), Nigel de Jong, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Emmanuel Adebayor, Craig Bellamy

Arsenal: Manuel Almunia, Gael Clichy, William Gallas, Bacary Sagna (Emmanuel Eboue 77), Thomas Vermaelen, Abou Diaby, Alex Song (Eduardo 77), Denilson (Tomas Rosicky 52), Cesc Fabregas, Niklas Bendtner, Robin van Persie

Referee: Mark Clattenburg, Attendance: 47,339

Big-spending Manchester City had made a 100% start to the 2009-2010 season, winning matches against Blackburn Rovers, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Portsmouth. This was their first genuine test though against an established member of the ‘big 4’ as Arsenal visited Eastlands in September 2009.

Arsenal had been beaten in Manchester just before the international break by United at Old Trafford and their goalscorer that day, Andrey Arshavin was out of this match with a groin injury. City had two former Arsenal players in their line-up in Kolo Toure and Emmanuel Adebayor. For the latter, it turned out to be a very dramatic afternoon against his former employers.

After William Gallas spurned a great early opportunity, City took the lead after 20 minutes. Gareth Barry guided in a free-kick which was met by a terrific leap from Micah Richards. His header came off the post and went into the net via an unfortunate deflection off Arsenal goalkeeper Manuel Almunia.

After a high-tempo first half, the frenetic pace continued in the second half. Arsenal stepped up their levels in the opening 15 minutes with Shay Given having to be at his best to deny a long-range effort by Thomas Vermaelen. Eventually, the pressure told in the 62nd minute. Robin van Persie escaped the attentions of Joleon Lescott on his home debut and placed a low shot away from Given’s reach. It levelled the scores deservedly and was the first goal Manchester City had conceded all season.

Arsenal should have built on this momentum but they would be breached worryingly three times in 10 minutes to put the game comprehensively out of reach. First, Richards did brilliantly to work his way past Alex Song. He squared the ball back for Craig Bellamy to lash the ball past Almunia and put Mark Hughes’ side back in the lead against the run of play. Moments earlier, Adebayor had been involved in an ugly confrontation with Van Persie which had seen the City striker stamp on the head of his former teammate. This was not spotted by Mark Clattenburg but the Togolese forward was later charged by the FA and banned for two matches for this act of violent conduct.

Adebayor had been jeered all afternoon by travelling supporters but he would have the last laugh. 10 minutes from time, Clattenburg played a brilliant advantage after Gael Clichy had fouled Shaun Wright-Phillips. Wright-Phillips played on, delivered the perfect cross and Adebayor got a free header which flew into the net. He then set off on a dash to the other end of the field to celebrate, deliberately at the Arsenal supporters who responded by throwing objects onto the pitch. He was booked and apologised afterwards as the emotions got the better of him.

There was still time for Wright-Phillips to make it 4-1, finishing off a free-flowing counter-attack which had been started by Bellamy. Tomas Rosicky did grab a late consolation on his comeback from injury but it was all in vain.

City won the battle but Arsenal had the last laugh. They’d finish in the top four, whilst their opponents missed out, finishing fifth and Hughes was sacked midway through the season to be replaced by Roberto Mancini.

Memorable Matches: Newcastle United 3-3 Crystal Palace (August 2014)

Goalscorers: Dwight Gayle 1, Daryl Janmaat 37, Jason Puncheon 48, Rolando Aarons 73, Mike Williamson 88, Wilfried Zaha 90

Teams:

Newcastle United: Tim Krul, Fabricio Coloccini, Massadio Haidara, Daryl Janmaat (Vurnon Anita 79), Mike Williamson, Remy Cabella, Jack Colback, Moussa Sissoko, Siem de Jong (Ayoze Perez 79), Yoan Gouffran (Rolando Aarons 67), Emmanuel Riviere

Crystal Palace: Julian Speroni, Scott Dann, Damien Delaney, Martin Kelly, Adrian Mariappa, Joel Ward, Mile Jedinak, Yannick Bolasie (Glenn Murray 83), Jason Puncheon, Marouane Chamakh (Fraizer Campbell 52), Dwight Gayle (Wilfried Zaha 70)

Referee: Mike Jones, Attendance: 49,226

This encounter in late August was between two teams who hadn’t enjoyed positive starts to the 2014-2015 Premier League campaign. Newcastle United had failed to score in their first two matches, whilst Crystal Palace had started without a manager after Tony Pulis’ abrupt departure on the eve of the campaign and two successive defeats. However, they had appointed Neil Warnock on the eve of the game for his second spell at Selhurst Park. It would be a thrilling return.

The visitors made a wonderful start and Dwight Gayle scored the opening goal after just 29 seconds. He was in the right place to finish from close-range after Tim Krul had diverted Marouane Chamakh’s effort onto the post. This followed up a midweek hat-trick for Gayle in the League Cup win over Walsall.

Managed at the time by Alan Pardew, Newcastle knew they needed to end their goalscoring drought; otherwise the natives on Tyneside would get incredibly restless. Sure enough, they levelled eight minutes before the interval. Full-back Daryl Janmaat broke into the box and when his first attempt on-goal was blocked, he followed up swiftly to defeat Julian Speroni and level the scores. It was his first Newcastle goal since joining in the summer from Dutch side Feyenoord.

Only a couple of minutes had passed in the second half before Jason Puncheon restored Palace’s lead. Newcastle backed off Puncheon and it was a fatal error. His volley took a nick off Fabricio Coloccini which was enough to leave goalkeeper Krul stranded and beaten for the second time in the afternoon. It was a nice moment for Puncheon. Doubts had immediately surfaced about his future at the club after Warnock’s appointment. The pair had fallen out the previous season over a missed penalty at Tottenham when Warnock was a TV pundit. An unsavoury post on Twitter followed from the midfielder, earning him a £15,000 fine from the FA for his actions.

Pardew responded by bringing on 18-year-old Rolando Aarons and the Jamaican added some zest to the Newcastle attack. He scored his first senior goal in the 73rd minute, heading home in the penalty area after Scott Dann had failed to clear Remy Cabella’s corner. Aarons then had a big part to play in Newcastle taking the lead. His 88th minute shot hit the bar but fell perfectly for Mike Williamson to tap home his first Magpies’ goal.

However, just when it looked like the points would be staying in the north east, Palace rallied again. In the fifth minute of stoppage-time, Newcastle failed to clear their defensive lines and Wilfried Zaha bashed home an equaliser in his first game back at the club on-loan from Manchester United.

A point apiece was a fair result. Warnock would be sacked by December and he would be replaced by…Newcastle manager Alan Pardew. He took the Eagles’ to their highest league finish in the Premier League era of 10th.

Memorable Matches: Southampton 4-2 Fulham (October 2002)

Goalscorers: Lee Clark 15, Steed Malbranque 25, James Beattie 27 PEN, 42, 52, Brett Ormerod 72

Teams:

Southampton: Antti Niemi, Wayne Bridge, Jason Dodd, Claus Lundekvam, Michael Svensson, Chris Marsden, Matt Oakley, Fabrice Fernandes, Anders Svensson, James Beattie, Brett Ormerod (Agustin Delgado 79)

Fulham: Edwin van der Sar, Rufus Brevett, Steve Finnan, Alain Goma, Zat Knight (Abdeslam Ouaddou 59), Martin Djetou (Barry Hayles 63), Sylvain Legwinski, Lee Clark, Luis Boa Morte, Steed Malbranque, Steve Marlet

Referee: Mark Halsey, Attendance: 26,188

25 minutes into this clash and it looked like Southampton’s unbeaten start to their home season was set to end. Trailing 2-0 to in-form Fulham, they needed a hero on the south coast to rally themselves back into this match. Luckily, they had one in James Beattie who scored a brilliant hat-trick to help the Saints turn the game completely on its head.

Southampton went into this match on the fringes of the top 10 and had just recorded their first away win of the campaign at Aston Villa six days earlier, with Beattie the only goalscorer from the penalty spot. Fulham were flying in the top six and had already held Manchester United and Chelsea in the 2002-2003 season. On a very gusty afternoon at St. Mary’s, this looked like it was going to be an evenly-fought contest.

It was the visitors who made the better start and they took the lead slightly fortuitously after 15 minutes. Lee Clark tried his luck from distance and his shot took a deflection off Southampton defender Michael Svensson, leaving Antti Niemi completely helpless. 10 minutes later, it was 2-0. Defenders just stood and watched as Steed Malbranque made one of his trademark late runs into the penalty area. The Frenchman fired home past Niemi and it gave the home side a mountain to climb. However, they were level just before half-time.

Two minutes after the Cottagers had established the two-goal lead, the advantage had been halved. Brett Ormerod won a penalty off the hand of Alain Goma. Confident after slotting away his penalty the previous Monday at Villa Park, Beattie sent Edwin van der Sar the wrong way to get Southampton on the scoreboard. Three minutes before half-time, Fabrice Fernandes’ delightful cross was met by the head of Beattie, who guided his header beyond the Dutch goalkeeper. The marking from Fulham was very suspect to say the least but Beattie and Southampton weren’t going to care about that.

Into the second half and there only looked like being one winner. Southampton were dealing with the high winds far better than the opponents and it showed. Six minutes into the second half, Beattie completed his hat-trick; the first of his Premier League career. Anders Svensson’s free-kick was inch-perfect and the striker rose above his markers to complete his personal milestone. The scoring was completed on 72 minutes by Ormerod, converting from close-range after industrious work from Chris Marsden.

Southampton’s fourth successive win in all competitions put them in the top half and they would stay there too, finishing eighth. Fulham faded to 14th and their manager Jean Tigana lost his job before the season ended after contract talks broke down. This day though belonged to James Beattie – the hero the Saints needed as he began to charge his way to his only 20-goal season of his career.

Memorable Matches: Bolton Wanderers 3-3 Derby County (December 1997)

Goalscorers: Alan Thompson 50 PEN, Stefano Eranio 55, Francesco Baiano 64, 69, Nathan Blake 73, Jamie Pollock 77

Teams:

Bolton Wanderers: Gavin Ward, Gudni Bergsson, Chris Fairclough, Jimmy Phillips, Andy Todd, Per Frandsen, Jamie Pollock, Scott Sellars (Michael Johansen 88), Alan Thompson, Peter Beardsley (Arnar Gunnlaugsson 88), Nathan Blake

Derby County: Mart Poom, Christian Dailly, Rob Kozluk (Darryl Powell 81), Gary Rowett, Igor Stimac, Chris Powell, Lee Carsley, Stefano Eranio, Francesco Baiano, Paulo Wanchope (Deon Burton 81), Dean Sturridge

Referee: Uriah Rennie, Attendance: 23,027

After 102 years of playing professional football at Burnden Park, Bolton Wanderers had moved into the new state-of-the-art Reebok Stadium in-time for the 1997-1998 campaign. This was their second season in the Premier League and again, it looked like being a campaign battling to avoid relegation. They faced Jim Smith’s Derby County in this pre-Christmas encounter which produced an entertaining second half for the Sky Sports Super Sunday cameras.

The first half was dominated by the home side but they couldn’t find a way through. Chris Fairclough hit the crossbar from a free-kick which was the closest either side came to breaking the deadlock. The goals arrived in a belting second half. Midfielder Per Frandsen won a penalty five minutes into the second half as he was fouled by Derby defender Igor Stimac. Uriah Rennie correctly pointed to the spot and Alan Thompson made no mistake to give the hosts a deserved lead. The goal sparked Derby into life and five minutes later, they were level. Francesco Baiano played in his fellow Italian Stefano Eranio, who finished well as the defenders gave him plenty of time to strike.

The visitors started to take control of the game. Dean Sturridge was denied a goal by some last-ditch goalkeeping from Gavin Ward but a second Rams’ goal was coming. Moments after being kept out by Ward, Sturridge’s searing pace took him away from Andy Todd. His cross was palmed out by Ward, but only into the path of the in-form Baiano who made no mistake with his finish. Five minutes later, the little Italian had doubled his tally. He played a lovely one-two with Sturridge and as Fairclough slipped in trying to cut the ball out, Baiano placed the ball beyond Ward’s advances. At this stage of the season, Baiano was already on 11 Premier League goals and he was looking like one of the signings of the summer.

Bolton showed great resilience in coming back though from a 3-1 deficit. Nathan Blake’s header from Thompson’s cross gave them hope on 73 minutes. Four minutes later, Frandsen made a surging run into the box. His neat back heel allowed Jamie Pollock to take control of possession. The midfielder fired his shot into the bottom corner to level the scores. Both sides pushed for a winner but in the end, the points were shared.

The point took Bolton upto 15th but they would suffer anguish on the final day and experienced relegation at Stamford Bridge. Despite a horrendous away record, Derby finished an excellent ninth in just their second Premier League season.

Memorable Matches: Everton 2-3 Manchester City (May 2014)

Goalscorers: Ross Barkley 11, Sergio Aguero 22, Edin Dzeko 43, 48, Romelu Lukaku 65

Teams:

Everton: Tim Howard, Seamus Coleman, Antolin Alcaraz, Phil Jagielka (Gerard Deulofeu 66), John Stones, Leighton Baines, James McCarthy, Leon Osman (Aiden McGeady 83), Ross Barkley, Romelu Lukaku, Steven Naismith

Manchester City: Joe Hart, Gael Clichy, Martin Demichelis, Vincent Kompany, Pablo Zabaleta, Javi Garcia, James Milner, Samir Nasri (David Silva 74), Yaya Toure (Aleksandar Kolarov 66), Sergio Aguero (Fernandinho 28), Edin Dzeko

Referee: Lee Probert, Attendance: 39,454

This was a pivotal match in the destiny of the Premier League title race for the 2013-2014 season. Manchester City went into this teatime kick-off at Goodison Park knowing the destiny of the championship was with them. If they won their final three matches, they would be champions for the second time in three seasons. Title rivals Liverpool FC were desperate for their Merseyside rivals Everton to do them a massive favour and beat Manuel Pellegrini’s side.

The home side still harboured faint hopes of catching Arsenal in the race for the final UEFA Champions League qualification spot and they took the lead with a special effort on 11 minutes. Whilst Leighton Baines and Steven Naismith played a neat exchange of passes, the goal was all about Ross Barkley. He produced an awesome curling effort from distance that left his international colleague Joe Hart clutching at thin air. It was a remarkable goal.

Manuel Pellegrini’s team regained their composure after a slow start and were back on level terms in the 22nd minute. Yaya Toure played through Sergio Aguero and the deadly Argentine drove his shot past Tim Howard’s defences at his near post. It was a crucial moment in the season and the final significant contribution of Aguero’s afternoon. He limped off six minutes later with a groin injury.

Two minutes before the interval, City came up with another vital goal to go into the dressing rooms in the lead. Edin Dzeko scored another crucial goal, as he had done so a week earlier in an away victory at Crystal Palace. The Bosnian leapt highest to James Milner’s in-swinging cross and he beat Howard with a header that the American shot-stopper reacted far too late to. Pellegrini’s side were passing the toughest test of their run-in.

There were still scares though. Almost immediately into the second half, Hart had to demonstrate his supreme reflexes in full flow to fingertip away Naismith’s shot. It was a moment that Everton boss Roberto Martinez later said was the “save of the season.” It was made even more decisive because the visitors broke straight down the other end of the field and Dzeko was on-hand to poke home from six-yards out after good work from Samir Nasri. At last, the Citizens had the comfort margin they were looking for.

Everton were never going to lie down though and accept defeat. On-loan forward Romelu Lukaku reduced the deficit in the 65th minute. The Belgian had been kept very quiet throughout but he evaded some slack marking to head home from a Baines cross. Despite dominating possession, Martinez’s side ran out of steam and it was City fans and players celebrating afterwards. They were back at the top of the Premier League table on goal difference.

Liverpool did reclaim the lead two nights later but threw away a three-goal lead to draw 3-3 at Crystal Palace. Pellegrini’s side did what was expected and brushed aside Aston Villa and West Ham United in their final two games to become champions. This win at Goodison in 2014 was one of their most important results in their Premier League history.

Memorable Matches: Southampton 6-3 Manchester United (October 1996)

Goalscorers: Eyal Berkovic 6, 83, Matt Le Tissier 35, David Beckham 41, Egil Ostenstad 45, 85, David May 56, Paul Scholes 89, Phil Neville 90 OG

Teams:

Southampton: Dave Beasant, Jason Dodd, Richard Dryden, Claus Lundekvam, Simon Charlton (Graham Potter 70), Alan Neilson (Jim Magilton 75), Ulrich van Gobbel, Matt Oakley, Eyal Berkovic, Matt Le Tissier (Gordon Watson 88), Egil Ostenstad

Manchester United: Peter Schmeichel, David May, Gary Pallister (Denis Irwin 45), Gary Neville, Phil Neville, Nicky Butt (Brian McClair 17), Roy Keane (SENT OFF), David Beckham, Jordi Cruyff (Ole Gunnar Solskjaer 83), Paul Scholes, Eric Cantona

Referee: Jeff Winter, Attendance: 15,256

Manchester United arrived at The Dell in October 1996 off the back of a humiliating 5-0 defeat to Newcastle United six days earlier. Manager Alex Ferguson must have been shell-shocked after the scoreline at St James’ Park. He was about to get another taste of embarrassment. This result will remain one of Southampton’s greatest and one of Manchester United’s worst in the Premier League era.

This match was played six months after the ‘grey shirt’ debacle when Manchester United lost 3-1 and changed their away kit at half-time because Ferguson claimed the players couldn’t see each other! This time, he could offer no excuses. His team were simply outplayed and outfoxed by a wily Southampton outfit.

The scoring began in the sixth minute. New signing Egil Ostenstad forced Peter Schmeichel into a save. However, Eyal Berkovic was in the right place to smash the ball past the Dane on the rebound. United’s cause wasn’t helped even further when Roy Keane picked up a red card inside of 21 minutes.

10 minutes before half-time, it was 2-0. Berkovic found Matt Le Tissier, who had plenty of time outside the penalty area. He evaded challenges from Brian McClair and David May before producing a delicate lob over Schmeichel’s head. It was another amazing goal in the Le Tissier collection. The Red Devils’ did find a quick response this time. David Beckham’s trademark free-kick reduced the deficit but not for long. Right on the stroke of half-time, Ostenstad bamboozled May and then somehow squeezed a shot past Schmeichel’s defences at his near post. The scoreline was 3-1 at half-time.

Another five goals would follow in the second half. Again, Manchester United responded. Beckham’s free-kick was nodded in at the back post by May, who was making up for his own shoddy defensive display. Then, with seven minutes left, Southampton scored their fourth goal. Israeli international Berkovic crashed in his second goal of the afternoon with a venomous volley from the edge of the penalty area after a corner wasn’t properly cleared by United’s weary defenders. Worse was to come.

Ostenstad raced past May again and beat Schmeichel to make it 5-2! Paul Scholes did grab a consolation shortly afterwards but there was still time for a sixth Saints’ goal. Substitute Gordon Watson played in Ostenstad who rounded Schmeichel and found the net again, via Phil Neville’s despairing attempt to stop the ball. Although Ostenstad deserved his hat-trick, the records officially show this quite harshly as a Neville own goal.

Manchester United would lose their unbeaten 40-year home record in Europe days later to Fenerbahce but would claim a fourth Premier League title in five years. Southampton survived again and their fans will never forget the afternoon when the reigning champions were hit for six of the best.

Memorable Matches: Manchester United 0-1 Arsenal (May 2002)

Goalscorers: Sylvain Wiltord 55

Teams:

Manchester United: Fabien Barthez, Laurent Blanc, Wes Brown, Phil Neville, Mikael Silvestre, Roy Keane, Juan Sebastian Veron (Ruud van Nistelrooy 58), Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, Diego Forlan (Quinton Fortune 68), Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

Arsenal: David Seaman, Sol Campbell, Martin Keown, Ashley Cole, Lauren, Edu, Patrick Vieira, Ray Parlour, Freddie Ljungberg, Kanu (Lee Dixon 89), Sylvain Wiltord

Referee: Paul Durkin, Attendance: 67,580

This was the ultimate showdown of the 2001-2002 season. Arsenal arrived at Old Trafford looking to wrap up a second league and cup double against reigning champions Manchester United. Only a victory for Sir Alex Ferguson’s side would keep the title fight going to the final day of the season.

Arsenal were in impressive form, having not dropped a point in the Premier League since drawing 1-1 with Southampton in early February. Days earlier, goals from Ray Parlour and the in-form Freddie Ljungberg had beaten Chelsea 2-0 in the FA Cup final at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium. However, they were missing the injured Tony Adams and Thierry Henry. Ruud van Nistelrooy was rested to the bench by Ferguson with the boss admitting before the game that he thought the Dutchman had been looking fatigued in recent games.

It was a frantic first 45 minutes with the home side deciding to break the game up as much as possible, committing several late tackles as referee Paul Durkin struggled to keep emotions under control. Both Paul Scholes and Phil Neville were slightly fortunate to stay on the pitch after wild fouls on Edu and Sylvain Wiltord. Both were punished with just yellow cards.

Arsenal didn’t produce much attacking threat early on but started to show their authority on the match just before the interval. Wiltord fired a cross into the box which only just evaded a late stretch from Edu and when Fabien Barthez produced a sloppy clearance, his compatriot Wiltord was too late to pounce on this error.

10 minutes into the second half, Arsenal got the breakthrough which continued their unique feat of scoring in every single Premier League game in the season. Mikael Silvestre gave away possession to Wiltord. The forward passed the ball to Ljungberg who got the better of Laurent Blanc, before firing a shot on-goal. Barthez parried his strike only into the path of Wiltord, who drove the ball into the back of the net past the goalkeeper’s despairing dive.

Ferguson threw Van Nistelrooy on now knowing his side needed two goals but they didn’t even look like scoring one. Roy Keane’s header which whistled wide from a corner was the closest they came to troubling David Seaman.

Arsenal showed their class on the night and ultimately, the season to complete their third league and cup double. They’d taken the title from Manchester United in their own backyard and done it in style. No-one could argue they were the best side in the country in 2001-2002.

Memorable Matches: Southampton 3-3 Newcastle United (May 2004)

Goalscorers: Shola Ameobi 7, James Beattie 19, Lee Bowyer 35, Titus Bramble 39 OG, Leandre Griffit 88, Darren Ambrose 90

Teams:

Southampton: Alan Blayney, Stephen Crainey, Claus Lundekvam (Darren Kenton 36), Fitz Hall, Paul Telfer, David Prutton, Fabrice Fernandes (Leandre Griffit 81), Yoann Folly, Anders Svensson, James Beattie, Brett Ormerod (Kevin Phillips 74)

Newcastle United: Shay Given, Oliver Bernard, Titus Bramble (Michael Bridges 90), Aaron Hughes, Steven Caldwell, Gary Speed, Darren Ambrose, Lee Bowyer, Kieron Dyer (Laurent Robert 75), Shola Ameobi, Alan Shearer

Referee: Graham Poll, Attendance: 31,815

The final issue of the 2003-2004 season left up for grabs was who was going to finish in fourth position and therefore, claim the final qualifying spot for the following season’s UEFA Champions League. Newcastle United arrived at Southampton off the back of a disappointing 1-1 draw at home to already relegated Wolverhampton Wanderers. They had to win at St Mary’s to force a final day showdown at Anfield with their qualification rivals, Liverpool FC.

Newcastle made the better start against a Saints’ side that were cruising towards the end of the season. Shola Ameobi showed greater strength in a tussle with Claus Lundekvam and once he won that, he finished coolly into the bottom corner past Premier League debutant Alan Blayney in the Southampton goal. Blayney was appearing because a virus had struck down no.1 keeper Antti Niemi.

Southampton had nothing to lose and it wasn’t like Newcastle had the best defensive record, so this match always looked like it was going to promise goals. Three more were scored in the first half to ensure the sides went it 2-2 at the break. First, James Beattie tapped in after Shay Given failed to hold onto Anders Svensson’s shot. 10 minutes before half-time, Sir Bobby Robson’s team were back infront. Lee Bowyer arrived late in the box to smack a strike past Blayney. It was only Bowyer’s second Premier League goal of the season since joining from West Ham United in the summer of 2003.

Southampton were the better team though for the majority of the first half, especially after getting onto level terms and they ensured that is how the teams’ would be at the interval. Fabrice Fernandes fired a cross into the box which clumsily went into the net off the leg of Titus Bramble. Once again, defensive errors were costing Newcastle dear as it had for most of their league campaign.

The goals might have dried up in the second half but the action certainly didn’t. Steven Caldwell crashed a header against the crossbar and when Darren Ambrose’s drive from distance ended up with a similar outcome, the travelling Toon Army support must have begun to think it wasn’t going to be their night. More so when Blayney made remarkable saves to deny Alan Shearer and Bowyer.

Then, with three minutes left, Southampton sealed the Magpies’ fate. Substitute Leandre Griffit shook off Oliver Bernard and squeezed the ball in-between Given’s legs for his first Premier League goal. Newcastle were never going to score two goals in stoppage-time, were they? They managed one, with Ambrose drilling one home with basically the last kick of the match but it finished 3-3 and that sealed Liverpool’s Champions League spot. Robson would last another five matches before being dismissed in late August 2004. Southampton lost their final match of the season at Charlton and would ultimately finish in 12th position.

Memorable Matches: Bolton Wanderers 0-2 Chelsea (April 2005)

Goalscorer: Frank Lampard 60, 76

Teams:

Bolton Wanderers: Jussi Jaaskelainen, Tal Ben-Haim, Vincent Candela (Radhi Jaidi 77), Fernando Hierro, Bruno N’Gotty, Ricardo Gardner, Stelios Giannakopoulos (Henrik Pedersen 63), Gary Speed, Jay-Jay Okocha (Kevin Nolan 63), Kevin Davies, El-Hadji Diouf

Chelsea: Petr Cech, Geremi, Ricardo Carvalho, John Terry, William Gallas, Claude Makelele (Alexei Smertin 90), Jiri Jarosik, Tiago, Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba (Robert Huth 65), Eidur Gudjohnsen (Joe Cole 85)

Referee: Steve Dunn, Attendance: 27,653

April 30th 2005 will be a date that Chelsea supporters will never forget. It was the day when their 50-year wait for being crowned champions of England would end. Only a defeat at Bolton’s Reebok Stadium would delay their crowning as the kings of English football.

Chelsea had been outstanding all season. Coming into this match, Jose Mourinho’s side had only lost once all campaign in the league and had sprinted clear from their nearest pursuers, reigning champions Arsenal and Manchester United. Bolton weren’t going to roll over though. They were looking good for a top-six finish and with it, the prize of European football next season. They’d also come back from 2-0 down to grab a point at Stamford Bridge in November.

The first half was a cagey affair with few clear-cut goalscoring opportunities. It seemed like the nerves had hit the Chelsea players and it was the home side who missed the best chance of a goalless first 45 minutes. Kevin Davies headed straight into Petr Cech’s midriff when he was given a free header in the penalty area.

Fittingly, it was one of Chelsea’s stars of the season who produced the seminal moment. Frank Lampard broke into the penalty area and fired Chelsea into the lead just before the hour mark with another emphatic finish. Bolton thought Jiri Jarosik had fouled Fernando Hierro in the build-up to the goal but their protests fell on deaf ears. The title loomed large for the west Londoners.

There were still some scares though. Gary Speed’s long throw-in saw Geremi almost score a spectacular own goal. The Cameroonian, playing in an unfamiliar full-back role leapt to reach Speed’s throw-in but rather than clear the ball, he forced Cech into an impressive reflex save.

With 15 minutes remaining, the game was still in the balance. Chelsea needed another goal to be sure of their success and it was Lampard who sealed the coronation. A Bolton attack broke down from their corner and Claude Makelele played a delicious pass into the feet of Lampard. With Wanderers defenders stranded up pitch, Lampard bared down on-goal. He had Ricardo Carvalho alongside him but he was never going to pass to the Portuguese defender. Lampard rounded Jussi Jaaskelainen, sent the ball into the empty net and the celebrations could properly begin. Chelsea were champions and they were going to tell the world about it.

The Blues became only the fourth side in the Premier League era after Manchester United, Blackburn Rovers and Arsenal to win the title and this came in just Roman Abramovich’s second season of owning the club. In 2004-2005, Mourinho was definitely the “Special One.” Chelsea would win the League Cup too and finished with a record-high points tally in Premier League history. They collected the trophy a week later after a breathtaking campaign by the Londoners.

Memorable Matches: Leicester City 5-2 Sunderland (March 2000)

Goalscorers: Stan Collymore 17, 60, 87, Emile Heskey 34, Kevin Phillips 53, Niall Quinn 75, Stefan Oakes 90

Teams:

Leicester City: Tim Flowers, Matt Elliott, Gerry Taggart, Frank Sinclair, Darren Eadie (Stefan Oakes 56), Steve Guppy, Neil Lennon, Robbie Savage, Muzzy Izzet, Stan Collymore, Emile Heskey

Sunderland: Thomas Sorensen, Paul Butler, Jody Craddock, Chris Makin, Eric Roy (John Oster 71), Alex Rae, Stefan Schwarz, Darren Holloway (Nicky Summerbee 45), Kevin Kilbane, Niall Quinn, Kevin Phillips

Referee: Neale Barry, Attendance: 20,432

Having joined Leicester City a month earlier after falling out of favour at Aston Villa, Stan Collymore was keen to show his doubters wrong. He had his chance infront of the Sky Sports cameras on his home debut at Filbert Street as the Foxes’ hosted Sunderland in an end-to-end contest that saw seven goals and a reminder of his class when he was at his absolute best.

Collymore had already been in trouble with new manager Martin O’Neill for an off-field incident in a hotel during a club training camp break in La Manga. This was his second match for the club and after 16 minutes, he produced a spectacular opening goal. His half-volley from a flick-on by his new strike partner Emile Heskey left Thomas Sorensen completely helpless.

It was always going to be an entertaining contest. Sunderland had impressed many on their return to the top-flight but had the poorest defensive record in the top 10 coming into the match and it was exposed again 10 minutes before half-time. Neil Lennon won possession in the heart of midfield and he played Heskey in. He took one touch and finished in-between Sorensen’s legs.

Peter Reid was not happy with his team’s performance and withdrew Darren Holloway at half-time, replacing him with Nicky Summerbee. They did come close to reducing the deficit when Leicester defender Matt Elliott’s clearance at the near post hit his own crossbar. It was a warning sign to the Foxes but it wasn’t adhered to. Kevin Phillips’ half-volley from the edge of the penalty area on 53 minutes reduced the arrears. It was the 100th goal of his league career and 24th of an amazing individual season that saw him clinch the Golden Boot at the end of the campaign.

Leicester restored their two-goal lead on the hour mark. Lennon chalked up his second assist of the match. His beautiful cross was met by Collymore who directed the ball into the top corner of Sorensen’s net. One thing Reid had installed in Sunderland’s armoury was the ability to respond clinically and he had one of the best strike partnerships in the country at the time in Phillips and Niall Quinn. The Republic of Ireland forward joined Philips on the scoresheet with 15 minutes left. His curling strike would set-up a grandstand finish.

The day though would belong to Collymore. He completed his hat-trick with a striker’s tap-in. The finish was slightly scuffed but he wouldn’t be complaining about that and nor were the Leicester supporters. With time running out, substitute Stefan Oakes added a fifth to ensure the Black Cats’ conceded five on their travels for the second time this season, having shipped five at Everton on Boxing Day.

The sides would finish seventh and eighth at the end of the season. This day though belonged to Leicester and to the maverick that was Stan Collymore.