Category Archives: Premier League Rewind

Premier League Rewind: 16th-18th December 2006

Results: Charlton Athletic 0-3 Liverpool FC, Arsenal 2-2 Portsmouth, Newcastle United 2-1 Watford, Reading 1-2 Blackburn Rovers, Wigan Athletic 0-1 Sheffield United, Aston Villa 0-1 Bolton Wanderers, Everton 2-3 Chelsea, Manchester City 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur, West Ham United 1-0 Manchester United, Fulham 2-1 Middlesbrough

The Christmas programme in 2006 was about to get underway and already, the 2006-2007 title race looked to be a straight shootout between Manchester United and Chelsea. Going into the 16th-18th December weekend, it was the Red Devils who had a five-point advantage. By the end of the weekend, Jose Mourinho’s champions had whittled the lead down after a dramatic Sunday afternoon involving the title contenders.

The Blues’ kicked off first on Merseyside and were given a very tough game by David Moyes and his Everton side. Everton were only 10th going into the match but just four points off the coveted UEFA Champions League qualifying positions and they led Chelsea twice in this match. In fact, Chelsea trailed 2-1 going into the last 10 minutes before amazing goals from Frank Lampard and then, another long-range special by Didier Drogba steered the Londoners home to a nervy and exciting 3-2 victory.

Later that afternoon, Manchester United travelled to Upton Park where West Ham United were welcoming their new manager. Alan Curbishley had been appointed a few days earlier, replacing Alan Pardew who had been sacked following a 4-0 defeat at Bolton eight days earlier. West Ham went into the weekend in the bottom three and desperate for a victory. They collected three much-needed points as Nigel Reo-Coker scored the only goal of the match and gave Curbishley a winning start. The gap between the top two was now two points.

Arsenal and Portsmouth were holding the other two Champions League qualification spots at the start of the weekend and they met each other at the Emirates Stadium. Pompey were flying and when Matt Taylor scored a looping volley, they were 2-0 up and looking set to become the first Premier League team to win at Arsenal’s new home. Arsene Wenger’s frustrations got the better of him and he was sent from the touchline but he will have been pleased to see his team’s battling qualities. Emmanuel Adebayor and skipper Gilberto Silva scored to ensure the points were shared.

Their draw allowed Liverpool FC to cash in and take third spot. Liverpool kicked off in the Saturday lunchtime game at second-bottom Charlton Athletic and it was one of the most one-sided away games in Premier League history. Liverpool had 24 attempts on-goal against Les Reed’s gutless side but only had a Xabi Alonso third-minute penalty to their name, squandering a host of opportunities. Luckily, Charlton were so bad, it didn’t matter. Craig Bellamy and Steven Gerrard did find the back of the net in the last 10 minutes to ensure the score had a fairer reflection given the visitors’ dominance. Reed lasted just one more abject match before being sacked as Charlton manager.

Elsewhere, Bolton climbed into fifth spot after Gary Speed’s penalty beat Aston Villa at Villa Park. Blackburn Rovers came from behind to pick up a valuable 2-1 victory away to Reading with David Bentley scoring the pick of the goals. Middlesbrough’s 2-1 defeat at home specialists Fulham on the Monday Night Football meant Gareth Southgate’s side slipped to 17th and just outside the bottom three on goal difference.

What else happened in December 2006?

  • Leona Lewis wins the X-Factor, becoming the first female winner of the ITV talent show.
  • Forklift driver Steve Wright is charged with the murders of five women in Ipswich between the 30th October and 10th December. He is sentenced to life imprisonment in February 2008.
  • Aged 93, Gerald Ford dies after years battling ill health. He was the 38th President of the United States, serving in office from August 1974 to January 1977.
  • Actress Wendy Richard leaves EastEnders after her character Pauline Fowler dies on Christmas Day. She had been in Albert Square since the very first episode in 1985.
  • Equestrian Zara Phillips follows in her mother’s footsteps by becoming BBC Sports Personality of the Year for 2006.
  • 2,300 jobs are lost when the Ryton car factory closes in Warwickshire and production of the Peugeot 206 is moved to Slovakia.
  • An oil pipeline explodes on Boxing Day in Lagos, Nigeria, killing at least 200 people.
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Premier League Rewind: 19th-20th November 2005

Results: Wigan Athletic 2-3 Arsenal, Charlton Athletic 1-3 Manchester United, Chelsea 3-0 Newcastle United, Liverpool FC 3-0 Portsmouth, Manchester City 0-0 Blackburn Rovers, Sunderland 1-3 Aston Villa, West Bromwich Albion 4-0 Everton, Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 West Ham United, Middlesbrough 3-2 Fulham, Birmingham City P-P Bolton Wanderers

After an international break, the Premier League resumed on the 19th-20th November 2005 with Chelsea threatening to run away with the title. However, Jose Mourinho’s side had been beaten for the first time in 40 top-flight matches last time out by Manchester United, so that gave some flickering hopes to the challengers.

If there was going to be any let-up from the reigning champions, they didn’t show it at home to Newcastle United. Second half goals from Joe Cole, Hernan Crespo and Damien Duff set the Blues’ up for an easy 3-0 victory over the Magpies.

Going into the weekend, newly-promoted Wigan Athletic were Chelsea’s nearest challengers. Paul Jewell’s side had strung together a stunning nine-game unbeaten sequence which included eight victories. However, they were about to face some of the Premier League’s big-hitters. First up was Arsenal who were struggling to sparkle away from Highbury. However, they prevailed in an entertaining Saturday lunchtime kick-off. Thierry Henry scored twice as the Gunners won this match 3-2 and Wigan would go onto lose their next four matches.

That result pushed Arsenal into the top four and they were joined there by Manchester United, who won 3-1 at Charlton Athletic. Ruud van Nistelrooy continued his excellent season so far, scoring twice. The win at The Valley came 24 hours after United had confirmed they had parted company with skipper Roy Keane, releasing him from his contract by mutual consent. Keane would sign for Celtic a month later.

Bolton Wanderers started the weekend in the top three but would drop down to fifth spot through no fault of their own. Their Monday Night Football trip to Birmingham City was postponed by referee Phil Dowd just an hour before kick-off. Although the pitch was playable at St Andrews, heavy fog had set in and visibility was considered to be too dangerous for the game to be played.

After a slow start to the season, Liverpool FC were beginning to find their form. They recorded a third successive victory with a 3-0 win at home to struggling Portsmouth. Peter Crouch’s goalscoring drought continued as he had a penalty saved but Bolo Zenden scored the rebound effort in his final Premier League match of the campaign before a knee injury curtailed his debut season at Anfield. It was also the final match in charge for Alain Perrin. He was sacked a few days later and became the first managerial casualty of the 2005-2006 season.

If things were going better for Liverpool, they didn’t improve for David Moyes at Everton. After last season’s fine fourth-place finish, they were finding the going much more difficult this time around. Everton lost 4-0 in the Saturday teatime kick-off to West Bromwich Albion which kept them in the bottom three on goal difference, along with Birmingham and Sunderland who lost again – 3-1 at home to Aston Villa.

What else happened in November 2005?

  • The footballing world mourns the death of one of Britain’s finest players as George Best passes away in hospital, aged 59 after a long battle with illness.
  • Angela Merkel becomes the first female Chancellor of Germany.
  • Former British World Rally champion Richard Burns dies at the age of 34 from a brain tumour. Burns had won the championship with Subaru just four years earlier.
  • Digital channel ITV4 is launched.
  • The Safeway supermarket brand disappears after 43 years on the high street as Morrisons completes its conversion programme. The two companies had merged in March 2004.
  • New licensing laws come into effect which allows pubs and clubs in England and Wales to open 24 hours for the first time.

Premier League Rewind: 13th-14th April 2001

Results: Liverpool FC 1-2 Leeds United, Bradford City 2-0 Charlton Athletic, Manchester United 4-2 Coventry City, Arsenal 0-3 Middlesbrough, Aston Villa 2-1 Everton, Chelsea 1-0 Southampton, Ipswich Town 1-0 Newcastle United, Leicester City 1-2 Manchester City, Sunderland 2-3 Tottenham Hotspur, West Ham United 3-1 Derby County

The Easter weekend in April 2001 would ultimately turn out to be the decisive weekend where the destiny of the Premier League title race would be settled. In reality, there wasn’t much of a title race. Manchester United had made sure of that. Six weeks earlier, they’d battered closest rivals Arsenal 6-1 at Old Trafford. It wasn’t if, but when they wrapped up a seventh title in nine seasons.

On Easter Saturday, they received their first opportunity to wrap up the championship by kicking off at lunchtime at home to Coventry City. The Sky Blues’ were five points adrift of safety and desperate to start picking up points if they wanted to maintain their excellent top-flight record. They pushed their more illustrious opponents all the way and the score was 2-2 at half-time. Dwight Yorke and John Hartson had exchanged goals. The match was only decided in the last nine minutes. A looping Ryan Giggs header and Paul Scholes curler sealed United’s 4-2 victory. It meant that Arsenal had to win later that afternoon against Middlesbrough to keep the mathematical solutions going.

Arsenal hadn’t conceded in their last four matches and Middlesbrough were still not entirely safe of relegation yet. Many would have had home banker on their betting slips that afternoon but it wouldn’t play to the formbook. Brazilian pair Edu and Silvinho scored two own goals for Middlesbrough in four crazy first half minutes. Hamilton Ricard’s 58th minute strike sealed an unbelievable 3-0 victory at Highbury for Boro. Incredibly, they managed just one shot on target all afternoon. Arsenal’s hopes were mathematically over and Manchester United were champions yet again, ending the weekend 16 points clear with five games left to play.

The race to finish in third position had actually begun 24 hours earlier when Liverpool FC and Leeds United locked horns on Good Friday at Anfield. It was a Good Friday for Leeds who claimed a priceless win to make it four consecutive victories. Rio Ferdinand scored his first goal for the club and Lee Bowyer cashed in on some static defending to double the visitors’ lead before half-time. Liverpool rallied in the second half and Steven Gerrard reduced the deficit before being harshly sent off for two bookable offences. Defeat left Gerard Houllier’s side in sixth spot and six points off third place. They had games in hand but no more errors could be afforded now.

Incredibly, it was newly-promoted Ipswich Town that were holding down third spot and they continued to defy their critics who kept maintaining that they would fade away. Another three points were racked up on their tally against Newcastle United. It was Sir Bobby Robson’s first return to Portman Road as a manager since his memorable stint with the East Anglian side in the early 1980s. However, it ended unhappily for Robson as Nolberto Solano was sent off and Marcus Stewart’s penalty settled a fairly timid match.

Sunderland had been in the shake-up for much of the season but for the second campaign running, their form was starting to elude them just when European football beckoned on Wearside. They made an electric start against Tottenham Hotspur. Goals by Kevin Phillips and Niall Quinn had the home side 2-0 ahead inside of 12 minutes. However, Tottenham had other ideas, particularly central defender Gary Doherty. Playing as an emergency forward, Doherty scored twice in the last 15 minutes as Tottenham stormed back to win 3-2. That meant new manager Glenn Hoddle had chalked up two victories in three matches since succeeding George Graham in the post.

By contrast, whilst Tottenham were finding a bit of consistency, Leicester City were beginning to consistently lose matches. They were fifth after beating Liverpool FC 2-0 in early March but since then lost five straight games and dropped out of the top half. The latest damaging reverse came to relegation candidates Manchester City. Paulo Wanchope scored the pick of the goals in the visitors’ 2-1 win at Filbert Street.

Elsewhere, Gus Poyet took Chelsea into the top five with the winner at home to Southampton and Bradford City just about kept their mathematical prospects of beating the drop alive by defeating Charlton Athletic 2-0. The goals came from Robbie Blake and Benito Carbone. The win was only the fourth achieved all season by the Bantams’ but relegation confirmation would follow just a fortnight later.

What else happened in April 2001?

  • The Netherlands becomes the first country in the world to legalise same-sex marriage.
  • Former Yugoslavia president Slobodan Milosevic is to be tried on charges of war crimes after surrendering to special police forces.
  • The ‘Who Shot Phil?’ storyline reaches its conclusion in EastEnders. Lisa Shaw is revealed as the character that shot Phil in an episode watched by 20 million viewers.
  • Red Marauder wins the 2001 Martell Grand National at Aintree. Only two horses from the 40 starters complete the course.
  • Tiger Woods wins the US Masters at Augusta.
  • Channel 4 teatime quiz show Countdown celebrates its 3000th episode.
  • Mariah Carey signs a blockbuster contract with Virgin Records, worth $80 million for four albums.

Premier League Rewind: 6th-8th February 1999

Results: Aston Villa 1-3 Blackburn Rovers, Chelsea 1-0 Southampton, Leeds United 0-1 Newcastle United, Leicester City 0-2 Sheffield Wednesday, Liverpool FC 3-1 Middlesbrough, Nottingham Forest 1-8 Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur 0-0 Coventry City, West Ham United 0-4 Arsenal, Derby County 2-1 Everton, Charlton Athletic 2-0 Wimbledon

In the early weeks of February 1999, four sides still held genuine realistic chances of becoming Premier League champions. Just two points covered leaders Manchester United, second-placed Chelsea, early season pacesetters Aston Villa and reigning champions Arsenal. By the end of the 6th-8th February weekend, it became crystal clear that only three sides had serious title credentials.

Aston Villa’s form in the early weeks of 1999 was already concerning. They had managed just one victory at home to Everton and had been dumped out of the FA Cup by First Division Fulham. Nevertheless, John Gregory would still have been expecting a home victory against relegation-threatened Blackburn Rovers. It didn’t turn out the way he hoped. Gareth Southgate scored an embarrassing own goal and further strikes from Ashley Ward and David Dunn helped Blackburn to an impressive 3-1 victory. It meant a league double over the Villans’ whose form completely collapsed. They would take just three points from their next eight matches and dropped to sixth by the season’s end.

If Villa’s challenge had completely wilted, Manchester United’s was in top gear. They visited bottom-placed Nottingham Forest and ran riot at the City Ground. Alan Rogers did briefly equalise after Dwight Yorke had given the league leaders an early lead but it went swiftly downhill from there for the home side. Yorke added another goal and there were two for his strike partner Andy Cole. At 4-1 up with 18 minutes left, Yorke was substituted to his clear disappointment and on came Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. He would leave his mark with an incredible four-goal haul of his own from the bench. The 8-1 final scoreline means it remains the biggest away victory in Premier League history.

Arsenal were now hitting their stride too. Out of Europe, their focus was now solely on retaining the league and cup double they’d managed in 1998. They won 4-0 at Upton Park with a classy attacking performance that was reminiscent of the closing weeks of their title triumph the previous season. Dennis Bergkamp was at his best, opening the scoring and completely controlling the game. It was a home debut to forget for Paolo di Canio but at least he didn’t get into any trouble against Arsenal – unlike his experience earlier in the season as a Sheffield Wednesday player.

Whilst Manchester United and Arsenal were winning with more than something to spare, Chelsea took the prudent approach. Gianfranco Zola’s free-kick was good enough to beat Southampton 1-0 at Stamford Bridge. Gianluca Vialli’s side would continue to dig in and made it a real three-way fight all the way until mid-April when their exertions in the Cup Winners’ Cup would catch up on their title challenge.

Leeds United were having an excellent season under David O’Leary but they came unstuck at home to mid-table Newcastle United. Nolberto Solano scored the only goal of the game to mark the Yorkshire’s club third defeat in their last four outings. This galvanised Leeds though, who would go on a stunning run of seven successive victories to match the mark set by Don Revie’s great side of the early 1970s.

Elsewhere, Liverpool FC moved into the top six with a 3-1 home victory over Middlesbrough. Like the reverse fixture on Boxing Day, defender Vegard Heggem was on target for the Reds’, who were well in control and 3-0 up by half-time. Defender Dominic Matteo was sent off in the second half but Middlesbrough could only muster a late consolation through substitute Phil Stamp.

On Monday Night Football, Charlton Athletic were absolutely desperate for a victory against Wimbledon. Charlton had gone 13 games without a win since beating West Ham United 4-2 at the backend of October and that had included a seven-game losing sequence which had seen them plummet from 9th to 19th. Martin Pringle picked the best time to score his first Addicks’ goal and a comical own goal by Dean Blackwell ensured a priceless 2-0 victory for Alan Curbishley’s side although the season would end with heartache on the final day and relegation from the top-flight after one season in the elite.

What else happened in February 1999?

  • After a year of allegations, strain and defence, Bill Clinton is acquitted of impeachment proceedings in the US senate.
  • King Hussein of Jordan dies from cancer and is succeeded by his son, Abdullah II.
  • While trying to circumnavigate the world in a hot air balloon, Colin Prescot and Andy Elson set a new endurance record after being aloft for 233 hours and 55 minutes.
  • 31 people are killed when an avalanche dismantles the small Austrian village of Galtür.
  • The BBC announces that Noel’s House Party will be axed after eight successful years.
  • Kelly Brook succeeds Denise van Outen as co-presenter of The Big Breakfast on Channel 4.
  • Lauryn Hill makes history at the Grammy Awards by being the first female artist to win five Grammys in one night.

Premier League Rewind: 15th-17th October 1994

Results: Arsenal 3-1 Chelsea, Aston Villa 1-1 Norwich City, Blackburn Rovers 3-2 Liverpool FC, Crystal Palace 0-1 Newcastle United, Everton 0-2 Coventry City, Leeds United 1-1 Tottenham Hotspur, Leicester City 4-3 Southampton, Manchester United 1-0 West Ham United, Queens Park Rangers 1-2 Manchester City, Ipswich Town 1-2 Sheffield Wednesday, Nottingham Forest 3-1 Wimbledon

Whilst Blackburn Rovers and Manchester United were the two teams who would go on to dictate the destiny of the Premier League title in season 1994-1995, it wasn’t so clear who would be the team to beat in mid-October 1994. Kenny Dalglish and Alex Ferguson’s sides were in the chasing pack, but behind a couple of hot pacesetters.

Going into the weekend’s matches, Newcastle United and Nottingham Forest still held unbeaten records and these were maintained through contrasting fashions. Kevin Keegan’s Magpies’ had dropped just four points all season but their trip to Selhurst Park for a match with Crystal Palace wasn’t all about style and swagger. This time, it was about grit and determination to get all three points. They managed to achieve this with a minute to go. Palace defended brilliantly all day but Peter Beardsley produced a special effort to beat Nigel Martyn and ensure the visiting fans went home happy and still on top of the table.

Nottingham Forest had to wait until the Monday evening to respond. Frank Clark’s side were in live action on Sky Sports and played a Wimbledon side that had made a sluggish start to the season. Stan Collymore scored one of the goals of the season at the City Ground. Collecting possession from just inside the Wimbledon half, the striker went on a mazy run and as the space opened up, went for goal. The shot flew past Hans Segers as Forest went on to record a 3-1 victory and maintain their impressive start on their Premier League return.

The two sides that Dalglish cared about the most in English football clashed at Ewood Park and Blackburn Rovers prevailed in a five-goal thriller with Liverpool FC. John Barnes might have scored the goal of the weekend with a stunning acrobatic kick that rolled back the years to his prime days. It wasn’t enough though for the visitors’ to grab a share of the spoils. Two goals from Chris Sutton ensured Dalglish’s current side beat his old employers 3-2.

Liverpool FC stayed in the top four but the nightmare continued across Merseyside for Everton. Still without a win and the pressure continued to mount on the beleaguered Mike Walker. New signings Duncan Ferguson and Ian Durrant played at home to Coventry City but made little impact on the contest. Dion Dublin was among the scorers in an easy 2-0 win for Coventry. Walker insisted he wasn’t under pressure from the board afterwards but his time was almost up in the Goodison Park hotseat.

Another side that had been struggling were Leicester City but the newly-promoted Foxes’ achieved a second victory of the term in an entertaining 4-3 triumph at home to Southampton. Franz Carr scored the goal of the match as Brian Little’s side held off a late fightback from their opponents to claim all three points. It would be the last victory Little achieved with Leicester. He would walk out on the club five weeks later to take over at Midlands’ rivals Aston Villa.

Elsewhere, Arsenal beat Chelsea 3-1 in a London derby, Manchester United sneaked past West Ham United through an Eric Cantona goal and David Hirst scored an 89th minute winner as Sheffield Wednesday beat Ipswich Town 2-1 on Super Sunday despite a late red card for Des Walker.

What else happened in October 1994?

  • Fernando Henrique Cardoso is elected president of Brazil.
  • Yasser Arafat, Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres are awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts in keeping peace in the Middle East.
  • The USA defeats Europe 13-7 in the Solheim Cup.
  • BSkyB launch two new channels; Sky Soap and Sky Travel.
  • The conclusion of the Sharongate storyline in EastEnders as Grant finds out Sharon has been having an affair with his brother, Phil. An estimated 25.3 million watch the drama unfold.
  • Former Academy Award winner Martha Raye dies in Los Angeles aged 78.
  • Two trains crash head-on in heavy fog in Kent after a driver passes a red signal. Five are killed and 13 injured.

Premier League Rewind: 23rd-24th August 2002

Results: Chelsea 2-2 Manchester United, Manchester City 1-0 Newcastle United, Birmingham City 0-1 Blackburn Rovers, Bolton Wanderers 1-2 Charlton Athletic, Liverpool FC 3-0 Southampton, Middlesbrough 2-2 Fulham, Sunderland 0-1 Everton, Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 Aston Villa, West Ham United 2-2 Arsenal, West Bromwich Albion 1-3 Leeds United

The second weekend of the 2002-2003 season was a strange one in terms of days when matches were played. It might have been a traditional weekend, but by Saturday evening, all 20 teams had featured and there were no Sunday/Monday matches. There were still 26 goals though in the 10 games.

The programme began with a Friday night match between two of the Premier League’s big heavyweights as Chelsea and Manchester United battled it out at Stamford Bridge. The Blues’ made the quicker start and William Gallas headed them ahead inside of three minutes. David Beckham produced a brilliant equaliser in a match where the goals scored were of the highest quality. Bolo Zenden scored a tremendous individual effort of his own on the stroke of half-time to put Chelsea back ahead. The points would ultimately be shared as Ryan Giggs scored in the second half after a thunderous United counter-attack.

Reigning champions Arsenal had an almighty scare away to West Ham United. West Ham were coming off the back of a humbling 4-0 defeat to Newcastle United in their first match of the season but looked on-track to send the Gunners’ tumbling to their first league defeat of 2002. Goals from Joe Cole and Freddie Kanoute had the Hammers’ 2-0 up and it could have been 3-0 – only for David Seaman to save Kanoute’s very weak penalty. Arsenal showed their fighting spirit to recover the deficit and leave with a draw. Thierry Henry and Sylvain Wiltord both scored powerful efforts that nearly burst the Upton Park goal nets.

Another 2-2 game took place at the Riverside Stadium where Middlesbrough threw their game away at home to Fulham. Summer signing Massimo Maccarone scored twice on his home debut to have Steve McClaren’s side cruising to victory. Unbelievably, they gave this away in stoppage-time. Sean Davis and Facundo Sava scored to salvage an unlikely point for the Londoners. This game also got fans to see Sava’s traditional celebration for the first time – ‘The man with the mask!’

It looked like Anfield was about to welcome a new hero in the form of El-Hadji Diouf. Gerard Houllier had spent big money (£11million) to take one of the stars of the World Cup finals that summer to Merseyside. It initially looked like being a sound investment, especially after Diouf scored twice on his home debut in a comfortable 3-0 victory over Southampton. Danny Murphy got the third from the penalty spot. Little did LFC fans know that day that this double act from Diouf would turn out to be his most meaningful contribution in a Liverpool FC shirt.

Kevin Keegan was facing former foes in the Saturday lunchtime kick-off and beating them too. Ex-Newcastle United forward Darren Huckerby scored the only goal as Keegan’s Manchester City beat Newcastle 1-0 at Maine Road. Newcastle would have another excellent season under Sir Bobby Robson’s guidance but a terrible away record early season scuppered their title challenge. The Magpies’ won just once away from home from August to early December.

Premier League newcomers Birmingham City and West Bromwich Albion were finding life tough at this level. Both lost their first home matches on this particular weekend. Birmingham fell 1-0 to Blackburn Rovers with Dwight Yorke scoring the only goal. West Brom were taken apart by a ruthless Leeds United side at The Hawthorns. The Baggies’ lost 3-1, with Lee Bowyer scoring the pick of the visitors’ goals.

Elsewhere, Charlton Athletic came from a goal down to beat Bolton Wanderers 2-1 and there were 1-0 victories for Everton and Tottenham Hotspur over Sunderland and Aston Villa respectively. It said a lot for the competiveness of the Premier League that after two matches, only Liverpool FC and Leeds United could boast 100% records. Neither would play a part in the title outcome come May, so this was another example of early days where the table wasn’t taking any detailed shape.

What else happened in August 2002?

  • The UK is left shocked after the disappearance of 10-year-old Soham schoolgirls Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman.
  • 118 soldiers are killed when a Chechen missile outside of Grozny strikes down a Russian Mi-26 helicopter.
  • Johannesburg in South Africa hosts Earth Summit 2002 with the main aim – discussing sustainable development by the UN.
  • The first series of “I’m a Celebrity… Get Me out of Here!” begins on ITV. Radio DJ Tony Blackburn will end as the winner.
  • The 2002 Commonwealth Games close in Manchester.

Premier League Rewind: 7th-9th December 1996

Results: Arsenal 2-2 Derby County, Chelsea 2-2 Everton, Coventry City 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur, Leicester City 1-1 Blackburn Rovers, Liverpool FC 0-1 Sheffield Wednesday, Middlesbrough 0-0 Leeds United, Southampton 0-1 Aston Villa, Sunderland 1-3 Wimbledon, West Ham United 2-2 Manchester United, Nottingham Forest 0-0 Newcastle United

The first full weekend of December’s programme in the 1996-1997 season threw up some interesting results in a season when none of the elite sides seemed happy to take complete control of the title race.

Going into the weekend, it was Arsenal who were top of the table and all this less than two months since Arsene Wenger had been installed as the new manager at Highbury. They nearly came up a cropper at home to newly-promoted Derby County. Dean Sturridge scored a stunning goal for the Rams’ and going into stoppage time; they were 2-1 infront. Patrick Vieira rescued a point for the leaders and they stayed top of the table thanks to other results.

Liverpool FC could have gone top with that result but they missed the opportunity with a first home defeat of the season. Sheffield Wednesday went to Anfield and recorded an impressive 1-0 victory in a fine campaign for David Pleat’s side that saw them finish in the top seven. Guy Whittingham’s 22nd minute goal was the winning effort on Merseyside.

Newcastle United’s winless run stretched to four matches following a goalless draw with bottom-placed Nottingham Forest on Monday Night Football. Kevin Keegan’s side had failed to cash in on their fabulous 5-0 victory over Manchester United. It was just one win in six matches in the league since.

Manchester United’s form and confidence had taken a significant knock since the Newcastle result. They had returned from a successful trip to Vienna in midweek which had seen the club just about progress to the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League. Perhaps the travelling caught up with them in the Super Sunday clash at Upton Park with West Ham United. David Beckham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer put them 2-0 up with 15 minutes to go but the Hammers’ rallied to take a spirited point. Florian Raducioiu had a miserable time in east London but his goal in this match was a rare highlight.

All this meant that Wimbledon moved into second spot in the table. Having lost their first three matches, Joe Kinnear’s side were on a club-record unbeaten run which had included a seven-game winning sequence in early autumn. Dean Holdsworth scored the pick of the goals in their latest win; a 3-1 triumph at Roker Park over Sunderland.

There was a landmark reached at The Dell where Southampton played Aston Villa. In the 34th minute, Andy Townsend scored the only goal of the game to earn all three points for Villa. That might not sound remarkable but it was the Premier League’s 5000th goal. Chris Sutton has tried to claim that mark as he scored at almost the same time of Blackburn’s 1-1 draw at Leicester City but records show his goal was registered in the 33rd minute, one minute earlier than Townsend’s winner on the south coast.

Lastly, Gianfranco Zola scored his first Premier League goal in Chelsea’s 2-2 draw with Everton. The Italian had arrived from Serie A and a trademark free-kick was the first of many magical moments in a Chelsea shirt.

What else happened in December 1996?

  • Kofi Annan is elected as Secretary-General of the United Nations.
  • Apple Computers buys out Steve Jobs’ company, NeXT. Apple was of course co-founded by Mr Jobs.
  • The largest strike in South Korean history begins.
  • Unemployment in the UK falls below two million for the first time since John Major became Prime Minister.
  • Damon Hill becomes only the third person to win BBC Sports Personality of the Year twice.

Premier League Rewind: 11th May 2002

Results: Arsenal 4-3 Everton, Blackburn Rovers 3-0 Fulham, Chelsea 1-3 Aston Villa, Leeds United 1-0 Middlesbrough, Leicester City 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool FC 5-0 Ipswich Town, Manchester United 0-0 Charlton Athletic, Southampton 3-1 Newcastle United, Sunderland 1-1 Derby County, West Ham United 2-1 Bolton Wanderers

Although the destiny of the championship had been settled a few days earlier, there was still some issues to address on the final day of the 2001-2002 season. The main factor at stake was the final relegation spot. Who would be joining Derby County and Leicester City on a one-way ticket to the First Division?

The favourites to join them in the second-tier were Ipswich Town. George Burley’s side had finished fifth the previous campaign but apart from a brief revival early in 2002, they had failed to find the form that took them so close to UEFA Champions League qualification in 2000-2001. They went to Anfield and had to win to stand any chance of survival.

Liverpool FC were in no mood to be easy either. Midweek results meant a victory here would guarantee their best-ever finishing position in the Premier League of runners-up. They had beaten Ipswich 6-0 at Portman Road in February and another thrashing was on the cards when John Arne Riise fired Liverpool into an 11th minute lead. Ipswich did hit the bar and the Reds’ lost Steven Gerrard to a groin injury which would destroy his World Cup hopes. However, as soon as Riise doubled his tally just before the half-hour mark, the Tractor Boys’ fate was sealed. A mistake from Titus Bramble allowed Michael Owen to score a third seconds into the restart and further goals from substitute Vladimir Smicer and Nicolas Anelka put the seal on the 5-0 final scoreline. Ipswich went down and Liverpool FC had beaten Manchester United in a final league standings table for the first time since 1990.

Ipswich’s nightmare on Merseyside meant Sunderland would survive, regardless of their result at home to Derby County. Kevin Phillips scored the opening goal and although Derby equalised, these sides would be playing in different divisions in 2002-2003. It was a worrying drop for Peter Reid’s side though – a fall of 10 positions on their previous two seasons.

It was a day of parties and celebration at Highbury. Arsenal’s midweek magic at Old Trafford had meant they’d won the double for the second time in four years. Thierry Henry scored twice in an entertaining 4-3 final day victory over Everton to pip Alan Shearer and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink to the Golden Boot award. It was the first of four occasions that the Frenchman would come out on top in this race. At the end of the match, Tony Adams lifted aloft the Barclaycard Premiership title which confirmed Arsenal were back at the summit of English football. Adams and Lee Dixon would announce their retirements from professional football shortly after the celebrations had concluded.

Another player saying farewell was Matt Le Tissier. ‘Saint Le Tiss’ had struggled with injuries for the past couple of seasons and had already played his last game for the club. However, he received a guard of honour and presentations on-field before Southampton’s final match of the season which was a 3-1 victory over Newcastle United.

At Old Trafford, there were no trophies to lift at the end of an unsuccessful season but David Beckham did sign a new contract on the eve of a sterile goalless draw between the former champions and Charlton Athletic. Beckham would only feature in one more Premier League season before joining Real Madrid in the summer of 2003.

After 111 years, Leicester City played their final match at Filbert Street before moving to the Walkers’ Stadium (later known as the King Power Stadium). They ended on a high – beating Tottenham Hotspur 2-1. The ground was demolished a year later. Elsewhere, Leeds United overtook Chelsea on the final day to finish fifth after beating Middlesbrough 1-0. David O’Leary was sacked though in June and Blackburn’s 3-0 triumph against Fulham ensured a top-10 finish on their return to the top-flight.

What else happened in May 2002?

  • Tragedy hits the rail industry with the fatal accident at Potters Bar railway station. A points’ failure was to blame, leaving seven dead and 76 injured.
  • After 21 years, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s award-winning musical “Cats” appears for the last time of its original run at London’s West End. It is revived in 2014.
  • Star Wars Episode II – Attack of the Clones debuts at cinemas.
  • Latvia wins the 2002 Eurovision Song Contest, held in Tallinn, Estonia.
  • African newcomers Senegal stun holders France to win 1-0 in the opening match of the 2002 FIFA World Cup.
  • After 26 years of occupation by Indonesia, East Timor regains its independence.
  • McLaren’s David Coulthard wins the Monaco Grand Prix for the second time in his career. It is the last time a team other than Ferrari will win a Formula One event for 10 months.

Premier League Rewind: 4th-5th March 2000

Results: Manchester United 1-1 Liverpool FC, Derby County 4-0 Wimbledon, Everton 1-1 Sheffield Wednesday, Newcastle United 0-1 Chelsea, Southampton 1-1 Middlesbrough, Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 Bradford City, Watford 1-2 West Ham United, Aston Villa 1-1 Arsenal, Leeds United 3-0 Coventry City, Leicester City 5-2 Sunderland

Manchester United were the favourites to retain their Premier League title in the early weeks of March 2000 but they were still under pressure from David O’Leary’s energised and exciting Leeds United side. Weeks earlier, Sir Alex Ferguson’s team had opened up a five-point lead with a game in hand after winning at Elland Road. However, dropped points away at Wimbledon had seen Leeds stay in striking touch and that would continue on the weekend of 4th-5th March.

The Red Devils’ were first in action for the weekend with a lunchtime kick-off against bitter rivals Liverpool FC. Gerard Houllier had insisted in the build-up to this match that his side were ready to inflict defeat on their great enemy. They came very close to achieving his prediction. Patrik Berger scored a spectacular free-kick to give the visitors’ the lead. United’s equaliser was controversial. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer went unpunished for a high challenge on Sami Hyypia. Whilst the Finn was off receiving treatment, Solskjaer scored the equaliser in stoppage-time at the end of the first half. Only some wasteful finishing by Liverpool FC forwards Titi Camara, Erik Meijer and the returning Michael Owen ensured this encounter would finish all-square.

So, Leeds had the chance to close the gap to four points by the end of the weekend. They achieved this 24 hours’ later with a comfortable 3-0 victory over Coventry City who were still winless away from Highfield Road. The impressive Harry Kewell opened the scoring in the season where he was crowned the PFA Young Player of the Year and Michael Bridges added another two to his growing tally in his only injury-free season in Yorkshire.

Third-place Arsenal were unable to cash in on Manchester United’s dropped points at home as they held to a 1-1 draw by Aston Villa on the same Sunday afternoon. In fact, it looked like they were heading for defeat at Villa Park for the third successive campaign before a rare goal from Lee Dixon in the 84th minute rescued a point.

So Chelsea finished the weekend in third spot and therefore in the final qualification spot for next season’s UEFA Champions League. Gus Poyet scored the solitary goal in a 1-0 away win at Newcastle United. Newcastle would be sick of the sight of the Uruguayan by the season’s end. A month later, it was his double that beat the Magpies’ in the FA Cup semi-finals.

A month earlier, Leicester City had taken a gamble to sign Stan Collymore. Collymore’s time at Aston Villa had not been good. He had spectacularly fallen out with John Gregory, been treated for depression and attracted unsavoury off-the-field headlines. Days before the club’s televised Super Sunday match with Sunderland; reports emerged of an incident at a hotel in La Manga where Collymore had let off a fire extinguisher during a training camp. The team was kicked out of the resort they had been staying in and the forward was fined two weeks’ wages. Manager Martin O’Neill was unimpressed, saying: “I think it is a warning to Stan. This, in footballing parlance, is a yellow card.”

Collymore responded in the best possible fashion, scoring a brilliant hat-trick in Leicester’s 5-2 victory over the Black Cats’ – his finest display in the Premier League for several seasons. The match also saw Emile Heskey score his final goal for the club. He would be transferred weeks later to Liverpool FC for over £11 million.

The status at the bottom of the table remained unchanged but the plight of Wimbledon was becoming evident. A week after the club’s charismatic guvnor Sam Hamann had left the club, the Dons looked lost away at Derby County. They completely caved in during the last 25 minutes at Pride Park, losing 4-0 and showing a lack of urgency that would signal all was not good between manager Egil Olsen and his players. Wimbledon ended the weekend in 16th and just three points clear of the drop zone. Those spots were occupied by Bradford City, Sheffield Wednesday and Watford.

What else happened in March 2000?

  • Vladimir Putin is elected as the new President of Russia.
  • The PlayStation 2 is released in Japan. Several months later, it becomes the best-selling games console of all-time.
  • There is a change in the official currency of Ecuador with the US dollar replacing the Ecuadorian Sucre.
  • Channel 5 wins the rights to screen Home and Away in the UK, meaning its affiliation with ITV ends. ITV had broadcasted the Aussie soap since 1989.
  • 9-2 shot Looks Like Trouble wins the Cheltenham Gold Cup, ridden by Richard Johnson.
  • Macy Gray, Travis and Robbie Williams are the big winners at the BRITS, winning two awards each.

Premier League Rewind: 18th-20th September 1993

Results: Blackburn Rovers 0-2 West Ham United, Coventry City 1-1 Chelsea, Everton 2-0 Liverpool FC, Ipswich Town 1-2 Aston Villa, Leeds United 2-1 Sheffield United, Queens Park Rangers 2-2 Norwich City, Sheffield Wednesday 2-0 Southampton, Swindon Town 2-2 Newcastle United, Tottenham Hotspur 5-0 Oldham Athletic, Manchester United 1-0 Arsenal, Wimbledon 1-0 Manchester City

The 1993-1994 Premier League season was starting to slowly take shape in September 1993. There were some big games on the weekend of 18th-20th September which produced some interesting stories.

The biggest match-up was the latest in the rivalry of the Merseyside derby between Everton and Liverpool FC. Both sides had made positive starts to the campaign and were in the chasing pack behind early season pacesetters Manchester United and Arsenal. In the 27th minute, the home side took the lead which led to some extraordinary scenes afterwards. Andy Hinchcliffe’s corner was cleared at the near post by Steve McManaman. It only managed to find Mark Ward, who rifled a shot into the bottom corner of the net. As he went off celebrating, Liverpool goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar got into a heated confrontation with McManaman which saw handbags thrown and luckily no more than that. Tony Cottee’s goal five minutes from time ensured Howard Kendall’s men would finish the weekend inside the top four.

With Manchester United and Arsenal playing each other on the Sunday afternoon, Blackburn Rovers had the opportunity to take top spot briefly. They missed their chance at home to newly-promoted West Ham United. A goal in each half from Lee Chapman and Trevor Morley spearheaded the Hammers’ to an unlikely 2-0 victory at Ewood Park. It was already Blackburn’s second home loss of the campaign.

It was a miserable weekend for Oldham Athletic, who took a pasting at free-flowing Tottenham Hotspur. Ossie Ardiles loved his sides to attack and they did this at White Hart Lane to devastating effect. Inside nine minutes, Oldham were 3-0 down and ended up losing 5-0. Teddy Sheringham continued his fine start to the season, scoring twice. Sheringham’s goals kept Tottenham in the early season mix. Unfortunately, injury would strike a month later which seriously hurt his side’s form afterwards.

Fresh from scoring the winning goal a week earlier to beat the reigning champions, Gavin Peacock was at it again at Highfield Road. He opened the scoring in Chelsea’s 1-1 draw with Coventry City. Steve Morgan equalised for a share of the spoils. The points were also shared in games involving Swindon Town and Newcastle United at the County Ground and Queens Park Rangers vs. Norwich City at Loftus Road. Les Ferdinand rescued a point for QPR in their 2-2 draw with the Canaries. His 83rd minute goal denied Norwich another impressive success away from home.

On Super Sunday, the top two met at Old Trafford. Manchester United bounced back to winning ways with a stunning free-kick from Eric Cantona good enough to beat Arsenal 1-0. It took the Red Devils’ three points clear at the top of the table. The action ended with Wimbledon beating Manchester City by the same scoreline on Monday Night Football. Robbie Earle scored the only goal to inflict a first defeat on Brian Horton as City manager.

What else happened in September 1993?

  • The 1,000th Boeing 747 jumbo jet is produced.
  • Sci-Fi drama “The X-Files” makes its debut on American television, launching the careers of Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny.
  • Pete Sampras and Steffi Graf are the men’s and women’s singles champions at the US Open at Flushing Meadows.
  • The USA beat Europe 15-13 to win the 30th Ryder Cup at The Belfry.
  • Nearly 10,000 people are killed when an earthquake strikes the region of Latur, India which measures 6.4 on the Richter scale.
  • In Washington, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestine Leader Yasser Arafat famously shake hands after signing the Oslo I Accord; temporarily bringing peace to the Middle East.

Premier League Rewind: 17th-20th January 1998

Results: Barnsley 1-0 Crystal Palace, Blackburn Rovers 5-0 Aston Villa, Coventry City 2-2 Arsenal, Leeds United 1-2 Sheffield Wednesday, Leicester City 0-0 Liverpool FC, Newcastle United 2-1 Bolton Wanderers, Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 West Ham United, Wimbledon 0-0 Derby County, Everton 3-1 Chelsea, Southampton 1-0 Manchester United, Liverpool FC 1-0 Newcastle United

On the weekend of 17th-20th January 1998, no-one seemed likely to catch Manchester United. A fifth Premier League title in six seasons looked more likely for the Red Devils’ with every passing week. However, every top team has a bogey ground over the years and theirs was most definitely the Dell.

Having been beaten in April 1996 by the ‘grey shirt’ debacle and then humiliated 6-3 just six months later, Sir Alex Ferguson must have feared the Monday Night visit to the south coast. He was right too. Kevin Davies headed the hosts’ infront inside three minutes before an extraordinary display from Paul Jones, who made save after save to inflict back-to-back away defeats on the champions. It was the third successive season Manchester United would leave Southampton’s ground empty-handed.

Chelsea had been among the main pursuers but their away form was a real cause of concern. This was highlighted in a Super Sunday trip to Goodison Park to take on a struggling Everton side. Although Tore Andre Flo gave Chelsea the lead, that advantage was cancelled out just two minutes later by skipper Gary Speed. Duncan Ferguson and a Michael Duberry own goal completed a positive afternoon for Howard Kendall’s side. It would turn out to be Speed’s final match in Everton colours. He was sold to Newcastle United weeks later.

The Magpies’ were welcoming back their own star asset. Alan Shearer had sustained a serious knee injury in a pre-season tournament at Goodison Park in late July. He came back as a second-half substitute in the home fixture with Bolton Wanderers. Typically, Shearer had a role to play in the winning goal which was scored by Temuri Ketsbaia. The Georgian then lost control of his emotions, ripping his shirt off, before repeating kicking an advertising hoarding. It was a strange reaction but the 2-1 win was a vital result for Newcastle.

After a searing start of their own, Blackburn Rovers’ momentum had been checked in recent weeks and they managed just one win in January 1998. However, it was a great performance to trounce Aston Villa 5-0 at Ewood Park. It meant they defeated Villa by an aggregate score of 9-0 over the two matches they played against each other.

There was a bad-tempered match between Coventry City and Arsenal at Highfield Road. The Sky Blues’ were in excellent form and Gordon Strachan was about to win a Manager of the Month award for his achievements. They had beaten Manchester United a month earlier and held Arsenal up in a 2-2 draw. Both Patrick Vieira and Paul Williams saw red. Dion Dublin’s penalty ensured a share of the spoils against a tired Arsenal side that had gone to penalties earlier that week to overcome plucky Port Vale in the FA Cup.

North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur were also involved in a tempestuous game that weekend. Jurgen Klinsmann’s first goal since returning to the club was overshadowed by a red card for West Ham’s Samassi Abou. Abou proceeded to manhandle referee David Elleray and he had to be helped from the field by manager Harry Redknapp. Tottenham’s Colin Calderwood decided to get involved in the confrontation which saw the pair nearly come to blows. For the record, Tottenham won 1-0.

There was one match extra on this weekend and a third clash in little over a month between Liverpool FC and Newcastle United. Michael Owen scored the only goal in Liverpool’s 1-0 victory to complete a hat-trick of wins for the Reds’ over Dalglish’s Toon Army. This game had initially been scheduled for 31 August 1997 but was postponed as a mark of respect following the death of Princess Diana in a car accident in Paris.

What else happened in January 1998?

  • US president Bill Clinton’s integrity is called into question as reports emerge of his alleged affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Later in the month in a live statement to the American nation, Clinton makes the famous vow: “I want to say one thing to the American people; I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.”
  • A life imprisonment is handed down to Ramzi Yousef for his role in the first bombing of the World Trade Centre in 1993.
  • Manchester United footballer David Beckham and Spice Girl Victoria Adams (Posh Spice) announce their engagement.
  • France’s new national sports stadium, the Stade de France in Paris is officially opened ahead of that summer’s World Cup.
  • Titanic, Dame Judi Dench and Peter Fonda are among the winners at the 55th Golden Globes.
  • The Denver Broncos beat the Green Bay Packers 31-24 to win Super Bowl XXXII.
  • Hayley Patterson, British soap’s first transgender character, is first seen in Coronation Street.

Premier League Rewind: 15th – 17th August 1992

Results: Arsenal 2-4 Norwich City, Chelsea 1-1 Oldham Athletic, Coventry City 2-1 Middlesbrough, Crystal Palace 3-3 Blackburn Rovers, Everton 1-1 Sheffield Wednesday, Ipswich Town 1-1 Aston Villa, Leeds United 2-1 Wimbledon, Sheffield United 2-1 Manchester United, Southampton 0-0 Tottenham Hotspur, Nottingham Forest 1-0 Liverpool FC, Manchester City 1-1 QPR

After all the hype, the anticipation and the build-up, a new dawn for English football began on Saturday 15th August 1992 – the very first day of action in the newly-formed FA Premier League.

18 of the 22 clubs took part on the first day of action and there was a fast start at Bramwall Lane, where the first goal in the league’s history was scored by Brian Deane of Sheffield United. His header after just five minutes opened the scoring against title favourites Manchester United. Deane added another goal in the second half as the Blades came away with a 2-1 victory and gave the Red Devils plenty of food for thought.

Arsenal were also among the bookies’ favourites for the inaugural title. English champions in 1989 and 1991, the Gunners started against Norwich City, who had just managed to avoid relegation the previous campaign. Whilst the North Bank standing terrace had been demolished for an all-seater replacement, the controversial ‘Highbury Mural’ took its place. It was created to hide the various cranes and construction works that would be in place during its restructure. The team found no inspiration. In fact, they crumbled from a 2-0 winning position to lose 4-2. Norwich would end the opening weekend on top of the table.

The defending champions were Leeds United and they started off with an edgy 2-1 home win over Wimbledon. Lee Chapman scored both goals for Howard Wilkinson’s side. Home form wouldn’t be too much of an issue in their title defence but their away record was terrible and would totally derail any long-term title tilt in 1992/1993.

Blackburn Rovers were new to the top-flight, having been promoted via the playoffs. They had spent big too that summer, smashing the British transfer record to sign Southampton striker Alan Shearer, who had been courted by Manchester United. Shearer immediately started to repay the first instalments of the fee. He scored twice at Selhurst Park but Blackburn were to be denied an opening win in the blazing South London sunshine. Simon Osborn scored in the last minute to ensure a share of the spoils for Crystal Palace.

“A Whole New Ball Game” began a day later with the first live game televised by Sky Sports. Teddy Sheringham had the honour of scoring the first live televised goal in the Premier League. His strike was enough for Nottingham Forest to defeat Liverpool FC 1-0 at the City Ground on Ford Super Sunday. It would prove to be Sheringham’s final goal as a Forest player. Days later, he was transferred to Tottenham Hotspur.

The final weekend concluded with Manchester City vs Queens Park Rangers on the Monday Night Football. David White scored from close range to give the home side the lead. This was swiftly cancelled out in the second half by an Andy Sinton blockbuster. 1-1 was the final score at Maine Road.

30 goals were scored on the first weekend of Premier League football. The omens were good for a fruitful opening season in the new English top-flight.

What else happened in August 1992?

  • David Gower plays in his final cricket test match for England.
  • The 25th Olympic Games come to a conclusion in Barcelona. Linford Christie, Sally Gunnell and Chris Boardman are among the Gold Medal winners for Great Britain.
  • 35 people lose their lives as Hurricane Andrew hits South Florida.
  • Canada, Mexico, and the United States announce a deal is reached on the North American Free Trade Agreement.
  • Intimate photographs of the Duchess of York and a Texan businessman, John Bryan, are published in the Daily Mirror.
  • Nigel Mansell wins the FIA Formula One World Championship after finishing second to Ayrton Senna at the Hungarian Grand Prix.