Category Archives: Shock Results

Shock Results: Coventry City 5-0 Blackburn Rovers (December 1995)

Goalscorers: David Busst 40, Dion Dublin 60, David Rennie 64, Peter Ndlovu 74, John Salako 88

Teams:

Coventry City: Steve Ogrizovic, David Rennie, David Busst, Marcus Hall, Ally Pickering, Paul Telfer, Chris Whyte, Kevin Richardson, John Salako, Peter Ndlovu, Dion Dublin

Blackburn Rovers: Tim Flowers, Graeme Le Saux, Henning Berg, Nicky Marker, David Batty, Tim Sherwood, Lars Bohinen (Billy McKinlay 45), Stuart Ripley, Mike Newell (Paul Warhurst 33), Alan Shearer, Chris Sutton

Referee: Steve Dunn, Attendance: 13,409

Coventry City hosted Blackburn Rovers in December 1995 desperate for a win. They were still in single digits in terms of points and hadn’t achieved a maximum three points since beating Manchester City in their second game of the campaign. Reigning Premier League champions Blackburn Rovers were not making the best of title defences but were unbeaten in three games. However, they were yet to win on their travels in the top-flight in 1995-1996.

Having ended up on the wrong end of a seven-goal thriller five nights earlier at Hillsborough, Ron Atkinson’s side kicked off bottom of the Premier League. Blackburn came into the match having just thrashed Norwegian champions Rosenborg 4-1 in the UEFA Champions League group stages. So, it was a huge surprise to see what would happen next, despite Rovers’ lack of form away from Ewood Park. It was a frosty and chilly afternoon at Highfield Road and Steve Dunn had to give the pitch a late inspection to ensure play could go ahead. Atkinson had a defensive crisis with the likes of David Burrows and Paul Williams out injured. He had recruited 34-year-old Chris Whyte on-loan from Birmingham City and he went straight into the side.

Coventry did the majority of the early running and it was the home side who took the lead. Marcus Hall produced a deep cross, Peter Ndlovu headed the ball across goal and central defender David Busst was in the right place to nod the ball past Tim Flowers. Blackburn had beaten Coventry in the reverse fixture 5-1 back in September but now it was the champions’ who were taking the pasting. Dion Dublin nearly made it 2-0 in the opening moments of the second half but was denied at point-blank range by Flowers. 15 minutes later, he did double the Sky Blues’ lead, flicking the ball over himself, leaving Henning Berg on the turf and slicing the ball past Flowers reach.

Number three arrived four minutes later. Kevin Richardson’s free-kick was headed in at the near post by David Rennie. Ndlovu, who was a constant pest all afternoon, made it 4-0. He skipped past three brittle Blackburn challenges and knocked in after his lovely run. Two minutes from time, John Salako completed the rout, smashing home after Blackburn struggled to clear a deep cross from Ally Pickering.

Atkinson said afterwards: “I have always thought we were capable of putting a run together. We defended very well and didn’t give Blackburn a look in.”

Coventry ended up surviving on the final day of the season, whilst Blackburn had to wait until mid-January for their first away win which came at Queens Park Rangers. They had to settle for a final finishing position of seventh but Alan Shearer did win the Golden Boot for a second successive season with 31 goals.

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Shock Results: Aston Villa 3-1 Manchester United (August 1995)

Goalscorers: Ian Taylor 14, Mark Draper 27, Dwight Yorke 36 PEN, David Beckham 82

Teams:

Aston Villa: Mark Bosnich, Alan Wright, Gareth Southgate, Ugo Ehiogu, Paul McGrath, Gary Charles, Ian Taylor, Andy Townsend, Mark Draper, Dwight Yorke (Riccardo Scimeca 86), Savo Milosevic (Tommy Johnson 50)

Manchester United: Peter Schmeichel, Paul Parker, Denis Irwin, Gary Pallister (John O’Kane 59), Gary Neville, Phil Neville (David Beckham 45), Roy Keane, Nicky Butt, Lee Sharpe, Paul Scholes, Brian McClair

Referee: Robbie Hart, Attendance: 34,655

Manchester United felt like a wounded club in the summer of 1995. Having won the double in 1994, they ended up empty-handed one season later.

Alex Ferguson’s response was to sell star players Paul Ince, Andrei Kanchelskis and Mark Hughes. Ince moved to a new culture of football of Serie A with Inter Milan, Kanchelskis switched to Everton and Hughes moved to Chelsea. With injuries keeping out Steve Bruce, Andy Cole and Ryan Giggs, plus Eric Cantona’s lengthy suspension, it was a much-changed Red Devils line-up that travelled to Villa Park on the opening weekend of the 1995-1996 campaign. Aston Villa had undergone a huge squad overhaul themselves. The likes of Ray Houghton, Dean Saunders, Dalian Atkinson and Kevin Richardson were discarded and in came Gareth Southgate, Mark Draper and from Yugoslavia, Savo Milosevic. Villa produced a quality display on a sun-drenched afternoon in Birmingham.

Brian Little opted for a three-man defence, comprising of Southgate, Ugo Ehiogu and Paul McGrath. This allowed the more attack-minded Gary Charles to push forward and his tactics worked, especially as Charles played a significant part in the opening goal on 14 minutes. His dangerous cross into the penalty area was turned in by Ian Taylor. Taylor was in his first full season at the club after moving from Sheffield Wednesday in December 1994. He was already a hero of the Holte End.

It was a speedy counter-attack that led to Villa’s second. The new strike partnership of Dwight Yorke and Milosevic combined to tee-up Draper on 26 minutes for a debut goal. United were struggling without many of their regulars and a third goal came nine minutes before the interval. Goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel fouled Milosevic in the penalty area. Yorke routinely converted the spot-kick to make the scoreline 3-0. It was already a result that would raise plenty of eyebrows.

Ferguson probably peeled the paint off the visitors’ dressing room walls at half-time. He made a number of tactical changes, including reverting to a traditional 4-4-2 formation. He brought on David Beckham at half-time and his long-range strike with eight minutes left at least ensured some reward for a better second half display. However, the damage had been inflicted long before Beckham’s very first Premier League goal.

Ferguson defended his team in the media but the written press had a field day and BBC Match of the Day pundit Alan Hansen famously said a few hours after the result: “He has to buy players. You can’t win anything with kids!”

Manchester United would end the season with their second league and cup double in three seasons.

Shock Results: Tottenham Hotspur 1-2 Coventry City (May 1997)

Goalscorers: Dion Dublin 12, Paul Williams 38, Paul McVeigh 44

Teams:

Tottenham Hotspur: Espen Baardsen, Justin Edinburgh, John Scales, Sol Campbell, Stephen Carr, Ramon Vega, Jason Dozzell, Paul McVeigh (Neale Finn 73), Andy Sinton (Jamie Clapham 23), Ruel Fox, Teddy Sheringham

Coventry City: Steve Ogrizovic, Richard Shaw, Paul Williams, David Burrows, Paul Telfer, Kevin Richardson, Gary McAllister, Peter Ndlovu, Noel Whelan (Eoin Jess 33), Dion Dublin, Darren Huckerby

Referee: Martin Bodenham, Attendance: 33,029

Coventry City were up against it going into the final day of the 1996-1997 season. For the 10th time in 30 years, they needed to win their final game to have any hope of remaining in the top-flight. They were in this position after a 2-1 home defeat the previous weekend to Derby County. Traffic problems on the motorways meant the game kicked off 15 minutes later than the other 3pm kick-offs, which would mean for plenty of nerves for their rivals in distress at Selhurst Park and Elland Road.

Coventry led inside 12 minutes. The talismanic Dion Dublin was given a free header by some fairly awful Tottenham marking. He made no mistake in guiding Gary McAllister’s cross past the Tottenham reserve goalkeeper Espen Baardsen. There was plenty at stake and it was shown by the will and aggression Coventry possessed in their game. Sometimes, it threatened to get out of control. Six yellow cards were dished out inside the opening half an hour and there were some needless scuffles between both sets of players. This was a game that saw nothing on the line for Tottenham. They were going to finish an uninspiring 10th in Gerry Francis’ second full season in the dugout.

Then, six minutes before half-time, Coventry crucially extended their lead. McAllister was once again the architect. The Scot, experiencing his first Highfield Road season after leaving Leeds United the previous summer produced a decisive corner into the box. Defender Paul Williams volleyed home to give Sky Blues’ supporters the chance to dream of another amazing escape act.

Despite having little to play for, Tottenham weren’t going to completely keel over and hand the game to their opponents. Two minutes before half-time, Teddy Sheringham’s free-kick struck the woodwork and the rebound fell nicely for Paul McVeigh to score his first-ever goal for Tottenham.

That started the nerves for the Coventry supporters and they grew throughout the second half, especially when the final scores came in at the other games. Middlesbrough were consigned to the drop after drawing at Leeds, whilst Sunderland had lost late on to Wimbledon. It meant if Coventry could hold on for the last 14 minutes, they would remain a Premier League club. However, it took all of Steve Ogrizovic’s experience and knowhow as time and again, the veteran denied Tottenham an equaliser with a string of fine saves.

When referee Martin Bodenham blew his whistle at full-time, it confirmed Coventry City had survived again against the odds. Afterwards, manager Gordon Strachan said: “I enjoyed watching the players enjoy themselves celebrating with each other. At the end you feel nothing for yourself, you feel for the players and the fans and everyone associated with the club.”

Coventry stayed in the top-flight for another four years before succumbing to the inevitable in 2001. They are sadly now in the bottom tier of the Football League.

Shock Results: Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-0 Manchester United (January 2004)

Goalscorer: Kenny Miller 66

Teams:

Wolverhampton Wanderers: Michael Oakes, Paul Butler, Jody Craddock, Denis Irwin, Richard Naylor, Alex Rae, Paul Ince, Shaun Newton, Mark Kennedy, Steffen Iversen (Ioan Ganea 80), Kenny Miller

Manchester United: Tim Howard, Mikael Silvestre, John O’Shea, Rio Ferdinand (Wes Brown 50), Phil Neville (Diego Forlan 68), Quinton Fortune, Roy Keane, Darren Fletcher (David Bellion 65), Paul Scholes, Cristiano Ronaldo, Ruud van Nistelrooy

Referee: Andy D’Urso, Attendance: 29,396

In January 2004, Manchester United travelled to bottom-placed Wolverhampton Wanderers with two targets. Score plenty of goals and increase their points lead over unbeaten Arsenal. They left Molineux with no goals, no points and lost total momentum in their bid for a ninth Premier League title.

United had drawn 0-0 a week earlier against Newcastle United which had seen Arsenal cut their advantage at the top of the table to just two points. By contrast, Wolves had won just four games all season and looked destined for an instant return to the First Division. However, they ripped up the Premier League formbook with this performance.

The visitors’ made the trip to the Black Country without Ryan Giggs who was missing with a back injury. It would also be Rio Ferdinand’s swansong for the season. He was due to start his eight-month ban after this match for missing a drugs test back in mid-September. The England defender wouldn’t finish the game either. He sustained an early injury after an accidental collision with Kenny Miller and limped off five minutes into the second half.

Predictably, it was Sir Alex Ferguson’s side that produced the best of the opportunities in a scoreless first half. Ruud van Nistelrooy was the major threat but for once, the Dutchman was wasteful infront of goal. He sent a spectacular overhead kick narrowly over the crossbar midway through the first half and then, four minutes before the interval, incredibly heading over the bar when virtually on the goal-line to nod home.

Dave Jones’ side has defended resolutely and came out of their shell in the second half. In the 48th minute, ex-Manchester United star Paul Ince drove a shot from 25 yards that struck the post. 28 minutes later, they produced the unexpected and took the lead. Miller had been a threat all day and when the league leaders’ lost possession carelessly from their own throw-in, the Scot picked up the loose ball. He left Wes Brown trailing in his wake and as he bore down on-goal, kept his composure to slide a cool finish past American shot-stopper Tim Howard.

Ferguson’s side were shell-shocked. They dominated possession but even after falling behind, didn’t carve out enough moments to get back into the match. The closest they came was through substitute David Bellion. He found some space inside the penalty area with 16 minutes left to play but was kept out by Wolves goalkeeper Michael Oakes.

There were scenes of mass celebration inside the ground at full-time. Wolverhampton Wanderers would ultimately be relegated at the end of the season but it was one of those “I was there” moments for the lucky home supporters at Molineux. This was the day where the champions were left stunned.

Shock Results: Liverpool FC 1-2 Blackpool (October 2010)

Goalscorers: Charlie Adam 29 PEN, Luke Varney 45, Sotirios Kyrgiakos 53

Teams:

Liverpool FC: Pepe Reina, Jamie Carragher, Sotirios Kyrgiakos, Martin Skrtel, Glen Johnson, Christian Poulsen (Milan Jovanovic 60), Raul Meireles, Joe Cole (Maxi Rodriguez 88), Steven Gerrard, Dirk Kuyt, Fernando Torres (David Ngog 10)

Blackpool: Matt Gilks, Craig Cathcart (Dekal Keinan 20), Neal Eardley (Matt Phillips 46), Stephen Crainey, Ian Evatt, Charlie Adam, Elliot Grandin (Keith Southern 63), David Vaughan, Gary Taylor-Fletcher, DJ Campbell, Luke Varney

Referee: Mike Jones, Attendance: 43,156

In October 2010, storm clouds were gathering around Anfield. Liverpool FC started this match against Blackpool in the bottom three of the Premier League, having mustered just one win from their opening six matches. The Reds’ had also been embarrassingly dumped out of the League Cup on penalties by Northampton Town.

It wasn’t the start that reigning LMA Manager of the Year Roy Hodgson was expecting. With the club’s sale being challenged in the courts by unpopular American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett, there was gloom all around the red half of Merseyside.

Blackpool arrived with two away wins already under their belt and Ian Holloway’s side were looking forward to their first league trip to Anfield since 1971. Despite back-to-back defeats, a win would take the Tangerines’ into ninth place in the table. The mood around the home supporters was not helped by the loss of star forward Fernando Torres to injury inside 10 minutes. As he trooped down the tunnel, Blackpool’s confidence grew and they nearly took the lead shortly afterwards when DJ Campbell guided a half-volley only fractionally wide of the far post.

In the 29th minute, the visitors’ got a golden opportunity to silence The Kop. Glen Johnson’s clumsy challenge on Luke Varney earned Blackpool a penalty. Johnson protested his innocence but Mike Jones rightfully gave the spot-kick. Under a chorus of pressure, Charlie Adam kept his composure and drilled his penalty underneath Pepe Reina’s body to give Holloway’s side a shock but deserved lead.

Liverpool were dismal in the first 45 minutes and the scoreline was about to get worse. Gary Taylor-Fletcher’s superb angled pass played in the dangerous Varney, who made no mistake from 12-yards out and put Blackpool supporters into dreamland. The home fans booed their own players off at the half-time whistle. This was turning into another painful afternoon for the Anfield faithful.

Hodgson had to revive his underperforming stars at the interval and they reduced the deficit in the opening eight minutes of the second half. Steven Gerrard’s free-kick was powered home by Sotirios Kyrgiakos. The Greek came close again later on from a similar routine but was denied by a fine stop from Matt Gilks.

Blackpool held on for a famous win – their first at Anfield since 1969 and they went on to complete a league double over LFC. It was Liverpool’s worst start to a season in 57 years and Hodgson eventually left in January. Kenny Dalglish returned to the dugout and they would rally to finish sixth. Despite thrilling neutrals all season, Blackpool were relegated on the final day of the season. This though is a day their fans will never forget.

Shock Results: Manchester United 2-3 Blackburn Rovers (December 2011)

Goalscorer: Yakubu 16 PEN, 51, Dimitar Berbatov 52, 62, Grant Hanley 81

Teams:

Manchester United: David de Gea, Patrice Evra, Michael Carrick, Phil Jones, Rafael (Will Keane 85), Ji-Sung Park, Antonio Valencia, Nani, Dimitar Berbatov, Javier Hernandez (Anderson 46), Danny Welbeck

Blackburn Rovers: Mark Bunn, Grant Hanley, Jason Lowe, Christopher Samba, Adam Henley, Radosav Petrovic, Ruben Rochina (Josh Morris 55), Mauro Formica (David Goodwillie 85), Steven N’Zonzi, Morten Gamst Pedersen, Yakubu (Jordan Slew 89)

Referee: Mike Dean, Attendance: 75,146

Blackburn Rovers arrived at Old Trafford on New Years’ Eve 2011 in real trouble. Despite a battling draw on Boxing Day at Anfield, they were bottom of the table and favourites to be relegated. Not only did Steve Kean have to deal with this problem, he was struggling to win over supporters who never seemed to accept him as the club’s manager.

By contrast, Manchester United were in devastating form. They had scored 10 goals in two matches without conceding and this was a chance to start 2012 as the league leaders. It was Sir Alex Ferguson’s 70th birthday. Unfortunately, his side decided to be rather charitable and gave him a nasty birthday surprise.

With the taxing festive programme, Ferguson elected to rotate his squad. Michael Carrick played as a makeshift centre-back whilst Wayne Rooney was rested. His move to leave his top goalscorer in the stands backfired. Blackburn made the better start and led after 13 minutes. From a free-kick, Dimitar Berbatov grappled with Christopher Samba and hauled the central defender to the ground. Mike Dean had no hesitation in pointing to the penalty spot. Yakubu took his time and converted the resulting spot-kick.

Whether it was the gloomy Manchester weather or the lunchtime kick-off but it took the reigning champions far too long to wake up. They only created half-chances in the first 45 minutes. Blackburn goalkeeper Mark Bunn only had two saves of real note to make. At half-time, Javier Hernandez was withdrawn and replaced by Anderson as Ferguson looked for more all-round balance.

However, Blackburn went 2-0 up six minutes after the restart as Yakubu struck again. He took advantage of some static defending, largely from ex-Blackburn defender Phil Jones. The Nigerian prodded the ball between de Gea’s legs to shock the Theatre of Dreams. Before the visitors’ could relax though, United immediately responded. Berbatov, who had scored a treble on Boxing Day at home to Wigan Athletic, made amends for his early penalty gaffe. He nodded home from close-range after Rafael’s wayward shot ended up in his path. The Bulgarian soon equalised. Antonio Valencia left 17-year-old Adam Henley behind on the right-hand side. His cross was guided home by Berbatov for his sixth goal in three games. Surely, the home side would complete the turnaround? Not so.

With 10 minutes left, Morten Gamst Pedersen’s corner was met by 20-year-old centre-back Grant Hanley. He was physically stronger than de Gea in the air, beating him to his attempted punch with a header. It was cleared off the line, but he reacted quickest to the follow-up. United nearly pinched a point in injury-time but Jones’ goal bound effort hit his own player, Will Keane on the line. All in all, it was a slumbering display from the usually reliable Red Devils.

It was a cracking win for Blackburn but they would end the season saying their goodbyes to the Premier League. Manchester United missed out on the title on goal difference to Manchester City. This was a damaging result for their title ambitions.

Shock Results: Aston Villa 0-1 Oldham Athletic (May 1993)

Goalscorers: Nick Henry 29

Teams:

Aston Villa: Mark Bosnich, Paul McGrath, Steve Staunton, Shaun Teale, Earl Barrett, Kevin Richardson, Garry Parker (Tony Daley 61), Ray Houghton, Dwight Yorke, Dalian Atkinson, Dean Saunders

Oldham Athletic: Paul Gerrard, Steve Redmond, Craig Fleming, Richard Jobson, Gunnar Halle, Neil Pointon, Mike Milligan, Paul Bernard, Nick Henry, Ian Olney, Darren Beckford

Referee: David Allison, Attendance: 37,247

Aston Villa went into their penultimate match of the 1992-1993 season still harbouring hopes of winning the inaugural Premier League title. However, they had to beat struggling Oldham Athletic to stand any hope of catching Manchester United. Any other result and the championship would return to Old Trafford after a 26-year absence.

They were facing an Oldham side that looked dead and buried in the battle to survive. They required three wins from their last three matches to even have a hope of catching Crystal Palace or Sheffield United. The mathematics looked against Joe Royle’s side. However, no game of football has ever been written on just a piece of paper.

It was a sunny but gusty afternoon in the Midlands and it was the visitors’ who made the brighter start. Young goalkeeper Mark Bosnich, preferred to the veteran Nigel Spink was forced to make a great save after 14 minutes when facing Oldham’s Ian Olney in a one-on-one situation. The chance came from his scuffed goal-kick but he did well to make amends. Royle’s side were showing no fear despite their precarious situation in the table and deservedly took the lead in the 29th minute.

A long-ball was played up the park. Full-back Gunnar Halle had pushed forward and managed to beat Steve Staunton in the air. As Villa’s centre-backs went AWOL, Darren Beckford raced onto the knockdown. His control wasn’t great but fortunately for him and Latics’ supporters, Nick Henry had tracked the ball and scored across Bosnich’s bows to stun Villa Park.

It woke Villa up from their slumbers. Dean Saunders was desperately unlucky with a free-kick three minutes later that smashed the crossbar with Oldham goalie Paul Gerrard completely stranded. Seconds later, the former Liverpool FC forward had a volley cleared off-the-line from a corner.

As the game progressed though, Oldham started to look more comfortable. Heroic displays from the likes of Richard Jobson and Craig Fleming helped them towards a rare clean sheet. Villa’s usual creative spark was evidently missing. Ron Atkinson admitted afterwards that he had toyed with the idea of throwing some of the youngsters into the spotlight before electing to stick with the trusted combination that had got them so close, yet so far.

On the final whistle, it was Manchester United fans celebrating. Their Greater Manchester rivals had just ended their title drought and the party could begin at Old Trafford. For the record, Oldham won their final two matches and survived on the final day at the expense of Crystal Palace.

Shock Results: Arsenal 2-3 West Ham United (February 2006)

Goalscorers: Nigel Reo-Coker 25, Bobby Zamora 32, Thierry Henry 45, Matthew Etherington 80, Robert Pires 89

Teams:

Arsenal: Jens Lehmann, Johan Djourou, Philippe Senderos, Sol Campbell (Sebastian Larsson 45), Kerrea Gilbert (Mathieu Flamini 27), Gilberto Silva, Abou Diaby (Dennis Bergkamp 71), Freddie Ljungberg, Robert Pires, Thierry Henry, Robin van Persie

West Ham United: Shaka Hislop, Paul Konchesky, Danny Gabbidon, Anton Ferdinand, Clive Clarke (Carl Fletcher 76), Hayden Mullins, Nigel Reo-Coker, Yossi Benayoun (Shaun Newton 66), Matthew Etherington, Bobby Zamora (Dean Ashton 73), Marlon Harewood

Referee: Mark Halsey, Attendance: 38,216

West Ham United’s last trip to Highbury would be a visit that their fans will always remember. They capitalised on a shoddy Arsenal defensive display to claim all three points in an impressive return to the Premier League fold.

The Hammers’ had beaten Fulham in their previous match and now had new signing Dean Ashton available, although he would begin on the bench. Arsene Wenger handed a debut to his January arrival, midfielder Abou Diaby. It was Arsenal who started the stronger. In the 7th minute, Robin van Persie’s trickery almost broke the deadlock. His close-range effort crashed against the upright after carving through the Hammers’ defence.

It was the away side though who took the lead on 25 minutes. Sol Campbell’s attempt at a clearance on the halfway life was nothing short of horrific. Nigel Reo-Coker was the beneficiary. He raced clear on goal and the skipper kept his nerve to slot past Jens Lehmann. Seven minutes later, it was 2-0 and again, Campbell had to take the responsibility. Bobby Zamora was a tough competitor to face but the way he shrugged off Campbell’s advances in the penalty area was surprising. With the defender on the floor, Zamora proceeded to curl his effort beautifully into the Arsenal net.

The home side needed a response and they grabbed a goal back right on the stroke of half-time. After a brief scramble, Robert Pires struck a low shot through a crowd of players and into the back of the net. Replays later confirmed that Pires’ effort did take a deflection off Thierry Henry. This goal gave the Frenchman the league goals record for Arsenal, overtaking Cliff Bastin’s total of 150.

Campbell disappeared at half-time and wouldn’t emerge for the second half. Wenger later confirmed that he had requested to be substituted as he wasn’t in the right frame of mind. He wouldn’t play for the first-team again until mid-April. It meant youngster Sebastian Larsson got a rare opportunity and more reshuffling was made to the defence.

Arsenal started the second half with the same command as they demonstrated in the first half but once again, it didn’t produce them with a goal. Pires and Freddie Ljungberg both wasted good chances and Van Persie constantly caused problems from set-pieces. It was West Ham again though who found the crucial goal and the timing was massive. Larsson was caught in possession and after some lax play from Phillipe Senderos; Matthew Etherington stretched the lead to 3-1.

Pires pulled a goal back as injury-time beckoned but the Hammers held on for a hard-fought victory and their first at Highbury since a Don Hutchinson winner in March 1995.

Shock Results: Cardiff City 3-2 Manchester City (August 2013)

Goalscorers: Edin Dzeko 51, Aron Gunnarsson 59, Fraizer Campbell 78, 86, Alvaro Negredo 90

Teams:

Cardiff City: David Marshall, Ben Turner, Steven Caulker, Andrew Taylor, Matthew Connolly, Kim Bo-Kyung (Jordon Mutch 90), Gary Medel, Aron Gunnarsson, Peter Whittingham, Fraizer Campbell (Andreas Cornelius 90), Craig Bellamy (Don Cowie 83)

Manchester City: Joe Hart, Joleon Lescott, Javi Garcia, Gael Clichy, Pablo Zabaleta, Fernandinho (James Milner 77), Yaya Toure, David Silva, Jesus Navas (Samir Nasri 55), Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko (Alvaro Negredo 69)

Referee: Lee Probert, Attendance: 27,068

This was Cardiff City’s first home game in the Premier League and it couldn’t have been much harder than against a highly-fancied Manchester City side. Manuel Pellegrini was the new manager of the Citizens’ and he started brilliantly with a convincing 4-0 win over Newcastle United. This though was a lesson for the Chilean that English football was not going to be a walk in the park.

Cardiff might have lost 2-0 on the opening weekend away to West Ham United but they were determined to put in a performance than would send the fans home happy. They did more than that. The hosts started full of energy and running and controlled the first 30 minutes. However, they struggled to trouble England number one goalkeeper Joe Hart. Peter Whittingham’s free-kick which flew wide was the closest they came to opening the scoring.

The visitors’ started to test the home defence and nearly went into the interval leading. Only last-gasp defending from Ben Turner stopped Yaya Toure from scoring. They did strike though in the early moments of the second half. 30 yards out, Edin Dzeko tried his luck and the Bosnian’s shot drove past a helpless David Marshall.

Pellegrini’s side had wrestled control but they only held onto their lead for just eight minutes. Cardiff dug deep and got a bit of fortune with their equaliser. Hart saved well from Fraizer Campbell but the rebound fell nicely to Icelandic international Aron Gunnarsson who scored the club’s first-ever Premier League goal.

The home supporters went mad for this moment but even better would follow. With 12 minutes left to play, the upset was on. Whittingham delivered a dangerous corner into the heart of the Manchester City penalty area. Hart failed to show his commanding presence and Campbell was in the right place to score from close-range. It might have come off his shoulder but he didn’t care and nor did the fans inside the Cardiff City Stadium.

Pellegrini was missing skipper Vincent Kompany from this game because of injury. Spaniard Javi Garcia had been deployed as a makeshift central defender and it is fair to say he struggled to cope in the new position. Ex-Manchester United youngster Campbell put in the best performance of his Premier League career. He added his second three minutes from time, heading home following a corner with the visiting defence once more flat-footed. Cardiff’s first win in the top-flight of English football since 1962 was secured.

Substitute Alvaro Negredo did pull a goal back in the dying moments but no-one could deny Cardiff victory. In the final reckoning, Manchester City became champions and Cardiff were relegated but on this day, this was another example that no Premier League match has ever been decided on paper.

Shock Results: Arsenal 1-2 Watford (January 2017)

Goalscorers: Younes Kaboul 10, Troy Deeney 13, Alex Iwobi 58

Teams:

Arsenal: Petr Cech, Nacho Monreal, Laurent Koscielny, Shkodran Mustafi, Gabriel, Francis Coquelin (Lucas Perez 67), Aaron Ramsey (Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain 20), Alex Iwobi, Mesut Ozil, Olivier Giroud (Theo Walcott 45), Alexis Sanchez

Watford: Heurelho Gomes, Daryl Janmaat, Craig Cathcart, Miguel Britos, Younes Kaboul, Sebastian Prodl, Tom Cleverley, Valon Behrami (Abdoulaye Doucoure 63), Etienne Capoue, Troy Deeney (Stefano Okaka 85), M’Baye Niang (Isaac Success 70)

Referee: Andre Marriner, Attendance: 60,035

At the end of January 2017, Arsenal were still holding onto faint title hopes when Watford came calling to the Emirates Stadium. Nine days earlier, the Gunners’ had beaten Burnley in dramatic circumstances due to a late penalty from the inspirational Alexis Sanchez. They were second in the table and looked to be the only side who might give Chelsea a few headaches in the closing months.

By contrast, Watford’s form was wretched ahead of this London derby. Walter Mazzarri’s side had just been dumped out of the FA Cup by League One outfit Millwall and were on a seven-game winless streak in the Premier League that stretched back to a 3-2 win over Everton in mid-December. As far as home bankers went before kick-off, you would have got long odds on a Hornets’ win in this midweek match.

However, they made a stunning start, catching Arsenal completely cold. The home side put in a shambolic first half display and were brutally punished for their slack opening. Only 10 minutes had elapsed when they went a goal behind. Former Tottenham Hotspur defender Younes Kaboul tried his luck from distance. The centre-back’s strike took a deflection off Aaron Ramsey and the ball flew past a stranded Petr Cech.

Three minutes later and Watford incredibly doubled their lead. Frenchman Etienne Capoue ghosted through an Arsenal backline that seemed happily content to allow him to try his luck. Cech denied him but the ball fell perfectly to the Watford skipper Troy Deeney. He couldn’t miss from just a few yards out and the scoreline was 2-0 to the visitors. It could have got worse. Only Cech’s acrobatics stopped Sebastian Prodl from making it 3-0. Arsenal failed to have a single shot on target in the first half. Manager Arsene Wenger, who was serving a touchline ban and watching in the stands, seemed absolutely powerless.

As expected, Arsenal improved in the second half. They had to and hard work from Sanchez in the 57th minute allowed Nigerian Alex Iwobi to halve the deficit. Arsenal went onto half four more shots on target but none of them burst Heurelho Gomes’ net. The closest they came was through substitute Lucas Perez, who struck the woodwork in the closing moments. It was a frustrating evening for the home faithful.

Watford’s first win in the top-flight at Arsenal’s home since 1988 was a special night in a tricky season which would end with another change in management come the season’s conclusion. This result saw Arsenal drop nine points off the pace and began a calamitous run of form that not only buried any outside title hopes but would ultimately cost them a place in the top-four finishing positions for the first time in Wenger’s reign. Wenger told the BBC afterwards: “It was obvious we lost duels and were not sharp enough. It looked more mentally that we were not ready for the challenges.”

This however was a night that belonged to Watford for their ruthless finishing in one of the biggest shocks of the 2016-2017 season.

Shock Results: Derby County 1-0 Newcastle United (September 2007)

Goalscorer: Kenny Miller 39

Teams:

Derby County: Stephen Bywater, Dean Leacock, Andy Griffin, Claude Davis, Tyrone Mears, Stephen Pearson, Matt Oakley, Eddie Lewis (Jay McEveley 87), Gary Teale, Kenny Miller (Benny Feilhaber 80), Steve Howard

Newcastle United: Steve Harper, David Rozenhal, Steven Taylor (Habib Beye 75), Claudio Cacapa, Geremi (Abdoulaye Faye 60), Charles N’Zogbia, Nicky Butt, Alan Smith, James Milner, Shola Ameobi, Michael Owen (Obafemi Martins 55)

Referee: Peter Walton, Attendance: 33,016

Derby County’s promotion to the Premier League for the 2007-2008 season was slightly unexpected and early results suggested this. The Rams’ had already lost 4-0 at Tottenham Hotspur, been beaten 6-0 by Liverpool FC and were due to face a rampant Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium days later. They were already propping up the division but were looking to get their first win of the season against inconsistent Newcastle United.

Newcastle began the evening as favourites to head back to Tyneside with all three points as Sam Allardyce began to settle down into his new management role. His side never really got going though and Derby started well. Roared on by a vocal crowd inside Pride Park, they put together some swift passing moves to start with but were let down by a casual approach inside the visitors’ penalty area. This was totally understandable considering they’d only scored three goals from their first five matches.

Newcastle produced the best moment of the opening 20 minutes. James Milner broke clear after a Derby corner broke down. He found Michael Owen, who rounded goalkeeper Stephen Bywater but made the angle too difficult to try his luck. The England forward held his nerve and crossed the ball instead to defender David Rozenhal, whose effort whistled wide of the post. Owen wouldn’t complete the first half. He went off with a tight groin muscle and as soon as he departed, the Magpies attacking threat diminished.

In truth, the game was largely forgettable. There was plenty of grit and spirit from both sides but the final ball and finish was very poor. However, Derby took their chance six minutes before half-time. Bywater’s clearance was allowed to bounce by Newcastle defenders. Kenny Miller seized his opportunity and struck a dipping effort that flew past Steve Harper and into the net.

Derby could have extended their lead after the interval. Steve Howard had two headed chances but couldn’t find the target with either effort. However, Newcastle’s threat was sporadic and the home side held on for a fantastic and worthy victory. Afterwards, manager Billy Davies said: “I’m delighted with the players and they can take a lot of confidence from this victory.”

Derby failed to win another match in the Premier League all season. Davies was sacked at the end of November and Paul Jewell had no chance whatsoever to rescue the sinking ship. The Rams’ leaked 89 goals; they scored only 20 and amassed a grand total of just 11 points. They remain the worst-ever team to have played in the Premier League.

Newcastle finished just seven points clear of the drop zone in 12th spot but did finish the campaign with fans’ favourite Kevin Keegan back in charge after Allardyce was dismissed in January 2008. This will always remain one of Newcastle’s most embarrassing results. They were the only side in the 2007-2008 Premier League season to be beaten by Derby County.

Shock Results: Arsenal 0-3 Coventry City (August 1993)

Goalscorers: Mick Quinn 34 PEN, 62, 65

Teams:

Arsenal: David Seaman, Lee Dixon, Andy Linighan, Tony Adams, Nigel Winterburn, Paul Davis, John Jensen, Paul Merson (Eddie McGoldrick 67), Anders Limpar (Martin Keown 73), Ian Wright, Kevin Campbell

Coventry City: Jonathan Gould, Phil Babb, Peter Atherton, Tony Sheridan, Stewart Robson (Steve Morgan 10), David Rennie, Sean Flynn, Roy Wegerle, John Williams, Mick Quinn, Peter Ndlovu

Referee: Alan Wilkie, Attendance: 33,016

Optimism was high at Arsenal ahead of the start of the 1993-1994 season. The Gunners’ might have finished a distant 10th in the first Premier League campaign but were the reigning holders of both the FA Cup and League Cup. Manager George Graham had won the league championship twice before so expectations of a title tilt were well-considered.

Although beaten via a penalty shootout in the curtain-raising Charity Shield against Manchester United, Arsenal had performed very well. They were expected to brush aside a Coventry City side that had been beaten in both head-to-head encounters the previous season without scoring. Coventry were among the favourites with the bookies’ to be relegated but they also loved to prove the punters wrong and they did so spectacularly on the opening day at Highbury.

Arsenal started brightly but if there was one criticism of Graham’s management, it was he had a perfect Plan A, but no back-up solution if his side got into trouble. Within 10 minutes, they had slipped back into their comfort zone. David Seaman was the playmaker with long punts up the park towards Ian Wright and Kevin Campbell. However, David Rennie and Phil Babb had a comfortable afternoon, dealing with anything the Gunners’ frontline had to offer.

In Mick Quinn, Coventry had an unpredictable presence upfront but someone who knew where the back of the net was. He put the Sky Blues’ infront on 34 minutes from the penalty spot and from that moment on, Bobby Gould’s side were always in control. Only the injected pace of Anders Limpar gave them the odd concern. When he was replaced by defender Martin Keown in the 73rd minute, you knew that Graham simply had no clue with what to do.

Arsenal had been linked seriously with the England international Andy Sinton who was destined to leave Queens Park Rangers. On this evidence, Sinton made the right call to join Sheffield Wednesday instead because this brand of football would have simply bypassed him. Quinn, nicknamed “Sumo,” doubled his tally on 62 minutes, firing a shot into the top corner after the tricky Roy Wegerle had bamboozled Tony Adams with his skill and flair. Three minutes later, almost a carbon-copy move occurred with Wegerle the provider and Quinn producing the perfect finish. The ball went through Seaman’s defences. Graham said afterwards: “Football is about more than ability. It is about application and it’s about winners. Coventry seemed to have more desire than us.”

Arsenal bounced back from this opening day setback to finish fourth and beat Italian giants Parma to win the European Cup Winners’ Cup in Gothenburg. Gould resigned from his Coventry position two months later but ex-Liverpool FC defender Phil Neal comfortably steered them to a top-half finish. This was a day where underestimating the opposition was the fable. Arsenal did and paid a heavy price.