Iconic Moments: Di Canio shoves Alcock (September 1998)

There’s no doubt that Italian Paolo di Canio was a character on the football field. He was fabulously gifted at times but also frustratingly infuriating at other occasions. He represented Sheffield Wednesday, West Ham United and Charlton Athletic during his Premier League playing days and had an explosive reign in charge of Sunderland during 2013. The lowest point of his career came in September 1998.

Sheffield Wednesday were playing the reigning champions Arsenal at Hillsborough and the game was goalless when the match blew up spectacularly. Patrick Vieira and Wim Jonk had a scrap in the middle of the pitch. Vieira didn’t like the challenge and over-reacted, pushing over the Dutch player. Other players started piling in, with di Canio and Martin Keown getting into a heated confrontation, whilst others were trying to play peacemaker.

Referee Paul Alcock took his time before brandishing the red card in di Canio’s direction. What happened next was inexcusable on di Canio’s part. He shoved Alcock to the ground. Whilst the referee made the absolute most of the contact, di Canio had no right to behave like he did. The FA took a dim view to the incident and handed him an 11-match ban. Sheffield Wednesday suspended him immediately after the incident and he would never play for the club again. He moved to West Ham in January 1999.

For the record, Keown was also sent off in the incident and Sheffield Wednesday ended up winning the game 1-0 with a late winner from Lee Briscoe.

It was a sour incident and whilst some do feel Paul Alcock definitely over-exaggerated his fall, showing physical contact to a referee was simply unacceptable. For all the brilliance of di Canio’s career, including that brilliant goal against Wimbledon in March 2000, these incidents are just as fondly remembered for the wrong reasons.


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

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


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

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

Referee: Jeff Winter, Attendance: 15,256

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seasonal Records: 2002-2003

For all the statistical fans out there, here are some of the season’s records from the 2002-2003 Premier League campaign, as Manchester United claimed their eighth Premier League title and the first club slipped out of the league despite reaching the usual magical safety mark of 40 points.


Position Team P W D L F A GD PTS
1 Manchester United 38 25 8 5 74 34 +40 83
2 Arsenal 38 23 9 6 85 42 +43 78
3 Newcastle United 38 21 6 11 63 48 +15 69
4 Chelsea 38 19 10 9 68 38 +30 67
5 Liverpool FC 38 18 10 10 61 41 +20 64
6 Blackburn Rovers 38 16 12 10 52 43 +9 60
7 Everton 38 17 8 13 48 49 -1 59
8 Southampton 38 13 13 12 43 46 -3 52
9 Manchester City 38 15 6 17 47 54 -7 51
10 Tottenham Hotspur 38 14 8 16 51 62 -11 50
11 Middlesbrough 38 13 10 15 48 44 +4 49
12 Charlton Athletic 38 14 7 17 45 56 -11 49
13 Birmingham City 38 13 9 16 41 49 -8 48
14 Fulham 38 13 9 16 41 50 -9 48
15 Leeds United 38 14 5 19 58 57 +1 47
16 Aston Villa 38 12 9 17 42 47 -5 45
17 Bolton Wanderers 38 10 14 14 41 51 -10 44
18 West Ham United 38 10 12 16 42 59 -17 42
19 West Bromwich Albion 38 6 8 24 29 65 -36 26
20 Sunderland 38 4 7 27 21 65 -44 19



Goals Scored 1000
European qualifiers Manchester United (UEFA Champions League), Arsenal (UEFA Champions League), Newcastle United (UEFA Champions League), Chelsea (UEFA Champions League), Liverpool FC (UEFA Cup), Blackburn Rovers (UEFA Cup), Southampton (UEFA Cup), Manchester City (UEFA Cup)
Longest winning run 7 games (Liverpool FC)
Longest unbeaten run 18 games (Manchester United)
Longest winless run 20 games (Sunderland)
Longest losing run 15 games (Sunderland)
Highest attendance 67,721 (Manchester United vs. Charlton Athletic)
Lowest attendance 14,017 (Fulham vs. Blackburn Rovers)



PFA Players’ Player of the Year Thierry Henry (Arsenal)
PFA Young Player of the Year Jermaine Jenas (Newcastle United)
Football Writers’ Award Thierry Henry (Arsenal)
PFA Team of the Year Brad Friedel, Sol Campbell, William Gallas, Stephen Carr, Ashley Cole, Patrick Vieira, Kieron Dyer, Robert Pires, Paul Scholes, Thierry Henry, Alan Shearer
Manager of the Year Sir Alex Ferguson (Manchester United
Premier League Goal of the Season Thierry Henry (ARSENAL vs. Tottenham Hotspur)



Player Teams Score Date
Michael Owen Manchester City vs. Liverpool FC 0-3 28th September 2002
James Beattie Southampton vs. Fulham 4-2 27th October 2002
Ruud van Nistelrooy Manchester United vs. Newcastle United 5-3 23rd November 2002
Robbie Keane Tottenham Hotspur vs. Everton 4-3 12th January 2003
Thierry Henry Arsenal vs. West Ham United 3-1 27th January 2003
Ruud van Nistelrooy Manchester United vs. Fulham 3-0 22nd March 2003
Mark Viduka Charlton Athletic vs. Leeds United 1-6 5th April 2003
Paul Scholes Newcastle United vs. Manchester United 2-6 12th April 2003
Michael Owen (4) West Bromwich Albion vs. Liverpool FC 0-6 26th April 2003
Ruud van Nistelrooy Manchester United vs. Charlton Athletic 4-1 3rd May 2003
Jermaine Pennant Arsenal vs. Southampton 6-1 7th May 2003
Robert Pires Arsenal vs. Southampton 6-1 7th May 2003
Freddie Ljungberg Sunderland vs. Arsenal 0-4 11th May 2003



Position Player Teams No of Goals
1 Ruud van Nistelrooy Manchester United 25
2 Thierry Henry Arsenal 24
3 James Beattie Southampton 23
4 Mark Viduka Leeds United 20
5 Michael Owen Liverpool FC 19
6 Alan Shearer Newcastle United 17
7= Paul Scholes Manchester United 14
7= Robert Pires Arsenal 14
7= Gianfranco Zola Chelsea 14
7= Nicolas Anelka Manchester City 14
7= Robbie Keane Leeds United & Tottenham Hotspur 14
7= Harry Kewell Leeds United 14
13 Teddy Sheringham Tottenham Hotspur 12
14= Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink Chelsea 11
14= Tomasz Radzinski Everton 11
16= Sylvain Wiltord Arsenal 10
16= Eidur Gudjohnsen Chelsea 10
16= Kevin Campbell Everton 10
16= Jason Euell Charlton Athletic 10
16= Dion Dublin Aston Villa 10
21= Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Manchester United 9
21= Milan Baros Liverpool FC 9
21= Damien Duff Blackburn Rovers 9
21= Marc-Vivien Foe Manchester City 9
21= Massimo Maccarone Middlesbrough 9


West Bromwich Albion 0-6 Liverpool FC 26th April 2003
Arsenal 6-1 Southampton 7th May 2003
Charlton Athletic 1-6 Leeds United 5th April 2003
Chelsea 5-0 Manchester City 22nd March 2003
Newcastle United 2-6 Manchester United 12th April 2003
Manchester City 1-5 Arsenal 22nd February 2003
Newcastle United 5-1 Blackburn Rovers 22nd March 2003
Middlesbrough 5-1 Tottenham Hotspur 3rd May 2003
Manchester United 4-0 Liverpool FC 5th April 2003
Birmingham City 0-4 Arsenal 12th January 2003



No of Goals Teams Date
8 Newcastle United 2-6 Manchester United 12th April 2003
8 Manchester United 5-3 Newcastle United 23rd November 2002
7 Arsenal 6-1 Southampton 7th May 2003
7 Charlton Athletic 1-6 Leeds United 5th April 2003
7 Arsenal 5-2 West Bromwich Albion 27th August 2002
7 Blackburn Rovers 5-2 Newcastle United 19th October 2002
7 Middlesbrough 2-5 Aston Villa 28th January 2003
7 Tottenham Hotspur 4-3 Everton 12th January 2003
7 West Ham United 3-4 Leeds United 10th November 2002
7 Bolton Wanderers 4-3 Newcastle United 26th December 2002
6 West Bromwich Albion 0-6 Liverpool FC 26th April 2003
6 Manchester City 1-5 Arsenal 22nd February 2003
6 Newcastle United 5-1 Blackburn Rovers 22nd March 2003
6 Middlesbrough 5-1 Tottenham Hotspur 3rd May 2003
6 Southampton 4-2 Fulham 27th October 2002
6 Bolton Wanderers 4-2 Birmingham City 1st February 2003
6 Charlton Athletic 4-2 West Ham United 22nd January 2003
6 Leeds United 2-4 Bolton Wanderers 17th November 2002
5 Chelsea 5-0 Manchester City 22nd March 2003
5 Manchester United 4-1 Charlton Athletic 3rd May 2003



Player Teams Age at the time Date
Wayne Rooney Everton 2-2 Tottenham Hotspur 16 years, 9 months, 24 days 17th August 2002
James Milner West Ham United 3-4 Leeds United 16 years, 10 months, 6 days 10th November 2002
Mat Sadler Birmingham City 3-1 Bolton Wanderers 17 years, 8 months, 7 days 2nd November 2002
Danny Livesey Bolton Wanderers 2-3 Liverpool FC 17 years, 8 months, 14 days 14th September 2002
Jay McEveley Bolton Wanderers 1-1 Blackburn Rovers 17 years, 9 months, 26 days 7th December 2002
Kieran Richardson Manchester United 5-3 Newcastle United 18 years, 1 month, 2 days 23rd November 2002
Robert Huth Fulham 0-0 Chelsea 18 years, 1 month, 5 days 23rd September 2002
Andrew Davies Middlesbrough 2-5 Aston Villa 18 years, 1 month, 11 days 28th January 2003
Osei Sankofa Manchester United 4-1 Charlton Athletic 18 years, 1 month, 14 days 3rd May 2003
Jamie Slabber Tottenham Hotspur 2-3 Liverpool FC 18 years, 2 months, 13 days 16th March 2003



Player Teams Age at the time Date
David Seaman Sunderland 0-4 Arsenal 39 years, 1 month, 17 days 11th May 2003
Peter Schmeichel Manchester City 0-1 Southampton 38 years, 8 months, 11 days 11th May 2003
Nigel Winterburn West Ham United 0-3 Liverpool FC 38 years, 7 months, 19 days 2nd February 2003
Gudni Bergsson Bolton Wanderers 2-1 Middlesbrough 38 years, 6 months, 9 days 11th May 2003
Laurent Blanc Everton 1-2 Manchester United 38 years, 5 months 11th May 2003
Teddy Sheringham Tottenham Hotspur 0-4 Blackburn Rovers 38 years, 4 months, 19 days 11th May 2003
Gianfranco Zola Chelsea 2-1 Liverpool FC 38 years, 1 month, 24 days 11th May 2003
Martin Keown Arsenal 2-3 Leeds United 37 years, 4 months, 16 days 4th May 2003
Les Ferdinand Birmingham City 2-2 West Ham United 36 years, 9 months, 20 days 11th May 2003
John Moncur Arsenal 3-1 West Ham United 36 years, 6 months, 10 days 19th January 2003



Position Player Teams No of Clean Sheets
1 Brad Friedel Blackburn Rovers 15
2 Shay Given Newcastle United 14
3= Carlo Cudicini Chelsea 12
3= Jerzy Dudek Liverpool FC 12
5 Richard Wright Everton 11
6= Fabien Barthez Manchester United 10
6= Mark Schwarzer Middlesbrough 10
6= Paul Robinson Leeds United 10
6= Jussi Jaaskelainen Bolton Wanderers 10
10 Antti Niemi Southampton 9

Referees in the Middle: Rob Styles

Premier League Career: 2000-2009

First Premier League Match: West Ham United 0-1 Leicester City (23 August 2000)

Final Premier League Match: Chelsea 2-0 Blackburn Rovers (17 May 2009)

In nine seasons of top-flight officiating, Rob Styles took charge of 212 Premier League matches. He was one of the most controversial officials in the Premier League era and never shied away from annoying supporters and managers with some of his key decisions.

Styles began refereeing in 1987 and nine years later, was appointed to the National list. He started to make his breakthrough at the start of the millennium, taking charge of the Second Division play-off final between Gillingham and Wigan Athletic. He was also the fourth official in 2000 at both the FA Trophy and LDV Vans Trophy finals.

In the same year, he was promoted to the Premier League officiating list and his first game came in the second round of matches in the 2000-2001 season. For the record, Darren Eadie scored the only goal as Leicester City won 1-0 at Upton Park against West Ham United. In the same game, West Ham’s Igor Stimac was sent off.

He became a FIFA referee in 2002 and three years later, was in-charge for the 2005 FA Cup final between Arsenal and Manchester United. He sent off Jose Antonio Reyes in the closing stages of extra-time before the match went to penalties, won ultimately by Arsenal.

Based in Waterlooville, Styles showed the yellow card to offending players a whopping 689 times. He gave 57 penalties, including 11 in the 2007-2008 campaign alone. The lowest moment of his career came in August 2007 when he put in a comical display at Anfield. He awarded Chelsea a penalty in the second half when adjudging Steve Finnan had fouled Florent Malouda, even though the ball was nowhere near Malouda and replays showed no contact between the players. Frank Lampard converted the spot-kick, earning Chelsea a point and leaving Liverpool FC manager Rafa Benitez generally baffled by the decision.

He booked nine players on that afternoon and was at the centre of another talking point when he appeared to show a yellow card to both John Terry and Michael Essien, who had been cautioned earlier in the match. He later clarified that only Terry was booked in the incident (shown below).

Liverpool FC captain Steven Gerrard piled the pressure on the embattled ref afterwards, telling the Evening Standard: “The referee didn’t play well. There was a lot of pressure from the Chelsea players and I thought he eventually cracked. I hope he apologises. When players make mistakes they have to come out and say sorry so we’ll see what he has to say.”

Styles later telephoned Benitez to apologise for his cock-up but Keith Hackett confirmed shortly afterwards that he would be dropped for the next round of Premier League matches. Ultimately, it would be the beginning of the end for his career.

In January 2009, he dismissed West Bromwich Albion’s Paul Robinson against Manchester United in a game where the visitors’ cruised to a 5-0 victory. However, the FA elected to rescind the red card given in the match for a challenge on Ji-Sung Park. He felt any support from the governing body was gone after this escapade and although he carried on until the end of the season, the zest was gone.

In the summer of 2009, Styles decided enough was enough and quit refereeing. Graham Poll wrote in his Daily Mail column: “He cared deeply about his refereeing; dedicating himself to serving the game he loves. However, the fact that the majority of the football-watching public will merely shrug their shoulders in indifference at this news or say ‘Good’ proves the lack of understanding of the modern referee.”

Premier League Files: David James

Premier League Career: Liverpool FC (1992-1999), Aston Villa (1999-2001), West Ham United (2001-2003), Manchester City (2004-2006), Portsmouth (2006-2010)

Currently a regular pundit on BT Sport’s coverage, David James played in a mammoth 572 Premier League matches, which places him fourth on the current all-time list. He held the Premier League record for most clean sheets between April 2007 and December 2015 with 170 before being surpassed by Petr Cech.

Awarded an MBE in the Queen’s 2012 Birthday Honours’ List for services to football and charity work, James was capped 53 times by England during a 13-year period and was first-choice goalkeeper at the 2004 European Championships and the World Cup of 2010.

Born in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, James grew up supporting Luton Town but would begin his professional career at the Hatters’ local rivals, Watford. He made his league debut in August 1990 and would go onto play 89 times for the Hertfordshire-based club.

He joined Liverpool FC for a fee of £1.25 million in July 1992 and was the first goalkeeper to be beaten by a goal live on Sky Sports when Teddy Sheringham fired a cracking drive past him in Nottingham Forest’s 1-0 victory on the opening weekend of the Premier League. He struggled to settle into his new surroundings and shipped 20 goals in his first 11 appearances before being dropped for LFC fans’ favourite and veteran Bruce Grobbelaar.

James would only feature sporadically then until February 1994 when Grobbelaar sustained an injury in an away defeat to Leeds United. He was back in the team and when Grobbelaar left that summer to join Southampton on a free transfer, became the first-choice goalkeeper at Anfield unchallenged for the next four seasons. He still was unconvincing at times. In 1997, he made a catalogue of costly goalkeeping errors that derailed Liverpool’s title challenge. James was at fault for conceding goals against Nottingham Forest, Coventry City and Manchester United, costing the Reds’ at least eight points which could have been enough for them to win their first title since 1990.

He put down his spate of errors to overindulgence in playing computer games that in turn affected his concentration. This earned him the nickname ‘Calamity James.’

After 277 games for Liverpool FC, he was sold to Aston Villa for £1.8 million in June 1999 and kept a clean sheet in his first Premier League match for Villa; a 1-0 away win at Newcastle United. The highlight of his career in the Midlands was a couple of penalty saves in the FA Cup semi-final shootout victory over Bolton Wanderers. He would make 85 appearances for the club but with Peter Schmeichel arriving on a free transfer for the 2001-2002 campaign, David moved onto pastures new with West Ham United in a £3.5 million deal.

His Hammers’ debut was to be seriously delayed though by a knee injury sustained whilst keeping goal for England during an international friendly against the Netherlands at White Hart Lane. He wouldn’t play for his new club until November 2001. On his return, West Ham immediately tightened up at the back and finished an excellent seventh. This was pretty good considering they’d been beaten heavily in the season’s early weeks by Everton and Blackburn Rovers. A sting in the tail came in 2002-2003. James was part of the West Ham squad that proved no team is too good to go down. Despite having the likes of Joe Cole, Michael Carrick, Paolo di Canio, Jermain Defoe and James in their ranks, West Ham were relegated on the final day of the season. They became the first team to go down in a 38-game season despite having achieved the usual magical 40-point mark which is often considered enough to survive.

He stayed loyal to West Ham and remained with them in the First Division but when David Seaman announced his retirement from playing in January 2004, Manchester City came calling. It was a no-brainer for David, who was serving as England’s no.1 goalkeeper at the time. Manchester City were in a relegation battle and only won four matches after his arrival but James played a crucial part in earning draws against relegated duo Leicester City and Wolverhampton Wanderers. Defeats in these games could have led to a completely different outcome for Kevin Keegan’s expensively-assembled side.

On the final day of the 2004-2005 season, Manchester City played Middlesbrough with a race between the sides to finish in seventh spot and secure a place in Europe for the following season. Stuart Pearce had taken over from Keegan in March of that season and he tried an unusual tactic, by removing David James from goal and making him an outfield attacker! Nicky Weaver came on in-goal to replace outfield player Claudio Reyna. The presence of a goalkeeper in home kit clearly had Middlesbrough rattled. In injury-time, a cross came in aimed at James. Franck Queudrue handled the ball and a penalty was given. Unfortunately for City, Mark Schwarzer saved Robbie Fowler’s spot-kick to ensure Middlesbrough drew 1-1 and grabbed that coveted European spot.

Later that summer, he separated from his wife of four children, Tanya. A year later, he decided he needed to leave Manchester City for personal reasons and moved to Portsmouth in a £1.2 million deal. James kept clean sheets in his first five appearances for Portsmouth and was named the club’s Player of the Season. In April 2007, he made Premier League history by keeping his 142nd clean sheet in a goalless draw away at Aston Villa. This meant he overtook the record held by David Seaman. In January 2008, he became only the third player in Premier League history to reach the landmark of 500 appearances in the 2-0 defeat to Manchester United. He won the FA Cup that season which was his second major honour, 13 years after his League Cup success with Liverpool FC.

In February 2009, James made his 536th Premier League appearance against one of his former sides, Manchester City. This broke Gary Speed’s all-time record. This has since been surpassed by Frank Lampard, Ryan Giggs and Gareth Barry. He left Portsmouth after their relegation from the top-flight in 2010, bowing out as skipper in the FA Cup final defeat to Chelsea. Although he expressed an interest in replacing the West Ham-bound Avram Grant, he eventually moved to Bristol City, meaning his Premier League career was over.

He had a spell at AFC Bournemouth and would retire from playing in 2013 after spending one season playing in Icelandic football with IBV Vestmannaeyjar who were being managed by his former Portsmouth teammate, Hermann Hreidarsson. Since then, David has done some part-time coaching with Luton Town and was player-manager with Kerala Blasters FC in the Indian Super League. However, his long-term future looks to be in punditry with BT Sport.

David James definitely had his critics throughout his career. He was a keeper who never seemed to do dull. His longevity within the game shows how he was trusted by many different managers from Evans and Gregory to Keegan and Redknapp. That means he must take credit for the career he enjoyed, even if it did lack a major league title.

Great Goals: Gus Poyet – CHELSEA vs. Sunderland (August 1999)

Gus Poyet would become a Premier League manager with Sunderland from October 2013 to March 2015. He scored one of his finest goals against the Black Cats from his Chelsea days.

The Uruguayan was something of a cult hero during his four seasons at Stamford Bridge and came up with a glut of crucial goals, including the one to defeat the mighty Real Madrid in the 1998 UEFA Super Cup final.

On the opening weekend of the 1999-2000 campaign, the Blues welcomed Sunderland to their lair and dismissed their opponents 4-0. Poyet scored the goal of the match. Gianfranco Zola received possession from a long ball and as the Italian took it under control and assessed his options, Poyet made a run from midfield into the box.

He got between the two Sunderland defenders and met Zola’s pass with brilliant timing. His volley left Thomas Sorensen without a hope of saving it. Poyet scored 49 goals in his Chelsea career. This was quite probably his best.

Iconic Moments: Schmeichel scores! (October 2001)

During the first decade of the Premier League, Peter Schmeichel was arguably the best goalkeeper seen. He won five Premier League titles with Manchester United and developed an art for spectacular saves. However, he did like to score the occasional goal too.

In 1995, he headed home from a corner in a UEFA Cup tie against Rotor Volgograd at Old Trafford. United went out on away goals so his efforts counted for little. Six years later, he was at it again, this time playing for Aston Villa.

Villa were at Goodison Park, playing Everton and trailing 3-1. Schmeichel decided to come up into the Everton penalty area for a corner and when the Toffees’ defenders failed to clear, Schmeichel smashed the ball into the back of the net with a volley that Thierry Henry would have been proud of.

Everton held on to claim all three points on the day but it was the Dane who made all the headlines afterwards. In its 10th season, Schmeichel had become the first goalkeeper to score a goal. He ended his career in 2003 with Manchester City, having scored nine goals professionally at club level. Not a bad achievement for a player who was an expert at keeping them out at the other end.

Premier League Rewind: 23rd-25th April 2011

Results: Manchester United 1-0 Everton, Aston Villa 1-1 Stoke City, Blackpool 1-1 Newcastle United, Liverpool FC 5-0 Birmingham City, Sunderland 4-2 Wigan Athletic, Tottenham Hotspur 2-2 West Bromwich Albion, Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-1 Fulham, Chelsea 3-0 West Ham United, Bolton Wanderers 2-1 Arsenal, Blackburn Rovers 0-1 Manchester City

The 2010-2011 Premier League season had been one of the most unpredictable campaigns for many years. With five games left to go, nothing was settled. Manchester United were six points clear but not totally comfortable yet in terms of the title picture with an ever-improving Chelsea bearing down on them. Meanwhile at the bottom, just six points covered Fulham, Stoke City, Sunderland, Birmingham City, Blackburn Rovers, Wigan Athletic, Blackpool, West Ham United and Wolverhampton Wanderers. It really was too close to call.

Manchester United opened up proceedings on 23rd April with a brief opportunity to extend their lead at the top of the table to nine points. They played Everton in the Saturday lunchtime kick-off and were pushed all the way by a stubborn David Moyes. They were eventually broken down by Javier Hernandez in the last 10 minutes. 1-0 was the final scoreline and another giant leap towards a record-breaking 19th title had taken place. United had dropped just two points at home all season and that was a proud statistic that would hold up in their remaining two matches.

On a wet and torrential evening in west London, Chelsea knew they needed to win against bottom-placed West Ham United to keep the pressure up on Manchester United. As they still had to travel to Old Trafford to play the Red Devils, hope still existed for Carlo Ancelotti’s side and they made no mistake here, dispatching the Hammers 3-0. The most exciting moment of the match was Fernando Torres scoring his first goal for the club after 734 minutes. Torres had struggled to match the form he’d demonstrated at Liverpool FC and it was clear this goal was a massive weight off his shoulders.

If Chelsea still had title hopes, they had completely diminished for Arsenal. They had won only one of their past six matches and another defeat; 2-1 to Bolton Wanderers dashed any faint hopes they had of catching the leaders. Arsene Wenger’s side had shown major fragilities after their last-gasp League Cup final loss to Birmingham City in February. There was a poignant moment here too. Bolton’s stoppage-time winner was scored by midfielder Tamir Cohen, who removed his shirt and dedicated the goal to his father Avi, who had been killed in a traffic accident in December 2010.

Manchester City strengthened their grip on fourth place and the final UEFA Champions League qualifying spot after a Monday night 1-0 victory away at Blackburn Rovers. January signing Edin Dzeko scored his first goal for the club. They extended their lead on closest challengers Tottenham Hotspur to four points after Spurs dropped points at home to West Bromwich Albion. Simon Cox scored the pick of the goals in a 2-2 draw at White Hart Lane.

At the wrong end of the table, the big winners were Sunderland. After four successive defeats, a 4-2 victory over Wigan Athletic eased their concerns and moved them seven points clear of danger with four games left to play. That result plunged Wigan back into the bottom three with Blackpool climbing out after a 1-1 draw with Newcastle United. Birmingham’s 5-0 defeat at Anfield to Liverpool FC left them very vulnerable with Maxi Rodriguez scoring his first of two hat-tricks in 16 days.

What else happened in April 2011?

  • Prince William and Kate Middleton marry at Westminster Abbey. An estimated two billion people watch the wedding.
  • The 20-1 shot Ballabriggs wins the Grand National, trained by Donald McCain, son of former National trainer, Ginger McCain.
  • Channel 5 confirms it has bought the rights to TV show Big Brother and will screen it from August 2011.
  • Actor Brian Regan, best known as playing Terry Sullivan in Brookside from 1982-1997, is charged with the murder of a city bouncer in Merseyside.
  • The Daily Sport and Sunday Sport tabloid newspapers cease publication and enter administration.

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

Goalscorers: Sylvain Wiltord 55


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

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

Referee: Paul Durkin, Attendance: 67,580

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Premier League Files: Mark Kinsella

Premier League Career: Charlton Athletic (1998-1999, 2000-2002), Aston Villa (2002-2003)

Playing as a central midfielder for most of his career, Mark Kinsella served the clubs he played for with great dignity and class. He featured in five Premier League seasons for Charlton Athletic and Aston Villa.

Kinsella began his career as a 17-year-old at Colchester United. He played in Essex for seven seasons and won the FA Trophy in 1992 when Colchester spent a couple of campaigns playing non-league football. He joined Charlton in 1996 and first came to prominence with an equalising goal in the FA Cup third round against Kevin Keegan’s Newcastle United in January 1997. That won the Addicks’ a cup replay and was Keegan’s last match of his first stint in charge of the Toon Army.

Kinsella was an integral part of the club’s promotion via the play-offs in 1998. He scored Charlton’s first away goal in the Premier League at Old Trafford, but Charlton did lose the game 4-1. He featured in every single match of Charlton’s maiden Premier League adventure and although his performances were very good, they weren’t enough to avoid relegation on the final day of the season.

The Irishman stayed loyal to Charlton and helped them win an instant promotion back to the top-flight in 2000. Once again, he was an important figure of the club’s next Premier League season, scoring on their return to the big league in a 4-0 opening day win against Manchester City. Charlton finished ninth which was a fine effort with limited resources. In November 2001, Kinsella was injured away at Southampton and this allowed the younger Scott Parker to take his place in the team. Kinsella couldn’t regain his spot when he was ready to return. At the beginning of the 2002-2003 campaign, manager Alan Curbishley told Kinsella that he would only be a back-up player to Parker and Claus Jensen. A week into the season, he joined Aston Villa for £1 million.

Unfortunately, more injury problems restricted Kinsella to just 21 appearances in around 15 months at Villa Park. He moved to Midlands’ neighbours West Bromwich Albion in January 2004 on a short-term contract and helped the Baggies’ win promotion. His contract wasn’t renewed and he finished his playing days with Walsall. In total, Kinsella made 108 Premier League appearances, scoring five goals. He won 49 international caps for the Republic of Ireland and featured in the run to the round-of-16 at the 2002 World Cup. Today, Kinsella is currently serving as an assistant coach with Drogheda United – a club where he has had a brief spell as manager too.

Shock Results: Crystal Palace 3-0 Arsenal (April 2017)

Goalscorers: Andros Townsend 17, Yohan Cabaye 63, Luka Milivojevic 68 PEN


Crystal Palace: Wayne Hennessey, Jeff Schlupp, Martin Kelly, Mamadou Sakho, Joel Ward, Yohan Cabaye (James McArthur 74), Luka Milivojevic (Mathieu Flamini 82), Jason Puncheon, Andros Townsend, Wilfried Zaha (Damien Delaney 88), Christian Benteke

Arsenal: Emiliano Martinez, Nacho Monreal, Gabriel, Shkodran Mustafi, Hector Bellerin, Mohamed Elneny (Aaron Ramsey 59), Granit Xhaka, Mesut Ozil, Theo Walcott (Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain 69), Danny Welbeck (Olivier Giroud 60), Alexis Sanchez

Referee: Michael Oliver, Attendance: 25,648

Crystal Palace arrived into this match in good form, despite their tricky position in the Premier League. The Eagles’ had won three matches in a row for only the second time in the campaign and had beaten league leaders Chelsea at Stamford Bridge nine days earlier.

By contrast, Arsenal were in a rut and had surrendered meekly in defeat on their last away trip to West Bromwich Albion before the international break. However, their Premier League record against Palace was superb. Sam Allardyce’s side hadn’t beaten the Gunners’ in the top-flight since October 1994. Even with a vocal Selhurst Park on their side under the floodlights on a Monday night, the home side went into the match as underdogs. By the full-time whistle, they had taken advantage of a lifeless Arsenal performance and increased their chances of staying up.

Although Arsenal dominated possession, they created little and deservedly fell behind after 17 minutes. Wilfried Zaha crossed from the right-hand side and ex-Tottenham midfielder Andros Townsend was in the right place to drill the ball past Arsenal’s third-choice goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez, only playing because of injuries to Petr Cech and David Ospina.

Wayne Hennessey had made 11 saves in the previous game against Chelsea. He didn’t have much to do in this game and only had stops to make to deny Alexis Sanchez and Mohamed Elneny. If the Arsenal supporters were expecting a strong reaction to being behind at the interval, they got a nasty shock in the second half.

Arsene Wenger’s team didn’t even get a shot on target after the restart. They were toothless, clueless and useless. The fans showed their frustration, with more ‘Wenger Out’ banners unfurled and chants of ‘You’re not fit enough to wear the shirt’ aimed at the players.

With their usually strong opposition in freefall, Palace made the most of this opportunity and the game was basically put beyond doubt when Yohan Cabaye doubled the lead in the 63rd minute.

Cabaye, a former Arsenal transfer target, deliciously clipped Zaha’s pass into the net to score his first goal at Selhurst Park since December 2015. Five minutes later, Martinez made a rash judgement, racing out of goal and tripping Townsend in the penalty area. There was no decision for Michael Oliver to make. Luka Milivojevic made no mistake from the spot to score his first goal for the club since signing from Olympiacos in January.

It was Arsenal’s fourth successive away defeat and it would cost them, as they missed out on a top-four finish in the Premier League by two points. Crystal Palace would survive but Allardyce stepped down at the end of the season and it is now Roy Hodgson who has to try to keep them out of danger.

The Managers: Jim Jefferies

Premier League Clubs Managed: Bradford City (2000-2001)

Scottish manager Jim Jefferies only had a brief stint in the Premier League with Bradford City. The majority of his career, both in playing and management was based in Scottish football and he enjoyed some success, especially in domestic cups.

In his playing days, Jim spent most of his time figuring for the Edinburgh giants Hearts. He didn’t win any honours as a player but did reach the Scottish Cup final with the Jambos in 1976. However it ended in a 3-1 defeat to Rangers. He left the club in 1981, having made 227 appearances, scoring five times. Jefferies ended his playing days in 1983 after two seasons with lowly Berwick Rangers.

Early steps in management

His first management breakthrough came in 1983 with amateur side Gala Fairydean. He spent five years there before returning to Berwick Rangers to begin his professional management career. They were struggling at the time of his arrival but he steered them to an impressive 21-match unbeaten run during the 1988-1989 season and this grabbed the attention of more profitable and successful sides.

Falkirk took a chance on him in 1990 and Jefferies continued to build on his solid reputation. He won the Scottish First Division title in 1991 and 1994, achieving Premier League football for them. There was also a 3-0 victory over St Mirren in the 1993 Scottish Challenge Cup final.

In August 1995, he left Falkirk to take over as manager of Hearts and three years later, achieved his biggest managerial honour as the Tynecastle side stunned favourites Rangers to win the Scottish Cup final of 1998.

In November 2000, the call came to try his luck in the Premier League.

The battle in Bradford

In November 2000, Bradford City were already staring relegation in the face. They had gambled on Paul Jewell’s former assistant Chris Hutchings but ditched him after a terrible start to the 2000-2001 campaign.

Jefferies was given the opportunity and he wasn’t going to turn it down. He had resigned from his position at Hearts two weeks earlier in an effort to push the move forward. On his appointment, he said: “I’m delighted to be getting the opportunity to manage in the Premier League. It doesn’t happen that often that you can come down here from Scotland. Bradford are everybody’s favourites to go down, but hopefully we’ll prove them wrong.”

He became the Bantams’ fifth manager in seven years and the job looked like a very difficult one from the outset. He had to trim the wage bill and that meant some of Bradford’s higher-profile players being sold. Benito Carbone and Dan Petrescu were among the casualties, whilst Stan Collymore was told he had no future at the club despite having arrived just three months later. He saw a move to VfB Stuttgart collapse due to his excessive wage demands.

Bradford ultimately went down, relegated by Everton in April 2001. Jefferies stayed on into the following campaign but resigned in December after a poor start to their season back in the First Division. It was a job that didn’t work out despite his best efforts.

Collymore was not as complimentary though. 12 years after his departure from Bradford, he admitted: “He was one of the most useless managers [he] worked under”

In total, he won just four of his 24 games in the Premier League, achieving a disappointing win ratio rate of 16.7%.

Back to his homeland

He returned to management in Scotland in February 2002, taking over at Kilmarnock and staying there for nearly eight years before leaving via mutual consent in 2010. He had a second spell at Hearts and then a two-year stint with Dunfermline Athletic which ended in December 2014 following a crippling financial crisis which saw the club suffer back-to-back relegations to the third tier of Scottish football.

Although he has no plans to go back into management, he returned to football in February 2017, joining League Two club Edinburgh City in a Sporting Director capacity.

25 years of the most envied league in the world!