Tag Archives: Dion Dublin

Premier League Rewind: 1st-8th March 2003

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

In early March 2003, three teams still had genuine ambitions of the Premier League title. They were reigning champions Arsenal, seven-time winners Manchester United and Sir Bobby Robson’s exciting Newcastle United side. This round of fixtures produced plenty of intrigue if slightly short on goals.

Newcastle played twice in just a few days, as they had to play a rescheduled contest away at The Riverside Stadium against Middlesbrough. First up for the Magpies though was a battle with fourth-placed Chelsea. Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink scored a spectacular own goal to put Newcastle into the lead on 31 minutes. Frank Lampard quickly equalised but it wasn’t enough for the visitors. Hugo Viana and Olivier Bernard combined beautifully for the full-back to score a rare goal and seal a 2-1 victory for Robson’s side, which took them level on points with Manchester United and only behind Sir Alex Ferguson’s side on goal difference.

United weren’t playing on the weekend due to their League Cup final commitments against Liverpool FC which meant Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal had the opportunity to hold an eight-point lead for a few days at least. They seized the chance with a 2-0 victory over Charlton Athletic, ending the Addicks’ own five-game winning sequence.

So in the midweek matches, Manchester United and Newcastle were looking to bridge the gap again. The latter missed the opportunity to put the pressure back on Arsenal, losing 1-0 to local rivals Middlesbrough. Geremi scored the only goal of the contest on 62 minutes to hand Newcastle a first league defeat of 2003. Manchester United though defeated Leeds United 2-1 to reduce the gap back to five points. Leeds put in a plucky display but were beaten by Mikael Silvestre’s 79th minute goal, inflicting a fourth defeat in five matches on the Yorkshire club. Terry Venables only took charge of one more match before deciding to part ways with Leeds after a chastening seven months in the managerial hotseat of the financially troubled side.

Chelsea’s defeat on Tyneside meant they relinquished fourth position in the table to Everton who continued to defy the critics. They drew 1-1 at Middlesbrough. Liverpool FC moved back into the top six after beating Bolton Wanderers 2-0 at Anfield, a week after they beat Manchester United by the same scoreline in the League Cup final. El-Hadji Diouf was among the scorers on a rare day where the Senegalese player justified the £11 million transfer fee that had been paid for his services in the summer.

There was a tasty Second City Derby at Villa Park. Aston Villa completely lost their discipline in the second half with their meltdown beginning with Dion Dublin’s red card for a head-butt on Robbie Savage. Joey Gudjonsson also saw red late on for a reckless two-footed challenge and Birmingham recorded a memorable league double over the Villans with goals from Stan Lazaridis and Geoff Horsfield helping the Blues to a 2-0 victory on enemy territory.

In another local affair, West Ham United claimed three much-needed points against Tottenham Hotspur. Les Ferdinand scored against the club that had allowed him to leave for Upton Park only a few weeks earlier as the Hammers won 2-0 to go level with Bolton in the table and only behind the Trotters on goal difference in a relegation battle between the pair that would go all the way to the wire.

What else happened in March 2003?

  • The US and UK begin the invasion of Iraq as Tony Blair and George W. Bush start the plan for regime change in the country. It is the second war in Iraq in 12 years.
  • ITN journalist Terry Lloyd is killed just a few days into covering the war after being caught in crossfire in Basra.
  • A global alert is issued by The World Health Organization after the SARS epidemic spreads to Vietnam and Hong Kong have originated in China.
  • The Prime Minister of Serbia, Zoran Dindic is assassinated.
  • In separate referendums, Malta and Slovenia approve joining the European Union.
  • Australia becomes the first team to win three Cricket World Cups after defeating India in the 2003 final by 125 runs.
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The Clubs: Coventry City

All-Time Premier League Record

Played Won Drew Lost Scored Conceded Goal Difference Points No of Seasons
354 99 112 143 387 490 -103 409 9

 

Most Premier League Appearances

Player Appearances Total
Steve Ogrizovic 191
Paul Telfer 191
Richard Shaw 178
Paul Williams 175
Peter Ndlovu 152
Brian Borrows 145
Dion Dublin 145
Noel Whelan 134
Gary McAllister 119
Gary Breen 115

 

Most Premier League Goals

Player Goals Total
Dion Dublin 61
Peter Ndlovu 35
Noel Whelan 31
Darren Huckerby 28
Mick Quinn 25
Gary McAllister 20
Mustapha Hadji 12
Robbie Keane 12
John Williams 11
John Aloisi 10

 

Biggest Premier League Victories

Match Date Season
Coventry City 5-0 Blackburn Rovers 9th December 1995 1995-1996
Coventry City 5-1 Liverpool FC 19th December 1992 1992-1993
Bolton Wanderers 1-5 Coventry City 31st January 1998 1997-1998
Coventry City 4-0 Manchester City 19th February 1994 1993-1994
Coventry City 4-0 Tottenham Hotspur 13th December 1997 1997-1998
Coventry City 4-0 Nottingham Forest 9th January 1999 1998-1999
Coventry City 4-0 Watford 31st October 1999 1999-2000
Coventry City 4-0 Bradford City 18th March 2000 1999-2000
Blackburn Rovers 2-5 Coventry City 26th January 1993 1992-1993
Aston Villa 1-4 Coventry City 27th February 1999 1998-1999

 

Worst Premier League Defeats

Match Date Season
Chelsea 6-1 Coventry City 21st October 2000 2000-2001
Manchester United 5-0 Coventry City 28th December 1992 1992-1993
West Ham United 5-0 Coventry City 22nd April 2000 1999-2000
Queens Park Rangers 5-1 Coventry City 23rd October 1993 1993-1994
Sheffield Wednesday 5-1 Coventry City 28th December 1994 1994-1995
Blackburn Rovers 5-1 Coventry City 23rd September 1995 1995-1996
Coventry City 1-5 Newcastle United 19th September 1998 1998-1999
Liverpool FC 4-0 Coventry City 17th April 1993 1992-1993
Newcastle United 4-0 Coventry City 23rd February 1994 1993-1994
Newcastle United 4-0 Coventry City 24th August 1994 1994-1995

 

Managers

Manager No of Seasons managed Left the Club
Bobby Gould 2 23rd October 1993
Phil Neal 2 14th February 1995
Ron Atkinson 3 1st November 1996
Gordon Strachan 5 10th September 2001

 

Highest Home Attendances

Match Date Attendance Figure Season
Coventry City 0-1 Manchester United 12th April 1993 24,429 1992-1993
Coventry City 3-0 Aston Villa 26th December 1992 24,245 1992-1993
Coventry City 0-4 Manchester United 22nd November 1995 23,400 1995-1996
Coventry City 1-0 Liverpool FC 6th April 1996 23,137 1995-1996
Coventry City 1-1 Tottenham Hotspur 26th December 1998 23,098 1998-1999
Coventry City 0-3 Liverpool FC 1st April 2000 23,098 1999-2000
Coventry City 0-2 Manchester United 18th January 1997 23,085 1996-1997
Coventry City 0-1 Tottenham Hotspur 26th February 2000 23,077 1999-2000
Coventry City 0-2 Liverpool FC 28th April 2001 23,063 2000-2001
Coventry City 2-1 Liverpool FC 30th January 1999 23,056 1998-1999

 

Intro

Coventry City were one of the great survivors in the first decade of the Premier League. The Sky Blues were involved in many relegation scraps and narrowly avoided the drop on the final day in both 1996 and 1997. However, they also had a habit of pulling off some unexpected surprises as many of the elite Premier League sides discovered. Relegation came in 2001 and since then, ownership issues, stadium problems and fan protests have seen the club drop as low as League Two. Currently, they are in League One after winning the play-off final in League Two last season.

 

1992-1993

Coventry made a brilliant start to life in the Premier League under Bobby Gould, winning six of their first eight matches to sit in the dizzying heights of second position, only below fellow early season pacesetters Norwich City. Unlike the Canaries though, they couldn’t keep that level up and dropped into mid-table as the campaign progressed. There was a 5-1 demolition of Liverpool FC and an impressive 5-2 victory away at Blackburn in January but departures of Roberto Rosario to Nottingham Forest and Kevin Gallacher to Blackburn Rovers hurt their attacking prowess and they eventually finished just three points above the relegation zone.

 

1993-1994

Coventry’s top scorer in 1992-1993, Mick Quinn, made a searing start to the new campaign with an opening day hat-trick at Highbury against Arsenal. However, a run of six league games without a win culminated in the resignation of manager Bobby Gould just moments after a 5-1 beating at the hands of Queens Park Rangers in October. Former Bolton Wanderers manager Phil Neal was his successor and he kept Coventry well clear of danger. An unbeaten run of seven matches at the end of the campaign saw the Sky Blues finish a solid 11th. It was also their 2-1 victory over Blackburn Rovers on 2nd May that handed the title to Manchester United.

 

1994-1995

Only one win in their first eight matches (2-1 vs. Leeds United) left Coventry in the bottom four in early October and despite the goals of Dion Dublin on a consistent basis after his £2 million transfer from Manchester United, the Sky Blues were in the thick of the relegation battle all season. Despite beating fellow strugglers Crystal Palace 2-0 on 11th February, manager Phil Neal still lost his job three days later.

Ron Atkinson took over and he steered Coventry to five victories in the closing months of the campaign including a 3-2 win at Anfield where Peter Ndlovu scored a hat-trick. Safety was clinched in the final week of the season with a 3-1 victory at White Hart Lane over Tottenham Hotspur. Coventry finished the campaign in 16th place – three places clear of the drop zone.

 

1995-1996

It was another season of struggle for Coventry and their supporters – as they won just one of their first 16 encounters. Dion Dublin continued to score plenty of goals but even though he scored a hat-trick at Sheffield Wednesday in early December, a 4-3 defeat at Hillsborough meant they dropped to bottom in the table.

Days later, reigning champions Blackburn Rovers were well-beaten 5-0 which remains the Sky Blues’ biggest-ever Premier League victory. In April, defender David Busst sustained a career-ending injury against Manchester United which is considered one of the worst injuries ever sustained on a football pitch. The defeat at Old Trafford was their last of the season. Eight points gained from their last four matches and four consecutive clean sheets meant they avoided relegation on the final day of the season after a goalless draw with Leeds United.

 

1996-1997

An opening day 3-0 defeat at home to Nottingham Forest set the tone for another difficult campaign for Coventry City and 24 hours after a 1-1 draw away at Everton, Ron Atkinson stepped down as manager and moved into a Director of Football role. His assistant Gordon Strachan succeeded him and initially, there was a positive effect. A run of four successive victories guided the Sky Blues into 11th place by mid-January with Darren Huckerby arriving to help take the pressure off Dion Dublin in regards to goalscoring threats. Dublin still starred though – finishing top scorer with 14 strikes and his goals ultimately kept Coventry just clear of danger.

However, when they lost 2-1 at home to Derby County on the penultimate weekend of the season, it looked like Coventry’s 30-year stay in England’s top-flight was on the verge of ending. They had to beat Tottenham Hotspur on the final day and goals from Dublin and Paul Williams saw them pull off an unlikely 2-1 victory. Sunderland lost at Wimbledon so the Black Cats were relegated instead. Coventry had survived again by the skin of their teeth.

 

1997-1998

Gordon Strachan’s first full campaign in the hotseat turned out to be a huge success. This time, there was no relegation battle to worry about. Coventry finished an impressive 11th with 52 points amassed and they lost just 10 of their 38 league matches – the fourth-lowest of the season.

Dion Dublin turned down a move to Blackburn Rovers and his commitment to the Coventry cause remained. An opening day hat-trick against Chelsea set the tone for his season which saw him share the Golden Boot with 18 goals alongside Michael Owen and Chris Sutton. The most enjoyable result was the post-Christmas 3-2 victory over Manchester United with Darren Huckerby scoring a late winner for the Sky Blues.

 

1998-1999

For the second consecutive season, Coventry started their season with victory over Chelsea with both Huckerby and Dublin on-target. Dublin though left in early November, signing in mid-November for Aston Villa and it meant the club struggled to replicate the goalscoring form of the previous campaign. Coventry finished in 15th place and nine points worse off but eight home wins at Highfield Road and 10 goals from Noel Whelan meant they were never in any significant relegation danger.

Steve Froggatt scored the Goal of the Season against Everton in mid-November whilst the 4-1 away victory at Villa Park in February was the highlight of the campaign from a results perspective.

 

1999-2000

There was a Moroccan feel to Coventry in pre-season as Mustapha Hadji and Youssef Chippo both arrived to add a continental approach to the Sky Blues. Also arriving was Robbie Keane and the highly-rated youngster scored 12 Premier League goals in his debut top-flight campaign. Coventry enjoyed one of the best home records in the division, winning 12 of their 19 matches at Highfield Road which included a memorable 3-2 success on Boxing Day over Arsenal. However, they failed to win a single match on their travels and that restricted them to a 14th place finish.

 

2000-2001

After 16 months without an away victory, Coventry City’s 2-1 win at The Dell over Southampton on 23rd August ended their barren run and hopes were high for a better campaign, especially when Manchester City were beaten days later on their own patch. However, only two more victories followed before Christmas and with Keane sold in the summer to Inter Milan, goalscoring became a real problem. Hadji and newcomer Craig Bellamy were top of the charts but both only managed six goals apiece.

After 34 years of top-flight football, Coventry’s luck ran out. Despite leading 2-0 at Villa Park in their penultimate game of the season, Paul Merson’s late winner helped Aston Villa claim all three points and condemn Coventry to relegation to Division One. Strachan stepped down a few months later.

Iconic Moments: Dublin’s head-butt (March 2003)

The 2002-2003 Premier League season was the first campaign that brought Second City rivals Aston Villa and Birmingham City together in the same league since the 1980s. Birmingham had won the first game 3-0 at St Andrew’s, helped by a calamitous goalkeeping error from Peter Enckelman. Villa were looking for revenge in the return fixture at Villa Park in March 2003.

It was 0-0 early in the second half when Dion Dublin lost his cool and composure in the heat of battle. Robbie Savage had just received possession when Dublin made a sudden charge and clattered Savage with a heavy challenge. The Birmingham midfielder was tempted to react but Mark Halsey came across quickly to try and defuse the situation.

Words were clearly exchanged between the pair and whatever Savage said seemed to irritate Dublin spectacularly who head-butted Savage right infront of the referee. A mass brawl broke out but Dion had given Halsey no option but to send him off.

Birmingham went on to win the match 2-0 and complete a memorable league double for the Blues supporters against a nine-man Villa who also had Joey Gudjonsson sent off late on in a bad-tempered encounter.

The Clubs: Aston Villa

All-Time Premier League Record

Played Won Drew Lost Scored Conceded Goal Difference Points No of Seasons
924 316 275 333 1117 1186 -69 1223 24

 

Most Premier League Appearances

Player Appearances Total
Gareth Barry 365
Gabriel Agbonlahor 322
Alan Wright 260
Lee Hendrie 251
Steve Staunton 245
Ian Taylor 234
Olof Mellberg 232
Ugo Ehiogu 229
Gareth Southgate 190
Stiliyan Petrov 185

 

Most Premier League Goals

Player Goals Total
Gabriel Agbonlahor 73
Dwight Yorke 60
Dion Dublin 48
Juan Pablo Angel 44
Christian Benteke 42
Gareth Barry 41
Julian Joachim 39
Dean Saunders 38
John Carew 37
Darius Vassell 35

 

Biggest Premier League Victories

Match Date Season
Aston Villa 7-1 Wimbledon 11th February 1995 1994-1995
Derby County 0-6 Aston Villa 12th April 2008 2007-2008
Aston Villa 6-1 Sunderland 29th April 2013 2012-2013
Aston Villa 5-0 Swindon Town 12th February 1994 1993-1994
Aston Villa 5-0 Wimbledon 22nd December 1996 1996-1997
Leicester City 0-5 Aston Villa 31st January 2004 2003-2004
Aston Villa 5-1 Middlesbrough 17th January 1993 1992-1993
Aston Villa 5-1 Birmingham City 20th April 2008 2007-2008
Aston Villa 5-1 Bolton Wanderers 7th November 2009 2009-2010
Aston Villa 4-0 Watford 5th February 2000 1999-2000

 

Worst Premier League Defeats

Match Date Season
Chelsea 8-0 Aston Villa 23rd December 2012 2012-2013
Chelsea 7-1 Aston Villa 27th March 2010 2009-2010
Newcastle United 6-0 Aston Villa 22nd August 2010 2010-2011
Aston Villa 0-6 Liverpool FC 14th February 2016 2015-2016
Southampton 6-1 Aston Villa 16th May 2015 2014-2015
Blackburn Rovers 5-0 Aston Villa 17th January 1998 1997-1998
Arsenal 5-0 Aston Villa 1st April 2006 2005-2006
Liverpool FC 5-0 Aston Villa 22nd March 2009 2008-2009
Manchester City 5-0 Aston Villa 17th November 2012 2012-2013
Arsenal 5-0 Aston Villa 1st February 2015 2014-2015

 

Managers

Manager No of Seasons managed Left the Club
Ron Atkinson 3 10th November 1994
Brian Little 4 24th February 1998
John Gregory 5 23rd January 2002
Graham Taylor 2 30th June 2003
David O’Leary 3 20th July 2006
Martin O’Neill 4 9th August 2010
Gerard Houllier 1 1st June 2011
Alex McLeish 1 14th May 2012
Paul Lambert 3 11th February 2015
Tim Sherwood 2 25th October 2015
Remi Garde 1 29th March 2016
Eric Black 1 3rd June 2016

 

Highest Home Attendances

Match Date Attendance Figure Season
Aston Villa 2-0 Derby County 3rd November 2007 47,938 2007-2008
Aston Villa 2-1 Liverpool FC 7th May 1994 45,347 1993-1994
Aston Villa 0-1 Liverpool FC 29th December 2009 42,788 2009-2010
Aston Villa 1-1 Manchester United 10th February 2010 42,788 2009-2010
Aston Villa 1-0 Birmingham City 25th April 2010 42,788 2009-2010
Aston Villa 1-0 Liverpool FC 22nd May 2011 42,785 2010-2011
Aston Villa 0-3 Manchester United 15th December 2013 42,682 2013-2014
Aston Villa 1-2 Liverpool FC 11th August 2007 42,640 2007-2008
Aston Villa 1-4 Manchester United 20th October 2007 42,640 2007-2008
Aston Villa 4-1 Newcastle United 9th February 2008 42,640 2007-2008

 

Intro

Aston Villa were a Premier League ever-present until their relegation from the Premier League in 2016. Runners-up in the very first season, the Villans remain one of the leading clubs in English football. They enjoyed sustained top-six campaigns under the likes of Brian Little in the mid-1990s and throughout Martin O’Neill’s exciting reign. However, Randy Lerner’s determination to tighten the purse led to three managers, just three wins, mass protests inside Villa Park and the demise in 2015-2016 that was pretty sorry to witness. Villa are now in their third season in the Championship and desperate to return to the Premier League party, with former title-winning skipper John Terry now on the coaching staff as assistant manager to former Brentford boss, Dean Smith.

 

1992-1993

After only drawing their first three Premier League matches, manager Ron Atkinson added to his striking reinforcements with the acquisition of Dean Saunders from Liverpool FC. It was a great bit of business. Saunders struck up a great partnership with Dalian Atkinson, whose strike away at Wimbledon in October won the BBC Match of the Day Goal of the Season.

For much of the season, Villa were locked in a tight battle for the inaugural Premier League title along with Manchester United and Norwich City. Paul McGrath’s tremendous performances saw him crowned as the PFA Players’ Player of the Year. However, a 3-0 defeat at Ewood Park to Blackburn Rovers in mid-April handed the title initiative to Manchester United. A home loss to Oldham Athletic at the start of May finished off Villa’s title bid and they eventually finished 10 points shy of top spot. Nevertheless, their attractive brand of football had won them new fans and made them one of the neutral supporters’ favourite in this new era of English football.

 

1993-1994

Aston Villa’s second Premier League campaign was unremarkable. A modest 10th place finish was a disappointment after the previous season’s near-miss with the title. However, there was to be a silver lining to the campaign. In March, they defeated Manchester United 3-1 at Wembley Stadium to win the League Cup – therefore denying the Red Devils a shot at a unique domestic treble.

 

1994-1995

In a bid to improve league fortunes, Ron Atkinson signed John Fashanu in the summer from Wimbledon and with Saunders, Dalian Atkinson and Dwight Yorke all still around – goals looked set to be a guarantee. However, the squad was starting to age and a cataclysmic run of form saw Villa slip to 20th by mid-November. They threw away a match at Selhurst Park against Wimbledon, losing 4-3 after going 3-1 infront. Despite their dire position and having experienced a nine-game winless run, many were surprised to see Atkinson sacked by the ruthless Doug Ellis.

Ellis started his pursuit of former player Brian Little, who resigned from his position as Leicester City manager to force through his move into the Villa Park dugout. He won Manager of the Month honours in January and spearheaded the club to their biggest-ever Premier League victory with a 7-1 demolition of Wimbledon in mid-February. However, another desperate run saw them slip dangerously close to the bottom four and survival was only effectively secured by a Yorke double in their final home match of the season against Liverpool FC. 18th place was not where anyone expected the Villans to finish after a nightmare league season.

 

1995-1996

Brian Little’s first summer saw him bring in Mark Draper, Gareth Southgate and Savo Milosevic and Villa’s fortunes drastically improved. A 3-1 opening day victory over Manchester United set the tone for an encouraging campaign that saw the Villans rarely outside the top six. They even harboured outside hopes of the championship with an unbeaten home record until the end of January when Liverpool FC defeated them 2-0. Nevertheless, Villa finished an excellent fourth and won the League Cup for the second time in three years, overpowering Leeds United 3-0 in the final.

 

1996-1997

Aston Vila dropped from fourth to fifth in the table in 1996-1997 but it was another consistent and impressive season from Brian Little’s men. They destroyed Wimbledon’s 20+ match unbeaten run with a 5-0 trouncing of the Dons in December and also beat Liverpool FC at home 1-0. They secured qualification for the UEFA Cup on the final day of the season with a narrow success over Southampton.

 

1997-1998

The arrival of Stan Collymore for just over £7 million days after the previous season concluded suggested great hopes for Aston Villa in 1997-1998 but losing their first four matches quickly put out those high expectations. Brian Little resigned towards the end of February after a defeat at Wimbledon that left Villa in a disappointing 14th position in the table. His former coach, John Gregory, returned to the club and they recovered brilliantly. Despite disappointing home defeats to the relegated duo of Barnsley and Bolton Wanderers, Villa’s rapid rise to seventh place at the season’s end meant another season of European football for the supporters to look forward to.

 

1998-1999

Gregory was unhappy with Dwight Yorke after the Villans’ superstar forced through a transfer to Manchester United four days into the season. Nevertheless, he spent the Yorke money wisely on the likes of Paul Merson, Steve Watson and in November, Dion Dublin from Midlands’ rivals, Coventry City. Villa set a club-record run of 12 games unbeaten at the start of the season and in December, produced one of the comebacks of the season to defeat champions Arsenal 3-2, having trailed 2-0 at half-time.

They topped the table on Christmas Day and were in a four-way scrap for the title going into the New Year alongside Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal. However, Stan Collymore was sidelined for much of the second half of the season because of stress, the goals dried up for Merson and Dublin and an FA Cup defeat at home to First Division Fulham sparked a dramatic collapse in form. Aston Villa won just three league games in the second half of the campaign and faded badly to sixth position, missing out on the UEFA Intertoto Cup position to West Ham United in the process. It was a campaign that promised so much but ultimately, delivered so little.

 

1999-2000

John Gregory’s second full season in the dugout began poorly as the lack of confidence around the team remained. Dublin sustained a nasty neck injury in December that kept him out of action for several months and away form especially was a major concern. They improved after Christmas to finish in sixth position and also reached the FA Cup final, losing 1-0 to Chelsea in the final-ever FA Cup event to be played underneath Wembley’ famed ‘Twin Towers.’

 

2000-2001

Aston Villa’s 2000-2001 campaign was unremarkable to say the least. They finished in eighth place and made little impact on the season’s proceedings. 15 draws ensured they wouldn’t finish any higher in the table whilst main summer signing Luc Nilis suffered a serious injury playing against Ipswich Town in September that cost the Belgian his playing career.

 

2001-2002

Moroccan Internationals Mustapha Hadji and Hassan Kachloul were added to the squad in pre-season and Peter Schmeichel also returned to the Premier League after his spell in Portugal with Sporting Lisbon. Villa made a bright start and Schmeichel became the first-ever goalkeeper to score in the Premier League with his late effort in defeat at Everton. They went top of the table at the end of October but followed this high with a run of just one win in 11 matches.

By now, John Gregory had grown tired of his tempestuous relationship with Doug Ellis and resigned in late January, freeing himself up to take up the vacancy at former club Derby County. 12 years after guiding the club to a second-place finish in the old First Division, Graham Taylor returned to have another go at working with Ellis. He oversaw two late season victories over Southampton and Chelsea to ensure another eighth place finish in the table and therefore, a seventh successive campaign inside the Premier League’s top 10.

 

2002-2003

One goal only and three defeats in the opening four matches set the tone for a disappointing 2002-2003 season for Graham Taylor and Aston Villa. There were two damaging defeats to Second City rivals Birmingham City, who finished above them in the table for good measure. The second defeat at Villa Park saw a goalkeeping error and two daft red cards for Dion Dublin and Joey Gudjonsson. The usually restrained Taylor refused to take any questions afterwards from the media after this debacle.

Survival was only guaranteed on the penultimate weekend of the season and the 16th place finish that followed was enough for Ellis to dismiss Taylor at the end of the campaign.

 

2003-2004

After a season on the sidelines, David O’Leary returned to management and guided Aston Villa back into the Premier League’s top six. He made a slow start, winning just two of his first 13 league games which left the club in the bottom three in early December after a 4-0 drubbing at Old Trafford to Manchester United. Form improved dramatically after that result, losing just two of their next nine games to get the club into the European reckoning. O’Leary’s side reached the semi-finals of the League Cup and finished just five points shy of the UEFA Champions League qualification places – although the cup heroics of Middlesbrough and Millwall meant this was one of the rare seasons where sixth place wasn’t enough to secure European football for the following season.

 

2004-2005

There were few highs in 2004-2005 for Aston Villa supporters as the team failed to build on the previous season’s sixth place finish. Villa dropped to 10th and lost both games again to bitter rivals Birmingham City to ensure they remained winless in six meetings against the Blues since their promotion to the top-flight.

There was a 3-0 victory at St James’ Park and a comeback victory at Southampton from 2-0 down at half-time to a 3-2 success but it was a mediocre season at best for the Villa faithful.

 

2005-2006

Milan Baros arrived from Liverpool FC in a bid to improve Aston Villa’s goalscoring potential but the Czech only showed fleeting glimpses of his quality and for much of the season, Villa lagged at the wrong end of the table. Any relegation fears were ended by a 3-1 victory over Birmingham City where Baros scored twice and youngster Gary Cahill scored his first senior goal with a spectacular overhead kick.

In total, Villa only recorded 10 league victories, although there were two 4-0 triumphs over Everton and Middlesbrough respectively. They finished a dismal 16th, and just eight points clear of danger. With Doug Ellis set to sell the club, O’Leary left his role as manager at the end of the campaign after three seasons at the helm.

 

2006-2007

Martin O’Neill was installed as the new manager in the off-season and in late August, American businessman Randy Lerner completed his takeover of the club. Villa were the last team in the Premier League to taste defeat, staying undefeated until a 3-1 loss at Liverpool FC at the end of October. An 11-match winless sequence in the winter months had some fans nervous but O’Neill was stabilising the club for a more sustained European push in the seasons to come. This was highlighted further by the January additions of John Carew and Ashley Young. They finished 11th, having drawn a staggering 17 of their 38 league matches.

 

2007-2008

Aston Villa improved five positions on their 2006-2007 finish, returning to the top six and earning UEFA Cup football for the following season. John Carew and Gabby Agbonlahor scored 24 goals between them in a dangerous attacking partnership and O’Neill’s side played some great attacking football throughout the season. This included a 6-0 victory away at hapless Derby County in April which remains the club’s biggest-ever away victory in the Premier League.

 

2008-2009

For the second successive season, Aston Villa finished in sixth position, although there was a sense of disappointment at the end of it. The Villans launched a serious challenge to Arsenal in the race for a top four position and at one point, held a seven-point advantage over the Gunners, spearheaded by a tremendous sequence of away victories which broke a long-standing club record. A 2-2 draw at home to newly-promoted Stoke City though began a calamitous run which saw them win just one of their next 10 games, puncturing their ambitions of reaching the UEFA Champions League qualifiers.

 

2009-2010

For the first time in 12 years, Aston Villa began a campaign without Gareth Barry after his summer departure to Manchester City. They didn’t miss him too much in the early part of the season despite an opening day defeat at home to Wigan Athletic. Villa won at Anfield and Old Trafford and defeated eventual champions Chelsea 2-1 in October too.

O’Neill’s side were always in the four-way tussle for a top four finish and although they amassed two more points than the previous campaign, they finished sixth again with Tottenham Hotspur taking the coveted fourth spot. James Milner’s excellent displays saw him awarded with the PFA Young Player of the Year award and there was also a return to the League Cup final after a 14-year absence. However, it ended in heartbreak with a 2-1 defeat at Wembley to Manchester United.

 

2010-2011

This was the first season where Randy Lerner started to tighten the purse strings at Aston Villa and after a disagreement over the future transfer policy of the club; Martin O’Neill abruptly resigned as manager just five days before the season got underway. Two weeks later, James Milner was sold to Manchester City.

After serving notice as technical director of the French Football Federation, Gerard Houllier took charge towards the end of September but he struggled to sustain any consistency, both in terms of results and performances. He didn’t see out the season either. Ill health meant it was his no.2 Gary McAllister who took charge of the last few games of the season. Victories over Arsenal and Liverpool FC took the club to ninth place but it was the beginning of a worrying decline for the supporters.

 

2011-2012

With Houllier being forced to step down, it was Alex McLeish who succeeded him. Having been boss of Birmingham City before taking over at Villa Park, he was not a popular choice and although he stayed unbeaten until mid-October in the Premier League, the style of football was absolutely awful. Aston Villa amassed just 38 points all season, recorded only seven victories and collected just 19 points at home which at that point, was their worst-ever home campaign in their top-flight history.

Club captain Stiliyan Petrov was diagnosed with acute leukaemia towards the end of March and after a final day defeat to Norwich City, McLeish became the third Aston Villa manager in their Premier League history to finish 16th and receive his marching orders.

 

2012-2013

Paul Lambert was the new manager at the helm for the 2012-2013 season after guiding Norwich City to a 12th place finish in his first top-flight management campaign. The Scot found the going extremely tough in his new job as Aston Villa collected just a single point from his opening three games in-charge. There was a fabulous 3-1 victory at Anfield over Liverpool FC but just a week later, Villa caved in spectacularly at Chelsea to lose 8-0.

Further embarrassment followed in January with a League Cup semi-final defeat over two legs to fourth-tier outfit Bradford City and it was only the goals of new signing Christian Benteke that just about kept Villa above the bottom three. Benteke finished with 20+ goals to become the first player in the club’s Premier League history to achieve that feat since Dwight Yorke. Aston Villa finished a rocky campaign in 15th position.

 

2013-2014

For the second season running, Aston Villa finished in 15th position and endured another stale campaign under the guidance of Paul Lambert. There were few remarkable highlights, other than a 3-1 victory on the opening weekend over Arsenal at The Emirates Stadium and an early season 3-2 triumph over eventual title winners, Manchester City. At the end of a stale season, Randy Lerner confirmed he had put the club up for sale but he would find no interested buyer ultimately to take the club off his hands.

 

2014-2015

Three wins from the club’s first four matches including a 1-0 success at Anfield hinted at potentially a better season for Aston Villa but they followed this up with a run of six successive defeats, failing to score in five of these matches. Goalscoring was a huge problem all season and after a 2-0 loss to Hull City in mid-February that saw the club slip to 19th position, Paul Lambert was sacked and replaced by Tim Sherwood.

Sherwood managed to galvanise the team and especially, Christian Benteke, who rediscovered his scoring form under his management. This included a hat-trick against Queens Park Rangers and a winning goal at White Hart Lane. There was a late season 6-1 beating at Southampton but other results ensured their safety, although they finished just one place above the drop zone. Sherwood’s impact also saw Aston Villa reach the FA Cup final, although this ended in a 4-0 defeat to holders Arsenal.

 

2015-2016

For the second season running, Aston Villa won their first match of the season away from home. Rudy Gestede’s header meant they were the party poopers at AFC Bournemouth, inflicting defeat on the Cherries on their Premier League bow. However, it would be the only win they amassed in the first half of a nightmare season. By the turn of the New Year, they were 11 points adrift of safety.

Tim Sherwood was sacked towards the end of October following a run of six consecutive defeats which began with a collapse at Leicester City, throwing away a 2-0 lead to lose 3-2 to the fearless Foxes. Remi Garde was drafted in as manager and stopped the rot with a gutsy goalless draw at home to Manchester City. However, the Frenchman looked completely out of his depth. This was never more evident when on Valentine Day’s 2016; they suffered their worst home defeat since 1935 after losing 6-0 at home to Liverpool FC.

Garde eventually parted ways with the club at the end of March and Villa’s final days in the Premier League were greeted with mass demonstrations, banners and protests calling for owner Randy Lerner to step down. Eric Black took charge on an interim basis until the end of the season and relegation was finally confirmed with a 1-0 loss in mid-April away at Manchester United. Villa’s final tally of three wins and just 17 points means this is the third worst campaign ever seen by a team in Premier League history.

Memorable Matches: Aston Villa 3-2 Arsenal (December 1998)

Goalscorers: Dennis Bergkamp 14, 45, Julian Joachim 62, Dion Dublin 65, 83

Teams:

Aston Villa: Michael Oakes, Ugo Ehiogu, Gareth Southgate, Steve Watson, Alan Wright, Gareth Barry (Stan Collymore 54), Lee Hendrie, Ian Taylor, Alan Thompson, Dion Dublin, Julian Joachim (Simon Grayson 86)

Arsenal: David Seaman, Steve Bould, Nelson Vivas, Lee Dixon, Martin Keown, Patrick Vieira, Ray Parlour (Luis Boa Morte 89), Freddie Ljungberg (Gilles Grimandi 68), Marc Overmars, Nicolas Anelka, Dennis Bergkamp

Referee: Stephen Lodge, Attendance: 39,217

Aston Villa were flying high in the first half of the 1998-1999 season and looked like a genuine contender for the Premier League title. John Gregory’s side had only been beaten twice all campaign by the time reigning champions Arsenal visited Villa Park. Villa had just been knocked off top spot by Manchester United after their 2-2 draw with Tottenham Hotspur 24 hours earlier and were enduring their toughest run of the season – having collected just two points from their previous four fixtures.

Back after missing four matches with a thigh problem, Dennis Bergkamp gave the champions the lead after 14 minutes. Strike partner Nicolas Anelka won an aerial challenge and Bergkamp showed his class to sprint away from Gareth Barry. The Dutchman then provided a clinical finish with a volley from distance that surprised Michael Oakes. Although the home side were enjoying more possession, it was the Gunners who had more intent in attacking situations. Right on the stroke of half-time, the visitors doubled their advantage with Anelka and Bergkamp once again working brilliantly in tandem.

The Frenchman was once again the provider, getting to the by-line unchallenged, turning and producing a crisp pass which Bergkamp dispatched in commanding fashion with an instant first-touch finish. Gregory was now going to have to give a stiff half-time team talk to his players if they were going to turn this situation around. However, the interval would last for 30 minutes after a shocking incident at half-time.

RAF parachutist Nigel Rogoff was coming into the stadium in a Santa Claus outfit when his stunt went dreadfully wrong. He hit the roof of the Trinity Road stand and plunged to the ground. Rogoff sustained bad injuries to both of his legs and his left leg would later be amputated above the knee.

Once the football resumed, the Villa faithful put aside those events to help galvanise the players back into the contest. Gregory brought Stan Collymore on for Barry 10 minutes into the second half and his presence helped the Villans back into the match. On 62 minutes, it was his flick-on that played in Lee Hendrie. Hendrie then squared the ball to Julian Joachim and he beat David Seaman with a low shot.

Three minutes later, Arsenal’s lead had vanished. Dion Dublin scored his eighth goal for the club since arriving from Coventry City a month earlier. His first attempt at a shot was blocked but when Alan Thompson’s miscue fell neatly into his path, he made no mistake as Arsenal’s protests against an offside fell on deaf ears. Sensing a winner was on the cards, Villa continued to increase the tempo and they completed the comeback seven minutes from full-time. Martin Keown missed his attempt of a clearing header and the ball dropped beautifully for Dublin to thrash a shot beyond Seaman.

Villa would spend Christmas Day on top of the table but a dire run of 10 games without a win from mid-January saw them fade to sixth in the final standings. Arsenal won the return fixture 1-0 at Highbury on the last day of the season but missed out on retaining their title by just a single point.

Memorable Matches: Sheffield Wednesday 4-3 Coventry City (December 1995)

Goalscorers: Dion Dublin 18, 37, 55, Guy Whittingham 25, David Hirst 39, Marc Degryse 60, Mark Bright 73

Teams:

Sheffield Wednesday: Kevin Pressman, Peter Atherton, Steve Nicol, Ian Nolan, Des Walker, Lee Briscoe, Marc Degryse, Chris Waddle (Graham Hyde 85), Mark Bright, David Hirst, Guy Whittingham

Coventry City: Steve Ogrizovic, Marcus Hall, Ally Pickering, David Rennie (Gordon Strachan 74), Richard Shaw, Paul Williams, Kevin Richardson, Paul Telfer, John Salako, Dion Dublin, Peter Ndlovu

Referee: Mike Reed, Attendance: 16,229

Both Sheffield Wednesday and Coventry City were struggling in the Premier League table when the sides clashed at Hillsborough on a Monday Night Football in December 1995. The Sky Blues had won just one game all season, whilst David Pleat’s Owls were in the bottom six and looking to find some consistency. Both sides produced thrilling attacking displays which meant the neutral was in for an early December treat.

Coventry took the lead on 18 minutes. Their top goalscorer, Dion Dublin headed home from a corner which looked to have been cleared off the goal-line. However, referee Mike Reed correctly spotted the whole of the ball had crossed the line before it was hooked clear. The visitors’ lead lasted just seven minutes. Lee Briscoe got the better of Ally Pickering on the right-hand side and his cross into the box eventually fell to the feet of Guy Whittingham. Whittingham made no mistake to score his fourth goal in his last three matches against the Midlands club. Whittingham was enjoying this match and so too was Dublin. Eight minutes before the interval, he scored his second of the evening to put Ron Atkinson’s side back infront. Kevin Pressman failed to hold onto John Salako’s ambitious attempt and his spill gave Dublin the simplest of finishes.

Wednesday’s response was even quicker than their first equaliser. Mark Bright ghosted into plenty of space and his shot was saved brilliantly by Steve Ogrizovic. Unfortunately for the Coventry shot-stopper, it fell straight to David Hirst to restore parity. It was his sixth goal of the season as he was on the comeback trail from his most recent injury setback which had been a neck problem.

2-2 at the break, more goals were promised in the second half and sure enough, the entertainment continued on this wet Yorkshire evening. Coventry’s Achilles heel was dealing with crosses and it nearly led to embarrassment for defender Richard Shaw. A Hirst header back across the face of goal was diverted onto his own crossbar by Shaw. Maybe it was a sign that Coventry were going to win and Dublin was in peak form. From Kevin Richardson’s corner, Dublin flicked the ball into the net on 55 minutes to complete his hat-trick. However, Coventry’s defensive ineptitude would ensure the skipper’s goalscoring contribution would be on a losing cause.

Yet again, Atkinson’s side were caught out by a cross. Bright pulled off the back of Shaw from Hirst’s cross and Belgian international Marc Degryse followed up after another save from the unfortunate Ogrizovic. Hirst then went on to hit the post as the Owls definitely finished as the stronger side. The winner came 17 minutes from full-time. Ian Nolan escaped the attentions of Salako and drilled in a cross to the near post that was stabbed home by the excellent Bright. This was the start of Sheffield Wednesday’s most productive month of 1995-1996. They scored 14 goals in four matches and both clubs would avoid relegation but only in the closing weeks of the campaign.

Premier League Rewind: 7th-8th November 1998

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

The 7th-8th November 1998 weekend would be one of shattering blows for an Italian striker, the end of ‘The Boot Room’ regime at a leading Premier League club and a wonderful debut for another forward in the Midlands.

The big news going into this round of games was Aston Villa’s acquisition of the ex-Manchester United forward Dion Dublin. Villa had pipped Blackburn Rovers to the signature of Dublin, who had decided to call time on his four-year spell as the leading marksman at Coventry City.

Just 48 hours after arriving at Villa Park, Dublin made his Aston Villa debut as the league leaders welcomed Tottenham Hotspur. With virtually his first opportunity, he scored after 31 minutes. Four minutes later, he made it 2-0 with another composed finish and when Stan Collymore made it 3-0 two minutes into the second half, John Gregory’s side were going to be staying as the table toppers. Despite two late goals from Darren Anderton and Ramon Vega, Villa held on for a 3-2 victory which looked more comfortable than the actual scoreline suggested. Gregory’s side were still unbeaten after 11 matches and finished the weekend two points clear. For new Tottenham manager George Graham, it was just one win from his first four matches in the post and Spurs sat a below-par 14th in the table.

Only three places above them were Liverpool FC. The Reds had won just one of their last seven matches and that run got worse when Derby County won 2-1 at Anfield. Early goals inside the first 30 minutes from Kevin Harper and Paulo Wanchope spearheaded Derby to an amazing victory. The pressure was growing on Liverpool’s wisdom of appointing joint-managers. It was Gerard Houllier and Roy Evans in the dugout together and the latter was taking most of the flak. Less than a week later, Evans had parted company with the club and Houllier would take sole charge of the team. The final link to ‘The Boot Room’ which had dominated Anfield for over 30 years had been severed.

Liverpool were some way off the pace which was being set by Villa. Among the chasing pack were Chelsea and they extended their unbeaten run to nine matches after drawing 1-1 at West Ham United. Celestine Babayaro scored the equaliser to preserve this record. However, this match would be overshadowed by a horrific injury sustained by Pierluigi Casiraghi. The Italian had scored just once and his 10th appearance for the Londoners would be his last. An unfortunate collision in the penalty area with West Ham goalkeeper Shaka Hislop led to a serious cruciate knee ligament injury. Chelsea boss Gianluca Vialli admitted his season was over but was optimistic Casiraghi could recover. In truth, he would never play professional football again, retiring in 2002 after 10 unsuccessful operations.

Defending champions Arsenal moved above Manchester United into second place. Nicolas Anelka’s early goal after six minutes was enough to defeat Everton 1-0 at Highbury whilst the Red Devils were held to a goalless draw by a stubborn Newcastle United at Old Trafford.

At the wrong end of the table, Southampton remained bottom after an enthralling 3-3 draw with Middlesbrough. The visitors had both Phil Stamp and Robbie Mustoe sent off by referee Paul Alcock and required a 90th minute equaliser from defender Gianluca Festa to rescue a point. Coventry City and Blackburn Rovers swapped places with the Sky Blues’ 2-1 win in Lancashire moving them out of the relegation zone at Blackburn’s expense.

What else happened in November 1998?

  • The United States House of Representatives’ Judiciary Committee begins impeachment hearings against American president Bill Clinton over the Lewinsky scandal.
  • The European Court of Human Rights is instituted.
  • The United Kingdom formally abolishes the death penalty.
  • Former professional wrestler, Jesse Ventura is elected Governor of Minnesota.
  • Daimler-Benz completes a merger with Chrysler Corporation to form Daimler-Chrysler.
  • A new subscription movie channel from Channel 4, FilmFour is launched.
  • Mika Hakkinen wins the Japanese Grand Prix to become Formula One World Champion for the first time in his career.

Shock Results: Aston Villa 1-4 Coventry City (February 1999)

Goalscorers: John Aloisi 23, 75, George Boateng 51, 84, Dion Dublin 55 PEN

Teams:

Aston Villa: Michael Oakes, Riccardo Scimeca, Gareth Southgate, Steve Watson (Gareth Barry 44), Alan Wright, Simon Grayson, Lee Hendrie, Ian Taylor (Mark Draper 29, Stan Collymore 55), Paul Merson, Dion Dublin, Julian Joachim

Coventry City: Magnus Hedman, David Burrows, Paul Williams, Richard Shaw, Roland Nilsson, Steve Froggatt, Paul Telfer, George Boateng, Gary McAllister, John Aloisi, Darren Huckerby (Gary McSheffrey 90)

Referee: Uriah Rennie, Attendance: 38,799

For a long period in the 1998-1999 season, Aston Villa were seen as genuine title contenders. They were top of the table on Christmas Day but by the end of February, they were wilting under the pressure. Three successive defeats had dropped them to fourth place in the table and they needed to get back to winning ways in this Midlands derby with Coventry City.

As with usual tradition, the Sky Blues were in the midst of a relegation tussle, so their chances of pulling off a victory at Villa Park were seen as slim despite the drop in form from John Gregory’s side.

Coventry took the lead in the 23rd minute. On his return to Villa Park, Steve Froggatt set-up a chance for Australian forward John Aloisi to score. Aloisi, making his first start in eight games, guided his shot past Michael Oakes, leaving Riccardo Scimeca rather flat-footed in the process.

That was the main highlight of a disappointing first half but Coventry’s desire to win seemed greater. As the sleet started to fall around the ground, the gloom began to deepen for Villa supporters. George Boateng powered a shot home at the near post after some careless possession play from the home side. Coventry, who had won at Villa Park in the FA Cup a season ago were closing in on a rare away win.

Gregory needed a response from his team. He got it in the 55th minute. Richard Shaw’s clumsy challenge on Julian Joachim saw Uriah Rennie point to the penalty spot. Former Coventry lynchpin Dion Dublin, who had transferred to the Villans in early November, emphatically dispatched the penalty beyond Magnus Hedman. It was his first goal of 1999.

Aston Villa had come from 2-0 down earlier in the season to earn a point away at Nottingham Forest and to beat Arsenal but this was going to be a different story. With 15 minutes left, Coventry regained their two-goal advantage. From Froggatt’s free-kick, Aloisi connected perfectly on the volley and struck the ball well beyond Oakes. Aloisi was only starting because injury had ruled Noel Whelan out. He’d taken his chance and in breathtaking fashion.

Boateng completely dominated the midfield battle and with six minutes remaining, he put the icing on the cake for the travelling fans. Gary McAllister chipped a ball through which horribly exposed Villa’s frail offside trap. Boateng ghosted past a rather static Alan Wright, then beat the onrushing Oakes to the ball, getting enough on the contact to lob the ball into the back of the net. Coventry’s joy was complete. This was their first-ever league victory at Villa Park and it was well worth the wait. They’d finish in 15th position whilst Villa only managed sixth and missed out completely on European qualification. Their season which had promised so much ultimately delivered so little.

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.

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.

Seasonal Records: 1997-1998

For all the statistical fans out there, here are some of the season’s records from the 1997-1998 Premier League season, as a third Premier League team emerged as a championship-winning side.

FINAL TABLE

Position Team P W D L F A GD PTS
1 Arsenal 38 23 9 6 68 33 +35 78
2 Manchester United 38 23 8 7 73 26 +47 77
3 Liverpool FC 38 18 11 9 68 42 +26 65
4 Chelsea 38 20 3 15 71 43 +28 63
5 Leeds United 38 17 8 13 57 46 +11 59
6 Blackburn Rovers 38 16 10 12 57 52 +5 58
7 Aston Villa 38 17 6 15 49 48 +1 57
8 West Ham United 38 16 8 14 56 57 -1 56
9 Derby County 38 16 7 15 52 49 +3 55
10 Leicester City 38 13 14 11 51 41 +10 53
11 Coventry City 38 12 16 10 46 44 +2 52
12 Southampton 38 14 6 18 50 55 -5 48
13 Newcastle United 38 11 11 16 35 44 -9 44
14 Tottenham Hotspur 38 11 11 16 44 56 -12 44
15 Wimbledon 38 10 14 14 34 46 -12 44
16 Sheffield Wednesday 38 12 8 18 52 67 -15 44
17 Everton 38 9 13 16 41 56 -15 40
18 Bolton Wanderers 38 9 13 16 41 61 -20 40
19 Barnsley 38 10 5 23 37 82 -45 35
20 Crystal Palace 38 8 9 21 37 71 -34 33

THE BASIC STATS

Goals Scored 1019
European qualifiers Arsenal (UEFA Champions League), Manchester United (UEFA Champions League), Liverpool FC (UEFA Cup), Leeds United (UEFA Cup), Blackburn Rovers (UEFA Cup), Aston Villa (UEFA Cup), Chelsea (UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup), Newcastle United (UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup), Crystal Palace (UEFA Intertoto Cup)
Longest winning run 10 games (Arsenal)
Longest unbeaten run 18 games (Arsenal)
Longest winless run 15 games (Crystal Palace)
Longest losing run 8 games (Crystal Palace)
Highest attendance 55,306 (Manchester United vs. Wimbledon)
Lowest attendance 7,688 (Wimbledon vs. Barnsley)

AWARDS

PFA Players’ Player of the Year Dennis Bergkamp (Arsenal)
PFA Young Player of the Year Michael Owen (Liverpool FC)
Football Writers’ Award Dennis Bergkamp (Arsenal)
PFA Team of the Year Nigel Martyn, Graeme Le Saux, Colin Hendry, Gary Pallister, Gary Neville, David Batty, Nicky Butt, David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Dennis Bergkamp, Michael Owen
Manager of the Year Arsene Wenger (Arsenal)
Goal of the Season Dennis Bergkamp (Leicester City vs. ARSENAL)

HAT-TRICK HEROES

Player Teams Score Date
Dion Dublin Coventry City vs. Chelsea 3-2 9th August 1997
Chris Sutton Aston Villa vs. Blackburn Rovers 0-4 13th August 1997
Gianluca Vialli (4) Barnsley vs. Chelsea 0-6 24th August 1997
Dennis Bergkamp Leicester City vs. Arsenal 3-3 27th August 1997
Ian Wright Arsenal vs. Bolton Wanderers 4-1 13th September 1997
Patrik Berger Liverpool FC vs. Chelsea 4-2 5th October 1997
Andy Cole Manchester United vs. Barnsley 7-0 25th October 1997
Andy Booth Sheffield Wednesday vs. Bolton Wanderers 5-0 8th November 1997
Gianfranco Zola Chelsea vs. Derby County 4-0 29th November 1997
Tore Andre Flo Tottenham Hotspur vs. Chelsea 1-6 6th December 1997
Duncan Ferguson Everton vs. Bolton Wanderers 3-2 28th December 1997
Kevin Gallacher Blackburn Rovers vs. Aston Villa 5-0 17th January 1998
Michael Owen Sheffield Wednesday vs. Liverpool FC 3-3 14th February 1998
Chris Sutton Blackburn Rovers vs. Leicester City 5-3 28th February 1998
Darren Huckerby Leeds United vs. Coventry City 3-3 25th April 1998
Jurgen Klinsmann (4) Wimbledon vs. Tottenham Hotspur 2-6 2nd May 1998

 

TOP SCORERS

Position Player Teams No of Goals
1= Michael Owen Liverpool FC 18
1= Chris Sutton Blackburn Rovers 18
1= Dion Dublin Coventry City 18
4= Dennis Bergkamp Arsenal 16
4= Andy Cole Manchester United 16
4= Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink Leeds United 16
4= Kevin Gallacher Blackburn Rovers 16
8 John Hartson West Ham United 15
9 Darren Huckerby Coventry City 14
10 Paulo Wanchope Derby County 13
11= Marc Overmars Arsenal 12
11= Dwight Yorke Aston Villa 12
11= Francesco Baiano Derby County 12
11= Paolo di Canio Sheffield Wednesday 12
11= Nathan Blake Bolton Wanderers 12
16= Tore Andre Flo Chelsea 11
16= Matt Le Tissier Southampton 11
16= Steve McManaman Liverpool FC 11
16= Gianluca Vialli Chelsea 11
16= Duncan Ferguson Everton 11
16= Egil Ostenstad Southampton 11
22= Ian Wright Arsenal 10
22= Rod Wallace Leeds United 10
22= Emile Heskey Leicester City 10
22= Neil Redfearn Barnsley 10

BIGGEST VICTORIES

Manchester United 7-0 Barnsley 25th October 1997
Barnsley 0-6 Chelsea 24th August 1997
West Ham United 6-0 Barnsley 10th January 1998
Blackburn Rovers 7-2 Sheffield Wednesday 25th August 1997
Manchester United 6-1 Sheffield Wednesday 1st November 1997
Tottenham Hotspur 1-6 Chelsea 6th December 1997
Arsenal 5-0 Barnsley 4th October 1997
Liverpool FC 5-0 West Ham United 2nd May 1998
Derby County 0-5 Leeds United 15th March 1998
Blackburn Rovers 5-0 Aston Villa 17th January 1998

 

HIGHEST SCORING GAMES

No of Goals Teams Date
9 Blackburn Rovers 7-2 Sheffield Wednesday 25th August 1997
8 Chelsea 6-2 Crystal Palace 11th March 1998
8 Wimbledon 2-6 Tottenham Hotspur 2nd May 1998
8 Blackburn Rovers 5-3 Leicester City 28th February 1998
7 Manchester United 7-0 Barnsley 25th October 1997
7 Manchester United 6-1 Sheffield Wednesday 1st November 1997
7 Tottenham Hotspur 1-6 Chelsea 6th December 1997
7 Wimbledon 2-5 Manchester United 22nd November 1997
7 Sheffield Wednesday 2-5 Derby County 24th September 1997
7 Bolton Wanderers 5-2 Crystal Palace 2nd May 1998
7 Blackburn Rovers 3-4 Leeds United 14th September 1997
7 West Ham United 4-3 Leicester City 10th May 1998
7 Barnsley 4-3 Southampton 14th March 1998
7 Leeds United 4-3 Derby County 8th November 1997
6 Barnsley 0-6 Chelsea 24th August 1997
6 West Ham United 6-0 Barnsley 10th January 1998
6 Bolton Wanderers 1-5 Coventry City 31st January 1998
6 Liverpool FC 4-2 Chelsea 5th October 1997
6 Chelsea 4-2 Southampton 30th August 1997
6 West Ham United 2-4 Southampton 25th April 1998

 

YOUNGEST PLAYERS USED

Player Teams Age at the time Date
Francis Jeffers Manchester United 2-0 Everton 16 years, 11 months, 1 day 26th December 1997
Gareth Barry Sheffield Wednesday 1-3 Aston Villa 17 years, 2 months, 9 days 2nd May 1998
Michael Owen Wimbledon 1-1 Liverpool FC 17 years, 7 months, 26 days 9th August 1997
Danny Cadamarteri Derby County 3-1 Everton 17 years, 11 months, 1 day 13th September 1997
Michael Ball Newcastle United 1-0 Everton 17 years, 11 months, 22 days 24th September 1997
Junior Agogo Newcastle United 2-1 Sheffield Wednesday 18 years, 8 days 9th August 1997
Stephen McPhail Leicester City 1-0 Leeds United 18 years, 1 month, 29 days 7th February 1998
Aaron Hughes Sheffield Wednesday 2-1 Newcastle United 18 years, 2 months, 2 days 10th January 1998
Richard Dunne Everton 3-2 Bolton Wanderers 18 years, 3 months, 7 days 28th December 1997
Paolo Vernazza Arsenal 1-0 Crystal Palace 18 years, 3 months, 20 days 21st February 1998

 

OLDEST PLAYERS USED

Player Teams Age at the time Date
Steve Ogrizovic Leeds United 3-3 Coventry City 40 years, 7 months, 13 days 25th April 1998
Neville Southall Everton 0-2 Tottenham Hotspur 39 years, 2 months, 13 days 29th November 1997
Peter Beardsley Bolton Wanderers 1-5 Coventry City 37 years, 13 days 31st January 1998
Gary Mabbutt Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 Southampton 36 years, 8 months, 17 days 10th May 1998
Peter Shirtliff Southampton 4-1 Barnsley 36 years, 7 months, 2 days 8th November 1997
Dave Watson Everton 1-1 Coventry City 36 years, 5 months, 20 days 10th May 1998
Clive Wilson Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 Everton 36 years, 4 months, 22 days 4th April 1998
Ian Rush Sheffield Wednesday 2-1 Newcastle United 36 years, 2 months, 21 days 10th January 1998
Stuart Pearce Newcastle United 3-1 Chelsea 36 years, 8 days 2nd May 1998
Ludek Miklosko Derby County 2-0 West Ham United 35 years, 11 months, 27 days 6th December 1997

 

CLEAN SHEETS

Position Player Teams No of Clean Sheets
1 Peter Schmeichel Manchester United 16
2 Kasey Keller Leicester City 14
3= David Seaman Arsenal 13
3= Mart Poom Derby County 13
5 Ed de Goey Chelsea 12
6= David James Liverpool FC 11
6= Nigel Martyn Leeds United 11
6= Tim Flowers Blackburn Rovers 11
9 Keith Branagan Bolton Wanderers 10
10 Mark Bosnich Aston Villa 9

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.