Results: Chelsea 2-1 Coventry City, Derby County 1-0 Blackburn Rovers, Leeds United 2-0 Middlesbrough, Leicester City 2-6 Manchester United, Liverpool FC 7-1 Southampton, Nottingham Forest 0-1 Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur 0-0 Wimbledon, West Ham United 0-4 Sheffield Wednesday, Charlton Athletic 2-2 Newcastle United, Aston Villa 3-0 Everton
The final year of the 20th century provided plenty of entertaining action in the Premier League and an intense scrap for the championship title was shaping up very nicely in January 1999. The usual suspects, Manchester United and reigning champions Arsenal were being challenged for supremacy by early season pacesetters Aston Villa and Chelsea, who were finally beginning to launch a sustained title challenge for the first time in the Premier League era.
All four sides would ultimately win on the 16th-18th January weekend but with very differing results. The leaders going into the weekend were Chelsea and Gianluca Vialli’s side held onto that advantage after a narrow and fortunate 2-1 victory over Coventry City. The Sky Blues had defeated Chelsea on the opening weekend of the season and were looking at a surprising league double when Darren Huckerby put them infront after only nine minutes.
Franck Leboeuf equalised just before half-time before the match turned into a heated battle which even saw a confrontation involving both sets of coaching staff. Jeff Winter sent Gordon Strachan to the stands although he claimed to have no part in the scuffle. Without their manager, Coventry lost their hard-earned point in stoppage-time. Roberto Di Matteo scored the winner to keep Chelsea top and extended their unbeaten run to 21 Premier League matches.
Aston Villa sat just below Chelsea on goal difference. They cruised to a 3-0 victory over Everton on the Monday Night Football. Villa were helped by an early red card for Everton defender Alex Cleland. He saw red from referee Neale Barry after just 11 minutes and from then on, John Gregory’s side didn’t look back. There were two goals for Julian Joachim and one from Paul Merson. However, this would be their last domestic victory until early April as their challenge faded dramatically.
Like Chelsea, Arsenal had to work incredibly hard to earn three points. Martin Keown’s header was enough to defeat a plucky Nottingham Forest 1-0 at The City Ground. Forest had a new manager as Ron Atkinson was appointed to try and save their precarious position. Atkinson made headlines almost instantly by sitting in the wrong dugout before kick-off! It pretty much summed up Forest’s season; calamitous!
Still, at least they weren’t thrashed on this weekend. That happened to both Leicester City and Southampton. Leicester were well-beaten, 6-2 at home by a goal-hungry Manchester United. Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole were in imperious form. Yorke scored a hat-trick and Cole helped himself to two goals. There was also time for a first Red Devils goal for centre-back Jaap Stam. Leicester did score the goal of the game from Theo Zagorakis. However, they simply couldn’t handle United’s red-hot attack. Sir Alex Ferguson’s side were handily placed in third, just two points shy of league leaders Chelsea.
It was worse still for Southampton who caved in 7-1 at Anfield to Liverpool FC. Robbie Fowler scored a hat-trick. In the process, he made it to a century of Premier League goals. Jamie Carragher and Dominic Matteo also scored rare goals as Southampton’s defenders simply wilted on Merseyside. The win took Liverpool up to sixth spot with four wins now from their last five games.
Southampton and Forest were joined in the relegation zone by Charlton Athletic. They did though manage to end their eight-game losing streak by earning a 2-2 home draw with Newcastle United. Martin Pringle scored his first goal for the club in the 90th minute.
What else happened in January 1999?
- In an interview with The Times newspaper, England manager Glenn Hoddle suggests people born with disabilities are paying for sins in a previous life. His comments prove to be very damaging for his job prospects.
- After fourteen years of playing NBA basketball, superstar Michael Jordan announces his second retirement.
- The Denver Broncos win their second consecutive Super Bowl, defeating the Atlanta Falcons, 34-19, in Super Bowl XXXIII.
- Fernando Henrique Cardoso takes office as President of Brazil for the second time.
- Britney Spears releases her debut album.
- Unemployment in the UK falls to just over 1.3 million. This is the lowest total in 20 years.
- Channel 5 airs an episode of their soap opera Family Affairs, which sees one of the original families – the Hart clan killed in a dramatic boat explosion in a desperate bid to improve falling ratings.