Tag Archives: February

Premier League Rewind: 12th-14th February 2011

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

Having seen their 29-match unbeaten run in the Premier League stretching back to the end of the previous campaign end at Molineux a week earlier, Manchester United were keen to return to winning ways on the 12th-14th February 2011 weekend. Their motivation was bound to be huge though as they were about to do battle with local rivals, Manchester City.

City had recently flexed their financial power again in the January transfer window, acquiring Bosnian forward Edin Dzeko from 2009 Bundesliga champions VfL Wolfsburg. Roberto Mancini’s side were keen to record their first away victory since Boxing Day at Newcastle United. They fell behind though four minutes before the interval when Ryan Giggs’ superb pass allowed Nani to race clear and put the league leaders ahead infront of the Stretford End. The Citizens equalised on 65 minutes when Dzeko’s shot fortunately deflected off teammate David Silva. The game needed a special moment of quality to separate the sides and it was provided 12 minutes from time.

Nani’s cross took a slight deflection but this allowed Wayne Rooney to spin in mid-air and produce the most wonderful overhead kick into the back of Joe Hart’s net. It remains one of those iconic moments and one of the finest goals The Manchester Derby has ever seen. United held on to win 2-1 and move eight points clear of Mancini’s men, also with a game in-hand. Rooney’s goal ended up winning Greatest Goal accolades at the 20 Seasons Awards.

Arsenal kept up the pressure as the Gunners ensured Wolves wouldn’t be able to produce anymore giant-killing stories. Mick McCarthy’s side had already beaten Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea in the season but couldn’t repeat the feat against the Gunners. Robin van Persie scored both goals for Arsenal in a straightforward 2-0 victory and ensured they maintained just a four-point deficit to the Red Devils in the table.

At The Hawthorns, Roy Hodgson was watching in the directors’ box as he was poised to succeed Roberto Di Matteo as boss. West Brom had the leakiest defence in the division and this was in evidence again against fellow strugglers West Ham United. West Brom raced into a 3-0 lead after just 32 minutes but they caved in after the break. Demba Ba scored twice for the Hammers as they showed some battling resilience to claim a 3-3 draw and edge themselves off the bottom of the table on goal difference at Wolves’ expense.

Wigan Athletic remained in the bottom three but picked up a valuable point away at Anfield against in-form Liverpool FC. Raul Meireles continued his rich vein of goalscoring form, scoring for the fifth time in six matches but Steve Gohouri rescued a point to end the home side’s run of four successive victories.

Birmingham City picked up a vital victory to ease their relegation concerns, as Nikola Zigic’s goal three minutes into injury-time was enough to win the game against Stoke City 1-0. That result took Birmingham above Second City rivals Aston Villa, who were performing well below expectations in 16th position. Villa’s latest disappointment was a 1-1 draw away at Blackpool, leaving them just three points above the drop zone.

What else happened in February 2011?

  • The military take control of Egypt following the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak after widespread protests.
  • Critically-acclaimed movie The King’s Speech wins four Oscars at the 83rd Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
  • Christchurch in New Zealand is rocked by a 6.3 magnitude earthquake. Over 180 people are killed, including a large number of foreign citizens.
  • The House of Commons votes overwhelmingly against prisoners receiving the right to vote, winning 234-22.
  • The ban on product placement in television programmes is lifted in the UK, allowing advertisers to pay for their goods to be seen in TV shows, dramas and soap operas.
  • Craig Oliver, a BBC executive replaces Andy Coulson as David Cameron’s Director of Communications.
  • Online publisher The Huffington Post is bought by AOL in a staggering $315 million deal.
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Premier League Rewind: 24th February-1st March 2018

Results: Leicester City 1-1 Stoke City, AFC Bournemouth 2-2 Newcastle United, Brighton & Hove Albion 4-1 Swansea City, Burnley 1-1 Southampton, Liverpool FC 4-1 West Ham United, West Bromwich Albion 1-2 Huddersfield Town, Watford 1-0 Everton, Crystal Palace 0-1 Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United 2-1 Chelsea, Arsenal 0-3 Manchester City

This particular Premier League round of matches was stretched over five days due to Arsenal and Manchester City’s participation in the League Cup final at Wembley Stadium. It meant Manchester United had the opportunity to narrow City’s lead in the table to 13 points for a few days at least. They came up against Chelsea at Old Trafford in the first match between Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte since a bitter war of words had exploded in the media between the pair at the start of the year.

Chelsea started the brighter side and led after 32 minutes thanks to Willian’s goal on the counter-attack. However, Romelu Lukaku equalised seven minutes later and as Conte decided to sit back, Mourinho saw the opportunity to expose this flaw. 15 minutes from full-time, Lukaku’s cross was met by the head of substitute Jesse Lingard. He found the net and that spearheaded United to a 2-1 victory. It was Chelsea’s third defeat in four matches and saw them slip outside the top four. It was a position Conte and his side would never regain for the remainder of the season.

Tottenham Hotspur replaced them in the top four after snatching a very late win away at Crystal Palace. Once again, it was Harry Kane who delivered for Spurs. His header from Christian Eriksen’s corner in the 88th minute took Spurs to a vital 1-0 victory. It looked like it was going to be a frustrating afternoon for the visitors who dominated throughout but wasteful finishing and an inspired Wayne Hennessey display looked set to deny them the win. That was until Kane came to the rescue with his 102nd Premier League goal.

Liverpool FC consolidated their position in the top four after breezing past West Ham United 4-1 at Anfield, repeating the scoreline they’d achieved earlier in the season against the Hammers at The London Stadium. Liverpool’s goals came from Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane plus a header from Emre Can. It would turn out to be the German’s final goal for the club. He would leave in the summer on a free transfer for Juventus. Can’s header was also LFC’s 100th goal in all competitions for the campaign.

Liverpool weren’t the only 4-1 winners. Brighton & Hove Albion also achieved this scoreline in their triumph over Swansea City. Glenn Murray scored twice and Jurgen Locadia came off the bench to net on his Premier League debut. It was the first taste of Premier League defeat for Swansea boss Carlos Carvalhal and kept Swansea inside the drop zone on goal difference.

They were above Stoke City, who drew 1-1 at Leicester City in the first game of the weekend. Leading just before half-time through Xherdan Shaqiri’s fine strike, an error from Jack Butland allowed Marc Albrighton’s cross to sneak in at his near post. West Bromwich Albion remained bottom of the table after another damaging loss. Beaten 2-1 at home by Huddersfield Town, they had now lost four games in a row and slipped seven points adrift of safety. Rajiv van La Parra clearly had taken a liking to the Baggies. Having scored the winning goal when the sides met in November at The John Smith’s Stadium, Van La Parra struck the first goal in the victory at The Hawthorns that took Huddersfield 10 points clear of their opponents.

Four days after their resounding League Cup final success over Arsenal, Manchester City would repeat the triumph in the Premier League. They crushed the Gunners on their own turf by the same score as they’d managed at Wembley. Bernardo Silva, David Silva and Leroy Sane all found the net on a freezing Thursday night in the capital as City won 3-0 to regain their 16-point advantage at the top of the table.

What else happened in February 2018?

  • After nine years in power, Jacob Zuma resigns as South African president.
  • The UK’s largest toy retailer, Toys “R” Us, goes into administration.
  • The 2018 Winter Olympics are held in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
  • Saratov Airlines Flight 703 crashes shortly after take-off from Moscow, killing 71 people onboard.
  • Another school shooting in the United States, this time at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida injures 17 and kills 17 people.
  • Trinity Mirror purchases Northern & Shell, chaired by Richard Desmond, for £126.7 million.
  • Dua Lipa and Stormzy are the big winners at the 2018 BRIT Awards. Both win two awards at the ceremony, hosted by Jack Whitehall.

Premier League Rewind: 2nd-3rd February 2002

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

The 2001-2002 Premier League title battle was becoming a very intense fight between many of the top-flight’s superpowers. Despite a lackadaisical start to the season by their high standards, Manchester United were now top of the table and chasing a fourth successive title victory.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s side won their 10th match in their last 11 outings with a comfortable 4-1 home victory over an out-of-form Sunderland side at Old Trafford. All four goals were scored in the first half by the hosts with Ruud van Nistelrooy adding another two to his growing collection. There was also a rare goal for Phil Neville. Sunderland were now without a win in six games and slipped to 15th in the table, just three points clear of the relegation zone.

Arsenal were the Red Devils’ closest challengers going into the weekend but they ended it back in fourth position after being held at Highbury to a 1-1 draw by Southampton. On the weekend where the club revealed their new club crest to be used from the 2002-2003 season onwards, Sylvain Wiltord put the Gunners ahead five minutes before half-time. Jo Tessem’s equaliser would turn out to be the final dropped points of Arsenal’s season.

Newcastle United’s impressive campaign continued. Sir Bobby Robson’s side did trail twice at home to Bolton Wanderers but came back to win 3-2 with the winning goal coming from Craig Bellamy. After their bright start which had seen a maximum haul of points back in August, Bolton were now in the bottom three.

It wasn’t a happy reunion for Robbie Fowler in his first meeting with Liverpool FC since his £11 million transfer to Leeds United in November 2001. Liverpool were in devastating form at Elland Road, crushing the home side 4-0 with Emile Heskey scoring twice. Liverpool overtook Arsenal to move into third place with three successive victories for stand-in manager Phil Thompson. Having been top on New Years’ Day, Leeds were now down to sixth and nine points off the pace. Their title challenge looked as good as over.

Having resigned from his position as Aston Villa manager, John Gregory returned to his former club Derby County and made a winning start. Lee Morris scored a very scrappy goal to ensure the Rams edged out Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 at Pride Park. After four successive defeats, the victory kept Derby just about in touch with the pack above them in the scrap to survive.

Going in the wrong direction were Blackburn Rovers. After a positive start to their Premier League return, Graeme Souness’ side were going through a trough in terms of their league results. Their fifth reverse in six games came at Upton Park, losing 2-0 to West Ham United. This left Blackburn only above the relegation zone on goal difference  and it was a far cry from the corresponding fixture earlier in the season when the former Premier League champions had thrashed the Hammers 7-1.

Meanwhile, Ipswich Town were going in the right direction. The 2000-2001 surprise packages recorded their seventh victory in eight games with a 2-1 success away to Everton. Ipswich had climbed to 12th and were just three points off eighth place as they were recovering brilliantly from their horrific start to the campaign. Sadly for George Burley, a heavy defeat to Liverpool FC in their very next game would start a worrying drop down the table towards eventual relegation from the top-flight.

What else happened in February 2002?

  • There is sad news from Buckingham Palace as the Queen’s sister; Princess Margaret dies after suffering a stroke. She was 71.
  • The Winter Olympics take place in Salt Lake City and Great Britain win a gold medal thanks to the women’s curling team.
  • Actor John Thaw, best-known for playing lead roles in Inspector Morse and Kavanagh QC, dies just seven weeks after his 60th birthday. 
  • Saturday nights get a new hit as the first series of Pop Idol concludes on ITV. Over 8.7 million votes are casted as Will Young beats Gareth Gates to win the competition.
  • The trial of the former president of Yugoslavia, Slobodan Milosevic begins in The Hague.
  • More than 2,000 jobs disappear when Ford ends 90 years of British car production after the last Fiesta model is completed in Dagenham.

Premier League Rewind: 5th-6th February 2000

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

The 1999-2000 Premier League season turned into a processional victory for Manchester United. In the first 25 years of Premier League football, no side has ever won the league title by a greater margin. Their final tally was 18 points above that achieved by second-placed Arsenal.

However at the start of February 2000, their advantage at the top of the table was only three points. David O’Leary’s Leeds United were having an excellent season and keeping the men from Old Trafford honest in their quest to win a sixth Premier League title. However, this particular weekend saw the first signs that Sir Alex Ferguson’s side were about to disappear from the chasing pack.

Leeds lost their third match in four games, going down 3-1 to Liverpool FC at Anfield. Liverpool tried their luck with long-range shots and it paid off. Both Danny Murphy and Patrik Berger scored spectacular efforts which left Nigel Martyn without any chance of saving. The win ensured another league double for Liverpool over their opponents – their third in four years over the Yorkshire side. It also meant they closed the gap on O’Leary’s side to three points.

Whilst Leeds always had a tricky fixture, everyone expected Arsenal to overwhelm struggling Bradford City at Valley Parade. Since October, Bradford had only beaten bottom-placed Watford and Newcastle, so weren’t given too much hope of defeating Arsene Wenger’s side. However, Bradford had other ideas. Experience counted in their forward ranks, as Dean Windass and Dean Saunders both got on the scoresheet to help Bradford to a famous 2-1 victory. After the match, Wenger conceded the title challenge from Arsenal was over for another season, whilst Paul Jewell revelled in the victory, admitting: “Our performance was outstanding, as was the players’ work-rate.”

So, Manchester United could extend their lead at the top of the table to six points and they did so, although in slightly unconvincing fashion. They beat a much-improved Coventry City side 3-2 at Old Trafford. Two goals from Andy Cole proved to be the decisive contribution from United, who had now taken seven points from three games since their return from a disastrous FIFA World Club Championship competition in Brazil a month earlier.

Chelsea climbed into fifth place with their traditional victory over Tottenham Hotspur. The only goal at White Hart Lane came from the unfamiliar source of Bernard Lambourde. Gianluca Vialli’s side were now unbeaten in six matches and had beaten Spurs twice during that period. They swapped places with Sunderland who drew 2-2 in the Tyne & Wear Derby with Newcastle United. The Black Cats recovered from two-goals down to salvage a point, thanks to another double from the Premier League’s top goalscorer, Kevin Phillips.

Down at The Dell, the Southampton supporters greeted Glenn Hoddle as their new manager. The ex-England boss had succeeded Dave Jones, who was relieved of his duties to clear his name against child abuse allegations on Merseyside. Hoddle started with a victory too, as they defeated West Ham United 2-1. Gary Charles’ own goal four minutes from time settled the contest.

Elsewhere, relegation candidates Derby County and Sheffield Wednesday played out a thrilling 3-3 draw at Pride Park, whilst a 4-0 loss to Aston Villa left Watford 10 points adrift of safety. It was an unhappy return to Villa Park for Graham Taylor. He left that afternoon with any hopes of Premier League survival looking slim to nil.

What else happened in February 2000?

  • Tarja Halonen is elected the first Finnish female president.
  • “The Wizard of the Dribble” Sir Stanley Matthews dies aged 85 after falling ill while on holiday in Tenerife.
  • The chief of British Nuclear Fuels resigns over a safety scandal at Sellafield.
  • Greg Dyke takes over as Director General of the BBC.
  • Italian motorcycle manufacturing company Aprilia wins a lawsuit filed against The Spice Girls over a sponsorship deal that fell apart when Geri Halliwell left the group.

Iconic Moments: A devastating LFC start (February 2014)

Arsenal travelled to Anfield in February 2014 looking to cement their place as the title favourites. Liverpool FC were fighting for a top-four finish but still harboured an outside shot of a title challenge. After all, they had been top on Christmas Day. However, a 1-1 draw a week earlier away at struggling West Bromwich Albion had seen the Reds slip further behind the top three of Arsenal, Manchester City and Chelsea.

They needed to make up for the dropped points at The Hawthorns and they did so in the most spectacular fashion with one of the most devastating spells ever seen in Premier League football. Less than a minute had been played, when Arsenal failed to deal with an early Steven Gerrard free-kick and Martin Skrtel headed the ball past Wojciech Szczesny.

Nine minutes later, the same duo combined, this time from a corner with Skrtel guiding a brilliant header into the net from distance despite Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s best efforts to keep the ball out. Liverpool ran riot and had further opportunities to extend their lead. Daniel Sturridge missed a great chance and Luis Suarez smashed a strike against the post as Arsenal wilted under the intense pressure.

Goal number three arrived in the 16th minute. Raheem Sterling finished from close-range, guiding in Suarez’s cross. Then, four minutes later – Philippe Coutinho robbed a woeful Mesut Ozil of possession before playing the perfect pass for Sturridge to add his name onto the scoresheet. It was simply breathtaking stuff. Four goals in the first 20 minutes that made a mockery of Arsenal’s title challenge.

Sterling added a fifth goal in the second half and the final scoreline of 5-1 didn’t flatter Liverpool. They closed the gap on Arsenal to five points and would begin an 11-match winning run that would take them within an ace of the title. It was one of those moments which get the purists so excited about ‘The Beautiful Game.’

Iconic Moments: The greatest Premier League day ever? (February 2011)

There have been some spellbinding days in Premier League history but few can match the goal-filled afternoon fans were treated to on Saturday, 5 February 2011.

It started with the lunchtime kick-off between Stoke City and Sunderland. This was usually a fixture with few goals or talking points but there were five goals in this match with Stoke winning 3-2. Robert Huth scored the winner in the dying embers after the Black Cats had led twice. It was a fine comeback from Stoke but it was to be completely outdone in the 3pm kick-offs.

At St James’ Park, Arsenal travelled to a brittle Newcastle United side that were still coming to terms with the transfer deadline day sale of Andy Carroll to Liverpool FC. Their lack of confidence was shown from the outset. Theo Walcott scored inside of a minute and Arsenal incredibly led 4-0 after just 21 minutes. However, a red card for Abou Diaby shortly after the restart changed the course of the match. Joey Barton scored two penalties and with a Leon Best strike, Newcastle had made it back to 3-4. The seconds were ticking away when Cheick Tiote scored an unbelievable equaliser to make it 4-4. It wasn’t just the greatest comeback of the season. It was the greatest comeback in Premier League history.

Arsenal dropped two silly points but there were no such problems for Manchester City. Carlos Tevez hit a first half hat-trick as they brushed aside West Bromwich Albion 3-0. It was a 13th defeat in 18 matches for the Baggies and 24 hours later, they placed manager Roberto Di Matteo on gardening leave.

Louis Saha helped himself to four goals in an end-to-end encounter between Everton and Blackpool. Despite the Tangerines’ leading 3-2 midway through the second half, Saha’s contribution nullified their best efforts. Everton won 5-3. There were seven goals at the DW Stadium where Wigan Athletic edged out Blackburn Rovers 4-3. James McCarthy scored the pick of the goals in this thriller.

There was late drama at White Hart Lane. Despite Bolton Wanderers dominating most of the second half, they were beaten 2-1 by Tottenham Hotspur. Niko Kranjcar scored an injury-time winner. At Villa Park, the goals kept coming. Kyle Walker scored his first Premier League goal but Aston Villa were held to a 2-2 draw by Fulham.

In seven matches, there had been an incredible 38 goals and three more would follow in one of the most surprising results of the season. Manchester United arrived at Molineux for the late kick-off still unbeaten and against a Wolverhampton Wanderers side that were odds-on favourites to be relegated. Nani gave the visitors’ a lead but Wolves fought back superbly. George Elokobi levelled matters and Kevin Doyle’s header was good enough for Wolves to beat the league leaders 2-1.

It remains the highest-scoring afternoon since the Premier League went to 20 teams in 1995 and it will take some total to eclipse what has to be seen as one of the greatest days in Premier League history.

Premier League Rewind: 7th-8th February 2009

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

Going into this February weekend in the 2008-2009 season, only five points covered the top four teams. Manchester United held a two-point lead over Liverpool FC and crucially had a game in hand too. Despite having lost two of their last four matches, Chelsea were still in contention and Aston Villa’s best run for several seasons meant they couldn’t be fully discounted from the title picture.

The weekend’s matches began at The Etihad Stadium and there was more misery for Gareth Southgate and his Middlesbrough side. They were beaten 1-0 by mid-table Manchester City with Craig Bellamy scoring his second goal for his new club since joining from West Ham United. Middlesbrough had only scored one goal now in their last six matches and their Premier League status looked in severe jeopardy.

In the 3pm kick-offs, most attention was focused on Chelsea who looked to close the gap on the top two. However, they suffered a damaging blow to their title hopes after an unconvincing display at home to Hull City which saw the teams play out a goalless draw. At the full-time whistle, boos from the home crowd were notable and banners were hurled out by frustrated fans, calling for manager Luiz Felipe Scolari to be sacked. Two days later, the supporters got their wish as Roman Abramovich parted company with the Brazilian former World Cup winning manager. Chelsea were now looking for their third manager since Jose Mourinho’s abrupt departure 17 months earlier.

Their slip-up allowed Aston Villa to capitalise. They won 2-0 away at Blackburn Rovers, courtesy of goals from James Milner and Gabriel Agbonlahor. This meant they had achieved a club record of seven away victories on the trot and moved Martin O’Neill’s side into third place. They were now genuine contenders for a UEFA Champions League spot at the end of the season.

Blackburn remained in the drop zone, where they were joined by Middlesbrough and West Bromwich Albion. Albion lost 3-2 at home to Newcastle United but Newcastle’s victory was without their manager. Joe Kinnear had been taken to hospital before kick-off and health problems meant he would have to vacate his position. Assistant manager Chris Hughton would take caretaker charge. Peter Lovenkrands scored his first goal for the club in this five-goal contest.

With Manchester United not playing until the Sunday, Liverpool FC had the chance to go top of the table for a few hours at least. They did it the hard way away to Portsmouth but got the job done. Fernando Torres came off the bench to score a last-minute winner as Rafa Benitez’s side won 3-2, despite trailing twice in the game at Fratton Park. The result left Pompey just four points clear of trouble and they decided to wield the axe on Tony Adams as manager, only a few hours before Scolari’s departure from Chelsea was confirmed.

So, could Manchester United respond? A question was asked and once again, it was responded in style. Ryan Giggs scored his first goal of the season and it was a fine individual effort too to breakdown West Ham United’s resolve at Upton Park. United won 1-0, as they continued their winning run. They hadn’t dropped a single point since returning from FIFA World Club Championship duty in mid-December.

Elsewhere, the North London derby ended in a goalless draw. For Arsenal, it started a worrying run of four successive 0-0 draws which almost cost them a top-four finish.

What else happened in February 2009?

  • ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ wins 15 awards combined at the BAFTAs and Oscars, including Best Director for Danny Boyle and Best Film.
  • Duffy is the big winner at the BRIT Awards, scooping three gongs, including the MasterCard Album of the Year for ‘Rockferry.’
  • UK unemployment reaches 1.97 million.
  • Many parts of the UK experienced heavy snowfall at the start of the month, causing plenty of travel disruption and the closure of many schools for the best part of a week.
  • Prime Minister Gordon Brown suspends PMQs at the end of February for the first time since 1994, following the tragic death of David Cameron’s six-year old son, Ivan.
  • Boxing champion Joe Calzaghe retired after 46 fights. He remained undefeated throughout a 15-year career.
  • ITV was forced to apologise after millions of TV viewers missed Dan Gosling’s extra-time winner in the FA Cup fourth-round replay between Everton and Liverpool FC. The gaffe saw an advert for Tic-Tac mints shown instead!

Premier League Rewind: 6th-8th February 1999

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What else happened in February 1999?

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