Tag Archives: Fernando Torres

Iconic Moments: Torres’ first Chelsea goal (April 2011)

With Chelsea struggling to retain their Premier League title in 2010-2011 and looking at risk to even qualify for the UEFA Champions League via their league position, Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich sanctioned the transfer of Fernando Torres. Torres had been Liverpool FC’s star striker for the past three-and-a-half years but his form had dipped in the six months before his transfer to Stamford Bridge.

On transfer deadline day in January 2011, Chelsea paid Liverpool £50 million for Torres and broke the British transfer record in the process. His debut came six days later against the club he’d just left and he didn’t play well and had been subbed before Raul Meireles scored the only goal of the game for the Reds.

Torres looked a pale shadow of the player who had tormented English and European defenders during his time on Merseyside. By the time Chelsea hosted West Ham United in late April 2011, Torres was still looking for his first Blues goal. Defender David Luiz, who had also been a January arrival had already found the net twice as a Chelsea player.

Against the Hammers, the moment finally came for Torres. The Spaniard came off the bench to score the second goal of Chelsea’s three on the evening on his 14th outing for his new employers. It ended a drought of 903 minutes without finding the target for both club and country since his last Liverpool goal in a 3-0 away victory at Wolverhampton Wanderers in January.

He said afterwards: “It was not the beginning I was expecting when I signed, but it’s never easy when you arrive in January at a massive team like this. There’s less pressure for me now, now I can enjoy it.”

He would win trophies at Chelsea including the UEFA Champions League in 2012 and UEFA Europa League in 2013. However, 45 goals in 172 appearances in all competitions was a disappointing return for ‘El Nino,’ who is now closing his career playing in Japan. His best Premier League days were most definitely as a Liverpool FC player.

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Great Goals: Fernando Torres – LIVERPOOL FC vs. Blackburn Rovers (April 2009)

Liverpool FC’s last Premier League home match before the 20th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster was against Blackburn Rovers. Going for the league title against bitter enemies Manchester United, they made a fantastic start through the genius of Fernando Torres.

During his three-and-a-half year spell on Merseyside, ‘El Nino’ was at his best and was considered one of the best finishers in European football. He demonstrated this with his opener here against Blackburn.

Only five minutes had been played when from Jamie Carragher’s long ball, Torres controlled the ball brilliantly, turned and struck the sweetest of volleys that flew past Paul Robinson into the far corner of the net. Liverpool won the match 4-0 and although they finished four points shy of winning the title, they ended the campaign as the league’s top goalscorers, helped by special efforts like this from Torres.

The Clubs: Liverpool FC

All statistics correct upto 10th January 2019

All-Time Premier League Record

Played Won Drew Lost Scored Conceded Goal Difference Points No of Seasons
1021 516 258 247 1734 1034 +700 1806 27

 

Most Premier League Appearances

Player Appearances Total
Jamie Carragher 508
Steven Gerrard 504
Sami Hyypia 318
Pepe Reina 285
Robbie Fowler 266
Lucas 247
Martin Skrtel 242
Steve McManaman 240
John Arne Riise 234
Jamie Redknapp 231

 

Most Premier League Goals

Player Goals Total
Robbie Fowler 128
Steven Gerrard 121
Michael Owen 118
Luis Suarez 69
Fernando Torres 65
Dirk Kuyt 51
Daniel Sturridge 51
Ian Rush 45
Mohamed Salah 45
Roberto Firmino 44

 

Biggest Premier League Victories

Match Date Season
Liverpool FC 7-1 Southampton 16th January 1999 1998-1999
Liverpool FC 6-0 Manchester City 28th October 1995 1995-1996
Ipswich Town 0-6 Liverpool FC 9th February 2002 2001-2002
West Bromwich Albion 0-6 Liverpool FC 26th April 2003 2002-2003
Liverpool FC 6-0 Derby County 1st September 2007 2007-2008
Newcastle United 0-6 Liverpool FC 27th April 2013 2012-2013
Aston Villa 0-6 Liverpool FC 14th February 2016 2015-2016
Crystal Palace 1-6 Liverpool FC 20th August 1994 1994-1995
Liverpool FC 6-1 Hull City 26th September 2009 2009-2010
Liverpool FC 6-1 Watford 6th November 2016 2016-2017

 

Worst Premier League Defeats

Match Date Season
Stoke City 6-1 Liverpool FC 24th May 2015 2014-2015
Manchester City 5-0 Liverpool FC 9th September 2017 2017-2018
Coventry City 5-1 Liverpool FC 19th December 1992 1992-1993
Chelsea 4-0 Liverpool FC 16th December 2001 2001-2002
Manchester United 4-0 Liverpool FC 5th April 2003 2002-2003
Tottenham Hotspur 4-0 Liverpool FC 18th September 2011 2011-2012
Blackburn Rovers 4-1 Liverpool FC 3rd April 1993 1992-1993
Chelsea 4-1 Liverpool FC 25th April 1998 1997-1998
Liverpool FC 1-4 Chelsea 2nd October 2005 2005-2006
Arsenal 4-1 Liverpool FC 4th April 2015 2014-2015

 

Managers

Manager No of Seasons managed Left the Club
Graeme Souness 2 28th January 1994
Roy Evans 6 11th November 1998
Gerard Houllier 6 30th June 2004
Rafa Benitez 6 3rd June 2010
Roy Hodgson 1 7th January 2011
Kenny Dalglish 2 16th May 2012
Brendan Rodgers 4 4th October 2015
Jurgen Klopp 4  

 

Highest Home Attendances

Match Date Attendance Figure Season
Liverpool FC 4-1 Cardiff City 27th October 2018 53,373 2018-2019
Liverpool FC 1-0 Brighton & Hove Albion 25th August 2018 53,294 2018-2019
Liverpool FC 2-2 AFC Bournemouth 5th April 2017 53,292 2016-2017
Liverpool FC 2-0 Newcastle United 3rd March 2018 53,287 2017-2018
Liverpool FC 5-0 Watford 17th March 2018 53,287 2017-2018
Liverpool FC 4-3 Manchester City 14th January 2018 53,285 2017-2018
Liverpool FC 3-0 Huddersfield Town 28th October 2017 53,268 2017-2018
Liverpool FC 3-0 Southampton 18th November 2017 53,256 2017-2018
Liverpool FC 4-1 West Ham United 24th February 2018 53,256 2017-2018
Liverpool FC 0-0 Stoke City 28th April 2018 53,255 2017-2018

 

Intro

Liverpool FC is one of just six teams to have featured in every single Premier League season but their wait for a league championship goes on. It is now 29 years since the top-flight title arrived in the Anfield trophy cabinet and that was before the Premier League era. The Reds have experienced some near-misses under Roy Evans (1997), Gerard Houllier (2002), Rafa Benitez (2009) and Brendan Rodgers (2014). However, Jurgen Klopp’s current set of players are in a fantastic position to end the league famine – remaining unbeaten through the first half of the current campaign.

 

1992-1993

Manager Graeme Souness continued to reshape an ageing squad, signing goalkeeper David James and forward Paul Stewart but the Reds showed no consistency throughout the inaugural Premier League season. They were in the bottom half for much of the campaign and only a run of seven wins in their last 12 matches took the Reds into a fortunate finish of sixth position in the table. His absence from the 6-2 final day win over Tottenham Hotspur because of being on a ‘scouting mission’ increased speculation his tenure at Anfield was coming to an end.

 

1993-1994

Liverpool FC started 1993-1994 with three successive victories and things seemed to be looking up but the inconsistency remained and they were a lowly 13th in the table on Christmas Day. There was a rousing comeback from 3-0 down to draw 3-3 with Manchester United in early January but weeks later, Souness departed after a humiliating FA Cup exit at home to Bristol City. Roy Evans was promoted into the managerial hotseat and guided the club to eighth position in the final table, also allowing hotshot Robbie Fowler to make his mark in the first-team.

 

1994-1995

Liverpool FC became winners once again in Evans’ first full season as manager with two Steve McManaman goals guiding them to victory in the League Cup final over Bolton Wanderers. In the Premier League, there were also radical improvements with a fourth place finish despite failing to beat Everton in either Merseyside Derby, plus a 1-0 home loss to bottom club Ipswich Town.

 

1995-1996

Having paid a national record £8.5 million for Nottingham Forest striker Stan Collymore in the close season, Liverpool FC were many people’s favourites for the league title in 1995-1996 but they fell short, finishing third in the table behind Manchester United and Newcastle United. For the second year in a row, Robbie Fowler won the PFA Young Player of the Year award and finished runner-up to Alan Shearer in the race for the Golden Boot. November was the month where Liverpool’s challenge for the title ultimately died, collecting just one point from 12 available.

 

1996-1997

1996-1997 was a missed opportunity for Liverpool FC who topped the table going into New Years’ Day, holding a five-point advantage. However, they dropped silly points at Anfield, including a shock 2-1 home loss to bottom-placed Coventry City in early April. There was also David James, who made a series of errors which earned him the nickname ‘Calamity James,’ and the ‘Spice Boys’ culture with the media believing some of the players preferring partying and socialising to winning football matches. The Reds finished fourth, missing out on a second-place finish on goal difference and pressure started to grow on Evans’ management.

 

1997-1998

The emergence of 18-year-old Michael Owen was the highlight in an unspectacular season for the club. Owen won the PFA Young Player of the Year award and was the joint-winner of the Golden Boot alongside Dion Dublin and Chris Sutton. Owen’s goals came at a good time as Robbie Fowler’s progress was stalled by a serious knee injury in the closing stages of February’s 1-1 Merseyside Derby draw. Liverpool FC finished third, a distant 13 points behind champions Arsenal.

 

1998-1999

The Liverpool FC board decided to act on previous shortcomings by bringing in Gerard Houllier to work alongside Roy Evans as joint-managers. It was a partnership that never looked like working out. Despite amassing 10 points from their first four matches, including a quick-fire Owen hat-trick at St James’ Park, the writing was on the wall from the moment Liverpool drew 3-3 at home with newly-promoted Charlton Athletic. After a League Cup defeat at home to Tottenham Hotspur, Evans resigned in mid-November with the club only 11th in the Premier League table.

Houllier was left in sole charge but fortunes continued to flirt from a 7-1 thumping of Southampton to a 1-0 loss at The Valley to Charlton. Liverpool finished a poor seventh in the table but Owen finished joint-holder of the Golden Boot for the second season running. However, Steve McManaman would leave at the end of the season for Real Madrid via the Bosman ruling.

 

1999-2000

Houllier made seven close-season signings and with former defender Phil Thompson installed as assistant manager, Liverpool started to recover and become a leading Premier League force again. There were still bumps in the road with home defeats to Watford and Everton, plus an FA Cup exit to First Division Blackburn Rovers. However, Liverpool challenged for UEFA Champions League qualification all season. A five-game winning run and the £11 million signing of Emile Heskey took Liverpool into second spot before a bad end to the season with no wins and no goals from their last five outings cost the Reds a top three finish. Fourth place was the final outcome.

 

2000-2001

Nick Barmby made the move across Stanley Park, whilst Gary McAllister and Christian Ziege were also added to an increased strength in-depth in the squad. Liverpool FC enjoyed a trophy-laden season with their own unique treble of cups, winning the League Cup, FA Cup and UEFA Cup. In the Premier League, a 4-0 final day win over Charlton Athletic at The Valley secured third place and a spot in the following season’s UEFA Champions League. Steven Gerrard’s development continued as the youngster won PFA Young Player of the Year honours and there was also a memorable league double over bitter rivals Manchester United for the first time in the Premier League era.

 

2001-2002

In mid-October at half-time of a Premier League match with Leeds United, Gerard Houllier was rushed to hospital complaining of chest pains. He required emergency heart surgery and was out of action for five months. Phil Thompson stepped into the breach and did remarkably well to keep the Reds fighting on two fronts, despite a run of one win in nine Premier League matches during the winter months.

Michael Owen’s stock continued to rise as he won the Ballon d’Or and there was another league double over Manchester United with Danny Murphy scoring the winner at Old Trafford for the second season running.

Houllier returned to the dugout in mid-March and spearheaded Liverpool FC to their best-ever Premier League finish of second spot and 80 points achieved, only finishing behind Arsenal. Second spot was achieved on the final day by a 5-0 home victory over Ipswich with John Arne Riise, one of the signings of the season, scoring twice.

 

2002-2003

Liverpool FC’s domestic service was faultless in the early months with the club stringing together a 12-match unbeaten run. However, a late 1-0 reverse to Middlesbrough in November started a calamitous run of 11 games without a victory that dropped the Reds out of the title race. By early January, they sat seventh and in severe danger of missing out on a top-four finish.

Houllier’s signings of Salif Diao, Bruno Cheyrou and El-Hadji Diouf all turned out to be expensive flops but a second League Cup triumph in three years softened the blow of an average league season which ended with defeat at Chelsea, a fifth place finish and only UEFA Cup football at Anfield for the following campaign.

 

2003-2004

Houllier attempted to revive his fortunes with the arrival of Harry Kewell from Leeds United whilst Djibril Cisse was signed for the following campaign from Auxerre. Injuries plagued Liverpool’s campaign with Jamie Carragher, Milan Baros, Steve Finnan and Owen all missing significant portions of the season but Liverpool’s league form was poor. 1-0 victories away at Chelsea and Manchester United were the only major highlights. Liverpool scraped a fourth place finish but eight days after the season concluded, Houllier’s tenure was brought to an end by the board with the club finishing a whopping 30 points behind unbeaten champions Arsenal in the final standings.

 

2004-2005

After winning two La Liga titles in three seasons and the UEFA Cup, Rafa Benitez arrived in June to replace Houllier. He managed to persuade his high-profile skipper Steven Gerrard to stay on but Michael Owen departed in an £8 million move to Real Madrid. Once again, injuries marred Liverpool’s domestic challenge and they finished fifth and even further behind the league champions – 37 points this time off Chelsea’s searing pace.

However, LFC’s campaign was all about their UEFA Champions League run. Gerrard’s dramatic strike against Olympiacos saw the club progress into the knockout rounds where the champions of Italy Juventus and new English champions Chelsea were both dumped out. In the final in Istanbul, Liverpool fell 3-0 down to AC Milan but stormed back to 3-3 in a miraculous recovery, led by the inspirational Gerrard. Jerzy Dudek’s heroics in the penalty shootout saw Liverpool record a historic fifth European Cup triumph, keeping the famous trophy in the Anfield trophy cabinet for good.

 

2005-2006

As Champions of Europe, Liverpool FC were now firmly back among the elite of European football. 2005-2006 saw more trophy glory for Rafa Benitez and Gerrard once again led by example, scoring twice in a thrilling FA Cup final against West Ham United which saw the Merseysiders triumph on penalties again. There was also progress in the Premier League. Despite a stuttering start, Liverpool produced two lengthy winning sequences during the league campaign on their way to third place and a new points-high tally of 82 points. Gerrard won the PFA Players’ Player of the Year and Robbie Fowler was re-signed, five years after leaving for Leeds United.

 

2006-2007

Liverpool FC’s failure to win away from Anfield or score in open play on their travels until early December scuppered any chances of a title tilt. The Reds finished third again but further off the pace set by Manchester United and Chelsea. Peter Crouch scored a perfect hat-trick in a 4-1 win over Arsenal whilst Robbie Fowler said an emotional farewell to his boyhood club in his second spell. Once again, the UEFA Champions League dominated Liverpool’s season with another final appearance against AC Milan – although this time, it ended in defeat in Athens.

 

2007-2008

Fernando Torres was acquired for a club-record transfer fee as Liverpool FC looked to bridge the gap between them and the regular championship contenders. Torres did score 24 times in the Premier League and the Reds stayed unbeaten until mid-December. There were just four league defeats but too many draws proved costly for LFC and Benitez as they finished fourth – 11 points clear of fifth place Everton but also, 11 points behind the champions Manchester United.

 

2008-2009

Liverpool FC launched their closest title tilt, finishing just four points shy of Manchester United, having lost just two matches and scored more goals than any other side in the division. Steven Gerrard put in another immaculate individual campaign which saw him win the Football Writers’ Award and the Reds stayed unbeaten all throughout the season at Anfield. Unfortunately, seven home draws against the likes of Stoke City, Fulham and West Ham United would have significant damage and dropping these points would be a decisive factor. The club also said a fond farewell to Sami Hyypia. The Finn left at the end of the season for Bayer 04 Leverkusen after 10 years, 318 appearances and plenty of memorable memories.

 

2009-2010

Selling Xabi Alonso in pre-season to Real Madrid and replacing him with injury-plagued Alberto Aquilani was the beginning of the end for Rafa Benitez. Liverpool FC had a miserable season which included a group stage exit from the UEFA Champions League and FA Cup demise at the hands of Reading at Anfield. It wasn’t much better in the league. The Reds finished a distant seventh and a deteriorating relationship with American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett sealed Benitez’s fate. The Spaniard left the club in June whilst Hicks and Gillett put Liverpool FC up for sale.

 

2010-2011

LMA Manager of the Year Roy Hodgson succeeded Rafa Benitez as Liverpool FC manager but struggled badly to get the best out of his players. Liverpool’s decline reached drastic proportions in early October when they lost at home to newly-promoted Blackpool, leaving them in the bottom three. Meanwhile, the club was sold to Fenway Sports Group, who persisted with Hodgson until early January. He left after a 3-1 loss to Blackburn Rovers left Liverpool 12th in the Premier League and only four points above the relegation zone.

Playing legend and former manager Kenny Dalglish returned in a caretaker capacity until the end of the season and steered the club to a sixth place finish. Liverpool also bought Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll in the January transfer window, whilst selling star striker Fernando Torres to Chelsea for a British transfer record fee of £50 million.

 

2011-2012

Dalglish was given a three-year contract to stay on as manager and signed the likes of Charlie Adam, Stewart Downing and Jordan Henderson in pre-season. Liverpool FC had a quiet season in the Premier League, finishing only eighth in the table and below Merseyside rivals Everton for only the second time in 20 years. The main incident was Luis Suarez being found guilty of racially abusing Patrice Evra during a Premier League match against Manchester United. Suarez was given an eight-match ban. Although Liverpool won the League Cup final on penalties and reached the FA Cup final, Dalglish was sacked four days after the season ended due to their poor final league position.

 

2012-2013

It was Swansea City manager Brendan Rodgers who was selected as Dalglish’s successor and Rodgers added Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge to the squad in the January transfer window, forming the formidable ‘SAS’ partnership with Luis Suarez. Suarez finished as runner-up to Robin van Persie in the race for the Golden Boot but again, committed a serious act on-the-pitch with a biting incident on Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic which landed the Uruguayan with a 10-match ban. Liverpool FC finished seventh in the table and the club’s highest-ever Premier League appearance maker, Jamie Carragher retired at the end of the season to start a television punditry career with Sky Sports.

 

2013-2014

Liverpool FC scored over 100 Premier League goals and produced some memorable moments in a titanic Premier League title scrap with Manchester City, Arsenal and Chelsea. The Reds thrashed Tottenham Hotspur 5-0 at White Hart Lane, commandingly defeated outgoing champions Manchester United 3-0 at Old Trafford and scored an extraordinary four goals in the first 20 minutes of a 5-1 rout against Arsenal.

An emotional 3-2 victory over Manchester City in mid-April put Liverpool in control of their fate and it looked like the league championship might be heading back to Anfield. Unfortunately, Steven Gerrard’s crucial slip against Chelsea allowed Demba Ba in to score the first goal of the Blues’ 2-0 victory at Anfield two weeks after the City victory. A late collapse at Selhurst Park a week later effectively handed Manchester City the title which they secured on the last day of the season.

A rejuvenated Luis Suarez won the Golden Boot with 31 goals and swept the board in the main individual awards. He would leave that summer in a £75 million move to Barcelona after another biting incident whilst playing at the World Cup finals for Uruguay.

 

2014-2015

After the runners-up finish in 2013-2014, hopes were high for a Liverpool FC title challenge in 2014-2015 but they simply failed to materialise. A poor start with seven losses recorded by mid-November plus the failed gamble with signing Mario Balotelli meant the Reds played no significant part in the title race.

A calamitous 6-1 final day defeat away at Stoke City left Liverpool in a distant sixth place whilst legendary skipper Steven Gerrard decided to leave at the end of the season and finish his playing career with LA Galaxy in the United States. Gerrard made 504 Premier League appearances across 17 years, scoring 121 goals but the main Premier League prize would ultimately elude him.

 

2015-2016

Liverpool’s board decided to stick with Brendan Rodgers but just three wins from the club’s first eight matches left the Reds in mid-table in early October. Hours after a 1-1 draw at Goodison Park with Everton, Rodgers was sacked and replaced by Jurgen Klopp. Klopp’s ‘gegenpress’ style brought about impressive victories over Chelsea and Manchester City, plus a Boxing Day triumph over eventual champions Leicester City. Liverpool finished in eighth place and reached both the League Cup and UEFA Europa League finals, losing both.

 

2016-2017

Jurgen Klopp’s first full season in the Liverpool FC dugout saw the club return to the elite of European football as they qualified for the UEFA Champions League with a fourth place finish. Klopp added Sadio Mane and Georginio Wijnaldum to his squad in pre-season and Liverpool made an early impression with a thrilling 4-3 victory over Arsenal on the opening weekend. Liverpool sat second on New Years’ Day but just one win from their opening six matches in 2017 saw the club drop to fifth. Important wins included Emre Can’s spectacular Goal of the Season strike to defeat Watford before a final day 3-0 victory over Middlesbrough saw the Merseysiders edge out Arsenal to a spot in Europe’s premier club competition for the following season.

 

2017-2018

Liverpool FC signed Mohamed Salah in the summer from AS Roma and the Egyptian enjoyed an extraordinary season, breaking the record for most goals scored in a 38-game Premier League season, as well as winning the Golden Boot and PFA Players’ Player of the Year. Salah’s goals helped Liverpool to finish in fourth place for the second successive season, although they were 25 points adrift of runaway champions Manchester City.

There was also a memorable run to the UEFA Champions League final which ended with a 3-1 defeat to Real Madrid whilst Virgil van Dijk was signed in January for a new world record fee for a defender, costing the club £75 million from Southampton.

 

2018-2019

Following Loris Karius’ miserable night in the Champions League final, Klopp finally addressed the goalkeeping issue by paying AS Roma over £65 million for Brazilian no.1 Allison. Liverpool have made an extraordinary start to the season, remaining undefeated until a recent 2-1 loss to Manchester City. They have dropped just nine points in their first 21 matches of the season and hold a four-point lead at the top of the table.

Highlights include a 5-1 thrashing of Arsenal, Divock Origi’s crazy and dramatic last-gasp winner in December’s Merseyside Derby and a 3-1 success over Manchester United which led to the Red Devils sacking Jose Mourinho two days later.

Iconic Moments: Fernando’s horrendous miss (September 2011)

Fernando Torres cost Chelsea £50 million on transfer deadline day in January 2011 when he elected to join the Blues from Premier League rivals Liverpool FC. It is fair to say that Chelsea supporters rarely saw the best of the Torres that haunted defenders throughout the world from his Liverpool days.

The lowest point of his Chelsea career came in September 2011 at Old Trafford against Manchester United. Having scored his first goal of the season early in the second half, the Spaniard got the perfect opportunity to double his tally with seven minutes left to play.

Played through by Ramires, Torres beat the offside trap and rounded goalkeeper David de Gea. The goal was gaping infront of him. Somehow, he managed to slice his shot wide into a delighted Stretford End. Cue a serious amount of laughter from United supporters and Liverpool fans who had never quite forgiven Torres for his transfer.

Sky Sports analyst Jamie Redknapp said: “To use a golfing term, it was almost like a yip.”

It remains one of the worst misses we’ve ever seen in the first 25 years of Premier League football.

Premier League Rewind: 28th-30th April 2012

Results: Everton 4-0 Fulham, Stoke City 1-1 Arsenal, Sunderland 2-2 Bolton Wanderers, Swansea City 4-4 Wolverhampton Wanderers, West Bromwich Albion 0-0 Aston Villa, Wigan Athletic 4-0 Newcastle United, Norwich City 0-3 Liverpool FC, Chelsea 6-1 Queens Park Rangers, Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 Blackburn Rovers, Manchester City 1-0 Manchester United

For months, every football supporter had been building up to the showdown in Manchester. It was billed as the title decider as the two giants from the city clashed on Monday 30th April 2012. Manchester United had the three-point advantage going into the match. Manchester City had restored their title push with three successive victories; whilst United had recently lost to Wigan Athletic and thrown away a 4-2 lead to draw 4-4 at home with Everton. The stakes couldn’t be any higher.

Naturally, the game itself wasn’t an all-time classic with so much to gain and lose in both camps. The only goal came on the stroke of half-time. David Silva’s corner was met by a towering header from Manchester City skipper, Vincent Kompany. The Belgian climbed highest to put the home side infront.

City held on in the second half to go top of the Premier League table on goal difference. 1-0 was the final scoreline and with two games to go, the destiny was back in their control as the leadership changed hands for the 11th time in this enthralling battle. Sir Alex Ferguson had seen his Manchester United side throw away an eight-point lead in the space of 22 days.

17 points further back, Arsenal led a tight battle for third position and the final automatic UEFA Champions League qualification place. Arsene Wenger visited one of his bogey grounds – The Britannia Stadium and left with another point added to their total. Robin van Persie equalised Peter Crouch’s opener as Stoke and Arsenal shared the points in a 1-1 draw. The Stoke supporters made fun of Wenger in the second half as he bitterly complained to the fourth official about Stoke’s physical style. Even BBC Match of the Day host Gary Lineker joined in during his amusing closure to that weekend’s highlights.

Tottenham Hotspur kept the pressure on by beating Blackburn Rovers 2-0 at White Hart Lane. Kyle Walker scored a spectacular free-kick and later that evening, he would be crowned the PFA Young Player of the Year for the 2011-2012 campaign, whilst Van Persie won the PFA Players’ award. Newcastle United lost vital ground after a first half shocker away at Wigan Athletic. Wigan led 4-0 at half-time, through two goals from Victor Moses, Shaun Maloney and Franco di Santo. That was how the final score ended and added Newcastle to a list of recent conquests for Roberto Martinez that included Liverpool FC, Manchester United and Arsenal.

Wigan swapped places with Queens Park Rangers who were now only outside the bottom three on goal difference. QPR were dismantled 6-1 at Stamford Bridge by Champions League finalists Chelsea. It was one of Fernando Torres’ best days in a Chelsea shirt. The Spaniard scored his only Premier League hat-trick for the club. However, it was becoming very likely that Chelsea were going to have to win the final in Munich against Bundesliga heavyweights Bayern Munich to qualify for next season’s competition.

Bolton Wanderers drew level on points with QPR and had a game in-hand too after coming from behind twice to draw 2-2 with Sunderland. Kevin Davies scored both of the goals. There was another hat-trick hero at Carrow Road as Luis Suarez tormented the Norwich City defenders. The Uruguayan scored his first hat-trick for Liverpool FC as the Reds recorded an impressive 3-0 victory, ending Norwich’s hopes of finishing above the men from Anfield in the table for the first time since 1993. It wouldn’t be the first time Suarez would score a hat-trick against the Canaries either. He would repeat the feat in future seasons to come.

What else happened in April 2012?

  • The centennial anniversary of the sinking of RMS Titanic is marked around the world.
  • James Murdoch resigns as Chairman of BSkyB in the wake of the News International phone hacking scandal.
  • The 158th University Boat Race between Oxford and Cambridge is stopped mid-race due to a swimmer in the water. Cambridge would end up winning after a later clash of oars at the restart leaves Oxford with a broken paddle.
  • Former Liberian President Charles Taylor is found guilty on 11 counts of aiding and abetting war crimes and crimes against humanity during the Sierra Leone Civil War.
  • The Metropolitan Arts Centre opens in Northern Ireland.
  • The UK economy returns to recession after shrinking by 0.2% in the first three months of the year.
  • April 2012 in the UK is the wettest in over a century according to figures released by the Met Office.

Premier League Rewind: 23rd-25th April 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What else happened in April 2011?

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

Great Goals: Fernando Torres – LIVERPOOL FC vs. Sunderland (March 2010)

Liverpool FC struggled to fire in Rafa Benitez’s final season in the Anfield dugout but Fernando Torres continued to sparkle, even if injuries were beginning to take their toll on ‘El Nino.’

He shone especially against Sunderland with two goals in a comfortable 3-0 win for the home side. His first goal was what he was capable of in his absolute prime.

There seemed to be nothing on in the third minute. Torres was on the touchline and facing up to Michael Turner. Options were limited in the box, so the Spaniard decided to go for goal. He curled an unstoppable effort around Turner and the effort squeezed underneath the crossbar, leaving Craig Gordon without any chance of saving the strike.

Torres lit up The Kop with many special strikes but within a year, he was gone to Chelsea and never regained the form he demonstrated in his early LFC years.

Premier League Files: Juan Mata

Premier League Career: Chelsea (2011-2014), Manchester United (2014-PRESENT)

A graduate of Real Madrid’s youth academy, Juan Mata has become one of the Premier League’s most precise players. Full of skill and panache, Mata has been a fans’ favourite at both Chelsea and Manchester United. Whilst the ultimate prize of the Premier League title has eluded this super Spaniard, Mata has become an integral part of many Fantasy Premier League squads because many can count on a fair return of goals and assists from him.

Mata started to make a name for himself in his homeland with Valencia. In August 2011, Chelsea bought him from La Liga for £28 million. On his arrival in west London, he revealed that his international teammate Fernando Torres had played a significant role in bringing him to English football. He said: “Fernando got me excited about the thought of coming here. He said it would be good for me here and that he and I together could be good.”

Getting his favourite no.10 shirt on his arrival, Mata made an immediate impression at Stamford Bridge. He scored on his debut in a home victory over Norwich City and was a shining light in an inconsistent season for the team which led to the March sacking of manager Andre Villas-Boas. When Roberto di Matteo took over, he played Mata as a no.10 attacking midfielder rather than out on the left-wing. This produced even better performances. Mata won the Man of the Match award as Chelsea beat Liverpool FC in the FA Cup final and ended the campaign with 14 assists in the league and six goals. He was part of the squad that stunned Bayern Munich on Bayern’s own turf to win the UEFA Champions League. That was despite having a penalty saved in the shootout by Manuel Neuer.

His performances won him the Club’s Player of the Year award in 2011-2012. He was even better in 2012-2013. Mata was shortlisted for the PFA Players’ Player of the Year, won the club’s individual prize for the second successive campaign and scored a ton of important goals. This included a late winner at Old Trafford against champions Manchester United. He added another honour to his collection with the UEFA Europa League. Unfortunately for Mata, his time at Chelsea was coming to a swifter end than he could have predicted.

Jose Mourinho’s arrival for a second spell as Chelsea manager would mean a frustrating first six months of the 2013-2014 campaign for Mata. Mourinho preferred to play the likes of Oscar and Ramires in more attacking positions as he valued their better defensive contributions. In January 2014, he moved to Manchester United for a club record fee at the time of £37.1 million.

His debut for the Red Devils’ saw an assist created for the opening goal against Cardiff City, scored by Robin van Persie. It did take Mata slightly longer to settle than he would have anticipated and two months before scoring his first goal for the club; in a 4-1 victory over Aston Villa in March. He ended with six goals at the end of the campaign.

Louis van Gaal arrived as David Moyes’ successor and it took Mata time to really establish himself at Old Trafford. The arrivals of Radamel Falcao and Angel di Maria put his place in doubt but towards the end of the 2014-2015 season, he had emerged as United’s creative spark. In March 2015, the club travelled to Anfield for a crucial match with Liverpool FC. The two were fighting it out for a top-four finish in the Premier League and Liverpool had the momentum following a lengthy unbeaten run. On this day, Mata was unplayable.

He ghosted past Alberto Moreno for the opening goal inside 10 minutes. His second goal was voted as the Goal of the Month for March. He produced a spectacular and fantastic bicycle kick from the edge of the area to leave Simon Mignolet stranded. The goal even got a usually unemotional van Gaal out of his seat. Manchester United won the game 2-1 and Mata has said since this was his best performance for the club.

In May 2016, he won the FA Cup for the second time in his career, scoring the equaliser in the final against Crystal Palace. Further goals in 2016-2017 followed against the likes of Watford, Arsenal and AFC Bournemouth as Mata once again proved his critics wrong and showed he could play a crucial role at the club for Jose Mourinho – the man who had so easily discarded him at Chelsea.

Great vision, many assists and plenty of skilful moments, Juan Mata has been a serial consistent player for the past six seasons and I’m sure more is to come from him in the 2017-2018 season.

Iconic Moments: The craziest deadline day (January 2011)

Transfer deadline day has become a nationwide event for football fans since the introduction of the August and January transfer windows from the 2002-2003 season onwards. There have been some intriguing days like Arsenal’s signing of Mesut Ozil in August 2013 and Dimitar Berbatov’s last-gasp switch to Manchester United five seasons earlier.

But there were fewer mad days in the transfer market than the one that played out on Monday, 31 January 2011. Over £100 million was spent on three strikers, with Liverpool FC, Chelsea and Newcastle United playing the leading roles.

There was a big departure from Anfield. Star striker of the past three and a half years, Fernando Torres decided to leave the club. Days earlier, the Spaniard had handed in a transfer request which was initially rejected. Eventually, a deal was agreed that saw Torres move to Chelsea for a British transfer record fee at the time of £50 million. A lot of LFC fans were very upset by Torres’ comments in the aftermath of the deal going through. Shirts were burned outside the ground as their former idol had moved on, saying “This is the target for every footballer – to try to play for one of the top clubs in the world.” 

Although he did go on to win the silverware he craved such as the FA Cup and UEFA Champions League in 2012, Torres never fully settled at Stamford Bridge. Liverpool fans never really forgave him until an appearance at Steven Gerrard’s testimonial three seasons later. He is now back in Spain playing for his boyhood club, Atletico Madrid.

That wasn’t the only business conducted at Chelsea. Brazilian defender David Luiz arrived from Benfica for £26.5 million and not the end of the drama either at Liverpool. As El Nino checked out of Merseyside, the Reds were busy pulling off their own double striker swoop.

£22.8 million was paid to Ajax for the controversial but exceptionally talented Luis Suarez and £35 million was exchanged with Newcastle for Andy Carroll – a club record fee. Like Torres, the transfer fee seemed to weigh too much on Carroll. His 18-month spell was an unhappy one and he eventually moved onto West Ham United in August 2012. On the other hand, Suarez lit up Anfield with many spectacular performances. Despite racism and biting controversies which led to suspensions totalling 19 matches, his spectacular goals nearly guided the club to a Premier League title in 2014 before departing for Barcelona in a £75 million transfer.

Other moves saw Birmingham sign Obafemi Martins on-loan, Bolton add Daniel Sturridge to their ranks from Chelsea, Tuncay depart Stoke City for the Bundesliga with VfL Wolfsburg and Blackpool add four players to their relegation scrap. Charlie Adam stayed put despite a late bid from Tottenham Hotspur.

In total, Premier League clubs spent over £200 million in the 2011 January window and deadline day in this window remains the craziest and probably best window of this era of transactions in football.