Tag Archives: Manchester City

Premier League Rewind: 5th-8th May 2001

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

With three games to go and the title already wrapped up by Manchester United, attention in May 2001 was largely focused on the bottom of the table. Bradford City were already condemned to relegation but the fight for survival was on between Derby County, Manchester City and Coventry City.

All three sides had testing fixtures away from home and with no margin for error, the side able to pull off a victory was more likely to survive. Derby had the most challenging match with a trip to the champions at Old Trafford. Jim Smith’s side had struggled all season and had only won one of their last seven encounters. The Rams though had pulled off an unexpected victory away at Manchester United in April 1997, so they had experience of producing the unexpected and they did so again here, with a shock 1-0 victory. Malcolm Christie scored the only goal of the game in the 34th minute to inflict only a second home defeat on Sir Alex Ferguson’s side all season. This win piled the pressure on Coventry City.

It meant the Sky Blues had to realistically win at Villa Park against Midlands rivals Aston Villa. They were in a very strong position when two spectacular goals from Mustapha Hadji had them 2-0 ahead. However, it was a position Gordon Strachan’s side weren’t used to in the 2000-2001 season. They’d recorded just eight league victories all campaign and it showed. Darius Vassell and Juan Pablo Angel pulled Villa level and with four minutes to go, Paul Merson delivered the final blow with a superb curling effort. The Villans won 3-2 and that result, combined with Derby’s win meant Coventry’s 34-year stay in England’s top-flight was officially over. They haven’t been back since.

Two nights later, a similar fate befell Manchester City. Shaun Goater gave their supporters hope by opening the scoring away to high-flying Ipswich Town in the 74th minute. Matt Holland equalised four minutes later though and Martijn Reuser’s diving header five minutes from full-time sealed a 2-1 win for Ipswich to keep alive their hopes of qualifying for the following season’s UEFA Champions League. For Joe Royle and Manchester City, it was the end of the road and relegation back to the First Division.

Ipswich were in a three-horse race for the final UEFA Champions League qualifying position and it was advantage Liverpool FC in this particular battle. The Reds were preparing for the FA Cup final with Arsenal but warmed up by claiming four points from two home fixtures. Michael Owen was in sensational form, scoring yet another hat-trick against Newcastle United in a 3-0 success. Three days later, he grabbed another two goals in an absorbing 2-2 draw with Chelsea, as Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink matched Owen’s accomplishment. The Dutchman’s two goals on Merseyside saw him take a giant step closer to winning the Golden Boot.

Elsewhere, Arsenal secured the runners-up position by defeating in-form Leeds United 2-1. Freddie Ljungberg and Sylvain Wiltord scored the goals in what turned out to be a damaging defeat for Leeds’ prospects of matching their third place finish from the previous campaign. Leicester’s wretched run of seven consecutive losses was ended by a 4-2 home victory against Tottenham Hotspur with goals from Gary Rowett, Dean Sturridge, Steve Guppy and a Robbie Savage penalty whilst Middlesbrough’s safety was secured by other results. They drew 1-1 at Valley Parade with bottom-placed Bradford City.

What else happened in May 2001?

  • Campaigning for the UK General Election is dominated by a scuffle between Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott and a protestor in Rhyl after an egg is thrown at him.
  • Silvio Berlusconi becomes Italian Prime Minister for the second time after winning the election in Italy.
  • The government decides to start relaxing its tough sanctions put in place to tackle the foot and mouth crisis two months on.
  • Liverpool FC complete a unique ‘Treble’ of cup victories, defeating Arsenal 2-1 in the FA Cup final in Cardiff, before prevailing 5-4 against Spanish side Alaves in the UEFA Cup final in Dortmund.
  • At 16, Temba Tsheri becomes the youngest person to summit Mount Everest.
  • With the song ‘Everybody,’ Estonia win the 2001 Eurovision Song Contest.

 

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Premier League Files: Benjani

Premier League Career: Portsmouth (2006-2008), Manchester City (2008-2009), Sunderland (2010), Blackburn Rovers (2010-2011)

Benjani became only the third Zimbabwean player after Bruce Grobbelaar and Peter Ndlovu to play in the Premier League. He played for four clubs in the top-flight between 2006 and 2011, though it was his spell at Portsmouth for which he will forever be associated with.

Benjani began his career playing in South African football before moving to Europe in 2001, joining Swiss outfit Grasshoppers Zurich on-loan. A year later, he moved to a talented Auxerre side and made the most of an injury to Djibril Cisse, settling down and scoring goals quickly for Guy Roux’s side. He scored seven times in his debut season and experienced UEFA Champions League football for the first time. 11 goals followed in the 2004-2005 campaign but when Jacques Santini succeeded Roux as manager, he tweaked the formation and Benjani was made surplus to requirements.

Marseille expressed an interest to sign him but Benjani liked English football and went to Portsmouth instead. The south coast club paid a club-record fee of £4.1 million to sign him in January 2006. Harry Redknapp made the purchase after receiving a recommendation from Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger.

Benjani was instantly ridiculed by pundits for his lack of goals but the fans loved him at Fratton Park, impressing with his high work-rate and setting up chances for his teammates. It took him 15 games before he found the back of the net for Pompey but it was a crucial goal in a 2-1 victory away at Wigan Athletic, helping Portsmouth to avoid relegation from the top-flight.

His best season undoubtedly was in 2007-2008. In the encounter against Reading in September 2007, Benjani scored a hat-trick in a thrilling 7-4 victory for Portsmouth which remains the highest scoring match in Premier League history. In January 2008, he scored another treble as Pompey came from behind to defeat Derby County 3-1. That took his tally to 12 goals for the season, surpassing his target of 10 that he’d personally set. However, it would be the last goal of his first spell at the club.

Sven-Goran Eriksson was interested in signing the player and on transfer deadline day, Portsmouth accepted an £8 million bid from Manchester City. Benjani was reluctant to leave but Pompey had already agreed to sign Jermain Defoe from Tottenham Hotspur and planned to finalise the transfer by selling Benjani. Despite missing two flights to Manchester for a planned medical, the move did eventually go through.

He made a great debut, scoring a header to win the Manchester Derby at Old Trafford for his new club. He added further goals against his former club Portsmouth and Fulham. However, Eriksson left in the summer of 2008 and along with injuries and added competition from the likes of Robinho and Craig Bellamy, Benjani’s amount of game time became seriously limited.

He was allowed to leave in the summer of 2009 but failed to agree personal terms over a transfer to Hull City. He remained at Eastlands until a loan move to Sunderland in February 2010 which didn’t materialise into a permanent switch. Released by Manchester City in summer 2010, Benjani joined Blackburn Rovers in August 2010. He did score twice in a 3-1 victory over Liverpool FC in January 2011 but although Blackburn were interested in keeping him beyond 2010-2011, he turned a new contract down and made an emotional return to Portsmouth, who were now playing in the Championship.

However, he couldn’t replicate his form from his previous spell at Portsmouth and was released after just a year. He finished his playing career in 2014 after a spell back in South African football.

Premier League Rewind: 27th-28th August 2011

Results: Aston Villa 0-0 Wolverhampton Wanderers, Wigan Athletic 2-0 Queens Park Rangers, Blackburn Rovers 0-1 Everton, Chelsea 3-1 Norwich City, Swansea City 0-0 Sunderland, Liverpool FC 3-1 Bolton Wanderers, Tottenham Hotspur 1-5 Manchester City, Newcastle United 2-1 Fulham, West Bromwich Albion 0-1 Stoke City, Manchester United 8-2 Arsenal

It was still early days in the 2011-2012 Premier League season but already, the form of the two Manchester clubs was looking fairly formidable as Manchester City and Manchester United destroyed the two north London clubs on a goal-filled Sunday afternoon of action. It set the trend for some incredible scorelines during the campaign between the top sides in the Premier League.

On the Saturday, Chelsea made it back-to-back victories but they were made to work hard for the win against newly-promoted Norwich City. The scoreline was tied at 1-1 with 10 minutes remaining when Norwich goalkeeper John Ruddy conceded a penalty and was sent off. Frank Lampard converted the spot-kick before new signing Juan Mata scored the third goal to wrap the match up in the 11th minute of stoppage-time. It was the perfect start for the Spaniard who would become an important part of Chelsea’s successful season which ended with them winning the UEFA Champions League.

There was a dramatic game at Ewood Park between Blackburn Rovers and Everton. Blackburn were without a point from their opening two matches and were the better side in this match but missed their chances. Early in the second half, Rovers won a penalty but Tim Howard saved the spot-kick from Junior Hoillett. Incredibly, Blackburn were awarded a second penalty in the contest by referee Lee Mason and inexplicably, missed that too. Mauro Formica smashed his effort against the post. Then in stoppage-time, Mason pointed to the spot for a third time, this time for the visitors when Christopher Samba was adjudged to have fouled Marouane Fellaini. Mikel Arteta converted Everton’s penalty award to earn themselves a very fortunate three points. This would be Arteta’s last contribution for the club. He moved to Arsenal on transfer deadline day.

Wolverhampton Wanderers maintained their unbeaten start to the season, achieving a point in an awful match at Villa Park against Aston Villa which saw just five shots on-target across the 90 minutes between the two teams. There were also no goals in south Wales as Sunderland held Swansea City to a 0-0 draw. Swansea were still awaiting their first goal at this level after three matches.

With Saturday’s action out of the way, attention switched to the Sunday matches and whilst Newcastle United beat Fulham and Stoke City recorded a late victory at The Hawthorns, the headlines were dominated by the showdown matches at White Hart Lane and Old Trafford.

First in north London, Manchester City and in particular, Edin Dzeko, were in unstoppable form against Tottenham Hotspur. Dzeko scored four times and new signing Sergio Aguero scored his third goal since his summer arrival from Atletico Madrid. Manchester City won the game 5-1, inflicting the worst defeat on Harry Redknapp since he became Tottenham manager. As they hadn’t played their first match due to the London riots earlier in the month, the Lilywhites were bottom of the table and without a point from their opening two games.

However, that was beyond the problems Arsenal were experiencing. Star players Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas had been sold and despite a morale-boosting win in midweek in the UEFA Champions League qualifiers against Udinese, the Gunners were short on-numbers and quality ahead of their trip to Old Trafford. They experienced a nightmare afternoon as Manchester United went and surpassed City’s total – both when it came to margin of victory and number of goals. Wayne Rooney scored two inch-perfect free-kicks and a penalty whilst Ashley Young endeared himself to his new supporters with long-range strikes. Robin van Persie missed a penalty and Carl Jenkinson was sent off on a demoralising afternoon for Arsenal supporters. It finished 8-2 and was Arsenal’s worst defeat since 1896. The pain on Wenger’s face was all too clear on the final whistle and he responded with a transfer deadline day spurge, signing Arteta, Per Mertesacker and Andre Santos permanently whilst Yossi Benayoun came in on-loan to bolster his ranks.

What else happened in August 2011?

  • Five people are killed across five days of rioting in the UK following the shooting of Mark Duggan in Tottenham. London is badly affected by the riots and parliament is recalled from its holidays to deal with the crisis.
  • Colonel Gadhafi’s government is effectively overthrown in Libya after rebels take control of the capital, Tripoli.
  • NASA confirms that it has captured photographic evidence of possible liquid water on Mars.
  • Mobile internet use has reached 50% in the UK, according to the Office for National Statistics.
  • Usain Bolt sensationally false starts and is disqualified from the men’s 100m final at the IAAF World Athletics Championships in Daegu. His Jamaican teammate Yohan Blake takes gold in his absence.
  • MPs are to consider a House of Commons debate after an e-petition calling for the release of Cabinet documents relating to the 1989 Hillsborough disaster.

 

Memorable Matches: Manchester City 5-2 Tottenham Hotspur (October 1994)

Goalscorers: Paul Walsh 15, 44, Ilie Dumitrescu 29 PEN, 46, Niall Quinn 41, Steve Lomas 52, Garry Flitcroft 79

Teams:

Manchester City: Andy Dibble, Keith Curle, Richard Edghill, Ian Brightwell, Terry Phelan, Garry Flitcroft, Steve Lomas, Peter Beagrie, Nicky Summerbee, Niall Quinn, Paul Walsh

Tottenham Hotspur: Ian Walker, Sol Campbell, Justin Edinburgh, David Kerslake, Kevin Scott, Gheorghe Popescu, Nick Barmby, Jason Dozzell (Micky Hazard 72), Ilie Dumitrescu, Jurgen Klinsmann, Teddy Sheringham

Referee: David Elleray, Attendance: 25,473

On a wet afternoon in Manchester in October 1994, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur produced a classic encounter for the supporters at Maine Road wrapped up against the elements.

Both sides were unchanged from their most recent matches and it was the home side who scored the first goal in this seven-goal encounter. Sol Campbell cutout Steve Lomas’ cross but his clearance only fell to City’s top scorer Paul Walsh who tucked his shot away with some aplomb against his old club. Walsh was enjoying a career renaissance since his move in March 1994 from First Division Portsmouth.

Tottenham flowed forward in search of an equaliser and found it 14 minutes later. Goalkeeper Andy Dibble committed himself and brought down Jurgen Klinsmann. Having seen red the previous weekend in an away win at Queens Park Rangers, his heartbeat must have been fluttering but David Elleray decided the foul was only enough for a yellow card.

Having missed his last three spot-kicks, Teddy Sheringham gave up responsibility to Ilie Dumitrescu and the Romanian made no mistake to level the scores. It was an end-to-end contest with both attacking outfits looking dangerous and neither defensive performance showing much signs of conviction. However, the Citizens showed their clinical approach just before half-time to score twice to go into the dressing rooms 3-1 infront.

First, Nicky Summerbee’s wicked cross was met by Walsh. Ian Walker kept his header out but Niall Quinn was first to the rebound to put City back infront. The home side’s direct approach was really working and moments later, Peter Beagrie tore down the left-hand side, found Quinn and Walsh once again provided the end product via Walker’s best efforts.

Tottenham got a goal back a minute into the second half. Klinsmann and Dumitrescu worked well together with the German’s clever backheel finding the Romanian and his shot took a deflection off Keith Curle to wrong-foot Dibble and give Spurs a pathway back into the match.

Ossie Ardiles was never known for his defensive shrewdness and more chaotic defending would follow which ensured Manchester City regained their two-goal advantage on 52 minutes. Beagrie got past David Kerslake far too easily and his inch-perfect cross found Lomas who got a free header to score. With 11 minutes left, Manchester City’s fifth goal finally put the game beyond Tottenham. Walsh again had a telling contribution, twisting and turning Campbell inside out. He then squared the ball back to Garry Flitcroft who provided a clean strike beyond Walker.

City’s 5-2 victory hastened a change in Tottenham management. After a humiliating midweek beating by Notts County in the League Cup third round, Ardiles was sacked and replaced by Gerry Francis. Tottenham ended up finishing the season in seventh position, 10 places above Manchester City in the final standings.

Shock Results: Burnley 1-0 Manchester City (March 2015)

Goalscorer: George Boyd 61

Teams:

Burnley: Tom Heaton, Michael Duff, Jason Shackell, Ben Mee, Kieran Trippier, Scott Arfield, David Jones, George Boyd, Ashley Barnes, Danny Ings (Steven Reid 90), Sam Vokes (Stephen Ward 87)

Manchester City: Joe Hart, Gael Clichy, Pablo Zabaleta, Martin Demichelis, Vincent Kompany, Fernandinho, Yaya Toure (Frank Lampard 81), Jesus Navas, David Silva (Stevan Jovetic 74), Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko (Wilfried Bony 63)

Referee: Andre Marriner, Attendance: 21,216

Reigning champions Manchester City was desperate for victory when they visited Turf Moor in March 2015 to take on a plucky Burnley outfit that were fighting against relegation. Sean Dyche’s side were sitting in the bottom three and had managed just four Premier League victories all season so not many gave the Clarets much hope of adding to this paltry tally against Manuel Pellegrini’s all-stars.

Pellegrini’s side arrived in Lancashire virtually at full strength but struggled to create many clear-cut opportunities in a first half of few chances. Burnley goalkeeper Tom Heaton made a smart save to keep out Edin Dzeko’s goal bound effort but that was good as it got for Manchester City in a first 45 minutes that wouldn’t live long in the memory of the 21,216 supporters’ in-attendance for this teatime kick-off.

As the match wore on, Dyche’s team grew in-confidence and believed that the champions were there for the taking. They made the crucial breakthrough on 61 minutes. Kieran Trippier’s free-kick was poorly cleared by Manchester City captain, Vincent Kompany. Kompany’s clearance fell into the path of George Boyd and the Scotsman drilled the ball into the net beyond Joe Hart’s despairing dive. It was his fifth goal of the season since his August switch from Hull City and by far, his most important for the Clarets.

It was a bad moment for Kompany who had been dropped for the Citizens’ previous match at home to Leicester City and raised questions over his fitness after another error-strewn display here at Turf Moor. Pellegrini responded to falling behind by bringing on Frank Lampard for his 600th Premier League appearance whilst recent signing Wilfried Bony and Stevan Jovetic were also thrown on. Neither of these made any significant impact on proceedings with Jovetic forcing Heaton into a simple save which was the best the visitors could muster in a tepid display.

There were late calls for a penalty when Pablo Zabaleta went down in the penalty area under a challenge from Ben Mee in stoppage-time but Andre Marriner waved the protests away. The path was clear for Burnley to record only their second victory of the calendar year and their first win against their illustrious opponents since October 1974.

Manchester City remained five points behind Chelsea after this loss and had played two games more than the Blues. The defence of their title was now virtually in tatters. Burnley ended up losing their fight against the drop but this was a fantastic scalp for Dyche and demonstrated their battling qualities throughout the 2014-2015 season which has put them in good stead since their return to the top-flight in 2016.

Premier League Files: Kolo Toure

Premier League Career: Arsenal (2002-2009), Manchester City (2009-2013), Liverpool FC (2013-2016)

Kolo Toure is part of a unique group of players in Premier League history. He is one of only eight players to have won the league with two different clubs, having been part of ‘The Invincibles’ Arsenal side from 2004 and enjoying success with Manchester City in 2012. Toure also experienced another near-miss when a Liverpool FC player during their 2013-2014 campaign. He represented his country, Cote d’Ivoire at three World Cup finals and no fewer than seven African Cup of Nations finals, winning the main prize in 2015.

Toure first arrived in the Premier League in 2002, joining Arsenal on a long-term contract from ASEC Mimosas. In his first season with the north Londoners, he was a utility player who would fill in when required at either right-back or defensive midfield. He immediately settled into the harmonious dressing room and scored goals away from home at Chelsea and Leeds United as Arsenal narrowly missed out on successfully defending their title, beaten to the prize by Manchester United. Toure was part of the squad that won the FA Cup in 2003, although he was an unused substitute in the final.

At the start of Arsenal’s historic season of 2003-2004, manager Arsene Wenger successfully trained Toure into a new position. Kolo became Sol Campbell’s regular partner at centre-back, replacing Martin Keown in the role with the veteran nearing the end of his awesome Arsenal career. Toure continued his liking for scoring goals against Leeds United, netting in the league and FA Cup against the Yorkshire club and he had a great personal season, with his development coming on leaps and bounds in the new position of the field he was playing in.

By now, Kolo was one of the first men on Wenger’s teamsheet. With Campbell experiencing a difficult final campaign at Highbury, Toure became the main centre-back leader in the 2005-2006 season, forming an effective partnership with the upcoming Philippe Senderos. Both played a major part in the club reaching their first-ever UEFA Champions League final, keeping 10 consecutive clean sheets on their way to the showpiece event. This remains a European competition record. His winning goal in the semi-final victory over Villarreal was the final-ever European goal to be scored at Highbury before Arsenal’s stadium move to The Emirates in the summer of 2006.

It would be a losing experience in the Champions League final against Barcelona for Toure but he signed a new four-year contract that summer and also swapped squad numbers, taking the no.5 jersey that hadn’t been filled since Keown’s departure. When both Thierry Henry and Freddie Ljungberg left the club in the summer of 2007, Toure suddenly became the longest-serving member of the squad.

After seven years in the capital, Toure seeked a new challenge in the summer of 2009, handing in a transfer request which was initially turned down. Eventually though, a bid came in from oil-rich Manchester City which was too good to ignore. Toure moved for £14 million in July 2009. Mark Hughes immediately appointed him club captain on his arrival in Manchester. A year later, his brother Yaya joined him at The Etihad Stadium after the pair had played together in Cote d’Ivoire’s exit in the group stages of the 2010 World Cup finals.

Toure’s 2010-2011 season ended prematurely when it was revealed in March 2011 that he had failed a drugs test after the Manchester Derby game at Old Trafford. He was immediately suspended by the club and potentially faced a two-year ban from the game. Following a seven-hour hearing at Wembley in May 2011, the commission decided that the substance (his wife’s water tablets) was not seen as a performance enhancing substance. He was handed a six-month suspension, backdated from March that year, meaning he missed out on the club’s FA Cup final victory over Stoke City.

Toure admitted afterwards: “This has been a difficult period for me and I am sad to have missed the team’s triumph of securing Champions League football and also the FA Cup victory at Wembley but I am relieved that I will be able to return to football in September and thank the FA’s commission for their understanding about my case in coming to their decision.”

Although he returned to action in September 2011, Toure’s first-team chances became more limited as Roberto Mancini preferred Joleon Lescott and Vincent Kompany as his first-choice centre-back combination. Toure became a squad player but still made 14 appearances in 2011-2012, more than enough to qualify for a second Premier League title winners’ medal. He was released in the summer of 2013 after not being offered a contract extension.

Brendan Rodgers wasted no time in snapping Toure up to add some experience to the Liverpool FC backline following Jamie Carragher’s retirement. Toure was only ever seen as a back-up player at Liverpool behind the likes of Martin Skrtel, Daniel Agger and Dejan Lovren. Nevertheless, he made 46 Premier League appearances for the Reds across three years. He scored once; in the 6-0 rout of Aston Villa at Villa Park in February 2016. It was his first goal of any kind in over five years and he celebrated wildly following this goal. His last appearance for the club came in the UEFA Europa League final loss to Sevilla.

By now, Rodgers had gone to Celtic and he took Toure with him in July 2016 when his Liverpool contract came to an end. He made 20 appearances in Celtic’s first treble-winning season under the Northern Irish manager, which included his second campaign being involved in an unbeaten domestic league season. In September 2017, he retired from football but remained at Celtic as a technical assistant and would follow Rodgers to Leicester City on his coaching staff when he left his position as Celtic manager in February 2019.

Kolo is also an ambassador for the charity Save the Children.

Memorable Matches: Manchester City 3-3 Burnley (November 2009)

Goalscorers: Graham Alexander 19 PEN, Steven Fletcher 32, Shaun Wright-Phillips 43, Kolo Toure 55, Craig Bellamy 58, Kevin McDonald 87

Teams:

Manchester City: Shay Given, Wayne Bridge, Joleon Lescott, Kolo Toure, Pablo Zabaleta, Gareth Barry, Stephen Ireland, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Emmanuel Adebayor, Craig Bellamy, Carlos Tevez (Martin Petrov 73)

Burnley: Brian Jensen, Graham Alexander, Stephen Caldwell, Clarke Carlisle, Tyrone Mears, Stephen Jordan, Andre Bikey (Kevin McDonald 61), Chris Eagles (David Nugent 71), Wade Elliott, Robbie Blake (Joey Gudjonsson 62), Steven Fletcher

Referee: Stuart Attwell, Attendance: 47,205

Burnley had made an impressive start to their Premier League life at Turf Moor but their form away from home was dreadful. Five successive defeats and just two goals scored meant Owen Coyle’s side were desperate to avoid more pain on their travels when they went to Eastlands to play Manchester City in November 2009. City manager Mark Hughes was under pressure with the expensively-assembled squad not delivering consistent results. They’d drawn their last four top-flight matches.

After surviving an early barrage of expected pressure from the home side, it was Burnley who silenced the home crowd by charging into a 2-0 lead. First in the 19th minute, Tyrone Mears’ cross was charged down by Joleon Lescott. In the opinion of Stuart Attwell, it was blocked illegally by the centre-back and he awarded a penalty. Graham Alexander smashed home the spot-kick emphatically, giving Shay Given, who saved a penalty a week earlier at Birmingham no chance.

13 minutes later, City’s backline was all over the place when Chris Eagles beat the offside trap. He cut in from the right-hand side and with Given beaten by the cutback, Steven Fletcher had a simple finish to send the away supporters into dreamland. Having already beaten Manchester United and Everton this season, were they about to add the Citizens to their list of scalps?

It would have helped getting to the changing rooms two goals clear but on the stroke of half-time, the hosts got back into the game. Shaun Wright-Phillips’ shot deflected off ex-Manchester City defender Stephen Jordan, giving Brian Jensen no hope of keeping the effort out. Momentum had shifted back towards Hughes and his troops and they’d cancelled out Burnley’s two-goal advantage within the first 10 minutes of the second half.

Returning from injury, Kolo Toure scored his first Premier League goal for the club since moving from Arsenal in the summer, finishing from close-range after being found in space by his centre-back colleague Lescott. Coyle’s side were now on the ropes and they fell 3-2 behind on 58 minutes. Wright-Phillips was causing problems down the right-hand side and his cross just missed Carlos Tevez but was dispatched by Craig Bellamy for the Welshman’s fifth goal of the season.

It looked like Manchester City were going to hold on for their first victory in the Premier League since late September but with three minutes left, there was one final sting in the tale. Substitute David Nugent’s ball into the box was nodded on by Fletcher into the path of Kevin McDonald. From five-yards out, McDonald couldn’t miss to make the score 3-3 and ensure the points would be shared.

It was the least Burnley deserved from a pulsating match but by mid-January, neither manager would be in their jobs. Coyle controversially left for the Bolton Wanderers vacancy and Burnley would be relegated under his successor, Brian Laws. Hughes would only win two more matches and the run of seven successive draws ultimately did for him. He was sacked before Christmas and replaced by Roberto Mancini who would take City to fifth spot but not enough for Champions League qualification.

Premier League Rewind: 28th-29th January 2014

Results: Crystal Palace 1-0 Hull City, Liverpool FC 4-0 Everton, Manchester United 2-0 Cardiff City, Norwich City 0-0 Newcastle United, Southampton 2-2 Arsenal, Swansea City 2-0 Fulham, Aston Villa 4-3 West Bromwich Albion, Chelsea 0-0 West Ham United, Sunderland 1-0 Stoke City, Tottenham Hotspur 1-5 Manchester City

Arsenal went into this midweek round of matches in January 2014 leading the Premier League title race but both Manchester City and Chelsea were snapping at their heels. This looked like being a crucial round of fixtures at both ends of the table.

The Gunners faced a tricky test away on the south coast away at Southampton and ultimately saw their five-match winning streak come to an end. After falling behind to Jose Fonte’s 21st minute header, Arsenal turned the match around with quick-fire goals early in the second half from Olivier Giroud and Santi Cazorla. However, Adam Lallana’s 54th minute strike ensured the Saints got a deserved 2-2 draw against the Gunners, who also had Mathieu Flamini sent off 10 minutes from full-time.

That draw meant Manchester City could go into top spot in the table if they claimed all three points against Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane. Danny Rose’s red card did help City’s cause but Manuel Pellegrini’s side cruised to an impressive 5-1 destruction of the north Londoners with goals from Sergio Aguero, Yaya Toure, Edin Dzeko, Stevan Jovetic and Vincent Kompany. It meant they had scored 11 goals in two fixtures against the Lilywhites in the season and also inflicted a first defeat on new Tottenham Head Coach, Tim Sherwood. Manchester City had now won their last eight Premier League fixtures.

Chelsea lost ground on the top two after being held to a frustrating goalless draw by West Ham United at Stamford Bridge. The Blues had an incredible 39 shots on-goal compared to just one for the visitors but they couldn’t find a way through thanks to last-ditch defending and wasteful finishing. It was the most shots on-goal a side had in a Premier League game without scoring since 2003-2004. After the game, Jose Mourinho was very vocal about the Hammers’ gameplay, calling it: “This is football from the 19th Century. The only (other) thing I could bring was Black and Decker (tool) to destroy the wall.”

Liverpool FC moved four points clear of city neighbours Everton after destroying the Toffees 4-0 at Anfield in The Merseyside Derby. Daniel Sturridge scored twice and only a wayward penalty denied the England ace his second hat-trick for the club. Skipper Steven Gerrard had opened the scoring from a corner early on and Luis Suarez capped the victory off with his trademark strike. It was only Everton’s third Premier League defeat of the season and first away from Goodison Park since early October.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made an emotional return to Old Trafford as manager of Cardiff City but he couldn’t spearhead the Welsh club to a surprising victory. Juan Mata made his debut for the Red Devils after his transfer from Chelsea and he played a part in the first goal of the game, scored by Robin van Persie. Ashley Young scored his first Premier League goal in nearly two years to cap a 2-0 victory for the reigning champions, who remained in a distant seventh place in the table.

Elsewhere, Sunderland climbed out of the bottom three after beating Stoke City 1-0. It was their third victory in six matches. Fulham replaced them in the relegation zone after losing 2-0 to Swansea City. Dimitar Berbatov scored an own goal in his last game for the club before completing a loan move to AS Monaco. It was also the last victory Michael Laudrup would experience as Swansea manager. He would be sacked a week later.

What else happened in January 2014?

  • Legendary former Portuguese forward, Eusebio, who finished top goalscorer in the 1966 World Cup finals in England, dies of heart failure, aged 71.
  • An inquest jury decides that Mark Duggan was lawfully killed by police in 2011. It was his death that sparked the summer riots in England.
  • Lewis Clarke of Bristol sets a new world record after becoming the youngest person to trek to the South Pole. He is just 16-years-old.
  • Latvia becomes the 18th member of the Eurozone after adopting the Euro as its official currency.
  • BBC Radio 1’s official YouTube channel reaches the milestone of one million subscribers.
  • The Met Office release figures that indicate parts of the Midlands and Southern England have experienced their highest January rainfall since records began 104 years earlier.
  • Comedian Jim Davidson wins the 13th series of Celebrity Big Brother.

 

Premier League Rewind: 17th-18th December 2005

Results: Aston Villa 0-2 Manchester United, Everton 0-4 Bolton Wanderers, Fulham 2-1 Blackburn Rovers, Portsmouth 1-0 West Bromwich Albion, West Ham United 2-4 Newcastle United, Wigan Athletic 3-0 Charlton Athletic, Manchester City 4-1 Birmingham City, Middlesbrough 3-3 Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal 0-2 Chelsea

The final round of matches before Christmas in the 2005-2006 season saw Chelsea have the opportunity to strengthen their grip on the Premier League title. Jose Mourinho’s all-conquering Blues had lost just once so far away at Manchester United and dropped just four points in the campaign when they travelled to Highbury for the last-ever time to play Arsenal.

The Gunners were smarting off the back of successive defeats on their travels to Bolton Wanderers and Newcastle United without scoring and things didn’t improve here against the league leaders. They were denied a perfectly good goal when Robin van Persie was wrongly flagged for offside. Chelsea took advantage when Arjen Robben scored just before half-time. A mistake from Lauren allowed Joe Cole to score a second goal after 73 minutes and took Mourinho’s men a whopping 20 points clear of the previous season’s runners-up. He was seen shaking hands before full-time with his coaching staff in a joyous manner. It had been another professional performance from the reigning champions.

The result left Arsenal way off the pace in eighth position and also, five points adrift of the top four positions. Chelsea’s nearest challengers were Manchester United who remained nine points behind the men from west London. The Red Devils recorded their sixth win in seven matches with a fairly routine 2-0 victory at shot-shy Aston Villa. Both Ruud van Nistelrooy and Wayne Rooney were on-target to keep United in second position and leave Villa just four points above the bottom three.

With third-placed Liverpool FC away on FIFA World Club Championship duty in Japan, Tottenham had the opportunity to move above the Reds but couldn’t fully capitalise, drawing a thrilling match at Middlesbrough. Spurs trailed twice in the game but battled back to draw 3-3 with Mido scoring the equaliser in the 80th minute to ensure the spoils were deservedly shared.

Wigan Athletic bounced back from five successive defeats to the ‘big 5’ by waltzing past Charlton Athletic 3-0, pushing the Latics back into both positive goal difference and the top six. Henri Camara scored a hat-trick as Charlton crashed to their sixth defeat in seven matches. Camara wasn’t the only hat-trick hero of the weekend as Michael Owen scored his first treble as a Newcastle United player in the Magpies’ 4-2 away victory at West Ham. They would turn out to be Owen’s last goals of the season. He broke his foot two weeks later which would keep him on the sidelines for the best part of four months.

Harry Redknapp had made a sensational return to Portsmouth following a year of drama on the south coast between Pompey and Southampton. His first game back at Fratton Park saw his team record a priceless and scrappy 1-0 triumph over West Bromwich Albion with Svetoslav Todorov scoring the only goal of the contest. However, Portsmouth would spend Christmas Day still in the bottom three.

The result saw them overtake Birmingham City however, who went down 4-1 away at Manchester City in the Saturday teatime fixture. David Sommeil put the home side into the lead after just 42 seconds and Birmingham goalkeeper Nico Vaesen endured a torrid evening, conceding a penalty and receiving a late red card for handling outside his penalty area. For Steve Bruce and the travelling support, it was torrid evening at Eastlands.

What else happened in December 2005?

  • David Cameron is elected as the new leader of The Conservative Party, defeating David Davis in the leadership election.
  • The Civil Partnership Act 2004 comes into force. This grants same-sex couples similar legal rights to those of married heterosexuals. One of the first high-profile marriages is that of singer Elton John and his long-time partner, David Furnish.
  • The Buncefield oil storage facility in Hertfordshire is destroyed by a series of explosions.
  • Irish President Mary McAleese meets The Queen at Hillsborough Castle. It is the first time that the two heads of state meet in Ireland.
  • England cricket all-rounder Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff wins the 2005 BBC Sports Personality of the Year.
  • Amelle Berrabah joins the Sugababes, replacing Mutya Buena who leaves the band.
  • The final-ever episode is aired of the Channel Five soap opera, Family Affairs.

 

Memorable Matches: Liverpool FC 3-2 Manchester City (April 2014)

Goalscorers: Raheem Sterling 6, Martin Skrtel 26, David Silva 57, Glen Johnson 62 OG, Philippe Coutinho 78

Teams:

Liverpool FC: Simon Mignolet, Jon Flanagan, Glen Johnson, Mamadou Sakho, Martin Skrtel, Steven Gerrard, Jordan Henderson (SENT OFF), Philippe Coutinho (Victor Moses 89), Raheem Sterling (Lucas 90), Daniel Sturridge (Joe Allen 66), Luis Suarez

Manchester City: Joe Hart, Gael Clichy, Martin Demichelis, Vincent Kompany, Pablo Zabaleta, Fernandinho, Yaya Toure (Javi Garcia 19), Samir Nasri, Jesus Navas (James Milner 50), David Silva, Edin Dzeko (Sergio Aguero 68)

Referee: Mark Clattenburg, Attendance: 44,601

The Liverpool FC supporters were starting to believe that their 24-year wait for a league title was about to end. Manchester City came to Anfield in mid-April 2014 for a game that always looked like it was going to have a crucial bearing on the outcome of the thrilling three-way title battle between these two sides and Jose Mourinho’s stubborn Chelsea outfit.

City’s arrival came on the eve of the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster and a minute’s silence was impeccably observed before the start of one of the best recent matches in the history of the Premier League.

Liverpool had traditionally made fast starts throughout the season, as former title challengers Arsenal could vouch for two months earlier. Brendan Rodgers’ team flew out of the blocks and within the first 30 minutes, were 2-0 ahead. First, Luis Suarez showed great strength to hold off Gael Clichy before producing the perfect pass into the path of Raheem Sterling. Sterling showed great maturity when the pressure was on, cutting inside Vincent Kompany and exposing the gap Joe Hart had left at his near post. The finish was precise and the Reds were infront inside of six minutes.

Manuel Pellegrini’s best plans weren’t helped by an injury to their star midfielder Yaya Toure, who limped off after just 19 minutes. As City were trying to reorganise following his departure, Steven Gerrard was left unmarked and met a Philippe Coutinho corner but his header was kept out by a flying save from Hart. England’s no.1 goalkeeper couldn’t do anything about the Reds’ next set-piece though. This time, Gerrard turned provider and Martin Skrtel flicked a header into the back of the net for his seventh goal of a topsy-turvy season for the Slovakian.

Manchester City didn’t create too much in the first half. Their best moment came from Fernandinho, whose snapshot effort was palmed away by Simon Mignolet. Pellegrini reacted soon into the second half, bringing on James Milner for the ineffective Jesus Navas. Within seven minutes of his arrival, he’d made a difference. He burst into the box and squared the ball to David Silva, who couldn’t miss from close-range.

The Spanish magician came alive as Liverpool’s midfield started to tire and he created the equaliser on 62 minutes. His shot took an unfortunate deflection off Glen Johnson and trickled into the net. Now, it was the Citizens in the driving seat with Silva at the heart of everything. He narrowly failed to make sufficient enough contact on a fantastic pass from substitute Sergio Aguero which would have given City the lead.

With 12 minutes remaining, Kompany made a critical error, slicing a clearance into the path of Coutinho. The Brazilian swept his low drive beyond Hart’s despairing dive to put the home side back infront. Despite Jordan Henderson seeing red from Mark Clattenburg in stoppage-time for a bad tackle on Samir Nasri, Liverpool held on for a 10th successive Premier League victory and the result meant the destiny of the title was in their own hands.

Two weeks later, they lost at home to Chelsea and ultimately, it was Manchester City who ended up as champions, dropping just two further points on their way to a second Premier League title.

Iconic Moments: Manchester’s Monday showdown (April 2012)

As soon as the fixtures for the 2011-2012 season were released, there was plenty of anticipation about the second meeting between city rivals, Manchester City and Manchester United. To be held at The Etihad Stadium at the end of April in Gameweek 36, many believed even months before that this could be the most pivotal match of the season.

When Sky Sports made their television selections for the closing weeks of the campaign, they moved the fixture to Monday 30th April 2012 and so the eyes of the football world were firmly fixed on Manchester for this crucial evening in the title race.

Weeks earlier, Manchester United had an eight-point lead and looked like they were coasting to a 20th English league championship. However, they lost to Wigan Athletic before blowing a two-goal lead at home to Everton to draw 4-4. Manchester City knew victory would get them back to the top of the table.

The Citizens were the better team throughout and right on the stroke of half-time, skipper Vincent Kompany met David Silva’s corner with a firm header that beat David de Gea to give the hosts the lead. They held on for a 1-0 victory to take them top with two games left to play thanks to goal difference.

It was a major moment and a crucial moment during the most thrilling title race in Premier League history.

The Managers: Manuel Pellegrini

Premier League Clubs Managed: Manchester City (2013-2016), West Ham United (2018-PRESENT)

Manuel Pellegrini is among a group of high-profile managers who have managed to win titles in four different countries. The Chilean enjoyed great early success at Manchester City and has also had the privilege of managing one of the biggest clubs in the world in Real Madrid. In May 2018, he returned to the English top-flight, succeeding David Moyes as boss of West Ham United.

Born in Santiago to Italian parents, Pellegrini graduated in civil engineering in 1979 at The Pontifical Catholic University of Chile. During that time, he spent his entire playing career with Universidad de Chile, featuring 451 times in the Chilean league between 1973 and 1986. He also won 28 international caps for his country. For him, a coaching career beckoned.

Attracting Real Madrid’s interest

Pellegrini took football coaching courses in Europe but started his managerial career in South America. He had spells in-charge as manager of Palestino, O’Higgins and Universidad Católica. He left his homeland behind for a spell as manager of LDU Quito in 1999, guiding them to a national title and attracting the interest of some of the leading sides in the Argentine game.

He became only the second non-Argentine coach to manage Buenos Aires-based club San Lorenzo in 2001 and led them to victory in the Copa Mercosur, South America’s equivalent to the UEFA Cup. His work at San Lorenzo was noted by River Plate, where he won the Clausura championships in 2003 before the jump into European coaching.

First port of call was Villarreal, who offered him their managerial position in July 2004. In his first season in-charge, Villarreal reached the UEFA Cup quarter-finals and finished third. In four seasons with El Submarino Amarillo, Pellegrini never finished lower than seventh in the La Liga table and Villarreal enjoyed their best-ever campaigns in Europe. In 2006, the club reached the Champions League semi-finals, missing out on the final 1-0 on aggregate to Arsenal. It was the Gunners who ended their run too in the 2008-2009 campaign, defeating the Spaniards in the last eight.

His fine work at Villarreal attracted Real Madrid’s interest and in June 2009, the likeable Chilean was appointed Los Blancos boss on a two-year contract. He wasted no time in spending the cash to bring some world-class players to The Bernabeu. The world transfer record was broken to bring Cristiano Ronaldo to the club from Manchester United, whilst Xabi Alonso, Karim Benzema and Kaka were also acquired for hefty transfer fees.

His team amassed an impressive 96 points in La Liga but still finished three points shy of Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona side. A disappointing European campaign which ended with a round-of-16 exit to Lyon saw Florentino Pérez give Pellegrini an ultimatum – win the league or face up to losing your job. Despite achieving the club’s highest points tally in their history, the runners-up position was not enough to keep him in the role at the end of the season. His contract was terminated and he was succeeded by Jose Mourinho who was leaving Inter Milan after winning the UEFA Champions League with the Italians.

Malaga to Manchester

Although he received an offer to manage the Mexican international team following the 2010 World Cup, Pellegrini elected to stay in club management, taking charge of Malaga in November 2010 who were under Qatari ownership at the time.

After guiding them to a mid-table position in 2010-2011, Malaga enjoyed their best-ever season in 2011-2012 as Pellegrini guided them to 58 points, fourth position in the table and qualification for the following season’s UEFA Champions League for the first time in their history. By now, the Qatari owners had decided to put all their investment into Paris Saint-Germain and pulled the plug on their involvement with the Spanish side. Star players like Santi Cazorla and Salomon Rondon moved on but Pellegrini carried on and took the team to within an inch of the following season’s UEFA Champions League semi-finals. They were 2-1 ahead in the quarter-finals, second leg against Borussia Dortmund before conceding two late goals to lose 3-2 on the night and on aggregate. With the club excluded from European competition for the following season due to breaching Financial Fair Play rulings, Pellegrini announced his departure at the end of the 2012-2013 campaign. Manchester City beckoned for him.

In June 2013, he was officially confirmed as City’s new manager and immediately started work on making some changes to the first-team. Alvaro Negredo, Jesus Navas and Fernandinho were among the new recruits whilst Carlos Tevez was moved on to Juventus. He became the first Chilean to manage in the Premier League.

He made a shaky start, especially away from The Etihad Stadium where City lost four matches upto the end of November but after a surprising 1-0 reverse at Sunderland, the Citizens went on a 20-match unbeaten run in all competitions which included a 7-0 thumping over Norwich City, a 6-0 thrashing of Tottenham Hotspur and a comeback 3-2 win in the UEFA Champions League away to Bayern Munich.

City hit top spot in January 2014 and Pellegrini won back-to-back Manager of the Month awards during this period. They’d scored 100 goals in all competitions by mid-January and in early March; a 3-1 victory over Sunderland in the League Cup final saw him earn his first piece of silverware with the club. In the Premier League, Manchester City were locked in a tense fight for the title with Liverpool FC and Chelsea but after a 3-2 loss at Anfield, they dropped just two points in the run-in. On the final day of the season, goals from Samir Nasri and Vincent Kompany saw West Ham United beaten 2-0 and earned Manchester City their second Premier League title in three seasons. Pellegrini became the first coach from outside Europe to win the Premier League.

Unable to build on initial success

Pellegrini was roundly praised for his attacking managerial style, calm demeanour and excellent man management. However, his second season at Manchester City was disappointing as they were unable to build on his initial success. Disappointing defeats at home to Newcastle United and Middlesbrough in the domestic cups and failure to progress further than the round-of-16 in the UEFA Champions League set the tone for an underwhelming campaign.

City were joint-top of the table on New Years’ Day but claimed just 18 points from their next 12 games which included defeats to Arsenal, Burnley and Crystal Palace and dropped to a distant fourth spot after a 4-2 reverse in the Manchester Derby at Old Trafford in April. A run of five successive victories in the run-in ensured a runners-up finish in the Premier League but some way behind eventual champions, Chelsea.

So it was a surprise to many in August 2015 when Pellegrini’s contract was extended by another season by the board. Manchester City began the 2015-2016 campaign in ruthless fashion, winning their first five matches without conceding a goal. However, a home defeat to West Ham United started an inconsistent run of form that plagued their league season. In early February 2016, Pellegrini confirmed he would be leaving at the end of the season with Guardiola finally arriving after confirming his departure from Bayern Munich two months earlier.

The Citizens stumbled over the finishing line in fourth spot and enjoyed their best season in the UEFA Champions League, reaching the semi-finals before bowing out over two legs to Real Madrid. Pellegrini left with the fifth-highest win percentage in Premier League history.

Unfinished business in the capital

In August 2016, Pellegrini moved to the Chinese Super League, succeeding Li Tie as boss of Hebei China Fortune. He won 22 of his 52 games in-charge of them before leaving in May 2018. Three days after his departure, he was confirmed as David Moyes’ successor at West Ham United.

On his arrival, he vowed to bring attacking, winning football to West Ham but despite plenty of investment in the first-team in the summer transfer window, the Hammers lost all of their first four matches. A 3-1 away victory in mid-September at Everton kick-started their campaign and a recent run of four wins in a row took the club upto eighth position in the Premier League table just before the 2018 festive period fixtures. 2019 began with an excellent 1-0 success over Arsenal but disappointment followed with a humiliating FA Cup exit at the hands of League One basement club, AFC Wimbledon.

It feels like Manuel Pellegrini has unfinished business in the Premier League. It is good to have one of football’s genuine likeable managers back on our shores and it will be interesting to see his progress at The London Stadium with West Ham United.