Tag Archives: March

Premier League Rewind: 22nd-24th March 1997

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

Having experienced a bad run in the early autumn of 1996 which included a three-game losing sequence, Manchester United had now embarked on a lengthy run of good form which had seen them lose just one of their previous 18 Premier League matches.

Favourites for a fourth championship in five seasons, the Red Devils extended that sequence with a comfortable 2-0 victory over Everton at Goodison Park. The goals came in each half. One from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and the second from Eric Cantona which briefly gave Alex Ferguson’s side a five-point lead at the top of the table. It turned out to be Joe Royle’s last match as Everton manager. He resigned days later after just over two-and-a-half years in the role having led the Toffees to victory in the 1995 FA Cup final over Manchester United.

Title rivals Arsenal and Liverpool FC met each other two nights later in what always looked like being a decisive game in the title race. The match centred on a controversial incident midway through the second half. Liverpool were 1-0 up through Stan Collymore’s goal when Robbie Fowler was played through by Mark Wright and hurdled over David Seaman’s challenge in the penalty area. Referee Gerald Ashby gave a penalty despite Fowler’s persistence that there had been no contact and Ashby should change his mind. He didn’t and although the forward went on to have his spot-kick saved by Seaman, Jason McAteer scored the rebound and Liverpool held off a late Arsenal surge to win 2-1 and emerge as Manchester United’s closest challengers for the championship. Fowler later won a Fair Play award for his honesty in the incident with Seaman.

Newcastle United fell eight points behind Liverpool and therefore, an automatic UEFA Champions League qualification spot after being held to a 1-1 draw by Wimbledon at Selhurst Park. They remained narrowly ahead of the chasing pack which was now being led by Aston Villa. They moved up two positions to fifth in the table after recording a 2-0 away victory at Blackburn Rovers, courtesy of second half goals from Tommy Johnson and Dwight Yorke.

At the wrong end of the table, just six points covered the bottom six clubs. Southampton remained at the foot of the table after squandering an advantage twice to draw 2-2 at home with League Cup finalists Leicester City. Alan Neilson’s 70th minute own goal ensured a share of the spoils. Coventry City dropped into the relegation zone as their winless month continued against fellow strugglers West Ham United. Despite taking the lead through a Marc Rieper own goal, the Sky Blues were no match for the Hammers. Two goals from new signing John Hartson and a first-ever senior goal by Rio Ferdinand helped West Ham to a 3-1 victory. They had now lost just one of their last six matches.

Despite their three-point deduction being in-place, Middlesbrough climbed out of the relegation positions after gaining four points from two home matches, drawing 1-1 with Nottingham Forest two days after Juninho’s header saw them beat Chelsea 1-0. However, Boro’s demanding schedule with their deep involvement in the cup competitions would ultimately catch up with their players in the final reckoning.

What else happened in March 1997?

  • Prime Minister John Major announces the 1997 General Election will be held on 1st May.
  • Unemployment levels continue to drop to 1.8 million which is the lowest level since December 1990.
  • After declaring the Conservative Party as “tired, divided and rudderless,” The Sun newspaper decides to back Labour and Tony Blair ahead of the General Election.
  • Channel 5 begins broadcasting in the UK as the fifth major terrestrial station.
  • The English Patient wins Best Picture at the 69th Academy Awards.
  • Julius Chan resigns as Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea.
  • A pile-up on the M42 motorway in Bromsgrove involves 160 vehicles. Three people die and 60 are injured.
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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 Rewind: 1st-8th March 2003

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What else happened in March 2003?

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

Premier League Rewind: 15th-17th March 2008

Results: Arsenal 1-1 Middlesbrough, Derby County 0-1 Manchester United, Liverpool FC 2-1 Reading, Portsmouth 2-0 Aston Villa, Sunderland 0-1 Chelsea, West Ham United 2-1 Blackburn Rovers, Fulham 1-0 Everton, Wigan Athletic 1-0 Bolton Wanderers, Manchester City 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur, Birmingham City 1-1 Newcastle United

With eight games left in the 2007-2008 Premier League season, there were still fine margins between three of the all-time Premier League heavyweights. Arsenal went into the weekend still on top of the table but Arsene Wenger’s exciting side were beginning to falter. They had drawn three successive matches and had reigning champions Manchester United right in their slipstream.

The Gunners seemed to be struggling with the psychological trauma they’d gone through a month earlier at St Andrew’s when Croatian striker Eduardo suffered a horrific leg fracture against Birmingham City. Questions were being asked above their resolve and mentality. Those interrogations would get bigger after Middlesbrough earned themselves a 1-1 draw at The Emirates. It could have been even better for the visitors, who were four minutes away from claiming a league double over the Gunners. Kolo Toure’s late equaliser rescued a fortunate point for the home side.

By the end of Saturday’s play, they had been usurped from top spot by Manchester United on goal difference. The Red Devils were nowhere near their best away at bottom-placed Derby County but left Pride Park with all three points. Cristiano Ronaldo scored the only goal in the 1-0 victory. Derby would be relegated just a fortnight later.

Chelsea had been through early season turbulence but the quietly-minded Avram Grant was keeping them on the coattails of the top two. The Blues extended their unbeaten run to 12 Premier League matches with a 1-0 victory at Sunderland. Captain John Terry scored the decisive goal for the Blues after just 10 minutes. Chelsea were now just three points off top spot.

Liverpool FC opened up a three-point cushion on Merseyside neighbours Everton in the battle for a Champions League place. After a poor January, Rafa Benitez’s side had been playing catch-up but made it six victories from seven outings with a narrow 2-1 home victory over struggling Reading. Liverpool did fall behind to a cracking effort from Marek Matejovsky inside five minutes. Javier Mascherano equalised with his first LFC goal before a Fernando Torres header sealed all three points for Benitez’s side.

Everton lost 1-0 at Fulham 24 hours later. Brian McBride’s goal saw the Cottagers enjoy just a second league victory for Roy Hodgson since he took over at Craven Cottage in January 2008. Despite the win, Fulham remained four points adrift of safety. Bolton Wanderers remained in the bottom three after a 1-0 loss to Wigan Athletic which made it five successive defeats for the Trotters. Having finished in the top 10 in each of the past four seasons, Bolton’s Premier League place now seemed to be in severe jeopardy.

Kevin Keegan was finding the going incredibly tough in his second spell as Newcastle United manager. He was still awaiting his first victory as Magpies manager after this weekend. They drew 1-1 in the Monday night encounter with Birmingham City and were just four points clear of the bottom three. With just eight points between Fulham in 19th place from Wigan Athletic in 12th spot, it was still too close to call at the wrong end of the table.

What else happened in March 2008?

  • Over 500 flights are cancelled after problems with the IT system at the opening of London Heathrow Terminal 5.
  • At the inquest of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, the coroner confirmed The Duke of Edinburgh would not be called into court to give evidence over the deaths that Mohammed Al-Fayed was accusing him of ordering.
  • Former ITN newsreader Carol Barnes dies aged 63 after suffering a stroke in Brighton.
  • 39-year-old Michael Donovan from Yorkshire is arrested for the kidnap of nine-year-old Shannon Matthews.
  • A plane crashes into a row of houses in Farnborough, killing five people, including former British Touring Car team boss Richard Lloyd and runner-up driver David Leslie.
  • Alistair Darling unveils his first Budget since becoming Chancellor of the Exchequer under Gordon Brown’s premiership.
  • Ex-Hearsay singer Suzanne Shaw edges out Hollyoaks heartthrob Chris Fountain to win the third series of the ITV skating series, Dancing on Ice.

 

Premier League Rewind: 10th-12th March 2018

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

With just nine games left to play in the 2017-2018 season, Manchester City were closing in on title glory. They required just three more victories to land their third Premier League title. The Citizens were the final team to respond on a weekend that saw 29 goals and plenty of talking points.

It was an appalling weekend for West Ham United. Months of frustration and anger towards the owners of the club spilled over during the harrowing 3-0 loss at home to Burnley. Whilst Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood were showing their clinical edge to help the Clarets to back-to-back victories, West Ham completely imploded. Fans ran onto the pitch and one had to be physically restrained by skipper, Mark Noble. Other supporters ganged up on the directors’ box and for their own safety, co-owners David Gold and David Sullivan were forced to leave the match before the full-time whistle. It was an unsavoury afternoon for the club which left them in 16th spot, just three points clear of the relegation zone and in disarray both on and off the field.

West Ham were only just above Southampton who also had a Saturday afternoon to forget. The Saints meekly surrendered at St James’ Park, losing 3-0 to Newcastle United. Defeat to his former mentor Rafa Benitez was a tough one to take for Mauricio Pellegrino and the final straw for the Saints board. Two days after the defeat on Tyneside, Pellegrino became the ninth manager to lose his job in the season. The Argentine would be replaced by ex-Stoke City boss Mark Hughes.

The situation was looking completely hopeless for West Bromwich Albion. The Baggies recorded their sixth successive defeat after going down 4-1 at home to Leicester City. Jamie Vardy scored a contender for Goal of the Season to keep the Foxes in contention for a UEFA Europa League qualification spot.

After weeks of mounting pressure, there was some light relief at last for Arsene Wenger and Arsenal. After four consecutive defeats in all competitions, the Gunners got back to winning ways thanks to a commanding 3-0 victory over Watford at The Emirates Stadium. It was a day of milestones for Arsenal. Shkodran Mustafi headed Arsenal ahead after eight minutes for their 1000th home Premier League goal and Petr Cech became the first goalkeeper to reach the landmark of 200 clean sheets. To add to the gloss, he saved a penalty from Troy Deeney.

There was a real cause of concern for supporters of Tottenham Hotspur and England when Harry Kane limped off early during Tottenham’s 4-1 victory away at AFC Bournemouth. Early indications of a lengthy absence were quickly quelled and his ankle injury fortunately turned out to be just a three-week lay-off. Heung-Min Son stepped up in Kane’s absence, scoring twice in Tottenham’s excellent victory on the south coast. England manager Gareth Southgate might have had concerns over Kane but he would have been delighted to see Marcus Rashford score twice in Manchester United’s 2-1 victory over old rivals Liverpool FC, establishing a five-point gap in the table between the two sides.

However, Manchester City held on to their comfortable 16-point lead. Two goals from David Silva helped them beat Stoke City in the final game of the weekend 2-0 at The Bet365 Stadium to close to within two wins of the title.

What else happened in March 2018?

  • UK counter-terrorism police investigate the poisoning of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and daughter Yulia in Salisbury.
  • World-renowned physicist and author, Stephen Hawking, dies at his home in Cambridge, aged 76.
  • Vladimir Putin wins a fourth term in office as Russian President.
  • Donald Trump accepts an invitation from the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un for a meeting in May to discuss North Korea’s denuclearisation.
  • The Labour Party suspends Ken Livingstone indefinitely after claims of anti-Semitism against the former Mayor of London.
  • Sky Sports suspend pundit and former Liverpool FC defender Jamie Carragher for the rest of the season after video footage emerges of him spitting out of his car window at a passing motorist.
  • At least 64 people die in a fire at a shopping and entertainment complex in the Russian city of Kemerovo.

Premier League Rewind: 13th-15th March 2010

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

The race for the title, Champions League qualification and the fight to stay in the Premier League was really starting to liven up by the time these mid-March fixtures came around in 2010.

While some teams were still trying to catch up in terms of fulfilling their fixtures due to cup commitments and winter weather, the majority only had eight more games to make the decisive difference in all these areas.

At the top of the table, just two points covered Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal. All three sides won again to ensure status quo in the title race. Chelsea were first to play on this weekend and they cruised to a 4-1 victory over London rivals West Ham United. Didier Drogba, competing for the Golden Boot against Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney, scored twice for the home side. However, the goal of the match came from ex-Chelsea midfielder Scott Parker, who struck a wonderful shot from distance that left third-choice goalkeeper Ross Turnbull completely stranded. Parker’s performances were sensational in a team that were fighting relegation.

The win briefly took Chelsea top and Arsenal would join them on 64 points after scrapping to a 2-1 away win at Hull City in the Saturday evening kick-off. Despite having George Boateng sent off before half-time, Hull held on for a point until Nicklas Bendtner struck in stoppage-time. The defeat left Hull rooted in the bottom three and having lost their last four matches, they decided to place manager Phil Brown on “gardening leave” two days later.

Manchester United’s chance to respond came 24 hours later and after a stubborn first half display from Fulham, United wore them down in the second half. Rooney responded to Drogba’s double the previous day with his own brace and Dimitar Berbatov’s late goal ensured a 3-0 success over the Cottagers. United were two points clear again but Chelsea did have a game in-hand on their rivals.

In the race for fourth place and the final Champions League qualification spot, it was advantage to Tottenham Hotspur. Spurs beat Blackburn Rovers 3-1 in the opening game of the weekend. There were two goals for Russian forward Roman Pavlyuchenko. Previously having made the headlines for a desire to leave the club, Pavlyuchenko had now scored four goals in his last three matches to keep Harry Redknapp’s side one point clear of the chasing pack.

Big-spending Manchester City dropped to sixth after drawing 1-1 at Sunderland. Only a last-minute equaliser saw them avoid defeat at The Stadium of Light. This allowed Liverpool FC into fifth position in the table. There was another two goals for the Fernando Torres tally as bottom-club Portsmouth were routed 4-1 at Anfield.

At the wrong end of the table, Wolverhampton Wanderers gave themselves a three-point cushion over Burnley after defeating the Clarets 2-1 at Turf Moor. Matt Jarvis and a Clarke Carlisle own goal was enough for Mick McCarthy’s side to complete a league double over their rivals in distress. Bolton Wanderers eased their concerns with a 4-0 triumph against Wigan Athletic with goals coming from Johan Elmander, Kevin Davies, Fabrice Muamba and Matt Taylor. However, with just eight points covering the Trotters in 13th to Hull in 19th, there was still plenty to fight for in the battle to survive.

What else happened in March 2010?

  • Former leader of the Labour Party Michael Foot dies at the age of 96. He was leader of the opposition from 1980 to 1983.
  • The last analogue television services are switched off in Wales, making it the first part of the UK to have a fully digital service.
  • BBC Director-General Mark Thompson confirms proposals to close down BBC Radio 6 Music and the Asian Network as part of cost-cutting measures.
  • A 41-year-old man, who is already two years into a life sentence for murdering two women, is charged with the murder of Surrey teenager Milly Dowler, who disappeared in 2002.
  • Less than a year after their relegation from the Football League, Chester City F.C. goes out of business after 125 years.
  • Prime Minister Gordon Brown gives evidence to the Chilcott inquiry.
  • The Kasubi Tombs, Uganda’s only cultural World Heritage Site, are destroyed by fire.

Premier League Rewind: 2nd-4th March 1996

Results: Coventry City 2-2 West Ham United, Leeds United 0-1 Bolton Wanderers, Manchester City 1-1 Blackburn Rovers, Middlesbrough 0-2 Everton, Queens Park Rangers 1-1 Arsenal, Sheffield Wednesday 1-3 Nottingham Forest, Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 Southampton, Wimbledon 1-1 Chelsea, Liverpool FC 3-0 Aston Villa, Newcastle United 0-1 Manchester United

Just over six weeks earlier, Newcastle United had established a 12-point lead at the top of the Premier League table. Kevin Keegan’s side looked to be virtually uncatchable. Then, the jitters started to hit his team.

Defeat at West Ham United, followed by a 3-3 draw at relegation-haunted Manchester City meant their lead had been chopped to just four points by Manchester United, who were running into form at just the right time. The Red Devils had won their last five Premier League matches and they were heading to St. James’ Park with the momentum. The eyes of the footballing world were on Tyneside for a Monday Night encounter on 4th March 1996.

Newcastle made the brighter start and should have led by half-time. Peter Schmeichel had to deny Les Ferdinand twice from close-range before Philippe Albert’s free-kick hit the crossbar with the Danish goalkeeper beaten. The visitors had survived the onslaught and scored crucially six minutes into the second half. Eric Cantona peeled away on the back post and met Phil Neville’s cross with a clean strike which defeated Pavel Srnicek and gave Alex Ferguson’s side a lead they wouldn’t relinquish for the rest of the match. Newcastle still had a one-point lead but their first home loss of the Premier League season prompted the bookmakers to make the Red Devils the new title favourites.

Liverpool FC couldn’t be ruled out though. They were just six points off the top spot after tearing Aston Villa apart 24 hours earlier. They scored three goals in the first eight minutes to register a 3-0 victory. Roy Evans’ side were now unbeaten in 13 top-flight matches after this clinical display. Steve McManaman scored inside the first 60 seconds and Robbie Fowler added two more goals to his growing tally. It was only Aston Villa’s second league reverse of 1996 and they’d both come at the hands of Liverpool FC. Their outside title challenge had been destroyed on Merseyside.

Whilst the top four were playing against each other, Tottenham Hotspur continued their strong season under the guidance of Gerry Francis. Jason Dozzell’s 64th minute goal was enough to defeat Southampton 1-0 at White Hart Lane and drop Southampton into the bottom three. Manchester City climbed out of the relegation places after a late equaliser to draw 1-1 with defending champions Blackburn Rovers, who were mired in mid-table. Blackburn’s home form was strong all season but away from home was a different story. They’d recorded just one away victory to this point in their title defence.

Bottom of the table were Bolton Wanderers but they gave their faint survival hopes a real boost with a surprising 1-0 win at Elland Road over Leeds United. Gudni Bergsson scored the only goal of the game as they made it back-to-back victories on their travels. Leeds had now lost their last four games and seemed to be in no form whatsoever with a League Cup final date with Aston Villa looming.

Elsewhere, Nottingham Forest returned to winning ways with a 3-1 success at Hillsborough over Sheffield Wednesday and Coventry’s 2-2 draw with West Ham United kept them clear of the bottom three for now.

What else happened in March 1996?

  • 16 school pupils and one teacher are killed in a massacre at Dunblane Primary School in Scotland. The gunman, an unemployed former shopkeeper commits suicide.
  • The European Union prohibits exports of British beef as a result of the BSE crisis.
  • Nelson Mandela is granted a divorce from Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.
  • Braveheart wins Best Picture at the 68th Academy Awards in Los Angeles.
  • John Howard defeats Paul Keating in federal elections to become the new Australian Prime Minister.
  • Chechen rebels attack the Russian government headquarters in Grozny. 200 people are killed.
  • Sri Lanka defeat Australia to win the 1996 Cricket World Cup.

Premier League Rewind: 4th-5th March 2000

Results: Manchester United 1-1 Liverpool FC, Derby County 4-0 Wimbledon, Everton 1-1 Sheffield Wednesday, Newcastle United 0-1 Chelsea, Southampton 1-1 Middlesbrough, Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 Bradford City, Watford 1-2 West Ham United, Aston Villa 1-1 Arsenal, Leeds United 3-0 Coventry City, Leicester City 5-2 Sunderland

Manchester United were the favourites to retain their Premier League title in the early weeks of March 2000 but they were still under pressure from David O’Leary’s energised and exciting Leeds United side. Weeks earlier, Sir Alex Ferguson’s team had opened up a five-point lead with a game in hand after winning at Elland Road. However, dropped points away at Wimbledon had seen Leeds stay in striking touch and that would continue on the weekend of 4th-5th March.

The Red Devils’ were first in action for the weekend with a lunchtime kick-off against bitter rivals Liverpool FC. Gerard Houllier had insisted in the build-up to this match that his side were ready to inflict defeat on their great enemy. They came very close to achieving his prediction. Patrik Berger scored a spectacular free-kick to give the visitors’ the lead. United’s equaliser was controversial. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer went unpunished for a high challenge on Sami Hyypia. Whilst the Finn was off receiving treatment, Solskjaer scored the equaliser in stoppage-time at the end of the first half. Only some wasteful finishing by Liverpool FC forwards Titi Camara, Erik Meijer and the returning Michael Owen ensured this encounter would finish all-square.

So, Leeds had the chance to close the gap to four points by the end of the weekend. They achieved this 24 hours’ later with a comfortable 3-0 victory over Coventry City who were still winless away from Highfield Road. The impressive Harry Kewell opened the scoring in the season where he was crowned the PFA Young Player of the Year and Michael Bridges added another two to his growing tally in his only injury-free season in Yorkshire.

Third-place Arsenal were unable to cash in on Manchester United’s dropped points at home as they held to a 1-1 draw by Aston Villa on the same Sunday afternoon. In fact, it looked like they were heading for defeat at Villa Park for the third successive campaign before a rare goal from Lee Dixon in the 84th minute rescued a point.

So Chelsea finished the weekend in third spot and therefore in the final qualification spot for next season’s UEFA Champions League. Gus Poyet scored the solitary goal in a 1-0 away win at Newcastle United. Newcastle would be sick of the sight of the Uruguayan by the season’s end. A month later, it was his double that beat the Magpies’ in the FA Cup semi-finals.

A month earlier, Leicester City had taken a gamble to sign Stan Collymore. Collymore’s time at Aston Villa had not been good. He had spectacularly fallen out with John Gregory, been treated for depression and attracted unsavoury off-the-field headlines. Days before the club’s televised Super Sunday match with Sunderland; reports emerged of an incident at a hotel in La Manga where Collymore had let off a fire extinguisher during a training camp. The team was kicked out of the resort they had been staying in and the forward was fined two weeks’ wages. Manager Martin O’Neill was unimpressed, saying: “I think it is a warning to Stan. This, in footballing parlance, is a yellow card.”

Collymore responded in the best possible fashion, scoring a brilliant hat-trick in Leicester’s 5-2 victory over the Black Cats’ – his finest display in the Premier League for several seasons. The match also saw Emile Heskey score his final goal for the club. He would be transferred weeks later to Liverpool FC for over £11 million.

The status at the bottom of the table remained unchanged but the plight of Wimbledon was becoming evident. A week after the club’s charismatic guvnor Sam Hamann had left the club, the Dons looked lost away at Derby County. They completely caved in during the last 25 minutes at Pride Park, losing 4-0 and showing a lack of urgency that would signal all was not good between manager Egil Olsen and his players. Wimbledon ended the weekend in 16th and just three points clear of the drop zone. Those spots were occupied by Bradford City, Sheffield Wednesday and Watford.

What else happened in March 2000?

  • Vladimir Putin is elected as the new President of Russia.
  • The PlayStation 2 is released in Japan. Several months later, it becomes the best-selling games console of all-time.
  • There is a change in the official currency of Ecuador with the US dollar replacing the Ecuadorian Sucre.
  • Channel 5 wins the rights to screen Home and Away in the UK, meaning its affiliation with ITV ends. ITV had broadcasted the Aussie soap since 1989.
  • 9-2 shot Looks Like Trouble wins the Cheltenham Gold Cup, ridden by Richard Johnson.
  • Macy Gray, Travis and Robbie Williams are the big winners at the BRITS, winning two awards each.