Tag Archives: Ruud van Nistelrooy

Iconic Moments: The Battle of Old Trafford: Mark II (October 2004)

13 months after the explosive encounter at Old Trafford between Manchester United and Arsenal, the sides squared up to one another again. Arsenal had gone 49 games unbeaten in the Premier League. They were looking to make it 50 matches at the home of their most competitive rivals. They also knew that a victory here would virtually rule Manchester United out of the 2004-2005 title battle before the end of October.

Referee Mike Riley was going to be in for a difficult afternoon. He tried to allow the game to flow but there were sly fouls and challenges all day, with Rio Ferdinand lucky to escape punishment for hauling down Freddie Ljungberg in a goalscoring position. Ruud van Nistelrooy’s studs-up challenge on Ashley Cole also went unpunished on the day but the Dutchman would be charged and banned later by video authorities.

In the 73rd minute, the Red Devils won a controversial penalty as Wayne Rooney went down under Sol Campbell’s challenge. Replays showed that Rooney had made a complete meal out of the minimal contact between the two England internationals. After the demons of the previous season’s fixture, Van Nistelrooy did well to keep his nerve, send Jens Lehmann the wrong way and fire Sir Alex Ferguson’s side infront. In stoppage-time, Arsenal fell for the classic counter-attack with Alan Smith playing Rooney in to seal the three points for Manchester United and end Arsenal’s historic run.

In the tunnel after the match, tempers boiled over between staff of both clubs. A slice of pizza was thrown at Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson by Cesc Fabregas, which wasn’t confirmed by the perpetrator until 2017 when he confessed on the Sky One panel show “A League of Their Own.” Wenger was fined £15,000 for comments made about Van Nistelrooy who himself was banned for three games for his challenge on Cole.

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The Battle of Old Trafford: Mark I (September 2003)

For over a decade in the Premier League, the prime fixture was between Manchester United and Arsenal. Between the two teams, they have won 16 of the 25 Premier League titles since the creation of the league in 1992. There have been some tasty battles between the sides and none more so than this encounter in September 2003.

In a hard-fought encounter, chances were few and far between. Ryan Giggs hit the post from a free-kick, whilst Ashley Cole came closest for Arsenal with a shot that whistled just wide of the post. The first flashpoint arrived 10 minutes from the end of the game. Gunners captain Patrick Vieira clashed with Ruud van Nistelrooy and appeared to kick out at the Dutchman who dived out of the way to ensure contact wasn’t made. Perhaps Van Nistelrooy had made the most of the incident but Vieira could have no defence for his action. Steve Bennett promptly sent the Frenchman off for violent conduct.

Then in stoppage-time, Martin Keown hauled down Diego Forlan to the ground in the penalty area and Bennett awarded the Red Devils a spot-kick. Arsenal players were feeling aggrieved, especially with Van Nistelrooy who would take the penalty. If he scored, Sir Alex Ferguson’s side would win the match and go top of the table. However, he missed with his penalty beating Jens Lehmann but smashing the crossbar. At the full-time whistle, Keown lost complete control of his temperament, jumping all over Van Nistelrooy. Arsenal players let their emotions take over and many of their players started pushing and shoving Van Nistelrooy around like a rag doll. What followed were some unsavoury scenes with players from both sides squaring up to one another.

Arsenal were fined £175,000 and bans were handed out to Lauren, Ray Parlour, Keown and Vieira whilst Ashley Cole was fined for verbal abuse. Giggs and Cristiano Ronaldo were fined from Manchester United for their part in the fracas after the final whistle.

For the record, the match did end 0-0 and was the closest Arsenal came to defeat in their historic ‘Invincibles’ season of 2003-2004.

Memorable Matches: Everton 3-4 Manchester United (February 2004)

Goalscorers: Louis Saha 8, 28, Ruud van Nistelrooy 23, 88, David Unsworth 48, John O’Shea 66 OG, Kevin Kilbane 74

Teams:

Everton: Nigel Martyn, Tony Hibbert, Alan Stubbs, David Unsworth, Alessandro Pistone (Gary Naysmith 46), Lee Carsley, Thomas Gravesen, Steve Watson (Wayne Rooney 46), Kevin Kilbane, Duncan Ferguson, Francis Jeffers (Tomasz Radzinski 46)

Manchester United: Tim Howard, Gary Neville, Wes Brown, John O’Shea, Mikael Silvestre, Roy Keane, Paul Scholes, Darren Fletcher (Cristiano Ronaldo 81), Ryan Giggs, Louis Saha (Quinton Fortune 74), Ruud van Nistelrooy

Referee: Neale Barry, Attendance: 40,190

Reigning champions Manchester United had recently surrendered top spot in the table to unbeaten Arsenal after a surprising loss to Wolverhampton Wanderers three weeks earlier. Sir Alex Ferguson’s side were now doing the chasing when they travelled to 14th place Everton, who had won just one of their last six league matches.

The Red Devils are often known for scoring very late goals but they made a stunning opening as they completely dominated the first 45 minutes. Paul Scholes hit the post and new signing Louis Saha headed wide from close-range inside the first five minutes. Three minutes later, Saha made no mistake to score his second United goal since joining from Fulham in the January transfer window. Mikael Silvestre’s hopeful long ball found Saha in acres of space as the Everton defence tried to play offside. The Frenchman brought the ball down, took his time and smashed his strike into the net.

The dodgy defending continued on 23 minutes when David Unsworth’s awful attempt at a clearance dropped into the path of Ruud van Nistelrooy. The Dutchman shook off the attentions of Alan Stubbs and finished from a tight angle to complete a century of goals for Manchester United. Saha quickly made it 3-0, getting his second goal with a weak shot which deflected off the left boot of Nigel Martyn.

David Moyes needed to make changes at half-time and he duly did. A triple change saw the struggling Alessandro Pistone, Steve Watson and the non-existent Francis Jeffers replaced by Gary Naysmith, Wayne Rooney and Tomasz Radzinski. They were about to begin an improbable comeback which won’t have pleased his fellow Scot in the visiting dugout. Four minutes into the second half, United’s lead was trimmed by a third. Tim Howard flapped his arms out on a Naysmith corner. Unsworth made the most of the gift to nod the ball into the unguarded net at the back post.

Manchester United’s weak spot all season was conceding goals from set-pieces and they gifted away another goal on 64 minutes. Yet another Naysmith corner caused chaos in the United penalty area and John O’Shea saw the ball bounce off him and into the net. The comeback was completed 16 minutes from full-time. Nobody picked up Kevin Kilbane who met Thomas Gravesen’s free-kick perfectly with a header that flew into the net. It was game on and either side could go on to win all three points. However, there would be a sting in the tale for Everton supporters.

Substitute Cristiano Ronaldo delivered a delicious cross to the back post from the right-hand side and there was an unmarked Van Nistelrooy to score his 101st Manchester United goal and see them nick all three points. It was a typical ‘Fergie Time’ goal but neither manager was smiling at the end of the season. Everton finished 17th, just six points clear of relegation and United came in a distant third, 15 points behind champions Arsenal.

Premier League Rewind: 18th-19th August 2001

Results: Charlton Athletic 1-2 Everton, Derby County 2-1 Blackburn Rovers, Leeds United 2-0 Southampton, Leicester City 0-5 Bolton Wanderers, Liverpool FC 2-1 West Ham United, Middlesbrough 0-4 Arsenal, Sunderland 1-0 Ipswich Town, Tottenham Hotspur 0-0 Aston Villa, Chelsea 1-1 Newcastle United, Manchester United 3-2 Fulham

The opening weekend of the 2001-2002 Premier League season saw 28 goals in its first weekend with a new title sponsor. Barclaycard had taken over sponsorship rights over the summer from Carling.

Fulham were welcomed into the Premier League family and they had a daunting first fixture too against reigning Premier League champions Manchester United. Sir Alex Ferguson was looking to achieve four titles in a row in what at the time we thought was going to be his final campaign in the dugout at Old Trafford.

They were pushed all the way by the newcomers, with Louis Saha making an immediate impression. The Frenchman scored twice as Fulham led twice but their best efforts were cancelled out by United’s new £19 million striker. Ruud van Nistelrooy helped himself to a debut double and the home side came away with all three points in a nervy 3-2 victory.

Unlike Fulham, Blackburn Rovers and Bolton Wanderers did boast previous Premier League experience. They both returned to the top-flight on this weekend, with mixed fortunes. Blackburn lost 2-1 at Derby County, as Fabrizio Ravanelli scored a trademark free-kick on his return to English football.

On the other hand, Bolton had a day to savour at Filbert Street, crushing Leicester City 5-0. The outstanding Per Frandsen scored two free-kicks and Kevin Nolan also scored twice as the pressure cranked up on Leicester boss Peter Taylor.

There was a bad-tempered match on Teeside as Arsenal travelled to Middlesbrough. Steve McClaren’s first game as a Premier League boss ended in a 4-0 home defeat as Arsenal began their extraordinary run of scoring in every single league match in the season. Both Ugo Ehiogu and Ray Parlour were sent off with two late goals by Dennis Bergkamp making the scoreline look more flattering than how the actual game developed.

Liverpool FC had Michael Owen to thank once again. Owen continued where he left off from the previous season in his dream year which saw him finish as the European Footballer of the Year. He scored twice as the Reds defeated West Ham United 2-1 at Anfield. Lastly, Chelsea and Newcastle United shared the spoils in a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge. This match was more notable as it was the first game in the UK that was made available via a pay-per-view subscription model. Premiership Plus would be around on the Sky platform for the next five seasons.

What else happened in August 2001?

  • Former royal butler Paul Burrell is charged with theft of items that belonged to Diana, Princess of Wales. The prosecution collapses three months later.
  • A plane crash in the Bahamas claims the life of American R&B performer Aaliyah and eight members of her record company. She was just 22-years-old.
  • Law goes into effect in Germany legalizing same-sex registered partnerships.
  • Whitney Houston signs the largest contract in music history with Arista Records, a six-album deal worth over $100 million.
  • Michael Schumacher wins the FIA Formula One World Championship with victory in the Hungarian Grand Prix in Budapest. It is the German’s fourth world title.
  • The BBC introduces a fourth weekly episode of EastEnders, to be broadcast at 8pm every Friday night.

Great Goals: Ruud van Nistelrooy – MANCHESTER UNITED vs. Fulham (March 2003)

Ruud van Nistelrooy was one of Europe’s great goalscorers. His habit was being in the right place at the right time to score from close-range or play off high offside traps and exposing weaknesses in defensive strategies.

This goal was all about skill, class and pace as well – the latter never being one of Van Nistelrooy’s true qualities. He collected possession from just inside his own half and spun away from Sylvain Legwinski who claimed he had been fouled by this movement. After this though, the rest is all about genuine class.

Van Nistelrooy beats no fewer than five Fulham players who either back off or put in feeble challenges. When in the penalty area, you always would back him and this was no exception, scooping the final effort beyond the Cottagers back-up goalkeeper, Maik Taylor.

This was the second goal of a Van Nistelrooy hat-trick in United’s 3-0 victory which set them up for an eighth Premier League title in 11 seasons. Van Nistelrooy won the Golden Boot that season too and there weren’t many better efforts in his Manchester United spell that this special solo strike.

Seasonal Records: 2002-2003

For all the statistical fans out there, here are some of the season’s records from the 2002-2003 Premier League campaign, as Manchester United claimed their eighth Premier League title and the first club slipped out of the league despite reaching the usual magical safety mark of 40 points.

FINAL TABLE

Position Team P W D L F A GD PTS
1 Manchester United 38 25 8 5 74 34 +40 83
2 Arsenal 38 23 9 6 85 42 +43 78
3 Newcastle United 38 21 6 11 63 48 +15 69
4 Chelsea 38 19 10 9 68 38 +30 67
5 Liverpool FC 38 18 10 10 61 41 +20 64
6 Blackburn Rovers 38 16 12 10 52 43 +9 60
7 Everton 38 17 8 13 48 49 -1 59
8 Southampton 38 13 13 12 43 46 -3 52
9 Manchester City 38 15 6 17 47 54 -7 51
10 Tottenham Hotspur 38 14 8 16 51 62 -11 50
11 Middlesbrough 38 13 10 15 48 44 +4 49
12 Charlton Athletic 38 14 7 17 45 56 -11 49
13 Birmingham City 38 13 9 16 41 49 -8 48
14 Fulham 38 13 9 16 41 50 -9 48
15 Leeds United 38 14 5 19 58 57 +1 47
16 Aston Villa 38 12 9 17 42 47 -5 45
17 Bolton Wanderers 38 10 14 14 41 51 -10 44
18 West Ham United 38 10 12 16 42 59 -17 42
19 West Bromwich Albion 38 6 8 24 29 65 -36 26
20 Sunderland 38 4 7 27 21 65 -44 19

 

THE BASIC STATS

Goals Scored 1000
European qualifiers Manchester United (UEFA Champions League), Arsenal (UEFA Champions League), Newcastle United (UEFA Champions League), Chelsea (UEFA Champions League), Liverpool FC (UEFA Cup), Blackburn Rovers (UEFA Cup), Southampton (UEFA Cup), Manchester City (UEFA Cup)
Longest winning run 7 games (Liverpool FC)
Longest unbeaten run 18 games (Manchester United)
Longest winless run 20 games (Sunderland)
Longest losing run 15 games (Sunderland)
Highest attendance 67,721 (Manchester United vs. Charlton Athletic)
Lowest attendance 14,017 (Fulham vs. Blackburn Rovers)

 

AWARDS

PFA Players’ Player of the Year Thierry Henry (Arsenal)
PFA Young Player of the Year Jermaine Jenas (Newcastle United)
Football Writers’ Award Thierry Henry (Arsenal)
PFA Team of the Year Brad Friedel, Sol Campbell, William Gallas, Stephen Carr, Ashley Cole, Patrick Vieira, Kieron Dyer, Robert Pires, Paul Scholes, Thierry Henry, Alan Shearer
Manager of the Year Sir Alex Ferguson (Manchester United
Premier League Goal of the Season Thierry Henry (ARSENAL vs. Tottenham Hotspur)

 

HAT-TRICK HEROES

Player Teams Score Date
Michael Owen Manchester City vs. Liverpool FC 0-3 28th September 2002
James Beattie Southampton vs. Fulham 4-2 27th October 2002
Ruud van Nistelrooy Manchester United vs. Newcastle United 5-3 23rd November 2002
Robbie Keane Tottenham Hotspur vs. Everton 4-3 12th January 2003
Thierry Henry Arsenal vs. West Ham United 3-1 27th January 2003
Ruud van Nistelrooy Manchester United vs. Fulham 3-0 22nd March 2003
Mark Viduka Charlton Athletic vs. Leeds United 1-6 5th April 2003
Paul Scholes Newcastle United vs. Manchester United 2-6 12th April 2003
Michael Owen (4) West Bromwich Albion vs. Liverpool FC 0-6 26th April 2003
Ruud van Nistelrooy Manchester United vs. Charlton Athletic 4-1 3rd May 2003
Jermaine Pennant Arsenal vs. Southampton 6-1 7th May 2003
Robert Pires Arsenal vs. Southampton 6-1 7th May 2003
Freddie Ljungberg Sunderland vs. Arsenal 0-4 11th May 2003

 

TOP SCORERS

Position Player Teams No of Goals
1 Ruud van Nistelrooy Manchester United 25
2 Thierry Henry Arsenal 24
3 James Beattie Southampton 23
4 Mark Viduka Leeds United 20
5 Michael Owen Liverpool FC 19
6 Alan Shearer Newcastle United 17
7= Paul Scholes Manchester United 14
7= Robert Pires Arsenal 14
7= Gianfranco Zola Chelsea 14
7= Nicolas Anelka Manchester City 14
7= Robbie Keane Leeds United & Tottenham Hotspur 14
7= Harry Kewell Leeds United 14
13 Teddy Sheringham Tottenham Hotspur 12
14= Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink Chelsea 11
14= Tomasz Radzinski Everton 11
16= Sylvain Wiltord Arsenal 10
16= Eidur Gudjohnsen Chelsea 10
16= Kevin Campbell Everton 10
16= Jason Euell Charlton Athletic 10
16= Dion Dublin Aston Villa 10
21= Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Manchester United 9
21= Milan Baros Liverpool FC 9
21= Damien Duff Blackburn Rovers 9
21= Marc-Vivien Foe Manchester City 9
21= Massimo Maccarone Middlesbrough 9

BIGGEST VICTORIES

West Bromwich Albion 0-6 Liverpool FC 26th April 2003
Arsenal 6-1 Southampton 7th May 2003
Charlton Athletic 1-6 Leeds United 5th April 2003
Chelsea 5-0 Manchester City 22nd March 2003
Newcastle United 2-6 Manchester United 12th April 2003
Manchester City 1-5 Arsenal 22nd February 2003
Newcastle United 5-1 Blackburn Rovers 22nd March 2003
Middlesbrough 5-1 Tottenham Hotspur 3rd May 2003
Manchester United 4-0 Liverpool FC 5th April 2003
Birmingham City 0-4 Arsenal 12th January 2003

 

HIGHEST SCORING GAMES

No of Goals Teams Date
8 Newcastle United 2-6 Manchester United 12th April 2003
8 Manchester United 5-3 Newcastle United 23rd November 2002
7 Arsenal 6-1 Southampton 7th May 2003
7 Charlton Athletic 1-6 Leeds United 5th April 2003
7 Arsenal 5-2 West Bromwich Albion 27th August 2002
7 Blackburn Rovers 5-2 Newcastle United 19th October 2002
7 Middlesbrough 2-5 Aston Villa 28th January 2003
7 Tottenham Hotspur 4-3 Everton 12th January 2003
7 West Ham United 3-4 Leeds United 10th November 2002
7 Bolton Wanderers 4-3 Newcastle United 26th December 2002
6 West Bromwich Albion 0-6 Liverpool FC 26th April 2003
6 Manchester City 1-5 Arsenal 22nd February 2003
6 Newcastle United 5-1 Blackburn Rovers 22nd March 2003
6 Middlesbrough 5-1 Tottenham Hotspur 3rd May 2003
6 Southampton 4-2 Fulham 27th October 2002
6 Bolton Wanderers 4-2 Birmingham City 1st February 2003
6 Charlton Athletic 4-2 West Ham United 22nd January 2003
6 Leeds United 2-4 Bolton Wanderers 17th November 2002
5 Chelsea 5-0 Manchester City 22nd March 2003
5 Manchester United 4-1 Charlton Athletic 3rd May 2003

 

YOUNGEST PLAYERS USED

Player Teams Age at the time Date
Wayne Rooney Everton 2-2 Tottenham Hotspur 16 years, 9 months, 24 days 17th August 2002
James Milner West Ham United 3-4 Leeds United 16 years, 10 months, 6 days 10th November 2002
Mat Sadler Birmingham City 3-1 Bolton Wanderers 17 years, 8 months, 7 days 2nd November 2002
Danny Livesey Bolton Wanderers 2-3 Liverpool FC 17 years, 8 months, 14 days 14th September 2002
Jay McEveley Bolton Wanderers 1-1 Blackburn Rovers 17 years, 9 months, 26 days 7th December 2002
Kieran Richardson Manchester United 5-3 Newcastle United 18 years, 1 month, 2 days 23rd November 2002
Robert Huth Fulham 0-0 Chelsea 18 years, 1 month, 5 days 23rd September 2002
Andrew Davies Middlesbrough 2-5 Aston Villa 18 years, 1 month, 11 days 28th January 2003
Osei Sankofa Manchester United 4-1 Charlton Athletic 18 years, 1 month, 14 days 3rd May 2003
Jamie Slabber Tottenham Hotspur 2-3 Liverpool FC 18 years, 2 months, 13 days 16th March 2003

 

OLDEST PLAYERS USED

Player Teams Age at the time Date
David Seaman Sunderland 0-4 Arsenal 39 years, 1 month, 17 days 11th May 2003
Peter Schmeichel Manchester City 0-1 Southampton 38 years, 8 months, 11 days 11th May 2003
Nigel Winterburn West Ham United 0-3 Liverpool FC 38 years, 7 months, 19 days 2nd February 2003
Gudni Bergsson Bolton Wanderers 2-1 Middlesbrough 38 years, 6 months, 9 days 11th May 2003
Laurent Blanc Everton 1-2 Manchester United 38 years, 5 months 11th May 2003
Teddy Sheringham Tottenham Hotspur 0-4 Blackburn Rovers 38 years, 4 months, 19 days 11th May 2003
Gianfranco Zola Chelsea 2-1 Liverpool FC 38 years, 1 month, 24 days 11th May 2003
Martin Keown Arsenal 2-3 Leeds United 37 years, 4 months, 16 days 4th May 2003
Les Ferdinand Birmingham City 2-2 West Ham United 36 years, 9 months, 20 days 11th May 2003
John Moncur Arsenal 3-1 West Ham United 36 years, 6 months, 10 days 19th January 2003

 

CLEAN SHEETS

Position Player Teams No of Clean Sheets
1 Brad Friedel Blackburn Rovers 15
2 Shay Given Newcastle United 14
3= Carlo Cudicini Chelsea 12
3= Jerzy Dudek Liverpool FC 12
5 Richard Wright Everton 11
6= Fabien Barthez Manchester United 10
6= Mark Schwarzer Middlesbrough 10
6= Paul Robinson Leeds United 10
6= Jussi Jaaskelainen Bolton Wanderers 10
10 Antti Niemi Southampton 9

Premier League Rewind: 23rd-24th October 2004

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

Arsenal went into the weekend of the 23rd-24th October 2004 having reached an extraordinary 49 Premier League matches unbeaten. To achieve the amazing 50-game mark, they would have to avoid defeat at Old Trafford. Beat Manchester United and it would knock Sir Alex Ferguson’s side out of the title race by the end of October. United had won just three of their first nine matches in 2004-2005 and defeat here would leave them 11 points off the pace. They couldn’t afford to let that happen.

Like the previous season’s game at the Theatre of Dreams, it was a tetchy, steamy affair with some unpleasant tackles. Ruud van Nistelrooy would later be banned for violent conduct but the game was decided in the last 15 minutes. Wayne Rooney went down under very minimal contact, if any from Sol Campbell. Mike Riley pointed to the penalty spot and after his miss in the same fixture last season, van Nistelrooy saw off those demons to convert the spot-kick. With Arsenal pushing forward in the dying embers, they were caught out on the counter-attack. Alan Smith squared the ball for Rooney to finish the match off. Manchester United won 2-0 and Arsenal’s historic run was over.

The scuffles continued in the tunnel afterwards. Both sets of teams squared up to each other as did both managers with Ferguson being hit by a slice of pizza from an Arsenal player in an episode later dubbed as “Pizzagate” by the tabloids. The identity was not revealed until 2017, when Cesc Fabregas confessed to being the pizza thrower on the Sky One panel show ‘A League of Their Own.’

Earlier that day, Newcastle United and Manchester City played out a barnstorming second half which saw seven goals shared between the sides. Craig Bellamy, reportedly at war with Newcastle manager Graeme Souness over his substitution at Charlton a week earlier, scored the winning goal.

Arsenal’s defeat allowed Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea to close the gap at the top of the table to two points. They thrashed Blackburn Rovers 4-0 at Stamford Bridge. Eidur Gudjohnsen scored a hat-trick in Chelsea’s biggest win of the season to-date. It was a second successive 4-0 defeat for Blackburn and plenty to ponder for their manager; the former Wales boss Mark Hughes.

Everton continued their fine start to the campaign and remained in the top three with a 3-2 win in the opening game of the weekend away at Norwich City. Duncan Ferguson scored the winning goal after the Canaries showed their character to recover from a 2-0 deficit. Fellow strugglers Crystal Palace and West Bromwich Albion met at Selhurst Park where two goals from Andy Johnson steered Palace to a welcome 3-0 victory and signalled the end of Gary Megson’s tenure at The Hawthorns.

Elsewhere, Bolton Wanderers remained in the top four after winning 2-1 away at White Hart Lane over Tottenham Hotspur and John Arne Riise scored his first Premier League goal in 20 months as Liverpool FC made it four successive Anfield victories in beating Charlton Athletic 2-0.

What else happened in October 2004?

  • Militants in Iraq behead British hostage Ken Bigley. He had been kidnapped on the 16th September.
  • Tony Blair confirms his intention to resign as Prime Minister during his next term should Labour win the next General Election.
  • One of BBC Radio 1’s original DJ’s, John Peel dies in Peru aged 65 after suffering a sudden heart attack.
  • The first European Constitution is established after senior European figures sign the Treaty and Final Act in Rome.
  • A team of explorers reach the bottom of Krubera Cave in Georgia which is the world’s deepest cave.
  • 30 people, mainly Israeli tourists are killed when two suicide bombs explode in the Red Sea resort of Taba, Egypt.

Premier League Rewind: 26th-28th September 2003

Results: Arsenal 3-2 Newcastle United, Birmingham City 2-0 Portsmouth, Bolton Wanderers 1-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers, Chelsea 1-0 Aston Villa, Leicester City 1-4 Manchester United, Southampton 0-1 Middlesbrough, Charlton Athletic 3-2 Liverpool FC, Blackburn Rovers 0-2 Fulham, Everton 4-0 Leeds United, Manchester City 0-0 Tottenham Hotspur

The week leading up to the action on 26th-28th September 2003 had been dominated by the spectacular fallout from ‘The Battle of Old Trafford.’ Following the unsavoury scenes after the 0-0 draw between Manchester United and Arsenal, eight players were charged by the Football Association and Arsenal were seen by many experts and neutrals as the public enemies for picking on Ruud van Nistelrooy.

It was time for the Gunners’ to get people drooling over their football again rather than the fighting bulldog spirit they’d shown in Manchester. They kicked off the weekend with an entertaining Friday night encounter at home to Newcastle United. The teams shared five goals and only a clumsy Jermaine Jenas handball allowed a Thierry Henry penalty to end up separating the sides. Henry scored twice in the 3-2 victory. It was game seven of Arsenal’s historic ‘The Invincibles’ season. Newcastle were yet to win in the campaign.

They were one of two sides still awaiting that winning feeling by the time September ended. The other were the Premier League rookies Wolverhampton Wanderers. However, they had a contender for the Goal of the Weekend. Alex Rae’s stunning volley gave them the lead away to Bolton Wanderers. Unfortunately for all Wolves fans, their first top-flight victory in 20 years would have to wait. Kevin Davies scored a late equaliser with five minutes left to ensure the match ended 1-1.

Van Nistelrooy showed no after-effects from being the centre of attention during the Old Trafford fracas a week earlier. The Dutchman did his talking by scoring goals and he chalked up another hat-trick in Manchester United’s routine 4-1 victory away to Leicester City. Sir Alex Ferguson’s defending champions had lost only once all campaign but were sitting in third spot only in the table. That was because Chelsea’s unbeaten start continued. Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink scored the only goal of a narrow 1-0 success at home to Aston Villa. However, the Blues’ were fortunate to win this match. Villa striker Juan Pablo Angel spurned a couple of fantastic opportunities to deny the visitors’ the chance of a point.

The other side that were currently unbeaten in the Premier League were Birmingham City. Steve Bruce’s side were tough to breakdown and had enough on the counter-attack to hurt teams. Portsmouth were the latest victims – losing 2-0 in the Midlands. Birmingham boasted the best defensive record, conceding just twice and keeping five clean sheets  in their opening six matches.

Van Nistelrooy might have been a regular when it came to scoring hat-tricks but there were two other players who scored trebles that weekend and they certainly rank among the Premier League’s most surprising hat-trick heroes. Defender Steve Watson made the most of Leeds United’s fragile defence to score a treble in Everton’s 4-0 victory over the penniless Yorkshire side. Leeds were abject throughout and conceded 10 goals in three September matches, without scoring. It was a painful return to Goodison Park for Peter Reid.

On the same Sunday afternoon, Kevin Lisbie enjoyed the day of his life as Charlton Athletic welcomed Liverpool FC to The Valley. Lisbie scored an incredible hat-trick including a wonderful solo effort as Charlton won 3-2. It was their second successive home victory over Liverpool, who were now sitting in the unfamiliar positon of eighth spot. The one crumb of comfort for Liverpool fans was the form of Michael Owen. After a slow start to the season, Owen had now scored six goals in four matches. He struck a penalty in this defeat.

In the weekend’s other three matches, Middlesbrough claimed a surprising 1-0 victory away at Southampton. This was the Saints’ first defeat of the season. Fulham enjoyed their away trip to Ewood Park, beating Blackburn Rovers 2-0 whilst Super Sunday viewers were treated to a goalless game between Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur. Unfortunately for Sky viewers, this was a period where Sunday 4pm matches introduced a lack of goalmouth activity. In five 4pm kick-offs between September 21st and October 26th, just two goals were scored!

There was still only six points between the top eight at the end of September but it was already clear that Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United had the three strongest squads and would be the three sides likely to scrap it out for the 2003-2004 Premier League title.

What else happened in September 2003?

  • Estonia & Latvia join the European Union following a referendum but the people of Sweden reject the chance to take the Euro currency following their own vote.
  • “Dirty Den” returns to EastEnders – 14 years after appearing to have been killed off.
  • The Bull Ring shopping centre in Birmingham is officially opened.
  • Starring Matt Lucas and David Walliams, Little Britain makes its first appearance on UK TV screens.
  • Andy Roddick beats Juan Carlos Ferrero in straight sets to win the men’s singles at the US Open; his sole Grand Slam victory.
  • Europe’s first mission to the moon is launched through SMART-1, a European Space Agency satellite.
  • Labour loses the Brent East seat in a by-election to the Liberal Democrats after 29 years in control.

Seasonal Records: 2001-2002

For all the statistical fans out there, here are some of the season’s records from the 2001-2002 Premier League campaign, as Arsenal scored in every single game to end Manchester United’s three-year stranglehold on the prize.

FINAL TABLE

Position Team P W D L F A GD PTS
1 Arsenal 38 26 9 3 79 36 +43 87
2 Liverpool FC 38 24 8 6 67 30 +37 80
3 Manchester United 38 24 5 9 87 45 +42 77
4 Newcastle United 38 21 8 9 74 52 +22 71
5 Leeds United 38 18 12 8 53 37 +16 66
6 Chelsea 38 17 13 8 66 38 +28 64
7 West Ham United 38 15 8 15 48 57 -9 53
8 Aston Villa 38 12 14 12 46 47 -1 50
9 Tottenham Hotspur 38 14 8 16 49 53 -4 50
10 Blackburn Rovers 38 12 10 16 55 51 +4 46
11 Middlesbrough 38 12 9 17 46 54 -8 45
12 Southampton 38 10 9 17 35 47 -12 45
13 Fulham 38 10 14 14 36 44 -8 44
14 Charlton Athletic 38 10 14 14 38 49 -11 44
15 Everton 38 11 10 17 45 57 -12 43
16 Bolton Wanderers 38 9 13 16 44 62 -18 40
17 Sunderland 38 10 10 18 29 51 -22 40
18 Ipswich Town 38 9 9 20 41 64 -23 36
19 Derby County 38 8 6 24 33 63 -30 30
20 Leicester City 38 5 13 20 30 64 -34 28

 

THE BASIC STATS

Goals Scored 1001
European qualifiers Manchester United (UEFA Champions League), Arsenal (UEFA Champions League), Liverpool FC (UEFA Champions League), Newcastle United (UEFA Champions League), Leeds United (UEFA Cup), Chelsea (UEFA Cup), Blackburn Rovers (UEFA Cup), Ipswich Town (UEFA Cup), Aston Villa (UEFA Intertoto Cup), Fulham (UEFA Intertoto Cup)
Longest winning run 13 games (Arsenal)
Longest unbeaten run 21 games (Arsenal)
Longest winless run 16 games (Leicester City)
Longest losing run 7 games (Derby County)
Highest attendance 67,638 (Manchester United vs. Middlesbrough)
Lowest attendance 15,415 (Leicester City vs. Middlesbrough)

 

AWARDS

PFA Players’ Player of the Year Ruud van Nistelrooy (Manchester United)
PFA Young Player of the Year Craig Bellamy (Newcastle United)
Football Writers’ Award Robert Pires (Arsenal)
PFA Team of the Year Shay Given, Wayne Bridge, Steve Finnan, Rio Ferdinand, Sami Hyypia, Roy Keane, Patrick Vieira, Ryan Giggs, Robert Pires, Thierry Henry, Ruud van Nistelrooy
Manager of the Year Arsene Wenger (Arsenal)
Premier League Goal of the Season Dennis Bergkamp (Newcastle United vs. ARSENAL)

 

HAT-TRICK HEROES

Player Teams Score Date
Robbie Fowler Leicester City vs. Liverpool FC 1-4 20th October 2001
Paul Kitson Charlton Athletic vs. West Ham United 4-4 19th November 2001
Ruud van Nistelrooy Manchester United vs. Southampton 6-1 22nd December 2001
Robbie Fowler Bolton Wanderers vs. Leeds United 0-3 26th December 2001
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Bolton Wanderers vs. Manchester United 0-4 29th January 2002
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink Chelsea vs. Tottenham Hotspur 4-0 13th March 2002
Fredi Bobic Bolton Wanderers vs. Ipswich Town 4-1 6th April 2002

 

TOP SCORERS

Position Player Teams No of Goals
1 Thierry Henry Arsenal 24
2= Ruud van Nistelrooy Manchester United 23
2= Alan Shearer Newcastle United 23
2= Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink Chelsea 23
5 Michael Owen Liverpool FC 19
6 Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Manchester United 17
7 Robbie Fowler Liverpool FC & Leeds United 15
8= Eidur Gudjohnsen Chelsea 14
8= Marian Pahars Southampton 14
10= Andy Cole Manchester United & Blackburn Rovers 13
10= Michael Ricketts Bolton Wanderers 13
12= Freddie Ljungberg Arsenal 12
12= Darius Vassell Aston Villa 12
12= James Beattie Southampton 12
12= Juan Pablo Angel Aston Villa 12
16= David Beckham Manchester United 11
16= Mark Viduka Leeds United 11
16= Freddie Kanoute West Ham United 11
16= Jason Euell Charlton Athletic 11
16= Kevin Phillips Sunderland 11
21= Gus Poyet Tottenham Hotspur 10
21= Jermain Defoe West Ham United 10
21= Teddy Sheringham Tottenham Hotspur 10
21= Matt Jansen Blackburn Rovers 10
25 Robert Pires Arsenal 9

BIGGEST VICTORIES

Blackburn Rovers 7-1 West Ham United 14th October 2001
Ipswich Town 0-6 Liverpool FC 9th February 2002
Manchester United 6-1 Southampton 22nd December 2001
Liverpool FC 5-0 Ipswich Town 11th May 2002
Manchester United 5-0 Derby County 12th December 2001
Everton 5-0 West Ham United 29th September 2001
Leicester City 0-5 Bolton Wanderers 18th August 2001
Ipswich Town 5-0 Sunderland 29th December 2001
Newcastle United 6-2 Everton 29th March 2002
Chelsea 5-1 Bolton Wanderers 23rd December 2001

 

HIGHEST SCORING GAMES

No of Goals Teams Date
8 Blackburn Rovers 7-1 West Ham United 14th October 2001
8 Newcastle United 6-2 Everton 29th March 2002
8 Tottenham Hotspur 3-5 Manchester United 29th September 2001
8 West Ham United 3-5 Manchester United 16th March 2002
8 Charlton Athletic 4-4 West Ham United 19th November 2001
7 Manchester United 6-1 Southampton 22nd December 2001
7 Arsenal 4-3 Everton 11th May 2002
7 Liverpool FC 4-3 Blackburn Rovers 8th May 2002
7 Leeds United 3-4 Manchester United 30th March 2002
7 Newcastle United 4-3 Manchester United 15th September 2001
7 Leeds United 3-4 Newcastle United 22nd December 2001
7 Derby County 3-4 Everton 23rd March 2002
6 Ipswich Town 0-6 Liverpool FC 9th February 2002
6 Chelsea 5-1 West Ham United 20th January 2002
6 Chelsea 5-1 Bolton Wanderers 23rd December 2001
6 Middlesbrough 5-1 Derby County 3rd November 2001
6 Arsenal 2-4 Charlton Athletic 4th November 2001
6 Chelsea 2-4 Southampton 1st January 2002
6 Arsenal 3-3 Blackburn Rovers 20th October 2001
6 Southampton 3-3 Ipswich Town 24th October 2001

 

YOUNGEST PLAYERS USED

Player Teams Age at the time Date
Tommy Williamson Leicester City 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur 17 years, 4 months, 17 days 11th May 2002
Tommy Wright Leicester City 0-2 Leeds United 17 years, 5 months, 23 days 23rd March 2002
Robert Huth Chelsea 1-3 Aston Villa 17 years, 8 months, 23 days 11th May 2002
Stewart Downing Ipswich Town 1-0 Middlesbrough 17 years, 9 months, 2 days 24th April 2002
Darren Bent Ipswich Town 1-2 Bolton Wanderers 17 years, 9 months, 12 days 18th November 2001
David Murphy Middlesbrough 2-1 Fulham 17 years, 11 months, 20 days 19th February 2002
Scott McDonald Southampton 1-3 Aston Villa 18 years, 1 month, 3 days 24th September 2001
Darren Ambrose Arsenal 2-0 Ipswich Town 18 years, 1 month, 23 days 21st April 2002
Gary Twigg Sunderland 1-1 Derby County 18 years, 1 month, 22 days 11th May 2002
Carlton Cole Chelsea 3-0 Everton 18 years, 5 months, 25 days 6th April 2002

 

OLDEST PLAYERS USED

Player Teams Age at the time Date
Raimond van der Gouw Manchester United 0-0 Charlton Athletic 39 years, 1 month, 17 days 11th May 2002
Kevin Poole Everton 3-1 Bolton Wanderers 38 years, 8 months, 11 days 1st April 2002
David Seaman Manchester United 0-1 Arsenal 38 years, 7 months, 19 days 8th May 2002
Mark Hughes Blackburn Rovers 3-0 Fulham 38 years, 6 months, 9 days 11th May 2002
Nigel Winterburn West Ham United 2-1 Bolton Wanderers 38 years, 5 months 11th May 2002
Peter Schmeichel Middlesbrough 2-1 Aston Villa 38 years, 4 months, 19 days 6th April 2002
Lee Dixon Arsenal 4-3 Everton 38 years, 1 month, 24 days 11th May 2002
Gary McAllister Liverpool FC 5-0 Ipswich Town 37 years, 4 months, 16 days 11th May 2002
Gudni Bergsson West Ham United 2-1 Bolton Wanderers 36 years, 9 months, 20 days 11th May 2002
Denis Irwin Manchester United 0-0 Charlton Athletic 36 years, 6 months, 10 days 11th May 2002

 

CLEAN SHEETS

Position Player Teams No of Clean Sheets
1 Jerzy Dudek Liverpool FC 18
1= Nigel Martyn Leeds United 18
3 Edwin van der Sar Fulham 15
4 Carlo Cudicini Chelsea 13
5 Dean Kiely Charlton Athletic 12
6= David Seaman Arsenal 10
6= Thomas Sorensen Sunderland 10
8= Fabien Barthez Manchester United 9
8= Shay Given Newcastle United 9
8= David James West Ham United 9

Premier League Rewind: 19th-20th November 2005

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

After an international break, the Premier League resumed on the 19th-20th November 2005 with Chelsea threatening to run away with the title. However, Jose Mourinho’s side had been beaten for the first time in 40 top-flight matches last time out by Manchester United, so that gave some flickering hopes to the challengers.

If there was going to be any let-up from the reigning champions, they didn’t show it at home to Newcastle United. Second half goals from Joe Cole, Hernan Crespo and Damien Duff set the Blues’ up for an easy 3-0 victory over the Magpies.

Going into the weekend, newly-promoted Wigan Athletic were Chelsea’s nearest challengers. Paul Jewell’s side had strung together a stunning nine-game unbeaten sequence which included eight victories. However, they were about to face some of the Premier League’s big-hitters. First up was Arsenal who were struggling to sparkle away from Highbury. However, they prevailed in an entertaining Saturday lunchtime kick-off. Thierry Henry scored twice as the Gunners won this match 3-2 and Wigan would go onto lose their next four matches.

That result pushed Arsenal into the top four and they were joined there by Manchester United, who won 3-1 at Charlton Athletic. Ruud van Nistelrooy continued his excellent season so far, scoring twice. The win at The Valley came 24 hours after United had confirmed they had parted company with skipper Roy Keane, releasing him from his contract by mutual consent. Keane would sign for Celtic a month later.

Bolton Wanderers started the weekend in the top three but would drop down to fifth spot through no fault of their own. Their Monday Night Football trip to Birmingham City was postponed by referee Phil Dowd just an hour before kick-off. Although the pitch was playable at St Andrews, heavy fog had set in and visibility was considered to be too dangerous for the game to be played.

After a slow start to the season, Liverpool FC were beginning to find their form. They recorded a third successive victory with a 3-0 win at home to struggling Portsmouth. Peter Crouch’s goalscoring drought continued as he had a penalty saved but Bolo Zenden scored the rebound effort in his final Premier League match of the campaign before a knee injury curtailed his debut season at Anfield. It was also the final match in charge for Alain Perrin. He was sacked a few days later and became the first managerial casualty of the 2005-2006 season.

If things were going better for Liverpool, they didn’t improve for David Moyes at Everton. After last season’s fine fourth-place finish, they were finding the going much more difficult this time around. Everton lost 4-0 in the Saturday teatime kick-off to West Bromwich Albion which kept them in the bottom three on goal difference, along with Birmingham and Sunderland who lost again – 3-1 at home to Aston Villa.

What else happened in November 2005?

  • The footballing world mourns the death of one of Britain’s finest players as George Best passes away in hospital, aged 59 after a long battle with illness.
  • Angela Merkel becomes the first female Chancellor of Germany.
  • Former British World Rally champion Richard Burns dies at the age of 34 from a brain tumour. Burns had won the championship with Subaru just four years earlier.
  • Digital channel ITV4 is launched.
  • The Safeway supermarket brand disappears after 43 years on the high street as Morrisons completes its conversion programme. The two companies had merged in March 2004.
  • New licensing laws come into effect which allows pubs and clubs in England and Wales to open 24 hours for the first time.

Memorable Matches: Blackburn Rovers 4-3 Manchester United (February 2006)

Goalscorers: David Bentley 35, 41, 56, Louis Saha 37, Lucas Neill 45 PEN, Ruud van Nistelrooy 63, 68

Teams:

Blackburn Rovers: Brad Friedel, Michael Gray, Andy Todd, Ryan Nelsen, Lucas Neill, Tugay (Brett Emerton 45), Robbie Savage (Aaron Mokoena 90), Steven Reid, Morten Gamst Pedersen, David Bentley (Jemal Johnson 90), Shefki Kuqi

Manchester United: Edwin van der Sar, Patrice Evra. Wes Brown (Mikael Silvestre 76), Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand, Gary Neville, Darren Fletcher, Kieran Richardson (Ruud van Nistelrooy 54), Cristiano Ronaldo, Louis Saha, Wayne Rooney

Referee: Phil Dowd, Attendance: 25,484

Manchester United travelled to Ewood Park in early February 2006 still with hopes of catching Chelsea at the top of the Premier League table. Trouble was – the gap was a yawning 14 points between the two teams. By the end of the evening, those distant dreams had evaporated through a marvellous and unexpected hat-trick by David Bentley. Bentley had been on-loan to Blackburn Rovers for the first half of the 2005-2006 season and just 24 hours earlier, had made his move into a permanent transfer from Arsenal. The midfielder was above to prove to worth to manager Mark Hughes.

On a cold Lancastrian evening, the home crowd were about to be treated to wonderful entertainment which started with Bentley’s opener on 35 minutes. Blackburn won a free-kick which Morten Gamst Pedersen took. Pedersen was one of the best set-piece takers at the time in the Premier League and he forced a save from Edwin van der Sar. The goalkeeper couldn’t hold on and Bentley pounced on the rebound to put the home side infront.

It started a crazy period of four goals in 10 minutes and Blackburn’s first lead lasted just a couple of minutes. Louis Saha, preferred to Ruud van Nistelrooy in attack equalised after Wayne Rooney forced Brad Friedel into an excellent save. Like his counterpart Van der Sar, Friedel was unlucky. Saha simply reacted quicker than the defenders to strike an immediate reply.

If Van der Sar was unfortunate with the first goal, he had to take accountability for Bentley’s second. A complete breakdown in communication between the Dutchman and Rio Ferdinand saw the England defender flick the ball over his head. Bentley was left with an open goal to finish off this unexpected gift. United’s woeful defensive display continued before half-time. Wes Brown stopped Steven Reid’s cross with his hand and Phil Dowd gave a penalty to Blackburn, converted by Lucas Neill.

11 minutes into the second half, it was 4-1. Robbie Savage picked out Bentley who had time and space to pick out his shot and find the bottom corner. Bentley became the first player to score a Premier League hat-trick against Manchester United. The last had been Dennis Bailey for Queens Park Rangers in the old first division on New Years’ Day 1992.

Just before that goal, United had thrown Van Nistelrooy on and he scored his 20th Premier League goal of the season shortly after his arrival. Andy Todd’s slip allowed Cristiano Ronaldo to pick out Van Nistelrooy who finished deftly from close range. Five minutes later, he was sent clear by Brown’s flick and drilled a shot past Friedel to make it 4-3. However, Blackburn held on to complete a league double over the Red Devils for the first time in the Premier League era.

Iconic Moments: Vardy’s record (November 2015)

Strikers love scoring goals and they take more pleasure when they do it on both a regular and consecutive basis. In August 2003, Ruud van Nistelrooy broke his own mark when he scored for Manchester United on Tyneside against Newcastle United. The Dutchman’s run of finding the back of the net in 10 successive Premier League matches was a mark that would last for 12 years.

Jamie Vardy’s rise through the ranks from non-league footballer to England international has been a phenomenal one. His goals were a huge ingredient towards 5000-1 outsiders Leicester City shocking the sporting world in becoming Premier League champions. His run of scoring in 11 successive matches is a landmark that will be very difficult to beat.

Vardy’s run started with a late penalty in August to earn a 1-1 draw against AFC Bournemouth. Initially, the scoring mark wasn’t talked about as he continued to find the target. Aston Villa, Stoke City, Arsenal, Norwich City and Southampton couldn’t stop him and nor could Crystal Palace in October. Vardy’s winner not only was a goal to take him into strong company but it got people talking. Could he go all the way and break Van Nistelrooy’s mark?

As Leicester’s surge towards the top of the table continued, so did Vardy’s ability to find the back of the net. He scored winning goals away to West Bromwich Albion and at home to Watford. He shook off an injury scare to open the scoring at St James’ Park in a commanding 3-0 win against Newcastle United. That equalled Van Nistelrooy’s mark, ironically in the stadium when Ruud had achieved the current feat.

A week later, leaders Leicester faced third-placed Manchester United. Would Vardy put his name in the record books?  In the 24th minute, Christian Fuchs played an inch-perfect pass inside full-back Matteo Darmian. Vardy latched onto it and finished decisively past David de Gea. The King Power Stadium erupted in a crescendo of noise as Vardy took the acclaim from his overjoyed teammates.

Bastian Schweinsteiger did equalise to earn a point for the Red Devils but the day fully belonged to Jamie Vardy. His place in Premier League history was signed and sealed.