Tag Archives: Titles

Iconic Moments: Manchester United’s record-breaking 19th title (May 2011)

When Sir Alex Ferguson arrived from Scotland in November 1986, his mission was to make Manchester United successful again.

In 2002, he famously said: “My greatest challenge is not what’s happening at the moment, my greatest challenge was knocking Liverpool right off their ******* perch. And you can print that.”

Seven years after his arrival, Manchester United won their first top-flight title in 27 years and soon afterwards, league championship after league championship followed. When he arrived, Manchester United had only seven titles. By May 2011, they had drawn level with Liverpool on 18 top-flight championships.

They travelled to Ewood Park on the penultimate weekend of the 2010-2011 season looking to make history and claim not only a 12th Premier League title but a record-breaking 19th crown which would take them to the top of the list as England’s most successful club.

It was a nervy afternoon with just a single point required to seal the title and they fell behind to a Brett Emerton strike. However, with 17 minutes left, Paul Robinson’s foul on Javier Hernandez saw a penalty awarded by referee Phil Dowd after some consultation. Wayne Rooney kept his nerve to dispatch the spot-kick, level the game at 1-1 and ensured Manchester United made history.

It was a great achievement and Ferguson’s mission was well and truly complete.


Memorable Matches: Manchester United 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur (May 1999)

Goalscorers: Les Ferdinand 24, David Beckham 42, Andy Cole 47


Manchester United: Peter Schmeichel, Denis Irwin, Gary Neville, Ronny Johnsen, David May, Roy Keane, Paul Scholes (Nicky Butt 69), David Beckham, Ryan Giggs (Phil Neville 79), Teddy Sheringham (Andy Cole 45), Dwight Yorke

Tottenham Hotspur: Ian Walker, Stephen Carr, Justin Edinburgh, Sol Campbell, John Scales (Luke Young 70), Steffen Freund, Tim Sherwood, Darren Anderton, David Ginola (Jose Dominguez 9), (Andy Sinton 76) Steffen Iversen, Les Ferdinand

Referee: Graham Poll, Attendance: 55,189

On the final day of the 1998-1999 season, Manchester United needed to win to secure the championship. They started the day one point clear of reigning champions Arsenal and faced the Gunners bitter rivals in Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford. Tottenham had only won once in their last 17 league meetings against Manchester United and the Red Devils were unbeaten in 30 matches in all competitions since losing at home to Middlesbrough before Christmas. Many before kick-off thought victory would be a forgone conclusion but it turned into a nervy afternoon for the home faithful.

Alex Ferguson’s first big decision came before kick-off as he elected to start with Teddy Sheringham ahead of Andy Cole. Immediately from the outset, the home side seeked to take control and nearly took the lead in fluky circumstances. Ian Walker’s attempted clearance was charged down by Dwight Yorke and the ball spun onto the post, back into Walker’s grasp.

Spurs suffered another blow when the Player of the Year, David Ginola disappeared from the contest after just nine minutes because of injury. The visitors hadn’t showed any attacking instincts in the opening 20 minutes. So, it was a big surprise when they took the lead. From Walker’s goal-kick, Steffen Iversen flicked a header on and Les Ferdinand beat Ronny Johnsen to the loose ball. Ferdinand’s effort managed to beat a scrambling Peter Schmeichel in his farewell Old Trafford appearance before he moved to Sporting Lisbon on a free transfer.

The Manchester United fans had a sense it might not be their day. Walker made two great saves to deny Paul Scholes in quick succession. Seconds later, David Beckham put a header over the crossbar from point-blank range. His frustration was clear. He knew he should have scored. Persistence was the key to this performance and three minutes before half-time, the league leaders finally managed to find a way through Walker and Tottenham’s defences.

Scholes tackled Tim Sherwood who felt he had been fouled. Referee Graham Poll disagreed and Scholes continued his run, picking out Beckham. This time, the England international made no mistake with his finish, launching his strike into the top corner for his ninth goal of the season. As things stood, Ferguson’s Red Devils would regain the Premier League title from Arsenal who were drawing 0-0 at the same time with Aston Villa.

At half-time, Cole was introduced for Sheringham and two minutes into the second half, the substitution had the inspired impact. Gary Neville found Cole with an incisive ball. Staying onside, the forward’s control was devastating and he lobbed the ball over the advancing Walker. It felt like redemption for him after missing all the guilt-edge opportunities on the final day in 1995 at Upton Park when Manchester United lost the title to Blackburn Rovers.

Tottenham had given it a good go and Arsenal got their goal to beat Villa but it was all in vain. For the fifth time in seven seasons, Manchester United were Premier League champions and the first part of the historic ‘Treble’ was signed, sealed and delivered.

The Managers: Roberto Mancini

Premier League Clubs Managed: Manchester City (2009-2013)

Roberto Mancini will always go down in folklore as the man who ended Manchester City’s long quest without silverware. The Italian was a fiery figure as a player and even more so as a manager. It worked though at City and he was the man on the touchline when Sergio Aguero scored that injury-time goal in May 2012 which saw City snatch the Premier League title away from their rivals across the city, Manchester United.

Mancini is still in management in 2018 and is set to become the new boss of the Italian national team. His most recent club spell was with Russian side Zenit Saint Petersburg.

A Sampdoria legend

Mancini made his playing debut in 1981, featuring for Bologna in Serie A. Sampdoria bought him a year later for £2.2 million and he would remain there for the next 16 years, becoming a legend with the club’s supporters.

During his time with them, he helped Sampdoria win the Italian league title in 1991 which is the only time they’ve managed to break the regular dominance of Juventus and the two Milan clubs. There was success on the European stage too with Sampdoria winning the 1990 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, beating Anderlecht 2-0 in the final after extra-time. The two goals came from Gianluca Vialli and Vialli and Mancini struck a super understanding leading the attack for them. In fact, their knowledge and cohesion of each other’s game meant they earned the nickname “I Gemelli del Gol” (The Goal Twins).

Two years later, Sampdoria reached the European Cup final but were beaten in extra-time by Barcelona at Wembley Stadium. By now, Mancini was one of the most influential figures in the dressing room at Sampdoria. He was part of the interview panel when Sven-Goran Eriksson was appointed the club’s manager and was often used to help promote the club to new players, including Englishman David Platt.

He wasn’t the easiest person to get on with and if his authority was questioned, he didn’t like it. Mancini had falling outs with the likes of Trevor Francis, Liam Brady and Juan Sebastian Veron during his time in Italian football.

When Eriksson took the Lazio job, he took Mancini with him and Roberto won his second Serie A and Cup Winners’ Cup prizes as a player. He retired from playing in 2000 to become the Swede’s assistant manager but when Eriksson left shortly afterwards to take the England international job, Mancini decided to come out of retirement for one final brief spell with Leicester City in England. He made five appearances for the Foxes before a return to Italy beckoned – this time as manager of Fiorentina.

Coaching success in Italy

When he took the Fiorentina job, he required special dispensation from Italian authorities as he hadn’t yet completed his coaching badges. The club were in serious financial trouble and star assets had to be sold, like Francesco Toldo and Rui Costa. Mancini still managed to win the Coppa Italia before resigning in January 2002 with the club in the Serie A relegation zone.

Five months later, he took over at Lazio and like in Florence; he had to deal with big financial constraints. Yet again, star players had to go. Alessandro Nesta joined AC Milan and Hernan Crespo was sold to Inter Milan but Mancini managed to galvanise the Rome giants to two top-six finishes and another Coppa Italia triumph in 2004.

Next stop was Inter Milan who appointed him in the summer of 2004 after Lazio agreed to release him from his contract. The Coppa Italia was fast becoming Mancini’s specialist competition. He achieved a third victory as a manager in his first Inter season, beating AS Roma 3-0 in the final and he guided them to the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals where they lost to bitter rivals, AC Milan.

Inter were to become the dominant force in Italian football after Juventus were stripped of their domestic title and relegated in 2006 because of the Calciopoli scandal. He won three successive Serie A titles, two Super Cups and broke numerous records domestically; including a historic run of 17 successive top-flight victories in 2005-2006 which is one of the best runs ever seen in European football.

However, Inter owner Massimo Moratti was unimpressed by the lack of impact being made by the club in the UEFA Champions League and this would ultimately lead to a separation between the club and Mancini. Back-to-back defeats in the round-of-16 to Valencia (2007) and Liverpool FC (2008) along with disciplinary problems in these losses would seal his fate. He was sacked by the club in May 2008 and replaced by Jose Mourinho. He wouldn’t manage again for nearly 18 months.

Checking in at City

Six days before Christmas in 2009, Mancini checked into the Premier League as the new boss of Manchester City, replacing Mark Hughes. He immediately made it clear that his target was for the oil-rich Citizens to finish in the top four and qualify for the following season’s UEFA Champions League.

Four straight wins followed but there was a late semi-final defeat in the League Cup to Manchester United and they were pipped to fourth spot by Tottenham Hotspur. Spurs defeated City 1-0 in early May at The Etihad Stadium to leave the most expensive squad in the club’s history in fifth and with the meek consolation prize of playing in the UEFA Europa League.

The first signs of success came in the Italian’s first full season at Eastlands. He spent heavily in the summer transfer window, bringing in the likes of David Silva, Yaya Toure, Mario Balotelli and Aleksandar Kolarov. City moved into fourth position in mid-September after a victory away at Wigan Athletic and never surrendered a spot in the top four from that point onwards.

There were moments where things didn’t go to plan. Mancini had a bust-up with Carlos Tevez just before Christmas as the skipper submitted a transfer request citing personal reasons for a desire to move back to Argentina. Those differences were eventually resolved and the manager came in criticism for negative tactics on home soil in successive goalless draws with Manchester United and Birmingham City.

However, not many teams finished the 2010-2011 season in better form than Manchester City. They secured UEFA Champions League qualification for the first time when they beat Tottenham Hotspur in early May and two further victories on the final week of the campaign ensured a top-three finish above Arsenal. There was further success with victory in the FA Cup final over Stoke City, with Toure scoring the only goal. It was the club’s first major honour since the League Cup in 1976.

Taking the main prize

In the 2011 close season, Sergio Aguero and Samir Nasri were added to the squad, along with Gael Clichy. The target this time was to take the main prize and land the Premier League title.

Manchester City made an outstanding start to the season, staying unbeaten until mid-December when they lost 2-1 at Stamford Bridge to Chelsea. During this run, Mancini’s side won 6-1 at Old Trafford and also dished out heavy defeats to Swansea City, Tottenham Hotspur and Norwich City. There were still issues. He had another public row with Tevez, claiming he refused to come off the bench during a UEFA Champions League match with Bayern Munich. In the post-match press conference, he told journalists that Tevez would never play for the club again. Never say never though and the temperamental forward would return to the fold in March 2012.

The Champions League campaign ended in a disappointing group stage exit and Manchester United ended their FA Cup defence at the first hurdle but this season, it was all about the Premier League. The two Manchester giants were locked together for much of the season. It was a new experience for the club and there was a major wobble in March. Defeat at Swansea and a home draw with Sunderland gave the Red Devils the advantage in the title race. When City lost 1-0 at Arsenal and had Balotelli sent off, an eight-point gap had been opened up. Mancini insisted in public the title dream was over but an extraordinary turnaround was about to follow.

City would win their next five matches, including a second victory over United in the season. Sir Alex Ferguson’s side were stumbling to defeat at Wigan and threw away a two-goal lead to draw 4-4 with Everton. Now, it was the Citizens who had the advantage on goal difference going into the final day of the season. They had a home fixture against relegation-threatened Queens Park Rangers whilst Manchester United travelled to Sunderland.

United won 1-0 so as long as City matched that result, they would become champions. In true fashion, they made incredibly heavy weather of this routine scenario. Despite QPR being reduced to 10 men, they took a 2-1 lead midway through the second half. However, injury-time produced the most dramatic finale to a Premier League match. First, Edin Dzeko’s header levelled the scores before Balotelli poked the ball through for Aguero to score the title-winning goal with seconds remaining. Cue pandemonium around The Etihad Stadium. Mancini had just become the second Italian manager to win the Premier League title.

No happy conclusion

There would be no happy conclusion though for the relationship between the manager and club. A quiet summer transfer window, coupled with another timid showing in the UEFA Champions League put Mancini back under pressure. City went into 2013 seven points off top spot and further poor showings away at Southampton and Everton allowed Manchester United to romp into a sizeable advantage in the table which they were never going to throw away this time around. In his final season as a manager, Sir Alex Ferguson regained the Red Devils’ superiority and the title was back at Old Trafford by the end of April.

Two days after being beaten by Wigan Athletic in the FA Cup final, Mancini was sacked as Manchester City manager with relations with the board and players reported to be at its lowest ebb. With Manchester City, Mancini achieved the fourth-best win percentage in Premier League history.

Since then, he has had spells as manager of Galatasaray, a second stint at Inter Milan and Zenit Saint Petersburg, where he was trying to guide them to become the dominant force in Russia again before moving into international management in May 2018.

Despite having been a support striker during his playing career, Mancini places great emphasis on building from the back and his approach, whilst not always popular, ensured he will always go down as one of Manchester City’s greatest managers.

Premier League Files: Steve Bould

Premier League Career: Arsenal (1992-1999), Sunderland (1999-2000)

Steve Bould spent two decades as one of the game’s most challenging and uncompromising defenders. His partnership at the heart of the Arsenal backline alongside skipper Tony Adams is one of the best pairings the English game has ever seen. Arsenal has been a huge part of his career and he remains an integral member of the club today, now in his sixth season as Arsene Wenger’s assistant manager.

Born in Stoke-on-Trent, Bould signed for his hometown club Stoke City as a schoolboy in 1978 and turned professional in November 1980. He would spend the next eight years with the Potters, although he did have a nine-game loan period with Torquay United in 1982 to enhance his playing experience. Initially training as a right-back, it was Mick Mills who converted him into a centre-back. Not only was this a shrewd decision, it ensured Bould would excel in this position for the remainder of the 20th century. Despite his rapid improvements, Stoke were still a Second Division club and in 1988, the time came for him to move onto pastures new with a higher reputed side. Both Arsenal and Everton registered an interest and for £390,000, Steve moved to Highbury in the summer of 1988 and started a relationship with the club that has largely held together over the next 30 years.

He became part of the much-talked about ‘Arsenal back four,’ together with Adams, his former Stoke teammate Lee Dixon and Nigel Winterburn. There was instant success in his new surroundings. Bould won the English Division One title in his maiden season with the Londoners as Arsenal recorded a dramatic victory on the final evening of the campaign against Liverpool FC to snare title glory away from the Merseysiders.

A second league title followed in 1991 and a year later, he was voted the club’s Player of the Season despite a slightly underwhelming campaign for the team which included an embarrassing FA Cup exit at the hands of lowly Wrexham. In August 1992, Steve Bould ensured his name with be in Arsenal’s Premier League record books forever. After 28 minutes of the club’s first match of the new era, he headed home the opening goal at home to Norwich City. Norwich stormed back from 2-0 down to claim a very surprising 4-2 victory but no-one could take this feat away from the centre-back. Fittingly, it was another centre-back in Shkodran Mustafi who recently scored the Gunners’ 1000th home Premier League goal against Watford in March 2018.

Injury ruled him out of Arsenal’s double domestic cup success of 1993 and it was his deputy, Andy Linighan, who scored the winner in the FA Cup final replay victory over Sheffield Wednesday. However, he returned to the first-team fold in time for the second Premier League season, winning the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1994. By now, Martin Keown had arrived from Everton and was a serious challenger to Bould’s regular place in the team. When Adams was fully fit, the pair would often alternate roles and initially on his arrival at the club in 1996, Wenger seemed to prefer using Keown. Bould saw this as an extra challenge and his desire to prove his use was never greater than in Arsenal’s double-winning 1997-1998 season. He featured 24 times and famously set-up his central defensive partner Adams for the fourth goal against Everton that sealed Arsenal’s first league championship in seven seasons.

After one further season in north London, Bould briefly severed his ties with the club to continue his playing days at Sunderland. When Kevin Ball departed in December 1999, Black Cats boss Peter Reid made Bould the club captain and he played 20 times as Sunderland finished an excellent seventh in their first season back in the top-flight. However, he was forced to retire from the game in September 2000 due to arthritis.

In June 2001, he returned to Arsenal and began working with the club’s youth teams, whilst studying for his UEFA coaching qualifications. He was head coach of Arsenal’s Under-18 Academy side that won back-to-back Premier Academy League titles as well as the 2009 FA Youth Cup.

In May 2012, long-serving senior assistant manager Pat Rice decided to retire and Wenger promoted Bould to the role as Rice’s replacement. On appointing him, Wenger said: “His qualities are that he has the experience of the top-level game. He has managed here. He knows our football philosophy and therefore there will be continuity.” It is a role he has held since then and therefore, has experienced being part of the coaching staff to win three FA Cups in the last five seasons.

A stalwart of the Arsenal defence for over a decade, Steve Bould has shown his desire as a highly-rated coach since being forced to retire 18 years ago. Whilst his name is never linked as a long-term successor to Arsene Wenger, he should be a figure that remains at the club for many years to come, due to his outstanding knowledge of the DNA within Arsenal and their excellent youth system.

Premier League Files: Chris Sutton

Premier League Career: Norwich City (1992-1994), Blackburn Rovers (1994-1999), Chelsea (1999-2000), Birmingham City (2006), Aston Villa (2006-2007)

Chris Sutton was once the most expensive player in British football when Blackburn Rovers paid Norwich City £5 million in the summer of 1994. It was money well spent by Kenny Dalglish. Sutton paired up with Alan Shearer and they formed one of the deadliest strike partnerships the Premier League has ever seen. The original ‘SAS’ combination scored 49 league goals as Blackburn ended their 81-year drought and became champions of England.

Sutton’s playing career lasted 16 years. A title winner at Blackburn, he also enjoyed immense success in Scottish football with Celtic but also had a difficult season in London with Chelsea and his international career was unnecessarily short due to his differences with Glenn Hoddle.

Chris began his career in Norfolk with Norwich City. He was initially a centre-back and would often play there when emergency measures were called for by any of the managers he worked under. It was Dave Stringer who would convert him into the deadly forward that he would become. He made his professional debut in 1991 against Queens Park Rangers and started to make a regular contribution to the first-team setup a year later.

In the first Premier League season, Sutton was still at Norwich and played in both defensive and attacking roles for Mike Walker. He scored eight times as the Canaries finished a fabulous and unexpected third in the final table, despite ending with a negative goal difference tally. He also bagged his first career hat-trick with a treble in a 4-2 victory over outgoing champions Leeds United in April 1993.

It was the 1993-1994 season that really saw Sutton’s star begin to rise and therefore, his valuation in the transfer market too. He scored 25 Premier League goals – only outscored by Andy Cole of Newcastle United and Blackburn’s main marksman, Shearer. He was part of the Norwich side that dumped Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich out of the UEFA Cup but league form regressed when Walker left his role as team manager to take the job at Everton. With a willing owner in Robert Chase who was keen to cash in, Sutton was set to leave for pastures new in the summer of 1994.

Norwich valued Sutton at £5 million and two clubs, Blackburn and Arsenal agreed to meet the valuation put on him. In July 1994, he met both teams for talks and elected to choose Blackburn as his next destination, despite a transgression in Norwich’s nightclub district which saw him arrested.

He settled quickly, forming a great partnership with Shearer and the pair even shared the Carling Player of the Month award for November 1994. He scored a hat-trick at home to Coventry City, twice in a narrow triumph over Liverpool FC and the winning goal at Chelsea as Rovers went up another level in their quest to win their first league championship since 1914. Sutton scored 15 league goals and was the perfect foil for Shearer, who would win the Golden Boot for the first time in his career. On the final day, Blackburn went to Anfield needing to beat Liverpool FC to be certain of the title. They lost 2-1 but Manchester United failed to beat West Ham at Upton Park, so the championship was Blackburn’s.

The 1995-1996 campaign was not so positive for both parties. Injuries restricted Sutton to just 13 appearances and even in these games; he failed to score a single league goal. This gave Mike Newell the chance to establish a partnership with Shearer but both left in the summer of 1996, leaving Sutton to become Blackburn’s main man.

The heady days of title wins in 1995 were now a distant memory for the Lancastrians. He was Blackburn’s top scorer in 1996-1997 but he sparked controversy in April 1997 at Highbury against Arsenal. In the dying stages of the match, Arsenal were 1-0 ahead and the ball was kicked out of play by them to allow treatment to an injured Stephen Hughes. The sporting rule is for the ball to be returned to the team that had possession unchallenged but Sutton elected to chase the ball immediately when play restarted and won his team a corner. Blackburn scored from the resulting set-piece to earn a 1-1 draw and the home faithful and Arsenal team were livid. Sutton refused to apologise for his actions.

In 1997-1998, he scored 18 times and finished joint-winner of the Golden Boot, along with Coventry City’s Dion Dublin and Michael Owen of Liverpool FC. This is something he has cheekily reminded people in an advert for BT Sport’s Score service in recent months.

His form for Blackburn that season earned him his one and only international cap from England, coming off the bench in an international friendly against Cameroon in November 1997. Three months later, he was asked to play for an England B team which he plainly refused. He fell out over this issue with Hoddle and his Three Lions career was over before it hardly begun.

In 1999, Blackburn were relegated to Division One, just four short seasons after becoming champions of England. Sutton was sold to Chelsea that summer for £10 million but endured a horrid campaign with the west Londoners. He scored just once in the Premier League – a header in the 5-0 rout of Manchester United in October as he struggled to fit into their style of play. He didn’t even make the squad for their FA Cup final win over Aston Villa and was sold that summer to Celtic. Chelsea had to accept a £4 million loss just to get rid of Sutton from their wage bill.

Chris enjoyed a wonderful six seasons at Parkhead, forming another prolific partnership, this time with the Super Swede, Henrik Larsson. He was voted SPFA Player of the Year in 2004, scored 63 times in 130 appearances for Celtic and won eight major honours, including four league championships. He was also part of the Bhoys team that reached the 2003 UEFA Cup final before losing in extra-time to Jose Mourinho’s FC Porto in Seville.

In January 2006, he returned to English football with Birmingham City on a short-term contract. Injuries restricted him to just 11 appearances and one goal which came in defeat to bitter rivals Aston Villa in the Second City Derby. He would join Villa in October 2006 following Birmingham’s relegation, linking up briefly with Martin O’Neill, who had inspired some great performances from him at Celtic. He scored a winning goal at Goodison Park against Everton but suffered blurred vision in a match against Manchester United on 23rd December. He missed the entire second half of the campaign and after seeing consultants about the issue, he retired in July 2007. He had one season in management with Lincoln City but left in 2010 for personal reasons. He now works as a television pundit for BT Sport and also is often part of the commentary team on BBC Radio Five Live.

Often outspoken as a pundit, Chris Sutton certainly draws interest with his opinions and he certainly had defences concerned throughout a successful playing career which saw him become a league champion in both England and Scotland.

Memorable Matches: Chelsea 8-0 Wigan Athletic (May 2010)

Goalscorers: Nicolas Anelka 6, 56, Frank Lampard 32 PEN, Salomon Kalou 54, Didier Drogba 63, 68 PEN, 80, Ashley Cole 90


Chelsea: Petr Cech, Alex, Ashley Cole, Branislav Ivanovic (Juliano Belletti 58), John Terry, Michael Ballack (Nemanja Matic 70), Frank Lampard, Florent Malouda, Nicolas Anelka, Didier Drogba, Salomon Kalou (Joe Cole 58)

Wigan Athletic: Mike Pollitt, Emmerson Boyce, Gary Caldwell (SENT OFF), Maynor Figueroa, Steve Gohouri, Mario Melchiot, James McCarthy, Ben Watson (Hendry Thomas 61), Mohamed Diame (Paul Scharner 72), Charles N’Zogbia, Hugo Rodallega (Victor Moses 82)

Referee: Martin Atkinson, Attendance: 41,383

The 2009-2010 title battle had gone down to the final day of the season. It was a straight shootout between Chelsea and Manchester United. Chelsea had the advantage with a one-point lead over Sir Alex Ferguson’s side. If they beat Wigan Athletic at Stamford Bridge, they would become Premier League champions for the third time and end United’s three-year stranglehold on the crown.

Wigan had nothing to play for with safety secured a fortnight earlier and many believed it should be a routine afternoon for Carlo Ancelotti’s champions-elect. They were to be proven right as Chelsea put in a dominant and emphatic display on an afternoon of goals, rather than tense nerves in west London.

Any doubts the home supporters might have had before kick-off were silenced inside six minutes. Wigan failed to clear Didier Drogba’s free-kick and from a flick-on by Florent Malouda, Nicolas Anelka drilled a shot inside Mike Pollitt’s near post. It was a perfect start for the Blues. The visitors did enjoy plenty of possession but rarely threatened Petr Cech in the Chelsea goal and their task got even harder 13 minutes before half-time.

Frank Lampard was played through by Drogba and was hauled to the ground by defender Gary Caldwell. Referee Martin Atkinson gave a penalty and with Caldwell being the last man, had little option but to send him off. Drogba wanted to take the penalty but was stopped from doing so by Lampard. The midfielder dispatched the spot-kick with ease to virtually end any lingering hopes of a slip-up. Drogba had wanted the penalty so he could topple Wayne Rooney in the race for the Golden Boot. He showed clear petulance at not being allowed his personal glory but that would come later.

There was now a party atmosphere around the ground and Chelsea really turned on the style in the second half. Salomon Kalou made it 3-0 nine minutes into the second half, exchanging passes with Lampard before slotting the ball beyond Pollitt’s grasp. Two minutes later, Branislav Ivanovic, with virtually his last contribution of the afternoon, picked out Anelka who produced a brilliant right-foot strike that left the goalkeeper without any hope of saving.

This allowed Ancelotti the chance to bring on Juliano Belletti and Joe Cole for their farewell appearances before the pair were to be released in the summer. Drogba had been sulking after not getting his earlier chance to score but his mood lifted when he headed home goal number five of the afternoon. This prompted the Ivorian to score a 17-minute hat-trick which ensured he would pip Rooney to the Golden Boot. There was still time for Ashley Cole to put the seal on a magnificent display of shooting excellence.

Manchester United might have beaten Stoke City 4-0 but it counted for nothing. With more wins than any other side and over 100 Premier League goals, Chelsea had sealed the 2009-2010 title in style. It was also their biggest victory in their 105-year history. The celebrations could well and truly begin.

Premier League Files: Danny Simpson

Premier League Career: Manchester United (2007-2008), Blackburn Rovers (2008-2009), Newcastle United (2010-2013), Queens Park Rangers (2014), Leicester City (2014-PRESENT)

Leicester City is Danny Simpson’s fifth Premier League club. A product of the youth academy at Manchester United, Simpson raised his performance levels greatly in the 2015-2016 season, becoming first-choice right-back under Claudio Ranieri as the Foxes stunned the football world to become Premier League champions.

Simpson’s story is like many others in the Leicester squad from that season. It was one where he has had to deal with rejection, disappointment and frustration. However, he never gave in and the rewards came for the full-back from Greater Manchester in that incredible fairytale at The King Power Stadium.

Simpson came through the youth system at Manchester United and gained some useful loan experience at Royal Antwerp in Belgium and then Sunderland when they were playing in the Championship. He made 14 appearances in 2007 as the Black Cats won promotion back to the Premier League with former Red Devil Roy Keane as the club’s manager.

He returned to the United setup in the summer of 2007 and made his Premier League debut for them in October of that year, coming on as a substitute for the injured John O’Shea after 30 minutes in the 4-0 victory over Wigan Athletic. He claimed an assist too, crossing the ball in for Wayne Rooney to score United’s fourth goal that lunchtime afternoon. He signed a new contract and it was clear Sir Alex Ferguson saw him as a player for the future. However, he would be loaned out to Ipswich Town in March 2008, primarily to get more first-team experience.

With Gary Neville and Wes Brown both ahead of him in the pecking order, another loan period followed for Danny in 2008-2009. This time, he would play in the top-flight for Blackburn Rovers and under the tutorage of another former Manchester United title winner in Paul Ince. He played in 12 games for Ince but became a casualty of his sacking in December 2008. Sam Allardyce didn’t rate him and he spent the second half of the season largely on the bench in Lancashire.

His career seemed to be at a crossroads. The breakthrough just wasn’t going to happen at Manchester United, so after another loan spell at relegated Newcastle United, Simpson made the move to Tyneside on a permanent basis. Newcastle paid £750,000 to snap him up full-time in January 2010 and helped the Magpies return at the first attempt to the Premier League.

Ankle surgery that summer kept him out of action until October 2010 but he impressed on his first start of the season in a 2-1 win at West Ham United. He displaced James Perch for the remainder of the season in the right-back role and formed a good partnership with Joey Barton as Newcastle finished comfortably in mid-table in their first season back among the elite.

His best season with Newcastle was in 2011-2012, starting 35 of the club’s 38 league matches as they finished an excellent fifth in the table. He could even celebrate a fabulous 3-0 victory over his former club Manchester United in January 2012 on his 25th birthday. It was a surprise then to see his contract not renewed at the end of the 2012-2013 campaign.

After a year back in the Championship with Queens Park Rangers, Danny started their first game of the 2014-2015 Premier League season at home to Hull City but moved to Leicester City before the transfer window closed. Like fellow teammate and summer arrival Marc Albrighton, he found it hard to break into the first-team on his arrival and played second-fiddle for the majority of the season to Ritchie de Laet.

A similar story looked likely in 2015-2016 as de Laet started the campaign in the right-back role. However, a 5-2 loss at home to Arsenal in September was the catalyst for Ranieri to settle on a more defensively-minded back four. Out went de Laet and Jeff Schlupp and in came Simpson and Christian Fuchs. Apart from a red card in the 2-1 defeat to Arsenal in February 2016, Simpson’s ability to keep his position and not venture forward constantly made him a favourite with Ranieri. He only missed two games from the start of October onwards and was a consistent presence throughout as Leicester City wowed the neutrals and their own supporters to become Premier League champions.

Things were very different a year later as the reigning champions struggled domestically and looked to be fighting a relegation battle. Ranieri was sacked and Simpson was among several players criticised for their lack of effort when things got tough. This led to a rather humorous debate with ex-Liverpool FC defender and Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher on Twitter.

In February 2018, Danny Simpson made his 100th Premier League appearance for Leicester in a 5-1 beating by runaway league leaders Manchester City. He is yet to score in his top-flight career but that doesn’t matter. His defensive approach to the game is highly valued and no-one can take away the fact that Danny Simpson is a Premier League title winner – not even Jamie Carragher!

Premier League Files: Ian Woan

Premier League Career: Nottingham Forest (1992-1993, 1994-1997, 1998-1999)

Ian Woan’s playing career will always be linked with Nottingham Forest. He spent a decade on Trentside with the club that gave him plenty of happy memories. In his prime, Woan had one of the best left-foot shots in the Premier League and was one of the club’s most influential players when Frank Clark was the manager during the mid-1990s.

Woan started playing football in 1985 and spent the first five years toiling in the non-league but his big break arrived in March 1990 when Nottingham Forest signed him for £80,000 from Runcorn. At the time, it looked like Ian was set to join AFC Bournemouth and he’d actually shaken hands on a verbal deal with the Bournemouth boss at the time, Harry Redknapp. Forest intervened at the last moment though and managed to persuade Woan to join the bigger-profile side.

He made his first-team debut off the bench against Norwich City in January 1991, 10 months after joining the club. He finished that season scoring goals for fun, netting in resounding victories over Chelsea and Norwich, before scoring the decisive goal in May 1991 against Liverpool FC at The City Ground which handed the championship crown to Arsenal. He ended the season in the team in the FA Cup final, selected by Brian Clough ahead of ex-England international Steve Hodge, much to Woan’s surprise. Sadly though, there was no happy ending as Tottenham won 2-1 in extra-time.

That was the beginning of the end for Clough. His 18-year reign at the helm as Nottingham Forest manager ended with relegation from the inaugural Premier League season as the club finished bottom of the table. Ian established himself further in the first-team; scoring five times but his efforts were not enough to keep Forest away from their top-flight demise.

Frank Clark took over that summer and helped Forest return to the Premier League at the first attempt of asking. His coaching skills benefited Woan’s game, as he was given more freedom and license to get forward and supply the team with goals and assists. In 1994-1995, Nottingham Forest finished a fantastic third in the table on their return to the Premier League, qualifying for the UEFA Cup. Ian played 40 times in that season but his best was yet to come.

His finest campaign was the 1995-1996 season as Forest finished as the strongest English side in European competition, reaching the quarter-finals of the UEFA Cup before losing to eventual winners Bayern Munich. In the league, the team finished in ninth position but Woan sparkled, with eight goals including long-range efforts against Everton and Tottenham Hotspur. In an FA Cup fifth round tie against the north Londoners, Woan smashed in two outstanding free-kicks to ensure a replay which Forest won at White Hart Lane via a penalty shootout.

Woan also had a habit of scoring title-wrecking goals for opponents. Having scored the decisive goal in 1991 to hand Arsenal the title, he scored a winning goal at Old Trafford a year later to start Manchester United’s dramatic decline in the final Football League season before the formation of the Premier League. In 1996, he pounced on a mistake by David Batty to crash home another fantastic goal that earned Nottingham Forest a deserved draw against Newcastle United. Kevin Keegan’s side had to win the game to keep the pressure on Manchester United at the top of the table. Woan’s intervention had all but buried their title chances.

Clark’s resignation in December 1996 came during a struggling time and a persistent knee injury which flared up towards the end of the 1996-1997 season kept Ian on the sidelines for a full year. He only figured twice in another relegation campaign in 1998-1999. His final Premier League appearance came in a 1-0 loss to Tottenham in April 1999. After failing to see eye-to-eye with new manager David Platt, he was released in 2000 without any discussion over a testimonial or a contract extension.

After a trial with Bolton Wanderers, Ian signed for Swindon Town in the summer of 2000 and also had one season with Shrewsbury Town, which included a stunning FA Cup third round victory over Premier League Everton in January 2003. He finished his career in the MLS before retiring in 2004.

He has since gone into coaching with spells on the staff at Portsmouth and Watford before linking up with Sean Dyche at Burnley. He is currently Dyche’s assistant manager at Turf Moor as they continue to defy expectations this season, sitting in seventh place in the table.

A player who I always enjoyed watching in the 1990s, Ian Woan could always pop up with crucial and often, spectacular goals.

Premier League Files: Emmanuel Petit

Premier League Career: Arsenal (1997-2000), Chelsea (2001-2004)

Arsenal’s first Premier League title success in 1997-1998 was built around a strong defensive core unit. Whilst Arsene Wenger might have been slightly fortunate to inherit the famous Arsenal defence of Seaman, Bould, Adams, Dixon, Winterburn and Keown, his signings of Patrick Vieira and Emmanuel Petit was crucial in helping the Gunners get the better of Manchester United.

Some of Petit’s game wasn’t pretty. He would often break play up, foul players to stop counter-attacks and ensure referees got a hard time from him too. Nevertheless, he was still an excellent player whose partnership with Vieira remains one of the best central midfield combinations in Premier League history. He also was part of the French squad that won back-to-back major international competitions, scoring the third goal in the 1998 World Cup final.

Petit’s connections with Arsene Wenger went back before their link-up at Arsenal. He was signed by Wenger when just 18. Arsene was the manager of AS Monaco at the time and he would spend nine years in the Principality, appearing 222 times, scoring four goals. During his time with Monaco, he captained them to the French league title in 1997 and also played in the 1992 European Cup Winners’ Cup final when Monaco were beaten by German side SV Werder Bremen.

It was Jean Tigana who was manager when Petit won the league with Monaco and it became clear that he would move on to pastures new in the summer of 1997. Scottish champions Rangers were interested in signing him but the lure of working for Wenger again was simply too hard for Petit for ignore. He joined Arsenal for £2.5 million and Wenger immediately switched him from a box-to-box to defensive-minded player. It was a shrewd move.

Despite being red-carded in a goalless draw with Aston Villa in October 1997 for shoving referee Paul Durkin in an unsportsmanlike manner, Petit was one of Arsenal’s heroes of the season. He settled in very quickly into his new surroundings and his partnership with Vieira was a real plus point for all supporters. As the season wore on, he got stronger and stronger as Wenger’s team erased an 11-point margin in the New Year to be crowned champions at the beginning of May. Petit helped Arsenal on their way with a vital home winner from outside the area against Derby County a few days before the title crowning.

1998 was a golden year for Petit. Not only did he win the Premier League title, he also won the FA Cup and then, he played a significant contribution to France’s success on home soil in the World Cup finals. Emmanuel scored a winning goal in the group stages against Denmark, before starting and finishing a swift counter-attack in the final moments of the rather one-sided final in the Stade de France against Brazil. It had been a memorable 12 months for the Frenchman and he showed his caring side later that year when he was fortunate enough to win £17,000 worth of francs on a fruit machine in a Monte Carlo hotel and gave it all to a local charity. Later in 1998, he even played himself as a special guest in the Christmas episode of ITV police drama “The Bill,” visiting parents of a young girl who was recovering from injuries in hospital with flowers and a match ball signed by the team.

No more trophies followed at Arsenal but Petit added another six league goals to his tally, including another cracking goal against Derby County, this time in a 2-1 win at Pride Park in August 1999. He also made the PFA Team of the Year in 1998-1999. However, he moved to Barcelona in the summer of 2000 alongside his club teammate Marc Overmars in a £7 million transfer. That was after helping the French to victory at EURO 2000. His time in Spain was disappointing, as he suffered a number of frustrating injuries and he often played as a makeshift centre-back, something ‘Manu’ was never comfortable with.

After just one season with the Catalans, he returned to English football and London in the summer of 2001, joining Chelsea for £7.5 million who beat Tottenham Hotspur to his services. Petit played 55 times in the Premier League for the Blues. His best time with the club was the 2002-2003 season where he and Frank Lampard were among the core of a settled squad that finished in the top four and secured Champions League football just before Roman Abramovich came in to buy the club. There was also a rare goal away at of all places, Highbury in January 2003 although this did come in a losing cause.

The 2003-2004 campaign was one of immense disappointment for Petit. He was restricted to just four Premier League appearances all term due to a long-standing knee injury. His final appearance in Chelsea colours came in February 2004 in a 3-2 away win at Blackburn Rovers, where he set-up a goal for Lampard in the first half. He was released at the end of the season.

After turning down a summer approach from Bolton Wanderers and realising he wouldn’t return to his peak fitness levels, Petit announced his retirement from the game in January 2005, with the knee problem that was similar to the ones that ended the playing careers of Glenn Hoddle and Marco van Basten. He often appears today as an analyst on French television and is a brand ambassador for online trading broker UFX.com.

When Petit made the decision to retire, Wenger said: “He was fantastic. I feel his home is at Arsenal Football Club. We were lucky at Arsenal to have Petit at the peak of his career. He was a tremendous player.”

Most Arsenal supporters would agree with that.

Premier League Files: Marc Albrighton

Premier League Career: Aston Villa (2009-2014), Leicester City (2014-PRESENT)

Leicester City’s incredible Premier League title triumph in 2015-2016 saw plenty of heroes. Whilst the likes of Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez and N’Golo Kante stole most of the headlines, there were plenty of unsung players who played such a vital part in the greatest story ever played out in Premier League history.

One of those unsung heroes was Marc Albrighton. The Tamworth-born player figured in every single match that campaign and put in the best performances of a career which has flourished in the colours of the Foxes’ after a frustrating end to his time with Aston Villa. He is also in the Premier League record books for scoring the 20,000th goal in the league’s proud history, achieving this feat against Arsenal in December 2011.

Albrighton could have actually started his career out at West Bromwich Albion, who offered him a trial but ultimately rejected him. Aston Villa took him into their academy at the age of just eight and he would spend the next 17 years within their surroundings. His Premier League breakthrough came in 2009. After featuring prominently in pre-season, he made his debut in the top-flight on the opening weekend at home to Wigan Athletic. Wigan might have won the match 2-0 but this was a proud moment for Albrighton when he came on as a substitute in the second half. A month later, he extended his contract at Villa Park by three years and Martin O’Neill admitted he was impressed by his rapid rate of development.

O’Neill left abruptly before the start of the 2010-2011 campaign but reserve team coach Kevin McDonald had every confidence in Albrighton’s abilities and handed him his first start in the Premier League for the opening day match against West Ham United. Villa won 3-0 and Albrighton caught the eye, setting up two of the goals. His first goal at this level came in a 2-1 loss at Tottenham Hotspur two months later and he also found the target with a clinical finish at home to Manchester United when the home side produced one of the best counter-attacking moves of the season.

He returned impressive figures of five goals in 29 appearances in 2010-2011 and would make Premier League history the following season. In December 2011, he scored the equaliser at home to Arsenal and therefore, scored the league’s 20,000th goal. Albrighton won a £20,000 cheque from the league’s sponsors, Barclays which he donated to his chosen charity, the Acorns Children Hospice.

Although Arsenal did end up winning the match 2-1, Albrighton knew the significance of his strike. He told talkSPORT: “It’s something to tell the kids and the grandkids. It is a massive thing; the Premier League is one of the greatest leagues in the world, if not the greatest, so to score the 20,000th goal is definitely special to me.”

Unfortunately, his form started to fade at Villa and a throat operation in the early weeks of the 2013-2014 campaign didn’t help matters. He had a brief one-month loan at Wigan Athletic to help regain match fitness. After returning, he figured 19 times so it was a surprise that the club decided to release him at the end of the season. Leicester City wasted no time in snapping him up from their Midlands rivals.

Initially, he looked like a spare part at Leicester too and struggled to break into the starting XI on a regular basis. That changed nearer the end of the season when manager Nigel Pearson started to integrate wing-backs into his formation. Albrighton was used frequently in this position and he scored twice towards the backend of the campaign as Leicester rallied from bottom of the table at the start of April and seven points adrift of safety to finish 14th, winning seven of their last nine matches.

Pearson was sacked by the club’s owners in the summer and in came Claudio Ranieri. This could have put another stumbling block in Albrighton’s career in a summer where he was hit by a personal tragedy. His partner, Chloe Fulford suffered the terrible loss of her mother in the terrorist attacks in Tunisia in June 2015. This was a dreadful shock to the entire family and was a reminder that football was a secondary matter. It did seem to inspire Marc onto even greater levels of performance and he scored on the opening weekend in the 4-2 win over Sunderland. He pointed straight to the sky in his celebration. It was clear who he dedicated that goal to.

In 2015-2016, Albrighton was part of a regular four-man midfield alongside the energy of Kante, the world-class talents of Mahrez and the revival in the form of Danny Drinkwater. Ranieri later said: “He is a great worker who embodies the spirit of Leicester.”

Even when he was scarified from the start of the game at home to Swansea to combat with a Vardy suspension, Albrighton came on and made a big impact, scoring the fourth goal in a 4-0 victory which took Leicester closer to Premier League paradise. He became a title-winner a week later after Tottenham failed to beat outgoing champions Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Albrighton richly deserved his place in the realms of Premier League winners.

There was more personal success for Marc in 2016-2017. He scored Leicester City’s first-ever goal in the UEFA Champions League, scoring inside six minutes of their Matchday 1 3-0 win away in Belgium over Club Brugge. He later scored in the round-of-16 home leg over Sevilla as Leicester reached the quarter-finals in their maiden Champions League adventure. League form did dip though and reports emerged that Albrighton was one of the main figures to meet the Leicester owner after the first-leg defeat to the Spanish side which ultimately led to Ranieri’s shock sacking as manager.

Albrighton was furious and upset. He put out a strong statement, denying his involvement in Ranieri’s downfall. Part of it read: “At the worst time of my family’s life, the manager helped me achieve something I didn’t think in my wildest dreams would be possible. It helped us to be positive about something when everything was negative.

“The first day I met the manager he told me he believed in me; before the last game of his LCFC reign, he told me the same.

“I will never be truly able to thank him for everything he has helped me achieve and the faith he has shown in me and he knows that I always did my best for him.”

Albrighton has rediscovered his title-winning season form in 2017-2018. He set-up two goals on the opening night in a narrow 4-3 loss to Arsenal and has scored for new manager Claude Puel in positive results against West Ham United and Huddersfield Town.

Marc Albrighton has had to work hard for his success. He had to endure some tricky challenges and always come out of them as a tougher person for these experiences. No-one should forget his role in the 2015-2016 Leicester City fairytale and still only 28, he has plenty more football ahead of him.

Iconic Moments: A Brucey bonus (April 1993)

The first Premier League season was drawing towards its conclusion and a real head-to-head scrap was developing for the championship between Ron Atkinson’s Aston Villa and Manchester United. Alex Ferguson’s team were doing the chasing going into the Easter weekend. It was at this stage a year earlier where they’d folded in the run-in and handed the title to their rivals from the Pennines in Leeds United.

United were playing Sheffield Wednesday at Old Trafford and the game was finely poised at 0-0 when the referee in the match, Mike Peck picked up an Achilles injury and had to be replaced. Beginning the match as linesman, John Hilditch was suddenly thrust into the limelight as substitute referee. His first decision was a simple one. Paul Ince’s poorly-timed tackle on Chris Waddle saw a penalty given. It was converted by John Sheridan and Sheffield Wednesday led 1-0. Some Manchester United fans looked despondent. Were their title dreams and the 26-year wait for a championship set to continue?

The home side pushed forward and in the 88th minute, Steve Bruce headed home from a corner to level the scores. Time was surely nearly up? Not for Hilditch. He had timed the length of the stoppage for the referee change, plus numerous time-wasting tactics from the Owls’ players, including substitutions. It meant seven minutes of injury-time were to be played and this was before electronic scoreboards on the touchline.

Wednesday players kept badgering the referee on how long was left but the final whistle still wasn’t blown. There was just enough time for Gary Pallister’s cross to be deflected off Nigel Worthington’s head and into the path of Bruce, who diverted another terrific header past Chris Woods’ despairing dive. Old Trafford exploded in joy and exultation. On the touchline, Alex Ferguson and Brian Kidd couldn’t contain themselves. Kidd jumped onto the pitch and looking up to the heavens. This was an iconic image in the first 25 years of Premier League football.

The 2-1 win was the catalyst for a faultless run-in from Manchester United. They would eventually win the title by 10 points, provided by efficient time-keeping and a real Brucey bonus.

Memorable Matches: Everton 2-3 Manchester City (May 2014)

Goalscorers: Ross Barkley 11, Sergio Aguero 22, Edin Dzeko 43, 48, Romelu Lukaku 65


Everton: Tim Howard, Seamus Coleman, Antolin Alcaraz, Phil Jagielka (Gerard Deulofeu 66), John Stones, Leighton Baines, James McCarthy, Leon Osman (Aiden McGeady 83), Ross Barkley, Romelu Lukaku, Steven Naismith

Manchester City: Joe Hart, Gael Clichy, Martin Demichelis, Vincent Kompany, Pablo Zabaleta, Javi Garcia, James Milner, Samir Nasri (David Silva 74), Yaya Toure (Aleksandar Kolarov 66), Sergio Aguero (Fernandinho 28), Edin Dzeko

Referee: Lee Probert, Attendance: 39,454

This was a pivotal match in the destiny of the Premier League title race for the 2013-2014 season. Manchester City went into this teatime kick-off at Goodison Park knowing the destiny of the championship was with them. If they won their final three matches, they would be champions for the second time in three seasons. Title rivals Liverpool FC were desperate for their Merseyside rivals Everton to do them a massive favour and beat Manuel Pellegrini’s side.

The home side still harboured faint hopes of catching Arsenal in the race for the final UEFA Champions League qualification spot and they took the lead with a special effort on 11 minutes. Whilst Leighton Baines and Steven Naismith played a neat exchange of passes, the goal was all about Ross Barkley. He produced an awesome curling effort from distance that left his international colleague Joe Hart clutching at thin air. It was a remarkable goal.

Manuel Pellegrini’s team regained their composure after a slow start and were back on level terms in the 22nd minute. Yaya Toure played through Sergio Aguero and the deadly Argentine drove his shot past Tim Howard’s defences at his near post. It was a crucial moment in the season and the final significant contribution of Aguero’s afternoon. He limped off six minutes later with a groin injury.

Two minutes before the interval, City came up with another vital goal to go into the dressing rooms in the lead. Edin Dzeko scored another crucial goal, as he had done so a week earlier in an away victory at Crystal Palace. The Bosnian leapt highest to James Milner’s in-swinging cross and he beat Howard with a header that the American shot-stopper reacted far too late to. Pellegrini’s side were passing the toughest test of their run-in.

There were still scares though. Almost immediately into the second half, Hart had to demonstrate his supreme reflexes in full flow to fingertip away Naismith’s shot. It was a moment that Everton boss Roberto Martinez later said was the “save of the season.” It was made even more decisive because the visitors broke straight down the other end of the field and Dzeko was on-hand to poke home from six-yards out after good work from Samir Nasri. At last, the Citizens had the comfort margin they were looking for.

Everton were never going to lie down though and accept defeat. On-loan forward Romelu Lukaku reduced the deficit in the 65th minute. The Belgian had been kept very quiet throughout but he evaded some slack marking to head home from a Baines cross. Despite dominating possession, Martinez’s side ran out of steam and it was City fans and players celebrating afterwards. They were back at the top of the Premier League table on goal difference.

Liverpool did reclaim the lead two nights later but threw away a three-goal lead to draw 3-3 at Crystal Palace. Pellegrini’s side did what was expected and brushed aside Aston Villa and West Ham United in their final two games to become champions. This win at Goodison in 2014 was one of their most important results in their Premier League history.