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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.

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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

Teams:

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.

Memorable Matches: Manchester United 0-1 Arsenal (May 2002)

Goalscorers: Sylvain Wiltord 55

Teams:

Manchester United: Fabien Barthez, Laurent Blanc, Wes Brown, Phil Neville, Mikael Silvestre, Roy Keane, Juan Sebastian Veron (Ruud van Nistelrooy 58), Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, Diego Forlan (Quinton Fortune 68), Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

Arsenal: David Seaman, Sol Campbell, Martin Keown, Ashley Cole, Lauren, Edu, Patrick Vieira, Ray Parlour, Freddie Ljungberg, Kanu (Lee Dixon 89), Sylvain Wiltord

Referee: Paul Durkin, Attendance: 67,580

This was the ultimate showdown of the 2001-2002 season. Arsenal arrived at Old Trafford looking to wrap up a second league and cup double against reigning champions Manchester United. Only a victory for Sir Alex Ferguson’s side would keep the title fight going to the final day of the season.

Arsenal were in impressive form, having not dropped a point in the Premier League since drawing 1-1 with Southampton in early February. Days earlier, goals from Ray Parlour and the in-form Freddie Ljungberg had beaten Chelsea 2-0 in the FA Cup final at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium. However, they were missing the injured Tony Adams and Thierry Henry. Ruud van Nistelrooy was rested to the bench by Ferguson with the boss admitting before the game that he thought the Dutchman had been looking fatigued in recent games.

It was a frantic first 45 minutes with the home side deciding to break the game up as much as possible, committing several late tackles as referee Paul Durkin struggled to keep emotions under control. Both Paul Scholes and Phil Neville were slightly fortunate to stay on the pitch after wild fouls on Edu and Sylvain Wiltord. Both were punished with just yellow cards.

Arsenal didn’t produce much attacking threat early on but started to show their authority on the match just before the interval. Wiltord fired a cross into the box which only just evaded a late stretch from Edu and when Fabien Barthez produced a sloppy clearance, his compatriot Wiltord was too late to pounce on this error.

10 minutes into the second half, Arsenal got the breakthrough which continued their unique feat of scoring in every single Premier League game in the season. Mikael Silvestre gave away possession to Wiltord. The forward passed the ball to Ljungberg who got the better of Laurent Blanc, before firing a shot on-goal. Barthez parried his strike only into the path of Wiltord, who drove the ball into the back of the net past the goalkeeper’s despairing dive.

Ferguson threw Van Nistelrooy on now knowing his side needed two goals but they didn’t even look like scoring one. Roy Keane’s header which whistled wide from a corner was the closest they came to troubling David Seaman.

Arsenal showed their class on the night and ultimately, the season to complete their third league and cup double. They’d taken the title from Manchester United in their own backyard and done it in style. No-one could argue they were the best side in the country in 2001-2002.

Memorable Matches: Bolton Wanderers 0-2 Chelsea (April 2005)

Goalscorer: Frank Lampard 60, 76

Teams:

Bolton Wanderers: Jussi Jaaskelainen, Tal Ben-Haim, Vincent Candela (Radhi Jaidi 77), Fernando Hierro, Bruno N’Gotty, Ricardo Gardner, Stelios Giannakopoulos (Henrik Pedersen 63), Gary Speed, Jay-Jay Okocha (Kevin Nolan 63), Kevin Davies, El-Hadji Diouf

Chelsea: Petr Cech, Geremi, Ricardo Carvalho, John Terry, William Gallas, Claude Makelele (Alexei Smertin 90), Jiri Jarosik, Tiago, Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba (Robert Huth 65), Eidur Gudjohnsen (Joe Cole 85)

Referee: Steve Dunn, Attendance: 27,653

April 30th 2005 will be a date that Chelsea supporters will never forget. It was the day when their 50-year wait for being crowned champions of England would end. Only a defeat at Bolton’s Reebok Stadium would delay their crowning as the kings of English football.

Chelsea had been outstanding all season. Coming into this match, Jose Mourinho’s side had only lost once all campaign in the league and had sprinted clear from their nearest pursuers, reigning champions Arsenal and Manchester United. Bolton weren’t going to roll over though. They were looking good for a top-six finish and with it, the prize of European football next season. They’d also come back from 2-0 down to grab a point at Stamford Bridge in November.

The first half was a cagey affair with few clear-cut goalscoring opportunities. It seemed like the nerves had hit the Chelsea players and it was the home side who missed the best chance of a goalless first 45 minutes. Kevin Davies headed straight into Petr Cech’s midriff when he was given a free header in the penalty area.

Fittingly, it was one of Chelsea’s stars of the season who produced the seminal moment. Frank Lampard broke into the penalty area and fired Chelsea into the lead just before the hour mark with another emphatic finish. Bolton thought Jiri Jarosik had fouled Fernando Hierro in the build-up to the goal but their protests fell on deaf ears. The title loomed large for the west Londoners.

There were still some scares though. Gary Speed’s long throw-in saw Geremi almost score a spectacular own goal. The Cameroonian, playing in an unfamiliar full-back role leapt to reach Speed’s throw-in but rather than clear the ball, he forced Cech into an impressive reflex save.

With 15 minutes remaining, the game was still in the balance. Chelsea needed another goal to be sure of their success and it was Lampard who sealed the coronation. A Bolton attack broke down from their corner and Claude Makelele played a delicious pass into the feet of Lampard. With Wanderers defenders stranded up pitch, Lampard bared down on-goal. He had Ricardo Carvalho alongside him but he was never going to pass to the Portuguese defender. Lampard rounded Jussi Jaaskelainen, sent the ball into the empty net and the celebrations could properly begin. Chelsea were champions and they were going to tell the world about it.

The Blues became only the fourth side in the Premier League era after Manchester United, Blackburn Rovers and Arsenal to win the title and this came in just Roman Abramovich’s second season of owning the club. In 2004-2005, Mourinho was definitely the “Special One.” Chelsea would win the League Cup too and finished with a record-high points tally in Premier League history. They collected the trophy a week later after a breathtaking campaign by the Londoners.

Premier League Rewind: 5th-8th May 2012

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

The penultimate weekend of the 2011-2012 campaign saw some important matches at both ends of the table. Having been eight points clear of their Manchester rivals after seeing off Queens Park Rangers a month earlier at Old Trafford, Manchester United had blown that advantage. Manchester City’s 1-0 victory in the derby a week earlier meant they were now top of the table on goal difference.

All Roberto Mancini’s side needed to do now was to keep winning. Two more wins and they would become Premier League champions. However, the Italian insisted that United were still the favourites. That was because Manchester City had a tricky away fixture at Newcastle, who were still right in the race to finish in the top four.

With 20 minutes left, Mancini’s prophecy looked like it was coming true. The game needed a special moment at 0-0 and it received it through Yaya Toure. The Ivorian managed to bend a shot in from distance that defeated Tim Krul and set the Citizens’ on their way. As Newcastle pushed players forward in an attempt to grab an equaliser, City broke again in the 89th minute and Toure sealed the victory. Their 2-0 win put them firmly in the driving seat going into the final weekend.

At a subdued Old Trafford, Manchester United needed lots of goals and three points at home to Swansea City. They got the win through first half efforts by Paul Scholes and Ashley Young. However, a 2-0 scoreline was not what they were hoping for. Trailing by eight goals in the table, Sir Alex Ferguson’s side now needed to win on the final day away at Sunderland and hope Manchester City tripped up at home to Queens Park Rangers. Of course, we didn’t know at the time of the extraordinary drama that would follow a week later.

With Wolverhampton Wanderers already relegated two weeks earlier, the battle was on to avoid the drop between Bolton Wanderers, Blackburn Rovers, Queens Park Rangers, Wigan Athletic and Aston Villa. Villa’s 1-1 draw at home to Champions League-chasing Tottenham Hotspur meant barring any mathematical nightmares, they were safe. At Loftus Road, Queens Park Rangers picked up a priceless victory at home to Stoke City. Djibril Cisse’s goal in the final minute of normal time steered Mark Hughes’ side to an important 1-0 victory. Their destiny was now in their own hands.

Bolton Wanderers situation looked bleak after throwing away a two-goal lead at home to West Bromwich Albion. In his first match since being appointed as the future England manager, Roy Hodgson’s side recovered from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 and ensure Bolton had to win on the final day away at Stoke to stand any chance of survival.

Survival was beyond Blackburn Rovers. On Monday Night Football, they had to beat Wigan Athletic to take their fight to the final day whilst a draw would be enough for Wigan. With less than five minutes to go, Antolin Alcaraz’s header on a rain-soaked evening saw Wigan get the goal to earn their safety. Bottom in mid-March, Roberto Martinez’s side had beaten Liverpool FC, Manchester United, Arsenal and Newcastle United in the run-in to complete another escape act. For Blackburn, the 1-0 defeat left Steve Kean devastated. They were relegated after 10 years back in the top-flight and it ended a tumultuous season at Ewood Park with fan protests against the manager and the club’s Indian owners becoming a regular theme. The match saw an appearance of the Blackburn chicken!

In the final game of this round, Liverpool FC made amends for their FA Cup final defeat 72 hours later, crushing Chelsea 4-1 at Anfield. Jonjo Shelvey scored his first Premier League goal as Liverpool finished their home season in style in what would turn out to be Kenny Dalglish’s penultimate match in charge.

What else happened in May 2012?

  • Boris Johnson is re-elected as Mayor of London with 51.5% of the vote.
  • A torch relay ahead of the 2012 London Olympics will start after the flame arrives in Cornwall on a flight from its traditional home of Athens, Greece.
  • During a visit to the BBC Scotland headquarters in Glasgow, Prince Charles presents the lunchtime weather forecast!
  • Sweden wins the Eurovision Song Contest in Baku, Azerbaijan. The United Kingdom entry comes 25th with just 12 points, six places below ‘Jedward’ who do the Irish entry.
  • British and American hairstylist Vidal Sassoon dies in California, aged 84.
  • Pastor Maldonado from Venezuela wins the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona. It is the first Formula One victory for Williams in eight years. The celebrations are marred by a horrible fire that breaks out in their garage an hour after the race. Fortunately, no-one is seriously hurt.
  • The Tokyo Skytree, the tallest self-supporting tower in the world at 634 metres high is opened to the public.

The Managers: Claudio Ranieri

Premier League Clubs Managed: Chelsea (2000-2004), Leicester City (2015-2017)

On Friday 14th November 2014, Claudio Ranieri’s management career looked all but over. After 28 years in football management, he had just experienced his most embarrassing evening in the game. The tiny Faroe Islands had just beaten his Greece side 1-0 through a Joan Edmundsson strike. At the time, the Faroes were ranked 187 in the world. With one point from four games, Greece’s hopes of qualifying for the 2016 European Championships were all but over. A day later, Ranieri was fired.

Eight months after the Greek nightmare, he was appointed Leicester City manager to the surprise of many, who even mocked the appointment. On Tuesday 3rd May 2016, Ranieri had completed the impossible dream, taking 5000-1 outsiders Leicester to the Premier League title in the greatest story ever told in English football.

The Leicester adventure was cruelly ended less than a year later but Ranieri has won many friends for life thanks to his achievements at the King Power Stadium.

Experience counts

Claudio Ranieri began his managerial career in his homeland during the late 1980s, making his name at Cagliari whom he achieved back-to-back promotions with on a shoestring budget.

Outside of English football, he has managed many of the top clubs in the European game, though his success in terms of honours was limited mainly to cup triumphs. He won the Coppa Italia with Fiorentina in 1996 and the Copa del Rey in 1998 as manager of Valencia. The only titles he achieved were in the second-tier with Fiorentina in 1994 and AS Monaco 19 years later.

Actually, his best win rate ratio came at AS Roma, winning 55.5% of matches during his reign there from September 2009 to February 2011. However, silverware eluded him at the Stadio Olimpico at a time where Inter Milan was the dominant club in Serie A and in the UEFA Champions League under the guidance of a certain Jose Mourinho.

Ranieri has also managed Atletico Madrid, Parma, Juventus and Inter Milan in his career.

‘The Tinkerman’

He was appointed manager of Chelsea in September 2000, succeeding Gianluca Vialli. His first match in charge saw the out-of-form Blues’ recover from 3-1 down to draw 3-3 at Old Trafford with reigning champions Manchester United. He arrived with only limited English language capabilities so communication in the early months between him and the players wasn’t the most free-flowing.

In the summer of 2001, he started to reshape the squad, bringing in the likes of Frank Lampard, Emmanuel Petit and Bolo Zenden, spending over £30 million on new talent for the men from Stamford Bridge. There were some eye-catching results, including a 3-0 away win at Manchester United and 4-0 humbling of Liverpool FC at home but also, shock defeats at home to Southampton and away at Charlton Athletic. Chelsea also lost 5-1 at White Hart Lane in a League Cup semi-final to Tottenham Hotspur. A second successive sixth place finish wasn’t what the club were hoping for. He did take Chelsea to the FA Cup final but even that ended in disappointment, losing 2-0 to Arsenal at the Millennium Stadium.

During his reign in west London, Ranieri was given the nickname ‘The Tinkerman.’ His team selections were at times baffling and inconsistent. Frank Lampard seemed to be the only definite selection on a weekly basis. He had to make the most of his options in 2002-2003. Only one signing was made all season and that was Enrique de Lucas on a free transfer from Espanyol. The club were in financial peril, yet Ranieri achieved UEFA Champions League qualification on the final day of the season. A 2-1 victory over Liverpool FC was enough to earn Chelsea a fourth place finish. It set the Blues up for the financial bounty they were about to receive that summer.

On borrowed time

In July 2003, Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea Football Club and things were changing. Chelsea went on a summer spending spree not seen before in the history of football, shocking pundits, journalists and supporters alike.

Ranieri now had a wealth of options at his disposal. He also was on borrowed time. There was constant speculation that his job was now up for grabs and being touted to the likes of England boss Sven-Goran Eriksson. He had to do well in 2003-2004 or face the consequences.

He guided Chelsea to a runners-up position with a Premier League highest points tally for the club and the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League. However, that wasn’t deemed good enough by Abramovich and he made a tearful goodbye on the final day of the season to the Stamford Bridge faithful, who really had taken Claudio to their hearts. He was sacked two weeks later and replaced by the FC Porto boss Mourinho.

The impossible dream

Ranieri was quick to accept his mistake in taking the Greece post following the 2014 World Cup. Shortly after being confirmed as Nigel Pearson’s successor at the King Power Stadium, he gave an interview to the Leicester Mercury where he admitted he’d made a bad move.

“I made a mistake when I was manager of Greece. I wanted to look because it is a different job at a club to a national team. I had four matches and for each game I trained the players for just three days. That is 12 days of training. What can I do in just 12 days? I had to rebuild a national team in just 12 days. What could I do? I am not a magician.”

His aim was simple; for Leicester City to claim one more point than they’d managed the previous season. New arrivals included Gokhan Inler, Christian Fuchs and most importantly, N’Golo Kante. Leicester started the season with three wins and three draws in their opening six matches which included a thrilling comeback win over Aston Villa.

The fear was Ranieri would repeat his ‘Tinkerman’ approach from the Chelsea days at Leicester too, but in fact, their team selection was so consistent with the fewest starting XI changes in the league in 2015-2016. His decision to change the full-backs early season worked. Ritchie de Laet and Jeff Schlupp began the campaign but the 5-2 defeat at the hands of Arsenal at the end of September exposed a brutal weakness. From October, into the team came Danny Simpson and Fuchs. Simpson had been discarded by Queens Park Rangers and Fuchs shown the door by FC Schalke 04. Their consistent performances made them two of the club’s unsung heroes.

Even when Ranieri was forced into changes, he came up smiling. When Jamie Vardy was banned following his dismissal against West Ham United in April 2016, Ranieri changed tactic by bringing Schlupp into the team to counteract the pace he would lose from Vardy against Swansea City. Leicester won the game 4-0 and Schlupp was one of the star players on the day.

Even Claudio’s substitutions often worked. Leonardo Ulloa, Andy King, Nathan Dyer and Demarai Gray were often used from the bench. None of them complained. They did the job asked of them and were a full part of this team spirit ethic. Ulloa scored most of his goals from the bench, whilst Dyer’s home debut goal against Aston Villa wasn’t overlooked.

Leicester topped the table on Christmas Day and continued to defy the critics who were expecting the bubble to burst. In February, they went to title favourites Manchester City and blew them away, winning 3-1 and becoming the new team to beat with the bookmakers. This was the day people started to believe that it was their destiny to win the championship.

They entered April on top of the table and secured UEFA Champions League qualification with an away win at Sunderland. Tottenham Hotspur did put the pressure on but their 2-2 draw away at outgoing champions Chelsea handed the title to Leicester City. It was the first time in their 132-year history that they’d won the top-flight title in what has to be considered as one of football’s most incredible stories in our lifetime. Ranieri proved that nice guys do win and that is a rare commodity.

A sorry sequel

The summer of 2016 was always going to be crucial for Leicester. They managed to hold onto the services of Vardy and Riyad Mahrez but Kante did leave for Chelsea. The challenge was great and whilst it was going to be almost impossible to repeat the title triumph, no-one could have forecasted the disastrous sequel after the fairytale moment.

By the end of November, Leicester had lost six times already, picked up just one point away from the King Power Stadium and were only sitting two points above the drop zone. It seemed like the players had stopped playing for the manager, especially after pitiful displays away at Southampton and Swansea City in the first two months of 2017.

Just 24 hours after a narrow 2-1 defeat to Sevilla in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League round-of-16 tie, Ranieri was sacked by Leicester’s owners. The decision was brutal, seen as a savage call by the majority of people within the game. The players were accused of getting the manager sacked. A lot of love the club had gained in the title-winning season seemed to have been lost. Ironically, Leicester won their next five Premier League matches in a row and reached the Champions League quarter-finals after the Italian’s departure.

Ranieri is now in charge of French club Nantes and has guided them into a top six position at the halfway point of the current campaign in Ligue 1.

Claudio Ranieri won many hearts for his achievements first at Chelsea and then for the miracle at Leicester. He was hailed as ‘King Claudio’ after guiding the 5000-1 outsiders to the title in 2015-2016 and the Premier League success he enjoyed couldn’t have happened to a nicer bloke.

Memorable Matches: Newcastle United 0-1 Manchester United (March 1996)

Goalscorer: Eric Cantona 52

Teams:

Newcastle United: Pavel Srnicek, John Beresford, Philippe Albert, Steve Howey, Warren Barton, David Batty, Rob Lee, Peter Beardsley, David Ginola, Faustino Asprilla, Les Ferdinand

Manchester United: Peter Schmeichel, Phil Neville, Steve Bruce, Denis Irwin, Gary Neville, Nicky Butt, Roy Keane, Ryan Giggs, Lee Sharpe, Eric Cantona, Andy Cole

Referee: David Elleray, Attendance: 36,584

On Monday, 4 March 1996, the eyes of the football world were fixed on Tyneside and the eagerly-anticipated meeting between the top two in the 1995-1996 title race. Newcastle United had set the pace all season but they were now under the most scrutiny they’d ever experienced.

In mid-January, Newcastle beat Bolton Wanderers 2-1 to go a staggering 12 points clear but February had brought about a damaging defeat away to West Ham United and a 3-3 draw with relegation candidates Manchester City. They arrived into the match just four points clear of Manchester United.

The Red Devils’ were in great form. Alex Ferguson’s side had strung together a five-game winning sequence which had included a 6-0 thumping of the league’s bottom side Bolton in their last away match. They had the confidence and the momentum. This looked like being the most crucial game of the season for both teams.

It was Andy Cole’s first return to St James’ Park since his surprise departure 14 months earlier in a £7 million transfer to Manchester United but he and Eric Cantona barely got a look-in during a first half completely dominated by the hosts. Unfortunately for Kevin Keegan’s side, Peter Schmeichel was saving his best form for this match.

Twice in the opening five minutes, Schmeichel show his uncompromising attitude to the game by denying Newcastle star striker and top scorer Les Ferdinand. He had no chance though with a Philippe Albert free-kick. The Belgian defender was desperately unlucky to see his effort crash off the crossbar. From the rebound, Ferdinand hoisted the ball over the top. The Newcastle faithful might have been beginning to get the feeling that this wasn’t going to be their night.

Six minutes into the second half, Manchester United struck the significant blow in clinical fashion. Cole was involved in the build-up, evading challenges on the edge of the penalty area. Phil Neville produced a delightful cross to the back post, where an unmarked Cantona arrived. He hit his shot into the ground and there was enough power on it to spin past Pavel Srnicek’s dive. The celebrations from Cantona’s teammates indicated what a big goal this was.

Newcastle had 61% possession in total and 16 attempts on goal but simply couldn’t find a way through. This was their first home defeat of the season and it trimmed their advantage down to just a single point, but with a game in hand. After this result, Manchester United were made favourites by the bookies’ to win the title for the first time since the 1995-1996 season began.

Ferguson’s side grew even stronger after this result. They dropped just five more points in their remaining matches and eventually won their third Premier League title by four points. This was the night where the destiny of the 1995-1996 championship swayed in favour of Manchester United.

Shock Results: Aston Villa 0-1 Oldham Athletic (May 1993)

Goalscorers: Nick Henry 29

Teams:

Aston Villa: Mark Bosnich, Paul McGrath, Steve Staunton, Shaun Teale, Earl Barrett, Kevin Richardson, Garry Parker (Tony Daley 61), Ray Houghton, Dwight Yorke, Dalian Atkinson, Dean Saunders

Oldham Athletic: Paul Gerrard, Steve Redmond, Craig Fleming, Richard Jobson, Gunnar Halle, Neil Pointon, Mike Milligan, Paul Bernard, Nick Henry, Ian Olney, Darren Beckford

Referee: David Allison, Attendance: 37,247

Aston Villa went into their penultimate match of the 1992-1993 season still harbouring hopes of winning the inaugural Premier League title. However, they had to beat struggling Oldham Athletic to stand any hope of catching Manchester United. Any other result and the championship would return to Old Trafford after a 26-year absence.

They were facing an Oldham side that looked dead and buried in the battle to survive. They required three wins from their last three matches to even have a hope of catching Crystal Palace or Sheffield United. The mathematics looked against Joe Royle’s side. However, no game of football has ever been written on just a piece of paper.

It was a sunny but gusty afternoon in the Midlands and it was the visitors’ who made the brighter start. Young goalkeeper Mark Bosnich, preferred to the veteran Nigel Spink was forced to make a great save after 14 minutes when facing Oldham’s Ian Olney in a one-on-one situation. The chance came from his scuffed goal-kick but he did well to make amends. Royle’s side were showing no fear despite their precarious situation in the table and deservedly took the lead in the 29th minute.

A long-ball was played up the park. Full-back Gunnar Halle had pushed forward and managed to beat Steve Staunton in the air. As Villa’s centre-backs went AWOL, Darren Beckford raced onto the knockdown. His control wasn’t great but fortunately for him and Latics’ supporters, Nick Henry had tracked the ball and scored across Bosnich’s bows to stun Villa Park.

It woke Villa up from their slumbers. Dean Saunders was desperately unlucky with a free-kick three minutes later that smashed the crossbar with Oldham goalie Paul Gerrard completely stranded. Seconds later, the former Liverpool FC forward had a volley cleared off-the-line from a corner.

As the game progressed though, Oldham started to look more comfortable. Heroic displays from the likes of Richard Jobson and Craig Fleming helped them towards a rare clean sheet. Villa’s usual creative spark was evidently missing. Ron Atkinson admitted afterwards that he had toyed with the idea of throwing some of the youngsters into the spotlight before electing to stick with the trusted combination that had got them so close, yet so far.

On the final whistle, it was Manchester United fans celebrating. Their Greater Manchester rivals had just ended their title drought and the party could begin at Old Trafford. For the record, Oldham won their final two matches and survived on the final day at the expense of Crystal Palace.

The Managers: Kenny Dalglish

Premier League Clubs Managed: Blackburn Rovers (1992-1995), Newcastle United (1997-1998), Liverpool FC (2011-2012)

As a player, Kenny Dalglish’s achievements are second-to-none. As a manager, his achievements are almost unprecedented. He was a born winner and experienced the ultimate highs and tragic lows as a manager.

In a playing career that spanned over 20 years, he won numerous honours with both Celtic and Liverpool FC, scored a hatful of goals and produced moments of sheer brilliance that the fans on the terraces at Parkhead and Anfield never forget.

Kenny won the European Cup three times as a player and scored the winning goal in the 1978 final against Club Brugge. In terms of league honours, he won 10 league titles, along with 10 domestic cups and the UEFA Super Cup in 1977. His career is a glittering one and he is often considered the greatest player to have ever played for both Celtic and Liverpool FC.

His management breakthrough came as a surprise and in tumultuous circumstances.

Picking up after Heysel

In 1985, the Heysel Stadium disaster before the European Cup final had sent shockwaves around the world. English clubs were immediately banned from participating in European competition for the rest of the decade. Joe Fagan decided to step down as Liverpool FC’s first-team manager. Dalglish took the reins as player-manager.

In his first season in the dugout, Liverpool FC won the double. It was Dalglish who scored the winning goal on the final day of the season at Stamford Bridge to win the 1986 First Division title for the Reds.’ A week later, they beat Merseyside rivals Everton in the FA Cup final. This was during the height of dominance on Merseyside in the British game. He had come straight in and achieved a unique feat as a rookie. More was to come.

He signed the likes of Peter Beardsley, John Barnes and John Aldridge as Liverpool continued their supreme grip on the English game. Further titles followed in 1988 and 1990, with runners-up spots in 87 and 89. The Double would elude them twice. In 1988, underdogs Wimbledon beat Dalglish’s Reds’ in the FA Cup final. In 1989, it was a last-gasp strike from Michael Thomas that snatched the league title for Arsenal at Anfield with moments remaining of the campaign. Liverpool won the FA Cup that season on a highly-charged afternoon.

Hillsborough

Saturday, 15 April 1989 will remain the blackest day in English football history. It was a sunny afternoon as Liverpool FC fans flocked to Sheffield to see their team play Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup semi-final. 96 supporters would not come home; crushed on the terraces of Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough stadium.

In the aftermath, Dalglish attended many funerals of the victims and his presence on the club, the grieving families and the city has been described as immense. The tragedy affected him deeply and Liverpool’s victory in the cup final that season against Everton was a victory that was much more than just a football match.

In February 1991, the two Merseyside teams played out a belting FA Cup fifth round tie which finished 4-4 at Goodison Park. Two days later, Dalglish shocked everyone by resigning as manager. This was despite Liverpool still being three points clear at the top of the First Division table. All the trauma and strain had caught up with him but he would be back – both in management and later on in his career with the club who he has always seen as home.

Changing the face of Blackburn

After seven months out of the game, Kenny Dalglish returned to management with Blackburn Rovers in October 1991. He led Rovers back to the top-flight of English football for the first time since 1966 with victory over Leicester City in the Second Division playoffs. It meant Blackburn would play in the inaugural FA Premier League season.

Backed by beloved Blackburn fan and steel magnet Jack Walker, Dalglish wasted little time in making the club one of the best in the early Premier League Years. He broke the British transfer record to sign Alan Shearer in 1992 from Southampton and repeated the feat two years later to snare Chris Sutton away from Norwich City.

Other notable buys included winger Stuart Ripley, midfielder Paul Warhurst and goalkeeper Tim Flowers. Blackburn were looking to go all the way and become champions of England. After finishing fourth and second in the first two seasons, 1994-1995 was the year that Walker’s dreams would come true.

Blackburn topped the table from late November onwards and barely surrendered top spot but they were pushed all the way by reigning champions Manchester United. A late wobble saw an eight-point lead diminish to just two by the final day of the season. In an ironic twist, Blackburn were at Anfield to play Dalglish’s former side, Liverpool FC whilst Manchester United travelled to Upton Park to face West Ham United.

Alex Ferguson had been playing his usual mind games tactic, hinting that Liverpool would roll over and allow Blackburn to win to ensure Manchester United wouldn’t win the championship. It didn’t go like that. Liverpool won 2-1 with a late free-kick from Jamie Redknapp. Seconds later, the full-time whistle went in London. Manchester United had failed to beat West Ham and that meant the result on Merseyside was inconsequential. Blackburn Rovers were champions of England for the first time in 81 years. The title meant that Dalglish was only the fourth football manager in history to lead two different clubs to top-flight league championships, after Tom Watson, Herbert Chapman and Brian Clough.

Replacing King Kev on Tyneside

After that title success of 1995, Dalglish retired as Blackburn manager and moved into a Director of Football role where he would be replaced by his assistant Ray Harford. He left the club for good a year later.

In January 1997, he took over at Newcastle United, replacing Kevin Keegan who had abruptly resigned. Dalglish’s impact at Newcastle was limited. He did guide them to a runners-up spot in the 1996-1997 league campaign and spearheaded a famous victory over Barcelona in the following season’s UEFA Champions League group stage. However, he sold the likes of David Ginola, Les Ferdinand and Lee Clark, replacing them with veterans Stuart Pearce, Ian Rush and John Barnes.

Two games into the 1998-1999 season, he left the club. It is still unknown whether he resigned or was sacked. Either way, it is the only managerial period of his career which didn’t bring any silverware or much positive impact.

He went back to his first club Celtic and had a brief spell as manager there after Barnes was fired following a shambolic home League Cup defeat to Inverness Caledonian Thistle. Leaving in the summer of 2000, it would be another decade before Kenny was back in the dugout.

The second coming

In April 2009, Dalglish returned to Liverpool FC, taking a role within the club’s youth academy. He also became a club ambassador. When Rafa Benitez quit in June 2010 after relations with the American owners deteriorated, Dalglish expressed a desire to return to the management post. However, it was Fulham boss Roy Hodgson who got the job.

As soon as the fans got wind of the news that Dalglish had shown interest in the role, Hodgson was toast. Liverpool’s form was terrible and they looked like being involved in a relegation scrap as 2011 began. Hodgson left after a 3-1 defeat to Blackburn which was the club’s ninth defeat of the Premier League season. 24 hours after returning from a holiday in Dubai, Dalglish returned as caretaker manager until the end of the season. After losing his first match back; an FA Cup tie at Manchester United, he admitted it was “a big challenge.”

In the early weeks of his second coming, Fernando Torres was sold for a British transfer record to Chelsea but in came Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez. Performances started to improve and so did results. There were impressive wins over Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City and a 5-2 battering of Fulham at Craven Cottage. By the end of the season, Dalglish had signed a three-year deal to remain as manager and he guided the club to a respectable sixth in the final standings. A pretty good return considering he’d taken over with the club 13th and just four points clear of the drop zone.

In the summer of 2011, Charlie Adam, Craig Bellamy and Jordan Henderson were among the new recruits. Despite some frustrating draws at Anfield, the Reds’ strong away form meant they sat fifth at the turn of the year. However, they faded badly in the second half of the campaign and ended a distant eighth in the table, even below Merseyside rivals Everton. It was their worst Premier League points’ return in a 38-game season. Dalglish’s strong defence of Suarez after he was involved in a racism incident with Manchester United’s Patrice Evra was criticised and apologises only made after the owners insisted. He did win the League Cup on penalties in 2012 but three days after the season ended, Dalglish was sacked and replaced by Brendan Rodgers.

He is still an Anfield club hero and is now on the board at Liverpool as a non-executive director. Kenny Dalglish achieved so much in the game of football. His honours’ list means he will go down as one of British football’s most successful players and managers.

Premier League Files: Edin Dzeko

Premier League Career: Manchester City (2011-2015)

Known as ‘The Bosnian Diamond’ in his homeland, Edin Dzeko has become of the greatest natural finishers in recent times.  Wherever he has been in his career, he has scored goals and this he continues to do now in Serie A with AS Roma. During his time in England, Dzeko won two Premier League titles with Manchester City and played a significant role in the greatest finish ever to a Premier League season in 2012.

However, it was in the Bundesliga where Dzeko began to carve out a reputation for prudent finishing abilities. In the 2008-2009 campaign, he formed a partnership with the Brazilian forward Grafite at VfL Wolfsburg that is among the best ever seen in German football. Between the two players, they scored 54 goals which means their combined total is the most successful in Bundesliga history. Wolfsburg won the title for the first time in their history that season. Having narrowly missed out on the ‘Torjägerkanone’ in 2008-2009, Dzeko’s tally of 22 goals in 2009-2010 was enough to take the most prestigious goalscoring honour in the Bundesliga. He remains Wolfsburg’s all-time record goalscorer in the German top-flight.

In January 2011, a transfer fee was agreed of £27 million between Wolfsburg and Manchester City for Dzeko to make the move to the Premier League. It was the second-highest transfer fee Manchester City had ever paid out for a player at the time. He made his debut later in the month at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers but would have to wait three months for his first Premier League goal; a winner in the 1-0 away success against Blackburn Rovers.

In 2011-2012, Dzeko started in red-hot form. He scored six goals in the first three matches of the season, including a devastating display at White Hart Lane against Tottenham Hotspur. Dzeko scored four times in City’s 5-1 win, becoming the first Citizens’ player to score four goals in a Premier League match. His goalscoring exploits won him the Premier League Player of the Month award for August 2011. As the season wore on, Dzeko would have to fight for his regular place in the team but he made a valuable contribution on the final day at home to relegation-threatened Queens Park Rangers. City were trailing 2-1 going into the dying embers when Dzeko headed home from a corner in the 92nd minute to level the scores. Sergio Aguero then scored the famous winner that ensured City won their first league title in 44 years. The Bosnian forward later said his goal in this match was the most important of his career.

By 2012-2013, Dzeko’s place was mainly warming the bench at Manchester City which was extremely unfortunate because his goalscoring repertoire would have seen him walk into many other starting XI sides. He was making telling impacts though from the bench, scoring 14 goals including winning efforts away at Fulham and West Bromwich Albion. Roberto Mancini left at the end of the season and Dzeko was hoping this would signal a change in his selection usage.

Not initially under Manuel Pellegrini though as the Chilean preferred a partnership of Aguero and new arrival Alvaro Negredo in attack. However, a shoulder injury to the latter in January 2014 saw Dzeko get his chance and he grabbed it with both hands. In March, he scored the fastest away goal at Old Trafford in Premier League history, netting after just 43 seconds in City’s handsome 3-0 victory over their city rivals. Dzeko also scored vital doubles at the backend of the campaign against Everton and Aston Villa as City managed to haul in and overtake Liverpool FC in the final weeks of the season and therefore, claim a second Premier League title in three seasons.

Edin left Manchester City at the end of the 2014-2015 season and moved to Italian football. After a so-so first campaign in the Italian capital, he had an impressive individual campaign in 2016-2017, scoring 39 goals in all competitions and netting an impressive European hat-trick away to Villarreal. Edin Dzeko’s goalscoring record is among the best and Manchester City fans will always thank him for being a crucial part of that day in 2012 when they finally became the kings of English football.