10 Most Memorable Premier League Final Days
Top 10 Most Memorable Premier League Final Days
The final day of the 2019/20 Premier League season is sure to prove agonising for several sets of supporters when the action unfolds on Sunday. The relegation battle has gone right down to the wire, and many clubs are still vying for places in Europe next season, so it promises to be a gripping afternoon. The occasion provides us with an opportunity to look back over the most memorable final days since the Premier League launched in 1992.
Aguero Strikes Late in 2013
Man City and Man Utd were level on points at the top of the table as they prepared for the final day of the 2012-13 campaign. However, City boasted a vastly superior goal difference, so they knew that victory over relegation-threatened QPR would see them wrap up the title. Pablo Zabaleta gave them an early lead, but disaster struck when Djibril Cisse and Jamie Mackie put the Hoops 2-1 up. Man Utd were coasting to a routine victory over Sunderland, and City faced the ignominy of yielding the title to their vaunted neighbours. Former Man City midfielder Joey Barton was sent off for QPR, but still they clung on. Then Edin Dzeko pounced with a stoppage time header to make it 2-2. Nails were bitten to the quick inside the Stadium of Light at Sunderland as Manchester United clung onto the title. But the City faithful roared on their heroes as Sergio Aguero picked up the ball in the 95th minute and charged at the Hoops’ backline. He played it into Mario Balotelli, received the return pass, rounded the last defender and slammed the ball past the keeper, breaking Man Utd hearts, sparking joy among the City fans and causing commentator Martin Tyler to roar: “Agueroooooooooooooo!”
West Brom Pull of the Great Escape in 2005
All three relegation spots were undecided when the final round of fixtures kicked off in the 2004-05 season. Southampton, Norwich, Crystal Palace and West Brom all had a chance of finishing 17th and beating the drop, but West Brom were bottom of the table and the clear favourites to go down. Norwich were in pole position to stay up, but they ended up suffering a 6-0 hammering at the hands of Fulham. Southampton were 2-1 down against Man Utd, while West Brom led Portsmouth 2-0 thanks to goals from Geoff Horsfield and Kieran Richardson. However, it was Crystal Palace that found themselves on the brink of survival after opening up a 1-0 lead over Charlton. Yet disaster struck, as Charlton grabbed a last gasp equaliser, allowing West Brom to complete the great escape. The Baggies became the first team to stay up after sitting bottom of the table, and the fans launched an iconic pitch invasion after the final whistle.
Ludek Miklosko Repels Man Utd in 1995
Blackburn needed a victory over Liverpool to secure the title on the final day of the 1995-95 season. Alan Shearer put them 1-0 up, but John Barnes equalised for the Reds and then Jamie Rednapp banged in a stoppage time free-kick to leave Anfield stunned in silence. All Man Utd needed to do was beat a West Ham side that had absolutely nothing to play for, but they came up against West Ham goalkeeper Ludek Miklosko, who put in the greatest performance of his career and repelled everything Fergie’s men could throw at him. The Hammers held Man Utd to a 0-0 draw, allowing Blackburn to secure the title by a single point, causing Blackburn and Liverpool fans to celebrate together inside Anfield.
Drama at Both Ends of the Table in 2008
A header from Danny Murphy allowed Fulham to come back from the dead and complete a stunning escape on the final day of the 2007-08 season. Roy Hodgson became a legend at the Cottagers for guiding the club to safety after their victory over Portsmouth, while Reading and Birmingham went down instead. At the other end of the table, Chelsea could only draw with Bolton at Stamford Bridge, meaning Man Utd secured the title by two points courtesy of a 2-0 victory over Wigan.
Gronkjaer Curls in £1 Billion Goal in 2003
Jasper Gronkjaer’s winner against Liverpool on the last day of the 2002-03 season did not seem particularly dramatic at the time. However, it ensured that Chelsea secured Champions League football for the following season, and that convinced Roman Abramovich to take over the club. The rest is history, as the Russian oligarch spent more than £1 billion on transforming Chelsea’s fortunes, yielding five Premier League titles, five FA Cups, three League Cups, the Champions League and two Europa League titles.
Lasagne Dents Tottenham’s Top Four Ambitions in 2006
Tottenham had the opportunity to finish above local rivals Arsenal for the first time in more than a decade when they went into the final day of the 2005-06 campaign. The Gunners had a Champions League final to look forward to, but Spurs looked poised to rob them of a top four place, breaking Arsene Wenger’s long record of regularly qualifying for Europe’s top tournament. However, the squad became violently ill the night before the game after eating a dodgy tray of lasagne at their hotel buffet. An out-of-sorts Spurs side lost 2-1 to West Ham and Arsenal leapfrogged them with a 4-2 victory. It took Tottenham another 11 years before they finally finished above Arsenal.
A Thriller at Boundary Park in 1993
Crystal Palace, Oldham and Southampton were locked in a tense three-way relegation battle on the final day of the inaugural Premier League season. Oldham hosted Southampton at Boundary Park, while Crystal Palace had a difficult game against George Graham’s Arsenal to contend with. The Saints were in pole position, knowing that they would only go down if both Oldham and Palace won. Neil Pointon put Oldham 1-0 up, only for Matt Le Tissier to equalise. Oldham then scored three goals without reply to take a 4-1 lead. News filtered in that Palace were losing comprehensively to Arsenal, and both Oldham and Southampton would stay up if the score remained the same. However, Le Tissier scored twice to complete his hat-trick and make it 4-3, leading to a tense final five minutes. Yet Oldham held on for a 4-3 victory and ended up level on points with the Eagles. They had a superior goal difference, so Palace were relegated.
Man City Hold Off Liverpool in 2019
Man City won 14 games in a row to pip Liverpool to the title by a single point in the 2018-19 season. The Reds were the heavy favourites in the Premier League odds and Premier League spreads at one point in the season, but City were utterly relentless throughout the spring. They knew that victory over Brighton on the final day of the season would see them win a second consecutive title. Liverpool did their bit by beating Wolves 2-0, but City picked up a 4-1 victory to conclude one of the most gripping title races ever seen.
A Five-Way Relegation Battle in 2011
The final day of the 2010-11 season was billed as Survival Sunday. West Ham were already relegated, leaving two relegation places still to be filled. Blackpool, Birmingham, Wolves, Wigan and Blackburn were all relegation contenders on the final day. Blackburn thrashed Wolves, leaving the Midlands club in serious danger, while Wigan were safe after beating Stoke. Blackpool briefly led at Old Trafford, but lost 4-2, leaving them hopelessly adrift. It came down to local rivals Wolves and Birmingham. Craig Gardner fired in a 79th minute equaliser against Spurs, handing the Blues a lifeline, but Roman Pavlyuchenko scored for Tottenham and that consigned Birmingham to relegation, as they finished a point behind Wolves.
Carlos Tevez Keeps the Hammers Afloat in 2007
There was absolute drama at Old Trafford on the final day of the 2006-07 season. Man Utd had already wrapped up the title, so there was no great motivation for them to win, but they still put out a strong line-up, with Wayne Rooney, Alan Smith and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer up top. Their opponents were West Ham, who had a chance of earning survival after embarking upon a phenomenal run. It was highly controversial, as they had completed a bizarre deal to take Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano on loan, and they were fined for breaching the Premier League’s third-party ownership rules.
Tevez had scored seven goals in his previous nine games, dragging the Hammers up to 18th place, level on points with 17th placed Sheff Utd. The Blades suffered a 2-1 home defeat to Wigan on the final day of the season, and Tevez fired in the only goal as West Ham beat Man Utd 1-0. The Hammers leapfrogged Sheff Utd and beat the drop, while Man Utd swiftly signed Tevez and put him up front with Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo.
A Sheff Utd delegation led by Hollywood actor Sean Bean marched upon the Houses of Parliament in protest, and West Ham eventually agreed an out-of-court settlement worth £18 million to compensate the Blades, but it ensured they beat the drop in dramatic fashion.