Liverpool vs. Manchester City and the Top 10 Premier League Title Deciders
Although it's a storyline many will not have been expecting at the start of the season, the 2013-14 Premier League title is likely to be decided by this Sunday's clash between Liverpool and Manchester City.
With the lines drawn in close parameters, the league-leading Reds know that a win will set them on their way to clinching a maiden Premier League title, but it's not an unfamiliar storyline to English fans.
We've scanned through the archives of the past 20 Premier League seasons to compile a list of the 10 greatest matches to have had the most bearing on who has ended the relevant campaign as champions.
With some seasons ending in tighter circumstances than others, those ranked highest are unsurprisingly the ones that have gone down to the final day—with radios in the stands in anticipation of the results and the unique drama of those last-gasp results having a massive impact.
Being the most successful club of the Premier League era, it's no surprise that Manchester United feature prominently, but there are others who have created sink-or-swim moments of top-flight magic.
10. Chelsea 1-1 Arsenal, 2006-07
Date: 6 May 2007
Jose Mourinho's last full Premier League season in charge of Chelsea ended in misery after a disappointing end-of-season run saw the Blues fail to catch up with eventual champions Manchester United.
The Blues drew each of their last five fixtures, one of which was a 1-1 sharing of the spoils at Arsenal that meant the gap between them and the Red Devils had become too big to pursue any longer.
It wasn't until September 2007 that Mourinho would leave Stamford Bridge, but watching United triumph with a game to spare will have been a bitter pill for the Portuguese to swallow.
9. Chelsea 1-1 Bolton Wanderers, 2007-08
Date: 11 May 2008
This time, Chelsea brought Manchester United closer to the wire, as the 2007-08 campaign was decided on the final day of the season, but with the same end result.
Much to the dismay of the Blues, Avram Grant's side were only able to record a 1-1 draw at home to Bolton, although it wouldn't make the greatest difference as Ferguson's men managed to win 2-0 against Wigan Athletic.
The Blues would finish two points behind the club whom they had trailed for the vast majority of the campaign, with Grant being dismissed from the club's helm not long after.
8. Middlesbrough 0-3 Manchester United, 1995-96
Date: 2 May 1996
Having led the Premier League chase for three-quarters of the season, Newcastle United's 1995-96 capitulation toward the end of the term is something of a storied tale in English football circles.
The Magpies won just four of their last nine fixtures that season, but it wasn't until the final day of the season that they were mathematically condemned to not winning the trophy.
Knowing that Newcastle and Manchester United could tie at the top of the table, the Premier League had preparations for a Wembley play-off in place, but it wasn't needed as Newcastle drew their last two league matches of the season.
While Kevin Keegan's final day ended with a 1-1 draw at home to Tottenham, the Red Devils triumphed 3-0 away at Middlesbrough to dash any hopes the Tynesiders may have had of overcoming the odds put before them at start of the season.
7. Chelsea 8-0 Wigan Athletic, 2009-10
Date: 9 May 2010
Manchester United held out some hope of claiming a record fourth Premier League crown in succession on the final day of the 2009-10 season, but knew it was unlikely with the dominant Chelsea machine facing minnows Wigan Athletic in their curtain call.
Those fears were confirmed when, despite the Red Devils' 4-0 thrashing of Stoke City, Chelsea sent out a message along the lines of "anything you can do, we can do better" with an 8-0 thumping of Latics at Stamford Bridge.
It was a game that summed up the West Londoners' season, which produced a record high of 103 goals. Didier Drogba lead the assault, pitching in with a Golden Boot-worthy 29 goals of his own.
6. Liverpool 1-3 Manchester United, 1996-97
Date: 19 April 1997
The 1996-97 season season was a strange one, in that it effectively ended just under a month before it came to a close and yet still held a great deal of suspense until the very last gasp.
Newcastle United, Arsenal and Liverpool were the main challengers to Manchester United's grip of power on the division, but ultimately finished in second, third and fourth, respectively, each seven points away from their Mancunian superiors.
Though it wasn't until later in the campaign that things were officially decided, a Gary Pallister brace compounded by Andy Cole's contribution led United to a 3-1 win at Anfield, stunting the Liverpool's chase and giving themselves a helpful gap in the process.
Liverpool's failure to win at Wimbledon in the season's penultimate fixture is what would mathematically rule them out of the running, but it's this matchup that should be looked upon as the one that tipped things in United's favour.
5. Arsenal 2-3 Leeds United, 2002-03
Date: 4 May 2003
Manchester United somehow managed to claw down the eight-point advantage that Arsenal held at the start of March before winning the 2002-03 Premier League title themselves, an eighth in 11 years.
However, it was against relegation candidates Leeds United that the Gunners sealed their fate. A 3-2 defeat at home to the Whites, leaving the Red Devils to storm in and clinch the championship thanks to their defeat of Charlton Athletic the day before.
The irony is that this result saved Leeds from relegation, adding an even more bitter taste to the opportunity Arsenal had thrown away.
4. West Ham 1-1 Manchester United, 1994-95
Date: 14 May 1995
Kenny Dalglish brought Blackburn Rovers European Cup qualification for the first time in their history thanks to the success of their 1994-95 season, which saw Rovers land their first top-flight title for more than 80 years.
Manchester United entered the last day of the season knowing that if they won at West Ham and Rovers lost their fixture against Liverpool they would seal a third successive Premier League trophy.
The second stipulation in that agreement was completed as Dalglish's men succumbed 2-1 at Anfield, however, the in-form Hammers managed to avoid defeat for the 10th time in 11 matches and earned a 1-1 draw against the reigning champions.
United were left dismayed and Blackburn hearts quickly lifted after learning of their rivals' demise.
3. Manchester United 2-1 Chelsea, 2010-11
Date: 8 May 2011
From December 2010 until the end of the 2010-11 season, Manchester United reigned from atop the Premier League standings, but their campaign didn't come without its frights.
A 1-1 draw against Blackburn Rovers on 14 May 2011 was the result that gifted Ferguson's men the title, but it was the fixture a week prior that all but sealed the deed, with United's 2-1 win over second-placed Chelsea taking them six points clear of the Blues with just two games left to play.
United did benefit from the fact that the Blues failed to win any of their last three games that term, but it's difficult to deny the club their dominant streak as they won a 19th top-flight trophy, breaking the record total of 18 that Liverpool held for so long.
2. Manchester United 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur, 1998-99
Date: 16 May 1999
In the unique treble-winning season of 1998-99, there were some occasions where the Premier League challenge of the Red Devils looked uncertain, with Arsenal threatening to retain their trophy for stretches of the calendar.
It was a 2-2 draw against Liverpool toward the end of the season that left doubt in the minds of some at Old Trafford, but the Gunners lost their advantage following a defeat to Leeds United.
United pounced against another North London club, Tottenham, on the final day of the season, coming back to win 2-1 thanks to goals from David Beckham and Andy Cole to bring the title back to Old Trafford.
1. Manchester City 3-2 Queens Park Rangers, 2011-12
Date: 13 May 2012
If there were any more visceral recognition of Manchester City's status being cemented as a genuine Premier League force than their domestic triumph of 2011-12, we're yet to find it.
Level on points with bitter rivals Manchester United but significantly better off in terms of goal difference, the Citizens knew that three points were all that was needed against QPR in order to secure a maiden Premier League win.
Disaster struck, though, when goals from Djibril Cisse and Jamie Mackie threw a spanner in the works, and the Red Devils waited in anticipation to hear of their foes' result just after beating Sunderland 1-0 at the Stadium of Light.
As Paul Merson can testify, the Etihad Stadium was sent into the raptures they had so desperately craved, when injury time goals from Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero capitalised upon Pablo Zabaleta's first-half strike to give City their deserved prize.
An inner-city rivalry, world-class talent all round and the drama of a season closer—one couldn't hope for a more entertaining set of storylines.
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