Ranking the 15 Most Dramatic Final Days in Premier League History

Mark Jones@@Mark_Jones86Featured ColumnistMay 8, 2014

Ranking the 15 Most Dramatic Final Days in Premier League History

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    Another Premier League season full of highs and lows will draw to a close on Sunday, and we can be certain that there will be plenty of drama once again.

    One of the best seasons in recent memory has seen plenty of issues at both the top and bottom of the division.

    With plenty to sort out on the final day, we are set for another afternoon to remember.

    But what have been the best conclusions to a campaign in the Premier League era? And who ended up on the winning and losing sides?

    Here we count down 15 of the best.

15. 2009/10: Ancelotti's Chelsea Put Eight Past Wigan to Win the League

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    Chelsea entered the final day of the 2009/10 season a point ahead of Manchester United, and knowing that a win over Wigan would secure them a third league title in six years.

    Carlo Ancelotti's side weren't in any mood to leave that win to chance, and helped by a first-half red card for Wigan's Gary Caldwell they swept to a stunning 8-0 victory at Stamford Bridge that included a hat-trick from Didier Drogba.

    In achieving the victory, Chelsea set a new Premier League record of 103 goals during one season. They needed just one strike six days later, when a free-kick from Drogba ensured that they won the FA Cup final against Portsmouth and sealed the double.

14. 2012/13: Arsenal Beat Newcastle and Pip Tottenham to Fourth Place

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    By the end of the 2012/13 season, the only element left outstanding was just which one of the North London clubs were going to secure the fourth and final Champions League spot.

    Arsenal went to Newcastle knowing that a victory would ensure that they'd finish above neighbours Tottenham. Their win was secured by Laurent Koscielny's goal on what was a nervy afternoon for the Gunners.

    Gareth Bale scored a late winner for Spurs against Sunderland to increase the tension at St James' Park, but Arsene Wenger's men were able to hold on to achieve a 16th successive qualification for the Champions League.

13. 1997/98: Gareth Farrelly Keeps Lucky Everton in the Top Flight

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    Earlier in the season, Bolton and Everton drew 0-0 at the Reebok Stadium despite the Trotters being denied a goal when the ball had clearly crossed the line.

    That decision was going to come back to haunt Colin Todd's side on the final day of the campaign, when they lost 2-0 at Chelsea while Gareth Farrelly's goal earned the Blues a 1-1 draw at home to Coventry—a result that meant they stayed up on goal difference at Bolton's expense.

    Wanderers supporters were left wondering about the goal that never was.

12. 2002/03: Jesper Gronkjaer Ushers in Chelsea's Abramovich Era

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    A Champions League place was up for grabs at Stamford Bridge on the final day of the 2002/03 season, when Chelsea beat Liverpool 2-1 to secure one of the most important victories in their history.

    The Reds had to win to finish in the top four, and they took the lead when Sami Hyypia nodded home a free-kick.

    However, cash-strapped Chelsea hit back through goals from Marcel Desailly and Jesper Gronkjaer, securing three points that took the Blues into the Champions League and persuaded Roman Abramovich to buy the club that summer.

11. 1998/99: Manchester United Secure the First Leg of the Treble

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    On the first of 10 magical days for Manchester United, the first leg of the treble was secured against Tottenham at Old Trafford, but it wasn't without drama.

    With Arsenal just a point behind them in the table, Alex Ferguson's men fell a goal down at home to Spurs, only to hit back and win both the match and the title thanks to strikes either side of half-time from David Beckham and Andy Cole.

    United would go on to beat Newcastle in the FA Cup final and Bayern Munich in the Champions League final in the following days to secure one of the most remarkable successes in English football history. 

10. 1999/2000: Bradford Beat Liverpool to Stay Up and Send Wimbledon Down

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    Liverpool were chasing a Champions League position and Bradford City—who had been written off by many in their first ever Premier League season—were looking to improbably avoid relegation on the final day of the 1999/2000 campaign, when Valley Parade witnessed one of its greatest ever moments.

    Bradford defender David Wetherall headed home the only goal of the game, with the victory sparking a pitch invasion from the delighted home supporters.

    The result meant that Wimbledon were relegated after 14 seasons in the top flight.

9. 2005/06: Lasagne and West Ham Deny Tottenham a Champions League Place

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    Arsenal were playing Wigan Athletic in their final ever game at Highbury on the last day of the 2005/06 campaign, knowing that a Tottenham win at West Ham would see the fourth Champions League place go to Spurs at their expense.

    A Thierry Henry hat-trick helped Arsene Wenger's side to victory, though there were other forces at work helping them that day too.

    Several of the Tottenham players had become ill overnight, an illness put down to food poisoning following a lasagne they'd eaten. With Martin Jol's players noticeably weakened, West Ham's 2-1 win handed fourth place to Arsenal.

8. 2006/07: Carlos Tevez Keeps West Ham Up and Relegates Sheffield United

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    The controversy over Carlos Tevez's third-party ownership had rumbled on in the closing weeks of the 2006/07 season, and things suddenly came to a head when the Argentinean scored the goal that kept West Ham in the Premier League and relegated Sheffield United in the process.

    With Manchester United having already won the league, the Red Devils lost 1-0 at home to the Hammers on the final day of the campaign, but a bitter legal dispute was to follow as Sheffield United sought to reclaim some of the money they felt that they'd been cheated out of following their relegation, which had effectively been caused by Tevez.

    The dispute rumbled on for almost two years, before West Ham were forced to pay the Blades £20 million over five years to compensate for loss of income (Independent).

7. 1995/96: Manchester City Think a Draw Is Enough to Survive, They're Wrong

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    Knowing that his side needed to better the result of one of Southampton or Coventry to stay in the Premier League at the end of the 1995/96 season, Manchester City manager Alan Ball thought that his side's 2-2 draw at home to Liverpool was going to be enough once he heard that Coventry were losing.

    Except Coventry weren't losing, so Ball's instructions to his players to start of keeping the ball near the corner flag and waste time was in fact harming their chances.

    The substituted Niall Quinn ended up racing down the touchline to tell his teammates that they needed to win the match, but it was too late. Ball and City were relegated and left wondering what might have been. 

6. 1993/94: Everton Come Back from the Brink and Stay Up

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    Widely regarded as one of the greatest afternoons in Everton's history, the Blues came from 2-0 down to beat Wimbledon on the final day of the 1993/94 season and preserve their proud top-flight record.

    Everton had looked down and out at a raucous Goodison Park, but a Graham Stuart penalty, a fine strike from Barry Horne and then Stuart again nine minutes from time turned a 2-0 deficit into a 3-2 victory, as the Blues climbed out of the bottom three and sent Sheffield United down instead.


5. 2007/08: Fulham Come Back from the Dead, While Manchester United Win Title

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    Roy Hodgson's Fulham side had looked all but down at various points of the 2007/08 season, only for a stunning late escape.

    Heading into their last game of the season at Portsmouth, the Whites knew that a victory would see them survive and send Reading and Birmingham City down in their place, and despite a nervy display at Fratton Park they ultimately delivered the victory.

    Danny Murphy's header 14 minutes from time settled the contest and Hodgson's place in Fulham folklore, having inspired one of the great comebacks in Premier League history.

    Meanwhile, at the other end of the table, a 2-0 win for Manchester United at Wigan saw them win the league by two points from Chelsea, who could only draw with Bolton at Stamford Bridge.

4. 2010/11: Blackpool and Birmingham Go Down, Wigan and Wolves Stay Up

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    A crazy final day at the bottom in the 2010/11 season saw five clubs alternate positions at the foot of the table, with Blackpool and Birmingham ultimately losing the intense game of musical chairs.

    The Tangerines lost at Manchester United and Birmingham were beaten at Tottenham, results that ensured Wolves, Blackburn and Wigan all stayed up despite all being in danger of the drop at various points in the afternoon.

    Stephen Hunt scored a late goal for Wolves in their 3-2 defeat at home to Blackburn, which proved crucial for the hosts' goal difference, while Hugo Rodallega's winner for Wigan at Stoke ensured that they completed a remarkable turnaround just weeks after it looked as though they were as good as down.

3. 2004/05: West Bromwich Albion Pull off the Great Escape

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    Being bottom of the Premier League table at Christmas was, we were often told, fatal for your hopes of avoiding relegation, but West Bromwich Albion blew that theory apart following a remarkable final day of the season in 2005.

    Southampton, Norwich, Crystal Palace and West Brom were all in and out of the bottom three places at various points of the afternoon, but the Baggies' 2-0 win at home to Portsmouth proved vital, as Southampton lost at home to Manchester United, Norwich were thrashed 6-0 at Fulham and Crystal Palace could only earn a draw at Charlton.

    When confirmation of the other results came in, fans rushed onto the pitch at a scarcely believing Hawthorns.

2. 1994/95: Kenny Dalglish's Blackburn Lose to Liverpool but Win the League

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    Jamie Redknapp almost made himself one of the most unpopular players in Liverpool's history at the end of the 1994/95 season.

    Reds fans were hoping that club icon Kenny Dalglish could steer his Blackburn Rovers side to the league title at the expense of Liverpool's rivals Manchester United when they arrived at Anfield on the final day of the season, and their top scorer Alan Shearer soon put them 1-0 up.

    John Barnes equalised for the Reds, and then Redknapp curled home a free-kick in stoppage time to stunned silence at Anfield. However, seconds later news came through that Manchester United had only managed to draw at West Ham, ensuring that that title was Dalglish's and Redknapp could breathe easily.

    A West Ham side with nothing to play for denying a team from Manchester the league title on the final day of the season. Remind you of anything?

1. 2011/12: Sergio Aguero Strikes in the Nick of Time for Manchester City

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    Due to their vastly superior goal difference over rivals Manchester United, Manchester City knew that all they had to do was beat Queens Park Rangers on the final day of the 2011/12 season to secure a first league title in 44 years. It was never going to be as easy as that, though.

    Pablo Zabaleta gave them the lead in the first half, but Djibril Cisse and Jamie Mackie remarkably put relegation-threatened QPR ahead at the Etihad Stadium, despite ex-City man Joey Barton being sent off in between the goals.

    With United winning 1-0 at Sunderland, the title looked to be theirs as the match entered stoppage time, only for Edin Dzeko and then Sergio Aguero both astonishingly find the net in stoppage time and seal a 3-2 victory for City, securing the league title in the most dramatic manner possible.