The last day of the Premier League season will be contested on Sunday with all but a few formalities summed up.
Manchester United have already been crowned the new champions of England whilst all three relegation spots have been snapped up by QPR, Reading and Wigan respectively. The only major place to be decided is who will get the last remaining Champions League spot.
Not every season, however, is as simple as this one. Sometimes everything is to be decided on the final day and the ensuig drama can leave fans falling to their knees in despair one minute yet jumping for joy the next.
Here we take a look at the most dramatic final days of the season in recent history.
10. 1999/2000 – The Bantams of the Opera
Paul Jewell’s Bradford went into the final day of the season against Liverpool knowing that if Wimbledon could match their result at Southampton, the Bantams would be relegated.
Against all the odds, Bradford stunned Liverpool with a 1-0 victory, which incidentally saw the Reds miss out on the Champions League. As for Wimbledon, they succumbed to strikes by a young Wayne Bridge and Marian Pahars, and the financially-troubled club embarked on the slippery slope that saw them become the MK Dons just four years later.
9. 1994/1995 – The Wild Rovers
Before the days of David Goodwillie and Leon Best, Blackburn Rovers struggled by with Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton. The Manchester City of their day, chairman Jack Walker twice broke the British transfer record to secure their services, and it paid off on the final day of the 1994/1995 season. Rovers actually lost 2-1 to Liverpool at Anfield, but Manchester United’s failure to beat West Ham meant that the Ewood Park side were crowned champions. It wasn’t long before the bubble burst, however, and the club were playing in the second tier by 1999.
8. 1992/3 – A Palace fit for Division Two
Crystal Palace faced the rather daunting prospect of having to beat Arsenal at Highbury to avoid relegation, and it proved all too high a mountain to climb. Oldham, meanwhile, needed to beat Southampton, and although Matt Le Tissier sent their nerves jangling with a hat trick, their 4-3 victory was enough. Palace waved goodbye to the Premier League with a 3-0 loss.
7. 1988/1989 – Arsenal party like its 1989
Current Arsenal fans bemused at Arsene Wenger’s trophy drought may want to cast their eyes back to 1989, when the Gunners had gone 18 years without winning the league. Liverpool and Arsenal battled it out for the title, with the Merseysiders knowing a draw and even a 1-0 loss would see them through. Arsenal knew they had to win by at least two goals, and despite Alan Smith’s strike, a second just wouldn’t come and all hope looked lost. That was until Michael Thomas secured the title for the Londoners in the most dramatic of circumstances, with a crisp injury time header.
6. 2002/2003 – The Dawn of Revolution
Nowadays it’s the Championship play-off final that’s dubbed the richest game in football, but Chelsea’s breakthrough to the Champions League at Liverpool’s expense was keenly observed by a certain Roman Abramovich. Jesper Gronkjaer got the winning goal, and rumours later escalated that had Chelsea not made it into the top four, Abramovich may have taken his money elsewhere. Behind the scenes, though, Chelsea players were warned of the significance of the game.
5. 1985/1986 – The Battle of Merseyside
Liverpool and Everton were neck-in-neck for the title, and the Toffees did their optimum with a resounding 6-1 defeat of Southampton. That meant Liverpool went into their game against Chelsea in the knowledge that a draw would gift them the title. Kenny Dalglish’s strike bestowed them three points, as well as the title and bragging rights in Merseyside.
4.2004/2005 – The Great Escape
This was the first time in history that no-one had been relegated by the final day, with Norwich, Southampton, Crystal Palace and West Brom all vying for survival. Norwich, with matters in their own hands, capitulated with a 6-0 loss to Fulham, and despite being bottom at Christmas, Bryan Robson heroically led West Brom to safety, the first side to achieve such a feat.
Having defected to Southampton from bitter rivals Portsmouth, Harry Redknapp saw his side relegated following defeat to Manchester United. One of the more bizarre elements of the day came courtesy of Pompey fans, who cheered Kieron Richardson’s goals against them, knowing full well it would relegate Southampton.
3. 2006/2007 - Tevez to the rescue
One of the most contentious transfer sagas in Premier League history took a remarkable turn as Carlos Tevez kept West Ham up with a 1-0 victory at Old Trafford. It had emerged that Tevez, and his Argentine compatriot Javier Mascherano had been signed outside of FA regulation due to third-party involvement, and it proved a bitter blow to Neil Warnock’s Sheffield United, who were relegated at the Hammers’ expense.
2. 2005/2006 – Lasagne-gate
Spurs will be keen to avoid any trips to Larry’s Lasagne this week, knowing all too well how crucial match-day meals can be in the race for Champions League football. This year’s final day is almost a dead ringer for that of 2005/2006, with the two North London sides battling it out for a top four finish.
In 2006, however, it was Spurs who had the one-point-lead, only to be struck down by food poisoning before their fixture against West Ham. The Hammers were to compete in the FA Cup final the following weekend, and after much consultation and pleading with the FA, the game could not be moved. Spurs surrendered 2-1 at Upton Park, so Arsenal’s victory over Wigan proved enough to secure them a place among Europe’s elite.
1. 2011/2012 - Sergio Aguer(N)o!
No Manchester City or United fan will ever forget the date May 13th. In 2012, City trailed 2-1 at home to relegation-threatened QPR with just minutes to go. The final whistle sounded at the Stadium of Light, and Manchester United thought their 1-0 victory had won them the title, even after City’s late equaliser. Enter Sergio Aguero, and the most famous goal in the history of Manchester City Football Club. City had won the title for the first time in 44 years.
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