Top Eight Premier League Title Races
The Premier League is well renowned for it's drama and never is that more evident than when things heat up in the title race at the end of a season. FREEbets.org.uk look back at the eight best run-ins in the league’s history.
8. 2008/09 Liverpool lose out to United
Liverpool lost just twice all season but they were still unable to secure their first ever Premier League title. Manchester United ultimately proved too strong and though Sir Alex's men had Ronaldo, Rooney, Tevez and Berbatov, it was their defence that impressed that year, going 14 games without conceding a Premier League goal between November and February. Rafa Benitez's side and in particular Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres, were sensational that season and a 4-1 victory away to United blew the race wide open. Benitez will perhaps be most remembered for his infamous 'facts' rant aimed at Sir Alex Ferguson and after that press conference, Liverpool's title hopes took a hit. A string of draws mid-season cost the Spaniard but this was one of the highest quality run-ins in Premier League history. Liverpool won 10 and drew one of their last 11 games; United won eight of their last nine, though, to lift the trophy yet again.
7. 2007/08 Chelsea cannot catch United
The season in which Jose Mourinho first departed the Bridge saw him replaced with the then relatively unknown figure of Avram Grant. Despite a slow start to the season, the Israeli settled into the hot-seat well and an impressive run saw Chelsea right back in title contention. A Michael Ballack double secured a 2-1 victory over title rivals Manchester United with just two games to go saw the sides level on points. Although his one went down to the final game of the season but it turned out to be not quite as exciting as it could have been. United claimed a relatively comfortable 0-2 win at Wigan whilst Chelsea could only draw with Bolton, this left the Red Devils grasping the Premier League trophy, two points ahead of their London rivals. United would also claim further silverware over the Blues that season when the two sides met in the Champions League final. John Terry missed the opportunity to get his hands on the trophy before an Edwin van der Saar save from Nicolas Anelka in the shooutout wrapped up United's double.
6. 2009/10 United cannot catch Chelsea
Once again it was Chelsea and Manchester United involved in a two-way tussle at the top of the table. Carlo Ancelotti's Chelsea side were a formidable force that season and seemed to be scoring at will and it was them who claimed a crucial 2-1 win at Old Trafford to put themselves in the box seat. However much like two years previously the title race went to the last day of the season but this time it was United doing the chasing and hoping Chelsea would slip-up at the final hurdle. The Blues did no such thing though, trouncing Wigan 8-0 at home and edging out their rivals by a point. That win took Chelsea's total Premier League goal tally for the season to 103 and incredibly was the sixth time they scored five or more goals in a league game.
5. 1998/99 United capitalise on Arsenal stumble
A season that saw Aston Villa lead the way at the turn of the year as well as Chelsea compete in the pre-Roman Abramovich era, ultimately boiled down to a two-horse race between Arsenal and Manchester United. After reeling in United the previous season, the Gunners looked on course for back-to-back titles for much of the season but their loss to Leeds in the penultimate match of the season gave United the advantage at the crucial point. The Red Devils played Spurs on the final day, with many Arsenal fans going as far as publicly stating they were supporting their North London rivals for the day! United went a goal behind but recovered to win 2-1 and claim the Premier League by one point, to complete the first stage of that year's memorable treble.
4. 1994/95 Blackburn pip United
Manchester United were looking for their third consecutive Premier League title since the competition's inception in 1992. The 1994/95 season however saw them up against Blackburn Rovers, who with Jack Walker's investment and the goals of Alan Shearer put United's dominance under threat. It seemed to be the title that nobody wanted to win on the final day of the season in 1995 as neither Blackburn nor Manchester United won which meant Kenny Daglish’s side were champions. United were in desperate pursuit of a goal at West Ham but found themselves up against Hammers keeper Ludek Miklosko in inspired form. The Czech international stood firm and ensured the scoreline remained 1-1. Rovers ended up losing at Liverpool but due to United's failings, claimed their first Premier League title by a point.
3. 1995/96 Manchester United rein in Newcastle
Somewhat of a slow burner this one, resembling a 10,000 race with a runner heading off much too fast then slowly being drawn in by the much cannier athlete who timed their run to perfection. In this case the hunted was Kevin Keegan and the hunter Alex Ferguson. At Christmas 1995, Kevin Keegan and his Newcastle 'entertainers' has established a ten point lead over Manchester United at the top of the table. In January this was stretched to 12 points and the title looked certain to be heading to Tyneside. The major turning point came when the two sides came head to head at St James' Park in March with Newcastle looking to continue their 100% home record. Fergie's men claimed a vital 0-1 victory through a goal from Eric Cantona whilst Peter Schmeichel performed heroics at the other end of the pitch. Six wins from their final eight games that followed saw the Red Devils claim their third Premier League title with a 0-3 win at Middlesbrough. This season would also be fondly remembered for Kevin Keegan's infamous rant, live on TV when the title pressure had evidently proved to take its toll.
2. 2013/14 Gerrard and Liverpool slip up
A run of 11 straight wins from February onwards saw momentum grow on Merseyside as a Luis Suarez-inspired Liverpool looked to be marching towards the title. Title rivals Manchester City came to Anfield in the tenth of those wins and were dispatched 3-2 in a thrilling encounter to leave the title in-sight with just four games to go. A victory at Norwich followed the week after with Chelsea next up with just three games remaining. A classic Jose Mourinho performance saw the Blues run out 0-2 winners, helped in no small part by Steven Gerrard's slip for the first goal. Liverpool then threw away a 0-3 lead at Crystal Palace a week later to draw 3-3, a result that saw Suarez leave the pitch in tears. That point actually saw Liverpool go top of the table with just a game to go but with Manchester City having two games at home reamaining, the Reds title dreams were in tatters. Indeed Manuel Pellegrini's side beat both Aston Villa and West Ham to secure their second Premier League trophy.
1.2011/12 City leave it late
After a 1-0 defeat to Arsenal, Manchester City trailed their neighbours United by eight points with just six games remaining and the Old Trafford club looked certain to be crowned champions of England for a 20th time. However a 1-0 defeat at Wigan suddenly saw the race wide open again and when United squandered a two goal lead to draw late on with Everton at home, City were right back in the race. The Manchester Derby was the third from last game of the season and City knew that all of a sudden they could return to the top of the table if they could beat United at home. A Vincent Kompany header was enough to claim a 1-0 win for the Blues who went top of the table on goal difference with just two games to go. After both teams won their penultimate games, the title race would go down to the wire with the sides separated only by goal difference.
So the final day saw both teams play very winnable fixtures as City hosted QPR whilst United travelled to take on Sunderland. An early Wayne Rooney goal was enough for United to win at the Stadium of Light but there real drama was unfolding back in Manchester. Rooney's goal meant that City also had to win and they eventually got the breakthrough just before half-time when Pablo Zabaleta put them in-front. Match United's result and City would claim their first ever Premier League title. However after a Joleon Lescott error at the start of the second half Djibril Cisse levelled the scores. Incredibly QPR then took the lead after Jamie Mackie's header. With City now losing, news filtered through to the Stadium of Light that City had thrown it away. Then in the 92nd minute Edin Dzeko equalised and then in the most dramatic finish to a Premier League season ever, Sergio Aguero grabbed a last gasp winner in the 95th minute to win the game and the title for Manchester City. A last minute winner to claim your first league title in 44 years and in the process deny your biggest rivals, it certainly doesn't get any better than that.
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