30. Everton 3-2 Wimbledon, 09/05/1994
The last day of the 93/94 season was a complex affair which saw six teams fighting to avoid the remaining two relegation places. Everton and Oldham filled those places at the start of the day, but the Toffees avoided the drop with a win so incredible it was later linked to allegations of match-fixing – strongly denied and wholly unproven, of course.
Never the most welcome guests – and buoyed by the offer of a trip to Las Vegas if they could improve on their sixth-place standing – Wimbledon stormed into a two-goal lead through Dean Holdsworth's third-minute penalty and a Gary Ablett own-goal, but the fightback started with Graham Stuart's penalty and continued after half-time with a 30-yard Barry Horne leveller – his first goal of the season. Stuart's second of the game clinched it and Sheffield United's 3-2 loss to Chelsea sent them down with Oldham instead. PH
29. Man United 9-0 Ipswich, 04/03/1995
This was a cold-blooded revenge killing. Ipswich had beaten Manchester United 3-2 earlier in the season, and Alex Ferguson’s side were out for payback. Roy Keane made clear United’s intentions by opening the scoring after just 15 minutes, and then Andy Cole decided to score five goals. As you do.
Mark Hughes also chipped in with two, and Paul Ince even found himself on the score sheet. It was a particularly bad day at the office for Ipswich goalkeeper Craig Forrest, who would later suffer a 7-1 battering at the hands of United while playing for West Ham. Though this emphatic victory saw the Red Devils wipe out Blackburn’s goal difference advantage at the top of the league, they still ended up finishing second to the men from Ewood Park come May. RS
28. Oldham 4-3 Southampton, 08/05/1993
The first ever Premier League relegation dog fight came to a head at Boundary Park. Oldham needed to win and hope Crystal Palace lost at Arsenal to have any chance of survival. The Latics were going all out for the required three points, and as Southampton had nothing to lose it made for a thrilling contest.
Neil Pointon gave Oldham the lead on the half hour, scoring directly from a corner, only for Matt Le Tissier to volley Saints level just minutes later. Ian Olney put the Latics back in front just before the break, with Andy Ritchie heading in a third not long after the interval. When Gunnar Halle made if four it seemed as though it would be a smooth ride from there on in, but Le Tissier had other ideas.
The Saints hero quickly pulled one back, placing a 25-yard free-kick in the bottom corner, before heading in his third with five minutes left. But not even Le Tissier could prevent an Oldham win, and with Palace succumbing to a 3-0 defeat at Highbury, Joe Royle’s side remained in the top flight. PH
27. Sheff United 1-2 Wigan, 13/05/2007
With Charlton and Watford already down, Sheffield United and Wigan were two of three teams battling to avoid filling the final relegation spot. Wigan knew only a win would be enough to survive, with the Blades safe unless they lost and fellow scrappers West Ham got a point from their match at Old Trafford.
Paul Scharner’s early opener for Wigan was cancelled out by Jon Stead, but the visitors were back in front just before the break thanks to a David Unsworth penalty. At the same moment, Carlos Tevez was giving West Ham the lead at Old Trafford. Despite great pressure, the Blades were unable to force a second half equaliser and, with West Ham holding on in Manchester, they were down. To rub salt into United’s already gaping wounds, Wigan match-winner Unsworth had been allowed to move from Brammall Lane to the Latics on a free transfer just five months earlier. They presumably regretted it. PH
26. Liverpool 4-4 Arsenal, 21/04/2009
The Reds haven’t often found themselves in the Premier League title race come the dying weeks of a season, but still had title ambitions in April 2009. They went into a midweek fixture against Arsenal knowing a win would put them two points clear of Manchester United at the top.
The Gunners had little to play for, but it didn’t show, with Russian new boy Andrey Arshavin giving them a half-time lead. Liverpool fought back, with Fernando Torres and Yossi Benayoun putting the home side in front, but the Russian came to the fore again, netting twice more to secure a hat-trick and regain the lead for the Gunners. Torres leveled matters again, and with Liverpool going all out for the win, Arshavin struck an incredible fourth on the break. Benayoun just about had time to equalise once again, but Liverpool were unable to find a win to get United sweating. PH
25. Man United 4-3 Man City, 20/09/2009
United prospered in this classic Manchester derby, but it took them until the 96th minute to do it. Although Mark Hughes’ City had strengthened heavily in the summer of 2009, the reigning champions were still favourites to win the match. Everything seemed to be going to script when Wayne Rooney put United ahead after two minutes, but Gareth Barry capitalised on a Ben Foster error to ensure the sides were level at the break.
Darren Fletcher and Craig Bellamy grabbed two goals each with the Welshman’s second being a sumptuous curling effort to equalise in the 90th minute. That looked to be the end of the action, but substitute Michael Owen popped up to win it deep – and we mean deep - into injury time. The season ultimately ended in frustration for both sides, with United pipped to the title by Chelsea and City beaten to fourth place by Spurs. PH
24. Everton 2-4 Man United, 28/04/2007
After an absence of four years the Premier League trophy was within reach for Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United; a win at Everton would all but secure the title. However, the Toffees – perhaps fired up by a pre-match remembrance of the recently deceased Alan Ball – had other ideas.
First Alan Stubbs rattled a 30-yard free-kick past Edwin van der Sar, then Manuel Fernandes added another spectacular goal in the second half. United, however, responded in the style of champions by slamming four past stand-in keeper Iain Turner, who was replacing United loanee Tim Howard. John O’Shea tapped home from a corner then former United stalwart Phil Neville put past his own keeper trying to clear an effort from sub Cristiano Ronaldo.
Ex-Toffee Wayne Rooney put his team in front on 78 minutes before youngster Chris Eagles sealed the points with a classy finish at the death. United were five points clear and – after three seasons without the league title – in sight of a trophy they wouldn't relinquish until 2010. JO
23. Man City 2-3 Man United, 09/12/2012
The first derby of Sir Alex Ferguson's last season summed up the 2012/13 campaign in which United snatched the title back from the noisy neighbours: although United were often defensively suspect, they simply outscored the opposition – and Robin van Persie was the difference.
Wayne Rooney's first-half brace took him to a record 10 derby goals and threatened City's near two-year unbeaten home record; Yaya Toure halved the deficit and Pablo Zabaleta levelled in the 86th minute. But in injury time, Van Persie – whom Roberto Mancini had loudly admitted he'd tried to sign before the Dutchman chose Old Trafford instead – fired a free-kick past a wincing (some might say mincing) Samir Nasri for a winner marked by Rio Ferdinand getting coined by the home support.
With Van Persie racking up 30 goals, runaway title winners United ended up scoring as many away as City did at home (41), and while Ferguson retired in triumph, Mancini was jettisoned in favour of the more attacking Manuel Pellegrini. GP
22. Liverpool 3-3 Man United, 04/01/1994
United were riding high at the top of the table and on a 17-game unbeaten run when they travelled to Liverpool, themselves languishing in ninth place. The form book looked to be a trusty guide when Steve Bruce, Ryan Giggs and Dennis Irwin put the Red Devils 3-0 up after just 23 minutes with three stunning goals leaving the home side shell-shocked.
However, Liverpool were not to be deterred, and re-grouped quickly enough for a Nigel Clough double to put them back within touching distance before half-time. Both sides peppered the target throughout the second half, before Neil Ruddock powered in a header late on to complete the scoring, almost knocking himself unconscious in the process. PH
21. Liverpool 4-3 Newcastle, 10/03/1997
Lightning struck twice, as Liverpool and Newcastle played out a second 4-3 thriller in as many seasons. Both sides had designs on the Premier League title, with Liverpool four points behind leaders Manchester United with a game in hand, and Newcastle five points and one match behind. The Reds marched into a 3-0 lead, with Steve McManaman, Patrik Berger and Robbie Fowler all on the scoresheet.
But Kenny Dalglish’s Newcastle were resilient, and thanks in part to some suitably calamitous goalkeeping from David James, they were able to drag the score back to 3-3.
James failed to keep out a tame Keith Gillespie shot, and then later rushed off his line, allowing Faustino Asprilla to lob the ball over his head and into the net. Perhaps now feeling a tad edgy, James again rushed off his line in an attempt to gather a loose ball after Asprilla was dispossessed by Bjørn Tore Kvarme, but Warren Barton got their first and prodded an equaliser past the befuddled keeper. Yet James was let off the hook when Fowler headed home at the death to send Newcastle home from Anfield ruing their luck once again. RS