The Top 100 Premier League matches: Thrill providers, city dividers and title deciders

60. Tottenham 9-1 Wigan, 22/11/2009

The second half of this fixture was surely the most one sided in Premier League history, as Spurs shredded hapless Wigan and walloped in eight. Jermain Defoe, meanwhile, became the third player in Premier League history to score five goals in one game, including a breath-taking seven-minute hat-trick.

A Peter Crouch header was all that separated the teams at the interval, before Defoe stepped up to the plate. Paul Scharner got Wigan’s consolation, but with Aaron Lennon pulling the strings, Spurs romped to victory. Lennon, David Bentley and Niko Kranjcar grabbed the other goals as Wigan capitulated, with left back Erik Edman particularly culpable for their demise. The Latics refunded their travelling fans, with embarrassed captain Mario Melchiot admitting: “We feel that as a group of players we badly let down our supporters.” Well, yes. RS

59. Man United 6-1 Arsenal, 25/02/2001

Their 8-2 horror show of August 2011 wasn’t the first time Arsene Wenger’s side suffered an afternoon of utter embarrassment at Old Trafford. A decade earlier, his injury-ravaged team suffered another nightmare the Theatre of Dreams.

A makeshift Gunners centre back pairing of Igor Stepanovs and Gilles Grimandi unsurprisingly struggled to cope with a rejuvenated Dwight Yorke, who almost effortlessly bagged a hat-trick. Though Thierry Henry pulled one back, further first-half goals from Roy Keane and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer ended the game as a contest before the break.

Former (and future) Spurs striker Teddy Sheringham rubbed salt into the Gunners’ wounds with the sixth, as United effectively ended their rivals’ title hopes a full three months before the end of the season. JG

58. Man City 3-1 Man United, 09/11/2002

Gary Neville was rarely a man to give pleasure to opposition fans, but perhaps the biggest exception was the last top-flight derby at Maine Road. Under pressure from City's Shaun Goater, the United captain scuffed a pass which was snaffled up by the cult Bermudian for a crucial goal to put Kevin Keegan's side back in front.

Ironic home cheers greeted every Red Nev touch thereafter until his substitution on the hour. By which time Goater had made it 3-1 in a boisterous match which had started with Nicolas Anelka and Ole Gunnar Solksjaer swapping goals in the opening eight minutes. But – with respect to Goater – the match will forever be remembered for the visiting captain, whose name was sung loud and long by the joyous City fans. GP

57. Stoke 2-1 Arsenal, 01/11/2008

Tony Pulis' Stoke arrived in the Premier League with a reputation for being physical, pragmatic and well-drilled, and this stirring win over Arsenal did little to disprove that notion.

The Potters' storm-armed approach had already done for Aston Villa and Tottenham, and sensing it may be a day for brawn rather than brain, Arsene Wenger left Robin van Persie and Theo Walcott on the bench. But the Gunners just could cope with Stoke's directness, with Rory Delap's trademark long-throws particularly problematic. Ricardo Fuller and Seyi Olofinjana both scored as a result of the midfielder's lengthy hurls into the box, as Arsenal became frustrated to the point of substitute Van Persie being dismissed for barging into Thomas Sorensen. Gael Clichy's late deflected strike was mere consolation, as the Gunners became the first elite club to lose a Premier League match to the Potters - but certainly not the last. JM

56. Tottenham 4-4 Aston Villa, 01/10/2007

In a game which marked Tottenham’s 125th anniversary it took an outrageous comeback to send Spurs fans home happy, as they came back from 4-1 down to pinch a point against Aston Villa.

Dimitar Berbatov delighted the White Hart Lane crowd by opening the scoring, but an unlikely double from Villa defender Martin Laursen turned the game on its head, with Spurs keeper Paul Robinson more than a little culpable for his side losing their lead. Gabriel Agbonlahor and Craig Gardner punished Jol’s Tottenham further still. With a magnificent away victory seemingly on the cards, the visiting Villa fans tauntingly serenaded the locals with a few blasts of 'Happy Birthday Tottenham Hotspur'.

But when Pascal Chimbonda popped up with a rare goal, it sparked a Tottenham comeback. Robbie Keane halved the deficit from the penalty spot after Darren Bent had been felled in the area and, as the game drew to a breathless and desperate finale, Younes Kaboul slammed home the equaliser at the death. Amazingly, both clubs would go on to draw 4-4 with Chelsea later in the same season. RS

55. Man United 0-3 Liverpool, 16/03/2014

When Sir Alex Ferguson took over at Old Trafford, his stated aim was to knock Liverpool ‘off their ****ing perch’. It took him a few years to get going, but Manchester United did eventually overtake Liverpool's record haul of top-flight titles.
 
Brendan Rodgers didn’t make such bold proclamations when he took over at Anfield, but by his second season on Merseyside, it was clear the worm had turned. While United struggled to adapt to ‘the Moyes way’, Liverpool went from strength to strength, with the "SAS" strike partnership of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge proving a real handful.
 
With Liverpool pushing for the title and United struggling to even make the top four, derailing their rivals was as good as it was likely to get for the Red Devils. Three Steven Gerrard penalties (one missed) and a Suarez goal later, Liverpool had seemingly re-taken the throne of Kings of the North-West.
 
"It's a nightmare," said Liverpool-born Wayne Rooney after the game, "one of the worst days I've ever had in football." But the repercussions would last longer than 24 hours from a match that seemed to signal the end of an era – and the start of a new one. JM

54. Man City 2-2 Liverpool, 05/05/1996

Facing final-day relegation, Alan Ball's City went 2-0 down through an unfortunate Steve Lomas own goal and Ian Rush's final Liverpool strike. However, a late rally saw the home side draw level thanks to goals from Uwe Rosler and Kit Symons.

Wrongly believing a draw would keep City up, boss Alan Ball told his players to keep the ball in the corners, but rivals Coventry and Ball's previous club Southampton had better goal difference. By the time Ball realised his dreadful blunder, it was too late and City were relegated. RS

53. Nottm Forest 1-8 Man United, 06/02/1999

Manchester United broke a couple of records with this seismic win over Nottingham Forest. They laid claim to the biggest away win in Premier League history, while Ole Gunnar Solskjaer picked up the accolade of most goals scored by a substitute in one match. Fitting really, as the Norwegian is famed for his exploits from the bench.

Astonishingly there were only ten shots on target in the entire game – the nine goals and a tenth that was parried by Forest keeper Dave Beasant, only to be banged in by Solskjaer. Dwight Yorke scored after two minutes before Forest equalised through Alan Rogers, but it was one-way traffic from there. Yorke scored another, with strike partner Andy Cole grabbing two for his troubles. But it was Solskjaer who really put Forest to the sword after coming on with 20 minutes to go. United famously went on to complete the Treble, Forest were unsurprisingly relegated. RS

52. Leeds 4-3 Liverpool, 04/11/2000

Welcome to the Mark Viduka show. The Australian hit-man scored all four of Leeds’ goals as they stunned Gerard Houllier’s Liverpool. Sami Hyypia and Christian Ziege put Liverpool 2-0 up, but they wasted a whole host of chances to extend their lead, and Viduka made them pay. He lofted the ball over Sander Westerveld after a Ziege error to put Leeds back in the game. Lee Bowyer was lucky not to be sent off after a hideous foul on Emile Heskey, before his team-mate Viduka equalised. 

Chances were spurned at both ends, with Jamie Carragher clearing off the line for Liverpool and Ian Harte hitting the post with a free-kick. Vladimir Smicer put the Reds ahead for the final time, before Viduka grabbed two more, the fourth another fine chip over the poor Liverpool goalkeeper. RS

51. Man United 0-1 Arsenal, 14/03/1998

This pivotal clash was perhaps the moment United realised the Gunners would be more than just a thorn in their side in the coming years. Arsenal, chasing the Premier League and FA Cup double in Arsene Wenger’s first full season, arrived in Manchester without a string of big names, yet left Old Trafford having closed the gap between themselves and leaders United to just six points. More crucially, with three games in hand, their title destiny was in their own hands for the first time.

Marc Overmars’ goal in the 79th minute not only won the game, it seemed to dent United’s confidence on their own patch, with Fergie’s side dropping points at home to Liverpool and Newcastle and allowing Arsenal to win the title with two games to spare. JG


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