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

20. Man United 8-2 Arsenal, 28/08/2011

Yes, Arsenal may have been forced to field a weakened side thanks to yet another injury crisis, but that was no excuse for this pitiful surrender at Old Trafford. Danny Welbeck put United in front, before Robin van Persie saw his spot kick saved by David de Gea. Ashley Young made him pay the penalty (ho ho) by scoring soon afterwards and Wayne Rooney banged in a free kick to make it three.

Theo Walcott’s goal seemed to suggest Arsenal were up for the battle, but another Rooney free kick and a Nani special put out the Gunners’ brief spark. Park Ji-Sung got in on the action before Van Persie pulled another consolation back for the miserable Gunners. Carl Jenkinson was sent off for two bookings, but Sir Alex Ferguson’s side did not sit back and instead rounded off the rout with Rooney’s hat-trick and an Ashley Young masterpiece. The hammering forced Arsene Wenger to delve into to the transfer marker and sign Mikel Arteta, Per Mertesacker and Andre Santos, but the Gunners were never quite able to recover their stride until springtime. RS

19. Liverpool 1-4 Chelsea, 02/10/2005

The two sides met regularly in this period, with most fixtures something of a war of attrition, but this fixture was different. Chelsea laid down an early marker during their defence of the Premier League title with this thumping win at Anfield, Liverpool’s only home defeat of the season.

Didier Drogba was in an exceptionally generous mood, winning the penalty for Frank Lampard to rattle in Chelsea’s first, then setting up goals for Damien Duff, Joe Cole and Geremi in a fine performance. 

Liverpool had been level at 1-1 thanks to Steven Gerrard but the quality of Jose Mourinho’s Blues - and the Ivorian in particular - proved too much for the European Champions, as it did for the rest of the Premier League over the months that followed. PH

18. Arsenal 4-4 Tottenham, 29/10/2008

Despite ending their eight-match winless start to the season in Harry Redknapp’s first match in charge three days beforehand, Spurs were still bottom of the pile and huge underdogs for this North London derby. But former Gunner David Bentley gave them a shock lead in sensational fashion, looping a shot over Manuel Almunia from fully 40 yards.

Spurs led for most of the first half, only for Mikael Silvestre and William Gallas to give the Gunners the lead with goals either side of the interval. Emmanuel Adebayor and Darren Bent made it 3-1 then 3-2, before Robin van Persie appeared to settle matters with the Gunners’ fourth. But with Spurs fans streaming from the away end, Jermaine Jenas’ fantastic individual effort set up a frantic finale. With seconds of injury time remaining, Aaron Lennon reacted quickest when Luka Modric’s shot rebounded off the upright, and coolly slotted home the visitors’ fourth of the evening, sending Redknapp potty on the sidelines. JM

17. Southampton 6-3 Man United, 26/10/1996

Having been beaten 5-0 at Newcastle the week before, Manchester United were expected to take their frustrations out on lowly Southampton, especially given the embarrassing nature of their 3-1 defeat at the Dell the previous season, ‘invisible’ grey shirts and all. But Saints stunned the football world again by going one better than the Magpies and putting six past Peter Schmeichel.

Graeme Souness’ side led 3-1 at the break, with goals from Eyal Berkovic, Matt Le Tissier and Egil Ostenstad, putting the Hampshire side in the driving seat. David May pulled one back for the Red Devils to create a nervy second half, in which United long threatened to equalise, despite being reduced to ten men when Roy Keane was sent off. But Berkovic and Ostenstad struck again to settle south coast nerves. Paul Scholes got another for Sir Alex Ferguson’s side, but a nicely finished Gary Neville own goal rounded off the perfect day for the Saints. RS

16. Aston Villa 0-1 Oldham, 02/05/1993

The Premier League’s original Latics went into the final three games of 1992/93 knowing maximum points were needed to secure survival. Aston Villa, meanwhile, were desperately trying to keep pace with Manchester United in the title race.

Despite possessing the attacking talents of Dalian Atkinson and Dean Saunders, Villa were unable to make the breakthrough, and on a dramatic afternoon at Villa Park, Nick Henry grabbed the winner for the visitors. The result handed the title to Manchester United and ultimately proved to be the catalyst for Oldham’s survival, with the Boundary Park side eventually avoiding the drop on goal difference at the expense of Crystal Palace. JO

15. Man Utd 1-6 Man City, 23/10/2011

For the third season running, City went to Old Trafford in October 2011 looking to make a bold statement and really demonstrate their title credentials. But unlike the previous two Premier League trips across Manchester, that’s exactly what they did.

After a cagey start, firework-loving loon Mario Balotelli helped swing the balance in City’s favour, calmly slotting home from the edge of the box to put the visitors ahead. The Italian was later hauled down by Johnny Evans, resulting in a red-card for the United defender. From that point onwards, everything for those of a United persuasion will be a horrible blur. Balotelli quickly made it 2-0, and it began to look a bit embarrassing for the champions when Sergio Aguero made it three.

But United just don’t know when they’re beaten, do they? Darren Fletcher pulled one back with ten minutes left, and the home fans suddenly started to believe in a comeback. But instead, City waltzed through a dazed and confused United backline, scoring three quick-fire goals to complete United’s worse home defeat since 1955. PH

14. Chelsea 2-1 Liverpool, 11/05/2003

A fixture billed as the "£20m game" ushered in an era which massively changed English football. Liverpool visited Chelsea on the final day of the Premiership season with the victors guaranteed fourth place and subsequently lucrative Champions League qualification.

Behind on goal difference, Liverpool had to win and went in front through Sami Hyypia but Marcel Desailly equalised a minute later and soon after Jesper Gronkjaer scored what turned out to be the winner. More importantly, the Dane's goal secured the destination of Roman Abramovich’s millions: with the Russian reportedly considering a move for London rivals Tottenham at the time, this Chelsea victory may have been their biggest yet. MC

13. Man City 2-3 Fulham, 26/04/2008

With three games to go, Roy Hodgson's Fulham were five points from safety while Manchester City's erratic form was making hard work of a European spot. This game was typical of Sven-Goran Eriksson's side that season. A sumptuous curling effort from Stephen Ireland and a smart finish from Benjani put City 2-0 up after 20 minutes – while Fulham's relegation rivals Birmingham and Bolton both went in front.

In the second half, sub Diomansy Kamara halved the deficit by squeezing the ball through Joe Hart’s legs. Hart then saved Danny Murphy's penalty but the midfielder scored on the rebound. Then, with both sides pushing for the winner, Murphy slipped in Kamara, who carried the ball into the penalty area and fired into the roof of the net in the second of three added minutes to steal a precious win. Fulham went on to survive with a last-day win at Portsmouth. VE

12. Chelsea 2-3 Arsenal, 23/10/1999

“Kanu believe it!” bellowed Sky commentator Martin Tyler as Kanu’s remarkable late hat-trick turned the game on its head at Stamford Bridge. After headed goals from giant Norwegian Tore Andre Flo and Romanian Dan Petrescu had given Chelsea the lead, Kanu pulled two back for the Gunners in the final 15 minutes of the regulation 90, first prodding home from close range, then beating Marcel Desailly to the ball to screw an effort low past Ed de Goey in the Blues goal. 

Nobody could have predicted what would happen next, as the mercurial Nigerian broke free in injury time, striding past the onrushing De Goey by the corner flag and curling an almost impossible effort past the covering Frank Leboeuf and Desailly from the tightest of angles. JG

11. Liverpool 3-2 Manchester City, 13/04/2014

On the day Anfield marked the 25th anniversary of Hillsborough, Liverpool took a huge step toward their first title in 24 years with a 10th successive win, carved out of a typical combination of attacking élan and defensive susceptibility. 
 
The Reds started the day top but only four points clear of City, who had two games in hand. Brendan Rodgers' side stunned City with a first-half tirade topped by goals from Raheem Sterling and Martin Skrtel, but allowed their visitors to dominate after the break – and by the 62nd minute David Silva had levelled matters with a close-range finish and a deflected equaliser. 
 
Sub Sergio Aguero almost set up a third for Silva, but then a sliced clearance from half-fit City captain Vincent Kompany was gobbled up by Philippe Coutinho. Liverpool held on for an emotional victory, with captain Steven Gerrard wiping away his final-whistle tears to demand his huddled team-mates not let slip the league trophy now. GP


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