Arsenal 1-0 Manchester United (2001/02)
Arsene Wenger’s side of the late 1990s and early 2000s played stylish football that was the envy of Europe. Yet this was a victory that showcased their steel rather than silk. Going to Old Trafford for the penultimate game of the season, without injured star Thierry Henry, Arsenal needed to draw with Manchester United to win the title.
They went one better. Sylvain Wiltord pounced in the second half to extend the Gunners’ record of scoring in every league game that season and, for once, United had no response. Given the rivalry between the two sides, this win was worth several more flashy Arsenal triumphs. Or, to sum it up in one banner: ‘Old Trafford, Champions Section’.
Bournemouth 1-0 Chelsea (2015/16)
The most remarkable result of Bournemouth’s top-flight run is that 4-3 win over Liverpool in 2016. Yet this victory was more vital. In their first Premier League season, the Cherries were in the relegation zone – below Norwich and Sunderland – as they visited champions Chelsea in December.
This 1-0 shock, courtesy of Glenn Murray’s late header but fully deserved on the balance of play, marked a turning point. Victories against Manchester United then West Brom followed and 10 points from 14 games became 19 points from 17. “It was really emotional in the dressing room afterwards,” admitted Eddie Howe at Stamford Bridge.
Brighton 1-0 Manchester United (2017/18)
Brighton have only played a season and a half of Premier League football. Yet they could play several more and not get a win as crucial as this: a May triumph over the league’s most famous name to ensure survival at a delirious Amex Stadium.
The Seagulls were on a six-game winless run going into this fixture and, with only Manchester City and Liverpool to come afterwards, there was no guarantee of further points. So Pascal Gross’s header to deliver Brighton victory simply “meant everything” in the words of manager Chris Hughton. Sometimes nice guys finish first (or, you know, 15th in this case).
Burnley 3-2 Chelsea (2017/18)
The Clarets had memorable moments in their early Premier League seasons, including Robbie Blake’s winner against Manchester United in 2009. Yet the first sign that last season might be a special one came on the opening day, as Burnley took a scarcely believable 3-0 lead at Stamford Bridge against the champions.
A pair of Sam Vokes goals either side of a belting Joel Ward drive did the damage. And, while it’s true Chelsea had two men sent off (one late on) and scored twice after half-time, Burnley displayed superior drive, discipline and deserved their win. “I don’t think many gave us any chance today,” gravelled a delighted Sean Dyche afterwards.
Cardiff 3-2 Manchester City (2013/14)
Cardiff’s otherwise forgettable Premier League debut season featured two real highlights. A 1-0 win over rivals Swansea in November, but before that came this: the club’s first top-flight home game in 51 years and they only go and sink the 2012 champions!
When a City side starring Sergio Aguero, David Silva and Yaya Toure took a 1-0 lead in the second half, a Cardiff win looked impossible. Yet Aron Gunnarsson’s goal and two Fraizer Campbell headers gave the Bluebirds a scarcely credible 3-1 lead. Alvaro Negredo made it 3-2 late on, but that just built the drama before the Cardiff City Stadium erupted at full time.
Chelsea 3-0 Manchester United (2005/06)
There’s winning a league title – and then there’s absolutely breezing past your nearest rivals to confirm total superiority. Jose Mourinho’s Blues needed a point against second-place Manchester United to retain the ‘Premiership’ at Stamford Bridge at the end of April 2006.
So it rather killed off any lingering title suspense when William Gallas scored after five minutes, before Joe Cole added a smashing solo goal, then Ricardo Carvalho made it 3-0. “The result does not reflect how well Manchester United played – they really made it tough for us,” said Mourinho afterwards, convincing absolutely nobody.
Crystal Palace 3-0 Arsenal (2016/17)
Selhurst Park is among the louder London football stadiums. So you can imagine the atmosphere as Crystal Palace roasted Arsenal in April 2017, putting themselves six points clear of relegation and leaving the Gunners struggling outside the top four in the process.
Sam Allardyce’s side took the lead as Andros Townsend slammed Wilfried Zaha’s cross into the roof of the net. Away fans hoping for a response after half-time were sorely disappointed. Yohan Cabaye and Luka Milivojevic added to the Eagles’ tally while Arsenal, outfought and outplayed, failed to register a shot on target in the second half.
Everton 3-2 Wimbledon (1993/94)
Among the greatest of great escapes. Everton are one of six ever-present clubs in the post-1992, Premier League era – but that record almost ended before it really began. Going into the last day in the relegation places, Mike Walker’s side knew only a win offered a realistic chance of survival.
So the Toffees conceding a penalty and an own goal to go 2-0 down after 21 minutes was not an ideal start. Yet a Graham Stuart penalty and a blockbuster striker from Barry Horne drew Everton level, before – in the 81st minute – Stuart sent Goodison Park ballistic with the winner. An epic turnaround which rescued Everton and relegated Sheffield United.
Fulham 3-2 Manchester City (2007/08)
After 64 minutes, Fulham were 2-0 down in Manchester in late April, staring down the barrel of a loss that would have all but confirmed relegation. Enter Diomansy Kamara. Six minutes after coming off the bench, the striker scored then – following Danny Murphy’s equaliser – Kamara streaked clear in injury time to rifle the ball past Joe Hart.
“I never lost hope, but to win it was extraordinary,” marvelled manager Roy Hodgson afterwards. The victory kick-started a Cottagers surge, as they won their last two remaining games to avoid relegation on goal difference. Miraculous stuff.
Huddersfield 3-0 Crystal Palace (2017/18)
It can’t be understated how far David Wagner took Huddersfield in the space of 15 months. A club which had ended the 2015/16 Championship season in 19th spot were unlikely play-off winners a year later, then – after their first top-flight game since 1972 – Huddersfield briefly topped the Premier League in August 2017.
The relegation favourites tore at hosts Crystal Palace, going 2-0 up inside half an hour thanks to a Joel Ward own goal and a Steve Mounie header. Mounie wrapped up the game in the second half, the Terriers showing the first sign that they was an underdog side with plenty of bite.
Leicester 3-1 Manchester City (2015/16)
The game in Leicester’s fairytale season where the world stopped, blinked and realised they might actually pull this off. The Foxes were league leaders in early February but a visit to their star-studded title rivals would surely bring Leicester back down to earth at last.
Instead, they soared to their highest point yet. A Riyad Mahrez-inspired Leicester were 3-0 up after an hour at the Etihad, with – as if all of this wasn’t improbable enough – Robert Huth netting a brace. Sergio Aguero’s late consolation gave the scoreline respectability, but the result put Leicester five points clear and the performance made believers of those who’d not yet dared to dream.
Liverpool 4-1 Manchester United (2008/09)
There can’t be many seasons where the eventual league champions are totally outclassed, on their own patch, by the team who’d go on to finish runners-up. United actually took the lead in this game via a Cristiano Ronaldo penalty. After that, it was all Liverpool.
Fernando Torres was once more a nightmare for Nemanja Vidic, Steven Gerrard was inspired and – to top it off – Andrea Dossena lobbed Edwin van der Sar to make it a 4-1 humbling. Rafa Benitez’s men would win eight of their next nine league games afterwards, yet it wasn’t quite enough to catch a United side that eventually recovered well from this Old Trafford setback.
Manchester City 6-1 Manchester United (2011/12)
The best moment in Manchester City’s league history is Sergio Aguero giving Martin Tyler’s vocal cords a workout in stoppage time against QPR. Yet the actual game was an agonising watch for City fans, as their club threatened to reach ‘peak City’ by donating a league title they should have wrapped up already to their crosstown rivals.
The match which gave City their decisive goal difference advantage came in a stunning result at Old Trafford. Mario Balotelli and Sergio Aguero put City into a 3-0 lead, but the jaw-dropping stuff came at the end as Edin Dzeko and David Silva piled in to give United their biggest shellacking since the 1930s. “A terrible defeat,” understated Alex Ferguson afterwards.
Manchester United 5-3 Tottenham (2001/02)
Manchester United have every type of notable win you can imagine. Humiliation of rivals? Try 8-2 and 6-1 wins over Arsenal. See-saw 4-3 wins over noisy neighbours? Check. Title-deciding victories? Too many to mention.
Yet something about this 5-3 win summed up United under Alex Ferguson. Spurs were 3-0 up at half-time at White Hart Lane. In the second half, a freshly hairdryered United tore them apart with goals from Andy Cole, Laurent Blanc, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Juan Sebastian Veron and David Beckham. It underlined United’s defining characteristic as a side that simply did not know when it was beaten.
Newcastle 5-0 Manchester United (1996/97)
‘Howay Five-O’ as this result became known. The season after Manchester United had overtaken Newcastle to win the title, Kevin Keegan’s ‘Entertainers’ lived up to their billing to get a measure of revenge as they took their visitors to toon.
Goals from Darren Peacock, David Ginola, Les Ferdinand and Alan Shearer had cooked United. The final garnish came with a brilliantly insouciant chip over Peter Schmeichel from defender Philippe Albert; a goal which summed this Newcastle side up. We can only assume the man in the home dugout loved it.
Southampton 6-3 Manchester United (1996/97)
As the league’s biggest scalp, it’s easy to pick wins over United as any club’s finest triumph – yet in the 1990s, Southampton did have a curious run as the Red Devil’s unlikely bogie side. The season after a 3-1 upset that saw the visitors blaming their grey shirts, Southampton bested a blue-kitted United at The Dell in this nine-goal classic.
The Saints were already 1-0 up thanks to Eyal Berkovic when Roy Keane was sent off in the first half. Goals from Egil Ostenstad (credited with a hat-trick on the day, later downgraded to a brace by a panel), a Matt Le Tissier special and another from Berkovic followed to give the scoreline a surreal look. A memorable win and, as the Saints dodged relegation by just a point, an important one too.
Tottenham 3-2 Arsenal (2010/11)
Spurs’ 2010/11 season is best recalled for their European exploits as Tottenham beat Internazionale and knocked out Milan on their way to a Champions League quarter-final. Yet they also made time for the small matter of coming from 2-0 down at half-time to record an away win over Arsenal for the first time in 17 years.
Gareth Bale (who else?) started the fightback with a classy finish, a Rafael van der Vaart penalty levelled matters, then the unlikely hero of Younes Kaboul rose to head in Van der Vaart’s late free-kick. North London derbies tend to be memorable thrillers, but this was one that a shocked Emirates was soon rapidly trying to forget.
Watford 3-0 Liverpool (2015/16)
Big, cheery, bearded blokes are normally in their element around Christmas, but Watford ruined Jurgen Klopp’s turkey dinner by stuffing Liverpool in late December 2015. An Adam Bogdan clanger gifted Nathan Ake the opener, but Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo menaced the visitors afterwards.
The Nigerian striker’s brace gave the Hornets their best ever result against Liverpool and put Watford just a point outside of the Champions League places. “It was an amazing victory against an amazing team," beamed boss Quique Sanchez Flores post-match.
West Ham 5-4 Bradford (1999/2000)
Half farce, half glorious entertainment – this game sums up West Ham’s Premier League existence. With Shaka Hislop breaking his leg, a teenage Stephen Bywater entered the fray and his cack-handed display helped explain how the Hammers found themselves 4-2 down shortly after half-time.
Paolo Di Canio, furious at several ignored penalty claims, insisted to manager Harry Redknapp he must be substituted. Harry just ignored him and Di Canio went on to score the penalty that began the comeback – although only after rowing with a young Frank Lampard about who should take it, naturally. Joe Cole then made it 4-4 before Di Canio set up his frenemy Lampard to rifle home a late winner. Bonkers.
Wolves 4-3 Leicester (2003/04)
Being 3-0 down at home to a team you’re scrapping in the relegation spots with is an unusual beginning for a famous triumph. Yet that’s where Wolves found themselves at half-time in October 2003, after a brace from the veteran Les Ferdinand.
Whatever manager Dave Jones said at the break, Wolves were a different side after it. Colin Cameron’s double reduced the deficit before all 5ft 8in of Alex Rae rose to head in an equaliser, whipping off his shirt in celebration and sending Molineux berserk. The decibel level was later cranked up to 11 when, four minutes from the end, Henri Camara scored to complete a most unlikely comeback.
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