FourFourTwo's best 100 Premier League matches ever: 70-61
70. Man United 0-3 Chelsea, 01/12/2001
Manchester United suffered a fifth defeat of their opening 14 league game as visitors Chelsea made sure of all three points with a clinical display. Mario Melchiot opened the scoring before a mistake by Juan Seba Veron handed Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink a free shot on goal, which the Dutchman duly dispatched past Fabien Barthez.
United’s centre-back pairing of Roy Keane and Laurent Blanc looked all at sea, and with just three minutes to play Eidur Gudjohnsen completed the rout. The result led Sir Alex Ferguson to concede: “I don’t think we’ll win the title now. Not after five defeats” while a popular tabloid ran the headline ‘BLANC’, spelling out the names of each team United had lost to – Bolton, Leeds, Arsenal, Newcastle and Chelsea. JG
69. Bolton 0-0 Everton, 01/09/1997
At first glance, an early-season stalemate between two relegation battlers may not seem one for the scrapbook, but this proved to be one of the decisive games of the 1997/98 season. Bolton’s first competitive match in the new Reebok Stadium should have been a time for celebration, but instead the Trotters endured an evening of frustration, with dire consequences come the end of the campaign.
Both sides spurned presentable opportunities in an open first half, with the second period’s best chance falling to Bolton defender Gerry Taggart, who saw his header cleared off the line by Everton’s Terry Phelan. At least that’s what referee Steve Lodge thought, with pretty much everybody else in the stadium (and all those watching at home) noticing the ball had in fact bounced about six inches behind the Everton goal-line. The game finished goalless, but the full force of the injustice wasn’t felt until the final day of the season, when Everton stayed up on goal difference at the expense of, you guessed it, Bolton. JM
68. Man City 4-2 Arsenal, 12/09/2009
Emmanuel Adebayor infuriated the Arsenal fans with a provocative solo goal celebration in this heated clash. The Togolese striker caused chaotic scenes in the away end when he raced the length of the pitch to slide on his knees in front of his former side’s raging fans, who duly lobbed whatever they could get their hands on in his direction (including, amusingly, a steward's chair).
City took the lead after 20 minutes through Micah Richards' header, but Robin van Persie put Arsenal back in contention before a late flurry of goals from Craig Bellamy, Adebayor and then Shaun Wright-Phillips sealed the points. Thomas Rosicky nabbed a late consolation, but the game will only be remembered for Adebayor’s manic celebration. JG
67. West Ham 3-4 Tottenham, 04/03/2007
Everybody knows football can be a cruel game, but rarely has that been more evident than when Spurs broke West Ham hearts at Upton Park in this topsy-turvy thriller.
The Hammers, severely threatened by relegation, went in at half-time with an unlikely 2-0 lead. It didn’t last though, as Jermain Defoe and Teemu Tainio redressed the balance within 20 minutes of the restart. Spurs had the momentum but couldn’t find a third, and it was the Irons who grabbed the lead again through a Bobby Zamora header.
Surely that was it? Surely Alan Curbishley’s relegation fears were eased? No. Dimitar Berbatov curled in an 89th-minute free-kick before Paul Stalteri won it for Martin Jol's side in the fourth minute of injury time. Carlos Tevez eventually saw to it that the Hammers weren't relegated, but it was too close for comfort. PH
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