6. Swindon 0-5 Leeds, 1994
If it wasn’t the most meaningful of routs, it still had a statistical significance. Relegation had already been ratified and the best-case scenario for Swindon’s hapless adventurers was that they would finish 10 points from safety.
Yet they had beaten QPR in their penultimate game. Perhaps they could go out on a high.
Then again, perhaps not. They completed a hat-trick of 5-0 defeats in the season, to accompany 5-1, 6-2 and 7-1 reverses. And when Chris Fairclough completed the scoring with Leeds’s last-minute fifth goal, it set a distinction that has never been equalled: a club had conceded 100 goals in a Premier League season.
5. Chelsea 8-0 Wigan, 2010
The incentives were rather different. Wigan had already stayed up. Chelsea needed victory to be sure of the title. “Not many people will expect Wigan to go to Stamford Bridge and get anything,” said Roberto Martinez. The majority of the people, it transpired, were wrong. Wigan got something: thrashed.
Their captain, Gary Caldwell, was sent off conceding the penalty for Chelsea’s second goal. Martinez had dropped his error-prone goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic for the 38-year-old Mike Pollitt. The veteran made two saves: but unfortunately, he also conceded eight goals.
The fifth of them, and the first of Didier Drogba’s hat-trick, made Chelsea the first team since Tottenham in 1961 to score 100 top-flight goals in a season.
4. Newcastle 5-1 Tottenham, 2016
It should have been a cause for satisfaction. Tottenham’s unexpected title challenge had ended in explosive fashion against Chelsea, but they had booked Champions League football and their highest league spot in 26 years. They were set to finish ahead of Arsenal for the first time since 1995.
Instead, it proved one of the worst St Totteringham’s Days. Arsenal won 4-0 against Aston Villa to leapfrog their neighbours. Spurs didn’t just lose 5-1: they were beaten by a Newcastle side that had already been relegated and contrived to concede three goals after Aleksandar Mitrovic had been sent off.
“It’s my worst day in management; not just in England, but in Spain too,” Mauricio Pochettino said. “I feel ashamed.”
At least Spurs, who already had 4-0 and 6-2 final-day embarrassments to their name, made amends. Twelve months later, they won their last game 7-1.
3. Fulham 6-0 Norwich, 2005
Of the 92 Premier and Football League clubs in 2004/05, only one failed to win away from home. That one was Norwich City. And yet when they went to Craven Cottage, it was with three victories in their previous four games. Having been six points from safety, they were almost there.
Instead of a celebration, however, their fans witnessed a capitulation. Brian McBride scored twice, while Papa Bouba Diop, Zat Knight, Steed Malbranque and Andy Cole added other goals. Fulham had little to play for, but ran riot.
“Maybe the occasion got to some a little bit,” remarked Norwich manager Nigel Worthington. Just a bit.
2. Middlesbrough 8-1 Manchester City, 2008
There was a banner in the away end. “Save Our Sven,” it read.
But it was an open secret that, no matter how much the Manchester City supporters liked him, Sven-Goran Eriksson would be fired by Thaksin Shinawatra. But the manner of an undermined manager’s last match was excruciating. “Embarrassing for everyone,” said the usually understated Swede.
There had been a farcical element to proceedings: City could qualify for Europe via the Fair Play League. Richard Dunne still got sent off. Middlesbrough were averaging under a goal a game. They got eight. Afonso Alves had only struck three times for them. He registered a hat-trick. It was his only one for Boro.
1. Stoke 6-1 Liverpool, 2015
“My last ever game for Liverpool turned into a nightmare,” wrote Steven Gerrard in his autobiography. “A disaster. A catastrophe. There was no fight, no balls, no character, no passion.”
It was a typically blunt assessment, but it was scarcely an exaggeration. Liverpool were 5-0 down by half-time, and suffered their biggest league defeat since 1963. Gerrard did at least get a consolation goal, his 186th and last for Liverpool, but it was the least fitting of farewells to one of their greatest servants.
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