Premier League rewind: Memorable final-day title battles
Manchester City head into Sunday’s home clash with Aston Villa knowing there will be nothing Liverpool can do to deny them a second successive Premier League title if they win.
The Reds, who entertain Wolves, will kick off a single point adrift of Pep Guardiola’s men and poised to take full advantage of any slip-up on what they hope will be a dramatic final day at the end of an intensely hard-fought race for glory.
Here are a few of the Premier League campaigns in which the fight for the silverware went right down to the wire.
Blackburn brought down the curtain on their bid to upset the established order at Anfield holding a two-point advantage over Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United. Alan Shearer put them ahead, but goals from John Barnes and Jamie Redknapp, who secured 2-1 victory with a 90th-minute free-kick, left Rovers sweating. However, United could only draw 1-1 at West Ham and the trophy went back to Ewood Park.
Kevin Keegan’s Newcastle had frittered away a 12-point advantage as the Magpies sought their first league title since 1927, but went into the final round of fixtures two behind United. In the event, a 1-1 draw with Tottenham at St James’ Park saw Ferguson’s men cruise to their third Premier League crown in four years with a 3-0 win at Middlesbrough.
United and the previous season’s Double winners Arsenal approached the decisive day of the 1998-99 season with the Gunners just a point worse off and with both sides playing at home. Four days after the Red Devils had leapfrogged Arsene Wenger’s men into first place, Arsenal beat Aston Villa 1-0, but despite having briefly being given hope when Les Ferdinand put Tottenham ahead at Old Trafford, goals from David Beckham and Andrew Cole turned the game around and captured the first leg of what proved to be a remarkable Treble.
Derby rivals City and United went into the last fixture of the 2011-12 campaign separated only by goal difference, and it famously needed Sergio Aguero’s last-gasp intervention to prevent the Red Devils from snatching the prize from their neighbours’ grasp. Wayne Rooney’s first-half strike secured three points at Sunderland as City looked to be heading for a shock defeat against lowly QPR until Edin Dzeko and then at the death Aguero scored to secure a 3-2 victory, news of which filtered through to the United players on the pitch at the Stadium of Light via the mocking celebrations of the home crowd.
Just as they had done five years earlier, City held a slender advantage over Liverpool with one game each left to play, and successfully defended it. A point better off than their title rivals, they fell behind to Glenn Murray’s opener at Brighton, but responded through Aguero, Aymeric Laporte, Riyad Mahrez and Ilkay Gundogan to win 4-1, ensuring the Reds’ 2-0 defeat of Wolves at Anfield counted for little, although their disappointment was soothed by Champions League final victory over Tottenham three weeks later.
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