With nine games left to play and 27 points up for grabs, the underdog story of Leicester City winning the Barclays Premier League is becoming more than just an outside chance. With the Foxes two closest rivals, Tottenham and Arsenal, sharing honours this weekend and Ranieri’s men once again earning a champion like victory over Watford , it’s looking like the decline of Chelsea and Manchester United has blown the English top flight in twain. As we edge closer to what will certainly be a memorable season end and perhaps the most phenomenal campaign, if Leicester can win it, we look back at the FIVE most nail-biting and exciting season ends in Top-Flight English League history.
Winners: Manchester United
The season that saw Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United achieve the seemingly impossible task of winning the top tier treble of the Premier League, Champions League and F.A Cup, also saw one of the most hotly contested Premier League campaigns, between United and previous champions Arsenal. The Gunners had a phenomenal season, conceding only 17 goals all campaign, a whole 20 less than United. This incredibly intense season came to a dramatic end just two games shy of the 38th game when Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal lost to a Leeds United side thanks to an 87th minute Jimmy Floyd Hasslebaink winner. This coupled with Mancheste rUnited’s draw against Blackburn on the same weekend left the Red Devils one point ahead in first place going into the last weekend of fixtures. Manchester United then clinched the title with a win over, of all teams, Arsenal’s local rivals Tottenham, a tie that had Gooners praying their bitter rivals do them a favour by defeating, well their other bitter rivals. So intense was this campaign that it is said that Sir Alex Ferguson used the success of winning the title in such a hard fought season as an impetus and drive to lead the side to their phenomenal Champions League success.
Winners: Blackburn Rovers
In another campaign culminating in last game of the season heartache, this season saw Manchester United lose out as Kenny Dalglish led Blackburn Rovers to their first silverwear since 1913 and their most significant victory to date. The huge signing of goal-machine Alan Shearer, who netted 34 that season, combined with big signings like Chris Sutton drove Blackburn Rovers to phenomenal success. The title deciding, last weekend of fixtures for this season saw Blackburn travel to Manchester United’s arch rivals, Liverpool, where Dalglish’s men were forced to succumb to a 2-1 defeat.This defeat could have cost Blackburn their Premier League crown had Man United gotten the better of 14th placed West Ham, but the Hammers held them to a 1-1 draw, gifting the title to the big spending Rovers.
A season overshadowed by the terrible tragedy of Hillsborough saw one of the most dramatic season ends as Arsenal brought to an end the phenomenal dominance of Liverpool FC over the English game. With the title left to be decided on the last game of the season in a tie between the two front runners, Liverpool and Arsenal, 1988-1989 saw a season end that sent tremors through the English game. Liverpool had won the FA Cup six days earlier and were determined not to miss out on the double for the second season in a row, however the last 90 minutes of the league campaign saw Arsenal win the title with a goal scored in the last minute of the last game of the season as Michael Thomas scored one of the most iconic goals in English football history.
“It’s really up for grabs now… THOMAS!”
Winners: Manchester City
A campaign that will certainly live long in the memory, 2011-2012 saw the ‘Noisy Neighbours’ go from just an inconvenience to their rivals in red and become a real, real problem. Going into the final fixture of the season, Manchetser City were top of the league, ahead of United, only on goal difference. With the deciding games in full swing and Manchester United facing Sunderland and City taking on Q.P.R, a Wayne Rooney goal at The Stadium Of Light gave United the advantage. A 39th minute goal from Pablo Zabaleta put City back in the driving seat only for Djibril Cisse to equalise for the London side and sent the City game into pandemonium. Joey Barton was sent off for elbowing Carlos Tévez and on his way off the pitch, he then kicked Sergio Agüero, attempted to headbutt Vincent Kompany and squared up to Mario Balotelli. However despite facing only 10-men, Manchester City actually went behind after Jamie Mackie gave QPR the lead on 66 minutes. As word spread back to the anxious Man Utd fans, it seemed destined that Sir Alex would once agin have the last laugh. This was no on the cards. Edin Džeko equalised for City in the 92nd minute whilst United players waited on the pitch in Sunderland for confirmation of yet another Premier League triumph (cue Phil Jones hilarious face), but City’s Sergio Agüero had different ideas, scoring the game winner in the 94th minute to clinch the title on goal difference. Quite simply some of the most amazing scenes in sport history.
A campaign end that saw the Football League completely re-vamp its tie-breaking rules for teams whom end the season on level points. Replacing what was goal-average and introducing goal-difference. A point however proved the decider. It was also the season when coloured red and yellow cards were introduced for the first time in domestic English football. After a season long neck and neck battle between Manchester City and Liverpool, the champions were crowned by a last day result. Liverpool retained their league championship trophy and won their first European Cup to confirm Bob Paisley his legendary status on Merseyside. It was also one of the closest finishes in the history of the League at the wrong end of the table. The relegation dogfight saw Tottenham Hotspur go down and five points separate the bottom ten clubs.