Tuesday 05 February 2013
With suggestions that Manchester United's nine-point lead over Manchester City means that the race for the 2012/13 Barclays Premier League is over, premierleague.com looks at five previous occasions when runaway leaders have fallen at the last.
Eight points behind with six matches remaining
Manchester City completed the most dramatic title victory in the history of the Barclays Premier League when Sergio Aguero scored the added-time winner against Queens Park Rangers to snatch the honours from the grasp of local rivals and would-be winners Manchester United on the final day of the season. Six matches earlier City’s 1-0 defeat by Arsenal had left Roberto Mancini’s side eight points behind Sir Alex Ferguson’s side and seemingly out of contention for English football’s most coveted prize.
Roberto Mancini (8 April 2012): “No, it's not [over]. It's clear now that it's very difficult, but I believe we can still do it. There are six games to go; 18 points. Never say never in football.”
Eight points behind with 20 matches remaining
At the turn of the year Manchester United were back in fourth place, eight points adrift of Liverpool, with Chelsea and Aston Villa above them but an outstanding run of results took them seven points clear of Rafael Benitez’s and Guus Hiddink’s sides. Liverpool’s 10 wins from their last 11 matches, including a 4-1 win over United at Old Trafford, were not enough to stop Ferguson's men from winning the title by four points from their Merseyside rivals.
Eight points behind with 10 matches remaining
When Arsenal overcame Charlton Athletic 2-0 at Highbury on 2 March, they looked set to retain their title with an eight-point lead over Manchester United, but Sir Alex Ferguson’s side rallied again, clinching a crucial point in a 2-2 draw at Highbury in April before the North Londoners repeated that score at Bolton Wanderers and lost 3-2 at home to Leeds United in early May. United took full advantage, winning their final four matches to finish five points clear of the FA Cup winners.
Twelve points behind with 13 matches remaining
On 1 March, after a 1-0 success against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, Manchester United were at the top of the table and seemingly destined for their fifth Barclays Premier League title in six seasons, but despite the Gunners’ subsequent 0-0 draw with West Ham United, this was to be their year. Arsene Wenger’s double-bound charges rattled off 10 wins in succession to seal the title with two matches to spare as United, beaten by Marc Overmars’s winner at Old Trafford during the run-in, capitulated in uncharacteristic fashion.
Arsene Wenger (25 April 1998): "If I had listened to people I would have gone out and bought players in December or February. I'm happy I didn't do that. I have young players with talent who are playing great football. I'm working to keep these players rather than to buy. I'm happy with the players I have. It is not easy to be intelligent when you have money."
Twelve points behind with 15 matches remaining
After losing 4-1 to Tottenham Hotspur and being held to a goalless draw by Aston Villa, Manchester United trailed runaway leaders Newcastle United by 12 points. Kevin Keegan's charges looked firmly on course for a first title title since 1927 but were reined in over the next three months as their indifferent run of results contrasted with an impressive return of 13 wins for the Red Devils in the 15-match run-in, which included a 1-0 win over Newcastle courtesy of the inspired Eric Cantona.
Kevin Keegan (29 April 2006): “I’ll tell ya – you can tell [Sir Alex Ferguson] now, he’ll be watching – we’re still fighting for this title. And I’ll tell you, honestly, I will love it if we beat them – love it.”