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Best of PL races

The Premier League title race is alive all of a sudden. Manchester City had held a double-digit points lead over Liverpool heading into 2022. After the Reds’ win over Watford, the deficit has been cut to just one after City drew against Crystal Palace.

Pep Guardiola’s side dropped points against Southampton and Spurs, pegging them back. Liverpool won their games in hand to close the gap rapidly as they are now poised to take over should City slip.

 

These two sides meet this weekend and that could be a potential title-decider. No matter who surges ahead, fans have got a fantastic title race to look forward to. In honor of this, FootTheBall brings you the five best battles for the league crown over the years.

 

1994-95: Blackburn Rovers shock Manchester United

The league was in its infancy back then but this season was surprising nonetheless. Rovers had just come into big money, which helped them sign Chris Sutton in the summer. United were the favourites, given they were the two-time defending champions. For most of the season, it was an extremely close affair. Sutton and Alan Shearer were spearheading Blackburn’s charge as the two sides separated from the rest of the pack.

 

However, the last day would provide the final twist in dramatic fashion. Blackburn visited Liverpool while Alex Ferguson’s team travelled to West Ham. Rovers lost 4-1 as expected which paved the way for United to win the title by erasing the two points gap. It was not to be, however, with the Red Devils only managing a draw against the Hammers. Sir Kenny Dalglish had pulled a fast one over United once again, with Shearer winning the Golden Boot for his 34 goals.

 

1998-99: The Treble begins

The season that could come to define Manchester United’s dominance of the ’90s. Arsenal were the defending champions and were looking to repeat. Arsene Wenger had risen as the sternest challenger to Alex Ferguson’s reign and had defeated the Scotsman last season. Once again, the title would be decided through a single point gap.

The two teams were level on points heading into the final two matches of the season. This is where the season took a different turn in ffavorof United. The Gunners lost 1-0 to Leeds United while the Red Devils drew against Blackburn Rovers.

 

That left United above Arsenal with just one game left for each club. Arsenal were facing Aston Villa with United taking on Spurs. Despite going a goal behind, United were able to win 2-1 after goals from David Beckham and Andy Cole. That meant Arsenal’s result would have no bearing on the title race. United won their fifth Premier League crown and even better news would follow. The Red Devils completed a Treble for the ages by lifting the FA Cup and the UEFA Champions League.

 

2018-19: Captain Kompany to the rescue

One of the closest title races in the Premier League was once again decided on the final day. Manchester City were the defending champions and Liverpool were hot on their heels throughout the campaign. Pep Guardiola’s side were off to a hot start but endured a terrible December, losing three times.

 

That enabled Liverpool to take a seven-point lead over their rivals at the start of January. However, they lost the reverse fixture against City and drew four times between January and March.

Meanwhile, the Cityzens were on a winning spree after losing against Newcastle United at the end of the month. 14 consecutive victories, capped off with an all-time great display against Leicester City on matchday 37. The Foxes had already beaten City and were on course to frustrate City once again with a dour draw.

 

That is when Vincent Kompany, the City legend who hardly ever scores long-range screamers, launched a rocket that sailed into the net.

City and Liverpool both won their final games which meant City finished on 98 points, one ahead of the Reds who had a record-haul for a runners-up. City would win the domestic treble while Liverpool were crowned Champions League winners.

 

2013-14: Gerrard’s infamous “Slip”

Stevie G, what have you done? The Liverpool captain’s rallying call for his players to “not slip” after defeating Manchester City on matchday 34 would go viral. The Reds would beat Norwich City in their next match, opening up a six point gap to City who had a game in hand. Manuel Pellegrini’s side won the extra match, meaning the lead was cut to three points.

Then Chelsea came to Anfield and the chance for history slipped away for the Reds. The game was level heading into halftime before Gerrard’s ill-fated fall allowed Demba Ba to race through on goal and score.

Manchester City are Premier League champions 2013-14
Image credits: premierleague.com

 

City’s win left them level on points but with a much superior goal difference. Then Liverpool went to Crystal Palace and the second part of their capitulation was complete. Having led by three goals till the 79th minute, the Reds conspired to concede thrice and with that, the title. With both teams winning their final games, the collapse was complete for Liverpool as their wait for a league crown continued.

 

2011-12: AGUEROOOO!!! settles it

The tightest Premier League history was settled by the finest of margins. The two Manchester clubs were locked in an intense battle for the entirety of the season. City’s 6-1 win over United in October sent a warning to their neighbours. They would stay at the summit till March when they shockingly lost to Swansea City. That allowed United to go on a winning spree themselves, building up a six point lead with eight games left. The Red Devils then surprisingly lost to Wigan Athletic. After a win over Aston Villa, they drew 4-4 with Everton. Meanwhile, City had won all of their matches to sit just three points behind before the Manchester Derby.

 

A goal from Vincent Kompany settled the affair in favor of the Cityzens who were now in pole position due to their superior goal difference. Going into the final match of the season, the scenes were set for a dramatic finale. United won their game against Sunderland 1-0 but all the action was happening in City vs QPR. Pablo Zabaleta gave Roberto Mancini’s side the lead but goals from Djibril Cisse and Jamie Mackie put QPR in the driving seat. It remained that way heading into injury time. Moreover, United’s game had finished early so they were waiting for the other result.

 

Edin Dzeko’s header levelled matters up with two minutes left. Then came Mario Balotelli, whose pass to Sergio Aguero allowed the striker to score the game-winning goal and inspire Martin Tyler with “Aguerrooooooo!!” City were champions for the first time since 1968 and the circumstances could not have been any more dramatic for a title race.

Ratul Ghosh
His name means Red and a fan of devilish food, which equals to his favourite team being Manchester United. Can be found sleeping or in front of the TV otherwise. Hates waking up early but loves staying up late for football.

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