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Bottling 101

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The 2022-23 Premier League season will be remembered for the thrilling title race between Arsenal and Manchester City.

Mikel Arteta’s Gunners had been top of the table continuously since August but they allowed City to snap at their heels after drawing against Liverpool, West Ham and Southampton in consecutive matches.

And, following defeats to City and Brighton, some have inevitably accused them of committing the most heinous sin in football – the bottle job.

At one point in January, Arsenal had a five-point lead over City with a game in hand. But how do they compare to the biggest title collapses of the Premier League era? FootTheBall take a look at the five sides who threw away comfortable leads at the top of the table.


Manchester United: 1997/98 – 11 points

United didn’t have the 1990s all their own way and they managed to spurn a huge 11-point lead with just nine games remaining in 1998, even if Arsenal did have three games in hand.

The Gunners turned the season on its head with a 1-0 win at Old Trafford, thanks to a Marc Overmars’ winner, before eight consecutive wins did enough to dethrone the champions.


Arsenal: 2002/03 – 8 points

Wenger never led Arsenal to successive league titles, but they looked destined to retain their title in 2002-03.

By March, they’d built up an eight-point lead over Manchester United and looked all set. But they fell apart in the spring, winning just four of their last nine matches, and a 3-2 home defeat to relegation-battling Leeds United was a fatal blow.

Ferguson’s Red Devils won 15 of their final 18 matches and ended up finishing five points clear.

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Manchester United: 2011/12 – 8 points

Alex Ferguson thought he had seen it all in more than three decades in football management but even he was left astounded by his Manchester United blowing a 4-2 lead in an epic draw with Everton at a vital point in the 2011-12 title race.

“It was a throwaway, an absolute giveaway,” Ferguson fumed. “We just needed to see the game out, and it’s a travesty because some of our football was fantastic. The goals we scored were great.

“To give away four goals at Old Trafford in a home game that’s so important… I just can’t believe it.”

Unfortunately for Ferguson, things were about to get even more incredible, and even more devastating for United.

First, they turned in an uncharacteristically cautious and borderline listless performance in a 1-0 loss to title rivals Manchester City that allowed their “noisy neighbours” to go top of the table on goal difference with just two games to go.

United kept the pressure on right until the last seconds of the season, by beating both Swansea and Sunderland. However, City won the closest title race in Premier League history thanks to THAT Sergio Aguero goal on the final day.


Liverpool: 2013/14 – 3 points

By no means did the Reds have the biggest lead on this list, but one that makes the cut for transpiring over just three games.

Gerrard’s slip allowed Chelsea to secure a 2-0 win at Anfield, while the surrendering of a 3-0 lead away at Crystal Palace ended any hopes of thwarting City’s second Premier League title win.


Newcastle United: 1995/96 – 12 points

Kevin Keegan’s Entertainers are arguably the most memorable Premier League side not to win the title.

They had a 12-point lead over Manchester United at one point but things fell apart dramatically with a run of five defeats in eight games in the March.

The title collapse is synonymous with Keegan – haunched over the advertising hoardings at Anfield and his “I would love it” speech are two essential pieces of Premier League iconography and tell the story of Newcastle’s campaign.


Arnold Lewis
A hardcore Chelsea fan, who is often found playing football on the weekends. He has an exceptional voice and his rendition of old Hindi classic songs will make your heart melt. He is the man with the funky hair.

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