A look back at the most dramatic final days of the competition
With the Premier League campaign drawing to a close on Sunday after a season of highs and lows and, in Manchester United’s case, utter embarrassment, it’s as good a time as any to look back on some of the most dramatic final days in the competition.
While there’s still a hatful of likely, and unlikely, permutations for the mathematicians to get their heads around, it looks like we could have a finale devoid of any real fingernail-biting tension this time around.
Of course, the exception to that could well be the relegation dogfight, with Burnley occupying the dreaded third from bottom spot at the time of writing, with Leeds and Everton nervously looking over their shoulders.
There’s no doubting that one of the most dramatic conclusions to any top-flight season was when a late Michael Thomas goal earned Arsenal a 2-0 victory at Anfield to win them the First Division crown in 1989. However, for the purpose of this top three list we’ll stick to the Premier League era, and there’s only one place to start – “AGUEROOOO!”.
We’ve become accustomed to watching Manchester City mopping up title after title with the ease of a cleaner sweeping a barely dusty floor, but there was nothing straightforward about how they finally got over the line to claim their first Premier League title in 2012.
Beforehand it looked a simple task – beat struggling QPR and the title was theirs. However, it didn’t turn out like that and they looked like they were going to completely fluff their lines as they went 2-1 behind against the ten-man Londoners with 25 minutes to go.
Roberto Mancini’s side were still trailing in injury time and, with Manchester United winning at Sunderland, they needed three points to rescue the situation and win the title on goal difference.
Edin Dzeko gave them hope when he grabbed an equaliser two minutes into stoppage time, but it still looked like they were going to fall agonisingly short. Until Sergio Aguero’s late intervention that is.
The enigmatic Mario Balotelli played his part in the build-up and when the ball broke to the talented Argentinian, he ran on to it and fired a sweet strike past Paddy Kenny to win the title in the most dramatic way possible.
Next on the list is a great escape at the other end of the table as Everton, who are flirting with danger again this season, just about kept their proud record of never being relegated from the top tier intact on the final day in 1994.
The Toffees faced sixth-placed Wimbledon at Goodison Park knowing that a win might not be enough to ensure survival as they battled it out with Ipswich, Oldham, Sheffield United and Southampton to avoid the final two relegation places, with Swindon Town already long-since doomed to the drop.
Everton had it all to do when trailing 2-0, but they dug deep and managed to summon up a superb fightback, with Graham Stuart netting the winner in a 3-2 victory.
Oldham and Sheffield United ended up falling through the trap door on a dramatic afternoon, as Everton survived by the skin of their teeth.
Those of a younger vintage won’t remember Blackburn Rovers battling with the big boys in the Premier League, but when they did win their solitary title in 1995 it was more of a case of falling over the line, rather than grabbing it by the scruff of the neck.
With Alan Shearer superbly leading the line and players like Graeme Le Saux, Colin Hendry and Tim Sherwood performing superbly, the title was theirs for the taking. However, they came close to a monumental slip-up and allowed Manchester United back into the race.
Their form dipped at the worst possible time, losing two of the four games before their final match of the season against Liverpool.
United knew that if Rovers lost at Anfield and they picked up three points at West Ham the title would be heading back to Old Trafford.
Kenny Dalglish’s Blackburn could well have blown it when a 90th-minute goal from Jamie Redknapp saw them lose 2-1, but to their relief the Red Devils were held to a 1-1 draw by West Ham.
Alex Ferguson’s side threw the kitchen sink at the Hammers late on, but despite some heart-stopping moments in injury time they couldn’t snatch a winner and the title went to Ewood Park.
It’s unlikely that we’ll witness anything quite as thrilling on Sunday, but here’s hoping!