Unless Liverpool suffer the most remarkable drop in form we’ve ever seen, it looks as though the Premier League title race is over in February. We’ve seen plenty of close titles races that have been far more dramatic though. Here are three that went right down to the wire.
1994-95 (Blackburn Rovers and Manchester United)
Back when the Premier League still had 22 teams, things were very different for fans of Blackburn Rovers. Bankrolled by the wealthy Jack Walker, Blackburn’s squad was filled with a number of players who would go on to become Premier League legends, including Alan Shearer, Chris Sutton and Colin Hendry.
Having finished in second place in the previous season, eight points behind Manchester United, the pair would do battle once again and in what would prove to be one of the most close title races in memory.
On the final day of the season, Blackburn travelled to Liverpool knowing that a win would secure them their first title for 81 years. However, things didn’t go to plan. In scenes that mirrored those at Old Trafford last week, when United knew that victory over Manchester City would hand Liverpool the title, in this scenario it was Liverpool who would decide whether United would be Champions.
An odd atmosphere ran through Anfield that day, with fans seemingly unsure which outcome to support. Liverpool ultimately won the match courtesy of a stunning free kick from Jamie Redknapp, which was met with possibly the coldest reception of any home goal in Anfield history. He would later say of the incident; “It was one of the strangest moments of my life on a football field.”
Fans of both sides were gutted that the title had seemingly gone to Manchester, until news filtered through that West Ham had held United to a draw. The title was Blackburn’s after all, causing celebrations amongst both the home and away supporters.
1995-96 (Manchester United and Newcastle United)
“I will love it if we beat them”. Kevin Keegan’s famous words came back to haunt him in the 1995-96 season, after Newcastle surrendered a 12 point advantage in the title race to hand the title to Manchester United.
Never one to shy away from mind games, Sir Alex Ferguson, the Manchester United manager, had suggested that certain teams were trying harder against his own side than they were against the perceived neutral’s favourites Newcastle.
After defeating Leeds in the penultimate game, a wildly gesticulating Keegan snapped on air; “I’ve kept really quiet but I’ll tell you something, he went down in my estimations when he said that. We have not resorted to that. You can tell him now, we’re still fighting for this title and he’s got to go to Newcastle and get something. And I’ll tell you, honestly, I will love it if we beat them. Love it.”
Unfortunately for Keegan, he wasn’t afforded the chance. United were comfortable in victory over Middlesbrough on the final day of the season whilst Newcastle could only draw, allowing the Red Devils to claim the league title by four points. History will remember the four point gap rather than one of the most close title races.
“You can tell him now, we are still fighting for this title. They’ve got to go to Middlesbrough and get something”
Kevin Keegan’s ‘I would love it’ rant about Sir Alex Ferguson and Man Utd is 23 years old today! ? pic.twitter.com/913iPG0jm4
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) 29 April 2019
2011/12 (Manchester City and Manchester United)
Almost certainly the most dramatic of them all, the 2011/12 title race didn’t just go down to the last day, it went down to the last minute.
Nouveau riche Manchester City led their city rivals on goal difference as they entered the final day knowing that, thanks to their superior goal difference, a win would be enough to lift the title.
Manchester United took an early lead at Sunderland, courtesy of Wayne Rooney, and held on to secure a single-goal victory knowing that it was as much as they could do.
City had taken the lead against QPR in the first half but, showing signs of nerves, conceded twice after the interval to trail. Time was rapidly running out and City knew that even Edin Dzeko’s leveller in the 89th minute wouldn’t be enough to secure them their first title in 44 years.
However, deep into injury time Sergio Aguero received the ball in the QPR box. As Martin Tyler screamed his famous “Agueroooo”, the Argentinian smashed the ball into the QPR net to send the City fans wild and leave the red half of Manchester stunned at how suddenly their celebrations had been muted. You don’t get more close title races than tht.