Saturday, April 4, 2009

Top 10 Most Exciting English Title Run-ins

We may be on the verge of quite an awesome EPL season which was why I was wondering about when I had actually felt more excited and alive in a season. SKY Sports has this list as the top 10. image from Sky Sports
1. 1988/89: Champions - ARSENAL
1. Arsenal Pld 38 Pts 76
2. Liverpool Pld 38 Pts 76
Only once has the title been decided by the final kick of the season, when Michael Thomas added to Alan Smith's opener to give Arsenal an incredible 2-0 win at Anfield and deny Liverpool an historic second double. Liverpool simply had to avoid defeat by two goals to win their seventh title of the 80s, but they played with a tension far removed from their habitual ruthlessness. Level on points and goal difference, George Graham's Gunners took the top spot on goals scored and Brian Moore entered the words 'It's up for grabs now!' into football folklore.

2. 1971-72: Champions - DERBY COUNTY
1. Derby County Pld 42 Pts 58
2. Leeds United Pld 42 Pts 57
3. Liverpool Pld 42 Pts 57
4. Manchester City Pld 42 Pts 57

3. 1967-68: Champions - MANCHESTER CITY
1. Manchester City Pld 42 Pts 58
2. Manchester United Pld 42 Pts 56

4. 1970/71: Champions - ARSENAL
1. Arsenal Pld 42 Pts 65
2. Leeds United Pld 42 Pts 64

5. 1998/99: Champions - MANCHESTER UNITED
1. Manchester United Pld 38 Pts 79
2. Arsenal Pld 38 Pts 78
With three games to go, United and Arsenal were neck-and-neck, but the Gunners had the tougher fixtures and that was to prove their downfall. As United won 1-0 at Middlesbrough, Arsenal beat Spurs 3-1 at White Hart Lane. However, their hardest assignment was always going to be at Leeds and so it proved, as Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink's late winner put United pack in the driving seat. United drew 0-0 at Blackburn the next night, meaning a win over Tottenham at Old Trafford would be enough. Tottenham did go in front through Les Ferdinand, but goals from David Beckham and Andy Cole gave United a 2-1 victory. Kanu's later winner for Arsenal against Villa was academic.

6. 1975/76: Champions - LIVERPOOL
1. Liverpool Pld 42 Pts 60
2. QPR Pld 42 Pts 59

7. 1985/86: Champions - LIVERPOOL
1. Liverpool Pld 42 Pts 88
2. Everton Pld 42 Pts 86
In the mid 80s, Merseyside ruled. Howard Kendall's superb Everton team won the league by a massive 13 points in 1985 and then by nine points in 1987. In between, Liverpool did the double, beating the Toffees to the title by just two points and then seeing them off 3-1 in the FA Cup final. The title race went down to the last day and Everton's 6-1 win over Southampton meant Liverpool needed at least a draw at Chelsea. Player-manager Kenny Dalglish was the Liverpool hero, volleying the only goal in a 1-0 win at Stamford Bridge.

8. 1991/92: Champions - LEEDS UNITED
1. Leeds United Pld 42 Pts 82
2. Manchester United Pld 42 Pts 78
The last season before the Premiership, and the last time the league was won by an English manager. Having led Leeds to the Division Two title and then a fourth placed finish in the top flight, Howard Wilkinson fought a tense head-to-head battle with Alex Ferguson and Manchester United throughout the campaign. It was supposed to be the year Ferguson ended United's 25-year wait for a league title, but Leeds, despite heavy defeats at QPR and Manchester City as nerves threatened to get the better of them, edged it. After winning a frantic Yorkshire derby 3-2 at Sheffield United, Leeds sat back and watched United go down 2-0 at Liverpool later that afternoon and the title was theirs with one game to spare.

9. 1994/95: Champions - BLACKBURN ROVERS
1. Blackburn Rovers Pld 42 Pts 89
2. Manchester United Pld 42 Pts 88
Blackburn went into the final day with a two-point advantage after a gritty 1-0 win over Newcastle but by no means in total control of their destiny. As Kenny Dalglish made an emotional return to Anfield, Manchester United went to mid-table West Ham knowing a win may well have been enough, given their superior goal difference. United fell behind to a Michael Hughes goal only to hit back through Brian McClair. However, despite a host of chances, most of them for Andy Cole, United couldn't find a winner, rendering Blackburn's 2-1 defeat to Liverpool irrelevant. Almost as soon as Jamie Redknapp's winner hit the net, news filtered through that United had only drawn.

10. 1995/96: Champions - MANCHESTER UNITED
1. Manchester United Pld 38 Pts 82
2. Newcastle United Pld 38 Pts 78
Arsenal's 13-match winning run to land the 2001/02 title was an amazing achievement, but almost as impressive was Manchester United's ruthless pursuit of Newcastle in 1995/96. Kevin Keegan's men led the table by 12 points in January after a United team featuring the hapless William Prunier had crashed 4-1 at Spurs. The title looked to be destined for St James' Park. However, inspired by Eric Cantona, United won 13 of their last 15 matches to overhaul the Geordies. United's 1-0 win at St James' was the only time Newcastle lost on their own patch - successive away defeats at Arsenal, Liverpool (4-3) and Blackburn proved to be their undoing. United went into the last day needing a draw at Middlesbrough, emerging with a resounding 3-0 win, with Andy Cole among the scorers.

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