This weekend sees the final fixtures of the 2016/17 Premier League season. It’s been a decent year, with plenty of shocks, screamers and suffering. We’ve reverted back to recognisable champions, seen some of the biggest clubs in English football fight an epic battle for fourth spot and booted three teams from the North East down to the Championship.
But while the season as a whole has been more than entertaining enough, it doesn’t look as though this weekend’s closing games will hold too much in the way of gripping drama. Not like some other years’ final days. We’ve been treated to some truly unforgettable final day moments down the years.
Here are six that really stand out for us. See which of them you remember…
Birmingham and Blackpool Go Down, Blackburn, Wolves and Wigan Stay Up – 2010/11
This season all three relegations have been sewn up already. And with games to spare. But six years ago, it was all over the place down there. A real mess. Throughout a roller-coaster of a day at the foot of the Premier League table, FIVE clubs all occupied those dreaded three last spots at one point or another.
In the end, though? Blackpool and Birmingham joined West Ham in departing the league. Games away at Manchester United and Spurs were enough to seal their fate. And in the process, Blackburn, Wolves and Wigan Athletic all managed to avoid the drop. By the skin of the skin of the skin of their teeth (it was very close, that’s what we’re saying).
Needing a Win, Chelsea Hit 8 Past Wigan – 2009/10
Carlo Ancelotti’s Chelsea went into the last day of the 2009/10 season just a single point ahead of their fierce rivals Manchester United. They kicked off knowing that all was required from them in their game against Wigan was a win. The three points would secure them what would be a third league title in just six years…
And they obliged. Boy, did they oblige. If anything, they went a little over the top. A 1-0 win would have done it. Instead, they chose to decide the title race with some style. They smashed EIGHT past a hapless and lost-looking Wigan, equalling their biggest ever Premier League win. In doing so, Chelsea set a brand new Premier League record of netting 103 goals in one season.
Blackburn Lose But Beat United To The League Anyway – 1994/95
22 years ago, Blackburn Rovers, under the leadership of Kenny Dalglish – and in the wallet of Jack Walker – upset the apple cart and put a dent in Manchester United’s Premier League dominance by securing the title for themselves. But, despite leading the way for the majority of the season, the final day saw them lose to Liverpool courtesy of a last-minute Jamie Redknapp free kick.
Normally, Reds fans would love a pearler like that. But this goal had effectively handed their enemies from Manchester the title. All United needed to do was get three points at Upton Park. But West Ham wouldn’t roll over and earned a point, gifting the title to Rovers.
Captain Marvel’s Great West Brom Escape – 2004/05
When you’re bottom of the table at Christmas, you’re going down. That’s the rule, isn’t it? So when Christmas 2004 rolled by and Bryan Robson’s West Bromwich Albion propped up the table while glumly eating turkey, their fate was all but sealed. But Robson hit on a good idea – win a load of games and end up 17th by game 38 and they’ll be fine.
Football’s not all that complicated really, is it?
As the season wrapped up, his plan wasn’t exactly, well, going to plan… In fact, West Brom were still bottom come the final day of the season. They needed to better Southampton, Crystal Palace and Norwich’s results on the last day. Southampton went to Old Trafford, the Canaries took on Fulham and Palace played local rivals Charlton Athletic. WBA needed to beat Pompey. Which they did…
And, somehow, all the other results came off for them too. Norwich were thrashed, United took care of the Saints and Charlton had a lot of fun helping relegate Palace with a 2-2 draw.
Alan Drops The Ball; City Go Down – 1995/96
Provided you’re not a Manchester City supporter, this last day drama works as a perfect example of Schadenfreude. As funny as it is kind of upsetting, a club got relegated because of some dodgy maths. The late great Alan Ball was monitoring other games that affected his side’s future. Better either one or both of Southampton or Coventry City’s results and they’d stay up…
The 90th minute approached. City were holding Liverpool to 2-2 draw at home. Word was, from the other games, the single point would be enough. So Ball sends instruction out to his players – keep the ball, sit back, see out the game. Which they did. Except a point wasn’t enough. They needed the win. And they’d wasted their chance to get it by keeping the ball in the corner and passing it along their backline for ages.
Maths 1 – 0 Manchester City.
AGUEROOOO! – 2011/12
There will never, ever be a final day of the season quite like this. Martin Tyler nearly had an aneurysm trying to express his shock and excitement at the incredible turn of events. Manchester City needed to win to take the title and resign their city rivals to second place. They had a vastly superior goal difference, so the three points were all that was required. Against a pretty poor QPR. City were at home. Rangers were quickly down to ten men (yup – it was Joey Barton, of course it was).
United were winning at Sunderland. So the win was necessary. And inevitable, right? Well, despite Pablo Zabaleta’s opener, it was actually QPR that approached the 90 minute mark ahead. Djibril Cisse and Jamie Mackie with the goals. City were about to bottle it…
Edin Dzeko levelled the game scored in stoppage time, but the draw wasn’t enough. They needed a winner. There were seconds of added time left when, you got it, ‘AGUEROOOO!’ lashed the winner in. Stunning. Quite simply stunning.
This weekend’s final day action is unlikely to provide any moments as memorable as these, but they’ll still be a little tension in there somewhere. If anything, we’ll be watching because it’ll be the last Premier League action for a full two and a half months…