The 2020/21 Premier League season will reach its conclusion ahead of the final round of fixtures this weekend, bringing the curtain down on a unique campaign impacted by global events.
Much of the season has already been settled with Manchester City already crowned champions and Fulham, West Brom and Sheffield United heading towards the Championship, though there are high hopes for some final day drama with the fight for European places being fiercely contested.
Ahead of Sunday’s games we’ve decided to look back at some memorable end of season fixtures, here are five of the most dramatic final day games in Premier League history.
Everton 3-2 Wimbledon – 1993/94
Having been crowned champions twice in the eighties, the early seasons of the Premier League had been less kind to Everton who were struggling to replicate the successes of the previous decade.
The second season of the Premier League saw Everton struggling near the foot of the table, Howard Kendall’s second spell in charge coming to an end with Mike Walker taking charge.
Walker was unable to arrest their slide towards relegation however, and Everton hosted Wimbledon on the final day of the 1993/94 season knowing only a win would give them a genuine chance of staying in the division.
The Toffees were in the bottom three, trailing Southampton, Sheffield United and Ipswich Town by a point, and sitting one ahead of Oldham Athletic in a hard-fought battle to survive.
An atmospheric Goodison Park expected a performance but their afternoon could hardly have got off to worse start, falling two goals down within 20 minutes to a Wimbledon side chasing their highest ever top-flight finish.
Graham Stuart’s pressure penalty halved the task at hand four minutes later, before Barry Horne’s stunning strike levelled the scores and raised hopes of a miraculous survival.
Everton pushed forward in search of a winner and it came nine minutes from time, Stuart exchanging passes with Tony Cottee before squeezing a low finish into the bottom corner.
Draws for Ipswich and Southampton ensured their safety, but Sheffield United’s squandering of a lead to lose at Chelsea saw Everton leapfrog the Blades to survive in dramatic fashion.
West Ham 1-1 Manchester United – 1994/95
Manchester United dominated the early seasons of the Premier League and headed into the final day of the 1994/95 campaign in contention for a third consecutive title, the Red Devils needing to win in the hope title rivals Blackburn dropped points at Liverpool.
Alex Ferguson’s side travelled to face West Ham and saw their hopes dented after Michael Hughes volleyed home an opener, turning home Matty Holmes’ cross to put the Hammers ahead.
United dominated the play but spurned a succession of chances, Andy Cole hitting the post before Brian McClair’s header drew the sides level.
Despite surging forward, the title chasers found Czech goalkeeper Ludek Miklosko in inspired form, the Hammer’s shot-stopper making a string of excellent saves including acrobatic efforts to deny both Lee Sharpe and Mark Hughes.
Cole – who had signed in a British transfer-record deal from Newcastle in January – failed to find a way beyond Miklosko despite several sights of goal and West Ham held on to secure a point and deny United the title.
The Red Devils’ regret only increased upon hearing the news Blackburn had lost at Liverpool, though it was Rovers who were celebrating as United’s failure to win saw the Lancashire side crowned champions.
Chelsea 2-1 Liverpool – 2002/03
A final day fixture that changed the course of Premier League history forever, Chelsea’s clash with Liverpool was billed pre-match as the ‘£20m fixture’ in a winner-takes-all showdown to reach the Champions League.
It was a victory that ultimately proved much, much more than that to the west London side, who at that time were concerned with spiralling debts and needed an injection of finances.
The two teams were level on points ahead of the crunch clash at Stamford Bridge, and it was the visitors who took the lead as Sami Hyypia headed home Danny Murphy’s free-kick after just 11 minutes.
Two minutes later and Chelsea were level, however, Marcel Desailly meeting Jesper Gronkaer’s cross to restore parity in the capital and the comeback was complete before the half hour, Gronkjaer getting away from John Arne Riise to bend home a finish into the far corner.
Liverpool’s frustrations boiled over as Steven Gerrard was sent off for a high challenge on Graeme Le Saux, with Chelsea holding on to claim a win that would change the club’s future.
Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich had shown an interest in buying a Premier League club after being enamoured with Manchester United’s Champions League thriller with Real Madrid that season, Chelsea’s qualification for that same tournament leading to a transformative takeover.
West Brom 2-0 Portsmouth – 2004/05
Being bottom of the table at Christmas had been a fatal scenario for any side with hopes of survival, no side having risen from being bottom on December 25 to secure safety in the opening 11 campaigns of the Premier League.
That was, of course, until West Brom’s ‘Great Escape’ under Bryan Robson in 2004/05.
West Brom started the final day at the bottom of the division with none of the three relegation places confirmed, and on an afternoon of twists and turns, the sides scrapping for survival jumped in and out of the bottom three.
Substitute Geoff Horsfield’s volley handed West Brom a priceless lead against Portsmouth at The Hawthorns, before Kieran Richardson fired home a second to set the Baggies on their way to three points.
Southampton’s defeat to Manchester United and Norwich’s 6-0 thrashing at Fulham meant West Brom would leapfrog both sides, but their safety was still dependent on Crystal Palace who led at Charlton.
Jonathan Fortune’s 82nd-minute equaliser for the Addicks saw West Brom overhaul Palace however, sparking wild celebrations as West Brom upset the odds to survive.
Manchester City 3-2 Queens Park Rangers – 2011/12
“I swear you’ll never see anything like this ever again” was the shriek from Martin Tyler following the most dramatic of conclusions to a Premier League season, the Sky Sports’ commentator’s quotes far from hyperbole.
Manchester City needed to win on the last day of the season against a Queens Park Rangers side facing relegation, the club closing in on a first Premier League crown since their billionaire takeover.
What had looked like a straightforward task proved anything but however, despite Pablo Zabaleta handing the home side a lead and sparking early excitement inside the Etihad.
QPR fought back in remarkable fashion as goals from Djibril Cisse and Jamie Mackie turned the game around for the relegation-threatened west Londoners, who later saw Joey Barton sent off – the former City midfielder embarking on a one-man crusade to antagonise the home team upon his dismissal.
Wayne Rooney’s goal had handed Manchester United a 1-0 win at Sunderland and hopes of first league title in 44 years appeared ever slimmer as stoppage-time approached, their arch-rivals preparing to celebrate on Wearside.
Edin Dzeko’s header in the second minute of stoppage-time set up a grandstand finish, one that had the most incredible of conclusions as Sergio Aguero rifled home a winner with seconds remaining to crown City champions.
There has never been a more iconic Premier League moment than Aguero’s goal to snatch the title from his side’s biggest rivals, and there is unlikely to ever be one.
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The post Five of the most dramatic final day games in Premier League history first appeared on The Football Faithful.
Author: Harry Diamond