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Slipperduke

The Camden Cad
Joined
Aug 24, 2004
Messages
4,333
Location
North London
Two weeks ago, Manchester United were seven points ahead of Liverpool with a game in hand and the title race appeared to be over. Now, with United losing back-to-back league games, the gap has been slashed to just a single point. Can Liverpool maintain their momentum and romp home to an unlikely victory? Well, they wouldn't be the first team to mount an astonishing comeback in the Premier League....

1995-96 - Manchester United

Kevin Keegan's Newcastle were 12 points clear of Manchester United in January 1996, but were hauled in by Sir Alex Ferguson's side as the season intensified. The Magpies hit an appalling run of form in the springtime, winning just two matches in eight and slipping into second place. United's victory at St James Park on March 4 cut the lead significantly, but it was the 3-4 defeat at Anfield that broke the Geordies' hearts. Even the signing of Faustino Asprilla couldn't help to maintain Newcastle's momentum, in fact, there are some who believed that his arrvial contributed to their failure.

Manchester United had started the season with the taunts of their critics ringing in their ears, but that bothered them even less then than it does now. "You'll not win anything with kids," scowled Alan Hansen famously. But despite the summer sales of Paul Ince, Mark Hughes and Andrei Kanchelskis, it turned out that those 'kids' weren't so bad after all. David Beckham, Nicky Butt, Gary Neville and Paul Scholes made 132 appearances between them and a run of 10 wins in 11 games across February, March and April left Hansen eating his words.

1997-98 - Arsenal

A sixth league victory on the bounce on Boxing Day 1997 must have been enough for some Manchester United fans to believe that another title was on the way. After all, they were six points clear at the top and Henning Berg had just lobbed Neville Southall. What more could you want in the way of omens? Blackburn and Chelsea were dropping points behind them and Liverpool were flailing about in 4th. Who else was there to challenge their dominance?

They reckoned without Arsenal and the first full season of their new manager Arsene Wenger. A miserable return of two wins in eight games over Autumn had left the Gunners marooned in 6th place at Christmas. However, they were attempting to gel a number of new players in a short space of time and the regulars at Highbury seemed quite content simply to enjoy the novelty of entertaining football. Even they didn't expect what happened next. Between that Boxing Day and May 3, Arsenal won 15 of their 18 games, drawing the other three. United had no reply and the title was sealed with an emphatic 4-0 victory over Everton.

2002-03 - Manchester United

Manchester United fans only have to go back six years to find a gloomy warning of what can go wrong in the run-in, only in this instance they were the beneficiaries. Arsenal were eight points clear of United at the start of March 2003, chasing back-to-back titles and playing outstanding football, but they dropped a calamitious 12 points in their last nine games.

United had endured a troubled campaign in 2001/02, finishing outside of the top two for the first time since the inception of the Premier League, a failure which was widely attributed to Sir Alex Ferguson's public, and later aborted, decision to retire at the end of the season. A poor start left United fans wondering if perhaps he should have stuck to the original plan. Not for the first time, nor for the last, they were wrong. In a phrase that would eventually be included in the Oxford English Dictionary, Ferguson told the press that it was 'squeaky-bottom time' for high-flying Arsenal and the Gunners responded by, well, blowing it. Nine wins from the last ten games saw United cantering over the line.
 
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