Sometimes, the Premier League throws up some almighty shocks which make history and change lives. Remember these?
Bradford 2-1 Arsenal
5th February 2000
Bradford only just about managed to survive in the 1999/2000 Premier League season, and one of few highlights was this shock win over eventual runners-up Arsenal. They produced a scintillating performance against footballing masters such as Fredrik Ljungberg, Emmanuel Petit and (of course) Thierry Henry. Dean Windass got The Bantams going with a brilliant 10th minute free kick, only for Henry to equalise just three minutes later. Bradford were not fazed however, and were rewarded for a strong, workmanlike performance in the 57th minute, as Dean Saunders scored what proved to be the winner.
Sunderland 4-1 Chelsea
4th December 1999
After a 4-0 humbling at Stamford Bridge on the opening day, revenge was firmly in the sights of a high-flying Sunderland side – and boy did they get it. This wasn’t a shock in the usual sense, but the manner of victory against a fast-improving Chelsea team certainly was. Inside the first minute, midfielder Eric Roy went through the Chelsea “defence” like a hot knife through butter, laying on for Niall Quinn who scored with ease. After playing Chelsea off the park, Sunderland then doubled matters with a 25-yard belter from Kevin Phillips. After 36 minutes it was 3-0, with Phillips reacting to a ball parried by a disillusioned Ed De Goey. And Quinn got his second and Sunderland’s fourth just before the break, when Nicky Summerbee’s corner was expertly delivered to feet. Chelsea did pull one back in the 81st minute, but it was too little too late.
Man Utd 1-2 Bolton
20th October 2001
Newly promoted Bolton claimed what was arguably their scalp of a season in which they would fight for survival until the closing stages. Prior to this shock result, Bolton had not won in seven games, and were seen by all as meat and drink for the champions. The accomplishment was all the more impressive because they did it the hard way, with Juan Sebastian Veron opening the scoring on 25 minutes. Bolton were nothing if not tough and unified, and United would pay for their attacking naivety with Kevin Nolan’s equaliser ten minutes later, a thunderous volley from the edge of the area. And with just six minutes to go, Michael Ricketts rocked Old Trafford with an impressive finish past Fabien Barthez on the break.
Wolves 1-0 Man Utd
17th January 2003
There was little United could do about Arsenal’s invincibility in 2003/04 and Chelsea’s financial revolution, but this was one result they have nobody to blame but themselves over. In front of the Sky cameras, Wolves (complete with washed up has-beens Paul Ince and Dennis Irwin) shocked the reigning champions, as Kenny Miller scored the game’s only goal after 67 minutes following a defensive error which would have manager Sir Alex Ferguson fuming in the dressing room. United’s form then stuttered throughout the remainder of the season, although an F.A Cup win removed a modicum of pain.
Arsenal 1-2 Hull City
27th September 2008
Hull City began their first Premier League season like a rat out of an aqueduct, shocking Arsenal in their own backyard to climb up to third in the table. A Paul McShane own goal gave Arsenal the lead in the 51st minute, but Hull were strong and resolute, with Geovanni equalising ten minutes later via a 30-yard screamer into the corner of Manuel Almunia’s net. And four minutes after that, Daniel Cousin scored the winner, heading home a corner to seal the famous win.
Liverpool 0-1 Barnsley
22nd November 1997
Barnsley only lasted one season in the Premier League, but this win at Anfield was one of few memories to cherish that season. Liverpool (with a 100% home record) were typically dominant at home to the “whipping boys”, but were rocked when meningitis survivor Ashley Ward took advantage of slack defending to bury Barnsley’s one and only chance in the 35th minute. Liverpool battered the Barnsley goal, but defenders Peter Markstedt and Arjan De Zeeuw were rock steady at the back along with goalkeeper Lars Leese, who pulled off save after save to keep an impossible clean sheet for the brave, victorious visitors.
Liverpool 0-1 Watford
14th August 1999
Two years later, Roy Evans was gone and Gerard Houllier was in the Anfield hotseat, but history repeated itself as Liverpool again lost at home to newly promoted opposition. This time it was Watford (eventually surpassing Barnsley in their overall uselessness with a then record low of 24 points) who shocked Liverpool. After an impressive win at Hillsborough on the opening day, the first home game of the season came as a massive disappointment for The Reds. An unmarked Tommy Mooney capitalised on abysmal defending, with a cool sidefoot finish past Sander Westerveld for the only goal of the game after just fifteen minutes. If Liverpool were bad in the 1997 Barnsley game, they were worse this time as a horrific start to the season ensued with four defeats in the following six league games.
Arsenal 0-3 Coventry
14th August 1993
Great things were expected of Arsenal ahead of the 1993/94 season, especially with Ian Wright in attack, but it was a shock when The Gunners fell to a Mickey Quinn hat-trick at home on the opening day of the season. Coventry were always the bookies’ favourite to struggle, but they set their stall as Arsenal fell apart in one of the shock results of the season. Quinn’s first goal was a penalty in the opening half, followed by an 18-yard screamer into the corner of David Seaman’s net after the break. The third was a speculative shot from 15 yards with a narrow angle to negotiate, but Quinn managed it with aplomb to cap a memorable day for Coventry in an otherwise unremarkable season.
Southampton 6-3 Man Utd
26th October 1996
This was a rare blip in the season that Manchester United would eventually win the title at a canter. Southampton were (as usual) flirting with relegation, but with a “what the hell” attitude towards the visit of United, they achieved something legendary, and are still the only team ever to put six past the Red Devils in a Premier League game. Eyal Berkovic slammed home the first, before Matthew Le Tissier’s trickery and inch-perfect lob made it 2-0. United then pulled one back, but Egil Ostenstad scored his first of the game with a jinking run inside the box, finishing from an acute angle a searing volley from the edge of the area to restore the cushion. David May then set Southampton nerves on edge, but Berkovic made it 4-2 with an equally impressive volley from outside the area. Ostenstad then scored goals each side of a Paul Scholes consolation to complete a hat-trick and make it an unbelievable 6-3.
Aston Villa 0-1 Oldham
2nd May 1993
When staring death in the face, teams often muster superhuman strength in order to survive – and that is exactly what a seemingly doomed Oldham Athletic did over the space of six days in May 1993. Oldham needed to take a very unlikely seven points from their remaining three games (also including two home fixtures against Liverpool and Southampton), but they got nine, and the trio of wins was underway with a shock victory at second placed Aston Villa. Nick Henry scored the only goal of the game from close range to knock Aston Villa out of the running for a title win, and put Oldham on the path to successful final day survival.