17th Jan, 2024 @ 08:45 am
Winning a Premier League title is no easy feat. The road to becoming champions is paved with sweat, hard work, dedication, and luck. Small margins can make all the difference and one bad result can derail an entire campaign. In the English top flight, there have been moments when teams have had their title challenge ended by a single moment or game. Here are the four most infamous of them.
We may as well start with the most recent. Last season, Arsenal led the league for the vast majority of the campaign but as we all know, their title challenge eventually fell apart. The moment where their downfall began was their 2-2 draw away at Liverpool. Heading into the mouthwatering Anfield clash, The Gunners had just faced Leeds and went eight points clear of Manchester City at the division's summit having played one game more than their closest rivals and with the two still to play each other.
That meant that even if Pep Guardiola's Blues won both of those games, they'd have still been two points adrift of Mikel Arteta's men. And it looked as though that slender advantage would still be intact when Brazilian duo Gabriel Martinelli and Gabriel Jesus gave the visitors a 2-0 lead on Merseyside. Even after Mohamed Salah pulled a goal back for the hosts, the Gunners still held their narrow one-goal lead and practically had one hand on the trophy. But with just minutes remaining, Liverpool equalized through Roberto Firmino, and the Gunners' title hopes were dealt a massive blow.
A week later, they would surrender a two-goal lead once again, this time away at West Ham. And the week after that, they scored two late goals but could only manage a 3-3 draw at home to rock-bottom Southampton. Their title aspirations were all but over already, but when City thumped the North Londoners by four goals to one at the Etihad on April 26th, their campaign had gone up in flames. This year, the Gunners are down in fourth, and online sports betting sites have made them +600 outsiders to lift the trophy for the first time in two decades.
Liverpool's 2018/19 season will be remembered as one of their best, but it could have been even more memorable. The Reds were leading the league going into a crucial game against Leicester City but could only manage a 1-1 draw at Anfield. Had they won that, their lead over second-placed Manchester City would have been seven points but instead, it was cut to five.
Now, that, on paper, should still be a healthy lead. However, the grain of doubt was planted. The Reds would draw again at West Ham the following week and again away at Manchester United a fortnight after that. Two weeks later, they could only manage a goalless draw at Goodison in the Merseyside Derby, allowing the Blues to take over the lead in the title race.
Liverpool finished the season with an incredible 97 points - the most of anyone to not win the title - as well as being 17 games unbeaten. But it wasn't enough, Guardiola's unstoppable winning machine would lift the trophy by just one point. But at least Jurgen Klopp's side went on to win the UEFA Champions League with a 2-0 victory over Tottenham Hotspur in Madrid.
The 2015/16 season looked like it could be Tottenham's year. They had a young, hungry team and were pushing 5000/1 outsiders Leicester City all the way in the title race. But their hopes were already slender with just four games remaining as they were eight points behind the league leaders. But as the Foxes still had to play both Manchester United and Chelsea away from home, Spurs knew that beating West Brom and cutting the lead to just five points could be all they needed to force Claudio Ranieri's men to crumble under the pressure.
However, the best they could manage was a frustrating 1-1 draw at home to the Baggies, with English defender Craig Dawson netting a late equalizer. That didn't derail their title hopes, it nuked them out of the water. The Spurs wouldn't win another game all season, drawing one and losing two. In fact, their finish was so bad that they finished third in a two-horse race, with rivals Arsenal eventually pipping them to second place.
Liverpool's 2013/14 season will always be remembered for their incredible attacking football and near-miss in the title race. However, one moment stands out as pivotal in their downfall. In April, they faced Chelsea at Anfield, needing a win to stay ahead of Manchester City. But a stubborn Blues side, managed by Jose Mourinho, frustrated Liverpool, sitting deep, defending resolutely, and hitting the Reds on the counter-attack.
The game was marred by the infamous slip from Liverpool captain, Steven Gerrard, which led to Chelsea's opening goal through Demba Ba. This defeat handed the momentum back to Manchester City, who went on to win the title.