The title defense explosions that give Arsenal hope

Arsenal’s 1-0 win over Manchester United on Sunday afternoon has taken this year’s Premier League title race to the final day of the season.

Arsenal fans will now be in a position to cheer on their local rivals when Tottenham Hotspur welcome Manchester City to north London for a huge encounter on Tuesday evening.

Interestingly, the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium has proven to be a very difficult place for Man City to visit in the Premier League. They have lost all four Premier League matches they have played there, and on top of that, Pep Guardiola’s men have been winless in each of those matches.

Have there ever been reigning Premier League champions whose title defense faltered in the final weeks of the season? The answer is yes.

1994/95: Manchester United

Manchester United were chasing a hat-trick of consecutive titles for the first time in club history, after winning their first two Premier League championships in 1993 and 1994. Blackburn stood in their way, fueled by the substantial financial backing of owner Jack Hiker.

The reigning champions, with talisman Eric Cantona serving an eight-month ban, trailed Blackburn by two points on the final day. United needed fierce rivals Liverpool to take points from the league leaders at Anfield, and a win away at West Ham would be enough to retain the league title once again.

But despite Liverpool recording a 2-1 win, Man Utd could only muster a 1-1 draw at Upton Park even with a barrage of chances, allowing Blackburn to become Premier League champions for the first time.

Michael Hughes scoresMichael Hughes scores

Michael Hughes scores for West Ham against Manchester United and although Brian McClair would score the equalizer, Ludek Miklosko kept the champions at bay to hold on for the draw, leaving the home fans to laugh at Paul Ince – Phil Cole/Allsport

1998/99: Arsenal

After winning the Double the previous season, Arsenal looked in very good shape to repeat the feat the following season in 1999, at the expense of Manchester United.

Although their Double hopes were dashed in April following a memorable FA Cup semi-final victory for United, they retained control of their Premier League title hopes until the penultimate match. All they had to do was avoid defeat when they traveled to another of United’s bitter rivals, Leeds, at Elland Road.

However, a late winner from Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink took the Premier League from Arsenal’s hands and put United in control on the final day. Sir Alex Ferguson’s side claimed the Premier League in their next match, after a 2-1 home win over Tottenham, before adding the FA Cup and Champions League to secure the Treble.

Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink scores with a diving headerJimmy Floyd Hasselbaink scores with a diving header

In his final home game for Leeds, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink exploits Nelson Vivas’ mistake to score the goal that puts the fate of the title back in Man Utd’s hands – John Giles/PA

2001/02: Manchester United

Manchester United had won three consecutive Premier League titles from the 2001/2002 season, with Arsenal finishing second each time. Ferguson’s pre-season announcement that he would retire once the campaign was over led to a significant dip in form, leaving their title defense faltering in December.

However, when the Scot reversed his decision at the end of 2001, there was a rapid revival in his side’s form. This now meant United could be within striking distance of Arsenal as the north London side visited Old Trafford with two games remaining, safe in the knowledge that a win would secure a second Double in four years.

Ultimately, Sylvain Wiltord’s winner in a famous 1-0 win over Arsenal dashed any hopes United had of making it four in a row while ensuring their nearest rivals had seized the opportunity to claim the Premier League title in Manchester.

Sylvain WiltordSylvain Wiltord

Sylvain Wiltord’s goal at Old Trafford starts Arsenal’s title celebrations in Manchester – REUTERS/Ian Hodgson

2009/10: Manchester United

Manchester United were again in the hunt for four consecutive league titles in 2009 and looked well prepared to have an advantage over Carlo Ancelotti’s Chelsea side.

However, this changed when Chelsea visited Old Trafford in early April and took all three points in a 2-1 win, swinging the momentum back towards West London with five games to go.

A 0-0 draw against former foes Blackburn meant United subsequently surrendered their lead heading into the closing stages of the season. Ultimately, the reigning champions recovered to win their last four league games, but fell short to finish just one point behind Chelsea, who would go on to secure the Double that same season.

Didier Drogba scoresDidier Drogba scores

Didier Drogba scores Chelsea’s second, allowing Carlo Ancelotti to add the English leg to what would become a record of titles in Serie A, Premier League, Ligue 1, Bundesliga and Liga – AP Photo/Tim Hales

2011/12: Manchester United

When Ferguson was asked in 2009 whether Manchester City could ever become favorites in a Manchester derby, he memorably replied: “Not in my lifetime!”

But just a few years later the Scot suffered his heaviest league defeat as Manchester United manager when City defeated their local rivals 6-1 at Old Trafford in October 2011. Yet Sir Alex’s men managed to race eight points ahead of Man City by moving into a commanding position to defend their title in mid-April, with six games remaining.

But somehow United pulled off a shock 1-0 defeat in their relegation battle against Wigan, surrendering a two-goal lead and drawing 4-4 ​​at home to Everton before losing 1-0 away at City , a result that made it possible Roberto Mancini’s side will take an advantage over their rivals by the end of the month.

Vinnie Kompany scoresVinnie Kompany scores

Vincent Kompany tilts the title race back in Manchester City’s favor with his goal in the 1-0 derby win at the Etihad – EPA/GERRY PENNY

The rest, as they say, is history. City won their remaining two league matches, including that epic 3-2 victory over QPR on the final day, to take the title of English champions for the first time in 44 years, at the expense of their neighbours.

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