Arsenal players Ashley Cole, Patrick Vieira and Sol Campbell celebrate during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Arsenal played at Old Trafford, in Manchester, England on May 8, 2002. Arsenal won the match 1-0 to clinch the league title.
Arsenal players Ashley Cole, Patrick Vieira and Sol Campbell celebrate winning the Premier League title in 2002.
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Remembering the three-way Premier League title races

The Premier League doesn’t always serve up a title race, but this season we have been rewarded with the rarest of gifts: a three-way fight for the top spot.

There has been very little to separate Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City this season, and with just a couple of points separating the trio of high-achieving clubs it’s anyone’s guess who will come out on top in May.

This is only the fourth time in a 38-game campaign that three teams have vied for the title deep into the season, which appears to be a once-in-a-decade phenomenon. Enjoy it while it lasts – who knows when we will see another one.

The three-way Premier League title races:

1995/96

Newcastle United’s collapse was both spectacular and agonising to watch in real time. Midway through the season Kevin Keegan’s Entertainers boasted a ten-point lead over Man United, and extended that to 12 points in February. By mid-March they were level, albeit the Geordies had two games in hand. In the end they finished four points behind the Red Devils.

Alex Ferguson’s side, still smarting over surrendering the Premier League to Blackburn a year prior, dealt significant blows in December and March, winning 2-0 at Old Trafford and 1-0 at St James’ Park respectively. The latter is a game they should have ultimately won only for Peter Schmeichel pulling out the performance of a lifetime.

Liverpool put themselves in the title conversation in the second half of the season, before ultimately fading away as they won just four of their final ten matches. But they did deliver the decisive blow t Newcastle at Anfield, winning 4-3 in what has gone down as one of the greatest games in Premier League history.

The 1995/96 campaign, though, is most famously remembered for Keegan’s famous rant live on Sky Sports when he declared that Newcastle were “still fighting for this title” and would “love it if we beat them”.

The fiery speech came in the wake of Ferguson casting doubt on the commitment of Leeds and Nottingham Forest to try as hard against Newcastle as they did Man United. Keegan took the bait, losing the mind games before losing on the pitch.

Moments that made the Premier League: Collymore sinks Newcastle in Anfield epic

 

2001/02

On 23 April 2002, Arsenal led Liverpool by a point with Manchester United a further point back – and the Gunners went on to clinch the title in the most commanding fashion possible.

Arsenal were part-way through a run of 11 consecutive wins at that point, and would end up with just three defeats across the season as they sealed the title by beating United at Old Trafford.

Fittingly, Arsene Wenger’s charges were draped in gold as Sylvain Wiltord shot the north Londoners to glory for the team’s second title in four years.

Liverpool were runners-up while United finished outside the top two for the first time since 1991, but they would bounce back to regain top spot the following season.

The longest ever unbeaten runs in Europe’s top four leagues

 

2013/14

By as late as 6 May 2014, only two points separated Liverpool, Man City and Chelsea in the Premier League table – and yet, it’s never remembered as a three horse race.

That’s mostly down to the spectacular nature of Liverpool’s collapse, but it’s also because Chelsea completely bottled it. Jose Mourinho’s men were on top for two months straight between February and April, but defeats to an awful Aston Villa side, Crystal Palace and Sunderland derailed their challenge.

All the same, Chelsea had the biggest say in the title race, defeating Liverpool 2-0 at Anfield following Steven Gerrard’s famous slip. A 3-3 draw with Palace followed for Liverpool, in which Tony Pulis’s team came from three goals down, to effectively seal the trophy for Man City.

Only four points separated first from third in the end. The Blues went on to win the league the following season, mitigating their bottle job from the prior year, whereas Liverpool fell back into the pack as also-rans.

90s Nostalgia – Five of the best Premier League games of the decade

Moments that made the Premier League – Collymore sinks Newcastle in Anfield epic

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