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Last day drama

Tom Walker
May 11, 2012
Michael Thomas broke Liverpool hearts in 1989 © Getty Images
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And so it comes down to Sunday. On the final day of the season there's a title to be won, a final guaranteed Champions League berth up for grabs and one relegation spot to fill.

Additionally, if you like your stats, there's also the possibility of the 2011/2012 campaign becoming the most prolific Premier League season ever: 30 goals across 10 games will see last term's record total of 1,063 surpassed.

It's crunch time and to whet the appetite for the drama about to be witnessed we've sifted through the archives to look at ten of the most memorable final-day moments in the top flight…

Arsenal, 1989
Few will forget Michael Thomas' last-minute winner that snatched the title away from Liverpool. Following the Hillsborough tragedy, the Reds somehow forced themselves into the title reckoning despite having to contend with a backlog of fixtures. With Arsenal stumbling near the finish line, Liverpool would welcome the Gunners to Anfield for their final match knowing the title would be theirs so long as they avoided losing by more than one goal against their rivals. Playing at home and boasting a fearsome defence, Liverpool were favourites to get over the line but, when Alan Smith broke the deadlock just after half-time, a silence could be heard at Anfield. Unable to add to their lead, Arsenal looked resigned to their fate until, in stoppage time, Thomas lofted over the onrushing Bruce Grobbelaar to rob Liverpool of the title. Ironically, the same player would go on to sign for the Reds in 1991, proving a favourite at the team he was once viewed as a villain.

West Brom, 2005
Bottom at Christmas, history would have it that the Baggies were destined for the Championship. Not so. A far improved second half of the season had given them hope of pulling off the unthinkable - although they were still in the relegation zone entering the final day of the campaign. Needing three other results to go their way, all West Brom could do was win at Portsmouth and then hope for a miracle. Goals from Geoff Horsfield and on-loan midfielder Kieran Richardson saw them keep their part of the deal and, to everybody's amazement, Norwich, Southampton and Charlton all played along too. The Canaries and the Saints both lost, while Charlton grabbed a late 2-2 draw against Crystal Palace to send the Eagles down. West Brom survived, despite only accumulating 34 points, to become the first ever Premier League side to be bottom at Christmas and avoid the drop.

Manchester United, 1999
Will Manchester United have won the FA Cup or the Champions League in 1999 had they lost the Premier League? Where's that crystal ball when you need it? The fact is they did and they went on to make history, though their bid for a unique treble was almost ended on a frantic final day of domestic action. Old adversaries Arsenal had forced the title race to go to the wire, although it was United who were in the driving seat when they hosted Tottenham - Sir Alex Ferguson's troops knowing three points at Old Trafford and the title would be theirs. Typically, the celebrations were soon put on ice as Les Ferdinand decided he'd make the home side sweat by firing the Londoners in front. Cool heads were needed and United, showing all their experience, turned the tie on its head through David Beckham and Andy Cole to take the title by a single point.

Graham Stuart gets mobbed by his team-mates after scoring the winner for Everton © Getty Images
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Bradford, 2000
Bradford had been written off long before a ball had been kicked at the start of the 1999-2000 season, with many predicting they would act as nothing more than cannon fodder for most of the other teams in the league. It wasn't long before they found themselves at the wrong end of the table, with no-one giving them a chance of retaining their top-flight status. But manager Paul Jewell loves a challenge and he had the west Yorkshire outfit going into the final round of fixtures still in with a chance of proving all the doubters wrong. Liverpool travelled to Valley Parade chasing a Champions League spot, making Bradford's task appear more menacing, but David Wetherall's header handed Jewell's side a famous win to keep them up, with Wimbledon - who slipped up at Southampton - ultimately finishing in the bottom three.

West Ham, 2007
Two words: Carlos Tevez. With West Ham in the mire and in desperate need of rescuing, the Argentine striker laced up his scoring boots to become the Hammers' saviour. Alan Curbishley's side were well up against it, fighting for their lives as they got ready to tackle an unenviable run-in. Then the tide began to turn; Tevez banged in the goals and the West Ham survival quest suddenly gained momentum. A difficult trip to Old Trafford awaited Curbishley and his gang but, with Tevez in the ranks, anything was possible. And it doesn't take Einstein to work out what happened - Tevez stunned the newly-crowned champions, scoring the winner against his future employers and, with Sheffield United falling to Wigan, the Hammers - or Tevez - pulled off the great escape.

Everton, 1994
Few would believe it if you told them Everton were to be embroiled in a relegation dogfight after the start they had enjoyed: they had climbed to the summit after taking maximum points from their opening three fixtures. Nonetheless, the wheels began to fall off and it wasn't long before manager Howard Kendall jumped ship with Everton languishing in mid-table mediocrity. Mike Walker was given the reins but he couldn't slow the slide, the Toffees going into the final match of the season sitting in the final relegation place. The writing looked to be on the wall when they fell 2-0 behind to Wimbledon and, although Graham Stuart scored from the spot, the home side were still up against it at the break. The Dons needed some inspiration and Barry Horne was the man to step up, crashing home a 30-yard screamer to really get them motoring. Stuart grabbed the winner with just under 10 minutes remaining and, with Chelsea securing a late winner over Sheffield United, the Toffees avoided a sticky moment (here endeth the woeful gags).

Manchester United, 1996
Kevin Keegan's infamous "I would love it" tirade was the headline-grabbing act of the 1995-96 title race, with the Newcastle manager playing right into Sir Alex Ferguson and Manchester United's hands by self-combusting in front of the nation. The Magpies were strolling towards the title, at one point holding a 12-point advantage, but their lead was slowly whittled away as United reeled them in. Newcastle still had hope of getting the job done heading into the final round of fixtures but, unfortunately for Keegan and Co., it was out of their hands as United only needed to draw at Middlesbrough. There was to be no slipup from United, the Red Devils thrashing Boro 3-0 to seal a third title in four years as Newcastle - held at home by Spurs - were left to reflect on where it all went wrong.

It was Tim Sherwood, and not Steve Bruce, who got his hands on the Premier League trophy in 1995 © Getty Images
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Fulham, 2008
With the Cottagers floundering, Roy Hodgson replaced Lawrie Sanchez midway through the campaign, but relegation looked a certainty with just a few games left. Four wins from their final five outings saved their bacon, however, with Danny Murphy grabbing the winner on the final day of the season. Reading were on course to retain their top-flight status as, while they were cruising at Derby after goals from James Harper, Dave Kitson, Kevin Doyle and Leroy Lita, Fulham were being thwarted by Pompey. However, that all changed when Murphy nodded home Jimmy Bullard's free-kick 15 minutes from time to turn the relegation battle on its head.

Blackburn, 1995
You had to feel for Blackburn fans on the final day of the 1994-95 campaign - they were put through the wringer. A win at Anfield would guarantee them the title and, following Alan Shearer's opener, all was well - they were coasting towards the Premier League crown and there was nothing Manchester United could do about it. However, John Barnes and Jamie Redknapp found the back of the net, meaning Rovers fans were left glued to radios to hear of how Fergie's lot were doing at Upton Park. For a few moments every Blackburn fan turned their allegiance to West Ham, praying they would do them a huge favour and deny the enemy. And their prayers were answered, the Hammers grinding out a 1-1 draw to see Blackburn pip United to the post by a single point.

Manchester United, 1974
Law is best remembered for his goal-scoring prowess, but not even 237 goals in 404 games can erase from the memory of Manchester United fans the moment his backheel saw his former club relegated from the old First Division. Law moved to Maine Road on a free transfer in 1973 and, at the end of his final season, his cheeky finish proved to be the nail in United's coffin, and it still haunts him today. "I was inconsolable," he told the Daily Mail. "I didn't want it to happen. How long did the feeling last? How long ago was the game? Thirty-odd years. There is your answer. The subject always crops up. It's one of those things. It's always there and I am always remembered for it. That's a shame."

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