The Premier League's most iconic title-deciding moments: From 'Agueroooo!' to the Battle of the Bridge

Comments (0)
EPL title-winning moments GFX
It often takes something special to clinch English football's most prestigious trophy - as Arsenal and Manchester City both know only too well

All eyes will be on the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday as Premier League leaders Arsenal take on reigning champions Manchester City in a clash that could well decide the final destination of the title.

The Gunners are in danger of letting an eight-point lead slip after a run of three successive draws, but that will be forgotten if they can come out on top against Pep Guardiola's all-star City side.

The odds are stacked against Mikel Arteta's men, though. City are hunting down their fifth title in the last six seasons, and as always, have saved their best form for the finishing stretch. Arsenal want to end their dominance, but haven't been in this position for almost 20 years, and experience could end up being the difference between the sides.

At this stage of the season, players have the chance to write their names into the history books. A superb team performance or moment of individual brilliance can often tip the scales, and there have been so many to marvel at down the years.

So, as we edge towards a defining contest in Manchester, GOAL takes a look at the most memorable title-clinching occasions the Premier League has ever seen...

  1. 2011-12: Aguerooooo!

    2011-12: Aguerooooo!

    Manchester United had a 13th Premier League title in the palm of their hand heading into April 2012, despite losing 6-1 to eternal rivals City at Old Trafford in an extraordinary derby clash earlier in the season.

    But they managed to let an eight-point lead slip, suffering a surprise 1-0 defeat at Wigan before drawing 4-4 with Everton at home and losing to City again in the reverse fixture at the Etihad.

    That sequence of results set up a final day that would change the face of English football forever.

    United once again put themselves in a position to lift the trophy after winning their last outing against Sunderland 1-0, but they had to wait for full-time in City's encounter with QPR before any celebrations could begin.

    When the final whistle blew at the Stadium of Light, the scoreline was 2-2 at the Etihad, with Edin Dzeko having drawn City level in the 92nd minute.

    Three minutes later, Mario Balotelli picked up the ball on the edge of the box, and then managed to poke it into the direction of an on-rushing Sergio Aguero despite being off balance.

    The Argentine then skipped past a QPR defender before smashing the ball into the bottom of the corner - cue absolute delirium.

    Martin Tyler's iconic commentary added even more weight as he let the 'o' in Aguero roll off his tongue for what seemed like an eternity.

    He added after finally drawing breath: "I swear you'll never see anything like this ever again. So watch it, drink it in.

    “They've just heard the news at The Stadium of Light. Two goals in added time for Manchester City to snatch the title away from Manchester United.”

    Three years later, Ferguson reflected on the moment that the balance of power in Manchester finally shifted towards the blue half.

    "We were champions for 30 seconds," he told ESPN. "It was a devastating moment; it was incredible. You have to say we did throw the league away."

  2. 1994-95: Blackburn lose at Anfield but pip Man Utd

    1994-95: Blackburn lose at Anfield but pip Man Utd

    The Premier League title has been decided on the final day nine times in total, with the first instance coming in only the third year after the competition's inception.

    Manchester United had won the first two Premier League crowns, but they were two points behind Blackburn Rovers heading into their last fixture in 1994-95.

    United had a superior goal difference and knew a win over West Ham would give them a third successive title if Kenny Dalglish's side slipped up against Liverpool at Anfield.

    Rovers took the lead on Merseyside, but the Reds came back to steal all three points, with Jamie Redknapp crashing in a stoppage-time free-kick to hand United the initiative.

    News of the final result quickly filtered through to the Boleyn Ground, where West Ham were holding Ferguson's men to a 1-1 draw.

    United reacted by throwing the kitchen sink at the Hammers, but they just couldn't find that all-important winner, and Rovers were crowned champions by a single point after the referee finally blew his whistle.

    Blackburn's triumph was an underdog story for the ages, and the mood was captured perfectly by a voiceover from BBC News on the most famous night in the club's history.

    “For this former cotton town, which has been in decline for most of the century, the success of Blackburn Rovers means everything.”

  3. 2015-16: Battle of the Bridge sparks a Vardy party!
    Getty Images

    2015-16: Battle of the Bridge sparks a Vardy party!

    "The fans, the club, the players - we don’t want Tottenham to win the Premier League."

    Eden Hazard spoke for the entire Chelsea squad when asked about their motivation ahead of a meeting with Spurs at Stamford Bridge in May 2016.

    Tottenham hadn't won at the Blues' home stadium since 1990, but they were favourites heading into the latest London derby match-up, with 22 points separating the two sides in the table.

    Chelsea only had pride to play for after a disastrous season that had seen Guus Hiddink called back to steady the ship after Jose Mourinho's sacking, but Spurs needed a victory to stay in the hunt for their first title since 1961.

    Leicester City, meanwhile, were watching on knowing that they could clinch the trophy with two games to spare if the Blues were able to stop Tottenham in their tracks.

    Mauricio Pochettino's side showed no signs of nerves in a superb first-half showing that saw Harry Kane and Son Heung-min fire them into a two-goal lead.

    But Gary Cahill struck early in the second period to lift Chelsea, and Hazard stepped up seven minutes from time to curl an unstoppable shot into the top corner and level proceedings, capping a game that truly had everything.

    Spurs broke the record for the most yellow cards in a single match (nine), Pochettino raced off the touchline to break up an altercation between Willian and Danny Rose, and Moussa Dembele appeared to eye-gouge Diego Costa as tempers flared in west London.

    When the dust finally settled, the Leicester squad were free to celebrate from the comfort of Jamie Vardy's eight-bedroom house in Melton-Mowbray.

    The Foxes were 5,000-1 outsiders to lift the title at the start of the campaign, with the odds reflecting the fact that they had never previously won the league in their 132-year history.

    Leicester pulled off the greatest footballing miracle ever under former Chelsea boss Claudio Ranieri, while Tottenham were left wondering what might have been after another predictable collapse. Spursy.

  4. 2004-05: Lampard double inspires Mourinho's Chelsea to glory
    Getty Images

    2004-05: Lampard double inspires Mourinho's Chelsea to glory

    After 50 years of hurt, Chelsea finally stood on the cusp of domestic glory when making the trip to Bolton Wanderers in April 2005.

    Just two years on from Roman Abramovich's takeover at Stamford Bridge, the Blues had become the dominant force in English football, and needed only one more win to seal the title.

    Led by a Jose Mourinho at the peak of his powers, Chelsea didn't disappoint.

    Frank Lampard took his tally of goals for the season to 18 with a superb brace at the Reebok Stadium, giving the Blues an unassailable 14-point lead over Arsenal at the top of the table.

    Lampard's second goal was a thing of beauty, as he finished off a quick-fire counter-attack by rounding Bolton goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen and firing into the back of the net.

    The England midfielder then took the opportunity to hit back at Chelsea's critics after the celebrations got underway, telling reporters: "We’ve proved that the best team wins the league. There have been some harsh words spoken about us not being entertaining and that the best two teams in the Premier League are in the final of the FA Cup [Manchester United and Arsenal].

    "But the best team wins the league and we have done that. It’s time for the others to take a look and know that we are definitely the best."

    Mourinho, who 11 months earlier had introduced himself as "The Special One" following his arrival from Porto, echoed Lampard's sentiments.

    "Our group is a special group, they deserve this – nobody can say we don't deserve this. We were absolutely magnificent," he said. "The players deserve this more than anybody, but I am very happy for the fans, especially those that have not seen a title win.

    "We met for the first time in July and from that moment we have built something special. When we have to fight, we fight; when we have to play, we play; when we have to suffer, we suffer. And always together."

    By the end of the campaign, the Blues had broken the records for the most away wins (15), most clean sheets (25), fewest goals conceded away (nine), most wins (29) and fewest goals conceded (15) in a single Premier League season.

    Special indeed.

  5. 2021-22: Man City stage late final-day comeback

    2021-22: Man City stage late final-day comeback

    Liverpool's pursuit of an unprecedented quadruple dominated headlines for the majority of the 2021-22 season, but City blocked out the outside noise and went about their business in the same ruthless fashion that had seen them win three of the previous four Premier League titles on offer.

    Pep Guardiola's team sat one point ahead of Liverpool heading into the final round of fixtures, and only needed one more win to retain their crown.

    However, City appeared to be overcome by uncharacteristic nerves for the first 70 minutes of their pivotal clash with Aston Villa.

    Matty Cash initially gave the visitors a deserved first-half lead before former Liverpool star Philippe Coutinho doubled their advantage in the 69th minute to leave supporters at the Etihad with their heads in their hands.

    With Reds legend Steven Gerrard on the touchline for Villa, it appeared to be written that they would spoil the party for City, but the champions quickly turned the script on its head.

    Substitute Ilkay Gundogan gave the hosts a glimmer of hope when he nodded home at the far post in the 76th minute, and two minutes later they were level thanks to a brilliant Rodri effort from just outside the box.

    City still needed one more to be sure, and Gundogan obliged once again, finishing off a Kevin De Bruyne cross from a yard out to complete a remarkable five-minute comeback.

    Liverpool ended up beating Wolves in their own final-day outing, but it didn't matter. The trophy was already back in the blue half of Manchester, and Guardiola's conciliatory words after the match would have done little to ease their pain.

    "We are legends. When you win the Premier League four times in five seasons it's because these guys are so, so special. We will be remembered," he said. "The magnitude of your achievement is defined by the magnitude of your rival. I've never seen a team like Liverpool. I know it's tough, but a huge congratulations to them. They help us to be a better team."

  6. 2002-03: Viduka & Leeds end Arsenal's challenge
    Getty Images

    2002-03: Viduka & Leeds end Arsenal's challenge

    After dropping points at Bolton a week earlier, there was no margin for error left for Arsenal when they welcomed Leeds to Highbury in May 2003.

    Arsene Wenger's side had fallen eight points behind leaders Manchester United and knew that only a win could keep their faint hopes of retaining the title alive.

    The Gunners needed to start brightly against a Leeds side fighting for their lives at the other end of the table, but Harry Kewell had other ideas.

    The Australian opened the scoring in the fifth minute with a quite remarkable strike, as he nodded a long pass in front of him without breaking stride before rifling an unstoppable half-volley across a sprawling David Seaman and into the far corner of the Arsenal net.

    Thierry Henry levelled on the half-hour mark, only for an Ian Harte free-kick to put Leeds ahead again early in the second period. Dennis Bergkamp then finished from close range to make it 2-2, but this was never going to be Arsenal's day.

    The final sting in the tail came from Kewell's Aussie compatriot Mark Viduka, who cut in on his left foot after picking the ball up on the right flank before executing a perfect side-foot finish that beat Seaman all ends up.

    The title went back to Old Trafford as a result, much to Wenger's frustration. "We have the feeling that in recent weeks things went against us with injuries and suspensions especially," said the Frenchman. "That can happen to anybody, but I still believe we are the best team. I still think we could play the Brazilian national team."

    Ferguson, meanwhile, gave a sharp rebuttal after landing his eighth title in the space of 11 years.

    "We were up against a terrific side but we showed perseverance, determination and a great ability never to give up," he said. "We had to overcome injuries early in the season but we had to bite the bullet and take the poison."

  7. 2013-14: Gerrard's slip & Crystanbul

    2013-14: Gerrard's slip & Crystanbul

    April 27, 2014. A day that will forever live in the minds of Liverpool supporters for all the wrong reasons.

    The Reds were five points clear at the top of the Premier League when they welcomed second-placed Chelsea to Anfield, and they were full of confidence after an 11-match winning run that included a 3-2 victory over Manchester City.

    After that City game, Steven Gerrard brought his team-mates in for a huddle and declared: "This does not f*cking slip now!" Liverpool's first league crown since 1990 was there for the taking. But Gerrard lost his footing at the crucial moment.

    With seconds remaining in stoppage time at the end of the first half, the Reds captain failed to control a simple pass from Mamadou Sakho, and slipped over while trying to make amends for the error.

    Demba Ba pounced ruthlessly, racing upfield before finishing low past Simon Mignolet to silence the home crowd. Chelsea went on to win the game 2-0, which gave City the advantage in the title race due to the fact they had multiple games in hand.

    Liverpool were still alive despite the loss, but their composure and belief had gone.

    A week later, they made the trip to Crystal Palace for their penultimate fixture of the season, and raced into a 3-0 lead, only to completely capitulate in the final 11 minutes.

    Damien Delaney struck what initially appeared to be a consolation goal for the Eagles before a Dwight Gayle double gave the hosts a share of the spoils.

    City took advantage by winning their final two home games to pip Liverpool to the finishing post, with the Palace draw then dubbed 'Crystanbul' in a painful nod to the Reds' legendary comeback against AC Milan in the 2005 Champions League final.

  8. 2018-19: Kompany thunderbolt vs Leicester

    2018-19: Kompany thunderbolt vs Leicester

    Vincent Kompany scored 20 goals in his 11-year career at Man City - a decent return for a centre-back - but one stands out above all the rest.

    Guardiola's men had Liverpool breathing down their necks when Leicester arrived at the Etihad on May 6, 2019, and knew any slip-up could be costly before the final weekend of the season.

    City were on a 13-match winning run, but the Foxes managed to frustrate them for the first hour, and the tension inside their home stadium was palpable.

    A moment of magic was needed to break the deadlock, and City had plenty of star names on the pitch to turn to - from Aguero to Raheem Sterling, Gundogan to Bernardo.

    It was Kompany, though, who delivered when they needed it most, as he received a pass around 40 yards from Leicester's goal and took a moment to assess his options.

    The Belgian had space and time at his disposal, so he took the opportunity to set himself before letting fly with a shot so powerful that it was difficult to even see in real-time.

    As soon as the ball left Kompany's foot, it was destined to hit the back of the net, and the importance of the spectacular strike was not lost on Sky Sports commentator Gary Neville.

    “Where do you want your statue, Vincent Kompany?” asked the Manchester United icon.

    The defender's sublime effort certainly came as a surprise to Guardiola, who admitted after the game: "I said, 'No shoot Vinnie, no shoot!"

    City went on to win their final game against Brighton and seal a domestic treble by beating Watford in the FA Cup final, with Kompany then deciding to leave the club at the end of his contract.

    What a way to bow out!

  9. 2008-09: Macheda's memorable Man Utd debut

    2008-09: Macheda's memorable Man Utd debut

    United's title defence was running relatively smoothly, until back-to-back defeats against Liverpool and Fulham left them sweating ahead of a home fixture against Aston Villa.

    Another defeat would have put Liverpool in the driving seat, and with 30 minutes remaining against Villa, United found themselves 2-1 down.

    Enter 17-year-old Italian striker Federico Macheda, who was sent on for his senior debut to try and rescue the game for the Red Devils.

    His introduction provided an immediate lift, and Cristiano Ronaldo brought United back to 2-2 in the 80th minute to set up a frantic finale.

    The hosts pegged Villa back in their own half in search of a winner, but they stood strong right until the final seconds of the game. Right until Macheda properly announced himself as a United player.

    The teenager produced a lovely first-time turn after receiving a pass from Ryan Giggs in the box, and despite being slightly off balance, managed to steer a right-footed shot into the far corner past a full-stretch Brad Friedel.

    Old Trafford erupted, and a new hero was born. United held off Liverpool to clinch their 11th Premier League crown after that, but it proved to be a false dawn for Macheda, who only scored four more goals in 35 further appearances before leaving Manchester in 2014.

    Still, no one can ever take that moment away from him. “My life changed that day and it has never been the same since,” Macheda said in an interview with ESPN in 2017. “To this moment, it remains the best football day of my life.”

  10. 2009-10: Chelsea hit Wigan for EIGHT
    Getty Images

    2009-10: Chelsea hit Wigan for EIGHT

    After three years of United bossing the English football landscape, Chelsea drafted in Italian maestro Carlo Ancelotti in an attempt to return to the top of the tree.

    He didn't disappoint, with the Blues landing their third top-flight trophy after becoming the first side in Premier League history to score over 100 goals in a Premier League season.

    Eight of their 103 goals were recorded in an emphatic final day against Wigan at the Bridge. The 8-0 thrashing was the biggest win in Chelsea's entire 105-year history, and came after they had already put seven past Sunderland, Aston Villa and Stoke City earlier in the season.

    A lot of teams would have buckled under the pressure of needing a win to secure the title, as United were only a point behind them in second, but Chelsea had the swagger of champions right from the first minute.

    Didier Drogba netted a hat-trick to win the Golden Boot and Nicolas Anelka bagged a brace, while Lampard, Salomon Kalou and even Ashley Cole also managed to get in on the act.

    Ancelotti was as modest as ever in victory as he said after the game: "We played a good match and won, and that was our aim. To win this game and close this title, we are very happy. I want to say a lot of thanks: to my owner, Roman Abramovich; to my club and everyone who worked with me in this season, supporting me every day; and above all my players.

    "I found a fantastic team here who worked very well every day, maintaining a good atmosphere as a team. We won this title because we played as a team and worked as a team, everyone."

    Before City swept aside the competition under Guardiola, Chelsea set a new benchmark as English football's main entertainers. And although Ancelotti was sacked after a slight drop in standards the following year, his place in the hearts of supporters will forever be secure.

  11. 2003-04: Invincibles seal the deal at Spurs

    2003-04: Invincibles seal the deal at Spurs

    Arsenal only won the Premier League three times during Wenger's 22-year reign, but their 2003-04 team remains arguably the greatest to ever grace the competition.

    They were crowned champions that season with four games to spare, and the celebrations began in the backyard of their fiercest rivals.

    The Gunners arrived at White Hart Lane on April 25 needing just a point to be sure of the title, having seen Newcastle defeat second-placed Chelsea earlier in the day.

    Wenger's men turned on the style in the first half against Spurs, with Patrick Vieira finishing off a beautiful flowing counter-attack to put them in front before turning provider for Robert Pires to double their account shortly before the interval.

    Tottenham mounted a comeback in the second period, with Redknapp arrowing a low shot past Jens Lehmann to reduce the deficit in the 62nd minute.

    Lehmann then gave away a penalty in stoppage time which allowed Robbie Keane to level the scores for Spurs, but Arsenal held on for the point they needed and the result didn't dampen their celebrations in the slightest.

    Thierry Henry had initially agreed to comply with a pre-match police request not to over-celebrate, but he couldn't help himself after Tottenham's reaction to the draw.

    “I remember [Mauricio] Taricco jumping around, and he got a cramp out of it, by the way,” the Arsenal legend said when looking back on that day in an interview with Sky Sports years later. “Jumping around and celebrating it. Like celebrating a draw. First of all, that tells you their standard. Celebrating a draw. And I looked at him, and I said, ‘Are you kidding me?’ And he went, ‘Yeah,’ jumping in front of me. I said, ‘Do you realise that we only needed a point to be champions at your place?'

    "I said to Ashley Cole at the final whistle, ‘Now we are going to celebrate’. We wanted to be humble at the beginning of the game but you want to celebrate a draw? Really? We just needed a point!

    “We celebrated and the pictures are there to prove it now. It was always important to have the last laugh and the story will tell you we won the league at the Lane, and it wasn’t the first time by the way.”

    The Gunners avoided defeat in their final four games to complete an unbeaten season - a feat that has still yet to be repeated to this day.