The final day of the Premier League season rarely approaches with nothing still on the table.
Over the years, we’ve been treated to some astonishing, pulsating conclusions to the top flight, with titles still on the line, survival hanging in the balance and European spots up for grabs, with just one game to go.
The final round of fixtures is about so much more than just talent and squad depth – it’s about heart, character, mentality, grit and desire, all of which need to be displayed if a team is to achieve their end-of-season goal.
With that in mind, let’s take a trip down memory lane and recall some of the most remarkable and influential last days of the Premier League season.
Roy Hodgson’s men had done remarkably well to even take their fight for survival to the final day.
In their third from last game of the season they found themselves 2-0 down at Manchester City with just 20 minutes to go. With that scoreline, their fate was as good as sealed, though an astonishing late comeback saw them take all three points, while a win against Birmingham City in their penultimate game meant it was all down to gameweek 38.
The Cottagers travelled to eighth-placed Portsmouth knowing realistically they needed to win. Harry Redknapp’s side had only suffered defeat three times at Fratton Park that season, though a Danny Murphy header secured the three points for Hodgson’s side and saw them stay up by virtue of goal difference.
The win rounded off one of the greatest escapes in Premier League history.
Liverpool’s 3-0 win over Middlesbrough may not be a game which instantly springs to mind when recalling dramatic final day results, though in truth it was the catalyst for the club’s recent success.
After two seasons without Champions League football, the Reds’ win against relegated Boro secured fourth place and ensured they would be competing among Europe’s elite.
Their qualification was the catalyst for their recent success, with the club reaching the final of the competition the subsequent year and lifting their sixth European Cup in 2019.
Their Champions League status also saw them able to recruit a number of players the following season who have gone on to become key players in their maiden Premier League triumph, including Mohamed Salah, Virgil van Dijk and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
It may seem like a relatively innocuous result on paper, but in reality it meant so much more.
Kenny Dalglish’s side headed to Anfield knowing a win would see them crowned Premier League champions.
Unfortunately, Liverpool had priorities of their own with a UEFA Cup spot up for grabs and the Reds looked to have shattered Rovers’ title dreams, with Jamie Redknapp’s last-minute beauty securing the three points.
The result left Manchester United needing just a win away at West Ham to notch their third consecutive championship… but, somehow, they blew it.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s men could only muster a 1-1 draw at Upton Park, with some outstanding last-ditch defending from the Hammers meaning Blackburn became the second club to be crowned Premier League champions.
Having looked destined for life in the Championship, West Ham produced some fine end-of-season form – picking up six wins from eight games – to take their survival battle down to the final day.
However, they faced a daunting trip to Old Trafford to play the Premier League champions – yet that didn’t stop their magic Argentinian from having the last laugh.
Carlos Tevez’s clever finish on the stroke of half-time was enough to secure an unlikely three points for Alan Curbishley’s men, and subsequently an even more unlikely stay in the Premier League.
Not only significant in that it kept West Ham in the league, the performance was also enough to see United sign Tevez that summer, with the frontman a key part of the Ferige side that dominated both domestically and in Europe.
Where to start with this one?
Tottenham made the short trip to West Ham on the final day of the 2005/06 season, knowing a win would see Champions League football brought to White Hart Lane at the expense of north London rivals Arsenal. Dreamy.
However, a number of the Spurs squad was struck down by a mystery illness the day before the game, with players said to be vomiting throughout the night. Nightmarish.
After their request to delay the fixture was refused, Spurs were forced to field a squad littered with players suffering from nausea and the illness took its toll.
Martin Jol’s side came away from Upton Park empty handed, with their 2-1 defeat allowing the Gunners to leapfrog them and claim the final Champions League place.
No team had achieved Premier League survival having been bottom at Christmas, though Bryan Robson’s men were looking to become the first as they faced Portsmouth on the final day in 2005.
With the scores level at 0-0, the Baggies were staring down the barrel of yet another season in the second tier. However, second-half strikes from Geoff Horsfield and Kieran Richardson saw West Brom retain their Premier League status against all the odds.
Cue pandemonium, with a huge pitch invasion and players held aloft like they’d just secured the title.
Their Premier League stay didn’t last long as they were relegated the following season, though the ‘bottom at Christmas’ hoodoo had finally been laid to rest.
With a Champions League and an FA Cup final on the horizon, Manchester United played host to Tottenham in their final game of the Premier League season, looking to secure the first part of a historic treble.
A nervy United performance saw the visitors take the lead through Les Ferdinand, and all the pre-match talk of the treble was beginning to look a bit foolish.
However, in typical United style they showed true grit and determination, with David Beckham levelling the scores shortly before half-time, and substitute Andy Cole lofting the ball superbly over Ian Walker to bag the three points and the title.
Similarly to Liverpool’s victory over Middlesbrough, Chelsea’s 2-1 win against the Reds on the final day of the 2002/03 season may seem pretty irrelevant in isolation.
However, the win saw Chelsea secure a top-four finish, with Roman Abramovich buying the club that summer – partly as a result of their immediate entry to European football. With the Russian’s spending power and Champions League football on offer, the Blues attracted some of the biggest names in Europe, including Hernan Crespo and Claude Makelele.
Without their win over Liverpool, Roman Abramovich may have taken his billions elsewhere, Chelsea wouldn’t have reached the semi-finals of the Champions League the following season, and Jose Mourinho would perhaps have thought twice about moving to Stamford Bridge.
Few results have changed the landscape of the Premier League so significantly.
For all their top-flight championships and FA Cup wins, Everton’s final day win at Wimbledon will forever be remembered as one of the greatest afternoons in the club’s history by Blues fans.
Having been 2-0 down, Joe Royle’s men looked destined for the second tier, however, an unbelievable comeback with goals from Barry Horne and a Graham Stuart double saw the Toffees maintain their proud top-flight record.
The 3-2 win meant it was Sheffield United who suffered the agony of relegation after four consecutive seasons in the first division.
Some matches don’t need much of an introduction.
Undoubtedly the most memorable game in Premier League history. City had done the hard work, fighting off rivals United meaning they went into their final game knowing a win against relegation-threatened QPR would hand them their first Premier League title.
Obviously City don’t do things the easy way, gifting QPR a 2-1 lead after
Pablo Zabaleta had put Roberto Mancini’s side 1-0 up.
However, a late Edin Dzeko header and an even later Sergio Aguero strike finally saw City crowned champions of England once again.
Cue absolute ecstasy from the City fans, and scenes of despair from the Stadium of Light, as news filtered through to United that their rivals had grabbed a late winner to deny them the title.
Meanwhile, Phil Jones could only look on in utter bemusement as to what all the fuss was about.