The greatest shocks in Premier League history

As last season’s Premier League-winning Liverpool team trudged off the pitch at Villa Park last weekend, few around the country could comprehend the 90 minutes of football they had just witnessed. 

Jurgen Klopp’s men, who had steamrolled most teams they faced in the last campaign, had received a taste of their own medicine in a 7-2 drubbing by Aston Villa at Villa Park. A first half hattrick from Ollie Watkins, a brace from star man Jack Grealish and goals from John McGinn and debutant Ross Barkley blew away the champions. A double from Mohammed Salah was mere consolation in one of the Premier League’s greatest shocks. 

Matched with Tottenham Hotspur’s 6-1 victory against Manchester United at Old Trafford just hours earlier, it rounded off yet another week of what is already appearing to be one of the most open top-flight campaigns in recent memory. With free-for-all goalscoring set to continue, we take a look at some of the top-flight’s greatest upsets. 

Norwich City 3-2 Manchester City, 14th September 2019

Just to offer some clarity, the fact I am a Norwich fan did not wholly dictate this game’s inclusion, although it did play a large part. This game is one of very few positive memories from an otherwise abysmal campaign for the Canaries, which saw them relegated back to the Championship after just one season back in the top-flight. 

Daniel Farke’s men had presented good accounts of themselves in defeats to Liverpool and Chelsea, as well as a comprehensive victory over Newcastle United. But even the most sceptical of Norwich fans were surprised when Kenny McLean powered home a header after 23 minutes against the then-champions and were almost speechless when Todd Cantwell doubled the lead four minutes later. Although Sergio Aguero pulled one back, the defensive problems which to this day continue to haunt Man City were laid bare, as Emi Buendia robbed Nicolas Otamendi of the ball, before squaring to Teemu Pukki to smash home. 

A late consolation from Rodri was not enough to stop the Norfolk side gaining a memorable victory over Pep Guardiola’s side, in a result that shocked even the most open-minded Premier League observers. 

Leicester City 5-3 Manchester United, 21st September 2014

Nigel Pearson’s newly-promoted Foxes side would have already appreciated the task ahead of them when Louis van Gaal’s United team visited the King Power Stadium. But it was only made harder when the home side were the wrong side of a 3-1 scoreline after an hour, following goals from Robin van Persie, Angel di Maria and Ander Herrera. 

What came next will live long in the memory of Leicester fans. Three goals in 18 minutes from David Nugent, Esteban Cambiasso and Jamie Vardy, before Leonardo Ulloa’s second goal in the closing stages, secured a memorable win. 

As well as the scoreline, the game broke several records. It was the first time United had lost a two-goal lead in Premier League history, the first time they had conceded four or more goals against a newly-promoted team, and the first time Leicester had scored five or more goals in a Premier League match for 14 years. 

Manchester United 1-6 Manchester City, 23rd October 2011

“Why always me?”

The words printed on Mario Balotelli’s undershirt are to this day synonymous with the City’s domination over their arch-rivals and closest neighbours over the last decade. Three years after the Citizens were taken over by the Abu Dhabi United Group, City travelled to Old Trafford and blew away the reigning champions. 

City had been in good form before their trip across Manchester, taking 22 points from 24, but with United only two points behind, few could have predicted such a one-sided encounter. A tight first half had seen Balotelli reveal his infamous undershirt, but in the second half Roberto Mancini’s side ran riot with another goal from Balotelli, David Silva and Sergio Aguero and a brace from Edin Dzeko. 

It was United’s biggest home defeat since 1955, and the first time they had conceded six goals at home since 1930. It was an emphatic statement from their neighbours, who went on to steal the title in equally infamous fashion on the last day of the season. 

Bradford City 1-0 Liverpool, 14th May 2000

Things were once very different for Bradford City, who currently languish in League Two. In 1999, the Bantams were promoted to the top-flight under former Wigan Athletic and Derby County manager, Paul Jewell. But few gave them much of a chance when they needed a win against Liverpool on the final day of the season. 

A packed house at Valley Parade was sent into raptures after just 12 minutes, when defender David Wetherall put Bradford in front. Despite a nail-biting 80-minute siege from a Liverpool side that included Steven Gerrard, Michael Owen and Jamie Carragher, the West Yorkshire side held on to secure a memorable win, and Premier League survival. 

The Bantams could not repeat the feat the year after, being relegated in the 2000-01 season. But given the demise the club has suffered since the turn of the century, this result represents better days in the minds of Bradford fans, times they hope to see again in the future. 

By Callum Parke

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