THE CURTAIN CAME down on the 2013-14 Premier League season at the weekend, with Manchester City defeating West Ham United 2-0 to claim their fourth English title.
Here, AFP Sports looks back at five of the most memorable matches from another dramatic campaign:
Manchester City 6 Arsenal 3 (14 December)
Manchester City delivered an ominous message to their Premier League title rivals as leaders Arsenal were hit for six. Sergio Aguero’s early goal was cancelled out by Theo Walcott, but Alvaro Negredo put City back in front, with Fernandinho extending their lead before Walcott’s second for Arsene Wenger’s side. David Silva and Fernandinho found the target before Per Mertesacker’s header made it 5-3 in stoppage time. City’s brilliance deserved the final word and so it proved as Yaya Toure’s penalty sealed a rout that proved the hosts were genuine title contenders.
Manchester United 0 Liverpool 3 (16 March)
English football’s premier rivalry served up another eye-opening encounter as Steven Gerrard’s penalty double underlined Liverpool’s title credentials and further exposed the crumbling empire at Old Trafford. Just 12 months earlier there had been a 29-point gap between the teams at the same stage. But resurgent Liverpool blew United away as Gerrard scored spot-kicks in the 34th and 46th minutes before Nemanja Vidic was sent off for conceding another penalty, which Gerrard missed. There was still time for Luis Suarez’s 84th minute strike to heap further misery on United manager David Moyes, who was sacked a month later.
Chelsea 6 Arsenal 0 (22 March)
Wenger’s 1,000th game in charge of Arsenal turned out to be an occasion to forget for the Frenchman as his 10-man team were humiliated. Arsenal were two behind after seven minutes, with first Samuel Eto’o and then Andre Schurrle on target. Eden Hazard’s penalty followed after an Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain handball, which saw referee Andre Marriner send off Kieran Gibbs in an extraordinary case of mistaken identity. Oscar scored twice before Mohamed Salah inflicted more pain on the Gunners. It was Jose Mourinho’s biggest Premier League victory as Chelsea manager and shattered Arsenal’s fading hopes of winning the title.
Liverpool 3 Manchester City 2 (13 April)
Liverpool appeared to take a huge step towards winning the Premier League title by beating City on an emotional occasion just days before the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough stadium disaster. The Reds looked like sweeping City aside in a dazzling opening half as goals from Raheem Sterling and Martin Skrtel put Brendan Rodgers’s team in command. City, who lost Toure to injury early on, mounted a strong recovery and Silva pulled one back before his cross was inadvertently deflected in by Glen Johnson to draw them level. A gripping spectacle was decided 12 minutes from time when Vincent Kompany’s miscued clearance allowed Philippe Coutinho to fire home a blistering goal that, despite Jordan Henderson’s late red card, left Liverpool four wins from ending their 24-year wait for the title.
Crystal Palace 3 Liverpool 3 (5 May)
Liverpool squandered a three-goal lead in the final 11 minutes at Crystal Palace, leaving star striker Luis Suarez in tears at the final whistle and prompting manager Brendan Rodgers to concede their title challenge was over. Joe Allen’s first league goal for Liverpool, a Damien Delaney own goal and a Suarez effort put the Reds in charge as the visiting fans urged their side forward in search of more goals to eat into City’s goal-difference advantage. Instead, their fragile defence collapsed at the first sign of serious pressure as Palace sent Selhurst Park wild with goals from Delaney and a double from substitute Dwight Gayle. Liverpool’s point put them back on top of the table, but City had a crucial game in hand and the sight of Suarez covering his face with his shirt to hide his sobs told the whole story — the title was destined for Eastlands.