EPL

After Arsenal own goals and 'Battle of the Bridge', could Liverpool hand City their title?

By Sports Desk May 01, 2021

A fine week could yet get better for Manchester City, who may clinch the Premier League title this weekend.

But any celebrations will take place in their living rooms, rather than on the pitch.

If City win at Crystal Palace on Saturday, they will be keenly watching on Sunday as Liverpool travel to Manchester United.

A peculiar development could see reigning champions Liverpool beat their bitter rivals to hand their own crown to City.

It would be the sixth time the Premier League title has been settled at Old Trafford, the most of any stadium, while City's 2017-18 success was also confirmed by a United home defeat – to West Brom on that occasion.

This could be the 11th occasion in the competition's history the championship has been secured with the victors watching from elsewhere.

Using Opta data, we run through four of the most memorable examples.

Arsenal 0-3 Middlesbrough: Gunners giftwrap United's title

It was a case of when not if United would win the title in 2000-01, but rivals Arsenal might still have preferred to put up more of a fight.

A quite remarkable defeat to Middlesbrough saw the Gunners score two of their opponents' three goals for them. It is one of just two occasions in Premier League history Arsenal have scored two own goals in the same game (also v Blackburn in 2011).

Brazilian pair Edu and Sylvinho were the guilty parties, meaning this remains the only occasion two non-British players from the same country have scored own goals for the same team in a Premier League match.

Arsenal 2-3 Leeds United: Highbury delight again for Fergie

United's run of three straight championships was ended in 2001-02 with defeat against Arsenal at Old Trafford, but the Gunners' own home was the setting again 12 months later when Alex Ferguson's side reclaimed their crown.

Ian Harte grabbed one of three Leeds goals, scoring direct from a free-kick at Highbury for the third season running. No other player in Premier League history has done so in three straight away games against an opponent.

United's triumph was sealed by Mark Viduka, though, his 88th-minute winner the latest from an away player at Highbury since Roy Keane's August 1999 effort for United. Arsenal did not concede a decisive goal as late again at home in the Premier League before their 2006 move to Emirates Stadium.

Chelsea 2-2 Tottenham: Spurs implode to prompt Vardy party

Sunday's match at Old Trafford comes five years to the day since the 'Battle of the Bridge', an epic affair that had Leicester City's players celebrating a stunning success from Jamie Vardy's house.

Tottenham needed to win to keep their hopes alive and raced into a two-goal lead at the home of Chelsea, champions a year earlier but awful in their title defence.

An extraordinary collapse followed. Spurs had nine players booked – one of them, Mousa Dembele, was later suspended for six games for an eye gouge – as the Blues battled back and Eden Hazard's first home league goal in a day shy of a year sealed Leicester's triumph.

Chelsea 2-1 Manchester City: Blues at it again at the Bridge

Stamford Bridge provided the scene again last season as Liverpool's first Premier League title win was confirmed. It meant three of the past six titles had been decided at Chelsea's home, including the Blues' own triumph against Crystal Palace in 2014-15 and the Tottenham game the following season.

With Chelsea also sealing the title with a win at West Brom in 2016-17, they have been involved in four of the past six clinching matches.

Willian's penalty secured the points after a Fernandinho red card, and Guardiola will be glad to this year avoid a late-season trip to SW6, where he has a joint-high four away defeats in his coaching career. City do still have to welcome Chelsea to Manchester, though, and each are well-placed in their respective Champions League semi-finals.

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    The 19-year-old enjoyed a breakout season at Old Trafford last term, his 17 goals making it the joint most prolific season for a teenager in United's history – level with George Best (1965-66), Brian Kidd (1967-68) and Wayne Rooney (2004-05).

    He found the going somewhat tougher this time around and had five goals in 39 appearances across all competitions heading into the March international break, when he failed to make Gareth Southgate's squad.

    Since April 1, Greenwood has eight goals in 11 games, with six in seven in the Premier League making him the division's joint-top scorer alongside Burnley's Chris Wood during this period.

    United take on Fulham on Tuesday before closing their Premier League campaign at Wolves. All attention will then turn to the Europa League final against Villarreal in Gdansk, when the Red Devils will seek to win a first major honour since lifting the same trophy four years ago.

    "To win something with United would be amazing," Greenwood told Sky Sports.

    "I want to do that. We are in a good position to do it. A good finish to the Premier League season and a win in the final would be nice. We need a bit of silverware, we have not had any for a few years, so to bring it back home would be a good feeling.

    "It would be nice to go to the Euros but I just want to be fully focused on United for these two games and the Europa League final.

    "What happens, happens. I have not really been thinking about it too much. I have just been going out there thinking about my performances for United, how to score and help the team score.

    "I have just been focusing on my football."

    Greenwood found himself under scrutiny for actions off the pitch earlier in the season when, after making their England debuts in Iceland, he and Manchester City playmaker Phil Foden were sent home for breaching coronavirus protocols.

    Ole Gunnar Solksjaer believes the United youngster has come through that episode a stronger person and, with Euro 2020 squads now expanded to 26 players, the clamour for Gareth Southgate to include Greenwood as a wildcard pick in attack is mounting.

    "I totally agree with him, I have come through it stronger," Greenwood said.

    "All of these little things make you into a better person, a better human being and a better footballer. It makes you learn a few things. It is like when you are playing, you learn from your mistakes. You either let it affect you or you push forward. Why not push forward?"

    Greenwood added: "The manager has been fully focused on me and he has helped me a lot. He speaks to all the lads a lot, individually and as a group. I am really pleased to have him there."

  • Jazz break through for maiden championship as Nets wait goes on – Stats Perform AI predicts NBA playoffs Jazz break through for maiden championship as Nets wait goes on – Stats Perform AI predicts NBA playoffs

    It is that time of year again – the NBA playoffs.

    Although this season has a different feel due to the new play-in tournament, it's crunch time as LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers eye back-to-back championships.

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    Suns sizzle as Lakers crash out, Heat stun Bucks in sweep

    Much has been made about the Phoenix Suns this season. Led by All-Star Devin Booker and star veteran Chris Paul, the franchise returned to the playoffs for the first time since 2009-10. Second behind the Jazz in the Western Conference, the Suns ease past the Lakers 4-1. Winning the opening three games 120-93, 90-88 and 105-104, Phoenix never look back as they end the Lakers' quest to land consecutive championships for the first time since 2009-10.

    The Milwaukee Bucks loaded up heavily in the offseason, bringing in Jrue Holiday to aid two-time reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo in his quest for a title and the franchise's first since 1971. But after trips to the Eastern Conference Finals and semi-finals, the third-seeded Bucks are sensationally swept 4-0 by last season's runners-up the Miami Heat.

    Eastern Conference top seed for the first time since 2001, the Joel Embiid-led 76ers flex their muscles 4-2 against the Wizards but it is not easy. Dropping consecutive games to Bradley Beal, Russell Westbrook and Washington, Doc Rivers' Philadelphia rally past the Wizards 112-109, 91-99 and 110-104 to bounce back from last season's first-round sweep at the hands of the Celtics.

    Boasting a three-headed monster in Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving, the second-seeded Nets dig deep against the Celtics 4-3 in the east. With all eyes on the star-studded Nets big three following an injury-interrupted regular season, Brooklyn lose two of the opening three matchups but reel off back-to-back victories to set the tone before progressing beyond the first round for the first time since 2013-14 thanks to a 110-91 Game 7 triumph.

    Looking to put last season's playoff capitulation behind them, having sensationally surrendered a 3-1 lead at the hands of the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference semi-finals, Kawhi Leonard's Los Angeles Clippers make light work of Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks 4-1. A 128-106 rout in Game 1 ignites the Clippers, while the third-seeded Nuggets – spearheaded by MVP favourite Nikola Jokic – are upstaged by the Portland Trail Blazers 4-3. Following in the footsteps of the Clippers, Denver cough up a commanding 3-0 lead as Damian Lillard's Trail Blazers complete a stunning comeback.

    The New York Knicks and their fans have been waiting since 2013 to play postseason basketball. Their playoff return does not disappoint as the fourth seed – spearheaded by All-Star Julius Randle – make the most of their home-court advantage against the Atlanta Hawks to come out 4-3 winners. Trae Young's Hawks race out to a 3-1 lead but the Knicks are not to be denied.

     

    Trail Blazers continue giant-slaying run, Clippers bow out to Jazz as 76ers roll on

    Ranked sixth heading into the playoffs, the Trail Blazers defy their seeding by producing another shock performance, this time outlasting the highly fancied Suns in seven games. Western Conference finalists in 2018-19, Portland humble Phoenix 129-96, 117-86 and 126-92 in Games 1, 3 and 4 to seize the momentum and while the Suns storm back to force a series decider, Lillard, CJ McCollum and the Trail Blazers step up to the plate.

    Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert experienced consecutive first-round exits in 2018-19 and 2019-20, but featuring in their first Conference semi-final since 2018, the Jazz prove too hot for the fourth-ranked Clippers and take a 4-2 series win. Utah, who beat Los Angeles in two of the three regular-season contests, win the opening three games of the second-round series and never look back as pressure mounts on Leonard, Paul George and the championship-chasing Clippers.

    The standout teams in the east, the 76ers and Nets barely raise a sweat en route to the Conference Finals. In pursuit of a first championship since 1983, the 76ers sweep the Knicks 4-0, while the Nets end Miami's hopes with their own devastating 4-0 success.

     

    Nets conquer 76ers, Jazz rally past Blazers

    A matchup many predicted when the 76ers appointed head coach Rivers and the Nets landed former MVP Harden in a blockbuster trade with the Houston Rockets in January. Philadelphia's cast of Embiid, fellow All-Star Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris, sharp-shooter Seth Curry and Danny Green come up against Durant, Harden, Irving and Blake Griffin, and it is Brooklyn who prevail in a thriller. The Nets and 76ers split the opening six games before a deciding seventh game. With a championship berth on the line, Steve Nash's Nets edge the 76ers 112-109 as question marks again emerge over whether the Philadelphia franchise can succeed with both Embiid and Simmons.

    Not since 1997-98 had the Jazz secured a spot in the Finals, having enjoyed back-to-back appearances in the midst of Karl Malone's greatness, but Utah end that drought against Portland. The Jazz overturn 1-0 and 3-2 deficits to finally end the Trail Blazers' fairytale run as Portland fall agonisingly short of their first Finals appearance since 1992.

     

    Jazz make history

    The last five head coaches to win a title in their first year were Nick Nurse (Toronto Raptors, 2019), Tyronn Lue (Cleveland Cavaliers, 2016), Steve Kerr (Warriors, 2015), Pat Riley (Lakers, 1982) and Paul Westhead (Lakers, 1980). Rookie and two-time MVP Nash has been looking to join that list with a Nets side eyeing their maiden championship – having faced a long wait since joining the league in 1976-77.

    Despite a frightening array of talent, the Nets go down 4-1 in the Finals as the Jazz make history, headlined by a resounding 121-102 win in Game 5.

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    ROUND-UP

    - The front page of Diario AS claims former Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri is the favourite to replace Zinedine Zidane if the Frenchman leaves Real Madrid. Club great Raul, who is currently in charge of the Castilla team, is another option. It comes as Madrid push to bring in a franchise player in the form of Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe, while Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland and Bayern Munich's David Alaba are also wanted amid links to Rennes sensation Eduardo Camavinga and United midfielder Paul Pogba.

    - The Sun says City are considering a mega move for Barca superstar Lionel Messi, who is out of contract at the end of the season. Messi is reportedly open to reuniting with Pep Guardiola in Manchester on a one-year deal.

    Barca are weighing up the futures of Gerard Pique, Sergio Busquets, Antoine Griezmann and Sergi Roberto, reports Mundo Deportivo. Due to their financial situation, the players could be asked to take a pay cut as Lyon captain Memphis Depay prepares to arrive on a free transfer. City forward Sergio Aguero and defender Eric Garcia, Haaland and Liverpool's Georginio Wijnaldum have also been linked.

    - Lille's Jonathan Ikone is Dortmund's top priority as the Bundesliga club prepare for life without Jadon Sancho, according to France Football. Sancho has been tipped to join United or Liverpool, while Dortmund are also eyeing PSV sensation Donyell Malen, Ajax forward David Neres and Pedro Goncalves of Sporting CP.

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