On this Day

Invincibles
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Premier League On This Day: Invincibles! Arsenal makes history (video)

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It hasn’t been done before, and it’s unlikely to be done again (especially after Ismaila Sarr took Liverpool’s perceived team of destiny out to lunch).

Arsenal went an entire Premier League season unbeaten.

The Gunners drew 12 times including a three-match run late in the season, but put the finishing touches on their 26W-12D-0L season with wins over Fulham and Leicester City.

The final match for Arsene Wenger’s men was 16 years ago Friday, as the Gunners came back from a first-half deficit via goals from Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

League and FA Cup runs died at the semifinal stages, with Manchester United ousting Arsenal from the latter and Middlesbrough the former. Chelsea knocked Arsenal out of the UEFA Champions League.

The Gunners drew two teams twice: Portsmouth and Manchester United. They also drew with Fulham and Birmingham City at home, splitting the spoils with Spurs, Newcastle, Everton, Bolton, Leicester City, and Charlton Athletic away.

Arsenal is cheekily just “Arsena” today on Twitter because they just couldn’t take an L.

Premier League On This Day: Blackburn Rovers win it all

Blackburn Rovers
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Blackburn lost 2-1 to Liverpool on this day 25 years ago, but that didn’t stop the celebrations as the Rovers won the Premier League.

There would’ve been nerves everywhere as Blackburn entered the day with only one point, but Manchester United choked away their chance with a draw at West Ham United.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

The team was loaded, and there was a bit of controversy thanks to owner Jack Walker pouring money into transfers for Alan Shearer, Chris Sutton, David Batty, Stuart Ripley, Tim Sherwood, and Graeme Le Saux over the previous few windows.

Yes, that’s NBC Sports broadcaster Graeme Le Saux, who made the PFA Team of the Year for the first of two times in his career. He scored three goals and collected a robust eight yellow cards on the season.

“We’re always really defensive about the comparison of other clubs when it comes to big pockets, spending loads of money and buying success because it was far more sophisticated than that,” Le Saux told The Mirror. “The group, the culture that Kenny (Dalglish) and his No.2 Ray Harford set was so important. There was no hierarchy, nothing flash and when I got there in 1993, they paid £600,000 for me and Chelsea paid £5.5million to buy me back and they made a £40m profit on that team.”

The Rovers only won two of their final six matches, drawing once and losing twice, which put them in the final day predicament. Manchester United were the two-time reigning champions, but choked away their chance despite losing just twice from the festive fixtures through the 42nd match day.

Sales were made and the Rovers were relegated four seasons later. They’d return to the Premier League from 2001-12, but sunk as far as League One before promotion to the Championship in 2018-19. They were three points back of the promotion playoffs spot when the coronavirus pause hit the Championship in March.

Premier League On This Day: Aguero, stoppage time, silverware (video)

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It’s been exactly eight years since the most famous goal in Premier League history.

That’s saying something, yes, but how many moments in the history of our beloved sport have inspired a commentator to cry something like “Where does football go from here?”

And how many times has that statement somehow not felt like hyperbole?

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Sergio Aguero’s stoppage-time goal on the final day of the season gave Manchester City a win over Queens Park Rangers and the Premier League title. The 3-2 win gave City the title on goal differential.

The above gives you the bones of the beast, but fails to note so many things:

  • City won its first top-flight title since 1967-68.
  • The crown was ripped out of the hands of rivals Manchester United.
  • Roberto Mancini’s City did the thing in “Fergie Time” to sting Fergie himself.
  • City had seemingly thrown away the crown just six weeks earlier when they completed a 1-2-2 run with a 1-0 loss to Arsenal on a late Mikel Arteta goal.

The goal was Aguero’s 23rd of the Premier League season, his first year in England’s top flight. He’d go on to have a pretty substantial career in the PL, but regardless this would’ve been enough to cement his status as an icon.

United beat Sunderland 1-0 moments before Aguero’s goal to climb into first place, but that didn’t last. Mario Balotelli’s pass to Aguero and the Argentine’s calm under pressure in dispatching yet another near post rocket was sincerely remarkable.

Premier League On This Day: Nasri stunner leads Man City to title

Manchester City
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Manchester City clinched its fourth top-flight title on this day six years ago, completing Liverpool’s title race collapse.

Samir Nasir and Vincent Kompany scored on either side of halftime as City finished two points clear of the Reds to give Manuel Pellegrini a Premier League crown.

[ MORE: JPW’s match recap from that day ]

It was the fourth-straight year a Manchester club won the PL, with United and City alternating crowns between 2011-14.

Nasri fired a rocket off the inside of the far post from well outside the 18 to make it 1-0, and he’d play the corner kick that wound up in the net off Kompany’s boot in a less classy-looking but nevertheless effective goal.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

He finished the year with seven goals and nine assists, more than he’d produce in the ensuing two-plus seasons with City.

City out shot West Ham 19-3 on the day. Liverpool came back from an early Daniel Agger own goal against Newcastle, winning 2-1 to finish second.

Premier League On This Day: Arsenal clinches title on enemy turf

Premier League On This Day
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Ah, close Premier League title races: How everyone but Liverpool supporters miss thee?

On this day in 2002, Arsenal got sweet, sweet, sweet revenge on a Manchester United team that finished first to the Gunners’ second in the previous three seasons.

And they did it at Old Trafford, four days after winning the FA Cup over Chelsea in Cardiff. So much for a hangover.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Arsenal sat third after 17 matches when they began a 21-match unbeaten run in league play.

Sylvain Wiltord came into the match having scored the previous week against Bolton. He started and finished a play, pouncing on a rebound to beat United 1-0 to clinch a first title since 1998 and 12th in English top-flight history.

The loss cost Manchester United their front-row seat to the Champions League group stage, as Liverpool rebounded from a loss at Spurs to win its final two matches by a combined score of 9-3.

United won the next season’s title before Arsenal went on its Invincibles run in 2003-04.

NBC analyst Lee Dixon came off the bench late to make the 453rd of his 454 appearances for the Gunners, going out on top the next week against Everton.