Liverpool clawed their way back from a goal down at Southampton on Tuesday to win 2-1 and keep their Premier League title hopes alive heading into the final day of the 2021-22 season.
Knowing that a defeat would hand the championship to rivals Manchester City, the Reds got off to a rocky start at St Mary’s when they fell behind to an early Nathan Redmond opener with just 13 minutes played. However, Jurgen Klopp’s effervescent team soon clicked into gear as goals from Takumi Minamino and Joel Matip either side of the break sealed a vital win that took them to within a point of leaders City.
Liverpool will now face Wolverhampton Wanderers at home in Sunday’s final round of fixtures for the season, when all 20 teams play at the same time, while City host Aston Villa in the knowledge that they must either equal or better the result at Anfield to be crowned Premier League champions. City will retain their title with a victory over 14th-placed Villa at the Etihad. But once again the fight has gone right to the wire, with Liverpool pushing them all the way to the finish.
This will be the ninth occasion that the Premier League champions have been decided on the final day of the season. The bad news for Liverpool fans is that, of the eight previous title chases that have gone the distance, the team at the top of the league at the start of the day have never been overtaken by a challenger — though they have certainly come close once or twice!
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Blackburn Rovers (89 points) sat at the top of the table perched narrowly above Manchester United (87 points) heading into the final day. Blackburn fell to a 2-1 defeat at Liverpool and feared they may have blown their chance, but thankfully for them, United were only able to scramble a 1-1 draw against West Ham United, meaning the Ewood Park upstarts were crowned league champions despite losing.
After missing out the previous year, Manchester United rallied to lead the way as the 1995-96 campaign came to its conclusion. Alex Ferguson’s side were top with 79 points ahead of their final game of the season, with challengers Newcastle United breathing down their necks on 77 points. Kevin Keegan’s side won the hearts of many neutrals but it was Fergie’s side who held out to take the crown as United beat Middlesbrough 3-0 to render the Toon’s 1-1 draw against Tottenham Hotspur entirely moot.
Chasing a first treble for an English team, Manchester United (76 points) had opened a slim gap at the summit over rivals Arsenal (75 points) and needed to see off Tottenham in their final league game of the season to make sure of landing the first of the three trophies they were after. United indeed beat Spurs 2-1 at Old Trafford to win the title by a single point, as the Gunners had also beaten Villa 1-0 in their final game. This was followed by wins in the finals of the FA Cup and the Champions League to seal their momentous single-season haul.
The next Premier League title race to make it all the way to the final day of the season came almost a decade later and once again it was Manchester United (84 points) leading the way over Chelsea (also 84 points) on goal difference — although they were a vast 17 goals better off than Avram Grant’s side. The Blues had to win big against Bolton Wanderers and hope that United suffered a truly cataclysmic capitulation against Wigan Athletic. However, Fergie’s side cantered to a straightforward 2-0 win while Chelsea stumbled to a 1-1 draw against Bolton to ensure they finished runners-up behind United for a second successive season. Just 10 days later, the two sides would clash again in the Champions League final in Moscow, with United once again narrowly prevailing on penalties.
The roles were reversed this time as Chelsea (83 points) headed into the final day of the Premier League season with a precarious lead over Manchester United (82 points). United drubbed Stoke City 4-0 at Old Trafford in their last game but Carlo Ancelotti’s side staged an even more emphatic display by hammering Wigan 8-0 to clinch the title and set a number of new records including most goals scored in a single season (103), most goals scored at home (68) and best goal difference (+71).
Arguably the most famous Premier League title decider of all time saw Manchester City (86 points, +64 goal difference) pip neighbours Manchester United (86 points, +56 goal difference) by scoring two goals in stoppage time against Queens Park Rangers in their last game of the season to land their first league title since 1968. United beat Sunderland to keep the pressure heaped on City, who were losing 2-1 against relegation-threatened QPR as the clock ticked past the 90-minute mark only for late goals from Edin Dzeko (90+2) and Sergio Aguero (90+4) to kick off a decade of domination.
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After succumbing to United the previous season, Manchester City were looking to reclaim their title as they (83 points) entered the final day of the 2013-14 campaign needing to protect their lead over Liverpool (81 points) in second place. Seeking their first title in 24 years, Liverpool had been leading the race with two weeks to go but disastrous back-to-back results against Chelsea (0-2) and Crystal Palace (3-3) had allowed City to nudge ahead with one game each left to play. The Reds did all they could by beating nine-man Newcastle 2-1 at Anfield, but City won 2-0 against West Ham to claim the silverware.
Manchester City were once again leading the pack (95 points) ahead of Liverpool (94 points) as a thrilling, near-flawless title duel between the two modern-day giants of English football went the full distance. The Reds had mustered nine straight victories heading into their final game against Wolves, which they also won 2-0. Unfortunately for Klopp’s side, City were enjoying an even more dominant run of form and thus ended their season with a 14th-straight victory, a 4-1 thrashing of Brighton & Hove Albion, to lift the title in style and celebrate on the south coast.