Manchester City and Liverpool may be the two heavyweights in club football in 2022, but over the years fans of the Premier League have witnessed a large number of intense rivalries.
Some of the most iconic Premier League seasons have left the coveted trophy up for grabs until the final weeks, days, or even seconds of the campaign.
With the likelihood of a grandstand finish increasing by the matchday, we take a look at some of the tightest title duals in Premier League history.
2018/19 – Man City/Liverpool
Even if the two title rivals win all their remaining games this season, they still won’t match their point tallies from the iconic 2018/19 season.
When the pair met in what proved to be a title decider in January 2019, Jurgen Klopp’s unbeaten side sat seven points clear of City. The clash swung on the smallest of margins.
Sadio Mane’s 18th-minute shot hit the post and as it rolled agonizingly towards the goal-line, John Stones got back to clear the ball with a mere 11.7 millimetres of it failing to cross the line. It would provide a game-defining moment as City went on to win the fixture 2-1.
Several slip-ups from the Reds, including two goalless draws against Everton and Manchester United of all teams, meant City held a one-point advantage with nine games to play. Both managers kept pushing on, waiting for the other to make a vital mistake. However, eight wins from eight for both teams kept the gap at just a point going into the final day.
Liverpool produced a 2-0 victory over Wolves but a ruthless performance against Brighton meant Manchester City retained their Premier League title with a whopping 98 points. Liverpool’s 97 points is the highest tally a team has managed without winning the trophy.
1998/99 – Man Utd/Arsenal
Manchester United’s 1998/99 treble-winning season will forever be remembered for the dramatic conclusion to their Champions League clash with Bayern Munich. However, injury-time in Camp Nou would not have been quite so dramatic had it not been for intervention by Leeds United in the penultimate match of the Premier League campaign.
Aston Villa had actually sat atop the table at Christmas with United in third and Arsenal in fifth.
However, in a rivalry dubbed ‘the Irresistible Force vs the Immovable Object’, United and Arsenal picked up 2.42 points-per-game after Christmas while Villa faded to eventually finish sixth.
Of their final 20 games, the Red Devils remained unbeaten, drawing six, with the deadly duo of Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole firing on all cylinders.
Arsenal were even more impressive, moving into pole position on the back of a 19-game unbeaten streak. However, with the title seemingly within their grasp, their run came to a halt in the penultimate game of the season at Elland Road.
The 1-0 defeat handed the initiative back to United who despite falling behind Tottenham on the final day, hit back to win 2-1.
It rendered Arsenal’s 1-0 defeat of Aston Villa immaterial as United finished the season a point ahead of their rivals before going on to add the FA Cup and Champions League to their trophy haul.
2009/10 – Chelsea/Man Utd
The departure of Jose Mourinho threatened dark days for Chelsea Football Club, with a series of underwhelming managers following The Special One. Enter Carlo Ancelotti in the summer of 2009, who hoped to provide a serious push for Chelsea’s third Premier League title.
Providing stiff competition as always were Sir Alex Ferguson’s United, who were entering their first season since the departure of £80million man Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid.
John Terry captained a Chelsea side that contained Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba, who combined for 63 goals between them that season.
A fiery clash between the two front-runners for the title in April culminated in a controversial 2-1 victory for Chelsea thanks to some contentious decisions by referee Mike Dean. Drogba’s winning goal was given despite replays showing the Ivorian striker in an offside position, giving Chelsea the edge with a month of the campaign remaining.
The Blues’ goalscoring habits continued into the run-in, putting seven past Stoke and eight past Wigan on the final day. The two trouncings took Chelsea’s goals tally to 103, a new Premier League record, while Didier Drogba took home the Golden Boot thanks to a hat-trick on the final day.
Man United’s 4-0 triumph in their final game was only enough for second place, finishing one point short of Chelsea’s 86.
2011/12 – Man City/Man Utd
The 2011/12 season provided a number of memorable moments often forgotten due to the jaw-dropping events on the final afternoon.
City made their intentions known early in the season when the local rivals squared up at Old Trafford in October. A brace for both Mario Balotelli and Edin Dzeko capped off an enigmatic 6-1 win for the blue half of Manchester, with Sergio Aguero and David Silva also on the scoresheet.
Mancini’s side maintained a five-point advantage into December until Chelsea handed them their first defeat of the season and gave United the opportunity to turn things around over Christmas. The return of Paul Scholes from retirement gave the Red Devils a much-needed boost as they boasted a two-point advantage heading into the final months.
The reverse fixture between the sides provided a chance for United to put the title within their reach, but a Vincent Kompany header proved to be the deciding goal. City sat top on goal difference, needing to match their rivals’ result on the final day to win their first ever Premier League title.
United fans at the Stadium of Light thought they’d clinched in with a victory, but Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero left it late to snatch the most dramatic of comeback wins against QPR in the most famous scenes in Premier League history.
1994/95 – Blackburn/Man Utd
At the start of the 1994/95 campaign, Blackburn were entering their 67th successive season without a major trophy and hadn’t lifted the Division One title since before World War One.
In a bid to end their drought, Blackburn signed a young Chris Sutton for £5million, a then-record fee for an English player. A partnership with world-renowned striker Alan Shearer quickly formed, known affectionately as ‘SAS’ by the Rovers fans. The pair scored 49 goals between them on the way to the title, with Shearer’s 34 a record for a 42-game season.
A 12-match unbeaten run that stretched from October to January and included just one draw saw Blackburn atop the table at the half-way point. The streak was broken by title-challenging United, who were the only team to remain undefeated against Kenny Dalglish’s side.
A Shearer goal against his boyhood Newcastle in a tense 1-0 win took the title fight to the final day. With Blackburn facing Liverpool, Manchester United fans hoped that their bitter rivals could do them a favor with a win.
A late Jamie Redknapp free-kick threatened to take the title away from Blackburn. However, United were unable to take advantage, finding no way past a resilient West Ham side.
Therefore, despite their 1-0 loss, Blackburn became the first team other than Manchester United to win the Premier League, pipping them by just a point.
READMORE: Liverpool would be top if Premier League reverted to two points for a win – and Everton doomed