25 Most Iconic Moments in the Premier League History

The Premier League was set up on 20 February 1992, breaking away from Division One to change the history of football.  Since then, the popularity of the game worldwide has grown substantially and the money pumped into the sport has increased to no end.

What is the most-watched sporting competition in the world, the Premier League has left us with unlimited entertainment, controversy and talking points over the past quarter-of-a-decade and here are the 25 most iconic moments it has produced:

25. Manchester United 1-6 Manchester City

Sir Alex Ferguson had previously said that Manchester City would never be favourites whilst he was in charge at United. The bookmakers had the Red Devils’ favourites going into this encounter in October 2011 before they were blown away. Back in the day, United were 1/66 in bet365’s Premier League betting markets to claim the English title.

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Roberto Mancini’s side extended their lead to five points at the top of the Premier League table by handing Manchester United their biggest home defeat since 1955.  The game included Mario Balotelli revealing his ‘Why Always Me?’ t-shirt and Edin Džeko checking the scoreboard before holding six fingers up in celebration after scoring the final goal.

24. Ali Dia

“George Weah’s cousin” managed to fool Southampton manager Graeme Souness into signing him back in November 1996.  Unfortunately, he was not related to the 1995 FIFA World Player of the Year and was actually a rather useless player from non-league side Blyth Spartans.

Ali Dia made his Premier League debut replacing an injured Matt Le Tissier after only 32 minutes on 23 November 1996 versus Leeds United.  Unfortunately, the Senegalese-born midfielder was so bad he only lasted 53 minutes and was replaced by Ken Monkou.

23. Let’s be ‘Avin’ You!

Norwich City were in a relegation battle during 2004-05 and on 28 February 2005, when tied 2-2 at half-time against Manchester City, an apparently drunk Delia Smith took to the microphone in the middle of the pitch to produce the following rant to her own fans:

“This is a message for possibly the best supporters in the world. We need a 12th man. Where are you? Where are you?  Let’s be ‘avin you! Come on!”

The Norwich shareholder booked her place in Premier League history which her club were relegated at the end of the season.

22. Newcastle 5-0 Manchester United

Premier League champions Manchester United had hammered title rivals Newcastle United 4-0 in the Charity Shield back in August and headed to St James’ Park on 20 October 1996 two points behind Kevin Keegan’s side.

Newcastle named the same side that started the heavy defeat at Wembley whilst Sir Alex Ferguson only made three changes to his side.  The Magpies put in their performance of the season by routing Manchester United 5-0.  Darren Peacock opened the scoring as Denis Irwin failed to clear his effort off the line before David Ginola fired in beauty across goal from 18 yards.  Les Ferdinand and Alan Shearer added to the goals before Philippe Albert put the icing on the cake with an exquisite 25-yard lob of Peter Schmeichel.  Newcastle won only one of their next nine games and United went on to win the Premier League once more…

21. Robert Pirès’ Penalty

Arsenal had made an inconsistent start to the 2005-06 Premier League season, winning four, drawing one and losing three of their opening eight games before facing Manchester City at the Emirates Stadium.

Robert Pirès had converted a penalty on the hour to give the Gunners a 1-0 lead before they were awarded a second later in the game.  Whether they were trying to be cocky or arrogant it backfired as Pirès only grazed the ball with his studs in an attempt to pass to Thierry Henry.  Manchester City were awarded a free-kick but Arsenal did hold on for a 1-0 win.

20. Welcome to Manchester

Having been rich for a couple of seasons now but without much success, Manchester City signed Carlos Tevez from a sports investment company owned by Kia Joorabchian after his two-year loan deal at rivals United had expired.

City thought they were getting one over on United by publishing a ‘Welcome to Manchester’ billboard with Carlos Tevez outside the City Centre.  The Citizens ended up finishing fifth in 2009-10 following the arrival of the Argentine whilst Sir Alex Ferguson’s side finished runners-up to Chelsea, winning the Premier League the following season.

19. McDonalds Takes a Kicking

Temuri Ketsbaia was somewhat of a hit at Newcastle following his arrival in 1997.  Most notably he’d scored the goal to ensure them UEFA Champions League football for the first time.

A bit of a wildcard, the Georgian stamped his place in Premier League history after coming off the bench scoring against Bolton Wanderers for Newcastle in 1998.  His Celebration?  Ripping off his shirt and repeatedly kicking the advertising boards.  It turned out he was frustrated at not being a regular starter.

18. The Special One

José Mourinho was hot property in 2004 after guiding FC Porto to a shock UEFA Champions League title in May.  12 months earlier his Portuguese side had beaten Celtic in the UEFA Cup final.

Chelsea had seemingly agreed on a deal before the Champions League final as the manager didn’t join in with the celebrations.  The West London club had recently been taken over by billionaire Roman Abramovich who was ready to pump money into his club.

Mourinho was obviously confident in his abilities and his Chelsea side as he introduced himself in the most memorable fashion during his first interview as the Blues boss:

“Please don’t call me arrogant, but I’m European champion and I think I’m a special one.”

17. United’s Invisible Kit

Manchester United were in a close title race versus Newcastle during the 1995-96 season though it was in the Red Devils’ hands after Blackburn Rovers’ 2-1 victory over Kevin Keegan’s side in early April.

The following weekend United went to Southampton in that grey kit.  Sir Alex Ferguson’s side had only picked up one point from four games in the shirt – at Aston Villa (1-3), Arsenal (0-1), Nottingham Forest (1-1) and Liverpool (0-2) before they donned the kit once more, down at St Mary’s.

Southampton were in a relegation scrap themselves but ran out to a 3-0 lead at half-time.  United made one change more significant than bringing on Paul Scholes during the break – they’d changed kit!  It didn’t have a great impact though as Ryan Giggs only scored a consolation in the 89th minute as United lost 3-1.

Sir Alex Ferguson blamed the kit post-game and United would never wear it again.  Come to the end of the season, United won the title and Southampton avoided relegation on goal difference… sending Manchester City down.  Something good came of that kit then…

16. Dennis Bergkamp’s Hat-trick

Arsenal’s non-flying Dutchman stole the show at the start of the 1997-98 season by being the only player to finish 1st, 2nd and 3rd in Match of the Day’s Goal of the Month competition, with his hat-trick in a 3-3 draw at Leicester City.

Dennis Bergkamp opened the scoring by bending an effort from 19 yards into the top corner of Kasey Kellar’s net before making it 2-0 on the hour, finishing off a quick counter-attack move.  A teenage Emile Heskey pulled one back for the hosts on 84 minutes before Matt Elliott appeared to have rescued a stoppage-time point for the Foxes.

There was more drama to come as Bergkamp would then score one of the greatest goals of all time.  Collecting a long ball from David Platt, the forward dinked it over Matt Elliott and coolly finished into the top corner.  Unfortunately for Arsenal, there was still time for Steve Walsh to head home a close-range equaliser.  The Gunners would, however, go on to win the Premier League title in what was Arsène Wenger’s first full season in charge.

15. Fergie & Kidd on the Pitch

10 April 1993 was the birth of ‘Fergie time’ as Manchester United would score a 96th winner versus Sheffield Wednesday to overtake Aston Villa at the top of the Premier League table.  United had trailed 0-1 at Old Trafford until Steve Bruce headed home an 86th-minute equaliser.  10 minutes later the defender then headed home a winner which sparked manager Sir Alex Ferguson and his assistant Brian Kidd to run onto the pitch in celebration.

Villa drew 0-0 with Coventry City that day and ultimately crumble, whilst United went on to win their last five games to be crowned the first-ever Premier League champions.

14. Paulo Wanchope’s Old Trafford debut

Derby County were fighting with relegation in their first season in the Premier League.  During an international break in March manager Jim Smith and his assistant, Steve McClaren watched Queens Park Rangers’ reserves in action when they were impressed by trialist Paul Wanchope in the second half.  Not wanting the Costa Rican to sign for the lower division side they quickly snapped him up there and then.

The rangy striker made his debut in Derby’s next game… at Old Trafford versus the defending Premier League champions.  Jim Smith’s side were massive underdogs but with help of a solo effort from Wanchope that saw him pick the ball up in his own half, dribble it past four United defenders and casually slot it past Peter Schmeichel.  Derby went on to win 3-2 to spark some late-season form that saw them avoid relegation by six points.

13. Jürgen Klinsmann’s Dives

Diving has seemingly always existed in football.  Just look at old World Cup footage of the Germans and Italians and you’ll know it existed way longer than the Premier League.  But it certainly wasn’t commonplace in 1992 when the English top flight was rebranded.

One player who was well-known for diving and certainly didn’t deny it was Tottenham Hotspur striker Jürgen Klinsmann.  He’d already helped West Germany to win the World Cup in 1990 with his antics but and in England, he emphasised this by celebrating his goals by diving.

12. Manchester United 8-2 Arsenal

Manchester City had already thrashed Tottenham Hotspur 5-1 at White Hart Lane to make it three wins in a row at the start of the 2011-12 Premier League season.  Manchester United outperformed their rivals later that day with an 8-2 humiliation of Arsenal.

Wayne Rooney scored a hat-trick and Ashley Young even helped himself to a brace as the Red Devils handed Arsenal their biggest defeat since 1896.  This prompted Arsène Wenger to do what Gunners fans had been calling for all summer – sign some new players.  So the Frenchman brought in Park Chu-young, André Santos, Per Mertesacker and Mikel Arteta…

Arsenal finished 19 points behind City and United that season.

11. Paolo Di Canio Spectacular

Tommy Burns brought fiery Italian Paolo Di Canio to Great Britain in the summer of 1996 when Celtic paid AC Milan £650,000 for his services.  The forward had great technique but hadn’t been much of a goalscorer back home.  After scoring 12 goals in 26 appearances in the Scottish Premier League it was Sheffield Wednesday who brought him to England the following summer.

Di Canio quickly became a fan favourite among Premier League viewers for his charisma and dramatics.  During his time at Hillsborough, he once served an 11-match ban for shoving over referee Paul Alcock.

During this ban, Harry Redknapp actually signed him for West Ham for £1.5 million.  He repaid the faith in his manager by scoring 16 goals in his first season with the most notable being an incredible jumping volley versus Wimbledon.

10. Manchester United 9-0 Ipswich Town

Manchester United set a record margin of victory in March 1995 that still stands today.  Sir Alex Ferguson’s side hammered relegation-placed Ipswich Town 9-0 at Old Trafford to overtake Blackburn Rovers on goal difference at the top of the Premier League that day.

Recent new signing Andrew Cole scored five goals, taking his tally to seven goals in seven games for the Red Devils following his £7.5 million signing from Newcastle.  There was some debate over whether Paul Ince’s goal to make it 8-0 should have stood as referee Graham Poll was still showing goalkeeper Craig Forrest a yellow card when the United midfielder chipped the free-kick into an empty net.

Ipswich had actually won the meeting at Portman Road 3-2 back in September but this result was one of a poor string of results that ultimately saw them relegated that season.  United would miss out on the title to Blackburn.

9. Tony Yeboah

Howard Wilkinson splashed £3.4 million on a relatively unknown Ghanaian striker from Eintracht Frankfurt named Tony Yeboah in January 1995.  Yeboah had scored an impressive 68 goals in 123 Bundesliga appearances for the German club before moving to the Premier League.

Although the striker proved somewhat hit and miss at Elland Road he is fondly remembered for two stunning efforts in just over a month.  Yeboah had already scored both of Leeds’ goals in their opening game win of the 1995-96 season at West Ham before volleying home from 25 yards off the underside of the crossbar in a 1-0 win over Liverpool.

A month later Yeboah scored a hat-trick in a 4-2 win at Wimbledon which included another corker from 25 yards off the underside of the crossbar past a helpless Paul Heald.

8. Liverpool 4-3 Newcastle Double

In April 1996 Newcastle United had blown a 12-point lead over Manchester United in the title race and headed to Anfield three points behind Sir Alex Ferguson’s side but with two games in hand.  Liverpool were five points adrift of the Magpies having played a game more – virtually out of the title race.

Liverpool had done their best to help Manchester United win the Premier League title the previous season by beating Blackburn on the final day of the season but the Red Devils’ failure to win at West Ham cost them.

The Reds would not let their rivals down two seasons running in what turned out to be one of the greatest matches in Premier League history, Stan Collymore nodded home a stoppage-time winner to give Liverpool three points.  The score had gone from 1-0 Liverpool, 1-2, 2-2, 2-3 and finally, 4-3 as Kevin Keegan’s side would ultimately finish runners-up to Manchester United.

Incredibly, the following season, at Anfield, these two played out another 4-3.  This time, however, Liverpool had taken an early 3-0 lead before Newcastle pegged them back to 3-3 before Robbie Fowler’s stoppage-time winner.

7. Arsenal’s Invincibles

During the 2003-04 season, Arsenal pulled off something unthinkable as they went the whole of the Premier League season undefeated – winning 26 games and drawing 12.  This was their last league title to date having finished five points behind Manchester United having lost six games in 2002-03.

Manchester United and Portsmouth were the only teams to remain unbeaten versus the Gunners this season who had the likes of Jens Lehmann, Lauren, Sol Campbell, Kolo Touré, Ashley Cole, Freddie Ljungberg, Patrick Vieira, Gilberto Silva, Robert Pirès, Dennis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry to thank for going all 38 games without a single defeat.

6. David Beckham from the Halfway Line

David Beckham had scored seven goals in 33 Premier League matches in his first full season as Manchester United won the 1995-96 title.  This was not enough to convince Terry Venables to call him up for Euro 96 however, with the manager preferring to go with Darren Anderton and Steve Stone.

Becks would put his name into the England manager’s mind and everyone else’s on the opening day of the following season when he scored a remarkable goal from the halfway line at Selhurst Park against Neil Sullivan and Wimbledon.  Whatever happened to David Beckham after that…

5. Leicester City win the Premier League

Prior to the 2015-16 season, the Premier League had always been one of the biggest clubs or the biggest spenders.  Some say it has been too predictable but last year proved anything but that as minnows Leicester City took the crown.

It was the first time the East Midlands club have ever been crowned champions of England as Claudio Ranieri’s side pulled off a historic feat, regardless of Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City and Arsenal all underachieving.

The Foxes had been bottom of the Premier League for record time for a team to survive the previous season and started 2015-16 with 5000/1 football odds to win the title with the bookmakers.

4. Steve Gerrard’s Slip

Prior to Manchester United winning their 18th league title in 2008-09, Liverpool fans had a reputation of bragging about being the record champions of England.  For a club with such history, the Reds have still never won the Premier League title.

The closest they have come to date came in 2013-14.  They were the league leaders with three games to go and were at home to Chelsea next with the Blues having competed at Atlético Madrid a few days earlier in their UEFA Champions League semi-final.

Opposing manager José Mourinho had to make a number of changes to his side which included defender Tomáš Kalas making his debut.  Even the most pessimistic of Liverpool fans expected at least a draw that would almost guarantee their first Premier League crown.

However, ‘captain fantastic’ Steven Gerrard would cost his own side the title with a slip that gifted Demba Ba a one-on-one through which he gave Chelsea the lead.  The Blues ran out 2-0 winners and Manchester City won the title.

The following season Gerrard received so much stick from opposition fans in the stands that he ‘surprisingly’ quit Liverpool to finish his career in the MLS.

3. Eric Cantona Kung-fu Kick

Many consider Manchester United’s £1.2 million signing of Eric Cantona from defending champions Leeds United in November 1992 as the biggest bargain in Premier League history.

The French forward had won the final old Division One crown in his solo season at Elland Road, and in the inaugural Premier League season, Leeds would actually finish narrowly above the relegation zone without him.

Cantona joined Manchester United and would go on to become a club legend, winning the Premier League season in four of his five seasons with the club.  The season he didn’t win it was when he served an eight-month ban for his King-fu kick at Selhurst Park after being sent off for kicking off Crystal Palace defending Richard Shaw.

The French forward then followed it with one of the most memorable quotes at a press conference in Premier League history:

“When the seagulls follow the trawler, it’s because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea. Thank you very much.”

2. Kevin Keegan Would Love It

What many consider the beginning of Sir Alex Ferguson’s mind games, the Manchester United manager had accused Leeds United of trying harder versus his side than they did against title rivals Newcastle.

A 1-0 win at Leeds United meant that Newcastle were now three points behind league leaders United and with a game in hand.  It led to the greatest rant in Premier League history.  Transcript below:

“When you do that with footballers like he said about Leeds, and when you do things like that about a man like Stuart Pearce.

“I’ve kept really quiet but I’ll tell you something, he went down in my estimations when he said that. We have not resorted to that.

“You can tell him now, we’re still fighting for this title and he’s got to go to Middlesbrough and get something.

“And I’ll tell you, honestly, I will love it if we beat them. Love it.

“But it really has got to me. I’ve voiced it live, not in front of the press or anywhere.

“I’m not even going to the press conference. But the battle is still on and Man United have not won this yet.”

Newcastle would slip up at Forest and be held by Tottenham on the final day of the season as Manchester United went on to win the Premier League title for the third time in four years.

1. Sergio Agüero Title Winner

Manchester City had been heavily invested for a couple of seasons now but had seemingly blown the Premier League title on the final day of the 2011-12 season.  Roberto Mancini’s side were level on points with rivals Manchester United but were eight goals better off.  Win over relegation-threatened Queens Park Rangers and their first Premier League crown was theirs.

With the score 1-1, less than 10 minutes in the second half Joey Barton was shown a red card for a tussle with Carlos Tevez.  Incredibly though, it was the 10 men of QPR who took the lead with 24 minutes remaining.

Edin Džeko netted a 92nd-minute equaliser for Manchester City as the final whilst went at the Stadium of Light where Manchester United had beat Sunderland 1-0.  Phil Jones and Wayne Rooney began to celebrate hearing the score from the Etihad, whilst cameras zoomed in on Manchester City fans in the stadium crying.

QPR had heard the news that Peter Crouch had helped Stoke City beat Bolton Wanderers meaning the London club had avoided relegation regardless of their result in Manchester.  Former-City winger Shaun Wright-Phillips wimped out of a challenge in the opposite half before Sergio Agüero walked around former-City youth Nedum Onuoha as the defender just fell to the floor before the Argentine struck home the most dramatic winner in Premier League history, sparking celebrations as the Citizens won the title.

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