VSO News Lists EPL’s Biggest Title Race Collapses as Arsenal Extends Lead to Eight Points

  • Arsenal does have experience in title collapses, losing an eight-point lead in 2002/03
  • In the 2013/14 season, a costly slip left Gerrard and his Liverpool team red faced and trophy-less
  • United had two big missed chances, including that last minute title theft by Man City in 2011/12
  • Ferguson mind games contributed to Kevin Keegan’s capitulation in 1995/96 with Newcastle
EPL trophy
Arsenal are now odds on to win the EPL for the first time this season, and the team will be hoping to avoid a title race collapse similar to these examples from league history. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Closing in on the title

Despite being one of the English Premier League’s (EPL) most well-known teams, Arsenal FC has not won a single league title in 20 years. The soccer team has certainly come close to adding to its three-title tally in that time – including two second place finishes – but hasn’t quite had what it takes to lift the trophy.

15 wins, two draws, and just one loss

That’s all on track to change this year, however. With 18 matches played so far this EPL season, Arsenal is leading the league with a comfortable margin of eight points. Manager Mikel Arteta finally seems to have the confidence of the players and fans alike, guiding the team to 15 wins, two draws, and just one loss.

After closest league rival Manchester City dropped points over the weekend, Arsenal became odds-on favorite to win the title for the first time this season. There’s still a long way to go (19 games in total) but UK sportsbook Betfair is offering odds of -125 for Arsenal to lift the trophy, ahead of Man City at +125, and Manchester United at +1400.

With this marking an important point in Arsenal’s season, VegasSlotsOnline News has taken a look through the EPL history books to find the best examples of teams that have thrown leads like this away. From Liverpool to Newcastle, all of these clubs somehow snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

5. Arsenal

2002/03 season

8-point lead

9 games left

Where better to start in our summary of the biggest title collapses than with the team currently at the top of the EPL ladder?

Arsenal came into the 2002/03 season as the favorite having lifted the trophy the previous year for the second time. Under French manager Arsene Wenger, the team was in unbeatable form from the beginning of the season until the following year. Confidence levels sky-high, Wenger even said he thought his men could go the entire season unbeaten after 30 games since the last loss.

one of those losses came against relegation-threatened Leeds United

With an eight-point lead and just nine games left in the season in March, everything seemed to turn on its head for the club. Arsenal won just four of the remaining games, drawing three times and losing twice. Not only that, but one of those losses came against relegation-threatened Leeds United.

The poor end to the season cost Arsenal the ultimate prize and sent the Premier League trophy up north to Manchester United, who ultimately ended up five-points clear. That said, Arsenal certainly didn’t rest on their laurels long. After Leeds, the team didn’t lose again for another 49 matches, winning the following season’s title and cementing the players’ names in EPL folklore as the ‘Invincibles.’

4. Liverpool

2013/14 season

3-point lead

3 games left

Throwing away a three-point lead with three games left might not seem like a major title collapse, however, it’s the manner in which our next team did so that has secured its place on this list.

Prior to the club’s first win in 2019/20, Liverpool often took the brunt of jokes from opponents for their lack of a single title in the Premier League era. In the 2013/14 season, that all seemed likely to change. With just three games left, Liverpool was tantalizingly close to the trophy after beating closest rival Man City.

This does not f*cking slip now”

After that win, an impassioned speech by Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard seemed to symbolize the team’s determination that this year would be the one to break the Liverpool curse. “This does not f*cking slip now,” he shouted at his teammates in a post-match huddle. “We don’t let this slip, we go again.”

What seemed at the time an impressive demonstration of leadership, has since become known for its incredibly unfortunate wording. When Liverpool played Chelsea in the third-to-last game of the season, it was a literal slip from Gerrard that served the ball on a platter for Blues striker Demba Ba to slot home:

Chelsea ultimately won the game 2-0 and Liverpool conceded the title to City after a draw with Crystal Palace the next game, saying goodbye to any hope of Premier League glory for yet another year.

3. Manchester United

2011/12 season

8-point lead

6 games left

An eight-point lead with just six games left in the season – that’s a sure thing, right? Well, not if you’re Manchester United in 2012. The 2011/12 season will forever go down as one of the greatest title races in Premier League history, partly due to United’s complete collapse and some incredible final day scenes.

The title race looked completely over after Man City failed to beat Stoke City, Sunderland, and Arsenal, putting United way out in front with just six games to go. The Red Devils suffered a bad streak of their own, however, first losing to relegation-threatened Wigan before drawing with Everton. They then lost to Manchester City to drop into second place for the first time since March that year.

With the eight point lead turned to dust, the final day of the 2011/12 season will always be remembered by EPL fans. United and City went into the day equal on points, meaning just the latter’s superior goal difference was separating the two. United beat Sunderland 1-0 and attention swiftly turned to the Man City game, which had more injury time left on the clock.

Entering the closing seconds of the game with Queens Park Rangers, Man City was drawing 2-2, putting the title firmly in the grasp of United. Then seemingly out of nowhere, up stepped City legend Sergio Aguero to slot the ball in the back of the QPR net, making it 3-2 to City and clinching the club’s first Premier League title all in one kick of the ball:

2. Manchester United

1997/98 season

11-point lead

9 games left

Unfortunately, for fans of Manchester United, the 2011/12 season was not the first time they had to deal with throwing away a substantial lead. The team was 11 points clear with just nine games to go in 1998, leading the way ahead of Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal.

Arsenal won ten games in a row between March and May 1998

Sir Alex Ferguson’s men then dropped eight points in just three games to blow the title race wide open, losing first to Sheffield Wednesday before drawing with West Ham. A loss to Arsenal really put the nail in the coffin, with Wenger winning each of his three games in hand to turn the title race on its head in the closing stages. In fact, Arsenal won ten games in a row between March and May 1998.

When United could only muster draws against Liverpool and Newcastle, Arsenal ended up overtaking the reigning champion in the last few weeks of the season. The Gunners never looked back after that, securing their first league title in the Premier League era.  

The loss clearly motivated Sir Alex Ferguson, who went on to win the next four Premier League titles with Manchester United. He eventually became the most successful manager of all time in regards to silverware, securing 38 trophies for the Red Devils alone.

1. Newcastle United

1995/96 season

12-point lead

8 games left

Time for our number one blown lead in all of EPL history. The trophy goes to Newcastle United, who let slip a 12-point lead over Manchester United in 1996 with just eight games left in the season. Newcastle’s title collapse is an important part of EPL history demonstrating the mental fortitude needed for a winning season.

Despite his extensive lead, then Newcastle manager Kevin Keegan was clearly feeling the pressure towards the latter end of the season, and results started to go against him as a result. He picked up just seven points from his final eight games, losing to Liverpool and Blackburn, while drawing with Nottingham Forest and Tottenham Hotspur.

one of the most infamous soccer rants of all time

Of course, it didn’t help that Ferguson was breathing down Keegan’s neck, employing his usual mind games to get under the skin of the former player. When Ferguson suggested that teams didn’t tend to play as hard against Newcastle as they had against Man U, Keegan used a post-match interview to give one of the most infamous soccer rants of all time.

Asked about Ferguson’s comments after he had just beaten Leeds at Elland Road, Keegan made clear what he thought of Manchester United and their outspoken manager:

Sadly for Keegan, it wasn’t to be. The poor run of form meant Newcastle lost the title by just four points. The team followed this up with another second-place finish in 1996/97, this time losing out to Man U by seven points.