This lot had a big bearing on where the title ended up.

Premier League Kingmakers: Spurs, Villa & Wolves to follow in the footsteps of iconic spoilers?

Aston Villa, Tottenham and Wolves could have a massive bearing on who wins the Premier League title this season, as they’re set to take on all three challengers – Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester City – in the run-in. 

That’s seen the three clubs cast as ‘Kingmakers’ of this season’s red-hot, knife-edge title race. While Aston Villa and Tottenham are chasing Champions League qualification, Wolves are comfortably in the bosom of midtable and have little to play for but pride.

But there’s an extra prize on offer – sides that ultimately have a bearing on where the title ends up are remembered by history. Just take a look at this lot. Here are eight sides that have gone down as Premier League Kingmakers, one way or another.

2022-23 – West Ham, Southampton & Liverpool

Manchester City pipping Arsenal to the title last term can’t be put down to one result. Mikel Arteta’s Gunners set a new record for days spent at the top of the summit while not ending up as champions, but they ended up five points behind Manchester City.

All season it looked as though it would go right down to the wire, but two title challengers had wildly differing form come the final run-in and City ended wrapping it up with games to spare.

City thrashing Arsenal 4-1 in late April proved influential in tipping the balance of power, but you can also look at how the two sides fared against three particular opponents in the final months of the season.

Pep Guardiola’s all-conquering treble-winners made short work of Liverpool, Southampton and West Ham in April and May, beating them 4-1, 4-1 and 3-0 respectively.

Arsenal, on the other hand, toiled in successive games to those sides in April – they allowed Liverpool to come back from two goals behind and draw 2-2 at Anfield and again threw away a two-goal lead the following week at West Ham in another 2-2 draw. They subsequently mounted a late comeback against relegation-doomed Saints but dropped two costly points in a 3-3 draw on home soil.

Those defensive frailties and six dropped points in successive score draws set the tone for their big defeat at The Etihad.

Title Race Let Slip Winning Position 29 games Manchester United Arsenal Chelsea (L-R) Sir Alex Ferguson Mikel Arteta Jose Mourinho

READ: The 7 teams that were top at this stage of the season & let it slip ft. Arsenal, Man Utd, Chelsea…

2013-14 – Crystal Palace

The 2013-14 title race is remembered for going down to the wire between Manchester City and Liverpool. But Chelsea were also well in the mix going into April and were even top of the league with nine games remaining.

Enter Tony Pulis and Crystal Palace. The Eagles were still well in the relegation mire and had taken just two points from the last 15 available when they hosted Jose Mourinho’s Blues in late March.

The weekend before Chelsea had taken great delight in p*ssing all over Arsene Wenger’s 1000th game celebrations by thrashing Arsenal 6-0, but they’d have wished they’d saved some of those goals for Selhurst Park – where they came unstuck in a 1-0 defeat.

Mourinho’s men soon fell away for good with a 2-1 home defeat to Sunderland and turned their attention to the Champions League, in which they lost 2-1 to Atletico Madrid in the semi-finals.

Meanwhile, Palace weren’t done having a say in how the top end of the table would end up. Later on in the same afternoon that Steven Gerrard slipped against Chelsea, Manchester City went to Selhurst Park and put their destiny back in their own hands, ending Palace’s five-match winning streak with a professional 2-0 away win.

Palace bounced back from the City defeat when they hosted Liverpool the following Monday night. Up three goals and recklessly chasing a goal-difference deficit, the Reds infamously collapsed and allowed Pulis’ side to come back and draw 3-3 – killing off their title hopes for good.

2002-03 – Blackburn & Leeds

Graeme Souness led Blackburn to a sixth-place finish in 2002-03, their joint-best placing since winning the title themselves in 1995. But their season is perhaps best remembered for the say they had with who ended up lifting the Premier League trophy that year.

A mid-March 2-0 home win over Arsene Wenger’s reigning champions put Manchester United in the driving seat. Ferguson’s side went unbeaten after Boxing Day, dropping just six points, and beat Blackburn 3-1 with three games remaining.

Leeds were the other side that had a big bearing on the Red Devils ending up five points clear of Arsenal. Under Terry Venables they lost 2-1 to their historic rivals at Old Trafford in early March, but El Tel’s successor Peter Reid led the Whites to an unforgettable survival-clinching 3-2 victory at Highbury on the penultimate weekend of the campaign – a result that also confirmed where the title would be heading.

Draws against Aston Villa and Bolton, as well as a failure to beat United (2-2) on home soil, also proved costly for Arsenal in the run-in.

READ: Arsenal & Leeds used to kick f*ck out of each other and even Wenger loved it

1995-96 – Arsenal

Liverpool 4-3 Newcastle, regarded by many as the greatest Premier League game in history, is often cited as the key match that lost Kevin Keegan’s Entertainers the title in 1995-96. Les Ferdinand thinks as much. That season United actually played Liverpool home and away before Christmas, taking just one point, partly allowing Magpies to build up their healthy lead.

Ten days before the loss at Anfield, Newcastle lost 2-0 in an altogether less memorable defeat away to Arsenal. Scott Marshall opened the scoring after just three minutes, Ian Wright doubled the Gunners’ lead in minute 17, and Newcastle had no response.

That victory for Bruce Rioch’s Arsenal was just three days after they’d suffered a 1-0 defeat at Old Trafford, Eric Cantona scoring the match-winner for Ferguson’s men.

Those two games ultimately proved decisive in Manchester United ending up four points ahead of Newcastle in the final table.

QUIZ: Can you name every club to win the English league title?

1994-95 – Chelsea

Blackburn suffered some major wobbles as they limped over the line in 1994-95, losing at Liverpool on the final weekend, their third defeat in five. Manchester United had made up serious ground in the run-in and ought to have leapfrogged Kenny Dalglish’s side at the final hurdle, but were held to a 1-1 draw at West Ham.

While United gained ground on Blackburn, the two title challengers’ results actually curiously mirrored one another quite closely in the final stretch. Both teams lost to Liverpool. Both drew with Leeds and dropped points against West Ham.

One area where Blackburn did make a crucial gain on United was against Chelsea. In mid-March, they beat the Blues 2-1 courtesy of goals from Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton. But a month later, United couldn’t break them down, settling for a 0-0 draw at Old Trafford.

Failing to break down Glenn Hoddle’s side proved costly. They dropped two points to a Chelsea that finished in the bottom half and ultimately ended up a point behind Blackburn in the final standings.

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TRY A QUIZ: Can you name the Premier League-winning captain for every season?