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Ilkay Gundogan: 7 unexpectedly clutch players for PL title winners

Players such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Didier Drogba are best known for being clutch, but sometimes an unlikely hero pops up in a Premier League title race.

Some of the most unlikely players have gone down in Premier League folklore because of a clutch moment or two towards the end of the season which ended up sealing the title.

We’ve picked out seven players from over the years who were unexpectedly clutch for the eventual title winners.

Ilkay Gundogan

The German midfielder sometimes gets overlooked in a team packed with superstars, but his impact is just as significant. Whenever the cameras seem to be pointing, he always delivers.

Of course, his most clutch moment game on the final day of the 2021-22 season. Manchester City needed to beat Aston Villa, but Steven Gerrard’s found themselves with an unlikely 2-0 lead.

Then steps up Gundogan. With a brace within five minutes, he and Rodi completely flipped the script. He’s also scored plenty of clutch goals this season too.

Federico Macheda

The Italian youngster was the ideal super-sub back in 2008–09. Undoubtedly, his most famous moment came against Aston Villa as he spun on the spot to curl in a beauty from the edge of the box.

The following week he scored the winning goal against Sunderland and the rest is history. Without Macheda’s goals against Villa and Sunderland, Manchester United would have lost the title to Liverpool on goal difference. That would be the stuff United fans nightmares are made from.

Christopher Wreh

The likes of Ian Wright, Dennis Bergkamp and Nicolas Anelka were the stars of Arsenal’s 1997-98 title-winning side, but Wreh was just as clutch towards the end of the season.

Two of the three league goals Wreh scored this season turned out to be decisive. With winning goals scored away at Wimbledon and Bolton, Arsenal wouldn’t have clinched the title without him.

Michy Batshuayi

The Belgian forward never quite hit the heights some expected of him in a Chelsea shirt, but his impact in 2016-17 was immense. Amazingly, 19 of his 20 appearances came from the bench that season and he still chipped in with five goals and an assist.

Playing back up to Diego Costa, Batshuayi was the ultimate super sub. He even sealed the Premier League title with his goal against West Brom in a 1-0 win. Unsurprisingly, he came on as a late substitute in that game.

Divock Origi

Whether its the Champions League or Premier League, Origi always had a knack for the big moments. During Liverpool’s 2019-20 title-winning season, Origi averaged a goal contribution every 141 minutes.

His brace against Everton was a particular highlight from that season, along with scoring on the final day against Newcastle. He only started in seven league matches, but what an impact he had.

Vincent Kompany

“No Vinny don’t shoot” is what Sergio Aguero famously said when Kompany was winding up his shot against Leicester City. Liverpool were breathing down Man City’s necks by this point, but the Belgian defender didn’t wilt under the pressure.

The strike, commentary and eruption of noise are absolutely box office. Rightfully so, Kompany was given his statue after this one.

Leonardo Ulloa

Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez and N’Golo Kante were the superstars of Leicester Ciy’s 2015-16 title-winning side, but Ulloa was the unlikely hero in several matches.

Like many others on the list, the Argentine forward was best utilised as a late super-sub for Vardy or Shinji Okazaki. Ulloa scored late decisive goals against Norwich and West Ham during the run-in and is a worthy entry onto this list.


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