The 2022-23 Premier League season will be remembered for the thrilling title race between Arsenal and Manchester City.
Mikel Arteta’s Gunners have been top of the table continuously since August but they allowed City to snap at their heels after drawing against Liverpool, West Ham and Southampton in consecutive matches.
And, following defeats to City and Brighton, some have inevitably accused them of committing the most heinous sin in football – the bottle job.
At one point in January, Arsenal had a five-point lead over City with a game in hand. But how do they compare to the biggest title collapses of the Premier League era? We’ve taken a look at the seven sides who threw away comfortable leads at the top of the table.
Arsenal – 2007-08 – 5 points
Until this season, the 2007-08 campaign was Arsenal’s most convincing title push of the post-Highbury era.
Arsene Wenger’s side had lost just one of their first 26 matches and seemed to be building a real head of steam in February. They built a five-point lead at the top after winning four successive matches and going on a run where they took 26 points from their last 30 available.
Then they went to St. Andrew’s. Birmingham City were reduced to 10 men after Martin Taylor broke Eduardo’s leg in the third minute. Arsenal had the man advantage but seemed shaken psychologically and contrived to draw 2-2, conceding the equaliser deep into injury time.
Arsenal preceded to drop points in six of their next seven matches and fell away completely. You can pinpoint that afternoon in Birmingham as where it all went wrong.
Norwich City – 1992-93 – 8 points
The inaugural Premier League season was wild.
Reigning champions Leeds United didn’t win away all season and finished two points clear of the relegation zone. Arsenal and Chelsea ended up 10th and 11th respectively.
Aston Villa finished 2nd, while Norwich City, Blackburn Rovers and Queens Park Rangers made up the rest of the top five as Sir Alex Ferguson led Manchester United to their first league title since 1967.
Ferguson’s side ended up finishing a comfortable 10 points clear but they looked out of the title picture in the early months of the season. They sat 10th in early November after a seven-match winless run. Meanwhile, Norwich had built up an eight-point lead before failing to maintain their form in the latter half of the season.
The signing of Eric Cantona is the moment everything changed.
Arsenal – 2002-03 – 8 points
Wenger never led Arsenal to successive league titles, but they looked destined to retain their title in 2002-03.
By March, they’d built up an eight-point lead over Manchester United and looked all set. But they fell apart in the spring, winning just four of their last nine matches, and a 3-2 home defeat to relegation-battling Leeds United was a fatal blow.
Ferguson’s Red Devils won 15 of their final 18 matches and ended up finishing five points clear.
Manchester United – 2011-12 – 8 points
United recovered well from their ego-bruising 6-1 defeat at home to Manchester City in October 2011.
They were imperious throughout the winter, winning 20 of 24 matches after the City defeat to open up an eight-point lead as Roberto Mancini’s side faltered mid-season.
A surprise 1-0 defeat to Wigan Athletic in April saw the title picture open up and it was suddenly wide open after two further dropped points in an eight-goal thriller at home to Everton.
The 4-4 draw against David Moyes’ Toffees meant the league title was back in City’s hands.
Mancini’s side got the job done, lifting the trophy after winning their last six outings, including a 1-0 victory over United at the Etihad and that madcap comeback against QPR on the final day.
— Premier League (@premierleague) January 26, 2018
Liverpool – 2018-19 – 9 points
In fairness to Liverpool, they really didn’t do much wrong in 2018-19. Their final points tally of 97 has only ever been bettered by three teams – one of whom happened to be Pep Guardiola’s Man City with 98 points that year.
A 2-1 defeat away to the eventual champions in January 2019 proved decisive. They went unbeaten otherwise that season, winning 13 of their last 17, but draws against Leicester, West Ham, Manchester United and Everton in January and February were enough to cost them.
Perhaps the best evidence that you need to be truly extraordinary to beat this City side.
Manchester United – 1997-98 – 11 points
Aside from the Charity Shield, United went trophyless in 1997-98. That was unthinkable in the spring when they had an 11-point lead over Arsenal.
But Arsenal had three games in hand and did brilliantly to make them count. The Gunners won their last eight matches and turned the title picture on its head with an unforgettable 1-0 victory at Old Trafford in mid-March.
🗓 #OnThisDay in 1998…
Marc Overmars silenced Old Trafford 🤫 pic.twitter.com/v2uDZljF0Q
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) March 14, 2019
Newcastle United – 1995-96 – 12 points
Kevin Keegan’s Entertainers are arguably the most memorable Premier League side not to win the title.
They had a 12-point lead over Manchester United at one point but things fell apart dramatically with a run of five defeats in eight games in the March.
The title collapse is synonymous with Keegan – haunched over the advertising hoardings at Anfield and his “I would love it” speech are two essential pieces of Premier League iconography and tell the story of Newcastle’s campaign.