With a host of managerial changes at the top of the English Premier League in the summer of 2013, the 2013/14 season promised to be one of the most unpredictable and exciting in living memory. It did not disappoint. FIFA.com takes a look back at eight games that helped shape the thrilling roller-coaster of a campaign as Manchester City won their second domestic title in three seasons.
Manchester City 6-3 Arsenal, 14 December 2013
Arsenal took the early initiative in the Premier League despite a shock opening day defeat to Aston Villa. The feel-good factor among Arsenal supporters was dampened by Manuel Pellegrini’s free-scoring Citizens. Sergio Aguero put the home side ahead before Theo Walcott drew level, but City were ahead again before the break through Alvaro Negredo. Fernandinho stretched the lead and another Walcott strike could not stem the tide as David Silva put his side further ahead. Fernandinho extended the lead in a frenetic final few minutes, which saw Per Mertesacker score before Yaya Toure’s penalty sealed the victory. While Arsenal still topped the table after the game, City closed to within three points of the leaders and their imperious home record continued; they had scored 35 goals in just eight games at the Etihad.
"You have been brilliant to me and I know you had travelled a long way and spent your money to support us. I was upset with the result and know I should have come to you to say 'thank you'.”
Mesut Ozil, Arsenal midfielder
Liverpool 5-1 Arsenal, 8 February 2014
Arsenal had seemingly not learned their lesson by the time they visited Anfield a few months later. Arsene Wenger’s side went into the game top of the table, but their defensive frailties were laid bare for all to see. After racing to a 3-0 half-time lead against Everton in their previous home game, the Reds bettered that start against a shell-shocked Arsenal. Two Martin Skrtel goals and strikes from Raheem Sterling and Daniel Sturridge saw Liverpool lead 4-0 after an astonishing opening 20 minutes. Sterling scored his second after half-time before Mikel Arteta’s penalty consolation. Chelsea overtook Arsenal with victory over Newcastle United later that day and Arsene Wenger’s side would not return to the summit. Their misery was compounded with a 6-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge in March.
"It raises questions that we have to answer. I still think we can win the league because mathematically it is possible."
Arsene Wenger, Arsenal manager
Cardiff City 3-1 Fulham, 8 March 2014
Instability was rife at both clubs throughout the season; Cardiff City’s Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was his side’s second permanent manager of the season, while Felix Magath was Fulham’s third. Cardiff’s season was epitomised by a number of false dawns, including an early win over Manchester City, and their victory over Fulham was another. A Steven Caulker double and Sascha Reither’s own goal were enough to condemn the bottom side to defeat, despite Lewis Holtby’s leveller for the visitors. Cardiff failed to take impetus from the victory and were relegated after winning just once more all season. Fulham reacted with three wins from the next five games, but it was too little, too late – they were relegated with Cardiff at the start of May.
"We've got to stick together to get the points we need.”
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Cardiff City manager
Chelsea 1-2 Sunderland, 19 April 2014
Cardiff and Fulham’s relegation was confirmed after Gus Poyet oversaw an incredible run of form for Sunderland. Seven points from safety with six games remaining, they had effectively accepted relegation. However, a draw at Manchester City saw Poyet’s side head to Stamford Bridge with renewed hope. Samuel Eto’o put the hosts ahead before the reinvigorated Connor Wickham equalised minutes later. Sunderland held out before former Chelsea forward Fabio Borini scored a late winner from the spot to inflict Jose Mourinho’s first home league defeat in 78 games as Chelsea manager. The defeat severely dented Chelsea’s title hopes and sparked Sunderland’s survival charge. Wins against Cardiff, Manchester United and West Bromwich Albion saw them become only the second side in Premier League history to be bottom at Christmas and stay up.
“We needed to do something special today and we did it, we’ve broken a record and that will make the headlines.”
Gus Poyet, Sunderland head coach
Everton 2-0 Manchester United, 20 April 2014
David Moyes returned to Goodison Park for the first time after leaving Everton for Old Trafford and it proved to be a terminal defeat after an underwhelming season. The Toffees, resurgent under Roberto Martinez, easily dispatched a lethargic United side with first-half goals from Leighton Baines and Kevin Mirallas. Everton went into the game having already bettered the Moyes era’s record Premier League points haul, and the final whistle confirmed United’s first absence from the UEFA Champions League since 1995/96. Two days later, rumours of Moyes’s imminent departure were confirmed and the Old Trafford hierarchy sacked a manager for the first time in almost 30 years. Ryan Giggs took charge until the end of the season.
“Manchester United has announced that David Moyes has left the Club. The Club would like to place on record its thanks for the hard work, honesty and integrity he brought to the role.”
Manchester United statement
Liverpool 0-2 Chelsea, 27 April 2014
Despite their shock defeat to Sunderland a week earlier, Chelsea would still have a huge part to play in the title race. The Blues nullified Liverpool’s attempts to get into their rhythm and a slip by Steven Gerrard allowed Demba Ba to open the scoring just before the interval. Willian capped the win in stoppage time to end Liverpool’s 11-game winning streak. The result meant the destiny of the title slipped out of Liverpool’s hands, as City won later that day against Crystal Palace to close to within three points of the summit, with a game in hand and a superior goal difference.
Crystal Palace 3-3 Liverpool, 5 May 2014
If Liverpool could win at Crystal Palace then it was likely that the Premier League title race would see two sides on the same number of points on the final day for the second time in three seasons. Tony Pulis had not read the script. Liverpool were 3-0 up after an hour, but the final 11 minutes would see the game enter footballing folklore. Damien Delaney scored a deflected effort before a Dwight Gayle goal had Reds fans on edge two minutes later. With a roaring crowd behind them, Gayle levelled two minutes from time. Liverpool players crumpled to the floor on the final whistle and star striker Luis Suarez wept. Liverpool were top, but would be overtaken after City’s victory against Aston Villa two days later.
Manchester City 2-0 West Ham United, 11 May 2014
Going into the final day, City’s superior goal difference meant that only a point was required to secure the title. Pellegrini’s men controlled the game from the first whistle but found it difficult to break the Hammers down. However, Samir Nasri calmed any City nerves before the break and captain Vincent Kompany completed the job in the second half. Liverpool’s win against Newcastle was inconsequential as Manuel Pellegrini lifted his first league title in Europe after a Premier League season that saw the leading side change an incredible 25 times.
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