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Watch out Leicester! 5 English sides who blew substantial leads at the top

Kevin Keegan’s Newcastle and other teams that blew their title chances.

1. Arsenal — 2002-03

Source: Toks/YouTube

ARSENE WENGER’S MEN were eight points ahead of Man United in the first week of March, but won just four of their remaining nine matches, as the Red Devils pipped them to the title. The Gunners would go on to respond emphatically, as their famous ‘Invincibles’ side went the entire league campaign unbeaten the following season.

2. Newcastle — 1995-96

Source: Johnathan Kaszynski/YouTube

Kevin Keegan’s side had a 10-point lead over Alex Ferguson’s men at Christmas and by January, it had been extended to 12, but an unreliable defence was their downfall, as the Red Devils ultimately recovered dramatically and won the league by a four-point margin. The famous 4-3 defeat to Liverpool came to symbolise both their strengths and weaknesses, as for all their attacking prowess, the Magpies simply weren’t strong enough down the other end. Kevin Keegan’s infamous “I will love it” rant, voted the most memorable quote of the Premier League era in 2012, is looked back on as a kind of metaphor for Newcastle’s unraveling, but by then, the battle was virtually already lost, as the Red Devils would win their final match comfortably and secure the title in the process.

3. Man City — 1971-72

Source: FootballGaffesGalore/YouTube

Back when only two points were awarded for a win, Man City held a five-point lead during the 1971-72 campaign. Co-managed by Malcolm Allison and Joe Mercer, City brought in Rodney Marsh ahead of the run-in, and many felt the English striker’s presence unsettled his teammates. Brian Clough’s Derby ultimately caught up and prevailed in a dramatic final week, with Liverpool and Leeds also narrowly missing out.

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4. Man United — 1991-92

Source: MrRalphmilne/YouTube

Alex Ferguson’s Man United led Leeds by six points at one stage in the last league campaign before the onset of the Premier League era. However, a hectic schedule of four games in six days ultimately hampered the Red Devils’ hopes of glory, as they failed to beat Luton, Nottingham Forest and West Ham. Consequently, Howard Wilkinson’s Leeds side, featuring a young Eric Cantona, won the title by four points.

5. Arsenal — 2007-08

Source: Батрадз Бесолов/YouTube

The Gunners led by five points at one stage during the 2007-08 season, but ended up finishing well behind in third, with Man United triumphing at their expense. Their frustration was epitomised by William Gallas sitting on the pitch after the concession of a late goal in the 2-2 draw against Birmingham, with the French defender initially refusing to leave the field. Although this game was only in February and Arsenal still held the lead thereafter, it’s seen by many as the point where the Londoners’ season began to unravel, particularly as they dropped points in their next three games following this debacle.

h/t BBC Sport, Independent, The Telegraph.

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About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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