1994 vs 2005 – Which was the more dramatic PL dogfight?

This year will see May come and go without the Premier League’s traditional final-day relegation dogfight.

Though others are more than worthy of mention, there are two such days that certainly stand out as the most prominent inside the first 15 years of the Premier League’s existence, but which gives us the bigger goosebumps?

Stein saves Ipswich – 7 May 1994

In the end, this one came down to three teams: Ipswich, Everton and Sheffield United, one of which would drop into the Football League.

Notably, both of the latter teams are in contention to seal a UEFA Europa League berth via the league. Prior to the break, Sheffield United were among the favourites for the top six in the Premier League betting outright markets, but it was all very different for that duo 26 years ago.

Most of the early drama on the final day of 1993/94 took place at Goodison Park, with Everton conceding two goals to Wimbledon in farcical fashion. Everton pulled one back from the spot, to go in just 2-1 down (and relegated as the second-bottom club) at half-time.

By contrast, Sheffield United led 1-0 at Chelsea and sat three places above the drop zone. It had been a reasonably comfortable day for the Blades, but from their vantage point, the second half proved just how unforgiving football can be.

Everton ultimately rallied and fulfilled their end of the bargain, with a tremendous volley from Barry Horne and a fluke goal by Graham Stuart winning it for the Toffees. That left Ipswich (drawing 0-0 at Blackburn) and Sheffield United (now drawing 2-2) as the two teams threatened.

That was enough for the Blades to stay up, but they were mistakenly under the impression that Ipswich were winning. In turn, United went all-out attack and were duly hit with a winning goal from Chelsea’s Mark Stein.

Ipswich held out to draw, sending United into the abyss, where they would remain for twelve long years. In 2007, Sheffield United would again face final day agony, with West Ham striker Carlos Tevez’ winning goal at Old Trafford proving the death knell.

Christmas curse smashed – 15 May 2005

For the first time ever, no team in the bottom four was guaranteed survival or relegation going into the final weekend – thus, in practice, only one of four threatened teams (Norwich, Southampton, Crystal Palace and West Brom) would survive. Norwich merely had to win at Fulham to stay up, but that plan was soon scuppered by Fulham’s onslaught of goals.

Southampton took an early lead at home to Manchester United, putting them above the dotted line. United soon wrested back control, and come the second half, it was really between West Brom and Crystal Palace. After the break, West Brom raced into a 2-0 lead at home to a half-motivated Portsmouth.

Sadly for them, it looked as though their efforts would be in vain, with Palace leading 2-1 at Charlton as the 2004/05 season headed into the final ten minutes of its lifespan. Enter Jonathan Fortune, whose late goal made him the toast of Sandwell, ensuring West Bromwich’s survival.

In staying up, West Bromwich also became the first team to survive after being bottom of the league on Christmas Day.

Which is the greatest escape?

There were technically six teams with no cast-iron guarantee of top-flight status or relegation in 1994, whereas there were only four in such a situation back in 2005. The decisive goal was also scored much later in the 1994 relegation battle.

The 1994 survival fight also came close to bookending forty years of top-tier action for Everton, who had been champions just seven years previously. For some, that alone is enough to see 1994 take the crown as the greatest final-day survival battle of the Premier League era.

The most commonly asked questions about the World Cup

The biggest sporting event, and the most-watched television event of the year, is only a few weeks away as fans await with great excitement for the 2018 FIFA World Cup to begin.

Sportsbook Betfair have compiled the most-searched questions ahead of the World Cup:  queries about dates and future tournaments are prominent but there are a few questions that may surprise you.

Prior to the tournament starting, the most commonly asked World Cup questions are as follows:

When is the World Cup?

The number one question that users have been asking over the past year is when the World Cup takes place.  The simple answer is 2018.  Or to be more specific, the opening game between Russia and Saudi Arabia takes place on Thursday, 14th June, with the final taking place at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on Sunday, 15th July.  The latest odds on the World Cup group stage have Russia as the comfortable favourites to win the tournament’s opening game.

When is the next World Cup?

The 2018 edition hasn’t even taken place yet and people are already wanting to know when the next World Cup is.  Unless they didn’t realise the next tournament takes place this year!  After Russia 2018 will be the 2022 World Cup which is being held in Qatar.

When does the World Cup start?

With the tournament rapidly approaching fans want to know then the big day is, when the 2018 World Cup starts.  It’s been tradition since the 2006 tournament that the hosts kick off the tournament and this year’s tournament is no different as Russia will face Saudi Arabia on Thursday, 14th June at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.

How often is the World Cup held?

The first question not specifically aimed at this summer’s tournament.  There has been a four-year gap between every World Cup since its first two tournaments in 1930 and 1934, with the exception of the planned 1942 and 1946 competitions which were cancelled due to World War II.  The tournament resumed in 1950 in Brazil.  West Germany were actually banned from participating that year but when they returned four years later they won the whole thing for the first time.

Where is the World Cup 2018?

Search data shows that many people knew a World Cup was taking place in 2018 but they didn’t know which country was hosting it.  Well, Russia controversially won the rights to host this summer’s tournament on 2nd December, 2010.

When was the last World Cup?

Perhaps this has been asked by people who have only got into football over the past couple of years, but some have searched when the last tournament took place.  Brazil hosted the last World Cup in 2014 between June and July.  It was the first time the World Cup had been staged in South America since Argentina were the hosts in 1978.  It was also the second time that Brazil had hosted a World Cup following the 1950 tournament.  Mexico, Italy, France and Germany have all hosted a World Cup on two separate occasions.

When did England win the World Cup?

Anyone searching this term must not be English or living in England.  Who doesn’t know that England won the World Cup in 1966 on home soil?  It’s something that the media like to bombard us with, perhaps as it’s the only major international football tournament that England have ever won…

Where is the next World Cup?

The next World Cup takes place in 2022 and, against tradition of announcing the hosts eight years in advanced, Qatar won the rights to host the competition on 2nd December, 2010.  Again, this sparked a lot of controversy, particularly with reports that people in the country were celebrating their victory before it was even announced!  Qatar 2022 will be the second World Cup in Asia after South Korea/Japan 2002.

Who won the last World Cup?

Those who were too young to remember the 2014 World Cup or simply weren’t football fans at the time have been looking at the current holders of the most popular sporting event in the world.  Joachim Löw’s Germany won the competition with a 1-0 extra-time victory over Argentina.  It was the fourth occasion they have done so – only one less than record holders  Brazil, who they humiliated 7-1 on home soil in the semi-finals.

Germany are the current favourites to win this year’s World Cup too and are very popular among the World Cup betting tips.

Who has qualified for the World Cup?

The 2018 World Cup will be the penultimate tournament having 32 nations participating as FIFA have announced that they will be expanding the number of teams to 48 in 2026.  France 98 was the first time that 32 nations qualified – up from 24 at USA 94.  The 32 teams who have qualified for the 2018 World Cup are as follows:

Costa Rica
Saudi Arabia
South Korea

Predicting the 2017-18 Premier League Team of the Season

With the 2017-18 Premier League season drawing to a close and with Manchester City all-but confirmed as the champions, the Team of the Season is set to be announced.

The Citizens were actually the pre-season favourites to win the title according to Paddy Power football bets and are set to live up to expectations as they hold a 16-point lead over Manchester United with seven games to go.

Whilst Pep Guardiola’s side have dominated the division there are players from outside the top club that will be make the FA’s team of top 11 players this season.

Here are the eleven players we believe deserve a place in the Premier League Team of the Season:

David de Gea

The Manchester United goalkeeper currently leads the race for the Golden Gloves award having kept 16 clean sheets so far this season.  David de Gea has been a huge factor in a number of points Jose Mourinho’s side have collected with a number of stunning and important saves.

Kyle Walker

Manchester City have dominated possession in all of their games this season as they are racing away with the Premier League title.  This has allowed big summer signing Kyle Walker to bomb forward with ease and he’s done it to good effect with six assists from right-back.

James Tarkowski

Many had Burnley down as relegation contender’s pre-season, yet here we are in April with the Lancashire side pushing for European football next season.  They have one of the best defensive records in the division thanks to the likes of Nick Pope and Ben Mee, but we’re selecting James Tarkowski to our squad having earned his first England cap of late.

Jan Vertonghen

Tottenham Hotspur have done an excellent job in pushing for Champions League football next season.  And despite a long-term injury to key centre-back Toby Alderweireld they still have an excellent defensive record.  Jan Vertonghen has been a rock at the back for the North London club once again this campaign and rightfully gets called into our team.

Ashley Young

José Mourinho had plenty of options at left-back to start the season but ended up fixated on Ashley Young.  The 32-year-old has largely been solid there with the occasional dip in performance.  He’s also bombed forward to provide some excellent crosses on his right foot.  The Manchester United man narrowly gets the nod ahead of Chelsea’s Marcos Alonso.

Mousa Dembélé

Mousa Dembélé has dominated numerous games in the heart of Tottenham’s midfield this season, helping Mauricio Pochettino’s side reach the Champions League knockout stages and put themselves in position for qualifying for the competition again next season.  The Belgian midfielder got the nod over Fernandinho in our team.

Kevin De Bruyne

Despite a couple of quiet games towards the end of the season Kevin De Bruyne has been phenomenal in the Manchester City midfield this campaign.  The Belgian playmaker currently leads the Premier League with 15 assists and has been a key part of the club’s success this season.

David Silva

Manchester City’s midfield has dominated the Premier League this season in terms of possession and creativity so don’t be surprised to see two of their stars make our Team of the Season.  David Silva has had a couple of quiet games against the top teams but otherwise has torn defences apart with his immaculate passing ability.

Mohamed Salah

Our choice for the PFA Player of the Season, Mohamed Salah has shown Chelsea that they were wrong to sell the Egyptian after giving him little opportunity.  Salah has come back to the Premier League and has really been the difference between Liverpool getting as far as they have in the Champions League and as high as they are in the table.  On course for the Premier League Golden Boot with 29 goals.

Sergio Agüero

It was a close one between Sergio Agüero and Harry Kane to be our starting striker but we give the nod to the Argentine who’s close to averaging a goal a game in a team that has several goalscorers on it.  City don’t always look as potent when Agüero isn’t playing.

Christian Eriksen

One of the stars this season has been Christian Eriksen out on the left wing for Tottenham in their 4-2-3-1 formation.  The Dane is providing goals or assists almost every match and has been vital to the team performing as well as they have.

Five things we learned from the UCL

Real Madrid became the last remaining 100 per centers in this season’s Champions League as the group stage neared its end this week, while Lionel Messi smashed Raul’s goal record in an easy Barcelona win.

Elsewhere, 10-man Bayern Munich were beaten late on by Manchester City as England’s hopes of having four teams in the knockout stage were given a huge boost.

Just five spots in the last 16 remain up for grabs though, as Chelsea, Arsenal, Bayer Leverkusen and Shakhtar Donetsk were among the teams to have booked their places in the next phase.

Galatasaray were eliminated from Europe altogether after losing at Anderlecht and it will likely result in their coach Cesare Prandelli losing his job in the coming days.

Champions League betting is very popular and will be again next week for the final group matches.

Galatasaray have been the worst team in the Champions League this season. Their 2-0 defeat to Anderlecht on Wednesday evening not only dumped them out of the competition, it means they can’t qualify for the Europa League either.

Lionel Messi became the Champions League’s greatest ever goalscorer on Tuesday and immediately set about extending his own record. His eventual hat-trick in Barcelona’s 4-0 win at APOEL took him to 74 goals in the competition.

Normally, a couple of goals in a big Champions League fixture would boost the hopes of any striker looking to prove a point. But unfortunately for Edinson Cavani, that boat has long-since sailed.

Mario Mandzukic may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but the Croatian striker is going from strength to strength at Atletico Madrid and looks like the ideal replacement for Diego Costa.

There was a night two years ago when Borussia Dortmund overcame Real Madrid 2-1 and Schalke became the first foreign team to win at the Emirates Stadium with a brillaint 2-0 win over Arsenal. Finally, it seemed, the rest of the Bundesliga was catching up with Bayern Munich and, sure enough, that season ended with an all-German final.

Manchester United vs Liverpool FC

Another derby in English Premiership, this weekend, it’s UTD vs Reds derby. If the Reds get some points from this match, City will have a chance again to get away from competitors, United, if they manage to win against Aston Vila on sunday.

Possible lineups:
Man. UTD: De Gea; Rafael, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra; Valencia, Giggs, Carrick, Young; Welbeck, Rooney
Liverpool FC: Reina; Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Enrique; Gerrard, Spearing, Adam; Kuyt, Suarez, Bellamy

UTD have won 22 of last 25 matches in Premiership, while Liverpool managed to celebrate only once in last 5 matches. You can bet on your favourite in this one on TopBet.com.