Premier League at 30: Five of the division’s most shocking defeats
Every now and then, the Premier League throws up a result that sends shockwaves around the globe.
Whether it is a plucky underdog exceeding expectations or a firm favourite failing to deliver, the unpredictable nature of England’s top tier is what gives it such universal appeal.
As the Premier League celebrates its 30th anniversary, we have taken the chance to look back at five of the division’s most stunning one-sided scorelines.
Chelsea 5-0 Manchester United (October 3, 1999)
Nowadays, Chelsea dishing out a beating to most Premier League sides would not be considered all that shocking, but this 1999 triumph certainly caught viewers off guard.
Gianluca Vialli’s Blues were hosting a Manchester United side who had secured an unprecedented Treble just five months earlier and arrived at Stamford Bridge 29 league games unbeaten.
Yet Alex Ferguson’s champions were behind in 30 seconds when Gustavo Poyet headed home following a shuddering error from new Red Devils No1 Massimo Taibi.
Chris Sutton’s first league goal in blue doubled Chelsea’s lead soon after, before Nicky Butt’s red card made an already improbable comeback effectively impossible for United.
After the break, a second Poyet strike was followed by Henning Berg’s own goal and then Jody Morris made it five — rounding off a sensational victory with an iconic trumpet celebration.
Middlesbrough 8-1 Manchester City (May 11, 2008)
Fans who have followed Manchester City for a few decades have endured plenty of low points, including this season-ending stinker at Middlesbrough.
Boro, managed by a young Gareth Southgate at the time, were utterly dominant from the first whistle and made full use of an early red card dished out to City defender Richard Dunne.
Enigmatic striker Afonso Alves led the way with a memorable hat-trick and only some fine saves from visiting stopper Andreas Isaksson spared the ignominy of double figures.
City’s owner at the time, former Thailand prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, had reportedly already made up his mind to dismiss former England boss Sven-Goran Eriksson prior to the drubbing.
As it panned out, Shinawatra would sell the club to the Abu Dhabi United Group four months later — and the rest is history.
Manchester United 8-2 Arsenal (August 28, 2011)
It is a rare sight to see one of the Premier League’s top sides ship eight goals, yet that is exactly what Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal did at Old Trafford back in 2011.
Having faced strong criticism all summer from the Gunners faithful for failing to strengthen his squad, Wenger was left squirming in his seat as United — managed by his old foe Ferguson — ran riot.
The Red Devils struck in the first period through Danny Welbeck, Ashley Young and Wayne Rooney, though Theo Walcott’s strike shortly before the half-time whistle looked to have at least kept the contest alive.
In reality, the hosts were only just getting started.
Nani and Park Ji-Sung both netted, as did Young once again, while Rooney was able to complete a hat-trick and ensure Arsenal returned to London utterly humiliated.
In a showing of real class, Ferguson staunchly defended Wenger in his post-match interview — though few will have enjoyed that result more than the legendary Scot.
Southampton 0-9 Leicester (October 25, 2019)
Manchester United’s 9-0 defeat of Ipswich in 1995 had long appeared a record which may never be matched — until Southampton were on the receiving end of two identical beatings in consecutive campaigns.
Though United themselves put nine past the Saints in 2020-21, it was this first occasion on their own patch against Leicester that sticks vividly in the mind of most Premier League followers.
Ralph Hasenhuttl’s hosts could hardly have endured a worse start with Ryan Bertrand’s red card and three Foxes goals arriving inside the opening 20 minutes at a shell-shocked St Mary’s.
But where other teams may have take their foot off the gas, Brendan Rodgers’ men stepped on the pedal and by the time Jamie Vardy was slamming a 94th-minute penalty home to complete his hat-trick, the all-time record had been equalled.
Ayoze Perez also bagged three in a performance the visitors dedicated to former owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha a year on from his tragic death, while Saints' sorry stars donated their weekly wages to charity.
Aston Villa 7-2 Liverpool (October 4, 2020)
The coronavirus pandemic brought us the unique experience of behind-closed-doors action — and Liverpool’s away fans will have been glad to miss this trip to the West Midlands.
Having lifted their maiden Premier League title just a few months earlier, Jurgen Klopp’s Reds headed to Villa with a few injury issues but were still expected to prove too strong for their hosts.
Yet the writing was on the wall as soon as Ollie Watkins stroked the hosts ahead, with Jack Grealish having taken advantage of some awful distribution from back-up stopper Adrian.
Watkins would go on to net a first-half hat-trick, while deflected strikes from John McGinn, Ross Barkley and a late Grealish brace made for one of football’s most jaw-dropping scorelines.
Even Mohamed Salah’s two consolation goals did little to cover up what was truly one of the Merseysiders’ most miserable nights.