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Premier League flashback - 2007-08 review: Giggs produces the fitting finale

The Premier League is 20 years old and has enjoyed plenty of highlights. Here, Total Football continues its series, looking back at some of the highs and lows.

Manchester United held off a stiff Chelsea challenge to record their tenth Premier League trophy and place them just one title behind Liverpool’s all-time league record.

Ryan Giggs had the fitting final say, scoring the clincher at Wigan Athletic on the final day.

Derby County went down with a dreary 11 points, recording just one win and breaking many records, for the wrong reasons.

On the last day, Fulham’s away win at Portsmouth, condemned Reading and Birmingham City to the drop too.

CHAMPIONS: Manchester United

RUNNERS-UP: Chelsea

THIRD PLACE: Arsenal

RELEGATED: Reading, Birmingham City, Derby County

TOP SCORERS: Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United) 31, Emmanuel Adebayor (Arsenal) 24, Fernando Torres (Liverpool) 24, Roque Santa Cruz (Blackburn Rovers) 19, Dimitar Berbatov (Tottenham Hotspur) 15, Yakubu (Everton) 15, Benjani (Portsmouth & Manchester City) 15, Robbie Keane (Tottenham Hotspur) 15, Carlos Tevez (Manchester United) 14, John Carew (Aston Villa) 13, Wayne Rooney (Manchester United) 12, Jermain Defoe (Tottenham Hotspur & Portsmouth) 12

BIGGEST WIN: Middlesbrough 8-1 Manchester City (11 May 2008)

HIGHEST SCORING GAMES: Portsmouth 7-4 Reading (30 September 2007), Tottenham Hotspur 6-4 Reading (29 December 2007), Middlesbrough 8-1 Manchester City (11 May 2008)

PFA PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United)

PFA YOUNG PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Cesc Fabregas (Arsenal)

Premier League title number ten arrived for Manchester United on the final day of the season and in fitting fashion too.

Ryan Giggs, who had featured and scored in every Premier League campaign, came off the bench to score the second goal in a 2-0 success at Wigan Athletic.

They held off Chelsea’s challenge, as the Blues faced the agony of league runners-up and also lost the Champions League final on penalties in Moscow, to United.

There were plenty of new faces in dugouts. Chris Hutchings was promoted into the Wigan hotseat, Sam Allardyce took over at Newcastle and former England boss Sven-Goran Eriksson, succeeded Stuart Pearce at Manchester City.

As ever, lots of money was splashed about in the transfer market, despite the first signs of a meltdown in the worldwide economic climate.

Tottenham paid a club record of £16.5m to acquire Darren Bent from relegated Charlton. Martin Jol also paid Southampton £5m for youngster Gareth Bale, whilst Younes Kaboul and David Bentley arrived too.

Reigning champions Manchester United spent a combined £30m on Portuguese duo, Nani and Anderson, also adding Owen Hargreaves on an undisclosed fee from Bayern Munich.

West Ham spent plenty of money, breaking their club record for Craig Bellamy, a £7.5m arrival from Liverpool. Scott Parker, Kieron Dyer, Freddie Ljungberg and Julian Faubert came in too, making it look like a revolving door at Upton Park.

Out of East London, went Paul Konchesky to Fulham, whilst Marlon Harewood and Nigel Reo-Coker both moved to Aston Villa, joined in claret by Scott Carson on loan from Liverpool and Zat Knight from Fulham.

Elsewhere, Thierry Henry left Arsenal for Barcelona, Liverpool bought Ryan Babel and Fernando Torres, Chelsea splashed out £13m on Lyon’s Florent Malouda, Yakubu switched to Everton for just over £11m and Joey Barton, Marc Viduka, Geremi and Alan Smith were among the new arrivals at Newcastle United.

The Special One departs

Cracks had been appearing fast in the relationship between Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho and owner Roman Abramovich.

The Blues started well with three wins in four and were fortunate to escape with a point from Anfield, thanks to a dubious penalty award against Steve Finnan.

However, when they lost 2-0 at Aston Villa at the beginning of September, Abramovich was noted for making an early exit from Villa Park.

In the early hours of 20 September, Chelsea announced that Mourinho had left the club by mutual consent. The Special One had gone but left many memories in his time at Stamford Bridge.

Surprisingly, the relatively unknown Avram Grant was given the job but he couldn’t prevent Chelsea slipping to a 2-0 defeat at Old Trafford, with Carlos Tevez scoring his first goal for the Red Devils.

As Chelsea ended September in the unfamiliar position of eighth, failing to score a single goal in four successive Premier League matches in the process, Arsenal flew out of the blocks.

Emmanuel Adebayor hit a hat-trick in the Gunners 5-0 drubbing of hapless Derby County and Cesc Fabregas continued his rise, which culminated in him winning the PFA Young Player of the Year award at the season’s conclusion.

North London rivals Tottenham made a dreadful start, winning just once in the first three months of the season.

Jol was sacked in late October, following a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Newcastle United. He was replaced by UEFA Cup winning coach from Sevilla, Juande Ramos.

Sammy Lee was also an early managerial casualty, parting company with Bolton after just six months in charge. Gary Megson was his successor at the Reebok Stadium.

The Sven factor

Manchester City struggled to score goals in 2006-07 but the arrival of Sven-Goran Eriksson as manager, allowed for some fresh optimism around the City of Manchester Stadium.

There was a real cosmopolitan feel to the squad, with new arrivals including Elano, Vedran Corluka, Martin Petrov and Geovanni.

Geovanni made himself an instant hero at Eastlands, scoring the only goal in the Manchester derby, as City beat United 1-0 in August, to top the table with maximum points from three games.

The side stayed in the top six until the end of January but faded away after that, finishing with annihilation on the final day at Middlesbrough, losing 8-1. Sven was dismissed in the summer.

Another manager under pressure was Chris Hutchings at Wigan Athletic. After less than six months in charge at the JJB Stadium, Dave Whelan sacked him following a 2-0 home defeat to improving Chelsea.

The Lactics hired Steve Bruce, who resigned as Birmingham boss a week after derby defeat to Aston Villa. Liam Ridgewell, who had left Villa for Birmingham in the summer, scored an unfortunate own goal.

Lawrie Sanchez was ousted by Fulham before the end of 2007 and replaced by Roy Hodgson and Newcastle sacked Sam Allardyce into the New Year.

Both Chairman Mike Ashley and supporters on Tyneside were unhappy with the style of play that Allardyce insisted, should be played at St. James Park.

There were some incredible scorelines in the first five months of the season. Portsmouth beat Reading 7-4, which remains the biggest aggregated score in Premier League history.

Aston Villa were involved in two 4-4 draws with Tottenham and Chelsea. In the former game, they blew a 4-1 lead away and Reading shared ten goals with Spurs at White Hart Lane, remarkably losing 6-4!

Dreadful Derby

On Monday, 17 September 2007, Kenny Miller scored his first goal for his new club as Derby County beat Newcastle United 1-0.

It was a lift that the club needed but incredibly, turned into their only league win of the entire campaign.

They took some serious drubbings along the way too, going down 5-0 at Arsenal, 4-0 at Tottenham, 6-0 at Liverpool, 5-0 at home to West Ham and 6-0 to Aston Villa.

Billy Davies was sacked at the end of November and former Wigan boss Paul Jewell couldn’t save the sinking ship.

The Rams were relegated before April and finished with just 11 points on the board, losing 29 games, scoring just 20 times and conceding a whopping 89 goals.

Frankly, they were a total disgrace to the Premier League and it is unlikely we will see such a dreadful team ever again.

Fellow newly promoted side Birmingham, appointed Alex McLeish as Bruce’s replacement at St. Andrews. He started off with a 3-2 victory at Tottenham, when Sebastian Larsson scored a stoppage time winner.

Birmingham remained in the scrap for survival for much of the season, as did Sunderland. However, Roy Keane did well to keep the Black Cats up, as they finished 15th.

Despite losing their unbeaten record at Middlesbrough during December, Arsenal went into the New Year with a two point advantage over Manchester United.

Chelsea had risen to third, a further four points back, with Liverpool, Manchester City and Everton completing the top six. The bottom three consisted of Wigan, Fulham and Derby.

The return of the prodigal son

It was the return of the prodigal son at St. James Park, as Kevin Keegan agreed in January, to return to Newcastle as manager for a second stint.

The supporters believed the good times were coming back but Keegan couldn’t inspire the Magpies to begin with, as they lost 3-0 at Arsenal and despite taking an early lead, folded to lose 4-1 to Aston Villa.

Cristiano Ronaldo was having another staggering season at Old Trafford and he scored a breathtaking free-kick in United’s 2-0 win at home to Portsmouth.

The Portuguese winger was untouchable during the season, scoring a colossal 42 goals in all competitions, 31 of these in the Premier League.

Ronaldo ended the year as the PFA Players Player of the Year and the clear winner of the Golden Boot, seven clear of Adebayor.

Liverpool’s title tilt ended in January, with no wins in four and a stoppage time loss at West Ham to a Mark Noble penalty, left them down in seventh. However, Fernando Torres was having a great debut season at Anfield, scoring 24 in the league.

In the January transfer window, Chelsea paid £15m to Bolton Wanderers for striker, Nicolas Anelka.

Tottenham spent £9m on Scottish defender Alan Hutton from Rangers but leaving North London was Jermain Defoe, who went to Portsmouth on deadline day.

Other moves saw Martin Skrtel sign for Liverpool, Birmingham City secured the signature of James McFadden from Everton for £5m, Momo Sissoko exit Anfield for Juventus and Benjani swapped Portsmouth for Manchester City.

Eduardo’s horror

Manchester United marked the 50th anniversary of the Munich air disaster and had an off-colour day against their city rivals.

Benjani netted on his Premier League debut for City, as they won 2-1 at Old Trafford to take their first league double against the Red Devils since 1970.

On 23 February 2008, Arsenal travelled to Birmingham City, for what looked to be a routine fixture but it would change their season for the worse.

In the second minute, Croatian striker Eduardo was on the victim of a horror challenge from Blues defender, Martin Taylor.

The tackle was so disturbing that all TV cameras were pulled away from the incident. Taylor was sent off and Eduardo left with a double leg fracture.

The Arsenal players were massively distressed and conceded a late penalty to McFadden, which meant the game ended 2-2. William Gallas’s over-reaction after the final whistle didn’t help matters.

After the match, Arsene Wenger said: “The tackle was horrendous and I don’t think that Taylor should play again. When these tackles happen, they always say that he is not that sort of player but you only have to kill someone once and you have a dead person.”

After that game, Arsenal’s title challenge started to disintegrate. They drew a succession of games afterwards and a 2-1 defeat at Stamford Bridge on Easter Sunday, put them back to third and playing catch-up.

Chelsea had hit form at the right time of the season and now, remained hot on the tails of Manchester United. It was all being set-up nicely at both ends of the table again.

For a while, Everton looked like they could break into the top four, especially when Yakubu scored twice to see off Portsmouth 3-1 in early March.

However, Liverpool fought back and a Torres goal after seven minutes won the Merseyside Derby at Anfield and made fourth place, theirs to lose.

Brilliant Ballack brings it all square

Manchester United’s 2-1 win over Arsenal in mid-April made it a genuine two-horse race and when Emile Heskey scored a stoppage time leveller for Wigan at Stamford Bridge 24 hours later, it looked all but over.

However, Grant’s men refused to give up and had one final chance, which was the Stamford Bridge showdown on 26 April.

Two goals from the brilliant Michael Ballack helped the Blues to a crucial 2-1 victory, drawing the teams’ level on points. Suddenly, the momentum looked like it might be with the West Londoners.

The following week saw United respond in style, thumping West Ham 4-1. Another Ballack header and a strike from Malouda helped Chelsea to a nervy 2-0 win at Newcastle on Bank Holiday Monday, setting up a final day decider.

Sir Alex Ferguson knew that victory at the JJB Stadium would be enough, regardless of what Chelsea did at home to Bolton Wanderers.

There were nervy moments at Wigan and Paul Scholes was lucky to stay on the field but a handball by Emmerson Boyce, allowed Ronaldo to score again from the penalty spot and put the Red Devils in pole position.

Chelsea lost John Terry to an early injury but Andriy Shevchenko gave them a second half lead, after several near-misses. However, Matt Taylor netted a stoppage time equaliser for Bolton, so the 1-1 final result was never going to be enough.

It was all put into place for Giggs to have the final say and make it the perfect ten for Manchester United, still the most successful club in the Premier League era by a long distance.

Arsenal finished third, only four points off the top, with Liverpool, Everton and an ever-improving Aston Villa completing the top six.

Fulham’s great escape

For much of the season, Fulham looked like a club that would be relegated and in late April, they travelled to Manchester City, desperate for a victory.

They fell 2-0 down inside 21 minutes, thanks to goals from Stephen Ireland and Benjani. As results stood, they would have gone down at the end of the day.

However, they fought back brilliantly and three goals in the last 20 minutes, two from Diomansy Kamara saw the Cottagers win 3-2 and keep the pressure on Birmingham and Reading.

They escaped the drop zone seven days later; with a 2-0 home success over Birmingham and Danny Murphy’s winning header at Fratton Park on the final day completed the great escape from Roy Hodgson’s side.

Despite beating Blackburn 4-1, Birmingham made an instant return to the Championship and after finishing eighth in their first season; Reading suffered the dreaded second season syndrome and joined them, although they won 4-0 on the final day at Derby.

Portsmouth finished eighth and secured a place in Europe, when they beat Cardiff City to win the FA Cup at Wembley.

Despite Dimitar Berbatov and Robbie Keane finishing in the top six for goalscorers, Tottenham came in a distant 11th, although a Carling Cup final victory over Chelsea, gave Ramos some breathing space.

After that Champions League agony in Moscow, Roman Abramovich sacked Avram Grant and replaced him with Luis Felipe Scolari. Mark Hughes quit as Blackburn boss after they finished a creditable seventh, to take over from Eriksson at Manchester City.

2007-08 had seen plenty of chopping and changing but the ‘Big Four’ remained the ones to beat and out of them, Manchester United proved to be the class again of the Premier League.

By Simon Wright – Follow me on Twitter @Siwri88

Follow Total Football on Twitter: @TotalFootball12

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