On This Day in Football History – 15 May: Arsenal Go Season Unbeaten, Spurs Go Full Spurs & Leeds Go Full Leeds

Some particular days are favourable to certain sides, while others really are not. Depending on your allegiances on 15 May in the footballing calendar, you’ll fall into one of these categories.

If you’re an Arsenal or Chelsea fan, you will love this installment of OTD. If you’re a Leeds or Tottenham fan, you might want to look away.

Don’t worry, though, as these are just a few of the bases we’ll be covering today. So sit back, stick your reading glasses on and enjoy.

1981 & 1997 – Patrice Evra and Ousmane Dembele Celebrate Their Birthdays

Everyone’s favourite poultry smooching, Bob Marley impersonating and game loving defender celebrates his 39th birthday today and it would be rude not to include him in this list purely for entertaining use, if nothing else.

He’s certainly a character alright, but he was also a damn fine footballer in his pomp. Seven league titles and a Champions League are just some of his many achievements.

Then there is Dembele who, despite being injured for 80% of his career, has already scooped a World Cup and two La Liga crowns. When he finally steps back on the pitch, the world will be his oyster, because at just 23 years old and with bags of talent to boot, he might finally play more than three games in a row and reach his potential.

2002 – Zinedine Zidane’s Champions League Winning Volley

As we’ve seen in recent years, there are some special ways to win a Champions League final. Gareth Bale did so for Real Madrid two years ago, but before him, fellow Los Blancos alumni Zidane stunned Glasgow and the rest of the world into silence with majesty of his own.

His stunning volley against Bayer Leverkusen in the 2002 final was perfect in every way. From the balance, the technique, the finish, the gorgeous adidas Predator boots he wore, the fact it proved to be the winning goal, the way Roberto Carlos’ cross seemed to hang in the air for hours, the stage he did it on…everything.

One of the great Champions League goals, if not the great Champions League goal.

2004 – Arsenal Complete Unbeaten Premier League Season

They may have won the Premier League title that season with four matches spare, but there was another target on the Gunners’ minds as they went into the final stretch. Up until that point, they had not lost a single game in the league. 34 played, zero lost.

Birmingham, Portsmouth and Fulham followed after their title-winning clash at White Hart Lane, and even still, they were yet to lose.

A feat achieved only once before in the English top flight, Preston North End in 1888/1889 (although it was only a 22 game season), Arsenal had the chance to write history at home to Leicester on the final day. If you weren’t already entirely sure, they did it alright, with goals from Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira completing the comeback win after Paul Dickov had opened the scoring.

2005 – Stuart Pearce Throws David James Up Front Against Middlesbrough

When you make a decision like this, one of two things can happen. Firstly, you could pull it off and be seen as a tactical genius or, secondly, it’ll come off as wild desperation where your managerial acumen clearly isn’t all that.

It turned out, in Stuart Pearce’s case, to be closer to the latter. Chasing a late winner at home to Middlesbrough on the final day of the 2004/05 Premier League season, three points against Boro would have seen Manchester City overtake their opponents into seventh spot to secure the final UEFA Cup slot.

Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink’s superb 30-yard free kick put the visitors ahead, but Kiki Musampa levelled after the break. Throwing James up front in the latter stages was Pearce’s POA, and James did actually play some part in winning his side a penalty. Robbie Fowler duly missed it, and James proceeded to look completely lost in the striking role. Boro would secure the point they needed with a 1-1 draw.

A gamble? Yes. A successful one? Not quite.

2010 – Chelsea Secure FA Cup Trophy With Victory Over Portsmouth

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We here at 90min have been asking ourselves this question today, ‘did this actually happen?’ Because I, for one, sure as heck don’t remember it.

That might seem a tad harsh to you Blues fans, especially since that FA Cup triumph secured a league and cup double for Carlo Ancelotti’s side that term. Perhaps it’s because it was so outrageously one-sided, with Chelsea taking on already-relegated-with-19-measly-points Portsmouth in the final.

So, top versus bottom in the Premier League…of course Chelsea won. The only surprise was that it took a Didier Drogba free kick to win the tie, which is totally bonkers considering the Blues registered 24 shots to Pompey’s two.

The one shot on target for Portsmouth during the game? A 54th minute penalty that Petr Cech saved from Kevin-Prince Boateng. Drogba’s goal came just five minutes later, so what a story that could’ve been.

2013 – Chelsea Win Their First Europa League Title

It’s trophy day for Chelsea! Three years after securing the double, they marched on to Europe and beat Benfica 2-1 in the Europa League final to secure their first title in the competition.

In doing so they actually became the first reigning Champions League winners to be crowned Europa League champions. Furthermore, they became the only side to hold both the Champions League and Europa League trophy at the same time (for ten days).

Oscar Cardozo’s penalty had canceled out Fernando Torres’ opener, with Branislav Ivanovic landing the killer blow in the 93rd minute as Rafael Benitez’s side made up for their early exit from Europe’s elite club competition.

2016 – Premier League Final Day Where Spurs Went Full Spurs

Arsenal and Tottenham don’t like each other very much, like, at all. Therefore, any opportunity to gloat over their north London rivals is grasped with both hands, say, perhaps, finishing above each other in the Premier League table?

Heading into the final day of the 2015/16 season, Leicester had already won the league, leaving just pride at stake for the two rivals. Spurs knew merely drawing away at relegated Newcastle would be enough to finish second, while the Gunners needed a miracle in order to celebrate ‘St Totteringham’s Day’.

Well, they didn’t need a miracle in the end, they just needed Spurs to be Spurs and lose 5-1 away at St. James’ Park to miss out on finishing above their rivals for the first time in 21 years, while Arsenal eased past Aston Villa 4-0 at home in Mikel Arteta and Tomas Rosicky’s Arsenal farewells.

Elsewhere, Leicester finished their season with a 1-1 draw away at Chelsea, who finished tenth (mad that, wasn’t it?), Southampton won to eventually finish sixth and Manchester City’s draw away at Swansea ensured they finished in the top four.

2017 – John Terry Scores on Farewell Chelsea Home Clash

If you’re a Blues fan, I don’t know, maybe…ermm, have 15 and 05 somewhere in your lottery numbers, as it’s the day where the trophies keep pouring in. It really is a good day to be a Chelsea supporter.

Sure, they’d already won the Premier League title by this point, but they celebrated in style on this day as it was their final home fixture of the season. An utterly barmy and ill-tempered 4-3 win over Watford was to be their Stamford Bridge bow, but it was one particular scorer who stole the headlines.

Terry’s 22nd minute opener was a fitting end to a legend’s career at the club (who was to leave at the end of the season after nearly two decades in west London), as Chelsea withstood a battling Hornets side to to take their acclaim on a lap of honour after the match with three points in the bag.

It was Terry’s first league start in around eight months, one he capped off with his 100th and final Blues goal in all competitions.

2019 – Leeds United Crumble to Derby in Championship Playoff Classic

This…this was completely ludicrous. The Championship playoffs are one of the most engrossing aspects of the second tier. Four teams battle it out the reach Wembley, with the ultimate prize of the Premier League in their sights. Leeds have been trying to return there for quite a while now, and their best chance of doing so since their last foray came on this day last year.

Winning 1-0 away at Derby in the first leg of their semi-final had them in a great position to reach the promised land, but they threw it away (just as Derby didn’t) in a mad-cap 4-2 defeat at Elland Road.

Leading 1-0 on the day, they succumbed to a Rams fightback to be trailing 3-1, before Stuart Dallas struck for Leeds to level the tie at 3-3 on aggregate. Gaetano Berardi then got himself sent off, and a late goal from Mason Mount completed Derby’s incredible win, with Scott Malone also seeing red before the full time whistle.

That really doesn’t tell half the story, though, as the infamous ‘spygate’ saga embroiled the entire fixture, while Frank Lampard responded in style to continuous heckling from the home fans. Go and watch Take Us Home: Leeds United to absorb all the drama in superbly crushing fashion.

For more from Ross Kennerley, follow him on Twitter!


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