It goes without saying that last night was a big result for us. It not only pulled us within a point of the Manchester United but it also confirmed that this is officially a two horse race for the title (for now). Beating Stoke last night will be by no means our biggest result of the season but it was crucial and it allowed us to keep some momentum going in the league. At the end of last night’s game I thought about a game very similar to that and then I also found a few good omens as a result.
On the 21st February 1998 we played Crystal Palace, our side was hit by injury and we won the game 1-0. It came as the result of a corner and it fell for Gilles Grimandi who scored with a fabulous strike which you can view by here. We weren’t exactly hit by injuries prior to the game but we did win 1-0 via an unlikely goal from a frenchman. Then I thought I'd delve into that season a bit deeper.
That season we played Manchester United on 14th March. This year we’ll play them on that same Saturday but it’ll be the 12th March at Old Trafford in the FA Cup (hopefully). We also had many games in hand on United that season and that looks like it’ll be the case this year. Not to the extent of the 3 games we needed to win to surpass United that time but enough for Manchester United to play with a little less pressure going into their fixtures. Speaking of United, our last defeat before being crowned as Champions in 1998 was at home to Blackburn on 13th December, our last defeat at present was for 10/11 was at United on... 13th December. When we played Newcastle and Barton scored to make it 4-1 and I turned to a friend and said it would be nothing more than a consolation goal, a bit like when Kevin Gallagher pulling one back for Blackburn in a game that ended 4-1 after a scintillating first 45 minutes. Positive negatives from that season though, we didn’t beat t@tt£nh@m and Dennis Bergkamp missed the FA Cup Final because of a hamstring injury
Just like that game against Palace, last night hasn’t got me convinced we’ll win the league yet but it certainly keeps us up there. However, there comes a time when every game becomes unbearably huge and your stomach is in knots for days prior to the next game and you wake up at random times wondering if we’ll actually become champions (well I did). When will that time come? Probably once United have played their game sat Wigan and Chelsea. We’ll play Sunderland and then United will travel to Liverpool. So brace yourselves but remember we won the double that year....this time around our quadruple starts on Sunday.