For both players and fans of smaller clubs, there’s nothing quite like scalping a result from a bigger team. Going into a tough match with a confident side aiming for the top of the division can be daunting, so pulling them back down to earth with a surprise loss is always hugely satisfying.
Relive 10 matches where the underdogs managed to get a result against one of the big boys in the Premier League.
1. Sheffield United 2-1 Manchester United (1992)
Any victory against Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United was hard-won, but Sheffield United can brag of the first Premier League underdog victory.
On the opening day of the newly established Premier League, Manchester United found themselves 1-0 down, having conceded the first ever goal in the new league. Brian Deane headed home for Sheffield as the ball came into the box from a long throw-in.
The Blades then added a second when Alan Cork won a penalty that was coolly converted by Deane.
While Mark Hughes pulled one back around the hour mark courtesy of a rare Peter Schmeichel assist, Sheffield hung on to take all three points in the first weekend of the Premier League era.
2. Arsenal 2-4 Norwich City (1992)
Strangely, while that match in Sheffield was being played on the opening day of the new season, something similar was happening at Highbury in north London – Norwich City completed a remarkable turnaround away at Arsenal.
By the 40th minute, the Gunners had a commanding two-nil lead, thanks to goals from Steve Bould and Kevin Campbell.
But a miraculous second half comeback saw Norwich claw their way back in and steal the result. A Mark Robins brace and goals from David Phillips and Ruel Fox meant that Arsenal would be waiting another couple of weeks for their first points in the new era.
3. Bradford City 1-0 Liverpool (2000)
In the 1999/2000 season, Bradford City were facing relegation on the last day of the season. And unfortunately, they were coming up against a Liverpool team full of players that would come to be legends for the Reds.
Emile Heskey had just signed for the club in March in order to boost Liverpool’s attack, while players such as Jamie Carragher, Jamie Redknapp, Michael Owen, and Steven Gerrard also stood in the way of the Bantams.
With Liverpool battling for a top-four league place to secure European football, it’s fair to say that Bradford had a great challenge ahead of them that day.
In the 12th minute, a long ball from a free kick just inside the Liverpool half was lifted into the box by Gunnar Halle. It was met by David Wetherall who headed it emphatically into the top right-hand corner, giving Bradford the lead.
Bradford managed to keep Liverpool out for the rest of the game and secured a victory that saved them from relegation.
4. Manchester United 0-1 West Ham United (2007)
In this game of opposites in 2007, Manchester United came into the game enjoying early celebrations as Premier League champions. Meanwhile, West Ham United approached the game in dire need of a single point to avoid relegation.
Carlos Tevez crucially scored on the cusp of half-time, which ended up being the winning goal.
However, the Hammers had to see out a brutal second half with Manchester United attacks bountiful. The Irons even had to contend with Ferguson’s triple substitution, bringing on heavyweights Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Ultimately, they saw the game out and secured their place in the Premier League next season, with Tevez’s last goal in a West Ham shirt keeping them up.
5. Chelsea 0-3 Sunderland (2010)
Steve Bruce’s Sunderland came up against a formidable Chelsea team towards the beginning of the season in 2010 as he started his second season as manager of the Black Cats.
Under Carlo Ancelotti, Chelsea were reigning league champions and had managed an incredible +22 goal difference in just the last four games of the previous season. They had also started the new season no differently, winning both of their opening two games 6-0, accumulating 28 points in just 12 games.
To further display Chelsea’s dominance at the time, the last goal they had conceded was towards the end of the previous season in a 7-1 thrashing of Aston Villa.
Yet in 2010, Chelsea were no match for Sunderland’s lively attack, as Nedum Onuoha dribbled past three Chelsea defenders before slotting the ball home to secure their 1-0 lead just before halftime.
Later, Asamoah Gyan extended their lead with a tidy finish, expertly assisted by Jordan Henderson. Sealing the deal was Ashley Cole’s gift of a back-pass that landed at the feet of Welbeck who poked home for 3-0.
Despite having all the odds against them, Sunderland shocked Chelsea with a hearty performance that saw them win by a convincing three goals to Chelsea’s nil.
6. Sunderland 1-0 Man City (2012)
In the season that Roberto Mancini led Manchester City to their first league title in 44 years, this away fixture against Sunderland seemed like it would cause little bother for the Blues.
With neither side able to affect the score line as the game’s end approached, it appeared that Mancini’s men would have to settle for a disappointing draw against a Sunderland side they would have backed themselves to comfortably beat.
The game seemed to be ending as a “bore draw” until, in the 93rd minute, Ji Dong-won wriggled his way around Joe Hart after being put through by Stephane Sessegnon. Ji passed the ball into an empty City net to grant Sunderland a precious and unexpected three points on New Year’s Day at the Stadium of Light.
7. Manchester City 2-3 Crystal Palace (2018)
Unbeaten in nine consecutive home games and scoring an average of three in each, most people logically expected Manchester City to extend this number into double digits against a Crystal Palace side struggling in the lower half of the league.
In fact, since taking charge of City in 2016, Pep Guardiola had only lost two home games.
The game started as usual, with City taking the lead through a Gündoğan header. But, in a terrific upset of City’s winning routine, Crystal Palace found themselves leading 2-1 within just eight minutes of the opener.
Jeffrey Schlupp steered a shot into the bottom corner from inside the box drawing the two sides level, just before Andros Townsend met a lazy defensive header on the volley from 30 yards, smashing a certain contender for goal of the season into the top corner.
In the 51st minute, a Milivojevic penalty conveniently extended Palace’s lead to 3-1, prior to Kevin De Bruyne stealing a late goal in the futile attempt of a comeback.
8. Norwich City 3-2 Manchester City (2019)
Playing in September, recently promoted Norwich welcomed a Manchester City side to Carrow Road that hadn’t suffered a loss in the league since January of the same year.
However, this seemed not to matter as they took advantage of some chaotic City defending to put themselves two goals ahead within the first half hour. Goals from Kenny McLean and Todd Cantwell gave the Canaries a surprise lead.
City’s star striker, Sergio Agüero, clawed one back just before half-time, but this was met with a fierce Norwich response as Teemu Pukki extended their winning margin to 3-1.
Rodri concluded the game, and City’s efforts at a comeback, when he scored a consolation goal in the dying minutes. Ultimately, this was far from enough to win any points, and Norwich pulled off an unpredicted and memorable win.
9. Watford 3-0 Liverpool (2020)
Liverpool were in terrific form when they visited Vicarage Road in February 2020, having won 18 consecutive league games. No doubt they expected to extend this run against a Watford side languishing at the bottom of the table.
Instead, two classy finishes from Ismaïla Sarr gave Watford the lead, with a third from Troy Deeney confirming the win.
With all the goals coming in the latter portion of the game, the stunning second-half performance saw Watford sweep Liverpool aside with ease.
10. Aston Villa 7-2 Liverpool (2020)
Liverpool started the 2020/21 season as reigning champions, having won their first title in 20 years the previous season.
Yet, in this magnificent day out for Aston Villa, Ollie Watkins stunned Liverpool and Villa fans alike as he scored a perfect hat-trick within the first half of play, with John McGinn adding a goal of his own in between.
Although Mohamed Salah managed to get two goals back for Liverpool, Villa just couldn’t be stopped on the night.
Ross Barkley furthered their lead in the second half, and Jack Grealish completed the rout by scoring a tidy brace.
This powerful performance from Aston Villa left them in second place, winning three from three at the start of the season.