A magnificent seven Premier League teams have managed to find themselves 5-0 down before half-time, and only one of them faster than Tottenham’s brave comedy heroes succeeded in so doing at St James’ Park on Sunday afternoon.
Here’s the full list of hilarity, ranked by the dizzying speed with which the poor sods found themselves 5-0 down…
18 minutes – Manchester City v Watford, September 2019
Not a great surprise to see Manchester City or indeed, with all due respect, Watford involved here is it? David Silva started the carnage in the opening minute before Sergio Aguero’s penalty made it 2-0 before seven minutes were played. Riyad Mahrez got the third and Bernardo Silva the fourth inside a quarter of an hour (he’d complete a hat-trick in the second half) and Nicolas Otamendi made it 5-0 three minutes later. In extraordinary scenes, City inexplicably failed to add a sixth goal before the break. Six first-half goals for a Premier League team remains a white whale.
Final score: Manchester City 8-0 Watford
21 minutes – Newcastle v Tottenham, April 2023
There’s a general theme to these, and that is ‘Good Team v Shit Team’. Spurs are (and top boffins will dedicate their lives to working out precisely how and why without any success while driving themselves to insanity) still somehow fifth in the Premier League table. They are, quite obviously, very, very shit but technically their so-called ‘league’ ‘position’ at this late stage of the season does make this an astonishing outlier here, even if they are now firmly on course to finish eighth. Spurs played a back four for the first time since a 2-0 defeat at Chelsea in January last year and it went instantly, horrifically, hilariously wrong.
Part of the problem is that Antonio Conte’s time at Spurs was Schrodinger’s Reign, one in which he was simultaneously ‘not backed’ by the club yet also allowed to so utterly remould the squad in his own image in the space of 18 months that they no longer possess the necessary constituent parts to field something as basic as a back four. With Pedro Porro and Ivan Perisic involved, it was really a back two. A back two containing Eric Dier and the increasingly unhinged Cristian Romero.
Frankly, it’s a surprise it took almost 70 seconds for Jacob Murphy to open the scoring. Joelinton added a second after sauntering through a phantom defence before Murphy slapped home a third on nine minutes. A quickfire Alexander Isak double made it 5-0 with barely 20 minutes on the clock, but Spurs – like Watford before them – bravely held on to half-time after Cristian Stellini finally admitted defeat and brought on a third centre-back. Well, Davinson Sanchez anyway.
Final score: Newcastle 6-1 Tottenham
26 minutes – Arsenal v Southampton, May 2003
Jermaine Pennant’s memorable full Premier League debut saw him secure the match ball with only 26 minutes on the clock. He would have to share it, though, with Robert Pires, who also scored twice in that daft opening quarter of the game and added his third and Arsenal’s sixth shortly after half-time. The Gunners had just lost out to Manchester United for the Premier League title, and Southampton – who 10 days later would lose the FA Cup final to the same opponents by a mere 1-0 scoreline – paid the price. They did at least manage to avoid going in 5-0 down at half-time by scoring one of the earliest consolation goals on record in the 35th minute through Jo Tessem.
Fun fact: this was game one of Arsenal’s record-breaking 49-game unbeaten streak. It’s literally a superhero origin story. Starring Jermaine Pennant.
Final score: Arsenal 6-1 Southampton
35 minutes – Everton v Southampton, November 1996
Tremendously on brand that Southampton keep popping up here, and we haven’t even got to a 9-0 yet. The sheer power of the Southampton collapse even allowing Everton to make an appearance here despite the fact that even when they’ve been quite good you’d never really have had them down as a ‘race into a 5-0 lead’ kind of team. They did here, though, in barely half an hour. And that was despite taking a positively tardy 12 minutes to go in front through Graham Stuart, and then a further 10 minutes to make it 2-0 through Andrey Kanchelskis. It remained that way until the half-hour mark, when Gary Speed scored twice in three minutes (he would complete a hat-trick after the break) before Kanchelskis bagged his second of the afternoon.
Egil Ostenstad got Southampton right back in it before half-time but Everton were not to be denied. We must at this point also take issue with Everton’s YouTube channel; we’re grateful to you for putting up a video of highlights from this game, but absolutely refuse to accept your description of an ‘eight-goal thriller’. Just no.
Final score: Everton 7-1 Southampton
38 minutes – Southampton v Aston Villa, May 2015
Southampton, so often the patsies, get some measure of revenge here with a riotous thrashing of Aston Villa in which Sadio Mane helped himself to the fastest ever Premier League hat-trick as the Saints sauntered 5-0 clear long before the half-time interval.
His goals came on 13, 14 and 16 minutes, with Shane Long on target for goals four and five. Christian Benteke pulled one back just before half-time, but Graziano Pelle completed the scoring in the final 10 minutes.
Aston Villa boss Tim Sherwood still had the last laugh, though, as he absolutely always does and must: this stands as surely the single funniest ever result to secure a club’s Premier League survival, Villa grateful to Tactics Tim’s former club Spurs for beating Hull and thus securing the Villans’ Premier League status.
Final score: Southampton 6-1 Aston Villa
45 minutes – Southampton v Leicester, October 2019
The shoe now firmly back on the other foot for Southampton, who also succeeded in becoming the first and thus far only home team to fall 5-0 down in a Premier League game before half-time in the first of their legendary 9-0 shellackings under Ralph Hasenhuttl.
It did at least take until the very last minute of the half for Jamie Vardy to make it five after Ben Chilwell, Youri Tielemans and an Ayoze Perez double inside the first 40 minutes.
Leicester added four more goals in the second half, in blatant and disappointing breach of the protocol that dictates games with a 5-0 half-time lead MUST peter out in the second half.
Final score: Southampton 0-9 Leicester
45 minutes – Liverpool v Bournemouth, August 2022
Scott Parker’s memorable denouement was another game in which the 5-0 leaders ignored convention and scored several more goals after half-time. Liverpool have been oft ropey this season but have retained their ability to absolutely marmalise compliant opposition and absolutely every football fan on the planet is already greedily eyeing up Sunday’s Anfield date with Spurs hoping for further nonsense.
Of course, expectation has a habit to set you up for disappointment and therefore the half-time score on Sunday will definitely be 0-0 or possibly 1-0 to Spurs. Only joking, it’ll deffo be 6-0 to Liverpool and you can take that information to the bank.
Bournemouth, to their credit, have emerged rather well from their August embarrassment. Parker was removed, Gary O’Neil took over and promptly enjoyed a six-game unbeaten run. It’s been a bit more sporadic since then, but the good days have come often enough – including a 1-0 win over Liverpool in the return fixture – to leave them looking likely survivors from this season’s relegation Battle Royal.
Final score: Liverpool 9-0 Bournemouth
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