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Premier League’s best final days at the bottom

The Premier League is set for a humdinger of a final day in the relegation dogfight this weekend as Aston Villa, Bournemouth and Watford battle it out.

Only one can secure a dramatic last-gasp survival, while the other two will join Norwich in dropping back down into the Championship.

Villa go to West Ham, Watford will be at Arsenal while Bournemouth must travel to Everton in what looks set to be a pulsating day full of drama.

It promises to be a climax that could live up to some of the most memorable in Premier League history.

Sportsmail look back at seven of the most incredible final days from over the years… 

The original final day relegation drama in the Premier League came 26 years ago. Just seven years after lifting the old First Division title in 1987, Everton were on the brink of the unthinkable. 

They were 2-0 down to Wimbledon inside 20 minutes at Goodison Park before the pendulum swung right in their favour.

Graham Stuart equalised from the spot before Barry Horne scored a long-range screamer to draw the Toffees level. Stuart then squeezed the ball home with nine minutes remaining to secure an improbable comeback win.

Few teams have been as unfancied and widely written off as Bradford were when they came up to the Premier League in 1999.

They were expected to go straight back down but still had a lingering chance of surviving going into the final day of the season, but it was Champions League-chasing Liverpool who were the visitors.

David Weatherall’s 12th minute header gave the Bantams a slender, early advantage and they somehow held on under a barrage of late Liverpool pressure to prompt delirious celebrations inside Valley Parade.

‘Too good to go down’ was first coined around the West Ham side that plummeted towards the drop zone 17 years ago.

How could a team with Paolo Di Canio, Joe Cole, Michael Carrick, Jermain Defoe and Freddy Kanoute get sucked into a relegation scrap? But that is precisely what happened, and the Hammers pressed the panic button when with three games to go they handed the managerial reigns to club legend Trevor Brooking.

Brooking did all he could, winning his first two games but could not inspire a third as West Ham were held to a 2-2 draw at Birmingham. The club were relegated down to Division One despite amassing 42 points, and they remain the only side to go down despite hitting the magic 40-point mark. 

Two years after West Ham created a piece of unwanted history, West Brom banished one of the Premier League’s most popular accepted truths.

No club that had been bottom of the table at Christmas had survived, but that all changed in 2005.

An incredible final day saw four clubs fight it out to avoid the drop down to the Championship. West Brom began the day propping up the table but kept up their end of the bargain by easing past Portsmouth at the Hawthorns.

They still needed results elsewhere to go their way, and, remarkably, they did. Norwich inexplicably collapsed to a 6-0 defeat at Fulham, Crystal Palace conceded a late equaliser at Charlton and Southampton were beaten by Manchester United to consign all three to relegation and spark wild celebrations in the midlands. 

Carlos Tevez inspired an incredible turnaround for a West Ham side who had looked doomed to dropping back down to the Championship again in 2007.

He scored the only goal of the game to seal an unlikely victory at the home of the newly-crowned champions Manchester United, leaving Wigan and Sheffield United to slug it out at a sodden Bramall Lane. 

David Unsworth’s penalty in first half stoppage-time proved the difference and left Blades boss Neil Warnock fuming at Rafa Benitez and Sir Alex Ferguson for naming weakened sides during the run in.

 

Fulham had looked dead and buried during a wretched 2007-08 campaign. And when they were 2-0 down at Manchester City in late April they were 20 minutes away from having relegation confirmed.

The unlikely figure of Diomansy Kamara inspired an incredible comeback that culminated in a 93rd minute winner.

Fulham went on to win all of their final three games of the season, with Danny Murphy’s penalty 14 minutes from time securing victory away to Portsmouth, and ultimately relegated Reading, despite their 4-0 win at Derby. 

A dramatic final day in 2011 saw four teams battling it out to avoid filling the final two spots in the relegation zone.

Blackpool had the enviable task of a trip to champions Manchester United, Birmingham to go to Tottenham while Wolves hosted Blackburn and Wigan visited Stoke.

Briefly Blackpool looked like they would be extending their rollercoaster stay in the Premier League when they went 2-1 up at Old Trafford through Charlie Adam and Gary Taylor-Fletcher but eventually went down swinging 4-2.

Elsewhere, Birmingham looked safe until the final minutes at White Hart Lane when Roman Pavlyuchenko scored a late winning goal for Spurs and Wolves grabbed a second in a 3-2 defeat by Blackburn.

Meanwhile Hugo Rodallega’s header secured Wigan’s safety with all three points at Stoke. 

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