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Dec 6, 2011

Spectacular shutouts

Norman Hubbard is ESPNsoccernet's resident anorak. If you have any questions on football facts, statistics or trivia, please send them to asknorman@hotmail.com and he'll try to answer as many as possible.

Is Valencia's 7-0 thrashing of Genk the biggest Champions League shutout? What about in other major competitions? Shilen Patel from Austin, Texas asked.

It isn't, though there is a Valencia connection. The biggest ever Champions League win was achieved by Rafa Benitez, who spent three years in charge at the Mestalla, when his Liverpool side beat Besiktas 8-0 in 2007 with goals from Yossi Benayoun (three), Peter Crouch and Ryan Babel (two each) and Steven Gerrard. In the days of the European Cup, the biggest win was also 8-0, achieved by Real Madrid against Sevilla in their victorious campaign in 1957-58.

Include the competition's preliminary stages and the biggest wins with clean sheets are Dinamo Bucharest's 11-0 victory over Crusaders in 1973 and HJK Helsinki's 10-0 defeat of Bangor City this year. In the UEFA Cup, the biggest wins without conceding were (over 90 minutes) Ajax's 14-0 defeat of Red Boys Differdange in 1984 and, over two legs, Feyenoord's 21-0 aggregate win over Rumelange in 1973.

The biggest Premier League win without conceding was Manchester United's 9-0 defeat of Ipswich in 1995, Andy Cole scoring five of them, while the all-time record top-division win in England was 12-0, recorded by West Bromwich Albion in 1892 and equalled by Nottingham Forest 17 years later. The biggest FA Cup win was Preston's 26-0 hammering of Hyde in 1887, although the Scottish FA Cup can top that: Arbroath beat Bon Accord 36-0 in 1885.

In the World Cup, there have been two 9-0 wins, recorded by Hungary against South Korea in 1954 and Yugoslavia versus Zaire 20 years later. In all international football, the record is Australia's 31-0 win over American Samoa in 2001.


I want to ask with reference to the Thomas Vermaelen goals in Arsenal's derby with Fulham, how many players in the top flight have scored for his team and against his team in the same match? Asu Moses from Nigeria asked.

The Belgian was the 31st Premier League player, and the third from Arsenal, to score at both ends in the same match.


Which (if any) was the last team before Liverpool to win three consecutive games at Stamford Bridge? Anurag from Stanford, California asked.

Liverpool have triumphed three times at Stamford Bridge in 2011, with 1-0 and 2-1 wins in the Premier League followed by last week's 2-0 Carling Cup victory on Chelsea's home ground. It meant they emulated the Blackburn team of 1993-6 who won 2-1, 2-1 and then 3-2 at Stamford Bridge. Both 2-1 wins, incidentally, came when they were managed by Kenny Dalglish, something of a scourge of Chelsea, and the second of them helped Rovers win the title in 1994-5. They also came in a run of seven successive Blackburn wins over Chelsea, with the other four being at Ewood Park.


Has any team ever been at the top of the Premier League (by whatever name in history) through the entire season? Meaning, after the first round, for prior to that the teams are in alphabetical order with no points, Tero Valkonen from Helsinki, Finland asked.

In the Premier League era, no there hasn't. The closest I can find is Jose Mourinho's 2005-06 Chelsea team, who went top after their third game and never relinquished that position, while the next best was the Manchester United side of 1993-94 who first topped the table after two games and then again from their fourth match onwards. But if we go back further, Tottenham's double-winning team of 1960-61 led the old Division One for the entire campaign, helped by winning their first 11 matches.


I want to know if there has been any player in the Premier League era who has donned the jersey of all the traditional "Big Four" (Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool). I know Nicolas Anelka and Yossi Benayoun have turned out for three of them but was wondering if anyone has done the quadruple? Ingit Saxena from India asked.

No, no one has. In part, that is because very few players turn out for both Manchester United and Liverpool in their careers - Paul Ince is the only one in the Premier League era - so Anelka and Benayoun, who have both played for Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool are as close as anyone gets.


Has Rio Ferdinand ever got a red card in his Manchester United career? And what about the rest of his career? Victor Fayomi asked.

Ferdinand has been dismissed once for Manchester United, in a rather remarkable match. It was in February 2006 at Ewood Park, when he collected two yellow cards as United lost 4-3 to Blackburn. David Bentley became the first player to score a league hat-trick against Sir Alex Ferguson's side for 14 years in a game when Ferdinand, unusually, played in midfield.

That is the only red card of his career, though. He has never been sent off playing for West Ham, Leeds or England.

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