The Premier League trophy will be waiting in the wings at Wigan's JJB stadium tomorrow, ready to crown Manchester United's achievement if they retain the title with a final-day win over their northwest neighbours. Yet this season, for the first time in nine years, the competition's bosses have had to make alternative arrangements, just in case there is a final-day turnaround. With Chelsea level on points with United going into 'showdown Sunday', a replica trophy will be on standby at Stamford Bridge, ready to be presented to Avram Grant's men if they secure a better result against Bolton than the reigning champions manage at Wigan. The final-day title decider is a throwback to the early days of the Premier League, which is often hailed as the most competitive in European soccer but which has become notable in recent years for clear-cut title wins. Since 2000, the average gap between first and second in the Premier League has been almost 10 points. The smallest gap has been five points, with four of the past eight champions winning by a double-figure margin. In the first seven seasons of the Premier League in the 1990s, however, close finishes were commonplace and only once did the champions have a double-figure winning margin. The title race went down to the last day three times in those seven seasons, and every time Manchester United were involved. And, as can be seen below, United have experienced both triumph and disaster in the most dramatic finishes the Premier League has produced. 1998-99 The scenario: Arsenal had to win at home to Aston Villa and hope that north London rivals Tottenham would do them a favour by taking something from United at Old Trafford. A draw would be enough for Arsenal only if United lost by a two-goal margin. The outcome: Tottenham went ahead at Old Trafford after 24 minutes but, in a season where United comebacks were legendary, the leaders recovered to lead 2-1 by the 47th minute through goals from David Beckham and Andy Cole. United held on to win, while Arsenal (who never topped the table at any point during play) won 1-0 thanks to a Nwankwo Kanu goal after 66 minutes. United won the title by a point, the closest finish in Premier League history. What happened next: Six days later, United won the FA Cup final 2-0 against Newcastle and then, five days after that, completed the treble with the famous late turnaround that saw them win the Champions League final, 2-1 against Bayern Munich. 1995-96 The scenario: Newcastle had led by 12 points at one stage but trailed by two points going into the final day. Barring a huge victory, Newcastle's only hope was to win at home to Tottenham and pray that United would lose at Middlesbrough. The outcome: United took control early at Middlesbrough with a David May goal after 15 minutes. Andy Cole doubled United's advantage early in the second half, just as Newcastle fell behind to a Jason Dozzell goal at St James' Park. Newcastle equalised through Les Ferdinand, but shortly afterwards Ryan Giggs scored for United to seal a 3-0 win and the title for United. What happened next: Six days later, United secured the double when a late goal from Eric Cantona gave them a 1-0 victory over Liverpool in the FA Cup final. As for Newcastle, they had blown their best chance of winning the title and, though they finished second to United again the following season, they have never come as close again. This season they are 12th, with barely half the points accumulated by United and Chelsea. 1994-95 The scenario: Both teams were playing away on the final day, with United needing to grab a win at West Ham and hope that Blackburn failed to win at Liverpool. Blackburn would be champions if United did not win. The outcome: Things started badly for United, with Blackburn taking the lead at Anfield with an Alan Shearer goal after 20 minutes and West Ham going 1-0 up through Michael Hughes after 31 minutes. United levelled early in the second half with a goal from Brian McClair and shortly afterwards a John Barnes equaliser for Liverpool left United needing to score once more to take the title. In a frantic finish, United bombarded the West Ham goal, hitting the post and having a strong penalty claim waved away. With home goalkeeper Ludo Miklosko in inspired form, United just could not find a way through. Jamie Redknapp's last-minute free-kick gave Liverpool victory at Anfield, but it didn't matter - Blackburn were champions. What happened next: United had one last chance to take some silverware when they played Everton in the FA Cup final six days later. Without key players Eric Cantona and Andy Cole, United lost 1-0 to a Paul Rideout goal and finished the season without a trophy.