Imagine a scenario where 21 games into the Premier League season, Bolton are third, Portsmouth sit sixth and Arsenal have just lost 1-0 to a Sheffield United team who had a centre back playing in goal.
Well if you can remember the 2006/07 season you don’t have to imagine anything, because that’s exactly what happened.
To set the scene, Arsenal faced a trip to a freezing cold Bramall Lane the day before New Year’s Eve during their first season in a shiny new Emirates Stadium.
Not all was going to plan, however, and Arsene Wenger’s side were already a distant 17 points behind Manchester United and looked in serious danger of missing out on the top four.
A visit to relegation-destined Sheffield United shouldn’t have proved the trickiest fixture on the calendar, but for the Gunners it proved to be mission impossible.
If Wenger was expecting a defence consisting of Justin Hoyte, Phillipe Senderos, Kolo Toure and Gael Clichy to keep a strike-force of Colin Kazim-Richards and Christian Nade at bay, he was sorely mistaken.
The Blades produced a move worthy of their opponents to take the lead five minutes before half-time.
Nade left Toure’s head spinning with a cunning dummy/spin move before Jens Lehmann gave the now-Annan Athletic player the simplest of tasks by inexplicably racing to the edge of his area to give himself no hope of stopping the dinked shot which gave the home side the lead.
In attack Arsenal were toothless. Julio Baptista (remember him?) managed to put in a display that would see him dropped entirely from the three of Wenger’s next four squads.
But even the most pessimistic of Gooners would have fancied their side’s chances of at least snatching a point when United goalkeeper Paddy Kenny was forced off through injury.
Blades boss Neil Warnock had taken a gamble by not naming a stopper on the bench, leaving Phil Jagielka to don the gloves for the final half-an-hour.
With his far from textbook technique, the centre-back miraculously repelled everything that came his way, including a powerful Robin van Persie volley, to steer his side to a memorable win.
While Wenger blamed the dodgy pitch for his team’s defeat, Warnock was the proudest man in all of Yorkshire.
“It was probably the proudest moment since I became a manager, with the crowd and the atmosphere,” he said after the 1-0 win.
“I like having an extra forward on the bench. I didn’t panic when he (Jagielka) went in goal, he doesn’t get worried and neither do I. It’s the only chance he’s got of being man-of-the-match.”
Arsenal take on Sheffield United at Bramall Lane tomorrow night (8pm).