Many great teams have won the Premier League over the years, it’s time to decide which side is considered the best.
Manchester United 1998/99
To start, we have to go back to the 1998/1999 season. Coming off the back of a second-place Premier League finish to Arsenal a season prior, they didn’t get off to the best of starts. Draws to Leicester City and West Ham United shortly followed by a loss to Arsenal wasn’t what Sir Alex Ferguson would’ve hoped for. The form soon kicked on from there though, with 6 wins out of the next 8 fixtures, including a win at Anfield over Liverpool.
Coming into 1999, Manchester United had only gained 39 points, which by their standards, wasn’t too great. With the turn of the year, things were starting to look up. 13 wins out of the next 18 which included that amazing win against Nottingham Forest where it finished 8-1, all other sides just had to watch, as United just mopped up the competition and wrestled with Arsenal for that top spot.
Manchester United hosted Tottenham Hotspur on the last day of the season, and knowing a slip up could give Arsenal the title, it was all to play for. Les Ferdinand gave the visitors the lead, but with goals either side of half-time from David Beckham and Andy Cole, the trophy was theirs.
The Red Devils won the title by a single point over Arsenal, who tipped Chelsea by just 3 points which shows just how tough that season was. Manchester United won the FA Cup and the Champions League within the same month and are still remembered as the greatest season in the club’s history.
Fast forward 5 seasons and we come to “The Invincibles”. Arsenal Football Club went through the whole season without losing a single game, a feat never achieved by any other Premier League club. Prior to the season, The Gunners acquired the signature of German goalkeeper for $2 million, and Spanish youngster Cesc Fabregas from Barcelona.
Arsenal started the season with 4 straight wins before coming across a very dogged Portsmouth side and the infamous game at Old Trafford against Manchester United. Ruud van Nistelrooy won a penalty, the Dutch striker struck the crossbar which resulted in very ugly scenes between the two sets of players. It resulted in a red card for Patrick Vieira and a host of yellow cards for either side.
Business as usual from then on. Wins over Liverpool, Chelsea, Leeds, and North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur enhanced their dream of finishing top. A couple of draws turned into 10 wins on the bounce, and the writing was firmly on the wall.
There was a slight scare in the final game of the season. Leicester City visited Highbury and scored after 26 minutes thanks to a Paul Dickov goal. Nerves soon turned into jubilation when Thierry Henry scored from the spot straight after half time and captain Patrick Vieira scored with 25 minutes left on the clock to finish the game off and cue the celebrations.
This truly was a remarkable team, Thierry Henry ended with the Golden Boot thanks to his 30 goals. Arsenal finished as semifinalists in both the FA Cup and the League Cup. This 2003/04 season will only be remembered for the Invincibles. 11 points over Chelsea in second, and Manchester United 4 points behind them, Arsenal really were a class above everyone else.
Big changes were happening at Chelsea. Roman Abramovich had come in with big money the season prior and Jose Mourinho spent big in the summer with signings of Didier Drogba, Ricardo Carvalho and Paulo Ferreira.
The self-proclaimed “Special One” got off to a good start, kicking off the season to Manchester United. The visitors left Stamford Bridge in defeat. An Eidur Gudjohnsen strike after 14 minutes separated the two sides, and Chelsea really laid down the gauntlet for the rest of the season.
Their one defeat of the season came at the hands of Manchester City in October. Nicholas Anelka’s early penalty strike kept the Blues at bay and the result finished 1-0. Chelsea would’ve been pretty disappointed with this result, as Man City aren’t the team they are now.
Chelsea were ruthless, 23 wins out of the next 29, and the Championship was theirs. A host of records were broken in the process. Most wins in a season. Most clean sheets in a season. Fewest away goals conceded in a season, and lastly, fewest goals conceded in a season. Truly a season to remember for Chelsea fans, and Jose Mourinho announced himself on the World Stage.
Leicester City 2015/16
The most surprising of Premier League seasons. Leicester started the year as 5000/1 rank outsiders to win the league, and nobody expected to see what happened next. Rewind to the 2014/2015 season and Leicester were on the brink of relegation. Claudio Ranieri was brought in to save the team and after winning 7 out of the last 9 games, they ended up finishing 14th in the league and survived.
Starting the season as they finished last season, a mix of wins and draws saw them firmly in the top half of the table. Towards the end of 2015, and we saw Leicester really get moving, Seven wins and a single defeat to end 2015 and they finished the year atop the table.
6th February was really when fans took notice, they travelled to Manchester City. Robert Huth got the away side going with a third-minute goal to put the visitors ahead. Minutes into the second half and now-City player Riyad Mahrez doubled Leicester’s lead with a fine goal. Huth then grabbed the third goal, and the game finished 1-3.
Leicester lost the following game to Arsenal, and Leicester never looked back, not receiving a single defeat for the remainder of the season. With goals from Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez, Leicester finished the season 10 points ahead of Arsenal. Following this season, Leicester entered the Champions League for the first time in their history.
This will be a Premier League season that no fan, let alone Leicester fans, will ever forget.
Manchester City 2017/18
This City side were magnificent, they broke almost every record going. Most points, most wins, most goals and so on. Man City hosted Everton in the second game of the season and the game ended 1-1. City then went on to win 18 games in a row, and they won handsomely in a lot of those games. They beat Liverpool 5-0 at home, which really did put down the marker for the rest of the season and they did not let up.
City were ruthless, give them an inch and they took a mile. From the 4th game on, they were at the top of the table and that did not change for the rest of the season. Their first defeat came at the hands of Liverpool in a tremendous game that finished 4-3 with Liverpool showing their attacking prowess at the same time.
The league was over with 5 games to spare, which is a record to this day, as a result of the City neighbours losing 1-0 to West Bromwich Albion. The first team to reach 100 points, plus a host of other records to go with it, it’s hard to imagine a team reaching these heights in the near future.
The nearest challenge came from Manchester United, who finished a whopping 19 points ahead. They won the League Cup, reached the quarterfinals of the Champions League, and were knocked out by eventual finalists, Liverpool.
Yes, I know, Liverpool aren’t champions and it’s only January, but they are looking like very good value for their money right now.
The current European and World Champions are on the brink of their first title in 30 years. As I write this, Liverpool are currently 16 points ahead of Manchester City with a game in hand and are unbeaten, the only blemish being a draw at Old Trafford.
The biggest test came at Anfield when the Champions Manchester City came to town. It was a tough test on paper, but Liverpool were quick off the mark with Fabinho scoring a wonderful strike from outside the box after 6 minutes. 7 minutes later, Mohammed Salah gets on the end of a cross from Andy Robertson and Liverpool had raced into a 2-0 lead quite early on. With goals from Sadio Mane and Bernardo Silva in the second half, Liverpool ran out as 3-1 winners.
As I write this today, Liverpool have won 22 out of the 23 games and show no intention of slowing up, and with the likes of Fabinho, Joel Matip, and Dejan Lovren coming back from injury, it’s understandable to assume they may possibly become even stronger.
It is, of course, still hypothetical, but this team could blast past any previous records set as they run towards the Championship, and Klopp will not rest on his laurels until they do.
Who’s the Best?
The season that sticks out the most to me of face value is Leicester’s title triumph. If anybody suggested Leicester to win the league they would’ve got laughed at. Ranieri should be incredibly proud of what he and his team achieved that year, so incredible. A bit of luck has to come into any season, and with the majority of “big boys” not performing up to their usual standard, you still can’t take anything away, this was incredible.
For me though, I think Manchester City’s title in 2017/18 was quite simply amazing. To get 100 points, to score 106 goals, and to win 32 games is simply unheard of. They were breathtaking at times, and I understand that you can say that most of the other teams didn’t perform well enough to compete, but they didn’t get a choice. When a team is scoring 4, 5, 6 goals a game, there’s not much you can do.
So for me, Manchester City 2017/18 have had the most impressive season in the Premier League history.
Admittedly, Liverpool can essentially break these records that Man City set if they keep up their current form, but as the season is only 23 games in, it’s far too early to consider them yet.
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