With another busy weekend of Premier League action upon us, and one of the most congested periods of the season on the horizon, we take a look back at some of the greatest sides to ever feature in the top flight.
5. Manchester United (1998/99)
The signing of Dutch defender Jaap Stam for a club record fee of £10.75 million at the beginning of the season was greeted with much fanfare.
It was, however, the unheralded signing of striker Dwight Yorke, which would prove to be the catalyst to United’s most successful ever season. The hitman scored 29 goals in total including 18 in the league.
The season would witness United completing a seemingly impossible treble, becoming the first English side to win the league, FA Cup and European Cup/Champions League.
Powered by the legendary Class of ’92, the new United truly came of age, with the likes of Gary Neville, David Beckham, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs playing central roles.
It was a title victory that appeared unlikely at Christmas, with United struggling to find the extra gear needed to stay with Arsenal. United then went on an unbeaten charge until the end of the season, and pipped Arsene Wenger’s men by a single point.
In doing so they laid to rest the ghost of the talismanic Eric Cantona, whose departure cast a long shadow over Old Trafford, as a new generation of heroes were born.
4. Manchester City (2011/12)
Big-spending Manchester City finally reached the promised land of the Premier League elite with a late smash and grab raid against QPR on the final day. The Londoners, who themselves were facing relegation if they lost, looked set to spoil the final day coronation, leading 2-1 heading into stoppage time.
City had begun the campaign in style, dropping just two points in their first twelve games. The sweetest victory of that impressive run being a 6-1 derby thrashing of Manchester United at Old Trafford.
United, however, regained their composure to lead the table by mid-April and the inter-city Premier League title race would go all the way to the last day of the season.
City were expected to brush off the challenge of QPR with ease, but the ten-man outfit appeared to have defied the odds, and were on the cusp of a shock win. late, late goals from Edin Dzeko and Argentinian maestro Sergio Aguero finally broke the dogged resistance of the Londoners and won the Sky Blues their first Premier League title in incredible fashion.
United were unlucky losers in what was an absorbing title duel and set the record for the most points ever earned by a Premier League side not to win the title with 89.
3. Chelsea (2004/05)
In a season which saw West Brom break the Premier League record for the lowest amount of points earned while avoiding the drop with a meagre 34, Chelsea set the record for the most points ever accumulated with 95.
Chelsea’s win was all the more admirable as they punctured the aura of the great Arsenal ‘Invincibles’ and added five more points to their winning tally than the Gunners the year previously.
They also came within one match of equalling the Arsenal record for staying unbeaten but came unstuck against Manchester City.
The Pensioners’ success was due in no small measure to solid foundations with goalkeeper Petr Cech racking up an astonishing record 21 clean sheets. Chelsea’s rearguard was only breached 15 times as the Blues provided a near impenetrable wall of defiance.
With Didier Drogba announcing his arrival in some style, it proved to be a memorable first season in charge for Jose Mourinho.
2. Manchester United (2007/08)
Manchester United’s team of 2007/08 did not set any record-breaking points totals, but this is generally regarded as the most ferocious battle for the Premier League title in its relatively short history.
With a frontline that would read well on a Fantasy Football team of Cristiano Ronaldo, Carlos Tevez, and Wayne Rooney United scored 80 goals.
Goals alone, however, won’t win a title and United also had a formidable back four, superbly marshalled by Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand.
While United would win the title another three times under Alex Ferguson, this side was regarded as one of United’s finest ever vintage.
1. Arsenal (2003/04)
Arsenal’s ‘Invincibles’ side not only won the title, they also did what no team in the Premier League era has ever done; they went an entire season unbeaten.
They also become only the second ever side in English football – Preston North End being the other in 1889 – to go unbeaten in every fixture.
With quality performers like Dennis Bergkamp, Freddie Ljungberg, Patrick Vieira and Thierry Henry the Gunners were unstoppable, helped no end by Frenchman Henry, who was at the peak of his powers, netting over 30 times.