It takes a Herculean effort to sustain the level of brilliance required to win the Premier League title. It is easily the most popular sports league in the world, and all the teams are flush with cash after receiving their share of the eye-watering TV deals. That makes the level of competition extremely high, and it is fiendishly difficult to rack up enough points to seize the crown. Every winner deserves a great deal of praise, but these teams stand out as the most memorable champions in Premier League history:
Man City, 2017-18
Pep Guardiola’s men became the first team to secure 100 Premier League points when they sauntered to the title in 2018. The football they played was spellbinding. Belgian playmaker Kevin De Bruyne conducted the orchestra alongside the supremely talented David Silva, while Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sané were banging in goals for fun. Fernandinho performed all the dirty work in midfield, Vincent Kompany led the defence with aplomb, Kyle Walker was terrific down the right flank and Ederson ushered in a new era of ball-playing goalkeepers.
Man City were streets ahead of their peers that season and they ended up finishing 19 points clear of second placed Man Utd. The following season, Liverpool managed to secure 97 points and Man City had to win their final 13 games in a row to end up with 98 points and narrowly defend their title. This term, Man City are still one of the top picks in the Premier League predictions, but they lag well behind the Jurgen Klopp’s magnificent Liverpool side in the title race, and the Reds could end up breaking City’s 100-point record.
The Gunners remain the only team to ever go an entire Premier League season without losing a single game. The Invincibles boasted the perfect blend of steel and flair. Patrick Viera, Gilberto Silva, Sol Campbell, Kolo Touré and Jens Lehmann provided a formidable spine to the team, while Dennis Bergkamp served as playmaker in chief. Robert Pires, Freddie Ljungberg, Ashley Cole and Lauren offered pace and dynamism down the flanks, and the irrepressible Thierry Henry led the charge with the sort of skill and grace that most players could only dream of.
Arsenal only managed 90 points that season, but it still left them 11 points clear of nouveau riche rivals Chelsea. The most impressive statistic was that big fat zero in the loss column, as they won 26 games and drew the other 12. Arsene Wenger brought in Jose Reyes for £17 million in the January transfer window and his arrival helped the side maintain their momentum, while squad players like Sylvain Wiltord, Edu and Kanu played their part. The standout game was a 4-2 victory over Liverpool, when an Henry hat-trick sent them seven points clear at the top of the table in April.
The Foxes were assigned odds of 5,000/1 to win the Premier League title in 2015-16. To put that into context, the odds were shorter on Prime Minister David Cameron quitting his job and taking over as manager of Aston Villa, the team he claims to support. Leicester had battled bravely against relegation the previous season, and they were given little chance of challenging for the title during an era dominated by the so-called Big Four.
Yet Leicester were absolutely sensational that season. N’Golo Kante was the star of the show, bossing the midfield every time he stepped onto the pitch. Striker Jamie Vardy banged in 24 goals and provided 11 eight assists, while Riyad Mahrez chipped in 17 goals and 10 assists. The former was named Football Writers’ Player of the Year and the latter won PFA Player of the Year. Leicester produced a number of astonishing results over the course of the season, and they ended up finishing 10 points clear of second placed Arsenal. A number of punters backed the Foxes at 5,000/1 and their triumph sparked mass celebrations.
Man Utd, 1998-99
Man Utd are by far and away the most successful team in Premier League history. They absolutely dominated this competition during Sir Alex Ferguson’s reign, winning 13 titles. Yet the one team that really stands out is the treble-winning side of 1998-99. It boasted the arguably the greatest midfield ever seen in the English game, featuring Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Roy Keane and David Beckham. Fergie rotated Dwight Yorke, Andy Cole, Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer up front, while Jaap Stam was an absolute colossus at the back, along with Gary Neville, Dennis Irwin, Ronny Johnsen and the legendary Peter Schmeichel in goal.
Yet they faced formidable opposition in the form of defending champions Arsenal, who had Vieira and Emmanuel Petit in front of Tony Adams and Martin Keown. The title race went right down to the wire, and Man Utd eventually finished just one point clear of the Gunners. They also dumped Wenger’s men out of the FA Cup courtesy of that famous Giggs strike, before going on to win the final against Newcastle. They then completed the treble courtesy of last gasp strikes from Sheringham and Solskjaer in the Champions League final.
Jose Mourinho arrived in English football with a big reputation and promptly declared himself to be “the special one”. He duly delivered on that claim by leading the Blues to the title with a superb tally of 95 points, which remained a record until Guardiola came along. Roman Abramovich lavished huge sums of cash on the squad, and Chelsea ended up with an outrageously strong team.
A spine of Petr Cech, John Terry, Ricardo Carvalho, Claude Makelele and Didier Drogba was far too potent for their rivals, while Arjen Robben and Damien Duff were a joy to behold down the flanks. Chelsea only lost once all season, and they conceded a mere 15 goals in their 38 games. They successfully defended their title the following term, cementing their status as one of the greatest teams in Premier League history.
Man Utd, 2007-08
Man Utd were blessed with possibly the finest front three the Premier League has ever seen in 2007-08. Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez were simply unplayable, bulldozing their opponents into submission on a weekly basis. Ronaldo won the Golden Boot after firing in 31 goals, and he was also named PFA Player of the Year and FWA Player of the Year. Rooney and Tevez were reduced to supporting roles, but they still regularly dazzled with their brilliance.
The Red Devils were also superb at the back. Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand formed arguably the greatest defensive pairing in the history of the division, while the likes of Scholes, Giggs and Neville were still going strong. Man Utd finished two points clear of Chelsea to clinch the title, and they also beat the Blues via a penalty shootout in the Champions League final to be crowned the best team in Europe that season. The campaign marked the 50th anniversary of the Munich air disaster and it was a fitting way to honour the memory of those that lost their lives.
Man City, 2011-12
The tightest title race in Premier League history went down to the final day of the 2011-12 campaign. Local rivals Man City and Man Utd went both had 86 points from 37 games, but City led the way courtesy of a superior title difference. Roberto Mancini and his payers knew they simply needed to match United’s result in order to seize their first ever Premier League crown. Ferguson’s men were away at Sunderland, while City hosted QPR at the Etihad. To complicate matters further, QPR were locked in a fierce relegation battle, as they were just two points clear of 18th placed Bolton who hosted Stoke ahead of the final day.
Rooney banged in the opener for Man Utd in the 20th minute and they never looked in trouble, sparking a great deal of anxiety at the Etihad. Yet Pablo Zabaleta settled the nerves with a looped strike that put City 1-0 up just before half-time. Joleon Lescott then committed a massive blunder to allow Djibril Cisse in to equalise just after the break. As it stood, City would surrender the title in the most sickening fashion imaginable. Their cause was helped by former player Joey Barton getting himself sent off by attacking three City players, but somehow they managed to fall behind. QPR broke down the left and Jamie Mackie was left alone to head past Joe Hart and make it 2-1.
Man City tried to find a breakthrough, but they could not unlock a stubborn QPR defence and the game went into injury time. Silva whipped in a corner and Edin Dzeko rose highest to nut it in, causing tearful City fans to go ballistic. Man Utd’s game ended with the Red Devils top of the table, and nervous applause went around the Stadium of Light. The game at the Etihad went into the 94th minute as QPR repelled wave after wave of attack. “That Rooney goal was enough for the three points,” said commentator Martin Tyler. “Man Utd have done all they can, but Man City are still alive here… Balotelli… Aguero-ooooooo!!!!!!” The Argentinean forward had picked the ball up, rounded the last man and fired past Paddy Kenny to hand his team the title in the most dramatic fashion imaginable.