Manchester United 1993-94
Having won the inaugural Premier League title the previous season (ending 26 years without a domestic championship), Manchester United retained their crown the following season before going on to complete the club’s first domestic double by winning the FA Cup in the same year. The Red Devils won the league by eight points from runners-up Blackburn Rovers, only picking up four defeats along the way. Inspired once again by Frenchman Eric Cantona, United played some scintillating football and with new summer signing Roy Keane and Paul Ince dominating in midfield, they added extra bite as well as flair to their play. The centre-half pairing of Garry Pallister and Steve Bruce proving to be one of the best the club has ever produced.
Arsène Wenger’s first for the club and the first time the North London side had been crowned English champions since 1991. Two outstanding summer signings, midfielders Marc Overmars and Emmanuel Petit alongside the mercurial Denis Bergkamp and the formidable Patrick Viera, gave The Gunners the title by just one point from Manchester United. Captain Tony Adams proved an inspirational leader, forming an invincible centre-half pairing with Martin Keown with the ever consistent Lee Dixon and Nigel Winterburn completing the back four. Arsenal claimed the double with victory in the FA Cup Final against Newcastle United; the second in the club’s history. Viera and Petit went onto win the World Cup with France that summer.
Manchester United 1998-99
One of the most thrilling Premier League seasons ever went down to the final round of fixtures to determine who would be champions. Manchester United eventually pipped Arsenal by just one point to complete the first part of their historic treble success (they went onto claim the FA Cup and the Champions League). By the start of the 1998-99 campaign, Roy Keane was undoubtedly one the best midfielders in world football and David Beckham, off the back of his dismissal in the World Cup during England’s elimination to Argentina, demonstrated immense courage in the face of some brutal intimidation from rival club’s supporters on his way to becoming a world superstar. A formidable strike pairing of Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke rifled in 35 league goals between them whilst goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel was in the form of his life as the club went 33 games unbeaten in all competitions from December 26th 1998.
Nicknamed “The Invincibles” after going the entire season unbeaten, this remains Arsenal’s last domestic championship success. As the club announced plans in the summer of 2003 that they were leaving their famous Highbury Stadium to move to brand new headquarters just around the corner, Arsène Wenger was under strict instructions to tighten the clubs belt when it came to the summer transfer market. He needn’t have worried as 38 games and nine months later, his team were kings of England, finishing the campaign unbeaten and 11 points clear of their nearest challengers Chelsea. In striker Thierry Henry they simply had a goal scoring phenomenon as the French international notched up 30 league goals in 37 appearances. England international defender Sol Campbell was inspirational as was Frenchman Robert Pirès, who chipped in with 14 goals from midfield. As the season came towards its conclusion, every game became like a cup final as the unthinkable looked like becoming a reality. In later interviews Campbell was to confess that most of the squad (apart from Henry), never mentioned the fact that they could make history but after a 2-1 home victory over Leicester City on May 14 2004, history was indeed made.
In Jose Mourinho’s first season as coach at Stamford Bridge Chelsea became champions of England for only the second time. With the financial backing of new owner, Russian billionaire businessman Roman Abramovich, the Blues won the league with a total of 95 points which remains a Premier League record. Mourinho arrived in London fresh from winning the Champions League with FC Porto and armed with Abramovich’s considerable war chest, he constructed a team of outstanding quality. Goalkeeper Petr Čech arrived from Rennes, Dutch midfielder Arjen Robben came in from PSV Eindhoven, Portuguese defenders Ricardo Carvalho and Paolo Ferreira followed Mourinho from Porto and Ivorian Didier Drogba jetted in from Marseille. With the spine of the team controlled by England internationals John Terry and Frank Lampard, Chelsea destroyed the opposition eventually finishing 12 points ahead of defending champions Arsenal and suffering only one defeat.
By Steve Mitchell (@barafundler)