Premier League: From Pep Guardiola's record-breaking City to Arsene Wenger's Invincibles, five earliest title wins
On the 19th anniversary of Manchester United's landmark Premier League win, we at Firstpost take a look at the earliest title wins in Premier League history
Today wasn't destined to hold any particular relevance. Well, not in terms of the Premier League anyway. Had the coronavirus not thrown a spanner into Liverpool's season, the runaway leaders would have been nursing terrible hangovers now, having celebrated a record-breaking title-winning campaign for at least a couple of weeks straight. Unfortunately for the Reds, however, their investiture has been put on hold, and as of now, 14 April still marks the earliest-ever finish to the title race, coming 19 years ago when Middlesbrough beat second-placed Arsenal to hand Manchester United a third consecutive title.
On this landmark day that should never have been, we at Firstpost take a look at the earliest title wins in Premier League history:
Manchester United 2000/01 - 5 matches to spare
If you're older than 20, this is the Manchester United you remember. A Manchester United for whom success was habitual. Perhaps one of the best ever sides to grace the game, this United team was built around the infamous class of '92, with David Beckham, Nicky Butt, Gary Neville, Phil Neville, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs all making over 20 appearances over the course of the season. An ageing Teddy Sheringham was the highest scorer for United that season, bagging 21 goals in all competitions in what would be his last season at Old Trafford. He was aided up top by the contributions of Andy Cole, Dwight Yorke, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Paul Scholes, all of whom scored over 10 goals that season.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) April 28, 2018
By today's ultra-competitive standards, United's final tally of 80 points was nothing remarkable, and in the last couple of seasons, wouldn't even have been enough to secure second place, but it got the job done, and that too in record time.
Manchester City 2017/18 - 5 matches to spare The most recent of the campaigns on the list, Pep Guardiola's first Premier League title was one to remember. His Manchester City side blew away all opposition, setting a string of records, including but not limited to most points (100), most points ahead of second (19), most wins (32), most consecutive victories (18), most goals (106), and best goal difference (+79). In fact, had it not been for the untimely intervention of one Jose Mourinho, whose United side beat City 3-2 on 7 April, Manchester City could have won the title with six games to spare. The title was eventually wrapped up a week later, after United succumbed to a 1-0 defeat against West Bromwich Albion on 15 April.
This season, in many ways, marked a turning point for Manchester City, who went from a good team, to arguably the best team in the world, the culmination of a two-year project helmed by one of the most inventive managers in the history of the game. Their style of play was très chic, with a flair and an elegance that hadn't really been seen before in England, and for a while, it appeared as though they would go down in history as the best Premier League side of all time. In light of recent events, however, that may not turn out to be the case.
Manchester United 1999/00 - 4 matches to spare
With Manchester United having established such dominance in the 1990s and 2000s, it's hardly a surprise that they feature prominently in this list. The 1999/00 campaign saw them pick up a second consecutive and sixth overall title under Alex Ferguson, beating out second-placed Arsenal by a whopping 18-point margin, a record that stood until the City's win in 2018. Truth be told, there's not a lot of difference between this team and the afore-mentioned 00/01 squad's overall make-up. Much of the attacking impetus of this side came from the partnership between Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole, with the pair combining to score a total of 46 goals across all competitions. The Premier League title was secured with a 3-1 win over Southampton on 22 April, three days after a Champions League quarter-final exit at the hands of Real Madrid.
Arsenal 2003/04 - 4 matches to spare
The Invincibles. One of only two teams to have ever gone a full top-flight season without a single defeat. Possibly the last truly world-class Arsenal side to have graced the Premier League. This team was teeming with attacking talent from the get-go, with the likes of Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp leading the line, but it was also blessed with a surprising degree of defensive solidity, with Sol Campbell and Kolo Toure keeping things tight at the back.
Sure, statistically, it might not have been the most overwhelmingly dominant campaign, with a relatively modest 73 goals scored and 12 draws, but it was a truly special victory, made even more so by the fact that they secured it on 25 April at White Hart Lane, home of bitter rivals Tottenham Hotspur. The streak continued on into the next season as well, and Arsenal currently have the record for the longest unbeaten run in the competition at 49 games.
Manchester United 2012/13 - 4 matches to spare
Alex Ferguson accumulated an abundance of accolades during his tenure at Old Trafford, so it was fitting that just a year after having been denied by local rivals Manchester City, the Scotsman called time on his managerial career with a 13th league title. With 28 wins, five draws and five defeats, United eventually cruised to victory, despite being fiercely challenged in the earlier stages of the season by Manchester City.
Newly-signed Robin Van Persie was key to United's campaign, as he hit the ground running and scored 26 goals in the league. In fact, United secured the Premier League on 22 April with a 3-0 win over Aston Villa, a match in which the Dutchman scored all three, including this sublime volley.
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The astrological firm apparently took three sessions with the Blue Tigers.