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My Three Most Dramatic Premier League Seasons

The English Premier League is widely regarded among football fans as the most exciting league in the world. The tempo of the English matches is very high in comparison with other European leagues, and thanks to the huge commercial success of the league by now most of the best managers and players of the world are playing in England.

The Premier League has given us numerous breathtaking seasons when the title went down to the wire, and supporters and neutrals alike were sitting on the edge of their seats as the season drew to its close. The current season is a very closely fought encounter, as at the moment when I am writing this article Man City are leading their main rivals, Liverpool, by a single point.

Some people writing similar articles no doubt will include the 2021/22 season on their list, but I decided to leave out the current season in this article, as still anything can happen in the remaining nine league games.

2015/16

2015/16 probably brought the greatest upset in the Premier League’s history, a team that barely escaped relegation the previous season, and had an odds of 500-1 to win the title, went on to clinch the title.

The success of Claudio Ranieri’s Leicester side was certainly the most unexpected result that I have seen since I started following football some 20 years ago.

Before the season began, most experts and analysts expected Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea to retain their title, as the blues won the title relatively comfortably the previous season. Those who were not backing Chelsea were favouring Manchester City or Manchester United, even Arsenal, but nobody and nobody’s dogs were expecting Leicester to go on and fight for the title.

Yet, that is what happened. Leicester got off to a good start, while Mourinho’s Chelsea was struggling badly, so badly that after 17 games, the Portuguese manager was sacked by Roman Abramovich. Man City got off to an absolute rocket start in August, but they started to struggle in September and were unable to find consistent form. Man Utd got a decent start and was second in November, but lack of goals hurt Louis van Gaal’s side, and a bad run of form in late November and early December saw them drop out of the top4. The two closest challengers of Leicester become Arsenal and Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham.

Arsenal got close to Leicester after a dramatic 2-1 victory at the Emirates, but their win was immediately cancelled by a surprise defeat against Louis van Gaal’s depleted Man Utd.

With 3 games to go, Leicester were comfortably leading. Their closest challengers Tottenham needed a victory against Chelsea to keep their hopes alive. They went up 2-0 in the first half and looked in control, only to falter in the second half. Chelsea, with the leadership of an on-form Eden Hazard, equalized and sealed the title for England’s Fantastic Mister Fox team.

Quiz

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. Who was the top scorer of Leicester in the 2015/16 season?
    • Jamie Vardy
    • Riyad Mahrez

Answer Key

  1. Jamie Vardy

2007/08

The 2007/2008 season went to the wire and was decided on the very last round of the championship.

Yet, neither team that was in contention to win the title in May had a particularly good start to the season.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s Red Devils had a slow start and failed to win either of their first three league games. They even lost one of the first three games. Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea had a similarly slow start, which led to the resignation of Mourinho in September.

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It was Arsene Wenger’s young Arsenal side who were the early pacesetters and mostly led to the league table until March. Man Utd went on a long winning streak after their bad start and caught up Arsenal by the time the two teams met in late Autumn at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium. A win would have strengthened the position of either team, but after a thoroughly entertaining 90 minutes, the game ended in a draw. Rafa Benitez’s Liverpool was following the two teams at the top closely for a time and even went up to second for short periods, but their challenge faltered as the season progressed.

Chelsea, on the other hand got stronger and stronger as the season went on, and by April, it was them who were the principal challengers of Man United, not Wenger’s Arsenal, who seemingly ran out of steam by Spring.

Both Chelsea and United defeated Arsenal 2-1 in the Spring, the two defeats more or less confirming that Arsenal was out of the title race.

With three games to go, United visited Chelsea. The Red Devils had a 3 point advantage and only needed a draw to secure their position. German captain Michael Ballack had other thoughts, thanks to his man of the match performance Chelsea defeated United to go level with them at the top of the table.

The better goal difference and head to head record still put United in a better position, but no more mistakes were allowed for Ferguson’s team. Nor did they make any and they clinched the title by winning their last two games of the season.

Quiz

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. Who was the Premier League's top scorer at the end of the 2007/08 season?
    • Carlos Tevez
    • Didier Drogba
    • Fernando Torres
    • Cristiano Ronaldo

Answer Key

  1. Cristiano Ronaldo

2011/12

During the title decider game of the season, an ecstatic Martin Tyler screamed I swear you will never see anything like this ever again. He was right, so far anyway, I haven’t seen anything like that ever again.

The Premier League title was decided in the added time of the last game of the season.

The two Manchester teams were in contention, with the Manchester City of Roberto Mancini leading Sir Alex Ferguson’s United. City needed a win against QPR to clinch the title ahead of their city rivals.

The late challenge of Mancini’s team came as a surprise to many, as the Red Devils of Ferguson were a long way ahead of their rivals during the latter part of the season. A late-season collapse gifted the initiative to Man City.

Before the last round of the season, it seemed a formality for Man City to win, as QPR was nowhere near the level of Mancini’s team. Yet, this Man City team badly underperformed during the last game, and QPR was leading them 2-1 as the game drew close to its close.

Man City captain Vincent Kompany, in a later interview said that during the game he was planning to cancel all his vacations, as he was no longer in the mood to go anywhere.

Then a miracle happened. With only a few minutes left in the game, Man City equalised. During the dying minutes of added time stepped up Man City’s saviour, Sergio Aguero. Aguero collected a loose ball in QPR’s penalty area, went by a few defenders and tumped the ball into the net to win one of the most dramatic Premier League titles in living memory.

At the time, I was very upset with the result, unsurprisingly as I am a Man Utd fan, but with time, even us, Red Devil supporters had to admit that we witnessed something unique, extraordinary, something I quite honestly don’t expect to ever witness again.

© 2022 Andrew Szekler

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