Monday 16 April 2012
Competitive, stylish and occasionally breath-taking, there have been many fantastic football teams in the Premier League.
A panel of leading football figures, journalists and commentators will vote for the Best Team in the competition's history.
These are the five that made it on to the shortlist:
Goal Difference: +41
Blackburn Rovers became champions for the first time in 81 years as they pipped Manchester United by one point in dramatic fashion. Kenny Dalglish took charge of an all-star Rovers team which included the red-hot front pairing of Alan Shearer (34 goals) and Chris Sutton (15 goals) - labelled SAS.
Rovers laid the foundation for their success during an amazing run in the first half of the season in which they won 12 out of 14 matches between the middle of October to the middle of January – including a seven-match winning streak. Blackburn scored in 37 of their 42 League matches and claimed the title on an extraordinary last day when they lost 2-1 at Liverpool, with Manchester United's failure to win at West Ham handing them the crown.
Goal Difference: +43
Manchester United claimed their fifth Premier League title in seven seasons after a superb campaign which saw them beaten just three times in the League. And this side’s place in the history books was cemented as they claimed an unprecedented treble, adding the FA Cup and the UEFA Champions League to their League triumph.
Sir Alex Ferguson's side was rock solid, with, among others, the likes of Peter Schmeichel, Gary Neville, Phil Neville, Jaap Stam, Denis Irwin and Roy Keane providing the steel, David Beckham, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs the flair and Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke the goals. From Boxing Day in 1998 until 26th May 1999, United did not lose a single match in any competition. An extraordinary feat.
Goal Difference: +47
Arsenal’s side of 2003/04 is known by another simple, indisputable title – ‘The Invincibles’. Arsenè Wenger’s side went through the entire 38-match campaign without losing a single fixture. It was the first time the feat had been achieved in the top-flight since Preston North End 115 years previously - and Arsenal's season was 16 matches longer.
This amazing run was not only achieved by a typically resolute, solid Gunners' line-up, which featured stars such as Sol Campbell, Ashley Cole and Patrick Vieira. Arsenal's class of 2003/04 had real flair, with Dennis Bergkamp, Freddie Ljungberg and Robert Pires tormenting defences and the great Thierry Henry proving as deadly as he was stylish with 30 League goals.
Goal Difference: +57
Chelsea ended their wait for a title in stunning, record-breaking fashion as they romped to the Premier League in 2004/05. Josè Mourinho's men won 29 of 38 matches (a record), secured 95 points (a record) and conceded only 15 goals (a record). Victory became a habit for a team which suffered just a solitary Premier League defeat during their amazing season.
Chelsea had star quality for sure – Petr Cech was immense in goal, John Terry superb in defence and Frank Lampard a midfield maestro – but the brilliance of the Blues was in how the charismatic Mourinho forged an unbreakable team spirit in his talented squad. Defeat was not an option for a side which never seemed to know when it was beaten.
Goal Difference: +58
Sir Alex Ferguson's side successfully defended the Premier League title on the final day of the season, claiming their 10th title in dramatic fashion. It was reward for a side of tremendous character which did not claim a victory in any of its first three Premier League matches – then proceeded to win eight in a row in the competition. And United never looked back, also reclaiming the UEFA Champions League to cap a brilliant campaign.
Cristiano Ronaldo, Carlos Tevez and Wayne Rooney spearheaded a free-scoring United team which finished with a goal difference of +58, at the time a Premier League record. Even in the Old Trafford club's illustrious history this was a team of rare quality, one which, when on-song, could steamroller just about any opposition.