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1993/94 Season Review

1993/94 Premier League champions: Manchester United

Man Utd retain their title and lift the Premier League trophy for a second time

After ending a 26-year wait for the title by becoming champions in the inaugural Premier League season, Manchester United cemented their dominance by claiming the league and FA Cup double, and in so doing became only the fourth team in the 20th century to achieve the feat.

It was also a landmark season for the league itself, as a title sponsor was introduced to the top flight of English football for the first time. Having been known simply as the FA Premier League in its first season, the competition was rebranded as the FA Carling Premiership in 1993/94.

Sir Alex Ferguson's only major addition at Old Trafford was Roy Keane, who was voted in the 1992/93 Professional Footballers' Association team of the year despite Nottingham Forest's relegation. The 22-year-old midfielder came in as a natural replacement for captain Bryan Robson, by now 36, for a record-breaking £3.75million, and he instantly established himself as a key player.

Champions Manchester United
Top goalscorer 34: Andrew Cole (NEW)
Most assists 13: Andrew Cole (NEW)
Most goals 82: Newcastle United
Most clean sheets 21: Arsenal

Early tests of Man Utd's title credentials were passed as they beat Aston Villa and Norwich City, who had finished second and third respectively in the 1992/93 season, in the opening five matches. The fine start earned Ferguson the first of a record 27 Barclays Manager of the Month awards he would go on to win during his tenure at Old Trafford.

Despite defeat to United, Norwich were among the early challengers at the top, and Canaries striker Efan Ekoku became the first striker to score four goals in a Premier League match as they beat Everton 5-1 at Goodison Park.

Norwich's form dropped off drastically from November, culminating in a 13th-place finish, and Blackburn Rovers and Newcastle United quickly established themselves as the Red Devils' nearest challengers after mixed starts to the campaign.

Promoted Newcastle, galvanised under manager Kevin Keegan, recovered from back-to-back losses at the start of the season to move up to third by December. Their form was inspired by strike partnership Andrew Cole and Peter Beardsley, who returned to St James' Park in the summer after four years at Liverpool and two at Everton. Cole was the Barclays Golden Boot winner with a league-record 34 goals, while Beardsley contributed 21. Their combined total of 55 remains the highest in Premier League history.

A defeat at Chelsea was Manchester United's only loss before the start of 1994 and they established a 16-point lead at the top in January, despite arch rivals Liverpool coming from 3-0 down to draw 3-3 at Anfield on 4 January. That classic contest proved to be one of the last matches in charge for Liverpool manager Graeme Souness, who was replaced by Roy Evans.

United went on a 22-match unbeaten run before Chelsea beat them again at Old Trafford on 5 March. A slight dip in form allowed Kenny Dalglish's Blackburn side to close in. Boosted by the arrivals of goalkeeper Tim Flowers in November and Ian Pearce and David Batty the previous month, Rovers won 16 out of 20 matches from December until mid-April. That impressive run included a 2-0 victory against Man Utd, which reduced the Red Devils' advantage to three points at the top.

But the Old Trafford outfit won five of their final seven matches, while Blackburn won once in their final five, with costly defeats at Southampton and Coventry City allowing Man Utd to win the league by eight points. Rovers' 2-1 defeat at Coventry officially crowned Man Utd as champions, and they capped off a landmark campaign by beating Chelsea 4-0 in the FA Cup final to clinch the double.

Blackburn finished eight points adrift of the champions, with Newcastle finishing seven points further back in third and Arsenal, who qualified for the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, finishing fourth, boosted by the best defence in the division, which shipped just 28 goals in 42 matches.

Graham Stuart, Everton celebration in 1993-94.jpg
Graham Stuart's late goal against Wimbledon ensured Everton's survival

The battle against relegation went down to the wire, with Everton looking to move out of the drop zone and retain their Premier League status after an unbroken 40-year spell in the top flight. Oldham Athletic were three points adrift of safety going into the final day, but a 1-1 draw at Norwich consigned them to relegation. Swindon Town, who conceded a Premier League-record 100 goals in the campaign, finished bottom.

Everton were one point below Southampton, Sheffield United and Ipswich Town going into the finale, and went 2-0 down against Wimbledon after 20 minutes at Goodison Park. However, a Graham Stuart penalty and a sensational Barry Horne volley made it 2-2, and they clinched a dramatic 3-2 win that secured their survival with Stuart's 81st minute winner.

Southampton, who were four points adrift of safety in April before a last-gasp 5-4 victory at Norwich sparked an upturn in form, stayed up with a 3-3 draw at West Ham United. Ken Monkou, the matchwinner at Norwich the previous month, scored a 90th-minute own goal for the Hammers but it was not enough to put Alan Ball's side in the drop zone.

Ipswich Town stayed up courtesy of a goalless draw at Blackburn but Sheffield United were the team to join Oldham and Swindon in the relegation zone after Mark Stein's 90th-minute strike gave Chelsea a 3-2 win against the Blades.