2014/15 Season Review

2014/15 Premier League champions: Chelsea

Jose Mourinho's Chelsea secure their fourth Premier League title

Jose Mourinho claimed his team were the "little horse" when they fell just short in a thrilling three-way Premier League title race in the 2013/14 season. However, his side were the frontrunners in 2014/15, topping the table for 274 days - a new record in the competition - and they went on to earn their fourth PL crown by eight points.

Mourinho's squad was bolstered by the marquee additions of former Arsenal playmaker Cesc Fabregas and Atletico Madrid striker Diego Costa, while Eden Hazard's breathtaking form earned a clean sweep of the Premier League, Professional Footballers' Association and Football Writers' Association Player of the Season awards.

Champions Chelsea
Top goalscorer 26: Sergio Aguero (MCI)
Most assists 18: Cesc Fabregas (CHE)
Most goals 83: Manchester City
Most clean sheets 17: Chelsea
Player of the Season Eden Hazard (CHE)
Manager of the Season Jose Mourinho (CHE)

But after producing some blistering attacking football in the first half of the campaign, the defence, marshalled by ever-present captain John Terry, became the meanest in the league and laid the foundation for their success.

Fabregas and Costa both played a key role in seven wins from their first eight PL matches, including a 6-3 triumph at Everton and a 2-0 win against Arsenal, when Fabregas laid on one of his 18 top-flight assists for Costa.

The only blemish in that run was provided by the Blues' all-time top scorer Frank Lampard, who netted the equaliser in his first meeting with Chelsea since joining Manchester City on loan before his move to Major League Soccer. Chelsea's unbeaten start to the campaign ended when Papiss Cisse struck twice for Alan Pardew's Newcastle United at St James' Park in November.

Chelsea's traditional rivals faltered in the early stages. Manchester United were on the receiving end of a stunning comeback as they lost 5-3 at promoted Leicester City, despite a sublime lob from Angel Di Maria, who was signed by new manager Louis van Gaal for a British record £59.7m.

Liverpool, who so nearly won their first Premier League crown in 2013/14, struggled to recapture their form without Barcelona-bound Luis Suarez, and Phil Jagielka's thunderous stoppage-time equaliser gave Everton a Merseyside derby draw that dented their rivals' top-four push.

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Spurs striker Harry Kane made his mark with two goals in a 5-3 victory over Chelsea at White Hart Lane

But Chelsea faltered as defending champions Man City, inspired by Golden Boot winner Sergio Aguero, moved level on points, goal difference and goals scored on New Year's Day.

Chelsea lost 5-3 to Mauricio Pochettino's Tottenham Hotspur on 1 January. The victory was inspired by two goals from Spurs academy graduate Harry Kane, who scored 21 times in the PL, and 31 overall, as he claimed the PFA Young Player of the Season.

They also drew 1-1 at Southampton three days previously, and Saints moved up to third place following victories over Arsenal, Manchester United and Newcastle United in January. Their top-four charge came despite selling five key players in the summer, with new manager Ronald Koeman and a host of January signings impressing.

They eventually tailed off and finished seventh, but a club-record haul of 60 points, the second-best defence in the league and the fastest hat-trick in Premier League history – Sadio Mane's treble in a 6-1 thrashing of Aston Villa – bore testimony to a fine campaign.

Despite the efforts of a host of clubs in the race for European places, the title race swung back in Chelsea's favour when a galvanised Arsenal side won 2-0 at Manchester City. Chelsea soon surged clear and went on to wrap up the title against Crystal Palace in early May after going unbeaten in meetings with Man Utd, Arsenal and Liverpool in quick succession.

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Leicester City celebrate their great escape, sealed with a draw at Sunderland. A year later they would be champions.

The attention quickly turned to the top-four battle, with Liverpool building momentum in an unbeaten run from December to March, which included a 2-1 win over Man City and wins over Southampton and Spurs. But Man Utd, who steadily recovered from a return of just 13 points from their first 10 matches, beat Liverpool, Spurs and Man City in a six-match winning streak that effectively secured their return to Europe's elite competition after a season's absence.

The battle for Premier League safety went down to the wire. Leicester recovered from being bottom at Christmas and won seven of their last nine matches to stage one of the PL's greatest escapes.

Newcastle's form tailed off following Alan Pardew's appointment as Crystal Palace manager and they lost eight in a row before an important point against West Bromwich Albion left their destiny in their own hands going into the final day.

With promoted Burnley and Queens Park Rangers already down and Sunderland clear of trouble after an upturn in form under Dick Advocaat, Newcastle were two points above 18th-placed Hull before Matchweek 38.

Jonas Gutierrez, back in the first-team after recovering from testicular cancer, scored the second in a 2-0 win over West Ham United, while Hull went down after a goalless draw with Man Utd.

The season finale also saw three Premier League legends bid farewell. Frank Lampard scored against Southampton before leaving for New York City, while Steven Gerrard's final Liverpool appearance, before his 17-year Anfield career ended with a switch to Los Angeles Galaxy, was marked by a goal in a 6-1 defeat at Stoke City.

Didier Drogba was carried off on his final Chelsea appearance by his team-mates as they celebrated their fourth Premier League crown with a final day win against Sunderland.