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2008/09 Season Review

25 May 2018

Manchester United won their third straight Premier League title led by a fearsome strikeforce of Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, Carlos Tevez and Dimitar Berbatov, while Edwin van der Sar enjoyed a record-breaking season in goal

The start of the 2008/09 Premier League season signalled the beginning of a new era for Manchester City as the Abu Dhabi United Group agreed a takeover of the club.

Mark Hughes, who was appointed as first-team manager in June 2008, enhanced his squad with a host of additions including Vincent Kompany, Pablo Zabaleta and Robinho, the latter arriving from Real Madrid for a club record fee on the eve of the summer transfer deadline.

Tottenham Hotspur striker Dimitar Berbatov joined Manchester United as they looked to win a third consecutive PL crown, while Deco hit the ground running following his move to Chelsea and won the Player of the Month award in August.

Under the guidance of new manager Luiz Felipe Scolari, Chelsea were the early pacesetters with 20 points from eight matches. They were level on points with Liverpool while newly promoted Hull City were third in late October.

Surprise package Hull

The Tigers won six of their opening nine matches in their debut Premier League campaign. That included away victories over Arsenal and Spurs, both of which included stunning strikes from Brazilian midfielder Geovanni, who moved to Humberside from Man City in the summer.

Tottenham Hotspur's 1-0 loss to Hull City contributed to a disappointing start to the campaign, leaving them bottom of the table with just two points. As as result, manager Juande Ramos was replaced by Harry Redknapp on 26 October.

The former Portsmouth manager led Spurs to a 2-0 win over Bolton Wanderers on the same day and, only three days later, his side then netted two late goals to rescue a 4-4 draw with local rivals Arsenal. David Bentley opened the scoring at Emirates Stadium with an audacious 40-yard volley.

Bentley v Arsenal.jpg
Van der Sar sets record

The Gunners lost further ground on the leading pack with defeats against Man City and Aston Villa, who were pushing for a UEFA Champions League place. Martin O'Neill's Villa team moved to within one point of Arsenal in fifth position on 7 December when they came out on top in a five-goal thriller against Everton at Goodison Park, Ashley Young settling the match in stoppage time.

Manchester United were eight points adrift of leaders Chelsea and Liverpool after 12 matchweeks. But, a 5-0 thrashing of Stoke City at Old Trafford started a 16-match unbeaten run in the Premier League that helped them go top of the table in January. The result was also the first of 14 consecutive clean sheets for goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar, who went 1,311 minutes without conceding a league goal - a new Premier League record.

With an attacking line-up including Berbatov, Carlos Tevez, Wayne Rooney and Ballon D'Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo supplying the goals, Man Utd moved clear of Chelsea. However, Liverpool, who had striker Fernando Torres and midfielder Steven Gerrard in inspirational form, remained firmly in the title race.

Macheda comes off age for United

A 2-0 home win over Chelsea and a 3-2 triumph away at Portsmouth, both sealed with Torres goals in stoppage time, briefly put Liverpool top in February. Despite slipping up against Middlesbrough soon after, they bounced back with a 4-1 win against Man Utd at Old Trafford.

An away defeat followed for Sir Alex Ferguson's side but they swung the title race in their favour when 17-year-old debutant Federico Macheda curled in a brilliant late winner as they rallied to beat Aston Villa 3-2 in April. The Italian's intervention put them one point clear of Liverpool with a match in hand.

Liverpool's title hopes then suffered a decisive blow as Arsenal winger Andrey Arshavin scored all four goals for the Gunners in a 4-4 draw at Anfield. Man Utd dropped only two points in the remainder of the campaign as they surged towards their third consecutive Premier League trophy with one match to spare.

Macheda v Villa.jpg
Newcastle and Shearer go down

Attention switched to the relegation fight on the final day of the season. Hull had won only two matches since their strong start and were one point above Newcastle United, who sat 18th. Magpies legend and Premier League all-time top goalscorer Alan Shearer was their third manager of the season, replacing Joe Kinnear while he recovered from triple heart bypass surgery.

Earlier in the campaign, Kevin Keegan had resigned from his second spell as manager at St James' Park.

Hull City were beaten by champions Man Utd, but Newcastle could not capitalise as Damien Duff's own goal consigned them to defeat at Aston Villa. This ended the Magpies' 16-year stay in the Premier League. West Bromwich Albion and Middlesbrough joined Newcastle in the Championship.

In the UEFA Champions League, three of the semi-finalists - Man Utd, Arsenal and Chelsea - were English but Barcelona eventually lifted the trophy after beating United 2-0 in the final.

With Guus Hiddink placed in temporary charge following Scolari's departure, Chelsea went on to lift the FA Cup after edging past Everton, while Spurs, who recovered from their poor start to finish eighth, were beaten by Man Utd 4-1 on penalties in the League Cup final.

Newcastle relegated.jpg

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