The 2017/18 season saw Pep Guardiola and his Manchester City side breaking records to become champions, with many fans and pundits declaring them the best team to have ever played in the Premier League.
However, this has stirred up a debate about whether they really are the greatest. A recent blog post by Betway discusses this and concluded that the Chelsea team of 2004/05 comes out on top. But it was far from an easy decision.
Here we will delve deep into each squad to try and see who is the most deserving of such a prestigious title.
Manchester City 2017/18
A phenomenal season saw City shatter Premier League records, scoring the most goals in a single season (106), achieving the highest points total (100), biggest title-winning margin ahead of second place (19), most wins (32), and best goal difference (+79), among others.
Guardiola was named Premier League Manager of the Season and LMA Manager of the Year, five players were named in the PFA Team of the Year, and Leroy Sané was named PFA Young Player of the Year.
Sergio Agüero top-scored with 21 league goals in a team chock full of talent that could well go on to dominate the Premier League for several years to come.
Manchester United 1998/99
United’s treble-winning side from 1998/99 must be included in any debate about the greatest English league team of all-time. A run of 20 matches unbeaten and just three league defeats all season played a massive part in United pipping Arsenal to the title by a single point, and FA Cup and Champions League victories meant the club becoming the first ever English treble winners.
Manager Alex Ferguson was knighted, United became the richest football club in the world, and David Beckham was runner-up to Rivaldo for both the European Player of the Year and FIFA World Player of the Year awards.
Any team who can go an entire season without losing a league game must be considered one of the greatest and Arsenal’s ‘Invincibles’ deserve their place in history.
Twenty-six wins and 12 draws saw Arsène Wenger’s side win the title, thanks to Thierry Henry netting 30 league goals and a fantastic supporting cast who created a team that played exciting, entertaining football whilst remaining solid at the back.
A golden replica trophy was awarded to Arsenal for their achievements and this team were named ‘Best Team’ in the Premier League 20 awards in 2012.
Chelsea’s 2004/05 title-winning team are best remembered for the number of records they broke during the season. They won 29 matches, kept 25 clean sheets, finished with 95 points, and conceded the fewest goals, as well as breaking other records.
A 1-0 defeat away to Manchester City in October 2004 turned out to be their only loss of the season, and second-placed Arsenal finished a staggering 12 points behind them in the table.
Four players were named in the PFA Team of the Year, including PFA Fans Player of the Year and PL Player of the Year Frank Lampard. Manager José Mourinho proved he was ‘The Special One’ by being named Premier League Manager of the Season.
Manchester United 2007/08
United won their 10th Premier League title in 2007/08 and added the Champions League to it to win another Domestic/European double.
Cristiano Ronaldo was the star of the team, scoring 31 league goals and picking up six individual awards, but he didn’t win the title alone. Two other players were selected in the PFA Team of the Year and Ferguson was named manager of the year for an eighth time.
Who is the Greatest?
The question of who the greatest is from this list isn’t one that has a definitive answer. Many people will have differing opinions and the debate will go on for many years, with future teams being added to the contenders as more record-breaking seasons are had.
Each of these great teams has an argument for being considered the best, with many factors needing to be considered. It may be best to look at the argument from the point of view that asks: “Would they be considered great if?”
Would Arsenal from 2003/04 be considered the greatest if they hadn’t remained unbeaten? Would both of United’s two teams in the list be considered if they hadn’t had been crowned champions of Europe in those years?
Chelsea in 2004/05 and City in 2017/18 won the title by such a margin that it’s hard to argue against these two teams being the greatest, but in what order is another debate entirely.