Since its inception, the Premier League has witnessed some phenomenal teams. Some are universally celebrated, but others never garner the attention they truly deserve. Remaining impartial, my breakdown of the top five teams was not decided solely by what the teams won. My fundamental criteria was the manner in which they played and the enjoyment they delivered to football supporters around the world.
5. Newcastle United (1995-97). At number five in my list comes the Newcastle team (1995-1997) that were labeled the ‘’entertainers’’ by the public. Their capitulation of the title to a youthful, Manchester United team obviously still wrangles with Magpie supporters today, yet to leave them off this list would have been unimaginable. The attacking brand of football this team played captured the imagination and support of the football neutrals and their style has not been replicated by any team since. The signing of Les Ferdinand brought the team to another level and their football at times during the Autumn and Winter of 1995-1996 is among the best the Premier League has ever seen. Many people will lament their inability to defend, but that was part of their ‘’greatness’’ – attack, attack, attack. Their finest hour undoubtedly came in the Autumn of 1996 when they dismantled Manchester United 5-0, with Phillippe Albert sealing the win with one of the iconic Premier League moments.
4. Chelsea (2004-06). Immediately upon taking the role, one could guage that the club would be transformed forever. Creating a magnificent team ethos, Mourinho succeeded in orchestrating a line-up that tore the Premier League apart. With players such as Frank Lampard, John Terry, Didier Drogba, Arjen Robben and Damien Duff playing magnificently, they put the other nineteen clubs in the league to shame. Playing a calculated, but entertaining brand of football, they managed to gain a strangle hold on English football that they previously had only dreamt off. European success was to remain elusive, and those two epic semi-finals in 2005 with ultimate champions Liverpool still remain a source of frustration for the iconic team.
3. Manchester United (1993-94). This team played with such power and single-mindedness that watching them made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Perhaps the most combative and powerful team of Ferguson’s era, they played in a manner that only focused on winning and never played for a draw. Utilizing the brilliance of Cantona, United played football that hasn’t been replicated since. They relied on a wonderful team ethos to dismantle their opponents, having reliable back-ups such as McClair and Sharpe, ensured that no one rested on their laurels. Their greatest moment arguably came in the FA Cup final versus Chelsea where, thanks to two Cantona penalties, they emerged victorious on a 4-0 score line. Their European performances, most memorably against Galatasary where they threw away a two goal advantage, soured their legacy somewhat, but they will always be fondly remembered by United fans as the first great team of the Ferguson era.
2. Arsenal (2003-04). I debated whether they deserved to finish at number one, but their lack of a European trophy dictated their position. Surviving any season undefeated in this day and age is almost unimaginable, but this is exactly what this team did. Their greatness was their unflinching resolve coupled with arguably the best player in the world during that era — Thierry Henry. Having two World Cup winners in central midfield was an additional bonus, as was the colossus Sol Campbell at the back. They left all in their wake and sealed their triumph at home to Leicester City on a day that Arsenal fans will always saviour. The highlight from that season would be their North London league triumph, despite only drawing the game. A low point would be their European exit by Chelsea, yet they will always be recalled as the only undefeated team of the premier league era.
1. Manchester United (1998-99). A team, packed with arguably the greatest Manchester United midfield of all time, played some breathtaking football in a season that had it all. Their form prior to Christmas was average. Losing at home to Middlesbrough was an obvious low point, but they showed their true character by remaining undefeated in 1999 up until November. The addition of Jaap Stam and Dwight Yorke provided them with the power to tackle three competitions. Relying on unrivalled resilience to see off Liverpool and Arsenal in the cup and Juventus in the Champions League semi final, they were on the brink of immortality. Victories over Spurs and Newcastle sealed the league and cup double, but the stoppage time victory over Bayern has stood the test of time as the greatest comeback ever. Their resolve and spirit sealed their place as the top Premier League team thus far, whether we see their like again remains to be seen.