The way things are going, it looks like Liverpool will finish top of the Premier League at the end of the decade.
Sitting at the summit with a whopping 49 points in total, the title is the unbeaten Reds’ to lose.
With a formidable front three, arguably one of the world’s best defenders at their disposal and a polarising leader at the helm this Liverpool side is shaping up to be one of the greatest the English top flight (or the world) has ever seen.
Jose Mourinho’s money-fuelled Blues, the great Manchester United teams under Sir Alex Ferguson and, of course, Claudio Ranieri’s 5000/1 Leicester who shocked the world.
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All of these incredible teams were leading at Christmas – just like Liverpool – but what does history tell us about them? Did they go on to achieve greatness or disappear into the abyss after a ‘one-hit wonder’ season?
Let’s take a look!
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Manager: Jurgen Klopp
Well, let’s just get this out in the open to kick things off. The only team to lead the Premier League at Christmas and not go on to clinch the title is Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool in the 2013/14 season – ironic, right. Now, the Northern Irishman is breathing down the necks of his former employer, hoping they slip-up so his high-flying Foxes can clinch gold. While Leicester have been great this term, it’s this Rolls Royce Liverpool side making the rest of the competition look like Toyota Corollas with their slick style of football. Many predicted the Reds to still be feeling the effects of their Champions League hangover (celebrations that undoubtedly continued for weeks) but that notion has been completely crushed by Klopp and co. This team is shaping up to become one of the best the Premier League has ever seen – and anything but a title, from now, will be a catastrophic disappointment.
Manchester City (2017/18)
Manager: Pep Guardiola
Granted, the year after in 2018/19 they won the treble and beat the Reds in one of the tightest Premier League title races we’ve ever seen (just one point in it!). But, and it’s a big but, Guardiola’s 2017/18 star-studded City team was arguably the greatest the English top flight has ever seen. This City side proved titles don’t come cheap, though, as they assembled a ridiculously-expensive group of megastars to blow the rest of the teams out of the water. It was a record-breaking campaign on the sky blue side of Manchester as they reached the most points ever recorded in a Premier League season (100 points) and had the biggest title-winning margin in history (19 points between second-placed Manchester United who had 81 points). This team was great, potentially the greatest to ever grace the Premier League.
Manager: Antonio Conte
Three at the back, a never-before-seen style and a passionate manager running up and down the Stamford Bridge sidelines. Conte well a truly brought a piece of Italy to West London – and it delivered the Blues a Premier League title in 2017. While this team wasn’t necessarily packed with the big-name stars, Conte got them gelling and playing a unique counter-attacking style of football which transformed the Premier League in a tactical sense. Opposition defenders were unable to cope with the overlapping runs of previously-unknown wing-back duo Marcos Alonso and Victor Moses. And let’s not forget how good Diego Costa was in thrusting fear into defenders with his bullying presence. The addition of N’Golo Kante and Cesc Fabregas in midfield gave balance to the team and ultimately meant Eden Hazard was able to be, well, Eden Hazard.
Manager: Claudio Ranieri
What a story. It was, without question, one of the biggest shocks the Premier League has even witnessed. Narrowly avoiding relegation the season prior, the Foxes stormed their way to a Premier League title in sensational fashion under the guidance of their supreme leader Ranieri. This historic Leicester side, who were 5000/1 to win the trophy, captured the imaginations of fans around the globe as they single-handedly defied the odds to be crowned Premier League kings. Jamie Vardy broke Premier League scoring records, Riyad Mahrez quickly became one of the most highly-sought after players in world football and the King Power Stadium was electric (let’s not forget the tear-jerking moment world-famous opera singer Andrea Bocelli serenaded the fans). We may never witness something like it again, but Leicester’s 2015/16 team – and season – will go down in Premier League history.
Manchester United (2008/09)
Manager: Sir Alex Ferguson
Dimitar Berbatov, Wayne Rooney, Carlos Tevez and, of course, Cristiano Ronaldo. Has there ever been a more deadly attacking quartet in Premier League history? It’s hard to argue otherwise. While their previous campaign is remembered more fondly for their Champions League success over Chelsea (look away now, John Terry fans), this United team had a better Premier League run the season after. Beating Rafael Benitez’s rampant Reds outfit on their way to clinching the title, the Red Devils broke countless top flight records including going on a run of 14 clean sheets from November to February – part of the reason why Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand are reverted as the best defensive duo in Premier League history. While Manchester United’s 1998/99 treble-winning team was most infamous, this side of 2008/09 was arguable their most impressive on paper.
Manager: Arsene Wenger
Who could forget The Invincibles? Under the guidance of Arsene Wenger, Arsenal went an entire Premier League season undefeated – the first and only team to achieve this in the 19th century and beyond. Granted, clubs have finished with a higher points tally and even gone on to win the Champions League and the Premier League in the same season, but the Gunners’ feat in 2003/04 is unrivalled in the football world. Boasting a squad packed with generational talent including Dennis Bergkamp, Thierry Henry, Sol Campbell and Patrick Vieira (we’ll stop now because we could go on and on), Arsenal were feared for both their attacking prowess and their ability to kick lumps out of their opponents if the going gets tough (do yourself and favour and YouTube their history battles with Roy Keane’s Manchester United). This dominant team had it all, and to go an entire campaign without losing is an achievement we may never witness again – you’re turn, Liverpool.
Manager: Jose Mourinho
Jose Mourinho arrived in west London and instantly changed the Premier League forever by backing up his promise that he was the special one. His debut season saw Chelsea keep a record number of clean sheets and really run away with the league. He had John Terry partnered by Ricardo Carvalho, both marshalled by Petr Cech, Claude Makelele and Frank Lampard in midfield and Didier Drogba up front, to name but a few. His no-nonsense winning style was power and strength and they muscled their opponents off the park consistently. This is arguably the best team Mourinho has ever assembled and is a worthy inclusion on this list.
Manchester United (1999/2000)
Manager: Sir Alex Ferguson
Yes, we’re well aware that the famous treble-winning United side of 1998/99 is not on this list. It was a successful team, granted, but they were arguably better domestically the following year. Unlike the treble-winning season that required a last-gasp final day comeback win to secure the title, in 1999/20 the Red Devils improved their Premier League points tally by 12 in a runaway campaign to become Premier League champs. Incredibly, the side triumphed with a ridiculous margin of 18 points between them and second placed Arsenal – perhaps the birth of their great rivalry. If the Fergie era hadn’t already began, it certainly had now as the Class of ’92 started to rise to prominence by running riot against unsuspecting rivals. Oh, and when you’ve got Teddy Sheringham and current Old Trafford boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer coming off the bench for Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke – you can hardly envisage the goals ever drying up.
Manchester United (1993/94)
Manager: Sir Alex Ferguson
That vintage laced jersey, collars popped so they’re brushing the bottom of the ear lobe, and donning that famous no.7 jersey. 1993/94 was when the modern-day Premier League was introduced to its first foreign superstar: Eric Cantona. The man dubbed ‘King Eric’ alongside Nottingham Forest recruit Roy Keane, Welsh wizard Ryan Giggs and scary shot stopper Peter Schmeichel helped Manchester United capture perhaps their most dominant triumph of the 1990s – and given how many titles they won, that’s quite some achievement. As ‘great’ as this side was, the correct term to label them is probably ‘iconic’ for they were the commencement of the Sir Alex Ferguson era at Old Trafford which saw the club collect 13 Premier League trophies during the Glaswegian’s tenure. If you’re wondering whether this team could compete in today’s fast-paced Premier League, the answer is yes. Undoubtedly.