Man City beware: 6 teams who started well but soon faded
Having won 10 of the last 15 league titles, Liverpool went into the 1990/91 season as favourites to finish top of the pile once more.
A run of eight consecutive wins at the start of the campaign did nothing to suggest they would fall short, with a 4-0 thrashing of Manchester United at Anfield setting the tone for their early-season form.
By mid-November they'd won 12 of their 13 matches, the only slip-up coming in a 1-1 draw at Manchester City. Sitting pretty at the summit at Christmas, the Reds wobbled with only one victory in six in the New Year. Kenny Dalglish resigned in February citing personal issues, and a 1-0 defeat to Arsenal in early March saw the Gunners leapfrog Liverpool and take top spot.
The Reds – led initially by caretaker Ronnie Moran and then Graeme Souness from April onwards – were hugely inconsistent in the final 12 games of the season, beating Derby County 7-1 and Leeds United 5-4 but dropping vital points at home to QPR and Coventry City. Arsenal romped home, finishing the season seven points clear. Liverpool haven’t won the league since.
Having finished third in Rinus Michels’ first season at the Camp Nou in 1971/72, Barcelona were looking to push on and win the title a year later. A squad that contained the likes of Juan Manuel Asensi, Marcial and Gallego certainly had the quality to go the distance, even if the Spanish top flight was by no means a two-horse race in those days – Valencia, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid had shared the league championship in the three previous campaigns. Michels’ men got off to a flyer, winning their first five – including defeats of Valencia and arch enemies Madrid – and laying down an early marker to the rest of the division.
A draw to Catalan rivals Espanyol followed in their next encounter, but victory over Athletic Bilbao saw Barcelona sitting pretty at the top of the table towards the end of October.
Chinks in the armour began to appear soon after, however, with draws against Malaga, Celta Vigo and Sporting Gijon costing Barça precious points. In the end, Atletico’s superior ability to turn draws into wins saw them take the title ahead of Michels’ runners-up by a narrow margin of two points.
The sale of club legend Thierry Henry to Barcelona ahead of the 2007/08 campaign didn't seem to affect Arsenal, who came flying out of the traps with eight wins in their first nine Premier League games. Draws with Liverpool and Manchester United were respectable results in their next two encounters, particularly when the Gunners followed them up with successive triumphs over Reading, Wigan and Aston Villa. At the start of December, Arsenal had a five-point gap over second-placed Chelsea, plus a game in hand.
The collapse didn't come until late February, beginning with a fateful 2-2 draw at Birmingham memorable for Eduardo’s horror injury and captain William Gallas’s solitary protest in the centre circle following the contentious awarding of a late penalty. A run of only one win in eight allowed Manchester United to steal in and take the crown, with Arsenal finishing the season behind Chelsea in third.