Ranked! The 10 best Premier League teams EVER
10. Arsenal (1997/98)
Later Arsenal sides were more technically gifted, but many players who faced both suggest that Arsene Wenger’s first Arsenal champions were the best all-round side. They mixed attacking flair with physicality, essentially thanks to the combination of a modern, foreign forward line and an old-school English back four.
Indeed, rather than technical quality, this side was renowned for their physical attributes: pace, strength and stamina. The midfield quartet epitomised that; Emmanuel Petit and Patrick Vieira bullied opponents, Ray Parlour was transformed under Wenger’s regime and shuttled up and down all game, while Marc Overmars offered lightning acceleration.
The playmaking came from the forward line: Dennis Bergkamp was the league’s outstanding individual, and his guile worked excellently with Nicolas Anelka’s sheer speed. The first half of Arsenal’s campaign was unexciting, but a run of 13 wins from 14 games, including 12 clean sheets, meant Arsenal won the title with two games to spare.
9. Manchester United (2007/08)
A truly remarkable side that simply had everything. Edwin van der Sar was back to his peak, while Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic were the best centre-back combination in Europe.
Further forward, Paul Scholes, Owen Hargreaves and Michael Carrick were arguably the three most intelligent English central midfielders of their generation, while the attacking trio of Cristiano Ronaldo, Carlos Tevez and Wayne Rooney rotated at will, keeping the opposition guessing. Ronaldo, in particular, was simply unstoppable – this campaign helped him win the Ballon d’Or.
The supporting cast were particularly impressive: the likes of Park Ji-sung, Darren Fletcher and John O’Shea weren’t the most revered players, but were intelligent tactical options who helped nullify opponents as part of Sir Alex Ferguson’s increasingly sophisticated gameplans. In truth, though, this United were a better European side than a Premier League side – they only defeated Avram Grant’s Chelsea side by two points.
8. Manchester United (1999/2000)
It seems criminal to include this side rather than the famous treble winners of the previous season – the 1998/99 side’s achievements were clearly more memorable, of course.
But in 1999/2000 Manchester United improved their points tally by 12 and scored 17 extra goals. Whereas in 1998/99 they required a final day comeback to sneak the title by a point, in 1999/2000 they triumphed by 18 points; a ridiculous margin.
It was largely the same team as the treble-winners: the best midfield quartet of the Premier League era in David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Roy Keane and Ryan Giggs; further forward the partnership of Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke backed up by super-subs Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Mikael Silvestre provided extra pace at the back, and the only weakness was in goal, where Mark Bosnich proved an underwhelming replacement for Peter Schmeichel.
7. Leicester (2015/16)
Leicester’s remarkable title victory was so unexpected that it feels somehow impossible to compare it to the big boys’ successes – yet forget about them being underdogs, and it’s nevertheless a hugely dominant title victory, by an impressive 10 points. Leicester lost only three times all season.
Claudio Ranieri’s side ripped up the rulebook – whereas others were obsessed with possession play, Leicester were almost pure counter-attackers. Jamie Vardy broke the Premier League record for scoring in consecutive games, Riyad Mahrez was the league’s best player – capable of scoring, creating and assisting – while N’Golo Kante was a revelation, repopularising the tough-tackling, all-action defensive midfielder.
But overall this was a brilliant team, among the best defensive units the Premier League has seen in the second half of the season. When asked questions they always came up with the answers – pressing higher or going more direct with supersub Leo Ulloa. The most extraordinarily unlikely title winners, they’re also among the best.