Ranked! The 12 best Premier League teams EVER
5. Chelsea (2004/05)
Jose Mourinho’s debut season in English football was based almost entirely around a solid defence – Chelsea conceded just 15 goals and recorded 25 clean sheets, both mind-boggling figures. This remains the Premier League’s highest points total: 95.
The season started slowly in an attacking sense, with an over-reliance upon set-pieces for goals. But the autumn introduction of Arjen Robben transformed Chelsea into a brilliant attacking force too; based largely around the concept of attacking transitions, he and Damien Duff sped forward to destroy teams on the break.
Didier Drogba was yet to find his feet, but Eidur Gudjohnsen linked play excellently up front while Frank Lampard broke forward constantly to become a truly outstanding attacking midfielder. Defensive midfielder Claude Makelele, meanwhile, was the crucial part of Chelsea’s 4-3-3 – a formation which outplayed opponents in the opening weeks, and was widely replicated across the league towards the end of the season.
4. Liverpool (2018/19)
And they didn't even win the league. But in any season prior to 2018, their points tally of 97 would have seen them crowned champions.
Despite finishing a full 25 points off first place the previous season, no one doubted that Jurgen Klopp's side would be mounting a serious title challenge this time around. Few, however, will have predicted just how serious.
Having bolstered their defence with the record signing of Virgil van Dijk the previous January, and splashing out on Roma goalkeeper Alisson in the summer, the Reds were a force to be reckoned with. Mohamed Salah may not have been quite the player he'd been the year before after recovering from injury, but still took home the Golden Boot alongside Sadio Mané and Arsenal's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. His partners in the Anfield attack line, Roberto Firmino and Mané, both stepped up, while Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson established themselves as two of the best wing-backs in the country.
In losing only one game all season – to champions Manchester City – this Liverpool side take their place not only as the best side not to win the Premier League title, but one of the best Premier League teams full stop.
3. Manchester City (2018/19)
Sometimes greatness requires great adversity. The Liverpool team above certainly provided that for Manchester City in 2018/19.
Having set a new record for Premier League points the previous season (and winning the title at a canter), Pep Guardiola's men had a lot to live up to. Winning their last 14 games in a row – equalling their own record from the year before for most wins in a season – helped provide a first back-to-back title for the club. Had they failed to win any of them, they would have handed the title to Liverpool, who finished just a single point behind.
With creative force Kevin De Bruyne missing much of the season through injury, midfield stalwart Fernandinho reaching a less-than-sprightly 34 years of age by the end of the campaign, and captain Vincent Kompany both injury-prone and 33, City regularly showed off their depth. In the end, though, it was a number of usual suspects who became the faces of victory: Sergio Aguero was every bit as clinical as he always was, Raheem Sterling reached new heights, and a 33-year-old David Silva still pulled the strings.
2. Arsenal (2003/04)
Others have triumphed with a greater points tally, or won the Champions League too. But Arsenal’s undefeated title-winning campaign remains a truly remarkable achievement: the only incidence of this happening since the 19th century.
Undefeated runs are often characterised by resilient defences, but Arsenal were an incredible attacking unit boasting the speed of Thierry Henry, the creativity of Dennis Bergkamp and reliable goalscoring on either flank from Freddie Ljungberg and Robert Pires.
Gilberto Silva and Patrick Vieira provided the strength that Arsenal have lacked ever since, while Sol Campbell was the only natural defender in a backline featuring Ashley Cole, Lauren and Kolo Toure – three players converted from more attacking positions by Arsene Wenger, summarising his emphasis upon technical skill. Jens Lehmann is remembered for his blunders, but in his debut Premier League campaign he simply didn’t lose all season.
Arsenal boasted the league’s best attack and its best defence; they could dominate possession and counter-attack brilliantly in turn. There’s a reason why Arsenal’s “L 0”, rather than Chelsea’s “GC 15” remains the Premier League’s most revered statistic.
1. Manchester City (2017/18)
Some could argue it's “Pts 100”, though. Officially the greatest: by wins, goals, points, winning margin, goal difference and more.
Yes, this was a mightily expensively assembled group of players, but then when has money ever guaranteed success? Manchester City were expensively assembled in 2016/17 when they finished third, some 15 points behind champions Chelsea.
Pep Guardiola needed a second season to take this team to phenomenal new heights, crafting a dominant, aesthetically pleasing side which swept all before them. Well, almost: Liverpool vanquished them, as did Manchester United – their only two defeats – and then the Merseysiders did so again in the Champions League quarter-finals.
It's an asterisk against Man City’s season, certainly, but really shouldn’t detract from their domestic achievements over the course of an exceptional campaign. They hit the magical 100-point mark with a glorious lob from Gabriel Jesus in the 94th minute of their final match of the season – and celebrated like they’d won the title all over again.