Who are the best Premier League sides by points total?
With less than a week to go of the 2021/22 top-flight season, we have a couple of new entries ready for this list.
Indeed, in a table already dominated by Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool and Pep Guardiola's Manchester City, the two rivals return again to squeeze out the competition.
And while this year's totals can't quite match their own performances from recent years, they still easily rank among some of the best the Premier League has ever seen.
(NB: While the Premier League’s first three years featured 42 games rather than 38, adjusting the points tallies resulted in no teams from those seasons making this countdown. Sorry, Blackburn.)
Best Premier League sides by points total: 21. Liverpool 2021/22
86pts (+65), 2nd (after 36 games)
So we know the headline promised 20 and we're delivering 21, but with less than a week to go, we don't think the Reds will be 21st place for long.
Liverpool may be pipped, once more, to the Premier League title by a dominant Manchester City side, but they could still climb a way up this list – as high as seventh if they win their two remaining games.
League Cup and FA Cup wins mean that Jurgen Klopp's side won't finish this season empty-handed, while the Champions League final could mean a treble, even if failing to overtake City this week means no historic quadruple.
20. Manchester City 2013/14
86pts (+65), 2nd (after 36 games)
Liverpool may be pipped, once more, to the Premier League title by a dominant Manchester City side, but they good still climb a way up this list.
19. Chelsea 2009/10
86pts (+71), 1st
Carlo Ancelotti has only won four domestic titles in 21 seasons of management, with his most impressive triumph coming at Stamford Bridge in 2009-10.
The Italian’s Double-winners set a Premier League goals record that still stands… for now. Hitting 17 without reply in their final three fixtures took them to 103 in total and an astonishing goal difference of +71 – another record.
It hinted at Chelsea’s dominance in a season where they also conceded just once in six FA Cup games, following a summer in which Daniel Sturridge and Yuri Zhirkov represented their only major signings.
18. Chelsea 2014/15
87pts (+41), 1st
Although Jose Mourinho’s Blues went undefeated at home and lifted the trophy in April, they did so with much less swagger than they had 10 years earlier.
It wouldn’t be fair to dismiss Mourinho’s second Chelsea outfit as dull – as the Portuguese himself told FourFourTwo, he considered his team “dominant” rather than boring – but the champions did embody an underwhelming Premier League season that offered precious little intrigue anywhere in the table. Remarkably, the west Londoners rose to top spot after the opening weekend and weren’t knocked off it for the rest of the campaign.
17. Arsenal 2001/02
87pts (+43), 1st
If Arsenal’s Invincibles are criticised in some quarters for drawing their way into the history books, the same accusation can’t be levelled at this Double-winning vintage. On February 2, 2002, Arsenal set a new record by scoring for the 26th consecutive match, only for Jo Tessem of Southampton to cancel out Sylvain Wiltord’s strike. It was the final game of the 2001-02 league campaign that Arsenal failed to win.
They could hardly be called a one-man team, either. Robert Pires was named Footballer of the Year, Freddie Ljungberg won Premier League Player of the Season and Thierry Henry was awarded the Golden Boot, while Arsene Wenger scooped seasonal gongs from the Premier League and LMA alike.
16. Manchester United 2007/08
87pts (+58), 1st
A total of 17 home wins from 19 helped Cristiano Ronaldo and friends outgun Chelsea in England and abroad. Manchester United were frugal in defence, conceding 22 goals in the Premier League and only two in seven Champions League knockout matches, while Ronaldo plundered 42 goals in all competitions, thriving alongside Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez.
In one of the division’s most competitive title races (Arsenal finished third with 83 points and Liverpool fourth with 76, once a championship-winning total), United did the business. Again.
15. Manchester United 2012/13
89pts (+43), 1st
The idea that David Moyes ruined an amazing team would appear substantiated by this healthy points tally in Alex Ferguson’s final season – but 89 points doesn’t tell the full story. A goal difference of +43 is measly by modern title-chasers' standards: United conceded as many goals (43) as they did under Moyes the following season, and won 16 games by single-goal margins.
It was still more than enough to win the league, though. Fergie outmuscled champions Manchester City to sign Robin van Persie, who scored 26 league goals; if those goals were scratched from the record, United would have been an astonishing 28 points poorer.
14. Manchester United 2006/07
89pts (+56), 1st
Eight – eight – Red Devils featured in the PFA Team of the Year as United finished six points ahead of Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea. Those PFA picks were Edwin van der Sar, Gary Neville, Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra, Cristiano Ronaldo, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs, for the record.
Further fun fact: Alex Ferguson won as many Manager of the Month awards in the 2006-07 campaign (three) as Mourinho has in his entire Premier League career. Not that Jose’s the type to get bothered by that sort of thing.
13. Manchester United 2011/12
89pts (+56), 2nd
In 2011/12, Manchester United were eight points clear at the top with six matches remaining. Then a shock defeat by Wigan and a 4-4 draw with Everton reduced that margin to three points ahead of the Manchester derby, with only two games to follow it.
Monday Night Football on April 30 saw Alex Ferguson drop a striker and bring his men to City in a rare 4-5-1 formation. Five attacking players sat on the bench as Wayne Rooney cut a lonely figure up top and, for the first time in three years, United failed to have a shot on target and City won 1-0. Roberto Mancini’s Blues went top on goal difference – and that was that.
12. Manchester City 2011/12
89pts (+64), 1st
The drama of the 2011-12 final day is fairly well known. Suffice to say, Sergio Aguero scored late on as Manchester City beat QPR 3-2 to scoop the prize.
Roberto Mancini had admitted with six games remaining that the Premier League trophy looked out of reach. But with the pressure off, victories over West Brom, Norwich and Wolves gave City the impetus ahead of the Manchester derby – and the rest is history.
United and City finished the 2011-12 season with identical records of 28 wins, five draws and five defeats. If City’s famous 6-1 win at Old Trafford had ended only 2-1, they’d also have finished with identical totals in the goals scored (89) and goals conceded (29) columns.
11. Manchester United 2008/09
90pts (+44), 1st
If the mark of champions is finding a win by any means possible, Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United wore that stigma with pride. They matched Liverpool’s 18 league titles and pushed a facts-spouting Rafa Benitez into second by winning 16 of their 38 fixtures by a single goal, giving new meaning to the concept of fine margins.
The defence kept things tight by necessity: of those 16 narrow wins, 10 finished 1-0. Edwin van der Sar’s record number of consecutive clean sheets came during a winter run-in which United didn’t concede for 14 league games, while their final six fixtures of 2008 brought four goals, four wins and two draws. Economical.
10. Arsenal 2003/04
90pts (+47), 1st
That’s right: The Invincibles are only ninth. Drawing every third game will do that. Perhaps it’s a mere quirk of statistics that Arsenal’s 2003-04 side are considered the greatest Premier League team; after all, they did lose six games in the Champions League, FA Cup and League Cup.
Still, unbeaten across a 38-game league campaign – not bad, is it? And while they didn’t exactly crush many teams – a 5-0 triumph over relegated Leeds being the only time they helped themselves to more than four goals in one sitting – Arsenal did do the double over second-placed Chelsea.
9. Manchester City 2021/22
90pts (+72), 1st (after 37 games)
There's still the possibility that this season's Manchester City team climbs another three places in this list – overtaking the best Man United Premier League performance in the meantime.
But to do that, Guardiola's men will need a win on the final day of the season, securing the Premier League title in the meantime. And that might be what they concentrate on this Sunday...
8. Chelsea 2005/06
91pts (+50), 1st
In Jose Mourinho’s second season, Chelsea led continuously from August to May, having won 20 of their first 22 matches to see off the early challenge of new boys Wigan (seriously, they were still second in late November).
Like Arsenal’s Invincibles, Chelsea scored five in a game only once. Still, they’d be higher up this list if they hadn’t followed up the title-clinching win over Manchester United by losing their final two matches to goals from Steven Reid and Titus Bramble, presumably for the purposes of banter.
7. Manchester United 1999/00
91pts (+52), 1st
How do you follow the Treble? With the Quadruple, clearly. But if you can’t do that – because, say, you’ve withdrawn from the FA Cup so that you can lose to Vasco da Gama in FIFA’s inaugural Club World Cup – then winning the league by a record 18 points will have to do.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about Manchester United’s 1999-2000 triumph, apart from that winning margin and 97 goals scored, was that they did it without a Peter Schmeichel, a David de Gea or even a Tim Howard.
The Premier League’s seventh-highest points tally was earned despite Mark Bosnich playing in 23 games, being replaced in three of them by 36-year-old Raimond van der Gouw, who probably didn’t expect to be quite such a busy substitute goalkeeper.
6. Chelsea 2016/17
93pts (+52), 1st
Antonio Conte isn’t alone in debuting with a title, but the Italian did it with a team who had just finished 10th in a season that was supposed to see Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola battle it out for the title.
A 3-0 defeat by Arsenal in September was, famously, the catalyst for Conte’s switch to a back three, the most decisive tactical switch in Premier League history. The Blues promptly won their next 13 matches and didn’t concede a goal for two months, battering Manchester United 4-0 along the way. Chelsea never let up: they got ahead and stayed ahead.
5. Chelsea 2004/05
95pts (+57), 1st
Take your pick of preposterous statistics from Jose Mourinho’s first Premier League season: 25 clean sheets, with just 15 goals conceded in their other 13 matches; 11 1-0 wins; only one defeat; Champions League qualification confirmed in mid-March with a 30-point lead over fifth.
Mourinho’s side were ruthlessly efficient. After taking 20 points from their first eight fixtures despite averaging one goal per game, Chelsea grew in confidence and ended up winning 4-0 or 4-1 on seven occasions.
Their Champions League dream ended at the hands of an Istanbul-bound Liverpool team, but a 95-point Premier League campaign was astounding. Better than the Invincibles? Yes.
4. Liverpool 2018/19
97pts (+67), 2nd
Even Liverpool's most ardent rivals found it hard not to feel a tad sorry for Jurgen Klopp's terrific side in 2019.
The Reds became the best runners-up in Premier League by a considerable margin, beating Manchester United's haul of 89 points in 2011/12 by a fairly enormous eight.
But such is life battling with Pep Guardiola's Manchester City team.
Liverpool built their success on the defensive solidity inspired by Virgil van Dijk and goalkeeper Alisson – but the firepower up front wasn't bad either: Mo Salah, Sadio Mané and Roberto Firmino nabbed a combined 56 Premier League goals.
3. Manchester City 2018/19
98pts (+72), 1st
They lost four times that season and yet this astonishing team still beat a brilliant Liverpool to the title with one of the highest points totals in Premier League history.
Beating 2017-18's record-breaking achievements was always going to be tough, but City didn't fall short by much.
Eight players scored at least five league goals that season: Sergio Aguero got 21, Raheem Sterling 17, while Leroy Sané also reached double figures. Relentless.
2. Liverpool 2019/20
99pts (+52), 1st
Simultaneously breaking the records for title win with the most games left and latest title win in history, Jurgen Klopp's men won Liverpool's first league for 30 years.
The champions sealed the Premier League triumph with seven matches left to play, and at that point were just 15 points off setting a record points haul.
But their form post-coronavirus hiatus was only the sixth-best in the league, leaving them agonisingly short.
They have firmly cemented themselves in any conversation about the Premier League's best ever sides, but in this system at least, they will always be one short...
1. Manchester City 2017/18
100pts (+79), 1st
The greatest: a terrifying killing machine that hit three figures for points in a Premier League season, becoming the first team to do so.
We'll just tell you the 11 Premier League records they smashed, shall we?
Most points, most goals scored, biggest winning margin, earliest title win, biggest goal difference, most wins, most consecutive wins, most away wins, highest average possession, most passes – and to cap it off for Pep, the most Premier League Manager of the Month awards scooped in a single campaign (four).
Some of those records – which not so long ago looked like they would be a permanent fixture in history books – have already been broken by the team back in second place. But the one record that really matters still has Manchester City's name on it...
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Conor Pope is the Online Editor of FourFourTwo, overseeing all digital content, and joined the team in February 2019. He supports Blackburn Rovers and holds a season ticket with south London non-league side Dulwich Hamlet. His main football passions include Tugay, the San Siro and only using a winter ball when it snows.
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