Who won the title by the biggest margin?
Despite losing their unbeaten run, Manchester City currently luxuriate in an 11-point lead atop the Premier League table. It's hard to see anyone catching Pep Guardiola's side in 2017/18, but how does their sizeable advantage compare to previous champions' victorious margins?
We've crunched the numbers to identify the 15 most dominant teams in English top-flight history. To be historically fair (because football didn't start in 1992, mate), we've adjusted for the differing number of matches and points systems used in seasons gone by, presenting each winning margin as a percentage – calculated by dividing a team's lead by the maximum number of points on offer that campaign.
For example, if City were to end this season with an 11-point advantage over the division's runners-up, their winning margin would be 9.65% - 11 divided by 114, which is the maximum number of points any side can amass in a 38-game season. Got it? Good. Now to find out who's the best of the best...
13= Sunderland 1892/93 (9.6%)
That’s right, young ones, there was once a time when Sunderland were actually pretty good. The Black Cats topped the Football League – it was just a single division back then – in 1891/92 by a comfortable margin, accumulating five more points than second-placed Preston.
A perfect home record helped Sunderland to their first ever trophy, with all 13 of their matches at Newcastle Road (yes, they really did play at a stadium bearing their arch-rivals’ name) ending in victory. They may have lost five times on the road, but that wasn’t enough to derail Sunderland’s successful title tilt.
13= Man United 2012/13 (9.6%)
The most recent of Manchester United’s 20 titles – and the last of Alex Ferguson’s 13 – was sealed in emphatic fashion, the Red Devils collecting the crown thanks to an 11-point buffer between them and rivals Manchester City.
A shock 1-0 defeat by Norwich saw Ferguson’s men slip to second in November, but they were back on top after beating QPR a week later and didn’t relinquish first place for the remainder of the campaign. Four teams conceded fewer goals than United that year, but none could match the champions’ firepower, with Robin van Persie spearheading an attack which scored 86 goals in 38 games.
13= Arsenal 2003/04 (9.6%)
The only team to go through an entire season undefeated in the Premier League era, Arsenal also won the title by one of the largest margins of all time. Twenty-six wins and 12 draws left Chelsea trailing in Arsene Wenger’s side’s wake, with the Gunners’ London rivals amassing 11 fewer points than the Invincibles.
It could have been even better for Arsenal had they not tailed off in the closing weeks of the campaign, with five draws in their last nine outings denying them a higher placing in this list.
12. Aston Villa 1893/94 (10%)
Aston Villa’s title win in 1893/94 kick-started a period of dominance for the West Midlanders, who would add another four championships to their trophy cabinet in the next six years. Managed by legendary boss George Ramsay, the Villans finished six points clear of Sunderland – a noteworthy margin in the days of 30 games and two points for a win.
Villa won 19 matches that year, while their record of 42 goals conceded was the best in the top flight. They weren’t quite the top scorers, though, curiously pipped by an entertaining Everton outfit who notched 90 but still couldn’t finish higher than sixth.
11. Everton 1984/85 (10.3%)
Few would have imagined Everton ending their 15-year title drought after successive defeats in their opening two games, but Howard Kendall’s men came roaring back to win the championship with a 13-point lead over Liverpool and Tottenham.
The Toffees lost the same amount of matches as the Reds (eight), but 28 wins in 42 encounters was a significantly better record than any other team in the division. Had they not been defeated in their final two meetings with Coventry and Luton, Everton would be even higher in this ranking.
10. Chelsea 2004/05 (10.5%)
Chelsea’s triumphant 2004/05 campaign in Jose Mourinho’s first season at the helm saw them set a Premier League points record which still stands today. The Blues lost only once all season long – a 1-0 reverse against Manchester City in October – as 29 wins and eight draws gave them an unprecedented haul of 95 points.
Chelsea’s success was built on a rock-solid backline which kept 25 clean sheets and shipped only 15 goals in 38 games. Runners-up Arsenal amassed 83 points – the same total as champions Manchester United two years earlier – but still finished 12 adrift of their London rivals.
8= West Brom 1919/20 (10.7%)
No team were able to keep pace with West Brom in 1919/20, as the Baggies won the title in English football’s maiden 42-game campaign, which was also the first to take place after World War One.
Spearheaded by 37-goal hero Fred Morris and featuring the talents of Sid Bowser, Joe Smith and Hubert Pearson, the West Midlanders collected 60 points to finish 11 clear of second-placed Burnley. It remains the only time West Brom have won the top division.
8= Everton 1969/70 (10.7%)
Title tussles in the 1970s tended to be tight and hard-fought, with the winning margins from 1971 onwards as follows: one, one, three, five, two, one, one. Nottingham Forest broke the trend by finishing seven points ahead of Liverpool in 1978, but Everton’s seventh triumph – which drew them level with their neighbours across Stanley Park – was even more impressive.
The Toffees won 29 of their 42 First Division encounters under the guidance of Harry Catterick, racking up 66 points to finish nine clear of defending champions Leeds.
7. Man United 1907/08 (11.8%)
The first of Manchester United’s 20 league titles came in 1907/08, when Ernest Mangnall’s side topped the table with 52 points – nine more than Aston Villa and Manchester City in only the third 38-game, 20-team season.
United came flying out of the blocks at the start of the campaign, winning 13 of their first 14 matches to open up a sizeable lead at the summit. They struggled to maintain their pre-Christmas form in 1908 and ended up losing more games than they won from mid-January onwards, but the Red Devils were already uncatchable at the midway stage of the season.
6. Sheffield Wednesday 1929/30 (11.9%)
Sheffield Wednesday’s fourth and, as of 2017, last title came in the 1929/30 campaign, when a team featuring Harry Burgess and Horace Burrows (pictured) stormed to the prize with a 10-point lead over Derby in second.
The Owls, who had finished on top of the pile the previous season under original name ‘The Wednesday’, won 26 of their 42 games in a 22-team top tier, scoring 105 goals and conceding 57 – comfortably the best attacking and defensive records in the division.
5. Man United 1955/56 (13.1%)
Manchester United fans had to wait four years for their next league championship after scooping the prize in 1952, but their success in 1955/56 was more emphatic than even the most optimistic of supporters could have envisaged.
Matt Busby’s babes accumulated 11 more points than title rivals Bolton and Wolves, with 18 wins in 21 top-flight fixtures at Old Trafford carrying them over the line in first place. United weren’t great on the road, emerging victorious on only seven of 21 occasions, but they were still by far the strongest team in the First Division.
4. Man United 1999/2000 (15.8%)
Manchester United’s treble-winning team of 1998/99 are invariably brought up in conversations about the Premier League’s greatest ever sides, but the following year’s title-winners were considerably more dominant in the top flight.
Indeed, there’s no comparison in terms of margin of victory: whereas Alex Ferguson’s men squeezed past Arsenal by a single point in the former campaign, they finished a remarkable 18 clear of the same challengers in 2000, winning 28 of 38 games and scoring 97 goals along the way.
2= Sunderland 1892/93 (18.3%)
In the first ever 16-team season, Sunderland won their second title in a row by a stonking 11-point margin – the joint-second biggest of all time when measured against the maximum number of points available (60).
The Black Cats scored 100 goals on their way to another championship, triumphing in 22 of 30 matches and losing on just four occasions. Their lead was so large that runners-up Preston were, in terms of points won, closer to 13th place than they were top spot.
2= Aston Villa 1896/97 (18.3%)
Aston Villa’s greatest ever moment came in the 1980s, when they beat Bayern Munich in the European Cup final, but their most successful era in terms of domestic trophies came almost a century earlier. The Birmingham-based outfit won the FA Cup in 1887 and five league titles between 1893 and 1900, with the third of those triumphs the most impressive.
Villa finished 11 points above runners-up Sheffield United in 1896/87, winning 21 and drawing five of their 30 matches to seal the prize in style. Their subsequent defeat of Everton in the FA Cup final meant the Villans became only the second club to win the double.
1. Preston 1888/89 (25%)
English football’s original Invincibles, Preston North End top the charts with a stunning 25% winning margin. The Lilywhites finished 11 points clear of closest challengers Aston Villa, which was particularly impressive given that only 22 games were played and two points was the reward for a victory.
Preston won 18 matches in the First Division that season, with Accrington, Villa, Burnley and Blackburn the only clubs who managed to hold the champions to a draw. They scored a mightily impressive 74 goals – an average of 3.36 per game – and conceded only 15, with five consecutive clean sheets also helping Preston to FA Cup glory.
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