Does a best Premier League season start always guarantee success in the rest of the season?
Back in the early 2000s, it was said that if a team that was competing for the league title had a good January then they would go on to win the league. But as the Premier League got more competitive it was clearly apparent that any team with title winning aspirations, had to win every point they could and having a best premier league season start was a key part of that.
Having a best Premier League season start guarantees a team, the sort of mental edge that is needed when the eventual tougher days around Winter come. especially in a league like the Premier League where the teams' schedules are packed with games and that can affect the results in a negative way and by having a good start it can soften the blow of those negative results. But all of this is speculation and hearsay, let us look at the facts and find out for ourselves, shall we?!
In recent years, Premier League winners have been consistently winning 95+ points and they almost always have good starts to the season. But does having a best start to Premier League season actually result in that team winning the league? Let’s find out:
We start our list with a team who in fact didn’t win the Premier League despite having one of the best ever Premier League starts. The immensity of Newcastle’s failure in the 95-96 season is one of the most famous stories in EPL history and it’s a story no team or manager wants to have it happen to them.
In the mid-90s Manchester United were dominant in the EPL, winning it almost every year, but in the summer of 1995 and with an investment of £16m in the transfer market, Newcastle United wanted to challenge the Red Devils for the title. They bought players like Ginola, Les Ferdinand and Shaka Hislop to help them achieve this goal.
Under the management of Kevin Keegan, Newcastle had their best Premier League season start ever and successfully challenged Manchester United for the title, losing only once in their first 15 games and being 12 points ahead of United in January but they ended up having one of the biggest breakdowns in modern football as they eventually lost the title to Manchester United, going from 12 points ahead of United to 4 points behind them by the last week.
Much of their famous capitulation is attributed to the mind games that Sir Alex Ferguson played on Keegan and Newcastle players, by predicting that their last opponents (Like Leeds and Forest) won’t perform against Newcastle and will let them win, which pissed off Keegan to no end, and Keegan ended up appearing unhinged on Skysports ranting about Ferguson, mostly complaining that Ferguson's comments only made those team play even more harder against Newcastle and that this was dirty tactics by Ferguson.
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The first of three appearances for the Manchester Blues was also one of the best EPL season start of all time. It was a season that the Premier League title was always going toend up in the city of Manchester, although the colors of the team that won it were undecided until the very last minute of the last game of the league.
Finally, after being bought by Abu Dhabi United Group in 2008 and being invested on heavily, all the pieces of the puzzle came together for Manchester City as they brought in the Argentinian Wonderkid Sergio Aguero, who would later become their greatest goal scorer and player of all time.
Despite Manchester City having one the best Premier League season starts the title chase was very close as United also had one of their best Premier League starts to a season, gathering 36 points after 15 games and only being 2 points behind City. Manchester City though was blowing teams away by sheer amount of goals, in fact they have the best scoring record among the teams that are on this list. City didn’t lose a game until the 15th match day. The title chase was undecided until the last match day of the season. It’s worth mentioning that City had a memorable Premier League opening day as they managed to beat Swansea 4-0.
On the last day of the league, Manchester United faced Sunderland and Manchester City was to face QPR. The two Manchester teams both went to the game having won 28 games and drawn 5, with an equal points tally of 86. While everything was going smoothly for United, City were struggling against QPR being 2-1 down against a 10-man QPR until the 90th minute of the game. United won their game and Sir Alex and the players were celebrating being champions.
But Manchester City had another thing in mind as Dzeko scored to level the game in 92nd minute of the game. Two minutes later though Sergio Aguero became the man of the hour as he scored on 94th minute and just before the final whistle of the game, taking Manchester City above United on the table and making them league champions after a 44 year wait. Making the 2011-12 season the only Premier League season to be decided on goal differences rather than the points.
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Another great team with one of the best Premier League season starts that didn’t end up winning the EPL. Klopp’s Liverpool consistently got better until the 2017-18 season where they managed to be Champions League finalists. Although they lost the final to Real Madrid 3-1, they were ready to challenge for the Premier League in 2018-19 season and they started with a bang.
This was Liverpool best start to a season in the Premier League era and Liverpool fans were hopeful of finally winning the league after nearly 3 decades. Liverpool’s manager, Jurgen Klopp, knew that he had a monumentous task of undertaking Manchester City in front of him and he knew that every point counted.
Amazingly Liverpool only lost once this season and that was a 2-1 defeat against the would-be champions Manchester City, who also had one of their best ever Premier League starts. Despite Manchester City having more losses than Liverpool, 4 matches lost, City were champions because they drew only 2 matches but Liverpool drew 7 of their matches. The title was decided on the last day of the season where Manchester City accumulated 98 points and Liverpool managed 97 points, losing the winners medal by a point.
But this was far from disappointment as Liverpool managed a back to back UCL final appearance and remedied their previous season’s loss, by having an easy 2-0 win against Tottenham and being crowned Champions of Europe. Even though Liverpool came short of winning the EPL, everybody knew that they would only get better and they proved it by breaking their best EPL season start of all time record the following year.
On the back of winning the first Premier League title ever in 1992-93 season and the end of their 26-year drought of no league titles, Manchester United and their manager Alex Ferguson were hoping to repeat that success once again. This is arguably the best example of a good start to a season that secured the title for a team, because after United’s great start they had a run of numerous draws but still managed to win the Premier League comfortably as they were only defeated twice in the first 34 matches of the season. It is to be noted that back then the Premier League was comprised of 22 teams and had 42 matches.
The squad that had the best Premier League Season start for Manchester United in 1993-94 was already a decent squad from winning the League the year before, but one key addition to the team saw them get even stronger and that was the addition of the Irish midfielder, Roy Keane, who came to United with a national record of £3.75 million. Roy Keane would go on to more than justify that transfer fee.
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Besides Keane players like Eric Cantona, Ryan Giggs, Lee Sharpe and Mark Hughes all contributed to United Premier League and their goals were crucial in what would be the best EPL season start of all time for more than 10 years, a record that Manchester United haven’t beaten yet.
Although Manchester United looked shaky in certain parts of the season, they did manage to win the Premier League in the end by a landslide. Their closes rival that season was Blackburn Rovers who had Dalglish in the managerial position and Alan Shearer up front as the striker. Blackburn’s heartache of not winning the league would not last long as they would become champions the season after.
What is it with Jose Mourinho and second seasons?! Because he always improves the team he is managing quite significantly the second season he is in charge of that club. Chelsea were not an exception to that rule as they won their first 9 games in a row and managed to win 20 of their first 22 games that season. a record that until recently was the best Premier League Start to a season and it is still Chelsea’s best start to a season.
This season marked Chelsea’s 100th year as a club, a relatively young club by English standards, and although they were always considered a small club, Roman Abramovic had different ambitions for the club and more importantly the investment he made on the club. Hiring a really ambitious coach was part of that, as Mourinho proved perfect for the club as Moruinho managed to win the League in 2004-05 season with 95 points.
Mourinho’s Chelsea aimed to repeat or better that record but despite having their best Premier League season start to date, they missed on topping that record by finishing the season with 91 points. Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba were once again the main men at the club when it came to goal scoring but they were also joined by Hernan Crespo. It is worth mentioning that the addition of Micheal Essien in the summer transfer window really boosted Chelsea’s defensive work as the Ivorian would later go on to be one of Chelsea’s best players ever.
It is important that we remember how impressive a season start this was, because until the recent emergence of Liverpool and Manchester City that have taken the competitiveness of the Premier League to a whole other level, the 2005-06 Chelsea team and their best Premier League start of all time was a standard that every team wanted to reach and failed to and that will be a part of Jose Mourinho’s legacy at Chelsea.
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During the 2017-18 Premier League campaign, Pep Guardiola always talked about Liverpool giving him sleepless nights, although Liverpool didn’t mount any serious challenge to City Centurions but it was apparent that Liverpool was aiming to win the Premier League and Manchester City needed to have their best Premier League season start ever to prevent Liverpool from achieving their dream.
City failed to match their best ever Premier League start, a record they set during the 2017-18 season, and Liverpool had a great start of their own, leaving the two teams only 2 points apart after 15 games. Their close race of winning the Premier League would intensify even more as City lost 3 of their 5 next league matches against Chelsea, Crystal Palace and Leicester.
Threatened with losing the title race, Manchester City went on to win 17 of their next 18 matches and in the end become back to back winners of the Premier League. Their rivals Liverpool despite losing only one match drew 7 other matches and that was their downfall in the title race. Manchester City failed to reach their 100-points tally of the previous season and ended up winning the league with 98 points, only a point above Liverpool.
Having squad depth is always important if a team wants to have the best start to Premier League and arguably there is no better squad than Manchester City, by having world class players even on the bench. Nonetheless when it came to the players who helped them in winning the League, Sergio Aguero was City’s main man again, as his goals won them a lot of points. Apart from Aguero, players like Ederson, Laporte, Fernandinho, Bernardo Silva and Raheem Sterling, all proved vital in City’s achievements, all of whom were also present in the Premier League Team of the Year.
So this record is a fresh one but will no doubt live in infamy. It may also deserve to be the best Premier League start ever, but it comes 2nd only because of the goal differences. As was apparent in the 2018-19 season, Liverpool was always going to challenge for the Premier League in the 2019-20 and the signs were there that they could actually win it this time and end their 30 year wait for a league trophy.
To achieve that dream they required to have a strong start to their season, and arguably they had the best EPL season start of all time. This is perhaps the strongest start to a season of football in recent memory, as Liverpool won 26 of the first 27 games of the season, only drawing once, in a 1-1 game against Manchester United.
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Liverpool had a relatively smooth road to winning the 2019-20 Premier League title, with Manchester City failing to mount a serious challenge as their squad were weak defensively and Guardiola’s team lacked focus and consistency throughout the season.
But manager Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool were hungry, as were their fans, to win the league and win it in style. So they built on one of the best ever Premier League starts and went on win it in the end. Though they failed to beat Arsenal’s Invincibles record of being unbeaten throughout the season, as they were beaten by the relegation side Watford first and then after the Restart were dismantled by Manchester City in a 4-0 loss.
Despite their early promise by having the best Premier League season start of all time, Liverpool’s European and cup campaigns were quite underwhelming as they came short of reaching any finals in FA Cup, League Cup or Champions League competitions but winning the League was sweet enough for any Liverpool fan to forget all those cup defeats. But no matter the defeats in the cups, Liverpool were crowned the Champions by 99 points, just 1 point short of City’s Centurions record, and it’s the trophies you win that matter the most and to every Liverpool fan in 2019-20 season no trophy mattered more than the Premier League!
One of the greatest teams in English football history, Pep Guardiola's Manchester City blew teams away with their dominant football and were great all throughout the season, as well as having one the best Premier League season start ever.
Manchester City’s best start to a season started with 14 games and a draw in their first 15 matches but their record got extended even further as they won 20 of their first 22 matches without losing even once. In fact, they would only lose twice this season, albeit to bitter rivals Liverpool and Manchester United.
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As said earlier Manchester City’s 2017-18 season not only had the best Premier League season start of all time but it was great all over, landing them a number of impressive Premier League records. These records include: the most amount of points (100), most away points (50), most points ahead of second (19), most wins (32), most away wins (16), most goals scored (106), best goal difference (+79) and most consecutive victories (18).
This was all thanks to manager Pep Guardiola’s interpretation of Total Football and his possession based tactics but he could never have achieved such success without the proper squad to help him. City already had a great squad but Pep Guardiola made sure that he had everyone he needed as Manchester City spent £267.3 million bringing in players, mostly defenders as Guardiola saw that as a point of weakness in his team.
Although for much of the season Manchester United was breathing down their necks, with 14 wins and a draw, Manchester City was off to the best Premier League season start ever recorded and they didn't slow down anytime during the season. Mourinho's United however managed to put on a show and defeat the would be champions but even that was not enough to stop City from being champions of the Premier League.
Perhaps the most important achievement of the season, besides having the all-time best Premier League season start, was their point tally as they beat Southampton in the final match week of the season and became the first team to record 100 points in a Premier League season. Because of this achievement they would be dubbed The Centurions. Manchester City was just a draw away from winning every match of their opening 15 games and unless a team can have a perfect run of 15 consecutive wins then no team can match Manchester City's best season start ever and if they do, then they will surely have a tougher time breaking their 100-points record.