Manchester City amongst the best Premier League sides of all time

Pep Guardiola's Manchester City team will go down in history. Jon Mackenzie selects five other great Premier League sides.


Eleven games into the season and Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City are already eight points clear at the top of the Premier League. 

For a manager who made the Champions League into a one-horse race at Barcelona and the Bundesliga a one-horse race at Bayern, the Catalan manager is fast making the Premier League into a one-horse race.

And it’s not hard to see why. A brief perusal across the field during a Manchester City game and you see individuals in every position who go some way towards explaining how the Citizen’s have come so close to perfection this season.

If things continue as they are, there is every chance that this Manchester City side will go down in the annals of Premier League history. Jon Mackenzie picks out five other great Premier League teams who now find City in their illustrious company.

  1. 1 Blackburn Rovers 1994/95


    In the third season of the Premier League, the competition was won by a Blackburn Rovers side who remain one of only six clubs to win the title across its 25-year history.

    Having been bankrolled by local business magnate, Jack Walker, Kenny Dalglish's side played a classic brand of English football which relied on direct wingers finding themselves in advanced positions before firing balls into one of the Premier League's most prolific striking combinations: Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton.

    The team itself featured a number of household names: Henning Berg and Graeme Le Saux in the fullback areas alongside Colin Hendry in defence all of whom played behind the later-infamous Tim Sherwood who captained the side. 

    Given the fairly one-dimensional nature of Blackburn's approach, by the end of the season, they had started to be found out by teams and crawled over the line having lost three of the last six games, only beating Manchester United to the title by one point.

    Perhaps not the best Premier League team of all time in terms of personnel, it was certainly one of the most memorable.


  2. 2 Manchester United 1998/99


    Arguably the greatest Premier League team in history, Sir Alex Ferguson's Manchester United picked up not just the league title but the FA Cup and the Champions League in the process to make up a never-again-matched treble.

    So often doing it in style, this Manchester United team left it until late in the Champions League final, relying on goals from Teddy Sheringham and super-sub Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in the dying minutes of the game to defeat Bayern Munich in Camp Nou.

    Similar to the Blackburn Rovers team who proceeded them, this Manchester United played a dynamic brand of football that relied on two creative wide players feeding into a prolific forward pairing. Supported by a tenacious midfield partnership of Roy Keane and Paul Scholes or Nicky Butt, this was an attack to be feared and it was feared by clubs around Europe.

    Defensively, the team was equally impressive. Captain Peter Schmeichel imperious in goal, marshalled a defence consisting of Jaap Stam, Gary Neville, Ronny Johnsen and Denis Irwin.

    The only disappointment that season came at the hands of Tottenham Hotspur who dumped the otherwise-flawless United out of the League Cup with a 3-1 win at White Hart Lane. 


  3. 3 Arsenal 2003/04


    In 2004, Arsenal won the Premier League having gone unbeaten through the whole season, a feat which hadn't been achieved for 115 years. In response to this victory, the News of the World branded the team 'Immortals' while The Sunday Times ran the headline 'Arsenal the New Invincibles'. Since then, the team have been commonly known as 'The Invincibles'.

    Much of the success of that team came down to one man: their French manager Arsene Wenger. Bringing exotic management ideas from around the world, Wenger was often met with raised eyebrows by those within the British footballing world. What he also brought, though, were good results and soon it became impossible to ignore the man known affectionately as 'The Professor'.

    The Invincibles team melded together steel and finesse into an often-breathtaking amalgam. With Patrick Viera, Gilberto Silva and Sol Campbell given the side a solid backbone, players with more finesse, like Robert Pires, Freddy Ljungberg, Dennis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry were able to ply their trade with relative ease.

    Whilst this was a heady time for Arsenal and their manager, though, there were already indications of an impending future. As Glenn Moore of The Independent wrote: "There may... have been some truth in Arsène Wenger's declaration that Arsenal's achievement was a greater triumph than winning the Champions' League. Arsenal's prolonged celebrations reflected the scale of this landmark and yet, when they reflect in the summer break, how many players will agree with Wenger?"


  4. 4 Chelsea 2004/05


    At the beginning of the 2004/05 season, a new manager had recently arrived at Chelsea Football Club having just won the Champions League with Portuguese side Porto. Nine months later and Chelsea had finished the season top of the table with points total of 95: a record which has not been beaten since.

    That man was, of course, Jose Mourinho and, since that time, he has gone on to win titles with clubs around Europe. That season, though, was remarkable: not least because the young manager came into a club recently bought by oligarch Roman Abramovich and immediately took them to the top of English football's top table.

    Mourinho's team featured a mixing of continental and English talent. It was in this team that Frank Lampard really made a name for himself, alongside compatriots Ashley Cole and John Terry.  

    Elsewhere, the likes of Arjen Robben, Eidur Gudjohnsen, William Gallas and Claude Makelele brought a European flavour into the side and were fundamental to everything Chelsea did that year. Arjen Robben, in particular, sparkled and he still retains the highest win percentage for any player playing in over 50 Premier League games.

    

  5. 5 Leicester City 2015/16


    If you were to happen upon the Premier League in the 2015/16 season, you might be forgiven for thinking the phrase 'fairy-tale' was exclusively reserved for Leicester City. 

    And yet it isn't hard to see why they were so often described as such. The season earlier, Nigel Pearson had managed a Great Escape from the relegation zone before being promptly sacked and replaced by the Tinkerman, Claudio Ranieri.

    Very quickly after the season began, Leicester found themselves top of the table playing a seemingly-hackneyed 4-4-2 that teams struggled to come to terms with in the early part of the season. 

    Playing the lightning-quick Jamie Vardy up front supplied by the mercurial Riyad Mahrez and the remarkably functional Marc Albrighton, Ranieri was able to play a two-man midfield because one of those men was N'Golo Kante who reinvented the holding central midfielder role within the course of the season.

    By the second half of the season, many teams had worked Leicester City out but a series of 1-0 wins got them over the line. Lifting the Premier League trophy at home against Everton, the match was preceded by an Andrea Bocelli rendition of Nessun Dorma - a fitting ending to what is surely the most remarkable season in Premier League history. 


    Who are we missing? Let us know in the comments section below

  1. Which of these teams is the greatest?

    1. Manchester City 2017/18
    2. Leicester City 2015/16
    3. Chelsea 2004/05
    4. Arsenal 2003/04
    5. Manchester United 1998/99
    6. Blackburn Rovers 1994/95
    163 votes
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Jon Mackenzie

Jon Mackenzie is the Football Editor at RealSport.

Regularly appearing on talkSPORT radio, his work has also featured in The Economist, The Blizzard, Tifo Football and on the Futbolgrad Network.

A UEFA and Premier League-accredited journalist, Jon also founded A Team of John O'Sheas podcast and hosts it every week.

Follow him on Twitter @Jon_Mackenzie

 

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