Three Unlikely Premier League Champions
May 20, 2016
So it is official. Not only have Leicester shocked the world by winning their inaugural Premier League title, but the club has also succeeded by a landslide and finished 10 points clear of their nearest rivals.
While this undoubtedly ranks as the single biggest shock in the league’s history, it is fair to say that Leicester are not the only team to lift the title against the odds.
In fact, a number of sides have secured the title in oppressive circumstances, leading to some of the most memorable title races in history. Here are some of the biggest EPL winner upsets…
Manchester United overhaul Newcastle, 1996
In the summer of 1995, Sir Alex Ferguson ripped the heart out of his double winning team by selling Mark Hughes, Paul Ince and Andrei Kanchelskis. He subsequently blooded a host of youth players at the beginning of the new season, before his fresh and new-look United side were humbled 3-1 at Aston Villa on the opening day.
United were never going to win it with kids, and with Kevin Keegan’s swaggering Newcastle side subsequently opened up a 12 point lead at the top of the table by the end of January it looked incredibly unlikely. United’s youngsters began to find their feet, however, while returning talisman Eric Cantona fired a host of crucial goals (including the winner at St. James Park) to secure the Reds’ third Premier League title in four years and trigger a famous Kevin Keegan meltdown.
Arsenal Pip Manchester United, 1998
In March 1998, Phil Neville’s goal secured Manchester United a 1-0 win at Chelsea to move the Reds 11 points clear of Arsenal at the top. While the Gunners had a game in hand, some bookmakers chose to pay out on a United title win and stopped taking bets on the outcome.
Arsenal went on a stunning run of victories at the end of the season however, gradually closing the gap as United stuttered. A 1-0 win for the Gunners at Old Trafford proved crucial, while Ferguson’s men also dropped crucial points in 1-1 draws at home against Liverpool and Wimbledon. Arsenal eventually won the league by a point and secured Arsene Wenger’s first English title.
Blackburn Rovers break the mould in 1995
Under the expert guidance of Kenny Dalglish, Blackburn Rovers earned promotion to the newly formed Premier League in 1992 before claiming an impressive fourth place finish the following year. On the back of huge investment and the signing of star strikers Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton, Rovers finished runners-up in 1994 before edging out Manchester United and winning the league the following season.
While Rovers had funds, the fact that they managed to spend wisely and compete with the global appeal of clubs such as Manchester United and Liverpool was impressive in the extreme. Rovers’ strength under pressure was also to be admired, as they held their nerve under a United onslaught to win one of the more unlikely Premier League titles.