Brazil may be considered the spiritual home of the beautiful game and Germany’s Bayern Munich may be the reigning European champions, but it is England that plays host to the most important football league in the world – the English Premier League (EPL).
It is easy to complain about the EPL, with its constant influx of foreign players to the exclusion of local players, the perceived lack of quality and culture in the games, the enormous player wage bills, and the power of money in the game. However, since the EPL’s launch in 1992, it has grown into an international behemoth of a sporting tournament, with English teams thrust into the international spotlight. In the simplest terms, more people want to watch Premier Leagues games than any other league.
Back in the 1990s, football was already cemented as England’s national sport, but it competed for coverage on the back pages of newspapers with rugby, cricket, and Formula One. Football was the most widely played game, but it was not until the launch of the Premier League that there was a nationwide league of any sport where everyone, almost universally, supported a team.
Today, after 28 years of the EPL, football dominates the back pages of newspapers and online news websites often have “Football” in their menus before “Sport” itself. But how as the league kept the world’s interest for nearly three decades?
Manchester United are the most successful club in the EPL era and have the biggest following in the world
Since 1992, Manchester’s Red Devils have brought the domestic trophy home 13 times. Every single one of them has their legendary manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, at the wheel, and this success has brought worldwide recognition – United have the most fans in the world.
Sir Alex was the longest-serving manager in the history of the competition so far, managing a unique club for 27 years, and his retirement has been felt by fans. Over the last seven seasons, it is the Manchester United’s rivals Manchester City that have dominated the top of the table, taking home the trophy three times.
In absolute numbers, Manchester United have won nearly half (46%) of the Premier League seasons so far. Besides them, only Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City, Blackburn Rovers, Leicester City, and most recently Liverpool have managed to win the toughest league in the world.
Only three clubs have successfully defended the Premier League title
Despite only seven clubs winning the Premier League thus far, only three of them have managed to defend a Premier League title: Manchester United, Chelsea, and Manchester City. Manchester United have retained the trophy twice, while Chelsea and Man City have done so once each.
Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool could complete the top four on this list, but the start of the 20/21 season has not been kind to the Reds, with the team suffering a number of injuries early on. And the fact that so few teams have managed to defend the title demonstrates how open the league is and why it remains so exciting for fans – anyone can win, as proved by Leicester City’s dramatic title victory in 2016.
One ‘Golden Trophy’
Only one club has managed to bag a golden Premier League trophy. In the 2003/04 season, Arsenal spent the whole tournament, 38 Premier League fixtures, unbeaten. As a reward for their achievement, the North London club were given a Golden Premier League trophy to mark and symbolise their unique success.
The Gunners did draw nearly a third of their fixtures during the season under the guidance of Frenchman Arsene Wenger, but no other club has yet managed to equal their feat and the 2003/4 Arsenal team remain known as “The Invincibles”. The closest any side has come to the record was last season when Liverpool went 30 matches without a loss, but eventually tripped up against relegated side Watford to put the record out of reach.
Interestingly, despite their golden trophy win, Arsenal do not currently hold the title for the most points cored in a domestic 38-match season, as Manchester City became the first team to surpass 100 points during the 2017/18 season compared to Arsenal’s 90 point haul in 2003/4.
Could 2020/21 be the season that sees Liverpool retaining the title for the first time or a club finally joining Arsenal with an unbeaten run?