2004-2005: The Special One storms it
|Champions||Chelsea||Biggest Win||Arsenal 7-0 Everton|
|Runners-Up||Arsenal||Highest Scoring Game||Tottenham Hotspur 4-5 Arsenal|
|Third Place||Manchester United||Top Goalscorer||Thierry Henry (25)|
|Relegated||Crystal Palace, Norwich City, Southampton||Goals Scored||975|
As soon as Jose Mourinho walked into Stamford Bridge, you could sense he was mighty confident. At his unveiling as Chelsea manager, he said: “We have top players and I don’t want to be arrogant, but we have a top manager. I am a European champion. I think I am the special one!”
If 2003-2004 belonged to Arsenal, 2004-2005 most definitely belonged to Chelsea. They achieved a new points record total of 95 in a 38-game season and lost just once – 1-0 to Manchester City in mid-October. In April 2005, Frank Lampard’s double in a 2-0 triumph at Bolton’s Reebok Stadium secured Chelsea their first league title in 50 years. A week later, John Terry hoisted the Premier League trophy aloft at Stamford Bridge. Mourinho had immediately turned his team into champions.
Arsenal started the season in devastating fashion, scoring goals for fun. They surpassed Nottingham Forest’s all-time record of 42 games unbeaten in English football when they dismissed Blackburn Rovers 3-0 in August. They reached 49 games before finally losing out at Old Trafford to Manchester United.
It was another bad-tempered game, coming just 13 months after eight players had been charged by the FA for a fracas after the full-time whistle. Ruud van Nistelrooy was charged for a stamp on Ashley Cole but the Dutchman eliminated the ghosts of his penalty miss from the previous season with the opening goal of the contest. Wayne Rooney’s first Premier League goal for United following his summer move from Everton secured the points. Afterwards, another scrap happened in the tunnel, with pizza being thrown at Ferguson from an unidentified Arsenal player in what later became known as “Pizzagate!”
Neither Arsenal, nor Manchester United launched a serious title tilt on Chelsea. The Gunners finished distant runners-up but did put in the best league performance of the season, thrashing Everton 7-0 in May, before winning the FA Cup on penalties against the Red Devils. Despite that late-season battering at Highbury, David Moyes achieved amazing things at Goodison Park. Rooney was sold and boardroom battles in the close season had many tipping Everton for relegation. They defied the odds to finish in the top four and finish above Merseyside rivals Liverpool FC in the league for the first time since 1987. Rafa Benitez’s first season at Anfield ended with a historic night in Istanbul as the Reds’ came back from 3-0 down at half-time to defeat AC Milan on penalties and be crowned Champions of Europe for a fifth time. Injuries and inconsistent form restricted them to fifth in the league.
The main drama came at the bottom of the table. For the first time in Premier League history, all three relegation spots were undecided going into the final day. Four teams were in the scrap; Norwich City, Crystal Palace, Southampton and West Bromwich Albion. Norwich had their destiny in their own hands but a 6-0 thumping at Fulham sealed their demise. Southampton also went down after a home defeat to Manchester United – Harry Redknapp’s first Premier League relegation. A late Jonathan Fortune equaliser denied Crystal Palace all three points at The Valley, so that meant West Brom’s 2-0 triumph at home to Portsmouth saw them escape the drop. They became the first team in Premier League history to be bottom on Christmas Day and survive relegation.
2004-2005 was the season when the men from the Kings Road in west London became the Kings of English football.