2005-2006: Back-to-back glory for Chelsea
|Champions||Chelsea||Biggest Win||Arsenal 7-0 Middlesbrough|
|Runners-Up||Manchester United||Highest Scoring Game||Charlton Athletic 2-5 Manchester City|
|Third Place||Liverpool FC||Top Goalscorer||Thierry Henry (27)|
|Relegated||Birmingham City, West Bromwich Albion, Sunderland||Goals Scored||944|
Chelsea were keen to prove that they were not only London’s most serious challengers, they were planning to dominate English football like Manchester United had in the 1990s. In 2005-2006, they made it back-to-back titles.
For the second successive season, no team could offer a severe title threat to Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea, who began the season with nine successive victories and didn’t concede a goal until Luke Moore of Aston Villa pierced their defence in game seven. They stretched an unbeaten Premier League run to 40 games before losing 1-0 to Manchester United in November.
Mourinho’s side would get the sweetest revenge though. A 3-0 win on the penultimate weekend of the season finally ended any mathematical threat from the Red Devils but in truth, Chelsea’s lead was only smaller than six points on one weekend from mid-September onwards.
It was a turbulent season at Old Trafford. They mourned the death of the legendary George Best, saw the abrupt departure of Roy Keane and crashed out of the UEFA Champions League before Christmas. Nevertheless, Sir Alex Ferguson’s side did finish runners-up and won the League Cup.
Liverpool FC produced 10-game and nine-game winning sequences during the campaign as they finished a close third. Rafa Benitez’s team were hindered by a slow start, which saw them only 13th at the end of October. It also saw the return of Robbie Fowler to the club in January in a sentimental deal but he did enough to earn another 12 months on Merseyside. Steven Gerrard was crowned PFA Players’ Player of the Year and his epic performance in Cardiff saw the Reds’ win a dramatic FA Cup final.
The battle for fourth spot was between the two north London clubs. Tottenham Hotspur had their strongest campaign to-date and had the destiny in their hands going into the final weekend. Then, a mysterious stomach virus hurt their preparations and they went down 2-1 at Upton Park against West Ham United. This opened the door for Arsenal. Thierry Henry scored a final day hat-trick on the final day of football at Highbury. Wigan Athletic were vanquished 4-2 and Tottenham were beaten to fourth spot by their deadliest rivals. It was a fitting chapter to the end of life at Highbury, with the Gunners’ moving into the Emirates Stadium for the following season.
Although they dropped to mid-table by the season’s end, Wigan Athletic’s maiden season at this level was a huge success. They were second in mid-November and reached the League Cup final. Another achievement came at Blackburn Rovers as Mark Hughes guided them to an impressive top-six finish.
It was a terrible year for the Midlands. West Bromwich Albion and Birmingham City were both relegated and Aston Villa finished 16th, costing David O’Leary his job. Sunderland amassed just 15 points to beat their own record as the worst side ever to play in the Premier League. Harry Redknapp returned to Portsmouth after his ill-fated Southampton spell in December, got seven wins from their last 10 matches and kept Pompey in the top-flight when they looked doomed months earlier.
Chelsea had sustained their success in 2005-2006. The question now was, were they about to dominate the Premier League?