Winning the Premier League title is the ultimate accolade for England’s leading sides, but a wider perception of greatness if often believed to be a team’s ability to defend their crown.
Throughout the history of the division there has only been six occasions of a club successfully defending the title, an indication of the difficulty in winning the Premier League in back-to-back seasons.
We’ve decided to revisit the sides to have achieved the feat, remembering the six times clubs have successfully defended the Premier League title:
Manchester United – 1992/93 & 1993/94
Sir Alex Ferguson led Manchester United to a first league title in more than two decades during the inaugural season of the Premier League, before establishing the club as the dominant force in English football with back-to-back successes the following year.
The first season of the rebranded top tier saw the Red Devils recover from an indifferent start – Ferguson’s side were as low as eighth in late November – to overcome the challenge of Aston Villa and Norwich to be crowned champions, the mid-season arrival of Eric Cantona from Leeds proving the catalyst for the club’s success.
The following campaign saw United finish eight points clear of nearest challengers Blackburn, leading for much of the season as Ferguson guided the club to a first ever domestic double.
Cantona finished as the club’s leading goalscorer with 18 goals to be named as the PFA Player’s Player of the Year, the Frenchman also named in the PFA Team of the Year alongside United teammates Paul Ince, Denis Irwin and Gary Pallister.
Manchester United – 1995/96 & 1996/97
Having lost their top flight crown to a Blackburn side backed by the millions of Jack Walker, many doubted Ferguson’s wisdom in selling the experienced trio of Paul Ince, Mark Hughes and Andrei Kanchelskis ahead of the 1995/96 season.
An opening day defeat to Aston Villa – who would emerge as early title contenders – prompted Alan Hansen’s immortal ‘You can’t win anything with kids’ comments as Ferguson placed his faith in youth, trust that would prove vindicated as United secured a third Premier League title at the end of the season.
That season saw the club’s famed ‘Class of 92’ come to the forefront, as United overturned a 12-point deficit to runaway leaders Newcastle to seal the title before completing a second domestic double.
Established firmly as the dominant force in English football, Ferguson’s side once again finished clear of Newcastle the following season to win a fourth title in five seasons, finishing seven points clear of Kevin Keegan’s Magpies to make it back-to-back Premier League crowns.
Manchester United – 1998/99, 1999/00 & 2000/01
After seeing off challenges from Blackburn and Newcastle to assume dominance in England’s top tier, Manchester United came under new threat following Arsene Wenger’s arrival at Arsenal, the Frenchman guiding the north London side to a domestic double during the 1997/98 campaign.
Ferguson’s team responded, however, with the greatest season in the club’s long and illustrious history. United lost just four games in all competitions to claim a historic treble of Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup, becoming the first – and so far only – English side to achieve the feat.
The following season saw the club dominate the domestic game once more to win back-to-back titles, retaining the Premier League with a record winning margin and record 97 goals scored – finishing a huge 18 points clear of runners-up Arsenal.
Ferguson became the first ever manager to win three successive league titles during the 2000/01 season, United again finishing comfortably clear of the second-placed Gunners to complete a historic three-peat.
Chelsea – 2004/05 & 2005/06
Jose Mourinho swaggered into Stamford Bridge in 2004 and immediately announced himself as the ‘Special One’, and the early seasons of his Chelsea reign certainly added weight to his somewhat egotistical declarations.
Backed by the billions of Roman Abramovich, the west London side spent lavishly to become Premier League contenders, ending a 50-year wait for a league title during a memorable 2004/05 campaign.
That season saw the Blues lose just one game all season and concede a record low of 15 goals, with key figures John Terry and Frank Lampard claiming the PFA Player’s Player of the Year and FWA Footballer of the Year awards respectively.
The following season saw Chelsea reassert their position as the Premier League’s finest team, winning their first nine fixtures in succession and 17 of their opening 19 to open up an insurmountable lead at the top.
Mourinho’s side finished the season nine points clear of Manchester United and with an undefeated record at Stamford Bridge.
Manchester United – 2006/07, 2007/08 & 2008/09
The only team of the Premier League era to win the title thrice in a row, Manchester United have achieved the feat on two different occasions under the guidance of the aforementioned Ferguson.
United’s second triple success in English football came after a title-absence of three seasons, bouncing back in spectacular style with an emerging Cristiano Ronaldo the star of the club’s triumphs.
Ronaldo won a host of individual accolades as United won the first of their hat-trick of titles in 2007, before enjoying the best season of his career in England the following campaign, scoring 42-goals in all competitions to fire Ferguson’s side to a Premier League and Champions League double.
Winner of the Ballon d’Or for the first time later that year, Ronaldo formed a devastating partnership with Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez in attack – the trio propelling Ferguson’s side to a history-making third consecutive league title in 2009.
Manchester City – 2017/18 & 2018/19
The most recent inclusion on this list is Pep Guardiola’s all-conquering Manchester City side, a team which has broken a whole host of divisional records on their way to back-to-back titles and an unprecedented domestic treble.
Guardiola’s first Premier League crown came after a record-breaking 100 point season, becoming the first side in the history of England’s top flight to reach a century of points and setting new landmarks for most wins (32), most goals scored (106), most consecutive wins (18) and biggest winning margin (19 points).
Last season saw City once again crowned champions, though they were pushed all the way to the final day of the season by a Liverpool team that finished with a record points total for a runners-up finish.
City finished the season with 14 consecutive victories to finish a point ahead of their Merseyside rivals on 98 points, becoming the sixth team in Premier League era to retain the title and achieving the feat for the first time in the club’s history.