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Five of the best teams not to win the Premier League

English football’s top division is often heralded as the most competitive of Europe’s major leagues, with several sides capable of challenging and upsets throughout the season.

Such is the competitiveness of the Premier League, that there have been many talented sides who have contested the title before falling just short.

We’ve decided to look back at some of the best teams to have come close without success, though teams who secured the title in the seasons immediately before or after have not been included.


Here are five of the best teams not to win the Premier League.

Newcastle – 1995/96

Perhaps the most famous nearly men of the Premier League era, Newcastle’s collapse during the 1995/96 season is the stuff of legend as Kevin Keegan’s Entertainers raced out of the traps before stuttering in costly fashion towards the finish line.

Newcastle had gained momentum since winning promotion to the Premier League ahead of the 1993/94 season, securing two successive top six finishes before bolstering the squad with the signings of Les Ferdinand and David Ginola amongst others.

The Magpies started brilliantly with nine wins from their opening 10 fixtures and their attacking style won plenty of plaudits, Ginola mesmeric on occasion on the flanks and the goalscoring prowess of Ferdinand supplemented by the talents of Peter Beardsley.

Keegan’s side lined up in a forward-thinking 4-4-2 with out-and-out wingers either side, though for all the nostalgia of their gung-ho approach scored just 66 goals for the season – over a third of which came through PFA Player of the Year, Ferdinand.

They were, however, a fascinating watch and didn’t play in a single goalless draw throughout the campaign, but a wobble through February and March – coupled with a lack of title-winning experience – saw Manchester United come back from the brink to win the title.

Unable to find consistency away from home Newcastle finished the season in second, before securing a runners-up finish once again the following season despite the world-record arrival of Alan Shearer from Blackburn.

It was as close as the club have come to winning a first league title since 1927 and the Magpies’ wait for a major trophy has since extended to 66 years.

Leeds – 2001/02

The inclusion of a side that finished the Premier League season in fifth may come as a surprise to some, but Leeds’ team of the early 2000s was one of the division’s best not to secure silverware.

David O’Leary’s arrival had seen a youthful side begin to make an impression both at home and in Europe across the turn of the millennium, finishing third in 1999/2000 before reaching the semi-finals of the Champions League the following season.

Leeds headed into the 2001/02 season amongst the favourites for the title and began the season strongly, starting the season with an 11-game unbeaten run to take an early lead in the title race.

Leeds possessed a fine range of attacking options with leading scorer Mark Viduka supported by Harry Kewell, Robbie Keane and Alan Smith, before the signing of Robbie Fowler from Liverpool further bolstered the firepower available at Elland Road.

Nigel Martyn, Danny Mills and Rio Ferdinand all earned a place in the England squad for the World Cup at the end of the campaign, highlighting the quality of a team whose season unravelled following the turn of the New Year.

Leeds were top as 2002 was ushered in after beating West Ham 3-0 on New Year’s Day, before failing to win in their next seven as the wheels began to fall off in dramatic style.

Despite regrouping the side failed to secure Champions League football for a second successive season, a catastrophic scenario as financial turmoil later saw Leeds’ best side of the Premier League era disbanded.

Arsenal – 2007/08

Another side who saw a late collapse crush their title dreams, Arsenal looked to have built a post-Invincibles title-winning side during the 2007/08 campaign.

Thierry Henry’s summer departure to Barcelona had brought an end to an unforgettable era for the Gunners, but a new-look team burst into life over the opening months of the new season.

Emmanuel Adebayor scored goals for fun, Cesc Fabregas pulled the strings further back, and Aleksander Hleb was enjoying the best football of his career before following the aforementioned Henry to Catalonia.

Arsene Wenger’s troops lost just one of their opening 30 games of the Premier League season, but a horrific injury to summer signing Eduardo contributed to a drop in form over the season’s run-in.

The Croatia international sustained a broken leg against Birmingham City in February, a fixture which saw Arsenal concede a stoppage-time equaliser from the penalty spot.

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The north London side proceeded to draw their next three games before a costly 1-0 defeat to title rivals Chelsea, eventually finishing the season third and four points adrift of champions Manchester United.

Arsenal’s 2007/08 vintage played some brilliant football, a side with plenty of style but not quite enough substance to get the job done.

Liverpool – 2013/14

Liverpool’s three-decade wait for a Premier League title was finally ended in 2019/20, as Jurgen Klopp became the first Reds manager since 1990 to oversee a title-winning side.

Just six seasons earlier, however, another coach looked set to be the man to end Liverpool’s long wait as Brendan Rodgers’ expansive side came close to claiming the Premier League crown.

Rodgers’ team was amongst the most fun but flawed teams of the Premier League era, an attacking juggernaut that racked up over a century of goals but remained susceptible to shipping them at the other end.

For much of the season it appeared not to matter as Liverpool scored goals at a rapid rate, Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge finishing as the two leading scorers in the division with 52 goals combined.

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Just when it appeared the momentum was with the Reds it all slipped away in agonising fashion, Steven Gerrard’s unfortunate mistake against Chelsea proving decisive in a costly defeat at Anfield with just two games remaining.

The following fixture saw Liverpool squander a three-goal lead to draw at Crystal Palace and their title dream was up in smoke, Manchester City – who scored a staggering 102 goals themselves – crowned champions by a margin of just two points.

Tottenham – 2016/17

Spursy – ‘To consistently and inevitably fail to live up to expectations. To bottle it.’

It’s a stigma that has followed supporters of Tottenham for some time and a description that now sits proudly in the urban dictionary, such has been Spurs’ habit of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

Mauricio Pochettino’s team of 2016/17 – albeit briefly – looked capable of changing that association, pushing hard for the title as an exciting side was spearheaded by the talents of Harry Kane.

Kane’s 29 goals in 30 appearances secured him the best ever goal-per-game ratio of a Premier League Golden Boot winner, the England forward ably supported by Dele Alli and the creativity of Christian Eriksen.

With Mousa Dembele holding fort in midfield and a Jan Vertonghen/Toby Alderweireld axis protecting Hugo Lloris, this was a team capable of being crowned champions.

Spurs’ slow start – including four consecutive draws in October and November – ultimately cost them a genuine chance of winning the title, finishing seven points adrift of Chelsea despite winning 12 of their final 13 league fixtures.

Read – Ranking the 10 best Premier League players of the 2000s

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