Arsenal’s title dreams appear to be over after a damaging defeat at home to Brighton last weekend, the latest in a series of slip-ups that have allowed Manchester City to overhaul the Gunners at the top.
Mikel Arteta’s side had led the Premier League for most of the season in an unexpected challenge to be crowned champions, but have stumbled during the run-in and now look set to end the season without silverware.
Manchester City can win the title with a win against Chelsea next weekend and as Arsenal’s hopes fade, we’ve looked at the teams to have spent the most time spent at the top of the table in a season without winning the Premier League.
Arsenal – 2013/14 (128 days)
Arsenal spent 48% of the 2013/14 campaign top of the table, with the Gunners bouncing back from a defeat on the opening weekend to become the early leaders in the title race.
Arsene Wenger’s side won seven of their first nine fixtures to lead the division from mid-September, remaining top for all but one weekend until a heavy 5-1 defeat at Liverpool started a slump in form.
The Gunners arrived at Anfield with confidence given their status as leaders, but were humbled by a devastating performance from Liverpool that saw Brendan Rodgers’ side score four goals inside the opening 20 minutes.
That defeat started a run of just two wins in nine games, a sequence which included big defeats at Chelsea (6-0) and Everton (3-0) and saw Arsenal fall out of title contention.
Liverpool, meanwhile, began a run of 11 consecutive wins to move into the title picture, but missed out to Manchester City who were crowned champions under Manuel Pellegrini. City had spent just 11 days at the top of the table across the entire campaign.
Liverpool – 2018/19 (141 days)
Liverpool and Manchester City have competed ferociously for major trophies in recent seasons and their 2018/19 title race remains one of the most memorable.
Jurgen Klopp’s side missed out on the title by just a single point, despite losing just one game – to champions Manchester City – and recording 97 points, the then third-highest total in the history of England’s top flight and a record by a team who did not win the title.
Liverpool led the league from mid-December and had a seven-point lead over City on January 3, but a 2-1 defeat at the Etihad saw their advantage reduced and momentum build in Manchester. Four draws in six games saw Liverpool overhauled and City held their nerve – and then some – by ending the season with a run of 14 consecutive wins to be crowned champions.
Liverpool finished the season with eight straight wins of their own, but it was not enough to regain top spot.
Arsenal – 2007/08 (156 days)
Arsenal again missed out on the Premier League title despite leading for a large part of the season in 2007/08, as a strong start to the campaign unravelled.
The Gunners’ inexperienced side opened the season with a 15-game unbeaten run and for the first time post-Invincibles looked capable of winning the title.
Arsene Wenger’s side lost just one of their first 30 games of the season, but a 2-2 draw with Birmingham City began a downturn in results. James McFadden scored a stoppage-time penalty to equalise for Birmingham after Theo Walcott’s brace, while the match was marred by a broken leg for Arsenal striker Eduardo.
The north Londoners failed to recover from losing the Croatia international and the draw started a run of one win in eight. Having been in the ascendancy, Arsenal lost momentum and allowed Manchester United to reclaim the title. The Gunners eventually finished third, two points behind runners-up Chelsea and four adrift of the champions.
Manchester United – 1997/98 (187 days)
Manchester United were the division’s dominant force during the first decade of the Premier League and Sir Alex Ferguson’s side looked to be on route to third consecutive title in 1997/98.
United led the league from late-October until mid-April and such was their dominance at the top that one bookmaker famously paid out on bets for the Red Devils to be crowned champions. Arsenal, however, had other ideas and with games in hand kept winning to reduce the gap.
Marc Overmars’ goal secured Arsenal a 1-0 win at Old Trafford against their title rivals in mid-March, a result which put the title race in the Gunners’ own hands even if there was still ground to make up.
That win over United was the second of a then-unprecedented 10 consecutive Premier League wins for the north Londoners, the last of which saw Everton beaten 4-0 at Highbury to confirm Arsene Wenger’s side as champions.
Marc Overmars wins it for @Arsenal at Old Trafford#OnThisDay in 1998… pic.twitter.com/gWSKqxNGGF
— Premier League (@premierleague) March 14, 2020
Arsenal – who went on to win a domestic double after beating Newcastle in the FA Cup final – could even afford to lose their final two games. The Gunners were champions, despite United having led the league for 187 days across the campaign and 175 consecutive days.
Arsenal – 2002/03 (189 days)
Arsenal were headed towards back-to-back Premier League titles during the 2002/03 season, having won a domestic double under Arsene Wenger the previous season.
Thierry Henry’s sensational individual form led their defence and Arsenal led the league for 71% of the campaign. An enthralling 2-2 draw between the teams at Highbury left the title race finely poised, but Arsenal’s form floundered across the run-in.
A draw at Bolton two games later saw Arsenal squander a two-goal lead and leave the destination of the title out of their own hands.
Kewell. Harte. Viduka.@LUFC ended Arsenal’s #PL title defence in dramatic fashion back in 2003… pic.twitter.com/jKx8cXpI9T
— Premier League (@premierleague) July 3, 2017
Defeat for Arsenal at home to relegation-threatened Leeds then confirmed Manchester United as champions, who won nine of their final 10 games to clinch the championship.
Newcastle – 1995/96 (212 days)
Newcastle are often associated with the biggest title capitulation in the division’s history.
Kevin Keegan’s exciting side opened the season with a 3-0 win over Coventry on the opening weekend and from there led the table almost unchallenged until the run-in.
The Magpies spent a huge 212 days as Premier League leaders during the 1995/96 season and famously opened up a 12-point lead at the top in late-January.
However, the champagne was put on ice after a wobble that began with defeat at West Ham and a run of two wins in eight, which included a 1-0 defeat at home to title rivals Manchester United at St James’ Park, saw their lead overhauled.
Despite the goals of Les Ferdinand and Keegan’s impassioned ‘I would love it’ rant directed towards the club’s title rivals, the Magpies missed out on being crowned top-flight champions for the first time since 1927.
Alan Shearer arrived in a world-record deal that summer, but Newcastle ended as runners-up once again in 1996/97.
Arsenal – 2022/23 (248 days)
If Manchester City, as expected, are crowned champions over the final few games of the season, the current Arsenal side will have spent the longest time at the top of the table without winning the league.
Few expected a title challenge from the Gunners, but Mikel Areta’s side flew out of the traps to win 16 of their first 18 Premier League games and take the lead.
A brilliant performance from Brighton leaves Arsenal’s title hopes hanging by a thread 🧵 pic.twitter.com/56Z0PT91Rp
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) May 14, 2023
Arsenal went into March’s international break with an eight-point lead at the top of the division, but a run of three consecutive draws in April with Liverpool, West Ham and Southampton – the first two of which saw two-goal leads squandered – saw the Gunners lose the initiative.
An emphatic 4-1 defeat at title rivals Manchester City then left Arsenal with an uphill task, before last weekend’s 3-0 loss at home to Brighton all but ended their hopes. City have 11 consecutive Premier League wins and need just one more to be crowned champions again.
Read – Oh Arsenal: Five games that saw the Gunners surrender the title to Man City
Read Also – Remembering the last six players to win the FWA Footballer of the Year award
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