Our rewind through the Premier League years continues with a look at the 1997/98 season, a campaign which saw Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal conquer English football with a domestic double and the nation’s latest ‘boy wonder’ emerge from the academy ranks at Anfield.
Wenger’s triumph saw him become the first manager from outside the UK to win the Premier League, whilst the division’s foreign influx continued with intriguing mid-season player-coach appointments in Gianluca Vialli at Chelsea and Attilio Lombardo at Crystal Palace.
Following on from our previous editions we’re remembering the greatest goalscorers of the nineties, here are the six leading scorers from the 1997/98 Premier League season:
Kevin Gallacher – Blackburn (16 goals)
Blackburn’s fortunes had changed somewhat since winning the league title just three years earlier, the departures of manager Kenny Dalglish and leading scorer Alan Shearer seeing the Lancashire side struggle during the previous campaign.
Now under the guidance of Roy Hodgson, however, Blackburn bounced back to enjoy an impressive season and secure a top six finish, with a career-best season from Gallacher key to their qualification for the UEFA Cup.
The Scotland international scored 16 league goals for the season – including a hat-trick in a 5-0 thrashing of Aston Villa at Ewood Park – for a Blackburn side who spent much of the season in the Champions League places before a downturn in form.
The forward endured an injury-hit campaign as Rovers suffered a shock relegation the following year, failing to replicate his goalscoring exploits during spells at the likes of Newcastle, Preston and Sheffield Wednesday.
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink – Leeds (16 goals)
After two seasons of mid-table mediocrity, Leeds looked to solve their goalscoring issues with the acquisition of Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink from Boavista and after an initial slow start the Dutchman soon proved to be one of the signings of the season.
Hasselbaink enjoyed a prolific second half of the season to finish amongst the Premier League’s leading scorers and scored 26 goals in all competitions for George Graham’s side, who finished fifth and secured qualification for the following season’s UEFA Cup.
Amongst his season highlights included doubles against West Ham, Coventry and Chelsea, Hasselbaink later enjoying a prolific four-year spell with the latter and establishing himself as the second highest-scoring Dutchman in Premier League history – behind only Robin van Persie.
Dennis Bergkamp – Arsenal (16 goals)
Bergkamp had spent two seasons in north London with good – if unspectacular – results, but the arrival of Arsene Wenger as Arsenal manager unlocked the true genius of the Dutchman in English football.
The 1997/98 campaign was arguably the highlight of Bergkamp’s glittering decade with the Gunners, being named as the PFA Player of the Year and FWA Footballer of the Year as Arsenal claimed a domestic double.
The Netherlands international scored 16 league goals for the season and produced many magical moments, including finishing first, second and third in August’s Goal of the Month competition – the only player in Premier League history to have achieved the feat.
Two of those goals came as part of a stunning hat-trick in a thrilling draw with Leicester at Filbert Street – a treble widely recognised as the greatest in the history of the division – the latter goal later named as the Goal of the Season.
Chris Sutton – Blackburn (18 goals)
The second of Blackburn’s forward options to feature on this list, Sutton enjoyed the most prolific Premier League season of his career at Ewood Park to earn a share of the division’s Golden Boot award.
Sutton scored 18 league goals as Blackburn secured a sixth-placed finish and UEFA Cup qualification, netting hat-tricks in wins over both Aston Villa and Leicester – the latter seeing Sutton named as the Premier League’s Player of the Month for February.
His impressive form saw the forward earn a first international cap against Cameroon in November, but after refusing to play for the England B side prior to the World Cup in 1998 he was never selected for the national team again.
Dion Dublin – Coventry (18 goals)
Having survived relegation on a dramatic final day the previous season, Coventry headed into the new campaign once again amongst the favourites for the drop only to secure a comfortable mid-table finish.
The Sky Blues’ season was boosted by the prolific form of Dion Dublin, the forward having rejected a mid-season approach from Blackburn to remain with the club and contribute towards their highest-ever Premier League finish of 11th.
Dublin began the season with an opening day hat-trick against Chelsea before scoring prolifically in partnership with Darren Huckerby throughout the campaign, finishing on 18 league goals to secure a share of the Golden Boot.
The forward’s fine campaign was not enough to see him included in the England squad for the 1998 World Cup, though it did attract the attention of Aston Villa who secured his signing in a £5.75m deal later that year.
Michael Owen – Liverpool (18 goals)
Owen had gained headlines after netting on his Liverpool debut against Wimbledon in the penultimate game of the previous season, before the teenager repeated the trick from the penalty spot on the opening day of the new campaign against the same opposition.
Despite that impressive beginning to life in the Liverpool first-team, however, few outside Anfield will have predicted the impact Owen would have during a sensational first full season under Roy Evans.
Possessing electric pace and an unerring self-confidence in front of goal, a fresh-faced Owen terrorised top-flight defences to establish himself as the most exciting talent in English football.
Owen scored 18 Premier League goals of the season to earn a share of the Golden Boot alongside both Sutton and Dublin, becoming the youngest player in history to win the award aged just 18-years-old.
He would later be named as the PFA Young Player of the Year and as the Premier League Player of the Season, in addition to being named in the PFA Team of the Year before starring at that summer’s World Cup.