The best and tighest Premier League title races ever: Where will Arsenal, Liverpool and Man City 2023/24 rank?

Over the last 30 years of Premier League football, we have been treated to some historic title races.

From Kevin Keegan’s infamous rant to Didier Drogba’s offside goal and exhilarating comebacks on the final day — Sergio Aguero, anyone? — the battle to be crowned champions of England has often been an enthralling one.

Now, we could be in for another special April and May period of England’s top division.

With Arsenal, Manchester City and Liverpool all within a point of each other after 28 games, the 2023/24 season has the smallest points difference between first and third at this stage of the campaign since May 2014. Many people are already predicting that it could be right up there with the very best title races of all.

But which ones can we consider to be the finest — and most closely fought — Premier League title tussles in history?

The Sporting News takes a trip down memory lane to look back at some of the best and tightest EPL finishes of all time.

MORE: Premier League table 2023/24: Just how close is it at the top?

The best and tighest Premier League title races ever

To avoid any arguments, these are in chronological order. It’s also worth pointing out that this list deals with the Premier League era only: in other words, we go back as far as the 1992/93 season, but no further.

1994/95: Blackburn Rovers and Manchester United

Heading into 1994/95, Blackburn Rovers hadn’t won a major trophy in 67 years. You’d have to look at the record books before World War One to find a league title to their name.

A 12-game unbeaten run saw them top the Premier League table at the halfway stage and they looked like becoming the first team not called Manchester United to lift the new trophy.

Their unbeaten run came to an end when Sir Alex Ferguson’s United defeated them to kickstart the title race.

Alan Shearer, then playing against his boyhood club Newcastle United, scored against the Magpies to win 1-0 and send the race to the final day.

The Rovers had a trip to Anfield, a place where three points were tough to come by. United were playing West Ham and needed to win, but were held to a 1-1 draw.

Kenny Dalglish’s Rovers were beaten on Merseyside but still beat United to the title by a point.

1st: Blackburn Rovers (89 PTS)

2nd: Manchester United (88 PTS)

1995/96: Newcastle United and Manchester United

“You can’t win anything with kids”, Ferguson was told at the start of the season by Alan Hansen on BBC’s Match of the Day as United started the campaign with four players aged 21 or under and lost 3-1 to Aston Villa.

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Kevin Keegan’s Newcastle enjoyed a 12-point lead at the top of the table with 15 games to go but United, galvanised by the return of Eric Cantona from his eight-month ban for a kung-fu kick on a Crystal Palace fan, chipped away at that lead and the Magpies lost four games from their next six.

Then came Keegan’s notorious rant after a loss at Leeds United. “But I’ll tell you… you can tell him [Ferguson] now, he’ll be watching it… we’re still fighting for this title, and he’s got to go to Middlesbrough and get something. And I’ll tell you, honestly, I would love it if we beat them. Love it.”

With two games to play and needing wins in both, Newcastle drew to Nottingham Forest and Tottenham as United eventually cruised to win the league by four points.

1st: Manchester United (82 PTS)

2nd: Newcastle United (78 PTS)

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1998/99: Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea

Some have hailed this as the greatest Premier League season of all time because of its three-horse race and final-day drama.

You had Ferguson’s treble-chasing United going toe-to-toe with Arsene Wenger’s Gunners, while Chelsea finished third, just four points behind the top two and, like United, only lost three league games all season.

Naysayers will look to the points tally, as it was a relatively low total: United won with 79 points, and no champion has since failed to reach 80. However, the Premier League back then was arguably more competitive as points were harder to come by. Aston Villa were top at Christmas and eventually could only finish sixth.

The balance across the league’s top half made it near impossible to go on the winning runs we have become accustomed to seeing in the era of Pep Guardiola’s Man City, creating twists and turns like no other.

Arsenal and United went into the final week with a near-identical record. With a midweek game to play ahead of the final day, both teams failed to win. The Gunners were beaten by Leeds and United were held to a 0-0 draw away to Blackburn.

That point at Ewood Park saw United go into the final day a point ahead of Arsenal and hosting Spurs. Despite falling 1-0 behind, they rallied to lift their fifth league title.

1st: Manchester United (79 PTS)

2nd: Arsenal (78 PTS)

3rd: Chelsea (75 PTS)

2007/08: Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal

Arsenal’s promising season was halted after striker Eduardo suffered a severe leg break in a draw with Birmingham City, marking the beginning of a slump with just one win in eight matches.

A defeat to United dashed their title hopes, while United, led by Cristiano Ronaldo’s world-class form, seemed poised for another title.

Chelsea, under caretaker Avram Grant, put up a fight and surged with an impressive unbeaten streak after Jose Mourinho’s dismissal. The Blues’ win over United at Stamford Bridge, fueled by Michael Ballack’s brace, intensified the title race as only goal difference separated the two at the final weekend.

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Despite the pressure, United clinched their 17th league title with ease, defeating Wigan Athletic 2-0 on the final day as Chelsea drew with Bolton Wanderers.

1st: Manchester United (87 PTS)

2nd: Chelsea (85 PTS)

3rd: Arsenal (83 PTS)

2009/10: Chelsea and Manchester United

United sought a fourth consecutive title after losing Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez in the summer, while Chelsea welcomed new manager Carlo Ancelotti.

A tense title race was tilted in Chelsea’s favour after a 2-1 win over United in April, thanks to a controversial goal by Didier Drogba, when the striker scored at Old Trafford despite clearly being in an offside position. It was the sort of incident that would eventually herald the VAR era.

Holding a one-point lead, Chelsea only needed to overcome Wigan to lift the trophy, which they did with an impressive 8-0 victory.

United won at Stoke City, but Chelsea’s lead remained unassailable. Nicolas Anelka’s early goal ensured the victory, with a Didier Drogba hat-trick securing the Golden Boot. Further goals from Anelka, Frank Lampard, Salomon Kalou, and Ashley Cole capped off an exceptional season for Chelsea.

Didier Drogba Chelsea 2011-12

1st: Chelsea (86 PTS)

2nd: Manchester United (85 PTS)

2011/12: Manchester City and Manchester United

Man City, champions last in 1968, aimed to challenge in the 2011/12 season after acquiring Sergio Aguero for £35 million.

They started well, winning 14 of their first 17 games, including a remarkable 6-1 victory over United at Old Trafford. However, a rough patch in spring, with only one win in five matches, left them trailing United by eight points with six games remaining.

Despite doubts, manager Roberto Mancini remained resolute. United’s stumble against Wigan and a draw with Everton shifted the tide. City’s fate hinged on the final day, trailing 2-1 to QPR. Yet, Aguero’s dramatic winner sealed City’s first title in 44 years in stoppage time, defying all odds.

It was the very first Premier League title race to be decided on goal difference.

1st: Manchester City (89 PTS / 64 GD)

2nd: Manchester United (89 PTS / 56 GD)

2013/14: Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea

“This does not f***ing slip now! This does not f****ing slip! Listen. We go to Norwich, exactly the same! We go again!” Unbeknownst to him at the time, these words would go on to haunt Steven Gerrard for the rest of his life.

After finishing seventh the previous season, Liverpool weren’t seen as contenders, but Luis Suarez’s 31 goals sparked hope for their first title in 24 years.

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A 16-game unbeaten streak, including 11 consecutive wins, propelled them to the top, highlighted by a crucial 3-2 victory over Man City thanks to an all-time classic goal by Philippe Coutinho.

However, Chelsea’s visit to Anfield proved pivotal as Gerrard slipped on the ball and Demba Ba raced in on goal to give Jose Mourinho’s side the lead. The Reds eventually went on to lose 2-0.

Liverpool’s meltdown at Crystal Palace saw them squander a 3-0 lead, now dubbed ironically as “Crystanbul”, and further dented their title hopes.

Meanwhile, City continued to win and secured the title in a 2-0 win against West Ham. Liverpool’s wait for the Premier League trophy extended to six more years.

1st: Manchester City (86 PTS)

2nd: Liverpool (84 PTS)

3rd: Chelsea (82 PTS)

2021/22: Manchester City and Liverpool

There is an argument that the 2018/19 title race between City and Liverpool was better by virtue of the fact the teams accrued more points — indeed, they could hardly stop winning. But the tussle three seasons later was the more exciting.

In a battle for the ages, Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool went right down to the wire with Guardiola’s City as the sensational 38-game campaign came to an end.

Liverpool ran out 3-1 winners comfortably over Wolves but fell short thanks to a sensational comeback by City, who were trailing 2-0 to Villa.

Kevin De Bruyne turned on the magic and once that happened, only one outcome looked likely. 

With 15 minutes to go, Ilkay Gundogan pulled one back before Rodri drew level. Then it was the German again to score City’s third in five minutes to win the title in tremendous fashion, ensuring Liverpool would fall short in their bid for a famous quadruple (they went on to lose the UEFA Champions League final as well).

1st: Manchester City (93 PTS)

2nd: Liverpool (92 PTS)

Where to watch 2023/24 Premier League title race

Region TV Streaming
Australia Optus Sport

Fubo Canada

India Star Sports Disney+, Hotstar,
UK Sky Sports, TNT Sports NOW TV, Sky Go,
Amazon Prime
USA USA Network,
Telemundo, Universo
Fubo, Peacock


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