EPL is one of the most popular football leagues in the world, featuring historically good teams like Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, and Tottenham. Football is a religion in England, and the stadiums are always filled up to the last seat – no matter the home team’s current success or the weather conditions.
In this article, we are going to take a deep look at the Premier League history and what made it such a popular competition. We will discuss the league’s origin, the most successful teams and players to play in it, and the moments that will forever be remembered by the millions of fans. Read on!
The Football League First Division was founded in 1888 and represented the top-tier English football competition for over a century. However, during the 1980s, English football was at a historically low point. The stadiums and the facilities were in poor condition, and hooliganism started to become a serious issue. On top of that, the disaster at Heysel Stadium in 1985 resulted in the ban of all English clubs in international competitions for five seasons.
The league was due for reform, and the negotiations for forming a new league started in 1990. In 1992, all top clubs from the First Division resigned in order to join the newly-created FA Premier League. The first Premier League season was thus played in 1992-93 and featured 22 of the country’s top teams.
The new era for English football began on August 15th, 1992, when the first-ever match was played between Sheffield United and Manchester United. Sheffield won 2–1 and Brian Deane became the first-ever goalscorer in the EPL.
Despite the loss in the season’s opener, Manchester United became the champion under the wing of Sir Alex Ferguson, who is today among the most successful EPL title-winning managers.
Manchester United would keep winning EPL titles throughout the decade, with their dominance briefly being interrupted by Blackburn Rovers (1994-95) and Arsenal (1997-98). The most popular players of that period included Patrick Vieira, David Beckham, Robbie Fowler, Peter Schmeichel, Ian Wright, Ryan Giggs, Roy Keane, Dennis Bergkamp, and, of course, Alan Shearer.
Even in the first couple of years of the EPL, it became evident that the foundation of the new league was the right move. Stadiums were packed, and the English clubs were re-adopted into the European competitions and earned back their respect. This positive image that the league projected would continue into the new millennium.
The period between 2000 and 2010 was the most successful in the history of Premier League teams. Manchester United started the new century with another set of titles, while Arsenal claimed their second trophy in 2002.
These were the years when four teams would establish themselves as the teams to beat, appropriately getting named The Big 4. The group included Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea, and Liverpool.
Chelsea joined the list of EPL champions and became the first team to win back-to-back titles after Manchester United by winning the 2004-05 and 2005-06 EPL seasons. Meanwhile, Arsenal received the golden Premier League trophy for their efforts in the 2003-04 season, as they won a title without losing a single game. It is still the only time that such a thing has happened in the EPL, and that the Arsenal squad was later given the name The Invincibles.
The last three years of the decade were all about Manchester United who won three titles in a row. Sir Alex Ferguson always seemed to be able to find the right formula, relying on superstars such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, Edwin van der Sar, and others.
The Big Four were also quite successful in the Champions League during this period, as all finals between 2005 and 2009 featured at least one English team. Liverpool won in 2005 and played a final in 2007 (both times against Milan), while Manchester United won in 2008 against Chelsea, falling short to Barcelona in the final one year later. Arsenal was the finalist in 2006 but came second to Ronaldinho’s Barcelona.
The 2010s saw a little more diversity when it came to the title contenders. The Big 4 was expanded to the Big 6, which now included Manchester City and Tottenham.
The new decade started with Chelsea’s third title. John Terry led the London club to a narrow title win by one point in the final standings over Manchester United. However, United would bounce back once again and claim the 2010-11 title by a big margin.
During this time, another team from Manchester was gaining steam. Manchester City saw some capital investments at the turn of the decade and great results would soon follow. The 2011-12 season ended in an unbelievable fashion. Namely, the Citizens needed a win against QPR in the last round to secure a title over their city rivals United.
After being down 1–2, Edin Dzeko scored an equalizer in stoppage time to give the home fans some hope. Aguero then scored in the very last seconds of the match and Manchester City became the 5th different EPL winner. This was also the only season in Premier League history where the champion was decided on goal difference. Meanwhile, Chelse surprised everyone by winning the Champions League for the first time that year.
The EPL trophy stayed in Manchester for a couple of more seasons. United won their last title in 2013, which was also the last year for Sir Alex Ferguson as their manager. City would go on to win the following year with Manuel Pellegrini as their head coach.
Chelsea claimed the title in 2015 after a terrific season in which they only lost three games. Up until 2016, the title winners were pretty much predictable. The league was still dominated by four or five teams, and the others were only left to pick up the scraps.
However, the 2015-16 season would be a historic one, as we saw one of the biggest upsets, not only in EPL history but English football history as a whole.
The Cinderella Story of Leicester City would be retold for generations. It was only the second straight season for the Foxes in the EPL, and many thought they would barely be able to stay above the relegation zone. At the start of the season, Leicester was a 5000 to 1 favorite to win it all, and even the most enthusiastic of punters wouldn’t dare to make that bet.
However, the unlikely Leicester went all the way to the title, losing only twice to Arsenal and once to Liverpool. Quite deservedly so, Jamie Vardy became the player of the season, while Claudio Ranieri was named the best manager that year.
Chelsea, who finished 10th in 2016, bounced back to win their fifth Premier League title in 2017. The next two seasons would be all about Manchester City, who picked up their first back-to-back English titles. Meanwhile, Liverpool won the 2019 Champions League in an all-English final against Tottenham.
EPL Stats and Records
Manchester United has won the most premier league titles out of all teams – 13. Ryan Giggs was there for all 13 titles, making him the player with the most titles in the competition. Next on the list is Chelsea with five, while Manchester City closed in on them with their recent titles and now has four. Only six teams managed to win an EPL trophy in a total of 27 editions of the competition.
Manchester United is also the only team that managed to win three titles in a row, and they even did it on two separate occasions.
The domination of Manchester City broke a few records as well. They had the highest points total in Premier League history with 100 points in the 2017-18 seasons, and the Citizens won both their 2018 and 2019 titles with 32 recorded wins, more than any other team in EPL history. During their 2017-18 campaign, they broke a couple of more records – winning the most consecutive games (18) and scoring the most goals in a single season (106).
Only six teams have never been relegated from the EPL since its induction – Arsenal, Chelsea, Everton, Liverpool, Manchester United, and Tottenham. Quite interestingly, only three of them have been Premier League winners.
During the 2017-18 season, Tottenham temporarily played on Wembley as their new stadium was under construction. On the 10th of February 2018 against Arsenal, Tottenham fans recorded the biggest attendance for a single game in Premier League history with 83,222 people. As far as averages go, Manchester United’s home – Old Trafford – had the highest attendance for a single season in 2006-07 with 75,821 per match.
The biggest win in the history of the EPL was 9–0, and it happened on two different occasions. Manchester United won 9–0 against Ipswich Town on March 4th, 1995, breaking a record which stood for more than 14 and a half years until Leicester beat Southampton on the road by the same result on October 25th, 2019.
Team with the most EPL goals is Manchester United, while they are also the team with the most EPL wins.
Gareth Barry, who played for four different Premier League clubs between 1997 and 2018 has the most EPL appearances with 653. Ryan Giggs is the proud holder of three records. He has the most titles (13), most seasons played (22), and the biggest number of assists (162).
When it comes to all-time top scorers in EPL, Alan Shearer is by far the best one. He has 260 goals scored over the course of his 14-year-long career, and it’s a record that might not be broken any time soon. The next best on the list of most goals in Premier League history is Wayne Rooney with 208. Petr Cech has most clean sheets in EPL with 202.
Although Sir Alex Ferguson is without a doubt the best EPL manager of all time, Arsene Wenger is a record holder for most seasons (22) and the number of matches as a head coach (828).
Since 1994-95 season, The EPL decided to give out Player of the Season awards to the most valuable footballer. Twenty-two different players have won the award so far, and only three of them have won it twice (Thierry Henry, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Nemanja Vidic). Peter Schmeichel (1995-96) is the only goalkeeper to have been awarded the Player of the Season award.
Other rewards include Golden Boot for the top goalscorer, Golden Glove for the best goalkeeper, Goal of the Season, and Manager of the Season. Thierry Henry won the most Golden Boot awards (4), while Joe Hart is the most decorated Golden Glove goalkeeper (4). Not surprisingly, Sir Alex Ferguson won the most Manager of the Season accolades with 11.
In its maiden season, the EPL had no sponsor and was just called the FA Premier League. The competition was then sponsored by the Carling Brewery from 1993 to 2001. Barclaycard and Barclays Bank were sponsoring the league from 2001 to 2016. So, what is the Premier League called now? Well, since 2016, the league has no sponsor in an attempt to build a cleaner brand inspired by the US major sports leagues, so it’s simply called Premier League.
Nike was originally the ball supplier for the league until their contract expired in 2001. Since then, all Premier League matches are played with the Mitre ball. Trading cards and sticker albums are provided by Topps, while Panini was also allowed the license in 2018.
Premier League history is not long but has already brought so many exciting moments to football fans, not only in England but all over the world as well. With the brand of the EPL being stronger than ever before, we can expect from the league to be there for a long time and provide us with plenty of champions, memorable moments, and legendary goals.