Since its inception in 1992, seven teams have won the Premier League. La Liga has had five in that time, as has Serie A, while the Bundesliga has had six. In fact, in Europe’s top five leagues, only France has a more diverse set of victors, with nine teams winning Ligue 1 – even taking into account PSG monopolisation in recent years.
When Liverpool lifted the Premier League trophy in front of an empty stadium at Anfield, it was a symbolic moment in more ways than one. Manchester United have dominated the Premier League since the outset, but the outcome of the 2019-20 campaign meant that for the first time in history, more Premier League titles had been won by other teams (14) than had been by the Red Devils (13).
Aside from Liverpool, those teams are Blackburn Rovers, Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City and Leicester City. Here we take a look at the winner of each Premier League title race since 1992.
Premier League Winners
1992-1993 (Manchester United, 84 pts)
A cursory look at the league table for the 1992-93 season will give the impression of a typical Manchester United top-flight tyranny. But for much of this inaugural Premier League season it was anything but. The title race was fought by four teams for much of the season, with Aston Villa ultimately finishing as runners-up, as well as Norwich City and recently-promoted, recently-minted Blackburn running them close.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s United wouldn’t climb to the summit of the table until January. The difference that season? The signing of the enigmatic Frenchman Eric Cantona from bitter rivals Leeds United. He would score nine times after his arrival at Old Trafford in November.
1993-1994 (Manchester United, 92 pts)
Another Premier League season, another Manchester United victory. This time, they made it a double, winning the FA Cup too.
Cantona continued his stunning form in red, scoring 18 goals in the league. Another new signing would have a similar impact, albeit in a different area of the pitch. Roy Keane, the club’s future captain, signed from Nottingham Forest at the outset of the season and would go on to have a huge influence, both in the 93-94 campaign and beyond.
1994-95 (Blackburn Rovers, 89 pts)
For the first time, a team not called Manchester United dare to take home the biggest prize. Blackburn Rovers, a team backed by club owner Jack Walker’s millions, won with just shy of 90 points after a dramatic final day at Anfield.
Fittingly given the scene of their triumph, they were managed by Kenny Dalglish. They were propelled towards the title by the goals of Alan Shearer who would go on to become the Premier League’s all-time leading goalscorer.
1995-1996 (Manchester United, 82 pts)
Normality was resumed in 1996 as United became the champions of the first 38-game Premier League season. Once again, Cantona was pivotal, scoring 14 times and assisting a further ten. Youngsters were beginning to make their marks too, however.
The “Class of ’92,” as they would later style themselves, was made up of the likes of Nicky Butt, Gary Neville, Phil Neville, David Beckham and, most significantly, Ryan Giggs. Together, they would keep United at the top of the pyramid for many years to come.
United won the prize after overturning a 12-point lead by challengers Newcastle United.
1996-1997 (Manchester United, pts 75)
United continued their monopoly in 96-97, but with the lowest points total of any Premier League-winning side in history.
Arguably the biggest talking point of the season if not one of the biggest of the Premier League era was the early retirement of Eric Cantona. Cantona was just 30 and playing some of his best football. His absence would be a huge knockback for the now four-time Premier League champions.
1997-1998 (Arsenal, 78 pts)
There was a new sheriff in town, for this year at least. Arsene Wenger had joined Arsenal in 1996 and was promptly dismissed by Sir Alex Ferguson as a serious challenger: “Arsene Wenger has been in Japan. He doesn’t know anything about English football and the demands of our game.”
As it transpired, he knew a fair bit. With fresh ideas, Arsenal beat United by a single point in 97-98. Wenger’s theories on sports science and a more fluid approach to the game on the pitch bore fruit almost instantly. It was to be the beginning of a rivalry and a duopoly which would last nearly a decade.
1998-1999 (Manchester United, 79 pts)
The crown was returned in 1999 as Manchester United flipped the switch; this time it was they who edged out Arsenal by a single point.
They would win a treble of League, FA Cup, and Champions League. The latter came courtesy of two iconic late goals in the final from Teddy Sheringham and the club’s current manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
1999-2000 (Manchester United, 91 pts)
New millennium, same story. Manchester United defended their title with a stunning points total of 91, 18 ahead of Arsenal in 2nd.
By this time, with six titles in eight years, the Sir Alex Ferguson era was one of the most dominant periods for a single club in English top-flight history. In reality, it was only just getting started.
By this time, the Premier League had established itself as perhaps the most glamorous league in the world.
2000-2001 (Manchester United, 80 pts)
For a third successive season, Manchester United won the title. For a third successive season, Arsenal finished 2nd. This time, the gap between the two was just ten points and Arsenal were beginning to show the green shoots which would propel them back to the top of the table.
But for the time being, Man United could enjoy yet more glory. This was Alex Ferguson’s sixth title, a record which drew him level with George Ramsey and Bob Paisley as the most successful manager in English football league history.
2001-2002 (Arsenal, 87 pts)
Just as Eric Cantona had come to Manchester United in ’92 and made them an unstoppable force, so did another Frenchman when he sauntered into Highbury in 1999.
Thierry Henry had burst onto the scene in the 99-00 season, scoring 17 goals in 31 Premier League appearances. He matched that tally playing from the wing in 01-02 and earned himself a first Premier League winner’s medal.
Arsenal made a 20-point swing from the previous season, with Liverpool finishing 2nd and Manchester United finishing ten points behind the Gunners in 3rd.
2002-2003 (Manchester United, 83 pts)
Predictably, United wrestled back the crown in 2003. The signing of Dutch striker Ruud van Nistelrooy from PSV proved pivotal. He scored 25 goals, every one of them from inside the box, as United edged out Arsenal by five points.
It was his second season at the club and he beat the incomparable Thierry Henry to the Golden Boot by a single goal.
2003-2004 (Arsenal, 90 pts)
If vengeance was what fuelled Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal side in 03-04, then it is clear that retribution is an effective motivator.
In one of the most historic seasons in English top-flight history, Arsenal won the league without losing a single game. It was an achievement without peer in the English game, and one that saw them labelled the Invincibles.
An unbelievable squad containing the likes of Robert Pires, Gilberto Silva, Ashley Cole, Sol Campbell, Patrick Vieira, Dennis Bergkamp and, of course, Thierry Henry won what remains Arsenal most recent Premier League title. A new era was about to begin.
2004-2005 (Chelsea, 95 pts)
You’d have been hard-pressed to find someone who would have thought the Premier League title could be wrestled from Arsenal in the 04-05 campaign, let alone someone who thought it would be done by another team from London.
Chelsea, riding a wave of Russian money from owner Roman Abramovich, won the title with a staggering 95 points, losing just one game. Their figurehead was a young Jose Mourinho, a charismatic Portuguese coach fresh from a Champions League triumph with Porto.
2005-2006 (Chelsea, 91 pts)
They couldn’t do it again, could they?
Chelsea won the 05-06 Premier League campaign arguably more impressively than the year before. They accrued four fewer points but won more games – 29 in total.
2006-2007 (Manchester United, 89 pts)
In United’s eyes, three years is a long time to go without a title. Four would be even worse.
Thankfully, they regained control of the Premier League in the 06-07 campaign. With a rejuvenated squad, they claimed 89 points.
The young duo of Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney were proving themselves to be two of the brightest prospects in world football, scoring 31 goals between them.
2007-2008 (Manchester United, 87 pts)
By the 07-08 season, it was clear that the United-Arsenal rivalry had been replaced by United-Chelsea.
The Red Devils were victorious on two fronts in the 07-08 campaign. They beat Chelsea to the title by two points in the Premier League and won on penalties in that year’s Champions League final.
2008-2009 (Manchester United, 90 pts)
In the entire history of the English top-flight, only Huddersfield (1924-1926), Arsenal (1933-1935) and Liverpool (1982-1984) had won three titles in a row before the Premier League era.
Untied made the list when they won thrice between 1999 and 2001, and then became the first team to achieve the feat twice when they claimed top spot in the 08-09 campaign.
They were pushed all the way by fierce rivals Liverpool, who were looking to win a first Premier League title in nearly 20 years. But with 90 points, they eventually overcame their Scouse challengers in a season which is remembered as one of the most entertaining of the era.
2009-10 (Chelsea, 86 pts)
In the entire history of the English top-flight, no team has ever won the title four times in a row. Perhaps then it was a little too much to ask for United to break even more records.
They relented their crown to Chelsea, now under the management of Carlo Ancelotti, the legendary manager who was taking charge of his first-team outside of Italy.
2010-11 (Manchester United, 80 pts)
Chelsea were unable to keep the trophy from slipping away in 10-11, seeing Manchester United take the title fairly easily in the end.
United had successfully adapted after the departure in 2009 of Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid. Dimitar Berbatov had signed and, along with Manchester City’s Carlos Tevez, was the Premier League’s top scorer this season. Wayne Rooney was excellent in a deeper role for the first time.
But there was a new rival on the horizon for Manchester United.
2011-2012 (Manchester City, 89 pts)
United had the title taken away from them by their mega-rich noisy neighbours, Manchester City.
The Blues had been knocking on the door for a few seasons prior to 11-12, and it was inevitable that, with the talent and cash at their disposal, they would one day win a title.
No one, however, could have predicted the manner in which they did it. The greatest title race in history went down to the final day, with City knowing a point would seal the championship. But with only added time remaining, they trailed to relegation-threatened QPR.
The rest is history. Dzeko got one. Aguero got another. England had a new champion.
2012-13 (Manchester United, 89 pts)
United’s pride was wounded. Over the course of 11-12, City had been the better team. But to lose the title in the manner that they did stung.
To retake the throne, they splashed out on Robin van Persie, Arsenal star and proven Premier League goalscorer. It proved to be one of the best buys in Fergie’s time at United, as well as one of his last.
After RVP’s 26 goals fired United to the title, the great Sir Alex Ferguson announced his retirement. Truly, it was the end of an era. Manchester United have not won the title since.
2013-14 (Manchester City, 86 pts)
The 13-14 title race was a twisting, turning event. Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea battled at the top of the Premier League table for months before Chelsea slowly slipped away.
Liverpool were hopeful of a first title in decades, spurred on by the magic of Luis Suarez. But with a few games remaining, they slipped up to Chelsea, opening the door for Manchester City to overtake them. City took full advantage and won their second Premier League title, this time under Manuel Pellegrini.
2014-15 (Chelsea, 87 pts)
In his second spell with Chelsea, Jose Mourinho led the club to their fourth Premier League title. It was a triumph that took them above London rivals Arsenal in the standings since the league’s formation in 1992.
With the likes of Diego Costa, Cesc Fabregas and Eden Hazard, Chelsea brushed their rivals aside.
2015-16 (Leicester City, 81 pts)
Chelsea slipped all the way down to 10th the following campaign. This collapse under Mourinho, who was sacked before the midpoint of the season, would normally be the biggest talking point of the campaign. But not this time.
That honour went to Leicester City who pulled off what many consider to be the greatest upset in the history of sport, winning the title with 81 points, ten clear of their closest challengers.
The Foxes had barely avoided relegation the previous season and Claudio Ranieri’s side were 5000-1 to win the Premier League at the start of 15-16. But with Jamie Vardy, Ngolo Kante, Riyad Mahrez and a whole host of excellent supporting roles, they did the impossible.
2016-17 (Chelsea, 93 pts)
Like Chelsea in 15-16, Leicester were unable to stay at the summit. They finished 12th after sacking boss Ranieri early doors. Chelsea, however, roared back under the guidance of Italian disciplinarian Antonio Conte.
Conte brought a new system in his first year in charge and it was an instant success. His 3-4-3, familiar in Italy, but not so much in Britain, proved too much for their nearest title challengers Tottenham who finished seven points behind.
2017-18 (Manchester City, 100 pts)
Pep Guardiola had been appointed by Manchester City in 16-17 with the hope of bringing glory to Manchester.
In his first season, City’s squad had struggled to cope with his style of play. But the flower came into full bloom in his second season, and City won the league with a record points total.
Their 100-point haul, secured in the final minute on the final day of the season, has earned them the nickname “Centurions.”
2018-19 (Manchester City, 97 pts)
Manchester City won the title again the following year, but the difference this time was that they had a legitimate title rival in the form of Liverpool.
The Merseyside club had appointed the charismatic Jurgen Klopp in 2015 and their trajectory had been upward ever since. In the end, they missed out by a single point. They lost one match all season, a 2-1 defeat to Manchester City themselves in January.
2019-20 (Liverpool, 99 pts)
Liverpool might have felt they’d missed their chance. But Salah, Mane, Firmino, Henderson, Van Dijk and co. had more in the tank.
They added to their Champions League victory the season before with a long, long-awaited Premier League triumph – their first in 30 years.
The campaign was one of the strangest in history, however, and Liverpool had to lift the trophy in front of an empty stadium. The coronavirus pandemic thwarting their plans for a party, inside Anfield at least.
They will be looking to retain their title this year, and hopefully in front of their adoring public.