BestXI: United dominate greatest EPL teams of all time

By June 26, 2020

Liverpool are the 2019/20 English Premier League champions and after their performance this season, even with eight games still to play, will likely go down as one of the greatest teams to have lifted the title.

That supposition made me think, well, which teams can boast of being the greatest team to have played in the Premier League era (1992-present)? And boom, there we have it, our next Best XI.

With the number of titles Manchester United have won during the Premier League era, it is no surprise that they have dominated a list of the best XI teams to have played in the competition, but there are 11 of them, so maybe a team you support has found its way in there.

The truth is the English Premier League has provided some wonderful entertainment over the last almost 30 years and there have been many wonderful players and teams that have brought joy to many all over the world.

Whether you agree with this list or not, and please share that opinion on Facebook or Twitter, you must agree that the world is a much more drab place without the Premier League in it. Welcome back sport.

 

BestXI Premier League teams of all time

 

 

1.      Manchester City (2017/18)

This team was the team that Pep Guardiola built. It was his second season in charge of Manchester City and by then he had them running like a well-oiled machine, changing the nature of what was required to be crowned champions of the Premiership. Pep’s galaxy of stars scored 106 goals, conceding just 27 for a goal difference of a remarkable +79 on their way to 100 points, 19 more than second-place Manchester United. They lost just two games all season and drew on four occasions, putting down a marker for teams to follow.

 

2.      Arsenal (2003/04)

This squad, having achieved an unbeaten season for the first time in 100 years of the Premier League, has been argued to be the greatest squad of all time and who could argue against that? While Chelsea’s 2004/05 team only conceded 15 goals in an entire season, the zero figure under the losses column makes this team the most revered defensively. Attackingwise, the combination of Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp, Freddi Ljungberg, and Robert Pires can boast to be comparable to any ever assembled in the history of English football. The central midfield pairing of Patrick Viera and Gilberto Silva was also very formidable, with a great many big teams mimicking the formula to this day.

3.      Manchester United (1997/1998)

In the 1998/1999 season, Manchester United won the League and Fa Cup double as well as the Champions League. That feat meant Alex Ferguson’s Class of ’92 had come of age. Now without the talismanic Eric Cantona and going trophyless the season before, the combination of Gary Neville, David Beckham, Paul Scholes, and Ryan Giggs had turned the fortunes of the side around in the most incredible fashion. While they only won the title, pipping Arsenal by a single point, their resilience, their ability to snatch victory from the draws of defeat was one of the wonders of the decade. Nowhere was that more evident than in the Champions League final where they beat Bayern Munich in the final, scoring twice in the dying seconds of the game.

 

4.      Manchester City (2018/19)

An ageing team, it was difficult for Manchester City to repeat the title-winning performance of a year before, and the team had to do it without the services of Kevin De Bruyne and Vincent Company for much of the season. Showing off their depth and their mettle Manchester City had to win every game of their last 14 encounters to stay ahead of a marauding Liverpool, who finished just a point behind. The season also saw the growth of Raheem Sterling and the longevity of David Silva on display. Sergio Aguero, when fit, was also at his consistent best. Overcoming the trials of this season is what makes this Manchester City teams one of the all-time greats of Premier League history. The team finished with a +72 goal difference, 95 goals and 98 points. Their four losses and two draws represented a blip that was certainly overshadowed by their run in to the final game where they sealed the title.

 

5.      Chelsea (2004/05)

Jose Mourinho changed Chelsea from a team that played free-flowing beautiful football but often came up short when it counted most into a defensive beast in 2004. The team had 25 clean sheets in the 38 games they played from 2004 to 2005. Those stats are impressive and puts this team as the single most impressive defensive unit in the Premier League’s history. But it must be remembered that Chelsea were also a brilliant attacking force, with the combination Damien Duff and Arjen Robben counter-attacking teams into the dust. So good was the team that the 4-3-3 formation it used, was adopted by most of the league by the end of the season.

 

6.      Chelsea (2016/17)

Antonio Conte took over a Chelsea team in transition and struggled with getting them to look like a cohesive unit. That is until he switched to a 3-4-3 formation resulting in a remarkable turnaround that still brought all of 93 points to Stamford Bridge on the way to a title-winning debut for the coach.

The new formation revived the career of Cesc Fabregas, proved N’Gola Kante was no fluke and provided Eden Hazard with the kind of freedom he strived on, especially with the support of Marcos Alonso and Victor Moses’ marauding runs down either flank. Chelsea also had the robust work of Diego Costa up front. Two years before, Mourinho’s Chelsea had crawled over the line for a title-winning season, but this blues line-up seemed to get stronger as the season progressed.

 

7.      Manchester United (2008/09)

Manchester United’s 2008/09 winning season is precious not just because all Premier League titles come at a premium, but because it came at the expense of Rafael Benetiz’s Liverpool, a team of certain quality.

United, without the services of the injured Owen Hargreaves and Michael Owen, depended on the silky-smooth presence of Dimitar Berbatov, who while much maligned for his lack of work ethic, still managed to keep scoring. Defensively, this United team also had great moments, going without conceding a goal from November to late February, a string of 14 games.


 

8.      Chelsea (2005/06)

Michael Essien is perhaps the name somebody could most easily point to as the reason for Chelsea’s dominance in the 2005-06 season. With an ageing Damien Duff and a less-than-his-best Arjen Robben, Chelsea were not the same attacking force they had been a season before. But that did not matter as their midfield, driven by the indefatigable Essien, gave oppositions no opportunities to take over games. There workmanlike performances over the course of the season made them an unliked team, for the most part, because there wasn’t the flair of previous seasons. However, that made them an underrated team rather than not a good one. Still, they ended eight points clear of nearest rivals Manchester United and boasted the best goal difference in the league by a long way, ending with a +50 figure as opposed to United’s +38.

 

9.      Manchester United (1993/94)

Consistency was the key to Manchester United’s 1993-94 triumph. While the Red Devils were the most dominant of all Premier League teams during the 1990s, this unit was even more so than all their different iterations over the decade. The unit saw the inclusion of newcomer Roy Keene, who along with Paul Ince, produced a formidable duo of box-to-box players rather than holding midfielders.

That dynamic meant that while Manchester United were listed as playing 4-4-2, they were perhaps the first team to really employ a 4-2-3-1 formation. Andrei Kanchelskis and Ryan Giggs provided lightning pace down the flanks while Eric Cantona played behind targetman, Mark Hughes. The line-up was irresistible when you factor in a solid backline with the ever-present Denis Irwin, Steve Bruce, Gary Pallister, and Paul Parker. The four were backed up by the best goalkeeper in the league, Peter Schmeichel. Together they would rack up 92 points to finish eight clear of Blackburn Rovers.

 

10. Leicester (2015/2016)

It is easy, especially since they haven’t challenged since and never posed a significant threat before to call the Leicester City team that won the 2015-16 an aberration in a season where the other ‘big’ teams underperformed. But in doing so, you would have ignored the fact that N’Golo Kante announced himself as one of the best defensive midfielders in the world. That Riyad Mahrez’s exploits made him one of Europe’s best performing attacking midfielders/wingers, whatever you want to call him and that Wes Morgan led a defensive unit that was almost impenetrable, even for the most creative of teams in the English Premier League. That Jamie Vardy broke the EPL record for scoring in the most consecutive games. And if you want to ignore all of that, you still have to factor in that over the course of 38 games, Leicester lost just thrice. For an entire season, Leicester threw the rulebook out the window, depending on counter-attacking football throughout, never failing to hurt teams with blinding speed even after the hard yards of defending for long periods of time.

  

11. Manchester United (1999/2000)

A year on from winning a most unlikely treble, it was hard to imagine a Manchester United repeating a league win given the last-ditch effort it took to get the better of perennial rivals, Arsenal. However, it was to be an almost unprecedented romp, as newcomers Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole tore into the league’s defenders, quickly becoming the most dangerous attacking pairing in the league.

Of course, the presence of Giggs, Scholes, Keane and Beckham behind them didn’t make things any easier for the opposition, while Mikael Silvestre added pace to a backline that had lost some.

Manchester United scored 97 goals that season and only lost three of their 38 games, leaving Arsenal hobbled in their wake.

Paul-Andre Walker

Paul-Andre is the Managing Editor at SportsMax.tv. He comes to the role with almost 20 years of experience as journalist. That experience includes all facets of media. He began as a sports Journalist in 2001, quickly moving into radio, where he was an editor before becoming a news editor and then an entertainment editor with one of the biggest media houses in the Caribbean.

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