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5 Three-horse Title Races In Premier League History

It’s not too often we see more than two teams go toe to toe for a league title. With ten games to go, Liverpool, Man City and Arsenal all find themselves in a three-horse race to become champions. Is 2023/24 the most competitive title race yet? Here are five other times the premier league witnessed three-horse title races.

1. 1992/93 Man United vs Aston Villa vs Norwich

10 games left:

  1. Manchester United – 60
  2. Aston Villa – 60
  3. Norwich City – 56

In 1992, English football would be changed forever with the creation of the Premier League. Having finished 18th the previous season, Norwich City stunned the league, topping the table at Christmas.

Aston Villa, under Ron Atkinson, was next to lead the charge, alongside his former club Manchester United. Villa were 1st in early April with just six games remaining. But two wins out of their remaining six games – including defeats in their last three games – saw them lose out to United.

The Red Devils waited until January to find themselves at the top. While they would swap places with Villa continuously, the real turning point would come on the 10th of April against Sheffield Wednesday. Captain Steve Bruce scoring two late goals – the winner coming in the 97th minute, on the same day Villa slumped to a 0-0 home draw with Coventry.

United sealed the title with a game to go with a 3-1 win at home to Blackburn Rovers. Sir Alex Ferguson would win his first title, ending the Red Devils’ 26-year wait for a league title. But this was just the beginning of United’s dominance of the 90’s.

Final Table:

  1. Manchester United – 84
  2. Aston Villa – 74
  3. Norwich City – 72

2. 2013/14 Man City vs Liverpool vs Chelsea

10 games left:

  1. Chelsea – 63
  2. Manchester City – 61
  3. Liverpool – 59
  4. Arsenal – 59

For 128 days, Arsenal stayed in pole position, only to wind up 4th come the end of the season. Next, it would be Chelsea, in the first season of Jose Mourinho’s return to Stamford Bridge. With ten games to go the Blues sat two points clear of leaders Man City. But defeats to Aston Villa, Crystal Palace and Sunderland saw them drop to 3rd.

However, Mourinho’s side would contribute to one of the dramatic moments of the season when they visited Anfield.

With three games to go, it really felt like it was to be Liverpool’s year. Having beaten Man City in April to go two points clear, it looked like the Reds’ 24-year wait for a league title was coming to an end. But Steven Gerrard’s slip put Demba Ba clean through to slot home the first goal in a 2-0 defeat.

Liverpool would slip up yet again, throwing away a 3-0 lead to draw at Crystal Palace, all but giving City one hand on the trophy. Pelligrini’s side kept their cool to win their second Premier League Title.

Final Table:

  1. Manchester City – 86
  2. Liverpool – 84
  3. Chelsea – 82

3. 2001/02 Arsenal vs Liverpool vs Man United

10 games left:

  1. Manchester United – 58
  2. Arsenal – 57*
  3. Liverpool – 56

*Arsenal had a game in hand

Following league wins in 98′, 99′ and 00′, Manchester United went into the season hoping to win their fourth title in a row. After thirteen games, Leeds found themselves in the lead off the back reaching the Champions Semi-final the season before. Liverpool and Newcastle would also flirt with 1st place during the winter. By the halfway mark, United were in be 5th, six points behind the leaders, but it wouldn’t be long before they would reignite their title charge.

With ten games left, United led the league by a point ahead of 2nd-placed Arsenal. However, it would be advantage Arsenal as United suffered a 1-0 home defeat to Middlesborough. While Liverpool would do their best to catch the Gunners, they would ultimately fall short.

In the penultimate game, the Gunners would visit Old Trafford, with United needing to win to have any chance of retaining the title. Sylvain Wiltord’s goal helped Arsenal to a 1-0 win, securing a second league title for Arsene Wenger.

Final table:

  1. Arsenal – 87
  2. Liverpool – 80
  3. Manchester United – 77

4. 2009/10 Chelsea vs Man United vs Arsenal

10 games left:

  1. Chelsea – 61
  2. Manchester United – 60
  3. Arsenal – 58

Once again United would go into a campaign hoping to win their fourth title in a row. Win wins in 06/07, 07/08, and 08/09, Alex Ferguson has equalled Liverpool’s record of 18 league titles and was determined to break it, however, the loss of Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid would come as a huge blow. At the same time, Carlo Ancelloti arrived at Chelsea eager to replicate his success at AC Milan.

Inspired by the performances of Cesc Fabregas, Arsenal, would top the table briefly in March on the back of six consecutive wins. But they soon choked, winning just two of their last seven games which saw defeats to Spurs and Wigan – in which they blew a 2-0 lead to lose 3-2.

Meanwhile, Chelsea spent 30/38 gameweeks in pole position, followed closely by United. This season saw the Blues break the record for the most goals scored in a season, hitting the net 103 times. 29 of those from Didier Drogba as he and Wayne Rooney battled out for the golden boot.

Ancelotti’s side headed to Old Trafford in April needing to stay ahead of United. Goals from Joe Cole and Drogba helped them to a crucial 2-1 victory. Even a defeat to rivals Spurs couldn’t stop Chelsea. The final day saw the title hung in balance, United relaying on Wigan to get something at Stamford Bridge. But any hopes would be shortly dashed with Chelsea carrying out an 8-0 thrashing to win their third premier league title.

Final Table:

  1. Chelsea – 86
  2. Manchester United – 85
  3. Arsenal – 75

5. 1998/99 Man United vs Arsenal vs Chelsea

10 games left:

  1. Manchester United – 57
  2. Arsenal – 53
  3. Chelsea – 53*

*Chelsea had a game in hand

1999 would be a year forever etched in Manchester United’s history. Sir Alex’s side would win the league, FA Cup, and Champions League to claim a historic treble. After Arsenal had beaten them to the league the season prior, United were out for revenge. The signings of Jaap Stam and Dwight Yorke would be crucial to their success.

Aston Villa would be the surprise package, being top at Christmas, but a terrible run of form saw them finish down in 6th. Chelsea also started strong under Gianluca Vialli, going on a 21-game unbeaten run before it was ended by Dennis Bergkamp and Arsenal in January.

Despite playing catch up, Man United reached the summit following five successive wins in February. This included an 8-1 demolition of Nottingham Forest at the City Ground. Despite their early struggles, Arsenal went into the final run-in as United’s main contenders, going on a 19-game unbeaten run. With draws to rivals Leeds and Liverpool, United gave Arsenal the advantage with two games left.

But for the gunners, a 1-0 defeat away to leads would provide one final twist going into the last game of the season. United would lead by a single point, meaning Arsenal would need a favour from of all teams, Tottenham. Wenger’s side would do their part, being Villa 1-0. While Spurs would take the lead at Old Trafford goals from David Beckham and Andy Cole brought the title back to Manchester.

Final Table:

  1. Manchester United – 79
  2. Arsenal – 78
  3. Chelsea – 75

Special mention: 1971/72 Derby vs Leeds vs Liverpool

1 game left:

  1. Liverpool – 57
  2. Manchester City – 57*
  3. Derby Country – 56
  4. Leeds United – 55

*Man City had already played their final game

The title race to end all title races back when England’s top tier was known as the ‘First Division’. It’s unlikely we’ll ever see a title race go down to the final day with four teams in the mix. Although City would win their final against Derby on 22th April, they had no chance of winning as both Liverpool and Derby had games in hand, with a better goal average.

Brian Clough’s Derby went on to win their final game of the season against title rivals Liverpool. But both Shankly’s Reds and Revie’s Leeds would still have games to play against Arsenal and Wolves respectively.

Liverpool drew 0-0 at Highbury whilst Leeds would lose 2-1 at Molineux meaning the title would head to Derby. What’s more crazy, Clough and his players had already gone off on holiday before the season officially ended.

Final Table:

  1. Derby County – 58
  2. Leeds United – 57
  3. Liverpool – 57
  4. Manchester City – 57
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