Sunday, January 17, 2021

Pennant Fever

 Here are the last 10 winners of the English Premier League:

2010-11:  Manchester Utd
2011-12:  Manchester City
2012-13:  Manchester Utd
2013-14:  Manchester City
2014-15:  Chelsea
2015-16:  Leicester City
2016-17:  Chelsea
2017-18:  Manchester City
2018-19:  Manchester City
2019-20:  Liverpool

From the early 1990's until 2013, the English Premier League was dominated by Sir Alex Ferguson and Manchester United.  But Sir Alex retired after winning the 2012-13 title, and United hasn't won the crown since.  Last year, Liverpool won the title for the first time since 1990, meaning that the list of all-time English football champions now looks like this:

1.  Manchester Utd:  20 titles
2.  Liverpool:  19 titles
3.  Arsenal:  13 titles

But this year, Manchester United is back in the thick of things.  Today they went to Anfield and ground out a 0-0 tie against Liverpool, which is a very good result from their perspective.  So as we approach the halfway mark, the top of the table looks like this:

1.  Manchester Utd:  11-3-4 (37 points)
2.  Manchester City:  10-2-5 (35) (goal differential of 16)
3.  Leicester City:  11-5-2 (35) (goal differential of 12)
4.  Liverpool:  9-2-7 (34)
5.  Tottenham Hotspur:  9-3-6 (33)
6.  Everton:  10-5-2 (32)

It's an unusually close race.  Manchester City has an edge, because they've played only 17 games while every other team in the top five has played 18.  They also have Pep Guardiola, who is one of the greatest managers in the world.  Here are the latest odds for winning the title:

Manchester City:  4 to 7 (63.6 percent chance)
Liverpool:  7 to 2 (22.2 percent chance)
Manchester Utd:  7 to 1 (12.5 percent chance)

You can have Spurs at 20/1, or Leicester City at 28/1.

All of the big teams made it through the third round of the F.A. Cup, meaning that they are in the Round of 32.  Here are their matchups (home teams listed first):

01/23/21:  Cheltenham Town v. Manchester City
01/24/21:  Brentford v. Leicester City
01/24/21:  Everton v. Sheffield Wednesday
01/24/21:  Manchester Utd v. Liverpool
01/25/21:  Wycombe Wanderers v. Tottenham Hotspur

These days, the big clubs tend to treat the F.A. Cup as an exhibition series unless they get pretty deep into the competition.  It's awkward, because the fans would like to win the Cup, but no one wants to risk injury or have too many games going on in April and May when the bigger trophies are up for grabs.  Liverpool and Manchester City are still in the Champions' League -- which is the biggest title of all -- while United has already been knocked out of that competition.  So it would be really surprising for Liverpool to make much of an effort in that F.A. Cup game -- which is exactly the sort of thing fans my age complain about.  On the other hand, they all keep watching -- just like I sat through those extra wild card games last week in the NFL.


  1. Since I started following English football in 1994-95, here's a list of all the teams that have won the English Premiere League:

    Manchester Utd: 11 times
    Chelsea: 5 times
    Manchester City: 4 times
    Arsenal: 3 times
    Liverpool: 1 time
    Leicester City: 1 time
    Blackburn Rovers: 1 time

  2. Sir Alex Ferguson, who is from Scotland, was the last British manager to win the EPL. No English manager has ever won the EPL, which started in the 1992-93 season. The last English manager to win the English League title was Howard Wilkinson, who managed Leeds United to the top of the old Division One in 1991-92.

  3. Before the 1997-98 season, no non-British manager had ever won the League Championship in England.