The ninth Premier League season was a historic one as Manchester United won three consecutive league titles for the first time in the competition’s young history.
After their emphatic title win the season before, the Red Devils tightened their grasp on the English top-flight by finishing 10 points clear of runners-up Arsenal.
The first full season of the new millennium saw several superstars either move clubs or join the Premier League for the first time. Notable transfers included the addition of World Cup-winning goalkeeper Fabien Barthez to Manchester United and Chelsea’s purchases of Icelandic footballer Eidur Gudjohnsen and Dutch striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink. The Blues were looking a formidable side, yet their campaign got off to a dismal start and manager Gianluca Vialli was soon replaced with compatriot Claudio Ranieri.
Leeds United snapped up Mark Viduka, whilst Liverpool welcomed the addition of English youngster Nick Barmby. Leeds had impressed during the 1999/2000 season and hopes were high that they could seriously challenge their archrivals this time around.
The 2000/01 Season Summary
Manchester United, Arsenal, and Liverpool were the three favourites going into the 2000/01 season, yet the former’s dominance in 1999/2000 made United the stand-out candidates.
Charlon Athletic, Manchester City, and Ipswich Town were the newcomers and all three hoped to successfully navigate the treacherous Premier League to stay up for at least another season.
Chelsea, Newcastle United, and Leeds United were hoping to improve upon their campaigns from last season and bag a place in Europe ahead of 2001/02, whilst Coventry City’s long-standing status in the top-flight was in serious jeopardy.
Henry Wonder Goal Sinks United
One of the all-time great Premier League goals occurred on 1 October 2000 when Arsenal hosted title-rivals Manchester United at Highbury. The game was a close one with several teams missing good chances and it took something truly special to break the deadlock - as Thierry Henry received the ball with his back to goal outside the United penalty area, the Frenchman flicked the ball up and unleashed a volley into the top-right corner whilst not even looking at the goal.
The strike was enough to give Arsenal the three points and keep their hopes for a second Premier League title alive.
The Gunners knew it would take a near-perfect season to unseat Man Utd, and the early victory over them put them on course.
George Burley’s Ipswich Town were the surprise package of the season as they romped their way to the top 10. Spearheaded by English striker Marcus Stewart, there was genuine discussion that the Tractor Boys could qualify for the Champions League.
Ipswich would finish the season in 5th place - their highest ever - and embark on their fabled UEFA Cup adventure.
Man Utd Pull Clear
Manchester United hosted Arsenal at Old Trafford in February as the Red Devils sought their revenge over the defeat back in October. Most were expecting a close game, however Sir Alex’s men trounced the Gunners 6-1 with a first-half treble for Dwight Yorke.
The emphatic victory virtually secured the title for United as they were now 16 points clear of second-placed Arsenal. Just weeks after the February encounter, a 7th Premier League title arrived at Old Trafford.
Though the title race was once again anti-climatic, the race for European places reached a fever-pitch with Liverpool, Leeds, and Ipswich battling it out. The Reds, inspired by new manager Gerard Houlier, ended up securing third place and also attained a unique treble of the FA, League, and UEFA Cups. Young midfielder Steven Gerrard won plaudits for his performances throughout the season and scooped up the PFA Young Player of the Year award.
Manchester City, Bradford City, and Coventry City dropped down the First Division and the latter’s stay in the top-flight concluded after 34 years. Man City were relegated for the third time in six seasons, whilst Bradford’s adventure in the Premier League came to an end after just two seasons.
The 2000/01 season was far from iconic, but it did set the pace for what top-flight English football would look like in the 2000s.
Season Statistics (Team)
Champions - Manchester United (80 points)
Runners-up - Arsenal (70 points)
Third-place - Liverpool (69 points)
Season Statistics (Individual)
Golden Boot - Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink (Chelsea, 23 goals)
Most Assists - David Beckham (Manchester United, 12 assists)
PFA Player of the Year - Teddy Sheringham (Manchester United)
PFA Young Player of the Year - Steven Gerrard (Liverpool)
Premier League Player of the Season - Patrick Viera (Arsenal)
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