Arsenal next? The 13 Premier League teams to hit 90+ points
Reaching a total of 90 points was once a rarity in the Premier League, even for the division’s very best teams.
But Manchester City and Liverpool have set new standards in recent years, leaving almost no margin for error at the top. And now Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal look set to become the latest side to reach the milestone of greatness.
There’s still plenty of the race left to run and every possibility of a late-season collapse. But league leaders Arsenal have looked exceptional throughout almost the entirety of the 2022-23 campaign so far. They’re on track for a final tally of 93 points if they can maintain the standards set so far – and a final tally of 99 points is achievable if they don’t drop any points in the run-in.
We’ve taken a look at the exceptional sides who’ve managed at least 90 points since the Premier League’s inception.
Manchester United – 1993-94 (92 points)
It didn’t take long for Sir Alex Ferguson’s United to put down a marker in the newly formed Premier League, which still had 42 games a season until 1995-96.
Having won the inaugural title the year before, the Red Devils left the competition trailing in their wake, finishing eight points clear of second-placed Blackburn.
They also won the FA Cup, capping off one of many successful seasons for Fergie at Old Trafford.
Manchester United – 1999-00 (91 points)
Predictably, it was United again who next reached the 90-point milestone.
Their period of dominance throughout the decade was finished off in style as the goals of Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole, and the assists of David Beckham, fired Fergie’s side to another title.
United hit 97 goals across the league season, hammering almost everyone at Old Trafford.
West Ham were beaten 7-1, Everton 5-1, and Newcastle were given a 5-1 drubbing at Old Trafford.
This was, arguably, the most stylish of Fergie’s title wins.
Arsenal – 2003-04 (90 points)
This team needs no introduction.
Arsene Wenger’s Invincibles immediately went down in Premier League folklore having gone an entire season without losing a game.
A stingy defensive record of just 26 goals conceded proved the foundation of the success, while Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp terrorised defenders at the other end of the pitch.
Wenger, of course, had already made prescient comments about the possibility of avoiding defeat through a whole Premier League campaign. And no one really believed it but him.
“It’s not impossible to go through the season unbeaten and I can’t see why it’s shocking to say that,” he said in September 2002.
“Every manager thinks that but they don’t say it because they’re scared it would be ridiculous.”
No one has achieved it since, so perhaps that Arsenal team were slightly ridiculous.
Chelsea – 2004-05 (95 points)
Chelsea, in response to Arsenal’s Invincibles, looked to raise the bar again.
Now backed by the wealth of Roman Abramovich, they brought in Porto’s Champions League-winning manager Jose Mourinho, whose approach proved innovative.
The self-proclaimed ‘Special One’ immediately instilled an almost impenetrable defensive system at Chelsea, which resulted in a total of just 15 goals conceded in 38 league games.
His side made the Arsenal team of the year before look porous in comparison.
With Frank Lampard scoring consistently in attack, there was no stopping Chelsea. The Blues very nearly matched Arsenal in going the whole season unbeaten, too, but a solitary defeat at Manchester City prevented that.
Chelsea – 2005-06 (91 points)
A year on and Mourinho’s Chelsea had not lost their efficacy.
They let in a few more goals and dropped a few more points, but a second successive title was never in doubt.
Lampard starred again, netting 16 times, while Didier Drogba scored 12 and led the line impressively.
And in defence, no one could find a way through John Terry, Ashley Cole and co.
Beautiful Football 👏👏👏👏 #CFC
— nick10469 (@nick10469) March 26, 2018
Manchester United – 2008-09 (90 points)
United quickly re-established themselves as the top dogs in the Premier League after Arsenal and Chelsea’s respective dalliances with the crown.
They made it three titles in a row with another 90-point haul, despite a relatively unimpressive return of 68 goals scored.
Cristiano Ronaldo did score 19 times, though, and a strong defensive record helped Fergie’s side pip a resurgent Liverpool to top spot.
Chelsea – 2016-17 (93 points)
A gap of eight years until the next team managed to reach 90 points was a testament to the competitiveness of the Premier League.
It was Chelsea under Antonio Conte who began what would become a new era of unprecedented high standards.
The Italian coach responded to a slow start to the season and a heavy defeat at Arsenal by switching to a back three, a tactical change that resulted in a superb run of 13 consecutive wins.
With Diego Costa leading the line, Chelsea were too aggressive and too effective for most opponents, ending the campaign seven points clear of runners-up Tottenham.
“This is for my players,” said Conte.
“It is a great achievement because this is the hardest championship to win in the world, and I have to say thanks to the players for their commitment, their attitude and their passion, and their will to do something great this season. They fought for this.”
"When Conte arrived at Chelsea, I started to see what modern football was all about: lots of runs, fractional sessions, lots of robotic training, i.e. 'you pass to me, I to you, if you are there I need to be here” pic.twitter.com/zgWpjs59vX
— AllThingsSeleção ™ (@SelecaoTalk) May 16, 2022
Manchester City – 2017-18 (100 points)
The best team in Premier League history – at least if measuring it by points.
Pep Guardiola has taken things to a new level since joining Manchester City and this was the zenith, an incredible team that finished 19 points clear at the top.
No team had reached 100 points, no team had scored more than the 106 goals City racked up, and no team had won more than their 32 victories.
This was a record-breaking side and one that threatened to establish a hegemonic grip on the Premier League.
Manchester City (98 points) & Liverpool (97 points) – 2018-19
There was no let-up from City a year on, but this time they were pushed all the way by Jurgen Klopp’s equally relentless Liverpool.
City won the league by a single point, while Liverpool were left to wonder what might have been.
Their total of 97 points would have been enough to win the Premier League title in all but one other season.
Arsenal are only the ninth 🏴 top-flight team to win 16+ of their opening 19 games. Does this = a league title?
Preston 1888-89: ✅
Man Utd 1907-08: ✅
Spurs 1960-61: ✅
Chelsea 2005-06: ✅
Chelsea 2016-17: ✅
Man City 2017-18: ✅
Liverpool 2018-19: ❌
Liverpool 2019-20: ✅
— Duncan Alexander (@oilysailor) January 22, 2023
Liverpool – 2019-20 (99 points)
When City finally experienced a dip, Liverpool were there to capitalise.
Despite the interruption to the season by the outbreak of Covid-19, Klopp’s side were unstoppable and romped to a first title in 30 years.
“I have no words,” Klopp said.
“It’s the best thing I can imagine and more than I could have ever dreamed of. It’s unbelievable. Much more than I ever thought would be possible.”
Manchester City (93 points) & Liverpool (92 points) – 2021-22
After most teams’ standards dropped in a season heavily impacted by the pandemic, the top of the table took on a familiar look again last season.
City, midway through, looked high and dry, but their lead was clawed back by Liverpool, in pursuit of a quadruple.
But City, after a dramatic final-day win over Aston Villa, had enough to get over the line again, finishing a point ahead of Liverpool in a cruel repeat of 2018-19.
When we come to look back upon that era, we’ll surely remember it as an all-time great Premier League rivalry.