25 Reasons Why 2013-14 Was the Best Premier League Season Ever
There were memorable performances; there was a title race that came down to the final day. There were goals, goals and more goals, and there were even airplanes.
The 2013-14 Premier League season might just have been the best-ever running of the English top flight.
"Why?" you ask.
Let us count the ways.
Following are 25 factors that turned the just-completed season into one for the ages.
25. Two Welsh Teams
For the first time in English football history, two Welsh sides took part in the top flight.
Swansea, promoted to the Premier League back in 2011, even participated in the Europa League after winning last season’s Capital One Cup, and in August they were joined by South Wales rivals Cardiff City, who ended up finishing bottom of the table.
Cardiff won the campaign’s first all-Wales matchup 1-0 on November 3, but Swansea returned the favour with a 3-0 victory on February 8.
24. Fan Power
Football fans made their voices heard in 2013-14.
At the KC Stadium, Hull City fans protested a proposed name change to Hull Tigers, and at Cardiff City Stadium, Bluebirds fans sang "We're Cardiff City, we'll always be blue" in protest at owner Vincent Tan's changing of the club's strip to red.
23. Neville vs. Carragher
Jamie Carragher's retirement as a Liverpool player in May 2013 and subsequent hiring at Sky Sports set up some tasty encounters with fellow Sky pundit and former Manchester United right-back Gary Neville.
"No one wants to grow up and be a Gary Neville," Carragher said at one point, as per the Mirror.
Neville never spared a jab, either, and after Carragher had likened United striker Robin van Persie to a "burglar in your house" in August, he added (playing on a Liverpool stereotype) that Carragher would "be the burglar," according to the Huffington Post.
Who would have thought, coming into the season, that airplanes and banners would be among the most defining elements of Manchester United’s campaign?
"Wrong One—Moyes Out" read the first airborne banner during a March match at home to Aston Villa.
Then, on the final day of the season, another flew over St. Mary's. reading "United 20—Gerrard 0" in reference to the titles won by the Red Devils and lack of league silverware in the Liverpool captain's trophy closet.
21. Never Richer
Premier League clubs set a new transfer record in 2013-14, spending £760 million on player acquisitions, according to the Telegraph.
Mesut Ozil (Real Madrid to Arsenal), Juan Mata (Chelsea to Manchester United), Fernandinho (Shakhtar Donetsk to Manchester City), Willian (Anzhi Makhachkala to Chelsea) and Marouane Fellaini (Everton to Manchester United) represented the most expensive moves of the campaign.
What would any club season be without the occasional giant-killing?
Eventual champions Manchester City were beaten 3-2 away to promoted Cardiff in only their second match of the campaign, and on March 1 Stoke City beat Arsenal 1-0 at the Britannia.
At Old Trafford, defeats for Manchester United even became commonplace, with the likes of Sunderland, Newcastle and West Bromwich Albion all winning at the Theatre of Dreams.
19. Everton's Push for Champions League Football
Everton were one of the feel-good stories of the season and will be rewarded for their solid campaign with Europa League football next season.
But they nearly pipped Arsenal to the final Champions League place, going so far as to hand the Gunners a 3-0 defeat at Goodison Park on April 6. Under new manager Roberto Martinez, the Toffees played some of the best football in the division.
18. Southampton's England Factory
Southampton finished a respectable eighth in the Premier League table in 2013-14—a fact that will no doubt encourage fans of the England national team ahead of the World Cup.
Three Saints players will be part of the Three Lions in Brazil (Luke Shaw, Adam Lallana and Rickie Lambert), while Jay Rodriguez also made his England debut against Denmark in March.
Then there is Nathaniel Clyne and James Ward-Prowse, both of whom will no doubt be in the conversation for Russia 2018.
17. Daniel Sturridge
Speaking of England, it bodes well for the Three Lions that one of the Premier League's form goalscorers throughout the 2013-14 season was actually English.
Daniel Sturridge scored 21 goals in the top flight as Liverpool finished second in the table; he tallied 24 times in all competitions.
16. Yaya Toure
Yaya Toure was the most important player for Manchester City, who claimed a second Premier League title in three seasons in 2013-14.
The Ivory Coast midfielder scored an eye-popping 20 goals while providing his brand of powerful, non-stop inspiration over the course of the campaign.
He also provided nine assists, completed more than 90 per cent of his passes and averaged 1.5 tackles per match, according to WhoScored.com.
15. Luis Suarez Couldn't Stop Scoring
He may have missed the first five matches of the season as he served out a suspension for biting Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic, but Liverpool striker Luis Suarez hit the ground running upon his return and went on to lead the English top flight with 31 goals in just 35 matches.
The Uruguay international also contributed 12 assists and was named Player of the Season by both the Professional Footballers' Association and Football Writers' Association.
14. Great Escapes
As the calendar changed from 2013 to 2014, it looked a certainty that West Ham would be relegated in the spring.
Then a scoreless draw away to Chelsea kicked off an unbeaten month of February, and suddenly they were comfortably mid-table.
Sunderland left it rather later, but just as it looked as though they were destined for the drop, the Black Cats beat Chelsea and Manchester United, then went unbeaten in five matches before a final-day defeat to Swansea.
13. Ryan Giggs, Manchester United Manager
One of the immediately positive fallouts from the David Moyes sacking was that Manchester United fans got to see Ryan Giggs manage their club for the final four matches of the season.
Giggs' caretaking tenure started with a 4-0 drubbing of Norwich at Old Trafford, and after a disappointing defeat to Sunderland, the Welsh winger handed debuts to both Tom Lawrence and James Wilson, the latter bagging a brace at home to Hull in the penultimate match of the season.
12. Rooney Strike
Manchester United attacker Wayne Rooney scored one of the goals of the season when he found the back of the net from the halfway line at Upton Park on March 22.
Pushing off West Ham defender James Tomkins, the England man teed up a vicious drive from 52 yards that managed to beat goalkeeper Adrian, who had ventured off his line.
11. Shelvey Strike
If there was a better goal than Rooney's in 2013-14, it was surely the one struck by Swansea's Jonjo Shelvey against Aston Villa on April 26.
With the two sides level at a goal apiece through 26 minutes, Shelvey got on the end of Ron Vlaar's botched clearance and volleyed a sensational strike past goalkeeper Brad Guzan.
Swansea went on to win 4-1.
10. Goals, Goals, Goals
Goals. There were a lot of them in 2013-14.
Both Manchester City (102) and Liverpool (101) scored more than 100, and each of Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United and Everton managed more than 60.
Three players (Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge, and Yaya Toure) tallied at least 20 times in the league, and seven others (Sergio Aguero, Wayne Rooney, Wilfried Bony, Edin Dzeko, Olivier Giroud, Romelu Lukaku and Jay Rodriguez) broke the 15-goal barrier.
9. Unlikely Drubbings
Nothing catches attention quite like a top team ending up on the wrong end of a hiding.
It happened with some frequency in 2013-14, most notably when Tottenham Hotspur lost 4-0 to Liverpool in March, 5-0 to the Reds in December and 6-0 to Manchester City in November.
But Spurs weren't the only top side to get a proper drubbing. Arsenal were defeated 5-1 at Anfield in February, then lost 6-0 away to Chelsea in March.
8. Late-Season Dramatics
That the title race came down to the final day was due in large part to some unlikely results in the last few weeks of the season.
Manchester City, for example, made things interesting by drawing 1-1 at Arsenal, losing 3-2 at Liverpool and drawing 2-2 at home to Sunderland.
Liverpool, meanwhile, lost a crucial match at home to Chelsea, then there was that 3-3 draw at Crystal Palace...
7. Return of Jose Mourinho
Jose Mourinho was all smiles upon his return to Stamford Bridge in June.
"I am the Happy One," he remarked to an adoring press corps at his introductory press conference, as per the BBC. "I am where I want to be."
Chelsea fans welcomed their manager back with open arms, and their affection for the Portuguese remained entrenched even when he picked a fight with playmaker Juan Mata, later selling the Spain international to Manchester United.
6. The David Moyes Saga
Manchester United went from Premier League title winners to also-rans in less than a year—a year that happened to mark the club's first without long-time manager Sir Alex Ferguson, who announced his retirement in May 2013.
But English football's record champions seemed to be in safe hands when David Moyes was appointed to succeed his fellow Scot, except that the former Everton boss never settled in the job and was sacked with four matches remaining.
It was the sort of saga that routinely embarrasses other clubs. But Manchester United? Now that was unusual.
5. Liverpool in Contention
The English top flight is always a better place when its biggest clubs are functioning to their full potential, which is why Liverpool’s bid for a first title in 24 years was refreshing.
Under the guidance of manager Brendan Rodgers, the Reds played the best football in the country, and strikers Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge finished first and second on the Premier League goalscoring chart.
4. Goal-Line Technology
After years of huffing and puffing, English football finally welcomed modernity to its top tier with the introduction of goal-line technology.
And, as it happened, it was required on the opening weekend of the season when Aston Villa midfielder Fabian Delph released a shot that looked like it might have crossed the line in a match at Arsenal.
But referee Anthony Taylor’s watch didn't vibrate, and as a result—and as a video replay confirmed to television viewers—play was allowed to continue.
3. 25th Anniversary of Hillsborough Marked Throughout Premier League
In an impressive display of solidarity with the victims of the Hillsborough stadium disaster, Premier League clubs solemnly marked the 25th anniversary of the tragedy that claimed the lives of 96 Liverpool supporters with services and moments of remembrance on and around April 15.
"Everton are with you," said Toffees manager Roberto Martinez in a particularly stirring address, as per the Daily Mail.
He added: "To fight for the names of the people you have lost is appalling. The way you fight for justice is incredible."
2. Top-of-the-Table Lead Changes
There were 25 lead changes atop the Premier League table over the course of the season—enough to keep even casual fans glued to what was truly a riveting title race.
In the end, Arsenal spent the most days in first place—128—but finished fourth. Champions Manchester City were in the lead only 15 days and runners-up Liverpool 59.
1. It All Came Down to the Final Day
The 2013-14 Premier League season came down to the final day. In the end, that’s really all you can ask for.
A Manchester City defeat at home to West Ham combined with a Liverpool win against Newcastle at Anfield would have seen the Reds crowned champions for the first time since 1990.
As it happened, of course, both City and Liverpool won their matches, which meant that City secured their second title in three seasons.