The Best Three-Way Premier League Title Races

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At the time of writing, with around 15 Matchdays left of the 2023/24 Premier League season, it looks very much as though a three-way title race is materialising between Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester City. Aston Villa and Tottenham are not too far behind either and it’s gearing up to be a classic race for the Premier League crown.

Even a title tussle between two sides can be packed with twists and turns and a whole lot of drama, but have there been any seasons when three (or more) sides have been in with a chance of winning the title going into the final few games? In this article, we’ll take a look back at the Premier League campaigns in which we’ve witnessed a three-way battle to become champions (or, in the most recent example, almost a four-way battle!).

Note that we’ll classify a team as having been in the title race if they finished within six points (i.e. two wins) of the eventual champions.

2013/14 – Four Teams Vying for Title

Position
Team
Points
Wins
Goal Diff
1
Manchester City
86
27
+65
2
Liverpool
84
26
+51
3
Chelsea
82
25
+44
4
Arsenal
79
24
+27

Prior to the 2023/24 season, the most recent example of a title race that involved more than two sides was 2013/14… when four teams were in with a realistic shout. Eventual champions Manchester City (who were managed by Chilean boss Manuel Pellegrini at the time) left things very late and, other than a single week in January, they only reached the top of the table with two games to go, after main title rivals lost 2-0 at home to Chelsea (when Steven Gerrard suffered that fateful slip!). Victory on the final day for Man City (2-0 against West Ham) sealed the deal, leaving Liverpool fans heartbroken.

Chelsea, under the guidance of Jose Mourinho during his second spell at the club, finished in third spot after enjoying a few weeks at the top of the pile at various points during the season. Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal, meanwhile, finished very strongly and were poised to pounce if the sides above them faltered. With just four points separating first from third, and each of the top three losing six matches, this was one of the most exciting and memorable title races in Premier League history.

2007/08 – Arsenal Stumble After Leading the Way

Position
Team
Points
Wins
Goal Diff
1
Manchester United
87
27
+58
2
Chelsea
85
25
+39
3
Arsenal
83
24
+43

Four points was again the difference between first and fourth in 2007/08 when Manchester United took the title ahead of the London duo, Chelsea and Arsenal. This was yet another battle for Premier League supremacy between two of the greatest managers of all time, Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger. But Chelsea had parted ways with their Special One Jose Mourinho by this point and it was Avram Grant in the Stamford Bridge dugout for this campaign.

As said, there was little between the sides when the totals were totted up in May 2008 and it was Wenger’s Gunners who set the pace for much of the campaign. The north London side were perched at the top of the table from mid-September 2007 until early March 2008, with just a couple of blips here and there when they slipped off top spot.

Chelsea, meanwhile, only made it to the top of the table very briefly in the early stages of the campaign. But it was Fergie’s Red Devils who finished the strongest, winning nine and drawing two of their last 12 games. Chelsea gave them a scare by beating them at the Bridge with two games to go, but in the end, United held on to triumph by two points.

1998/99 – Usual Suspects… Usual Result

Position
Team
Points
Wins
Goal Diff
1
Manchester United
79
22
+43
2
Arsenal
78
22
+42
3
Chelsea
75
20
+27

We head back to the 1990s for our final three-way title battle, and once more it involved Man United, Arsenal and Chelsea… and once again, Ferguson’s side ended up as champions. Italian legend Gianluca Vialli was in charge at Chelsea, having replaced Dutch legend Ruud Gullit the season before. And once again it was Ferguson versus Wenger for Man United and Arsenal respectively.

This season was rather a strange one because instead of any of the sides that eventually finished in the top three setting the pace, it was Aston Villa who were sitting pretty at the top of the table for much of the first half of the campaign… and they slumped badly and ended up finishing in sixth position! Chelsea were only top for a couple of weeks in the middle of the season and Arsenal for a few weeks towards the end. But – as was so often the case – Ferguson’s side finished very strongly and, in fact, after their shock 3-2 home defeat to Middlesbrough on 19th December 1998, they didn’t lose another league match all season.

Although United won the league by a margin of only two points, it was arguably Ferguson’s (and the club’s) greatest season as they went on to win the FA Cup and the Champions League to complete a fantastic treble.

Will There be a Three-Way Title Race in 2023/24?

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At the time of writing, we would certainly like to think the current season could turn into something of a classic with Arsenal, Liverpool and Man City – and perhaps even one or two more – battling it out for glory come May. Arsenal may have learned enough from their capitulation in 2022/23 to avoid a repeat this time around. And with Jurgen Klopp’s announcement that he’s moving on at the end of the current season, his Liverpool side will want to send him off on a high.

But Pep Guardiola’s Man City side are now habitual winners and there is every chance they will maintain their exceptional level while those around them fall by the wayside. Time will tell, of course, and if there are three sides still in it with just a few games to go, it’ll be one hell of a run-in.

Author: Raymond Sanchez