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Premier League flashback - 2004-05 review: 50 years of pain end at the Bridge

The Premier League is 20 years old and has enjoyed plenty of highlights. Here, Total Football continues its series, looking back at some of the highs and lows.

In 2004-05, ‘The Special One’ arrived in England. Jose Mourinho took over at Chelsea and led the Blues to their first league championship in 50 years.

With just one defeat all campaign, a record number of points collected and the fewest goals ever conceded in a Premier League season, they were impossible to beat.

At the wrong end of the table, ‘Survival Sunday,’ saw all three relegation positions to be decided on the last day, for the first time in this era.

West Brom pulled a miracle off and stayed up, despite having been bottom on Christmas Day. Founder members of the league, Southampton went down, along with Crystal Palace and Norwich City.

CHAMPIONS: Chelsea

RUNNERS-UP: Arsenal

THIRD PLACE: Manchester United

RELEGATED: Crystal Palace, Norwich City, Southampton

TOP SCORERS: Thierry Henry (Arsenal) 25, Andy Johnson (Crystal Palace) 21, Robert Pires (Arsenal) 14, Frank Lampard (Chelsea) 13, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink (Middlesbrough) 13, Jermain Defoe (Tottenham Hotspur) 13, Yakubu (Portsmouth) 13, Eidur Gudjohnsen (Chelsea) 12, Andy Cole (Fulham) 12, Peter Crouch (Southampton) 12, Wayne Rooney (Manchester United) 11, Tim Cahill (Everton) 11, Robbie Fowler (Manchester City) 11

BIGGEST WIN: Arsenal 7-0 Everton (11 May 2005)

HIGHEST SCORING GAMES: Tottenham Hotspur 4-5 Arsenal (13 November 2004), Arsenal 5-3 Middlesbrough (22 August 2004), Norwich City 4-4 Middlesbrough (22 January 2005)

PFA PLAYER OF THE YEAR: John Terry (Chelsea)

PFA YOUNG PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)

Jose Mourinho arrived in England and in the Premier League for the 2004-05 season and immediately turned Chelsea into big winners.

He won a double in his first season, taking the honours in the Carling Cup and more importantly, becoming only the fourth side in the Premier League era to become champions of England.

Mourinho succeeded Claudio Ranieri and once again, big money was spent at Stamford Bridge.

£24m was paid to Marseille for striker Didier Drogba, with the likes of Ricardo Carvalho, goalkeeper Petr Cech, Paulo Ferreira and flying winger Arjen Robben also arriving in West London.

For the champions Arsenal, Arsene Wenger replaced experience with youth. Kanu joined newly promoted West Brom, Ray Parlour moved to Middlesbrough, whilst Sylvain Wiltord and Martin Keown were also shown the exit door.

In came goalkeeper Manuel Almunia and 20-year-old Dutchman, Robin Van Persie from Feyenoord. Also staying was skipper Patrick Vieira, despite intense speculation over a move to Real Madrid.

Madrid was where Michael Owen went, for a cheap £8m after contract negotiations broke down at Liverpool. Gerard Houllier’s Anfield legacy saw Djibril Cisse sign up for £14m but it was a new manager at the helm as Spaniard Rafa Benitez took over.

Benitez stamped a Spanish look on the squad, with the arrival of Josemi, Antonio Nunez, Xabi Alonso and Luis Garcia.

Other big moves saw Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Marc Viduka move to Middlesbrough, Alan Smith controversially switched to Manchester United from relegated Leeds for £7m; Newcastle brought in experienced striker Patrick Kluivert and defender Stephen Carr from Tottenham.

Emile Heskey, Mario Melchiot, Muzzy Izzet and Jesper Gronkjaer were all signed by Birmingham, Andy Cole swapped Blackburn for Fulham, Gary Speed departed Newcastle for Bolton and Danny Murphy bid a fond farewell to Liverpool, signing for Charlton Athletic.

Extending to 49

Arsenal had no problems in the early weeks of the new season, continuing where they left off. They outclassed Everton 4-1 on the opening weekend at Goodison Park.

Against Middlesbrough, the Gunners trailed 3-1 but stormed back to win 5-3 in the second set of games, before a comfortable 3-0 success over Blackburn Rovers saw them beat Nottingham Forest’s top-flight record of 42 games unbeaten.

They would eventually make it to 49 and only dropped two points in the first eight games.

Chelsea and Mourinho made a winning start, as Eidur Gudjohnsen’s scrambled effort was enough to beat Manchester United at Stamford Bridge.

Unlike Arsenal, there was no attacking flow to Chelsea’s early season football but they were building a strong defence and often, were able to pinch a decisive goal.

Mourinho was so frustrated after a 0-0 stalemate with Tottenham, he said; “They just defend, defend, defend and as we say in Portugal, they brought the bus and they left the bus infront of the goal.”

Manchester United made a disappointing start, falling as much as 11 points off the pace in the opening months of the campaign.

They rescued late draws at Blackburn and Bolton and paid Everton £27m for Wayne Rooney at the end of August.

After a nightmare summer, which had seen boardroom battles and many star players leave, Everton confounded the predictions of a relegation battle, by sitting in the top three from early September until late December.

One of their excellent early season wins came at Manchester City where Tim Cahill scored his first goal for the club to decide the match at Eastlands. However, he was sent off immediately afterwards for baring his chest, in a ridiculous new rule which banned players from taking off their shirts in a goal celebration.

New managers become a fashion accessory

Despite a last minute penalty from James Beattie to beat Blackburn Rovers 3-2, Paul Sturrock was the first managerial casualty of the season.

Sturrock was sacked after just two games and his reign on the South Coast had lasted a mere 13. He was replaced by his assistant, Steve Wigley but he wouldn’t last long either.

Sir Bobby Robson was the second manager to be dismissed by the end of August. He dropped Alan Shearer to the bench for a 4-2 defeat at Aston Villa and with just two points from four games; he was axed by Freddie Shepherd.

Graeme Souness resigned as Blackburn manager a week later, to take the vacant position at St. James’s Park.

Souness was replaced by the Wales international coach, Mark Hughes, who had finished his playing career at Ewood Park only two seasons earlier.

In October, Gary Megson announced he would be leaving West Brom at the end of the season but after a 3-0 loss at Crystal Palace on 23 October, he was relieved of his duties and replaced by former Middlesbrough boss, Bryan Robson.

November brought about the mysterious departure of Jacques Santini at Tottenham, less than four months after taking the job at White Hart Lane. Santini’s assistant, Martin Jol took permanent charge of the inconsistent North Londoners.

A bigger shock awaited Portsmouth when the appointment of Croatian Velimir Zajec as director of football prompted Harry Redknapp to walk out on Pompey and less than two weeks later; he unbelievably turned up down the road at Southampton.

Lastly, Kevin Keegan quit as Manchester City boss in March, with Stuart Pearce given the caretaker role at the City of Manchester Stadium, which later turned into a permanent role.

The amount of changes this year made sure football was keeping up with the latest fashion trends!

49 and out at Old Trafford

On 24 October, Arsenal needed to avoid defeat at Old Trafford, to stretch their unbeaten run to 50 league games. A win would eliminate Manchester United from the title race.

In another stormy encounter between the sides, goals in the second half from Ruud Van Nistlerooy and Wayne Rooney ensured a crucial 2-0 win for the Red Devils, ending the Gunners historic run at 49 games.

There was more good news for United, when Rio Ferdinand returned from his eight month suspension for missing a drugs test.

After their defeat at Old Trafford, Arsenal’s form collapsed. A stoppage time equaliser from Van Persie rescued a home point with Southampton and further draws with Crystal Palace and West Brom saw them drop behind Chelsea in the title race.

Then, it got worse at Anfield against an injury-ravaged Liverpool. Benitez’s side deservedly won 2-1, with Neil Mellor scoring a cracking winner in stoppage time and Jens Lehmann was dropped from the side afterwards.

Chelsea had their own problems briefly, sacking Romanian striker Adrian Mutu after he failed a routine drugs test. Then, they lost their only game of the season, going down 1-0 at Manchester City to a Nicolas Anelka penalty.

After that, they never looked back and started scoring goals for fun too. Blackburn Rovers, Charlton Athletic, Norwich City and Newcastle United were all beaten 4-0 in the next two months, as Mourinho’s men went into the New Year with a five point advantage.

Norwich had to wait 14 games for their first win of the season, which arrived with a 2-1 triumph over Southampton at Carrow Road.

Fellow newly promoted side West Brom looked doomed and were bottom at Christmas, after losing 4-0 at Birmingham, then 5-0 at home to Liverpool.

It was already becoming clear that three from Blackburn, Crystal Palace, West Brom, Norwich, Southampton and Fulham would be going down at the end of the season.

Jose’s Judgement Day

Sky Sports titled in as ‘Judgement Day’ and Jose Mourinho passed another test, as his side came from behind twice to draw 2-2 at Highbury with Arsenal.

The sides would have a massive falling out into the new year, when it was revealed that defender Ashley Cole, had met illegally with Mourinho and chief executive Peter Kenyon in a London hotel.

Arsenal accused Chelsea of an illegal approach and the Blues, plus Mourinho and Kenyon were fined for their actions.

The January transfer window saw plenty of business, if not involving the top three sides in the division.

Relegation threatened Southampton were busy, bringing in Portsmouth captain Nigel Quashie, Harry Redknapp’s son, Jamie from Tottenham and Olivier Bernard from Newcastle United.

Robbie Savage left Birmingham in acrimonious circumstances to link-up with Mark Hughes at Blackburn; Everton broke their club record to sign James Beattie, while Liverpool added goalscoring royalty from Madrid, in the shape of Fernando Morientes.

Leaving the Premier League were Anelka, who signed for Fenerbache, Thomas Gravesen moved to Real Madrid and after refusing to play on the wing for a trip to Arsenal, Craig Bellamy was loaned out to Celtic by Souness at Newcastle.

Meanwhile, on the field, Chelsea stretched their lead out to 11 points and Arsenal’s title chances effectively ended, after they were beaten 4-2 at home by Manchester United in February.

Everton remained in pole position for fourth spot and the final Champions League qualification place, despite losing the 201st Merseyside derby to Liverpool, 2-1 at Anfield.

In a home game with Manchester City at the end of February, Norwich charged into a 2-0 lead but had been pegged back by half-time, leaving shareholder Delia Smith to come up with the sound bite of the season.

On a microphone, she shouted; “We need a 12th man here, where are you? Where are you? Let’s be having you! COME ON!” It didn’t work, as Robbie Fowler scored an injury time winner for the visitors.

Fighting on the field

Alan Shearer announced his decision to stay on at Newcastle in April for one more season but his day turned into a nightmare, as Newcastle crumbled completely at home to Aston Villa.

The team were already losing 3-0 with ten minutes to go, when midfielders Kieron Dyer and Lee Bowyer remarkably started fighting one another on the field.

Both players were sent off, as the Magpies were reduced to eight men, after an earlier dismissal for Steven Taylor. The Toon Army’s season never recovered, dropping to 14th in the final table.

At the bottom of the table, Southampton’s Harry Redknapp was getting nervous. He said; “I’d be a liar if I said I was looking forward to it. It’s going to be a difficult day. I’ll be glad when it is out of the way to be fair.”

He was not looking forward to returning to Fratton Park but this grudge match was no contest. Portsmouth dominated, winning 4-1 to secure their Premier League status for new manager, Alain Perrin.

The Saints were now embroiled in a massive relegation scrap, with Crystal Palace, Norwich and West Brom.

Bottom at the start of April and seven points adrift, the Canaries went on a brilliant run of form, which began with a shock 2-0 victory over Manchester United.

Nigel Worthington’s side went onto win four of their next six matches but their defence crumbled in relegation battles with Crystal Palace and Southampton.

They drew 3-3 with Palace at Selhurst Park, having been 3-1 up, then conceded a 90th minute winner to Henri Camara as Southampton beat them 4-3 at St. Mary’s.

West Brom beat Everton in April and Palace recorded an impressive 1-0 home win over a distracted Liverpool to ensure this dogfight was going into May, with nothing decided.

Chelsea is the name on the trophy

By now, the title race was long over, as Chelsea continued to win games on a regular basis.

They had pulled out an 11 point advantage and couldn’t be caught.

The title was settled at the Reebok Stadium on 30 April, as Frank Lampard scored a second half double to record a 2-0 win at Bolton and end 50 years of title pain.

The Premier League trophy was heading to Chelsea and they fully deserved it, finishing with a record tally of 95 points.

Strong form from Arsenal in the closing weeks saw them finish second in the league. This included a 7-0 mauling of Everton to record the biggest win of the season.

They also regained the FA Cup and Thierry Henry won the Golden Boot again but lost his PFA Players Player of the Year crown to inspirational Chelsea skipper, John Terry.

Despite Wayne Rooney scoring the goal of the season against Newcastle in April, Manchester United finished a distant third, for the second successive season.

Against the odds, Everton took the final Champions League spot but after their heroics in the Champions League final in Istanbul, Liverpool would also be playing in the competition as defending Champions of Europe.

Bolton finished a creditable sixth, to earn a place in Europe for the first time and the final UEFA Cup spot went to Middlesbrough.

They drew 1-1 on the last day with Manchester City, with Fowler having a stoppage time penalty, saved by Mark Schwarzer. Had Fowler scored, City would have pinched seventh spot.

Survival Sunday

Going into the final day, a first away win of the season at Fulham would ensure Norwich their Premier League status for another season.

The dream for the passionate supporters turned into a disaster, as they were battered 6-0 at Craven Cottage.

Southampton had a tricky home fixture against FA Cup finalists Manchester United but a John O’Shea own goal inside ten minutes, had them infront.

Darren Fletcher equalised and a second half header from Van Nistlerooy consigned them to the drop, after 27 years in the top flight.

This left Crystal Palace and West Brom. The Eagles looked on course to stay up, when Andy Johnson scored his 21st goal of the season, to put them 2-1 ahead at Charlton, with 17 minutes left.

Iain Dowie’s side couldn’t hold on though and Jonathan Fortune equalised for the Addicks, who only won one of their last ten matches. The 2-2 draw left Palace fans waiting for positive news from The Hawthorns.

It didn’t come however, as substitute Geoff Horsfield and Red Devils loanee, Kieran Richardson helped West Brom to a 2-0 victory over Portsmouth.

The party could begin for the Baggies, as they stayed up, despite having started the day bottom and having been in that position on Christmas Day. No team before or since has managed to achieve what Robson managed this season.

With a record point’s total of 95, a record number of wins (29) and the least goals conceded in Premier League history of just 15, Jose Mourinho and Chelsea rewrote the Premier League history books. They had their second league title and threatened to go on a period of sustained success.

By Simon Wright – Follow me on Twitter @Siwri88

Follow Total Football on Twitter: @TotalFootball12

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