2001–02 FA Premier League

FA Premier League
Dates18 August 2001–11 May 2002
2nd Premier League title
12th English title
RelegatedIpswich Town
Derby County
Leicester City
Champions LeagueArsenal
Manchester United
Newcastle United
UEFA CupLeeds United
Blackburn Rovers
Ipswich Town
Intertoto CupAston Villa
Matches played380
Goals scored1,001 (2.63 per match)
Average goals/game2.6
Top goalscorerThierry Henry (24 goals)
Biggest home winBlackburn Rovers 7–1 West Ham United
(14 October 2001)
Biggest away winIpswich Town 0–6 Liverpool
(9 September 2001)
Highest scoringTottenham Hotspur 3–5 Manchester United
(29 September 2001)
Blackburn Rovers 7–1 West Ham United
(14 October 2001)
Charlton Athletic 4–4 West Ham United
(19 November 2001)
West Ham United 3–5 Manchester United
(16 March 2002)
Newcastle United 6–2 Everton
(29 March 2002)
Longest winning run13 games[1]
Longest unbeaten run21 games[1]
Longest winless run16 games[1]
Leicester City
Longest losing run7 games[1]
Derby County
Highest attendance67,638
Manchester United v Middlesbrough
(23 March 2002)
Lowest attendance15,415
Leicester City v Middlesbrough
(18 September 2001)
Average attendance34,249

The 2001–02 FA Premier League (known as the FA Barclaycard Premiership for sponsorship reasons) was the tenth season of the competition. It began with a new sponsor, Barclaycard, and was titled the FA Barclaycard Premiership, replacing the previous sponsor, Carling. The title race turned into a battle between four different sides – Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool and Newcastle United.

Arsenal clinched the title on 8 May 2002 after a convincing win against Manchester United at Old Trafford, in the penultimate game of the season. This new attacking Arsenal side had won the FA Cup five days before and made history by accomplishing their third double, their second under the reign of Arsène Wenger, who showed his commitment by signing a new four-year deal with Arsenal.

The season started on 18 August 2001 and ended on 11 May 2002.

Race for the title

At the start of 2002 the title race was wide open, with the likes of Newcastle United and Leeds United contesting at the top of the table along with the usual likes of Arsenal and Manchester United. Newcastle, after back-to-back away wins at Arsenal and Leeds during the Christmas period, confirmed themselves as genuine title challengers and led the league at the turn of the year. Leeds had topped the table at Christmas prior to losing at Elland Road to Newcastle.

Despite being top of the table at the start of December – eleven points clear of Manchester United – Liverpool underwent a severe slump, falling to fifth place, five points behind United. Would-be contenders Chelsea, Newcastle United and Leeds United had by this point disappeared into the chasing pack.

January saw Liverpool travelling to both Highbury and Old Trafford in the space of a fortnight. Liverpool's Danny Murphy scored a late winner to give the Merseyside club all three points against United, and John Arne Riise then salvaged a point for Liverpool against Arsenal, allowing Manchester United to top the table for the first time that season.

In March, Arsenal were installed as strong favourites for the Premiership title after Liverpool's defeat to Tottenham Hotspur. Arsenal's April triumph against Bolton Wanderers brought them to within three points of a second Premier League title under Arsène Wenger.

Fittingly, the Premiership title would be decided at Old Trafford as Arsenal and Manchester United faced one another in a decisive encounter. Arsenal only required a draw to guarantee their second title in five seasons to go with their FA Cup victory against London rivals Chelsea four days previously; United had to win to take the title race to the last day. In the end, Arsenal emerged victorious as their record signing Sylvain Wiltord scored the only goal of the game as Arsenal was confirmed Premiership champions with a game to spare. Manchester United's disappointment was compounded by Liverpool leapfrogging them into second place by virtue of their 4-3 victory against Blackburn Rovers.

On the final day of the season Liverpool confirmed second place by trashing soon to be relegated Ipswich Town 5–0 at Anfield. Arsenal rounded off their successful league campaign in style, beating Everton 4–3 at Highbury. Manchester United limped to a poor draw against Charlton Athletic, completing a disappointing campaign for the deposed league champions.

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