2001–02 FA Premier League
2nd Premier League title
12th English title
|UEFA Intertoto Cup||
|Goals scored||1001 (2.63 per match)|
|Top goalscorer||Thierry Henry (24 goals)|
|Biggest home win||
Blackburn Rovers 7–1 West Ham United|
(14 October 2001)
|Biggest away win||
Ipswich Town 0–6 Liverpool|
(9 September 2001)
Tottenham 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 run||
|Longest unbeaten run||
|Longest winless run||
|Longest losing run||
Manchester United v Middlesbrough
Leicester City v Middlesbrough
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 from 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 championship 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 championship 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 confirmed the championship with a game to spare. Manchester United's disappointment was compounded by Liverpool leapfrogging them into second place by virtue of their victory against Blackburn Rovers.
On the final day of the season Liverpool confirmed second place by trashing already 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.
Promotion and relegation
For the first time in the history of the Premier League, all three promoted teams avoided relegation – Fulham, Bolton Wanderers and Blackburn Rovers. Blackburn Rovers & Bolton Wanderers avoided relegation until 2011–12, when the three promoted teams of 2010–11 coincidentally avoided relegation again, whilst Fulham avoided relegation until the 2013-14 season.
Fulham had splashed out £34 million on new players during the close season, their owner Mohamed Al-Fayed one of the wealthiest benefactors in English football. He even boasted that they would win the Premiership title in 2001–02, and most pundits tipped Fulham, managed by former French international Jean Tigana, to push for a place in Europe. However, Fulham finished thirteenth, 47 points away from Arsenal.
Bolton Wanderers went top of the Premiership after winning their first three fixtures of the season, causing an upset by beating Gérard Houllier's Liverpool in the latter stage of the game. Manager Sam Allardyce was boasting that his side were good enough to win their first ever league title, but Bolton's league form slumped after the first two months of the season and they finished 16th place – their survival confirmed in the penultimate game of the season.
Blackburn Rovers were the most successful of the promoted sides. Graeme Souness' men beat Tottenham Hotspur 2–1 in the League Cup final to lift the trophy for the first time, and then climbed from 18th place in the Premiership in late February to finish in a secure 10th place – higher than any other newly promoted team that season. Blackburn secured a UEFA Cup place for 2002–03.
Leicester City was the first team officially relegated from the Premiership, finishing bottom of table with just five Premiership wins in their last season at 111-year-old Filbert Street before relocation to the new 32 000-seat Walkers Stadium. The club went through the regime of two different managers during the season – Peter Taylor was replaced by Dave Bassett in early October; six months later Bassett joined the club's board to be replaced by former assistant manager Micky Adams.
Just after the start of the 2002–03 season, Leicester's relegation (which cost them extensive television revenue) and the cost of their new stadium had created debts in excess of £30 million, and the club went into administration before being taken over by a new owner. Despite this setback, Leicester gained promotion back to the Premiership at the first time of asking, although they slipped back down again after just one season and Adams had since resigned to make way for new manager Craig Levein.
Next to go down were Derby County, who had been promoted alongside Leicester six years earlier. Manager Jim Smith was sacked in early October to be replaced by assistant manager Colin Todd, who was sacked three months later after Derby were knocked out of the FA Cup by Division Three strugglers Bristol Rovers.
The last team to be relegated were Ipswich Town, who had qualified for the UEFA Cup and earned manager George Burley the Manager of the Year award the previous season after finishing fifth. Ipswich made a terrible start to the season, winning just one of their first 18 Premiership games. They then went on a strong run of form, winning seven out of eight games, which looked to have secured their Premiership survival, but they then suffered another setback which George Burley's men were unable to reverse, and their relegation was confirmed on the final day of the season by a 5–0 thrashing at Liverpool.
|Arsenal||1||UEFA Champions League||Champions|
|Liverpool||2||UEFA Champions League||Runners up|
|Manchester United||3||UEFA Champions League||Position|
|Newcastle||4||UEFA Champions League||Position|
|Leeds United||5||UEFA Cup||Position|
|Chelsea||6||UEFA Cup||Runners up of the FA Cup/position|
|Blackburn Rovers||10||UEFA Cup||Winners of the League Cup|
|Fulham||13||UEFA Cup||Winners of the UEFA Intertoto Cup|
|Ipswich Town||18||UEFA Cup||UEFA Fair Play Draw.|
- Aston Villa manager John Gregory resigned in January and was replaced by Graham Taylor.
- Derby County sacked Jim Smith in October and replaced him with former Bolton Wanderers boss Colin Todd. Todd lasted 18 games before being replaced by John Gregory.
- Everton sacked Walter Smith and replaced him with Preston's David Moyes.
- Leeds United sacked David O'Leary after a four-year spell as manager had failed to land a trophy despite a £100 million outlay on new players. He was replaced by Terry Venables.
- Leicester City sacked Peter Taylor in early October and replaced him with Dave Bassett. Following the confirmation of their relegation, Micky Adams became manager for the last three games of the season.
- Liverpool manager Gérard Houllier was forced to take most of the season off due to a major heart problem. Assistant Phil Thompson took charge in his absence.
- Middlesbrough parted company with joint Coaches Bryan Robson and Terry Venables. Manchester United assistant boss Steve McClaren took over at the Riverside.
- Southampton sacked Stuart Gray in October; he was replaced by Gordon Strachan.
- West Ham appointed former first team coach Glenn Roeder as permanent manager following a spell as caretaker the previous season, after parting company with Harry Redknapp.
|Home ╲ Away||ARS||AST||BLB||BOL||CHA||CHE||DER||EVE||FUL||IPS||LEE||LEI||LIV||MUN||MID||NEW||SOU||SUN||TOT||WHU|
|West Ham United||1–1||1–1||2–0||2–1||2–0||2–1||4–0||1–0||0–2||3–1||0–0||1–0||1–1||3–5||1–0||3–0||2–0||3–0||0–1|
1 ^ The home team is listed in the left-hand column.
Colours: Blue = home team win; Yellow = draw; Red = away team win.
For coming matches, an a indicates there is an article about the match.
||Pts||Qualification or relegation|
|1||Arsenal (C)||38||26||9||3||79||36||+43||87||2002–03 UEFA Champions League Group stage|
|3||Manchester United||38||24||5||9||87||45||+42||77||2002–03 UEFA Champions League Third qualifying round|
|5||Leeds United||38||18||12||8||53||37||+16||66||2002–03 UEFA Cup First round 1|
|7||West Ham United||38||15||8||15||48||57||−9||53|
|8||Aston Villa||38||12||14||12||46||47||−1||50||2002 UEFA Intertoto Cup Third round|
|10||Blackburn Rovers||38||12||10||16||55||51||+4||46||2002–03 UEFA Cup First round 2|
|13||Fulham||38||10||14||14||36||44||−8||44||2002 UEFA Intertoto Cup Second round|
|18||Ipswich Town (R)||38||9||9||20||41||64||−23||36||2002–03 UEFA Cup Qualifying round 3|
|Relegation to the 2002–03 Football League First Division|
|19||Derby County (R)||38||8||6||24||33||63||−30||30||Relegation to the 2002–03 Football League First Division|
|20||Leicester City (R)||38||5||13||20||30||64||−34||28|
Rules for classification: 1) points; 2) goal difference; 3) number of goals scored
(C) = Champion; (R) = Relegated; (P) = Promoted; (E) = Eliminated; (O) = Play-off winner; (A) = Advances to a further round.
Only applicable when the season is not finished:
(Q) = Qualified to the phase of tournament indicated; (TQ) = Qualified to tournament, but not yet to the particular phase indicated; (RQ) = Qualified to the relegation tournament indicated; (DQ) = Disqualified from tournament.
Pld = Matches played; W = Matches won; D = Matches drawn; L = Matches lost; F = Goals for; A = Goals against; GD = Goal difference; Pts = Points
1Since Arsenal qualified for the Champions League, their UEFA Cup place as FA Cup winners defaulted to Chelsea, the losing finalists.
2Blackburn Rovers qualified for the UEFA Cup as League Cup winners
3Despite relegation, Ipswich Town qualified for the 2002–03 UEFA Cup Qualifying Round as Fair Play Award winners
Arsenal were in the title race for much of the season, but in the end they won it by a comfortable margin by winning their final 13 games of the campaign and securing the title in the penultimate game of the season with a 1–0 win over Manchester United at Old Trafford on 8 May. Four days earlier, they had triumphed in the FA Cup final with a 2–0 win over Chelsea; the win at Old Trafford made them only the second team in English football to have won the "double" on three occasions (the other being Manchester United). Unusually, this double was secured in reverse, with the Premiership title won four days after winning the FA Cup against Chelsea.
The end of the season saw Arsenal's two longest-serving players call time on their playing careers. Club captain and centre-half Tony Adams, approaching 36, announced his retirement after 22 years at the club, including 19 in the senior squad, 14 of which were spent as captain. During that time, he inspired them to no less than ten major trophies. Full-back Lee Dixon, in his 38th year, retired after spending 14 years of his 21-year career at Highbury.
As the season drew to a close, Arsenal's new 60,000-seat stadium was going through the final stages of planning permission and chairman Peter Hill-Wood hoped to have it ready for the start of the 2004–05 season, although during the summer of 2002 some businesses were still occupying the facilities on the industrial estate that occupied part of the planned stadium site.
John Gregory announced his resignation after four years as Villa manager on 24 January. A host of names were linked with the vacancy, but in the end it was Graham Taylor, who took them to promotion in 1988 and second place in the league in 1990, who was appointed manager. Villa were some way behind the leading pack when Gregory left and Taylor was unable to bring anything better than an eighth place. This was hardly amazing, but it at least meant that Villa would be finishing in the top 10 for the seventh year in succession.
Blackburn had little time to savour their League Cup glory that resulted from a 2–1 win over Tottenham on 24 February – they were deep in the relegation mire and occupying third place from bottom. But Graeme Souness inspired his side, bolstered by the arrival of striker Andy Cole from Manchester United, to a considerable turnaround in form which saw them climb to 10th place in the final table. UEFA Cup qualification had already been achieved thanks to the League Cup triumph, but fans were left wondering whether it could have been achieved automatically had it not been for the club's dismal first half of the season.
The end of the season also marked the end of one of the most illustrious playing careers in British football. Striker Mark Hughes retired at the age of 38, after a playing career spanning 22 years that had yielded two league titles, four FA Cups, a Cup Winners' Cup and three League Cups.
Three wins from their first three Premiership games put newly promoted Bolton on top of the table, and manager Sam Allardyce was boasting (tongue-in-cheek) that his side were capable of winning their first-ever league title, but the strong start to the season was not followed up and in the end they finished 16th, just enough to avoid relegation.
Despite being without several key players for long periods of time due to injury, Charlton did well in their 11th season under the management of Alan Curbishley. They were in with a real chance of UEFA Cup qualification as late as March, but a failure to win any of their final 10 league games dragged them down to 14th.
Chelsea manager Claudio Ranieri was controversial in his summer spending. In an attempt to reduce the average age of the squad, he showed the door to many ageing Chelsea favourites, including 33-year-old Uruguayan midfielder Gustavo Poyet who joined Tottenham and was replaced by West Ham United's promising young England midfielder Frank Lampard for £11 million. Many fans and pundits thought this was a dangerous price for a player that was just 22 years of age, but Ranieri's decision would become well justified in the future. French World Cup winner Frank Leboeuf was sold to Olympique de Marseille in a swap deal that saw 23-year-old French defender William Gallas come to Stamford Bridge, while, to the disappointment of many Chelsea fans, beloved captain Dennis Wise was sold to Leicester City. Ranieri also bolstered his squad with the acquisition of the experienced Barcelona and France midfielder Emmanuel Petit, but the signing that excited most Chelsea fans was the £7.5 million capture of Netherlands's exciting winger Boudewijn Zenden, also from Barcelona. Chelsea were a more than competent force in the Premiership during the 2001–02 season, but, even with the strength of their squad, the team was as inconsistent as ever and few people ever rated them as serious title challengers. Their best hope of success came in the FA Cup, where they reached the final; but their chances of silverware were finished by a 2–0 win for Arsenal.
Derby manager Jim Smith rejected the offer to become Director of Football and resigned on 7 October after more than six years at the helm. His assistant Colin Todd, who won two league titles with the club in the 1970s, was promoted to the manager's seat, but by this stage the Rams were deep in relegation trouble. A shock 3–1 home defeat against Division Three strugglers Bristol Rovers in the FA Cup third round proved the final straw and Todd was sacked days later after a mere three months in charge. By the end of the month, John Gregory had taken over at Pride Park just six days after quitting Aston Villa. Two quick wins and a draw against Manchester United suggested that Gregory might be Derby's saviour, but seven defeats from their final eight games condemned Derby to relegation.
The Everton directors finally lost patience with Walter Smith when they sacked him on 13 March. Preston boss David Moyes was named as his successor, and did a good job of steering Everton clear of the drop zone – though they finished 15th in the table.
Fulham's return to the top flight after a 33-year exile saw chairman Mohammed Al Fayed boasting that his team could win the Premiership title, but a hefty outlay on foreign stars such as Steve Marlet and Edwin van der Sar failed to bring anything more than a 13th-place finish in the final table, and an FA Cup exit in the semi-finals put paid to any chances they may have had of qualifying for the UEFA Cup. Speculation that Al Fayed would be signing England captain David Beckham quickly fizzled out as Fulham failed to achieve anywhere near as much as most people had expected them to, though they had guaranteed European football through application of the Intertoto Cup, which they went on to win in the summer.
A year after finishing fifth in the Premiership, Ipswich dropped back into Division One after two years among the elite. A dismal start to the season saw their UEFA Cup dream end in the third phase of the competition, while, after 18 games, they were still bottom of the Premiership with just one win. A turnaround then followed and seven wins from eight games pulled Ipswich up to 12th in early February, but another slump set in and this time they were unable to halt it, winning just one of their remaining thirteen games. Any lingering hopes of survival were ended on the final day of the season by a 5–0 defeat against Liverpool.
Despite losing their Premiership status, the Tractor Boys still had European action to look forward to, having attained UEFA Cup qualification via UEFA's fair play league.
Leeds topped the Premiership for much of the first half of the season, but they gradually fell out of touch during the final weeks and ended up finishing fifth, having to settle for another UEFA Cup campaign – this in spite of the wealth of options available to manager David O'Leary. Leeds never looked the same team after their FA Cup third round exit to Division Two mid-table side Cardiff City, and at the end of the season chairman Peter Ridsdale decided that enough was enough and sacked manager David O'Leary after four years and tens of millions of pounds in new signings had failed to translate into silverware. In came former England manager Terry Venables as his successor.
Plans were unveiled on 5 September for a new 50,000-seat stadium at Stourton to replace Elland Road, with chairman Peter Ridsdale hoping to have it ready by the summer of 2004. In fact, Ridsdale was aware that millions of pounds had been staked on Champions League qualification – by not qualifying in successive years, the club was heading for financial meltdown.
A terrible start to the season saw Peter Taylor sacked at the end of September and Dave Bassett named as his replacement, with Micky Adams joining as assistant manager. For a while, it looked as though Bassett was capable of keeping the Foxes in the Premiership, but a four-month winless run beginning in December killed their survival hopes and they were relegated on 6 April after losing 1–0 at home to Manchester United.
On 12 May 2002, Leicester played their final game at Filbert Street before moving into their new 32 000-seat home. They ended up beating Tottenham 2–1 to attain some satisfaction from winning the final game at their 111-year-old home – only their fifth league win of the season. The cost of relocation combined with the money lost from relegation plunged Leicester into a serious financial crisis. The priority for next season would be to secure the club's future financially, before thinking about a promotion challenge.
Gérard Houllier saw his Liverpool side finish second in the table, one better than he predicted; it was their highest position since 1991. Champions League football would be back at Anfield for a second season, and there was more of a buzz that the Frenchman would deliver the title back to Anfield. John Arne Riise was the only major signing that Liverpool brought in at the start of the season, prompting questions from the press about Houiller's desire to spend big.
The season started fairly well for the side, defeating Manchester United in the Charity Shield and beating West Ham United at the start of the season. However, dramatic news unfolded at Anfield in October. Gérard Houllier underwent emergency heart surgery after complaining about "uncomfortable chest pains" during the match against Leeds United. He was advised to take rest and assistant manager Phil Thompson took charge for a temporary basis.
Thompson's first major decision was whether or not to sell striker Robbie Fowler. Great interest was brewing from rival teams such as Chelsea, Aston Villa and Arsenal, but Fowler was eventually sold to Leeds United on a five-year, £11 million deal.
After a list of greetings and get-well messages, most notably from David Beckham, David O'Leary, Arsène Wenger and Elton John, Houllier eventually arrived back at Liverpool in March, and took charge against Roma in their final must-win Champions League group game. The Reds won the match 2–0 and qualified for the knock-out stages, where they were eventually beaten in the quarter-finals by eventual runners-up Bayer Leverkusen.
Manchester United endured a trophyless season for the first time since 1998. Having spent nearly £45 million on the likes of Juan Sebastián Verón and Ruud van Nistelrooy, United failed to win a fourth title in four consecutive seasons.
Sir Alex Ferguson was on course to retire following the season and had his sights set on the 2002 UEFA Champions League Final in Hampden Park, Scotland, but United went out in the semi-finals on the away goal ruling to Bayer Leverkusen.
United ended up finishing third in the table – the lowest in Ferguson's reign since the formation of the Premiership – behind Liverpool and Arsenal, who both beat Manchester United home and away. Ferguson eventually decided to stay with Manchester United.
A slow start to the season – and Steve McClaren's management career – suggested that Middlesbrough were in for another season of relegation struggle, but they progressed well during the second half of the campaign, and a top-10 finish looked within their reach. They also challenged in the FA Cup, reaching the semi-final before their dream was ended by Arsenal. This was followed by a succession of four Premiership defeats that put paid to their hopes of a top-10 finish and dragged them down to 12th – still an improvement on last season's 14th-place finish.
This was the season in which Newcastle had returned to the title chasing and entertaining team, similar to the Kevin Keegan led Newcastle just a few years previous. Sir Bobby Robson felt that his side could aim for eighth place in the final table as the season began, but the form of a team boasting the pace and creativity of new signings Craig Bellamy and Laurent Robert meant that Newcastle were soon looking like unlikely contenders for the Premiership title. Comeback victories in thrillers away to fellow title contenders Arsenal and Leeds sent the club top of the table at Christmas time, and further results brought renewed hope for the club after four seasons of struggle. In the end Newcastle couldn't quite win the title that the club had coveted since 1927, but a late resurgence meant they secured fourth place – their highest since 1997. This brought them Champions League football for only the second time in their history.
The move to St Mary's Stadium was seen as the way forward for Southampton after 103 years at the dilapidated Dell, but a terrible start to the season saw relegation looking certain, and cost manager Stuart Gray his job after barely six months in charge. His successor was Gordon Strachan, who had left Coventry a short time after their relegation. Strachan quickly turned Southampton's fortunes round, and they gradually climbed to a secure 11th place in the final table.
The end of 2001–02 also marked the end of Matthew Le Tissier's playing career after 16 years at the club; he would remain at Southampton as a coach.
A shortage of goals hindered Sunderland's progress after two successive seventh-placed finishes, and a season that many people had envisaged as a chase for Europe ended up being a battle against relegation. They put their survival beyond doubt on the final day of the season with a draw against already-doomed Derby. There were continued chants of "Reid out" on the Stadium of Light terraces for the final weeks of the campaign, and manager Peter Reid responded by delving into the transfer market and signing Marcus Stewart and Tore André Flo to bolster his attack for next season.
Glenn Hoddle's return to White Hart Lane as manager was seen by many as the revival of Tottenham after many seasons of mediocrity, and a League Cup Final against Blackburn Rovers saw Spurs fans filled with hope that Hoddle's comeback would result in instant success, but Blackburn upset expectation to win 2–1 and Tottenham's silverware bid was ended. Unremarkable Premiership form ended their UEFA Cup hopes and they had to settle for ninth place in the final table.
Personnel and kits
|2||Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink||Chelsea||23|
|Ruud van Nistelrooy||Manchester United||23|
|Alan Shearer||Newcastle United||23|
|6||Ole Gunnar Solskjær||Manchester United||17|
|10||Andrew Cole||Manchester United/Blackburn Rovers||13|
- Most wins – Arsenal (26)
- Fewest wins – Leicester City (5)
- Most draws – Aston Villa, Fulham and Charlton Athletic (14)
- Fewest draws – Manchester United (5)
- Most losses – Derby County (24)
- Fewest losses – Arsenal (3)
- Most goals scored – Manchester United (87)
- Fewest goals scored – Sunderland (29)
- Most goals conceded – Ipswich Town and Leicester City (64)
- Fewest goals conceded – Liverpool (30)
|Month||Manager of the Month||Player of the Month|
|August||Sam Allardyce (Bolton Wanderers)||Louis Saha (Fulham)|
|September||John Gregory (Aston Villa)||Juan Sebastián Verón (Manchester United)|
|October||Glenn Hoddle (Tottenham Hotspur)||Rio Ferdinand (Leeds United)|
|November||Phil Thompson (Liverpool)||Danny Murphy (Liverpool)|
|December||Bobby Robson (Newcastle United)||Ruud van Nistelrooy (Manchester United)|
|January||Gordon Strachan (Southampton)||Marcus Bent (Ipswich Town)|
|February||Bobby Robson (Newcastle United)||Ruud van Nistelrooy (Manchester United)|
|March||Gérard Houllier & Phil Thompson (Liverpool)||Dennis Bergkamp (Arsenal)|
|April||Arsène Wenger (Arsenal)||Freddie Ljungberg (Arsenal)|