From a false nine to a true nine, Manchester City will roll out Erling Haaland as last season’s Premier League champions show off their marquee addition.
City won the 2021-22 Premier League with 93 points despite lacking a target man, pipping Liverpool on the final day of the campaign.
Liverpool, unlucky to come home second on 92 points, have made a big investment in buying Darwin Nunez from Benfica, a penalty-box predator like Haaland.
The 90-point mark is widely seen as a benchmark for a team’s greatness, but managers always see room for improvement.
Here, Stats Perform looks at how 90-point-plus teams from seasons past have bolstered their ranks, and how they got on afterwards.
Manchester City are the only team in Premier League history to hit the 100-point mark, doing so in 2017-18, and they offloaded former kingpins Joe Hart and Yaya Toure at the end of that campaign, making just one big investment by signing Riyad Mahrez (£60million) from Leicester City.
Already a Premier League title winner with the Foxes, the Algerian winger has added three more league medals in Manchester, including one in his first season.
Liverpool denied City a hat-trick of consecutive titles by triumphing in the coronavirus-interrupted 2019-20 championship, finishing 18 points clear of Pep Guardiola’s team. The Reds then spent the thick end of £75million to acquire Thiago Alcantara from Bayern Munich, Diogo Jota from Wolves and Kostas Tsimikas from Olympiacos.
They recouped around half of that by selling Dejan Lovren, Ki-Jana Hoever and Rhian Brewster, before finishing with 30 fewer points in the following campaign.
City‘s encore to their ton-up season was made remarkable by the fact Liverpool were hot on their heels, finishing just one point back. This 2018-19 title-winning effort by City was followed by captain Vincent Kompany taking flight for Anderlecht, while Danilo, Eliaquim Mangala, Fabian Delph and Douglas Luiz also said goodbye.
Guardiola invested wisely as Rodri (£62.8m from Atletico Madrid) and Joao Cancelo (£60million from Juventus) arrived. Both became staple members of the City side, but their first season on Premier League duty, as Liverpool romped to glory in front of empty stadiums, was probably best forgotten.
Liverpool must have wondered what it would take to topple City after the seismic 2018-19 campaign, although the Reds’ Champions League win showed they were firmly on the right track. This 97-point haul is the highest total any Premier League runner-up has secured.
Jurgen Klopp decided no big adjustments were required, investing in Takumi Minamino from Salzburg (£7.25m) and Harvey Elliott from Fulham (£1.5m, rising to £4.3m). He had done his serious spending the previous year, securing Naby Keita, Fabinho and Alisson.
When big-spending Chelsea landed a then-record 95 points in the 2004-05 campaign, the response from the Blues, in the headiest phase of the Roman Abramovich era, was to splash more cash.
Shaun Wright-Phillips (£21m) and Michael Essien (£24.4m) were newcomers as Jose Mourinho evicted Mikael Forssell, Scott Parker, Mateja Kezman and Tiago. The result of that trading? A second consecutive title as the Premier League points mercury rose up into the 90s again.
Two teams have had 93-point seasons: Chelsea in 2016-17 and Manchester City in 2021-22. Chelsea’s post-season dealings were especially notable for captain John Terry moving on to Aston Villa. The club cashed in as Juan Cuadrado went to Juventus, Nathan Ake and Asmir Begovic left for Bournemouth and Nemanja Matic joined Manchester United. They acquired Antonio Rudiger (£31m), Tiemoue Bakayoko (£40m), Alvaro Morata (£60m), Davide Zappacosta (£23m) and Danny Drinkwater (£35m). The spree didn’t help much, though. Chelsea trailed in fifth in 2017-18, Antonio Conte sacked despite an FA Cup win.
City made Haaland their priority this year but also added England midfielder Kalvin Phillips (£42m) and goalkeeper Stefan Ortega (free), while Julian Alvarez (£14m) arrived after being signed in January. Fernandinho, Gabriel Jesus, Oleksandr Zinchenko and Raheem Sterling left.
Manchester United were the first Premier League side to top 90 points, in 1993-94, albeit in a 42-game competition. After that title, United’s second in succession, Bryan Robson left to become player-boss at Middlesbrough and David May (£1.4m) was bought from Blackburn Rovers. United went chasing a hat-trick of titles in the subsequent season but found big-spending Blackburn too strong. The record £7million arrival of Andy Cole midway through the campaign could not rescue Alex Ferguson’s side, who tallied 88 points, one fewer than the champions.
Liverpool‘s 92-point season came last time out. It remains to be seen how Nunez (£64m) copes with the Premier League spotlight. Among a string of departures was Sadio Mane, who left for Bayern Munich. Mane scored 90 goals in 196 Premier League games with Liverpool.
Manchester United followed their treble campaign with a 91-point haul in 1999-2000, before signing up France goalkeeper Fabien Barthez (£7.8m). They tallied 80 points in 2000-01, enough to finish 10 clear of second-placed Arsenal.
With Wright-Phillips and Essien on board, Chelsea notched 91 points in 2005-06. At the end of that season, the Blues swooped for Michael Ballack (free), Andriy Shevchenko (£30m), Arsenal’s Ashley Cole (£5m, plus William Gallas) and John Obi Mikel (£16m). They were second best to Manchester United in the following season’s Premier League, but enjoyed FA Cup and EFL Cup wins.
Two teams have scraped the 90-point mark, Arsenal doing so in their ‘Invincibles’ season of 2003-04, with 26 wins and 12 draws. They signed young Dutchman Robin van Persie (£2.75m) towards the end of that campaign and he arrived in the summer. Newcomer Mourinho led Chelsea to the following year’s title, with Arsenal runners-up.
Manchester United got to 90 in 2008-09 – Cristiano Ronaldo’s last season before his £80million Real Madrid switch. Manager Ferguson then brought in Antonio Valencia (£16m), Michael Owen (free), Gabriel Obertan (£3m) and Mame Biram Diouf (£4million), with Valencia the only one to become a regular. With Ronaldo gone, Chelsea edged out United by a point for the following year’s title.
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