The English Premier League

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English Premier League

While English top division professional soccer has been played for well over 100 years, the English Premier League as we know it only came into existence during the 1992-1993 season.  The recently completed 2009-2010 season, which saw Chelsea FC win the Premier League title by only one point over Manchester United, was the 18th complete season in Premier League history.

In just eighteen seasons, the Premier League has firmly established itself as the single most popular soccer league in the world, and together with Spain’s top division (La Liga), it can rightly consider itself the most competitive and challenging soccer league on earth.  The stars who have graced the Premier League read like a ‘who’s who’ of world soccer: Cantona, Beckham, Bergkamp, Henry, Rooney, Owen, Lampard, Shearer, Anelka…the list could go on forever.

The dominant team of the Premier League era has clearly been Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United.  Over the last eighteen seasons they have won the competition 11 times, finished 2nd four times and finished 3rd three times.  That kind of domination over a nearly two decade period is remarkable for so many reasons.  Sir Alex has won consistently over what really amounts to two or three soccer generations these past two decades.  He consistently retools his lineup, and he is never afraid to sell star players if he thinks it makes good business sense (selling Cristiano Ronaldo after the 2008-2009 season immediately springs to mind).

Other than Manchester United, the only other teams to win the Premier League are Chelsea (three times), Arsenal (3 times), and Blackburn (once).  In recent years Chelsea has won three of the last six Premier League titles, with the help the billions of dollars of wealth at the disposal of their Russian owner Roman Abramovich.

Alan Shearer is the all-time leading goal scorer of the Premier League era with 260, followed by Andrew Cole with 187 and French legend Thierry Henry with 174.  There are 19 players with over 100 career Premier League goals, including the Manchester United trio of Wayne Rooney, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs who all scored their hundredth goal this past season.

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