Season 155 Review
The Premiership was won by Arsenal again, winning their 2nd title in a row and their 20th overall, 3 ahead of Leeds United and 5 ahead of Manchester United. Liverpool were the early pace-setters, who were unbeaten in their first eight home matches of the season. Chelsea, promoted two seasons ago, were also much improved and led Arsenal by three points at the halfway stage. As Liverpool fell away somewhat in the second half of the season, eventually finishing fourth behind Middlesbrough, Chelsea faced a home match again Arsenal which would put them six points clear if they won. They lost 2-1, however, and Arsenal did not look back thereafter. They had a 12-game winning streak and also won the final five games of the season, finishing 10 points clear of Chelsea. Middlesbrough's late run of 10 wins in 11 games saw them reach the heady heights of third place after bouncing straight back into the Premiership after one season in the First. Bolton Wanderers also had a very good season after promotion from Division 1. They led the table after winning the first four games but fell away somewhat, dropping to 12th place at one point. An unbeaten run of 13 games, 11 of them won, saw them finish strongly, clinching 5th place. Sunderland finished a good season in 6th place and Watford, the third of the three promoted teams, finished 7th, showing that the gap between the divisions is small at the moment - long may it continue. The disappointment of the season were Manchester United, who never really got going after a poor start. They dropped to 13th at one stage, only managing to reach 9th at the final hurdle.
At the bottom end of the table, Bradford and Leicester were the early candidates for the drop, but Manchester City were the surprise ones to join them. They did not get going until very late in the season but finished safely in 16th place. Newcastle also had a bad season, but recovered towards the end and looked to be heading for safety in 17th place. In their final game, however, they travelled to Barnsley, where a draw would have seen them survive but they lost 3-2, and thus dropped out of the Premiership for the first time in 24 seasons.
In Division 1, Tottenham Hotspur returned the to the top flight at the third time of asking, as they narrowly missed out on the previous two occasions, finishing fourth each time. This time they won the title 6 points ahead of Fulham, who returned to the Premiership after 32 seasons, during which time they fell as low as the penultimate position in the entire League. Charlton joined the other two after a break of 25 seasons outside of the top flight. Sheffield United looked good for the rise until the final stages, when they lost five out of their last six games and missed out by one point. They will be the ones to watch next season.
Tranmere dropped out of the First for the first time in 16 seasons and Port Vale fell straight back into the Second after winning said division last season. Stockport County joined them, being relegated for the second season in a row after their six-season spell in the top flight during which they reached the A.F.L. Cup final twice, winning it in season 151.
In the lower divisions, Preston, Wigan and Leyton Orient made the jump from the Second to the First, with favourites Norwich City only managing fifth place. Grimsby, Wrexham, Notts County and Walsall could not avoid the trap door, and will be replaced by Blackpool, Plymouth, Wycombe and Southend. Blackpool won the Third Division title very impressively, attaining an impressive haul of 104 points.
The A.F.L. Cup was won by Manchester City, who defeated West Bromwich Albion 3-0. This was a surprising win for City, who had spent almost the entire season in the Premiership drop-zone, but it was welcome along with their survival in the top flight. After defeating Brighton in the third round (4-1 at home), they had Premiership opposition in Sunderland (3-1 away), Leeds United (2-0 at home), Bradford City (2-0 at home) and Southampton (2-0 at Villa Park). West Bromwich were the surprise winners against favourites Arsenal in the other semi-final, although it took them two games to do so, winning 2-1 at Villa Park after a 2-2 draw at White Hart Lane.
The A.F.L. Trophy was disappointing this season, as the top clubs all fell early on, especially in comparison with the previous season, when Arsenal beat Chelsea 2-1. Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool and Aston Villa were all defeated in the 2nd Round, and Everton fell at the next stage. Bolton Wanderers, the only remaining club in the upper reaches of the Premiership, were beaten by Manchester City, who at the time were bottom of the division. City won the final 3-1 against First Division promotion hopefuls Sheffield United, thus completing a satisfying cup double.
The A.F.L. Vase final was contested by Norwich City and Wigan Athletic. Norwich, who missed out once more on promotion from Division 2, won the final 3-1.