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Let's Party Like it's 1994

Been quite a while since I have started up the old blog, but here goes nothing.

First off, I hope everyone and their families are safe and healthy. I wish we weren't having to make an adjustment like this. Much like I'm sure you guys do, I miss the hell out of my life and I look forward to getting back to normal proceedings as soon as possible.

However, until that day let's jump in the Deloreon and ride on back to the 1994-1995 season, (Don't cheat, it makes you a bad person). The 3rd season of the modern day Premier League saw craziness unlike any season before or since.

I'm excited for us all to learn a little Premier League history along the way, as well as seeing if turning back the clock about 15 years can make Richard and Chase and better at this game.

I won't send you into battle uninformed though, so before you head over to making your picks, read up on the season that preceded our chosen campaign, including a quick intro to the newly promoted sides.

After ending a 26-year wait for the title by becoming champions in the inaugural Premier League season, Manchester United cemented their dominance by claiming the league and FA Cup double, and in so doing became only the fourth team in the 20th century to achieve the feat.

It was also a landmark season for the league itself, as a title sponsor was introduced to the top flight of English football for the first time. Having been known simply as the FA Premier League in its first season, the competition was rebranded as the FA Carling Premiership in 1993/94.

Sir Alex Ferguson's only major addition at Old Trafford was Roy Keane, who was voted in the 1992/93 Professional Footballers' Association team of the year despite Nottingham Forest's relegation. The 22-year-old midfielder came in as a natural replacement for captain Bryan Robson, by now 36, for a record-breaking £3.75million, and he instantly established himself as a key player.


Manchester United

Top goalscorer

34: Andrew Cole (NEW)

Most assists

13: Andrew Cole (NEW)

Most goals

82: Newcastle United

Most clean sheets

21: Arsenal

Early tests of Man Utd's title credentials were passed as they beat Aston Villa and Norwich City, who had finished second and third respectively in the 1992/93 season, in the opening five matches. The fine start earned Ferguson his first Barclays Manager of the Month award.

Despite defeat to United, Norwich were among the early challengers at the top, and Canaries striker Efan Ekoku became the first striker to score four goals in a Premier League match as they beat Everton 5-1 at Goodison Park.

Norwich's form dropped off drastically from November, culminating in a 13th-place finish, and Blackburn Rovers and Newcastle United quickly established themselves as the Red Devils' nearest challengers after mixed starts to the campaign.

Promoted Newcastle, galvanised under manager Kevin Keegan, recovered from back-to-back losses at the start of the season to move up to third by December. Their form was inspired by strike partnership Andrew Cole and Peter Beardsley, who returned to St James' Park in the summer after four years at Liverpool and two at Everton. Cole was the Barclays Golden Boot winner with a league-record 34 goals, while Beardsley contributed 21. Their combined total of 55 remains the highest in Premier League history.

A defeat at Chelsea was Manchester United's only loss before the start of 1994 and they established a 16-point lead at the top in January, despite arch rivals Liverpool coming from 3-0 down to draw 3-3 at Anfield on 4 January. That classic contest proved to be one of the last matches in charge for Liverpool manager Graeme Souness, who was replaced by Roy Evans.

United went on a 22-match unbeaten run before Chelsea beat them again at Old Trafford on 5 March. A slight dip in form allowed Kenny Dalglish's Blackburn side to close in. Boosted by the arrivals of goalkeeper Tim Flowers in November and Ian Pearce and David Batty the previous month, Rovers won 16 out of 20 matches from December until mid-April. That impressive run included a 2-0 victory against Man Utd, which reduced the Red Devils' advantage to three points at the top.

But the Old Trafford outfit won five of their final seven matches, while Blackburn won once in their final five, with costly defeats at Southampton and Coventry City allowing Man Utd to win the league by eight points. Rovers' 2-1 defeat at Coventry officially crowned Man Utd as champions, and they capped off a landmark campaign by beating Chelsea 4-0 in the FA Cup final to clinch the double.

Blackburn finished eight points adrift of the champions, with Newcastle finishing seven points further back in third and Arsenal, who qualified for the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, finishing fourth, boosted by the best defence in the division, which shipped just 28 goals in 42 matches.

The battle against relegation went down to the wire, with Everton looking to move out of the drop zone and retain their Premier League status after an unbroken 40-year spell in the top flight. Oldham Athletic were three points adrift of safety going into the final day, but a 1-1 draw at Norwich consigned them to relegation. Swindon Town, who conceded a Premier League-record 100 goals in the campaign, finished bottom.

Everton were one point below Southampton, Sheffield United and Ipswich Town going into the finale, and went 2-0 down against Wimbledon after 20 minutes at Goodison Park. However, a Graham Stuart penalty and a sensational Barry Horne volley made it 2-2, and they clinched a dramatic 3-2 win that secured their survival with Stuart's 81st minute winner.

Southampton, who were four points adrift of safety in April before a last-gasp 5-4 victory at Norwich sparked an upturn in form, stayed up with a 3-3 draw at West Ham United. Ken Monkou, the matchwinner at Norwich the previous month, scored a 90th-minute own goal for the Hammers but it was not enough to put Alan Ball's side in the drop zone.

Ipswich Town stayed up courtesy of a goalless draw at Blackburn but Sheffield United were the team to join Oldham and Swindon in the relegation zone after Mark Stein's 90th-minute strike gave Chelsea a 3-2 win against the Blades.

Heading into the 1994-1995 season the defending champion Red Devils and a reloaded Blackburn team.were clearly favorites.

Just before the start of the 1994–95 season, the English transfer record was broken when Blackburn Rovers paid £5 million for 21-year-old Norwich City striker Chris Sutton. Other significant transfers before the 1994–95 season included: Vinny Samways (Tottenham to Everton, £2 million), David Rocastle (Manchester City to Chelsea, £1.25 million), Jürgen Klinsmann (Monaco to Tottenham Hotspur, £2 million), John Scales (Wimbledon to Liverpool, £3 million) and Paul Kitson (Derby County to Newcastle United, £2.2 million).

As for the newly promoted sides, they brought with them the usual mix of blind ambition and weary excitement of clubs hoping to become regulars among the big boys.

Joining from the Championship were Crystal Palace and Nottingham Forest (each of whom had been relegated in the first season of the Premier League) and a Leicester club who were back in the top flight for the first time in almost a decade.

Palace had run away with the second championship division in the 1993-1994 season with a total of 90 points, with Nottingham Forest finishing in a comfortable second on 82.

Leicester on the other hand, earned a ticket to the Premier League on the back of qualifying for the promotion playoffs by finishing fourth.

In a tough promotion playoff final they defeated Derby (sound familiar Derby fans?), and in doing so broke a streak of consecutive losses in the promotion playoff final.

So heading into the 3rd season of the Premier League the big question was: can anyone knock off Manchester United?

I guess we will have to see!

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