As a lone infantryman wistfully bugles a lamenting
We've marveled at some of the greatest players in the world: with Manchester United,
Looking forward, if
Nouveau riche Chelsea continued to establish itself in Europe's elite, thanks, amongst other factors, to the athleticism of
Although we've been frustrated by his inability to play at the same level for England,
Outside the 'big four' other noteworthy strikers included:
And the EPL wouldn't be so interesting a spectacle without its bad boys. Who can forget
We've also witnessed some epic matches. The all-English Champions League final in 2008 took every football fan through the fall range of emotions with nothing to separate United and Chelsea until
The highest scoring fixture in the period was Portsmouth's 7-4 win against Reading in 2007, while numerous 4-4 draws have left us with curtailed fingernails: Tottenham and Hotspur's 4-4 in March 2008 saw Chelsea's title hopes fade away, while in a 4-4 draw against archrivals Arsenal in October 2008, Spurs scored twice in the last two minutes. Arsenal was also caught late at Anfield in April 2009, when after diminutive Russian
And there's been some great upsets too. Geovani's 25-yard screamer saw Hull win 2-1 at the Emirates in 2008, while how could Burnley better mark topflight football returning last August to Turf Moor, after a 33-year absence, than beating Manchester United? Later in 2009-10, Manchester United lost 1-0 at home in the FA Cup to Leeds United from the third tier of the English league. Even more extraordinary, though, was second-tier struggler Barnsley's cup run of 2007-08. Having beaten Liverpool 2-1 at Anfield in the fifth round, they then overcame Chelsea 1-0 in the eighth -- the quarterfinal.
Liverpool's 2006 FA Cup final win over West Ham on penalties, having drawn 3-3 after extra time, was another classic cup tie.
The most successful and longest-serving managers in the EPL have experienced a mixed five years.
Mourinho is sorely missed from the EPL, and his triumphant return to Stamford Bridge this week emphasized this. In a victory he described as a "perfect win" his tactics were flawless, his demeanor typically relaxed and understated.
At the other end of the table,
Looking forward, Manchester City, along with Aston Villa and Tottenham, are this season threatening to become the first English team from outside the 'big four' to qualify for the Champions League since Everton in 2005. If one succeeds at Liverpool's expense, this could represent a significant change in the EPL's power structure, especially given Liverpool's indebtedness and the strong financial backing of super-rich owners that clubs such as City, Birmingham and Spurs have secured.
Commercial investors will desire revenue returns, and while expectations exist that Internet streaming will provide an increased global audience, we expect that calls to allow clubs to individually negotiate media deals will resurface as will, in a few years time, moves towards a European super league where higher revenues will be divided between fewer participants.
For now, though, as we lower the portcullis for a final time, much remains unchanged since that distant first issue: EPL clubs are still a dominant force in the Champions League and the EPL still draws the largest TV audience; Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea are vying for the title;