London: A look back at a thrilling Premier League title race during which the lead changed hands 25 times. Arsenal spent 128 days at the top of the table, more than any other side and double that of Chelsea who led for 64 days. Liverpool spent 59 days at the summit while Manchester City led the field for just 15 days before being crowned champions after Sunday`s 2-0 win over West Ham United.
Jose Mourinho returned to Stamford Bridge after a six-year absence and his Chelsea side set the early pace. Having sold Gareth Bale to Real Madrid for a world record fee of 100 million euros ($137.56 million), Tottenham reinvested heavily, signing seven players including the likes of Paulinho, Roberto Soldado and Erik Lamela.
The integration process under Andre Villas-Boas started well as Spurs finished the month tied in third place, level on six points with Liverpool and second-placed City. New Manchester United manager David Moyes got his reign off to a flying start with a 4-1 victory at Swansea City while his successor at Everton, Roberto Martinez, began in solid but unspectacular fashion, drawing his first three games in charge.
With the transfer window closing at the start of the month, Arsenal, who lost 3-1 to Aston Villa on the opening day, snapped up Mesut Ozil from Real Madrid for a club record fee of 42.5 million pounds ($71.6 million). After enjoying a 1-0 victory over north London rivals Tottenham, Arsene Wenger`s side shot up the league to end the month with a two-point lead over Liverpool.
Spurs remained in third, while Everton, who beat Chelsea 1-0 at Goodison Park, climbed into the top four and were the only unbeaten side remaining in the league. Both Manchester clubs endured difficult months, United losing 1-0 to arch-rivals Liverpool and City losing 3-2 at Aston Villa.
Arsenal remained top at the end of October, two points ahead of Chelsea who beat Manchester City 2-1 to continue Manuel Pellegrini`s lacklustre start as manager with his side stuck in seventh, six points adrift of the leaders. Across Manchester, Alex Ferguson`s successor Moyes looked to be settling into his role at Old Trafford, with his team claiming seven points from their three league games to sit eighth.
Arsenal continued their early title charge, with Aaron Ramsey in inspired form, as they won three out of four league games to top the table by seven points from Liverpool, Chelsea and Everton. Newcastle won all four fixtures during November, including a 2-0 victory over Chelsea, to climb to fifth, while sixth-placed Manchester City enjoyed thumping 7-0 and 6-0 victories over Norwich City and Tottenham.
The heavy defeat by City capped a torrid month for Spurs as they dropped to ninth, claiming one point from their three matches to put Villas-Boas` future in the spotlight.
The final month of 2013 restarted the managerial merry-go-round with four clubs changing their coaches. After five straight league defeats, 18th-placed Fulham replaced Martin Jol with former Manchester United assistant manager Rene Meulensteen, while Steve Clarke and Malky Mackay were relieved of their duties at West Brom and Cardiff respectively.
Tottenham sacked Villas-Boas after a 5-0 home defeat by Liverpool and he was replaced by Tim Sherwood. On the pitch, Arsenal`s lead at the top was reduced to a single point by a resurgent Manchester City, who beat them 6–3 at the Etihad Stadium.
Lethal Liverpool striker Luis Suarez became the first player to score 10 Premier League goals in a calendar month, including four against Norwich, to surpass Mark Viduka`s record of eight for Leeds United in 2003.
Manchester City enjoyed a profitable month as they won their four matches, including a 5-1 demolition of Tottenham, to rise above Arsenal and finish the month at the top for the first time in the season. With the transfer window open once again, Chelsea bolstered their midfield with the signings of 22 million-pound ($37 million) midfielder Nemanja Matic from Benfica and Mohamed Salah from Basel.
Those signings allowed Juan Mata to move to Manchester United for 37.1 million pounds ($62.5 million), with Moyes`s side in serious danger of missing out on a Champions League spot for the first time since 1996.
With over half the season gone and the title race hotting up, the managerial mind games began and Chelsea boss Mourinho labelled his side as the "little horse" compared to the "big horses" of Arsenal and Manchester City. But the "little horse" topped the table at the end of February after a well-executed 1-0 victory over City at the Etihad Stadium, while Arsenal`s title chances took a blow with a 5-1 drubbing by Liverpool at Anfield.
In-form Liverpool claimed top spot from City after winning all five matches, instilling belief on Merseyside that the Premier League title could return to Anfield for the first time in 24 years. Chelsea had a mixed March as their title chances were hit by 1-0 losses to Aston Villa and rejuvenated Crystal Palace, but the 6-0 demolition of Arsenal in Arsene Wenger`s 1,000th game in charge provided a big lift in their spirits.
United boss Moyes faced increasing criticism and, after morale-sapping 3-0 home defeats by Liverpool and Manchester City, some fans hired an aeroplane that flew above Old Trafford with a banner saying "Wrong One – Moyes Out". Manchester City claimed the first piece of silverware of their season as they beat Sunderland 3-1 in the League Cup final.
But City failed to progress past the last 16 stage of the Champions League after being knocked out by Barcelona, a result gave them a clear run at the league title.
Liverpool extended their impressive run to 11 straight league wins after thrilling 3-2 victories over Manchester City and Norwich. However, a cruel slip suffered by Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard allowed Demba Ba to score Chelsea`s first goal as the Londoners recorded a dogged 2-0 victory at Anfield.
Chelsea`s hopes of claiming the title had been dashed, however, when they lost 2-1 to relegation-threatened Sunderland, a result which ended Mourinho`s 77-game unbeaten league run at Stamford Bridge. The biggest managerial dismissal of the season came at United where Moyes was shown the door after 295 days in the job.
The Scot, whose final game ended in a 2-0 defeat by former club Everton and ensured that United missed out on Champions League qualification, became the 10th manager to lose his job during the season, breaking the record of nine set in 1994-95.
Liverpool started May ahead of City but Pellegrini`s men had a game-in-hand over the Merseysiders. City beat Everton 3-2 at Goodison Park to go above Liverpool on goal difference, but a win for Brendan Rodgers`s side at Crystal Palace would have put the pressure back on City and mean they needed to win their remaining two games.
Having cruised into a 3-0 lead at Palace, Liverpool looked to be heading back to the top, but with 11 minutes remaining Palace launched an amazing fightback to claim a 3-3 draw which left Liverpool`s players sobbing in despair.
City won their game in hand against Aston Villa 4-0, a result that meant they only needed a point against West Ham on the final day of the season to claim their second title in three seasons. Samir Nasri and Vincent Kompany scored the goals which sealed City`s 2-0 win over West Ham and Liverpool`s 2-1 victory over Newcastle left them two points behind the champions in second place with Chelsea third and Arsenal fourth.
Norwich City, Fulham and Cardiff City were relegated.