The summer of 1997 was as ever a busy one with many comings and goings in the Premiership. Firstly Tottenham Hotspur are involved in the transfer of two thirty something strikers. Firstly they pay out £6,000,000 to Newcastle United for the services of Les Ferdinand; they then recoup some of this with the sale of Teddy Sherringham to Manchester United for £3,500,000. Tottenham also add David Ginola to their squad for £2,500,000 again the fee going to Newcastle United. The big summer spenders though are Tottenham’s London rivals Arsenal. They spend more than £10,000,000 on Emmanuel Petit, Marc Overmars and Giles Grimandi. Everton return to what they know and Howard Kendall becomes their manager for the third time, Everton hope that Kendall can still bring the glory days back to Goodison, having taken Everton to the title twice during the 1985-1986 English Football League Division 1 and the 1986-1987 English Football League Division 1 seasons. Their Merseyside rivals are busy too in the pre-season. They sign Danny Murphy from Crewe Alexander for a £1,500,000 plus performance related increases. They also bring England International Paul Ince Back to the Premiership from Inter Milan for just over £4,000,000. Outside of the Premiership Fulham are purchased by Harrods millionaire owner with sole intention of taking Fulham up to the premier league, first though they must win promotion from the 1997/1998 English Football League Division 2.
The 1997-1998 FA Carling Premiership began with a Dion Dublin hat-trick in an exciting 3-2 victory for Coventry against Chelsea. Teddy Sherringham visits his old club Tottenham Hotspur, despite Manchester United’s convincing 2-0 will at White Hart Lane they decide to spend £5,000,000 on Blackburn Rovers defender Henning Berg. Blackburn Rovers show fine early form and top the table during the opening month of the season. John Barnes who had been Liverpool Football Club’s star player for many years finally ends his illustrious Anfield carer joining Newcastle United and his former manager and teammate Kenny Daglish, because of his distinguished service to the Liverpool Club allowing him to leave on a free transfer.
During the month of September 1997 Ian Wright breaks Cliff Bastin's club record of 178 goals as he puts away a hat-trick against Bolton Wanders in a 4-1 win. Despite drawing 4 games already by the end of the month Arsenal are top just a point over Alex Fergusons Man United. United suffer a blow to their season when Roy Keane suffers cruciate ligament damage, this puts the United captain out for the rest of the season. Blackburn Rovers show their best form since they won the 1994-1995 FA Carling Premiership title; they continue their early season form and are placed in third position. At the other end of the table lie Barnsley and Bolton Wanders the two newly promoted clubs are joined by Howard Kendall’s Everton by the end of November 1997. Goalkeeper John Burridge announces his retirement he still holds the record of oldest player to play in the Premiership he retires from football at the age of 46, he had played over 770 league games, winning the English Football League Cup in 1997 with Aston Villa, he took the record in May 1995 playing for Manchester City at the age of 43, though this football statistic is impressive, the English Football League record is held by Neil McBain who played for New Brighton against Hartlepool at the age of 51 in 1947. It is probably a safe football bet that this record will never be beaten in the English League. By the end of November 1997 Chelsea are second thanks to Gianfranco Zola, he score a hat-trick in a 4-0 win against Derby County. Manchester United stay top thanks to wins against a number of teams, a number of these games are high scoring, they beat Sheffield Wednesday 6-1, Wimbledon 5-2 and Blackburn Rovers 4-0. However the month of November does not go their way completely as they lose away to Arsenal 3-2.
At the end of 1997 it is Chelsea and Blackburn who keep the pressure on Manchester United. Chelsea beat Tottenham 6-0 away; however they spoil their hard work and lose the very last game of the year 1-0 to Southampton, leaving Man Utd top over second place Blackburn by 5 points. The bottom 3 include Everton and Barnsley, Spurs terrible form though means that they join the bottom 3, putting extreme pressure on unpopular Swiss manager Christian Gross. In an attempt to change their poor form Tottenham bring back the very popular former German International Jurgen Klinsmann who had left at the end 1994-1995 FA Carling Premiership season despite being voted Football Writers Association player of that year. Liverpool by the end of January are in fourth place thank to sensation Michael Owen who would go on to have an impressive World Cup during the summer of 1998, this being the completion were he would score a goal that made him a teenage football superstar.
By the end of February 1998 Arsenal are third in the FA Carling Premiership they are 12 points behind league leaders Manchester United. In the month of March they do the double over United who had already dropped points by drawing with West Ham. Arsenal beat United at Old Trafford 1-0 with a goal coming from Dutch winger Marc Overmars. By the end of the month Arsenal have reduced the lead to 3 points, they also have in their favour the fact that they have played 2 games less.
During April 1998 Arsenal begin change the destination of the title, with young Frenchman Nicolas Anelka beginning to score on quite a regular basis. By the end of the month Arsenal have completely changed it around taking a 4 point lead, United having drawn two games against Liverpool and Newcastle. In the end it is Arsenal’s game in hand that confirms them as FA Carling Premiership champions. They win by a single point they beat Everton 4-0 to confirm the title during their third but last game. The relegation issue is decided on the last day of the season, Bolton Wanders are relegated via goal difference. They lose their final game of the season with Everton drawing against Coventry. Bolton join Barnsley and Crystal Palace, all three clubs had lasted a single season, highlighting the increasing gulf between Division 1 and the Premiership.« previous season 1996 premiershipnext season 1998 premiership »