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The Five Slickest Squads In Premier League History

Gavan Casey
By Gavan Casey
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There's a nostalgic affinity from football fans towards the sides who, in a sense, have broken the mould in abandoning the 'physicaliteh' with which the Premier League is associated, and instead played attractive, free-flowing football.

The 'state of flow' is a concept which has infiltrated sporting speak in recent years. Also known as 'the zone', this is the mental state in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energised focus, full involvement, and enjoyment. It's generally applied more to solo athletes: Fighters, tennis players, golfers. Occasionally, however, 11 footballers can be so in sync that they closer resemble a collective juggernaut than an random assortment of individuals.

Sometimes it's down to 'philosophy', others something simply clicks into gear and a team suddenly morphs into 1970 (or 1982) Brazil for a spell, scoring for fun and dispatching opponents with aplomb, all the while endearing themselves to the neutral.

Here are five sides who made for some seriously enjoyable watching over the years:

5: Swansea 2011/2012

We should have known what to expect from Brendan Rodgers' Swans when they turned the 2011 Championship playoff final - an occasion usually reserved for putrid, nerve-ridden football - into one of the most compelling games of the decade. Seemingly not arsed with marking, they also conceded two goals from corners - a surefire sign Swansea were intent only on playing ball, and none of this defensive nonsense, in the Premier League.

Their first top-flight season since 1983 saw them finish an incredible 11th with a 1-0 win over Liverpool FC, but they guaranteed safety with a 4-4 draw at Wolves - a game which Rodgers' side had initially led 4-1. Somehow, a team with Garry Monk wearing the captain's armband and Danny Graham starting up front played some exquisite and courageous football, and stayed up with relative ease.


4: Manchester United 1993/1994

A team whose grace that season has gone largely underappreciated given United's success in the years that followed, the '93/94 instalment of Fergie's dynasty were perhaps rivalled only by United's 2007-2009 side in terms of the magisterial nature of their play.

With Eric Cantona conducting atop a team of moving parts, mercurial talents such as Andrei Kanchelskis and Lee Sharpe were complimented by the consistent brilliance of other young stars in Roy Keane and Ryan Giggs. The result was a brand of football perhaps more silky and flamboyant than Premier League fans had grown accustomed to.


3: Liverpool FC 2013/2014



The new SAS in Suarez and Sturridge combined for a grand total of 51 league goals in a compelling campaign. Though a long-awaited title would ultimately slip away at season's end, Liverpool FC's brand of football three seasons ago produced some mesmerising performances and goals.

The emergence of Raheem Sterling and Philippe Coutinho, too, added a fluidity and creativity to one of the most pacy attacking forces in Premier League history, and for much of the season, they became literally unplayable. Sturridge's (and indeed Liverpool FC's) struggles since Suarez' departure for Barcelona need no real explanation, but as the Uruguayan hit his peak, we saw Liverpool FC's most entertaining side of the Premier League era. And could they play.


2: Newcastle 1995/1996

Kevin Keegan's Newcastle would likely rival and perhaps even surpass Rodgers' Liverpool FC team as the best never to win a title. A side containing some of the game's great stylists in Faustino Asprilla, Peter Beardsley and David Ginola came within four points of Manchester United in the end, and while Keegan might not have 'loved it', we certainly loved watching them play.

It was ultimately their reckless abandon going forward which would cost them a first Premier League title, as the Magpies threw away a 12-point lead en route to finishing runners-up. Five defeats and three draws in their final 13 games saw Ferguson's United - who had twice beaten Newcastle - pip them at the finish. One of the all-time great bottle-jobs, perhaps, but a side which played its own way and, in turn, fell upon its own sword.


1: Arsenal 2003/2004

Widely regarded as the greatest side to ever win a Premier League title, Arsene Wenger's Invincibles became the first top-flight club to go a full league season undefeated since Preston North End 115 years prior (Preston's league record was 18 wins, 4 draws and 0 losses, but their 'invincible' tag also incorporated their FA Cup victory of five wins and, incidentally, no goals conceded).

Vieira, Henry, Ljungberg, Pires, Bergkamp; names which, to this day, remind fans of some of the most imperious football ever witnessed in England, pouting, and trying to figure out the French for 'va-va-voom'.


Lauren, Ashley Cole, Gilberto Silva; even the standout defensive talents oozed attacking quality, and were integrated perfectly into a side which even the most jealous of Manchester United fans at the time would have to admit were a joy to watch. In the 13 years since, nobody has come close to playing similarly; such expressive football comes at a cost, or so seems to be the perception. It speaks to how special that Arsenal side truly was.

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