The 2009-10 English Premier League title was won by Chelsea in a thrilling climax where Carlo Ancelotti’s side emerged triumphant over perennial rivals Manchester United on the final day of the season. After a wobble in the closing stages Chelsea’s firepower came to the fore, destroying a host of sides in devastating fashion to keep United at bay and end the season on 86 points, one ahead of United in second.
The 2009 transfer window had as much focus on departures as it did on arrivals. The year-long saga of Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid finally happened, with the £80m fee a world record. United instead chose not to splurge the cash generated from the Portuguese, instead remaining largely low-key in the marketplace. Their £16m purchase of Antonio Valencia was their only real outlay, while Gabriel Obertan, Michael Owen and Mame Biram Diouf all came in too.
Liverpool also fell victim to Florentino Perez’s drastic overhaul in Madrid, losing midfield metronome Xabi Alonso and full-back Alvaro Arbeloa for a combined £33.5m. Their efforts to replace both would have mixed results. Glen Johnson settled well though cost a hefty £17m from Portsmouth, but Alberto Aquilani proved to be an ill-fitting supplant for Alonso, and his spell at Anfield will not live long in the memory.
Arsenal, meanwhile, were deep into the loan payments for the Emirates stadium and so their spending throughout this period was stymied. Manchester City took supreme advantage, capturing Emmanuel Adebayor and Kolo Toure for a combined £40m, their Abu Dahbi-funded endeavours challenging Arsenal’s place as a genuine title contender.
City would not stop there in a season of spending not seen before. Joleon Lescott was picked up from Everton, Gareth Barry came in from Aston Villa, while Roque Santa Cruz was acquired from Blackburn, their combined fees moving City beyond the £100m mark. But their biggest deal was still to come; they lured Carlos Tevez after his two-year loan deal with Manchester United expired, the final fee thought to have been in the region of £47m.
As for Chelsea, their major fee was spent on Yuri Zhirkov, but the most important arrival came in the dugout, with Carlo Ancelotti arriving with a clear message from Roman Abramovich - wrestle the league title away from Manchester United.
Indeed Chelsea began in blistering fashion, winning their first six matches, but a dreadful run in December, where they won once in five, allowed others to converge upon them. Not least United, who were two points back after a superior Christmas period, while Arsenal were a further two behind.
The next few months were stylised with Chelsea appearing on the verge of edging clear, only for a poor result drawing them back into the mix. They dropped points against the likes of Hull City, Everton, Blackburn and Manchester City across February and March and indeed, with eight games remaining United were in the driving seat, with Arsenal in second and Chelsea four back with a game in hand.
All avenues pointed towards Old Trafford on 3 April, where Chelsea visited. A United win would have made them odds-on to win the title for an unprecedented fourth consecutive year, but instead Chelsea were victors. Joe Cole and Didier Drogba were instrumental in a 2-1 win and after United stumbled again four days later, drawing 0-0 at Blackburn, Chelsea were suddenly four points clear with just four games to play. Arsenal, meanwhile, systematically failed in the run-in, picking up four points from the last 15 to leave them well off the pace by the end of the campaign.
This is the best moment I have had since I became a professional footballer. It's been a fantastic season, we scored a lot of goals, 103, and we have played some good football and that's what is important for the team.Didier Drogba
Chelsea’s unexpected 2-1 loss to Tottenham gave United hope, particularly as a late Paul Scholes header in the Manchester derby narrowed the gap to a single point with three games to play. It came to a straight shootout, but in reality Chelsea were barely in threat. They demolished Stoke City 7-0 at home, before a 2-0 win at Anfield in a match that was far more straightforward than it perhaps should have been.
United entered the final day within touching distance but the Blues were relentless. Wigan were pummelled 8-0, giving Chelsea their third title of the Premier League era, and breaking up the dominance United had enjoyed across the three previous years. In the process they broke the goals record, scoring 103 times.
At the bottom, financially troubled Portsmouth had to contend with a points deduction and were a distant last place with 19 points. Hull City, who had performed so impressively in the previous season to stay up, couldn’t repeat the feat and returned to the Championship, while Burnley’s one-season spell ended with the worst goal difference in the division, conceding 82 times. West Ham had a season to forget, avoiding relegation their only consolation.
Tottenham, meanwhile, looked rejuvenated under Harry Redknapp and deservedly qualified for the Champions League for the first time, edging out Manchester City after a dramatic 1-0 triumph at the Etihad in the closing weeks of the season.
PLAYER OF THE SEASON
Rooney enjoyed one of the most prolific seasons of his career, scoring 26 times before an ankle injury with two months remaining put his World Cup in jeopardy.
MANAGER OF THE SEASON
The veteran boss completed his rehabilitation of Tottenham following the ill-fated spell of Juande Ramos, guiding Spurs to Champions League qualification.
YOUNG PLAYER OF THE SEASON
Milner had a fantastic campaign for Aston Villa, securing his position in the England set-up in the process.
DIDIER DROGBA - 29 GOALS
The Ivorian was relentless, particularly in the closing weeks of the season, as his 29 goals drove Chelsea to the title.
TEAM OF THE SEASON
GOAL OF THE SEASON
MAYNOR FIGUEROA looked up, and took his free-kick quickly to lob in an audacious 60-yard effort for Wigan away at Stoke City.
MOST EXPENSIVE TRANSFER
West Ham to MANCHESTER CITY
KEY MOMENT OF THE SEASON
A season-defining clash of the top two at Old Trafford saw Chelsea emerge triumphant and swing the pendulum back to Stamford Bridge.