Premier League, 2003 (2002-03)

Premier League – Season Review 2002-03

The 2002-03 FA Barclaycard Premiership was the 11th season in the competition’s history. Manchester United were crowned champions for the eighth time despite making their worst start to a Premier League season to date. Their 18-game unbeaten recovery seemed highly unlikely after Arsenal enjoyed a brilliant first-half of the campaign and still held an eight point advantage on 2 March before the Gunners faltered.

Consolation for Arsene Wenger’s team came when they retained the FA Cup. Newcastle United and Chelsea qualified for the Champions League by their league position. Liverpool and Blackburn Rovers qualified for the UEFA Cup by winning the Worthington Cup and league position, respectively. By reaching the FA Cup Final, Southampton also entered the UEFA Cup while Manchester City were also awarded a place via the Fair Play League.

In a transitional era of ground-breaking stadium improvements, Fulham temporarily relocated to Loftus Road while this was Manchester City’s last season at Maine Road. A late season win at Arsenal saved recent Champions League semi-finalists Leeds United from demotion and further financial problems. Despite club legend Trevor Brooking taking over as caretaker manager late in the campaign, he could not inspire West Ham United’s survival and they were relegated along with West Bromwich Albion and Sunderland. The Black Cats mustered only four wins and 19 points.

Sir Alex Ferguson was named Barclaycard Manager of the Season. Arsenal’s Thierry Henry won the PFA Players' Player of the Year award. He also won the Football Writers' Association Footballer of the Year award. Ruud van Nistelrooy of Manchester United was the Barclaycard Player of the Year having also claimed the Golden Boot with 25 goals.

The PFA Premier League Team of the Year was:

  • Brad Friedel (Blackburn Rovers)
  • Stephen Carr (Tottenham Hotspur), Sol Campbell (Arsenal), William Gallas (Chelsea), Ashley Cole (Arsenal)
  • Kieron Dyer (Newcastle United), Patrick Vieira (Arsenal), Paul Scholes (Manchester United), Robert Pires (Arsenal)
  • Thierry Henry (Arsenal), Alan Shearer (Newcastle United)

The average attendance was 35,470. The highest attendance was 67,721 for Charlton Athletic’s visit to Manchester United on 3 May 2003. The lowest attendance of the season was the 14,017 who witnessed the game between Fulham and Blackburn Rovers on 7 April 2003 at Loftus Road.