The English Double – The Premier League and FA Cup
In the world of football, there is perhaps no greater achievement than winning a league title. For English teams, that glory is often doubly sweet when accompanied by winning the FA Cup.
The double is hard to achieve, and only a few clubs can say they’ve done the double.
In this post, we’ll take a look at some of the most successful English teams to ever achieve “the double”.
Preston North End (1888-89)
The double was won for the very first time by Preston North End after they enjoyed a fantastic season of going undefeated in both competitions.
In a league that had just been founded – its first ever season saw a league consisting of 12 teams. Preston played 22 games, winning 18 of those and drawing the other 4, scoring a remarkable 74 goals while only conceding 15.
The FA Cup was won after five rounds that lasted from February 1889 until the end of March 1889. Preston defeated Wolverhampton Wanderers 3-0 in the final. Going unbeaten the entire season earned them the nickname “The Invincibles”.
Aston Villa (1896-97)
Aston Villa became the next club to do it almost 10 years later. One of the founding 12 members of the league that saw Preston North End win the double, Villa had finished second that time around.
After a shaky start with only two wins in their first six games, Villa went on an unbeaten run of 12, ending the season 11 points ahead of Sheffield United. The league had expanded at this point to 16 teams, playing a total of 30 games and being awarded 2 points per win and 1 point per draw.
Fred Wheldon finished the season as the top goalscorer with 18 goals in the league, having been signed for £350 from relegated Small Heath.
The FA Cup was also expanded, consisting of 5 qualifying rounds and then five proper rounds.
Aston Villa, along with the other 15 teams in the First Division, as it was known then, was given a bye until the first round proper. The tournament ran from January 1897 to April 1897. Aston Villa would go on to beat Everton 3-2 in the final, in front of a crowd of 65,891, becoming the second team ever to win the double.
Tottenham Hotspur (1960-61)
It was a long time until another team won the double after Aston Villa, it would be Tottenham to win it in the 1960-61 season. The First Division now had 22 teams, and after 42 games, Spurs ended the season 8 points clear of Sheffield Wednesday.
The league now also had relegation, which saw Newcastle and Preston North End go down to the Second Division.
Jimmy Greaves of Chelsea ended the season top goalscorer, scoring a remarkable 41 goals, while Bobby Smith for Tottenham helped his team secure the title after scoring 28 goals.
The FA Cup was now into its 80th year when Spurs became just the third club to achieve the double and the second since Aston Villa in 1897. The 44 First and Second Division clubs entered the third round properly this time.
Spurs would go on to lift the trophy in front of 100,000 fans at Wembley Stadium in London after they beat Leicester City 2-0 in the final to achieve the remarkable double.
Arsenal won the league, finishing just 1 point ahead of Leeds United to pick up their fourth title. Arsenal went on a winning run of 9 games, but Leeds pushed them all the way with an unbeaten run of 16.
West Brom’s Tony Brown ended the season as the top goalscorer with 28 goals, while for Arsenal, it was Ray Kennedy and John Radford who got the bulk of their goals, with 19 and 15, respectively.
Arsenal’s home form was pivotal in the race for the title as they didn’t lose a game at home.
Arsenal’s FA Cup win saw them beat Liverpool 2-1 after extra time in front of a packed house at Wembley Stadium. The game was goalless after 90 minutes, with all three goals coming in extra time.
Liverpool took the lead early into extra time. Still, Arsenal showed their resolve and togetherness to turn things around, and goals from Eddie Kelly and Charlie George helped secure Arsenal their place as double winners for the first time.
Liverpool claimed their 16th top flight title after a hard-fought season that saw them narrowly beat out rivals Everton with just 2 points.
West Ham didn’t do so bad either, finishing 3rd, just 4 points behind Liverpool, still playing 42 games at this point in a league of 22 teams. This would be Kenny Dalglish’s first season as player-manager, but Ian Rush grabbed the goals for Liverpool, scoring 22 in the league and 31 overall.
The FA Cup saw the first ever Merseyside derby in the final as Liverpool played Everton in front of 98,000 at Wembley Stadium.
Everton took the lead through Gary Lineker, but it was Liverpool who ran out winners 3-1, in the end, thanks to goals from Craig Johnston and a double from Ian Rush, helping Liverpool to become the fifth team to become double winners.
Manchester United (1993-94, 1995-96)
Manchester United led the way for most of the 1993-94 season, eventually finishing a comfortable 8 points clear of Blackburn Rovers. Newcastle United, who finished 3rd, were the only team to score more goals than Man Utd, and it was largely due to Andy Cole, who scored a remarkable 34 goals, along with 18 assists.
Eric Cantona was Man Utd’s stand-out player of the season as he scored 18 goals and assisted 12 goals during the campaign, earning him the PFA’s Players’ Player of the Year.
Two penalties from Eric Cantona set Man Utd on their way in the 93-94 FA Cup final against Chelsea. Mark Hughes and Brian McClair finished the scoring as Man Utd ran out comfortable 4-0 winners, securing Sir Alex Ferguson his first ever double in English football.
Double Winners For The Second Time
The 1995-96 season saw Man Utd lift another double. The top flight in England would be known as the FA Carling Premiership for the coming season, and it would now consist of 38 games, with 20 teams in the league.
Manchester United won the league with just 4 points ahead of Newcastle United. Eric Cantona enjoyed another season, earning himself the FWA Footballer of the Year, scoring 14 goals and ten assists in the process.
Cantona was the main man in the final of the 1995-96 FA Cup final again, after his singular goal was enough for Manchester United to beat now bitter rivals Liverpool 1-0 at Wembley Stadium.
Man Utd at the time produced some of the youngest players that Sir Alex put a lot of trust in, and they repaid him with results on the pitch to pick up Sir Alex Ferguson’s second double in three years.
Arsenal won the double for a second time, while this would be Arsene Wenger’s first in English football. It was a historic season for The Gunners, as it was their 100th season of competitive football.
Arsenal won the league just 1 point ahead of Manchester United. Dennis Bergkamp was Arsenal’s stand-out player of the season, scoring 16 goals and 12 assists.
Arsenal’s FA Cup win in the 1997-98 season saw them join Manchester Utd as the only clubs to become double winners twice.
Goals from Marc Overmars and Nicolas Anelka secured Arsenal’s double with a 2-0 win over Newcastle United at Wembley in front of 80,000 spectators.
Manchester United (1998-99)
Arguably this goes down in history as Manchester United’s most famous season to date.
A season where Man Utd didn’t just win the main domestic double but also won the Champions League to complete a fabulous treble. This time, it would be Man Utd who pipped Arsenal to the title, again with only 1 point in it.
Chelsea wasn’t far behind in 3rd, only 4 points off the top. The duo of Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole worked wonders for Sir Alex, with Yorke scoring 18 while Cole hit 17.
Manchester United became the first ever club to win the double three times after they beat Newcastle United 2-0 in the final of the FA Cup with goals from Teddy Sheringham and Paul Scholes.
Man Utd would go on to beat Bayern Munich in the Champions League final just a week later to complete the historic treble that is yet to be replicated.
Arsenal became the second team to win the double three times, just a couple of years after Manchester United made history. This time, Arsenal finished 7 points clear of Liverpool, and it was Thierry Henry who bagged most of the goals for The Gunners, scoring 24 goals.
Robert Pires and Dennis Bergkamp impressed throughout the season, as Pires garnered 15 assists, while Bergkamp contributed with 12. Pires would go on to lift the FWA Football of the Year, while talented winger Freddie Ljungberg was awarded the Premier League Player of the Season.
The 2001-02 FA Cup final saw Arsenal take on Chelsea at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.
Late goals from Ray Parlour and Freddie Ljungberg saw Arsenal lift the double for the third time as they beat Chelsea 2-0.
Only Manchester United and Arsenal have won the double three times to date.
Carlo Ancelotti enjoyed his first season in English football as he guided Chelsea to their first and only double.
Chelsea won the league with just one point ahead of Manchester United. Didier Drogba finished top goalscorer with 29 goals, while Frank Lampard enjoyed a very impressive season with 22 goals and 14 assists. Chelsea went on to collect the Premier League Merit Award for becoming the first team to score 100 goals.
They finished the season with 103.
Didier Drogba would be the difference in the 2009-10 FA Cup final, as he scored the only goal of the game as Chelsea beat Portsmouth 1-0. Currently, this is still Chelsea’s one and only time they’ve won the double.
Manchester City (2018-19)
The 2018-19 season saw yet another nail-biting season in the league as Man City and Liverpool battled it out at the top.
Manchester City came out on top, only one point ahead of Liverpool, and it would be too many draws that cost Liverpool the title.
Sergio Aguero played a key part in his side’s success, scoring 21 goals, but it was Raheem Sterling who grabbed headlines for the season he produced, scoring 17 goals and winning both the FWA Footballer of the Year and PFA Young Player of the Year.
The FA Cup final was won after Manchester City comfortably handled Watford, winning 6-0 in the end.
David Silva opened the scoring, while Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling grabbed a brace each, with Kevin De Bruyne being the other scorer.
Manchester City would lift the treble this season as they also picked up the League Cup earlier in the year. A historic season for Manchester City and Pep Guardiola, and one that will be hard to duplicate, as Man City became the first ever team to win the domestic treble.
Winning The English Double
It’s no easy task, as only eight clubs had secured the double from when the English top flight was introduced in 1888-89, and it still proves to be elusive for so many clubs.
Only Arsenal and Manchester United have won the double more than once, both of them winning it three times respectively. It’s a tough ask but an incredible achievement for whoever does manage to win the double.
Preston North End won it without losing a game in the first-ever English league that was created all season.
Tottenham Hotspur’s only double win came in the 60s, and they’ve yet to reach the heights they once had.
Manchester United won it three times, all in the 1990s, including their most famous season in 1998-99, as they went on to lift a treble by also winning the Champions League.
Arsenal also won it three times, in the 70s, 90s, and 00s, but it’s been a long time since Arsenal fought at the top end of the table for titles.
Chelsea’s only double came in the 2009-10 season, with Carlo Ancelotti helping his side lift both trophies in his first season in English football.
Manchester City made history in the 2018-19 season when they picked up their first-ever double, eventually finishing the season as the first-ever club to win the domestic treble.
English Football Double Winners
|Football Season||English Club||Team Manager|
|1888-1889||Preston North End||William Sudell|
|1896-1897||Aston Villa||George Ramsay|
|1960-1961||Tottenham Hotspur||Bill Nicholson|
|1993-1994||Manchester United||Alex Ferguson|
|1995-1996||Manchester United (2nd time)||Alex Ferguson|
|1997-1998||Arsenal (2nd time)||Arsene Wenger|
|1998-1999||Manchester United (3rd time)||Alex Ferguson|
|2001-2002||Arsenal (3rd time)||Arsene Wenger|
|2018-2019||Manchester City||Pep Guardiola|