Some would have you believe football didn’t exist before the Premier League.
Of course it did, but 28 years is a heck of a long time!
Forty-nine teams have held reservations at English football’s top table since its inception in 1992.
Brentford will make that a nice round 50 if they beat Fulham in Tuesday’s Championship play-off final at Wembley.
It might not take a genius to work out who is the all-time top dog.
But some of the other positions and records in the top 20 might just come as a surprise.
The Premier League’s all-time top 20:
1, Manchester United – Points: 2,234 (from 1076 games), Seasons: 28, Goal difference: +1090
Maybe it’s all a ploy. Maybe United have deliberately been taking it easy to give the rest an opportunity to catch up.
The Red Devils have’t won the league since 2013, in Sir Alex Ferguson’s final year at the helm, but they still boast a massive lead on Arsenal
That speaks volumes for their absolute dominance from the League’s formation in 1992 to the great man’s retirement.
Chelsea would have to win the league for eight years straight just to match United’s tally. Phenomenal.
2, Arsenal – Points: 2,011 (from 1076 games), Seasons: 28, Goal difference: +840
Second-most wins (544), second-highest goals scored (1,772), even the most 2nd-place finishes (six). Little wonder the Gunners are second on this list too.
Oh, and in Arsene Wenger they had a manager with the second-longest period of service in modern times, behind Fergie.
Others have relied on cold hard cash, but the revolutionary Frenchman was the catalyst for change at Arsenal
A winner of three titles, he was also a purveyor of the perfect (or at least unbeaten) season in an astonishing feat of invincibility that may never be repeated.
3, Chelsea – Points: 1,997 (from 1076 games), Seasons: 28, Goal difference: +783
A little like Manchester City, Chelsea enjoyed a pretty sudden upturn after foreign investment landed.
Gone are the days of 11th-placed finishes. It’s been a long old fairground ride under Roman Abramovich – and the fans don’t want to get off.
Yet Chelsea have the best record of any team in the second half of the Premier League era, winning five Premier League titles – the same number as Manchester United – in the past 14 seasons.
4, Liverpool – Points: 1,948 (from 1076 games), Seasons: 28, Goal difference: +780
Many might feel slightly surprised to see reigning champions Liverpool this far down.
The Reds have been relentless in the last two seasons, taking 196 points from a possible 228 to race clear of Spurs.
But it hasn’t always been Champagne and caviar on the menu at Anfield. For 30 years, no less, there was no domestic title to toast.
5, Tottenham Hotspur – Points: 1,654 (from 1076 games), Seasons: 28, Goal difference: +255
Fans of a certain vintage will remember a time when Spurs were the definition of mid-table mediocrity.
There were no title challenges, even if they would eventually be made in vain.
The club’s upturn can be charted back to Dutchman Martin Jol who didb’t quite bag a top-four spot, but he sure changed the culture and mindset at what was for so long a sleeping giant club.
6. Everton – Points: 1,476 (from 1076 games), Seasons: 28, Goal difference: +34
The worst record of the ever-presents, but still not to be sniffed at.
The Toffees hold the record for Premier League draws (287) and defeats (351), but that’s mainly because they’ve been in the division for 28 consecutive seasons.
They might well drop a place next season with City snapping at their heels, just 26 points adrift.
7, Manchester City – Points: 1,450 (from 886 games), Seasons: 23, Goal difference: +466
Seventh? Pep Guardiola wouldn’t get out of bed for seventh! I don’t even think he or the club’s oil-rich Saudi owners even know the meaning of the word.
Six clubs boast a better record, principally because City haven’t always been competing for honours.
The early years of the Premier League were a struggle, but since 2008 there’s been good times aplenty and no fewer than four titles.
8, Newcastle United – Points: 1,316 (from 958 games), Seasons: 25, Goal difference: -6
Who can forget that Kevin Keegan meltdown? Or the catastrophic slide that allowed Manchester United to pip the Magpies to the 1996 title?
Newcastle have chopped and changed managers, but only once – under Kenny Dalglish the following season – have they got as close to the Premier League crown.
Simple survival has been the goal more recently though that could all change if the club is finally the subject of a big-money takeover.
9, Aston Villa – Points: 1,258 (from 962 games), Seasons: 25, Goal difference: -95
Biggest club in the Midlands? These stats would bear that out.
Villa skirted with danger for several seasons, but were Premier League ever-presents, let’s not forget, until their dismal relegation in 2016.
For a club Villa’s size ninth next season should be the very least of their ambition, but it would represent a huge improvement after Dean Smith only just kept them afloat.
10, West Ham – Points: 1,137 (from 920 games), Seasons: 24, Goal difference: -218
West Ham beat bitter London rivals Tottenham to register their 1000th Premier League point in the 2016/17 season.
Their top-flight status has looked iffy since, but they’ve always managed to do enough.
Hammers fans will hope there’s more to life than 40 points, as there most certainly was under Slaven Bilic, with David Moyes back in charge.
11, Southampton – Points: 980 (from 810 games), Seasons: 21, Goal difference: -159
The Saints have been marching in ever since 2012 with regards to Premier League status.
Dropping down into the third tier doesn’t appear to have done them any harm.
Present for 21 of the 28 seasons, Southampton overtook Blackburn this season and could have 11th spot secured for some time.
12, Blackburn Rovers – Points: 970 (from 696 games), Seasons: 18, Goal difference: +20
The club’s heyday, with Jack Walker at the financial tiller and Kenny Dalglish the manager, was pretty impressive.
To think their title triumph in 1995 had come out of blue would be to rewrite history.
Rovers finished fourth and second in the two campaigns previous and were actually second in the all-time table after three seasons.
13, Leeds United – Points: 692 (from 468 games), Seasons: 12, Goal difference: +68
It feels like an age since the Whites were last in the top flight – and it is.
You need to trawl back to 2004 to stumble across their last Premier League foray.
So for them to be as high up this table is testament to the success the club enjoyed in the competition’s formative years.
However long it takes for Marcelo Bielsa to help Leeds crash through the 700-points barrier could determine how they’ll fare on their return
14. Leicester – Points: 669 (from 536 games), Seasons: 14, Goal difference: -69
The Foxes are the lowest-placed team to have actually won the Premier League.
Leicester fans had always regarded Martin O’Neill’s tenure as the glory days, when the East Midlands club registered four consecutive top-10 finishes and two League Cups for good measure.
That was until 2016 when arguably the greatest fairytale in football was told.
15, Middlesbrough – Points: 661 (from 574 games), Seasons: 15, Goal difference: -146
No team has enjoyed finishing second-bottom as much as Middlesbrough (four times), which is why they’ve needed to clamber back in so often.
Europa League (or UEFA Cup) finalists under Steve McClaren in 2006, Boro did enjoy a period of stability between 1998 and 2009.
It was during that time they soared to seventh, the club’s highest-ever finish.
16, Sunderland – Points: 618 (from 608 games), Seasons: 16, Goal difference: -292
The Black Cats are one of two clubs in this list to currently languish outside the top divisions in English football.
Again facing ownership uncertainty, a record fifth Premier League promotion must seem a long way off.
To add insult to injury Sunderland have the worst goal difference of any Premier League side, by some distance.
17, Fulham – Points: 612 (from 532 games), Seasons: 14, Goal difference: -174
A major cash injection from owner Mohamed Al-Fayed allowed Fulham to become firm fixtures in the top flight.
Thirteen successive campaigns – the longest unbroken run of any club outside the top ten in this table – were brought crashing to a halt in 2014.
Only once have the Cottagers managed to get back in – for the 2018/19 season – but they’re well-placed to make that two in Tuesday’s Championship play-off final.
18, Bolton Points: 575 (from 494 games), Seasons: 13, Goal difference: -170
How times change? Bolton are the 18th most-successful team in Premier League history.
Mainly because they were ever-presents in the top flight from 2001 to 2012, and even finished as high as sixth under Sam Allardyce in 2005.
Next season they will play in League Two after ending the curtailed League One season bottom of the table on the back of a 12-point deduction for falling into administration.
19, Crystal Palace – Points: 472 (from 426 games), Seasons: 11, Goal difference: -158
Palace’s season might have tailed off dramatically, but the fact they were never really in the relegation mire should be viewed as a decent achievement by Roy Hodgson and his coaching staff.
Indeed, the Eagles have never had it so good in terms of unbroken top-flight participation. Palace will soon begin preparations for an eighth straight Premier League campaign.
20, West Brom – Points: 464 (from 456 games), Seasons: 12, Goal difference: -221
The Baggies just about make the top 20 thanks in no small part to a sustained period in the top flight in the 2010s.
Albion spent eight successive seasons in the big league before suffering relegation at the end of a chaotic 2017/18 season.
They will, of course, get the chance to add to their points tally next season after winning automatic promotion from the Championship this month.