PLRESULTS 29090729 September ~ An early goal from Robin van Persie secured the points for Arsène Wenger's most cosmopolitan Arsenal side to date. There were no British players among the 14 who played at West Ham and only two, Theo Walcott and Justin Hoyte, started league matches; Mark Randall made one substitute appearance. Arsenal stayed top, barring a couple of weeks, until late March. After 2-1 away defeats to challengers Chelsea and Manchester United in the run-in, they finished third.

Man Utd's goal at Birmingham came from Cristiano Ronaldo, who went on to be the Premier League's top scorer with 31 goals, equalling Alan Shearer's record total for a 38-match season. United went into the final game level on points with Chelsea but with a much better goal difference. They clinched the tile with a 2-0 win at Wigan while Chelsea could only draw at home to Bolton.

United commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Munich air disaster in February 2008 and wore a 1950s-style kit for the Manchester derby at Old Trafford on February 10. City, then owned by Thaksin Shinawatra, won that game 2-1 but were to finish ninth after losing their final match 8-1 at Middlesbrough. Nonetheless, they got a UEFA Cup place through the Fair Play League. Shortly after the Boro debacle, Mark Hughes took over as manager from Sven-Göran Eriksson.

Portsmouth's 7-4 win over Reading was the first 11-goal game in the top division since Fulham beat Ipswich 10-1 on Boxing Day 1963. Trailing 2-1 at half-time, Reading levelled through Dave Kitson three minutes into the second half then collapsed. Zimbabwean striker Benjani Mwaruwari got a hat-trick, Sulley Muntari scored Portsmouth's seventh in the 90th minute. Reading's fourth in injury-time was a Sol Campbell own-goal.

Portsmouth went on to finish eighth, their highest League position since 1954-55. They also won the FA Cup, beating Cardiff 1-0 in the final with a goal from Nwankwo Kanu. Man Utd, beaten 1-0 at Old Trafford in the last eight, were Portsmouth's only Premier League opponents during their run. Barnsley, who lost in the semi-final to Cardiff, had earlier beaten both Liverpool and Chelsea.

Reading were involved in another high-scoring game, a 6-4 defeat at Tottenham at the end of December. This was the start of an eight-match losing run that dropped them into the bottom three. Despite a 4-0 victory at Derby on the final day, Steve Coppell's side went down on goal difference because rivals Fulham won at… Portsmouth.

Derby finished on 11 points, 24 adrift of second-bottom Birmingham, and set a top-flight record of 32 games without a win; Kenny Miller was their top scorer with four goals. The replacement of manager Billy Davies with Paul Jewell in November didn't improve matters.

PLTABLE 290907

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