David O'Leary's 'babies' and the best-ever young Premier League teams

After Man United’s youngsters flourished at the weekend, we look back on some similarly prodigious sides.

Leeds United players line up ahead of their Champions League semi-final with Valencia.
Leeds United players line up ahead of their Champions League semi-final with Valencia.
Image: EMPICS Sport

5. Arsenal — 2008-09

EVEN YOUNGER THAN their similarly youthful 2007-08 side with an average age of 22, the midfield alone often included 21-year-old Denilson, 18-year-old Aaron Ramsey and 20-year-old Theo Walcott, while the central defence featured 21-year-old Alex Song and 22-year-old Johan Djourou. All that considered, they did pretty well to finish fourth, in addition to reaching the semi-finals of both the FA Cup and Champions League.

4. Leeds — 2000-01

One of the youngest teams in Premier League history with 26-year-old Dominic Matteo a veteran compared with most of his teammates, David O’Leary’s ‘babies’ finished fourth in the Premier League and reached the Champions League semi-finals. Of the youngsters in question, Paul Robinson, Rio Ferdinand, Jonathan Woodgate, Lee Bowyer, Alan Smith and Mark Viduka were among those to enjoy decent Premier League careers thereafter, even if the future of the club itself was not quite so bright.

3. Tottenham — 2015-16

With an average age of 24.7, the youngest of all the teams in the league this season, Tottenham have far exceeded expectations. Previously tipped as top-four hopefuls at best, Spurs have launched an improbable title challenge, with youngsters including Dele Alli, Eric Dier, Erik Lamela, Harry Kane and Christian Eriksen all playing integral roles in their success.

2. Liverpool 2013-14

In one of Liverpool’s best performances of 2013-14 season, when they went to White Hart Lane and beat Spurs 5-0, the average age of the team was just 24. Of course, there was some experience provided that season by the likes of Steven Gerrard and Kolo Toure, but the side also had a number of young players performing exceptionally on a regular basis, including Raheem Sterling, Jordan Henderson, Philippe Coutinho and Jon Flanagan.

1. Man United 1995-96

Following their 3-1 opening-day loss to Aston Villa, Alan Hansen famously remarked on Match of the Day that “you can’t win anything with kids”. The former Liverpool defender was made to eat his words, however, as United went on to win the title, with the inexperienced likes of David Beckham, Nicky Butt, Paul Scholes, Gary & Phil Neville and Ryan Giggs all playing important roles in the triumph.

Do you agree with our rankings? Let us know in the comments section below.

Shades of Matt le Tissier as the goal of the weekend was scored in the Netherlands>

This video of Liam Brady visiting a sick Arsenal fan in hospital is incredibly touching>

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