For the most part, football is a wildly unpredictable game, filled with thrills, shocks and surprises. But every now and then, teams can go on hot or cold streaks that seem to defy everything we know about the game.
Here then, are a collection of some of the longest streaks in football history, including some astounding records from the Premier League, Champions League and the World Cup.
Exploring these streaks will hopefully give us a greater appreciation of the game’s great record-breakers – even if some of the individuals mentioned would rather we all forget their very memorable contributions.
Longest Winning Streaks In English Football
While the main prize in football has always been trophies, whether in the form of a league title or a domestic cup, some uniquely talented teams have managed to go on record-breaking streaks prior to winning silverware, what follows are the five longest winning lines in English football history – including league and domestic cups wins.
While individual competition records are bigger here we are looking at teams that won games consecutively whatever the competition, a much harder feat.
11 games – Liverpool (2006 and 1989)
Liverpool have managed to win 11 games in a row on two separate occasions. The
first came in the profoundly traumatic early months of 1989 – the same year of the Hillsborough disaster. Between February and April, Kenny Dalglish’s men were unstoppable, only losing the First Division title to Arsenal on the final day – and on goal difference.
That side would win an FA Cup the next month – just as the Reds did in 2006. Under Spanish manager Rafael Benitez, Liverpool won 11 on the spin from March until May that year, sealing a Champions League spot in the Premier League – and a seventh FA Cup in the process.
12 games – Everton (1884)
The only 19th-century side to make the top five was Everton and their 12-game streak in 1884. It was almost enough to earn the Toffees a second First Division title in a row.
Having won the last four games of the previous season, Everton won their first eight games of the 1894/95 campaign – including a 3-0 victory over Liverpool – but eventually fell to Blackburn in a 4-3 defeat. They would go on to finish second in the league.
13 games – Tottenham Hotspur (1960)
Still regarded as one of the greatest English club sides of all time, in the 1960/61 season, Bill Nicholson’s all-conquering Spurs would go on to achieve a historic league and FA Cup double.
However, before they did so, a solid winning streak was put together in the first 11 games of that season, which didn’t end until October. Guided by legendary manager Nicolson and powered by the goalscoring prowess of Jimmy Greaves, it was an exceptional unit that Spurs fans rightly deify to this very day.
14 games – Arsenal (1987)
When one considers the genuinely great English sides, Arsenal in the late 1980s doesn’t tend to come to mind. But what people are quick to forget is how the Gunners, led by George Graham, beat the great Liverpool side to two First Division titles in that time (won in1987 and 1989).
The first of those triumphs was followed up by a scorching start to the very next season, where Arsenal would win 14 games straight – starting in September of 1987. Southampton eventually ended the streak in late November, and while the Gunners would end up sixth in the league that season, it still stands the test of time as one of English football’s longest winning runs.
18 games – Manchester City (2020-21)
For decades, many viewed Arsenal’s 14-match winning streak as unmatchable. That was until Pep Guardiola arrived at Man City and redefined what we’ve come to expect from modern football clubs.
The Spaniard had already led City to 100 points in 2018, making them the first-ever ‘centurions’ in top-flight history. Not content, he collected another record between December 2020 and March 2021, in which time his team had racked up a scarcely believable 18 wins on the bounce. This included victories over Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United – who just so happened to end their streak in March thanks to a 2-0 win at the Etihad.
Longest Premier League Winning Streaks
Even when removing wins in the League Cup and FA Cup, the list of consecutive wins in the Premier League is still topped by Guardiola’s relentless Man City side. Technically speaking, City’s record of 18, achieved between August and December 2017, is shared with Liverpool, who also stretched out an 18-match run between October 2019 and February 2020.
Jurgen Klopp’s men are also third on the list thanks to a 17-match winning run between March and October 2019, which was ended by a deflating 0-0 draw with local rivals Everton. What this shows us, more than anything, is just how extraordinary City and Liverpool have been over the past few years, as no other side in Premier League history has even gotten close to matching their records.
Longest Premier League Losing Streaks
At the opposite end of the scale, we have the records that no teams want to break. Losing streaks, just like record low point totals, can permanently stain careers.
They say you have to learn to lose in order to learn how to win, although, some of the records here clearly show some teams didn’t learn.
What follows are the five longest losing streaks in Premier League history.
9 games – Sunderland (2005), Fulham (2019)
While Sunderland endured a much longer winless spell earlier in the year (we’ll get to that, don’t worry), they didn’t exactly end 2005 in great form either. Nine losses in total all but confirmed their relegation from the Premier League by Christmas in what was a thoroughly dismal managerial reign for Mick McCarthy on Wearside.
Fulham matched nine losses in a row in 2019, a dreadful run that also condemned Scott Parker’s men to relegation that year – as they finished 19th.
11 games – Aston Villa (2016)
The 2015-16 season started well for Villa after an impressive away win at Newly-promoted Bournemouth on the season’s opening day. However, things soon turned sour, and the appointment of Frenchman Remi Garde as manager midway through the season only worsened matters.
The 1982 European Cup winners were relegated from the Premier League for the very first time after an 11-game winless run in the final few months of the season.
16 games – Norwich City (2020-2021)
Norwich City have essentially become the new Sunderland in recent years. Like the Black Cats, they’ve been too good for The Championship but not quite good enough for the Premier League, leading to three relegations in seven seasons.
Their longest losing run during these doomed seasons came between March 2020 and October 2021, with their season in The Championship providing some solace in the middle. The Canaries soon overtook Aston Villa’s 11-game losing run to move into second place on this list.
20 games – Sunderland (2003-2005)
While Norwich ran it close last year, it seems highly unlikely that this particular record will be beaten any time soon. Sunderland were historically bad in the 2005/06 season, earning just 15 points, which is still the second-lowest total in Premier League history.
Lowest Point Totals In Premier League History
The first 15 of their 20 defeats in a row actually came in the 02/03 season, which would be added to a couple of years later once promotion back to the top flight was secured. Five losses at the start of 2005-06 set the tone for the rest of the season. Sunderland fans probably didn’t think it could get any worse than 2002-03…how wrong they were.
Scoring Streaks In English Football
Goals are the currency of football and often you will find scoring streaks closely linked to winning streaks on the basis that if you have a team or player scoring every game then you are more likely to be winning those games.
When a player or team gets on a hot goalscoring streak, it can be almost impossible to stop them – as some of these examples demonstrate.
Most consecutive games scoring (team): 55 – Arsenal (2002-2003)
Under Arsene Wenger in the early 2000s, the Gunners had one of the most prolific and exciting attacks the Premier League had ever seen. Therefore, it’s hardly surprising that they scored so freely during this time, especially when you factor in the contributions of Thierry Henry, Denis Bergkamp and Robert Pires.
Most consecutive top-flight matches scored in: 12 games – Jimmy Dunne (1931-1932)
The Sheffield United forward scored a total of 18 goals in 12 matches between October 1931 and the 1st of January 1932. Born in Dublin, Ireland, he also went on to score 30 goals in three consecutive First Division seasons between 1930 and 1933.
Most consecutive Premier League matches scored in 11 games – Jamie Vardy (2015)
Leicester City’s miracle Premier League title win in 15/16 wouldn’t have been possible without this early season run of goals by Vardy. The England international found the back of the net in 11 consecutive matches between August and November 2015, which included goals against Liverpool and Manchester United.
Champions League/European Cup Streaks
Most consecutive match wins: 11 – Bayern Munich (2019/20)
The 2019/20 season saw Bayern achieve a remarkable treble of trophy wins, and it’s not hard to see why. Hansi Flick’s team managed to beat both Barcelona and PSG en route to the Champions League title – famously hammering the former 8-2 in the Quarter-final.
Most consecutive European Cup title wins: 5 – Real Madrid (1955-1960)
Several teams have gone on to win three European Cups in a row, but nobody has come close to matching Madrid’s five at the very inception of the competition’s existence. Bolstered by the attacking firepower of Ferenc Puskas and Alfredo di Stefano, Los Blancos were simply unstoppable for a period of time.
Most consecutive clean sheets: 10 – Arsenal (2005-2006)
Arsenal managed to reach the final of the Champions League in 2006, and had it not been for an early Jens Lehmann red card, they might have gotten the better of Barcelona that night in Paris.
Thierry Henry is often credited with dragging his side to the final, but what gets overlooked is the contribution of their resilient defenders – who kept both Real Madrid and Villareal quiet in the knockout stages.
Most consecutive games without defeat: 25 – Manchester United (2007-2009)
United were arguably at their peak under Sir Alex Ferguson during this three-year period. They would go on to win the Champions League for the third time in 2008 and came very close to doing so again one year later – ultimately losing to Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona in Rome.
Longest UCL scoring streak by a player: 11 games – Cristiano Ronaldo (2017-2018)
The Portuguese superstar is the all-time top goalscorer in the UCL with 141 at the time of writing – 11 of which came in consecutive matches back in the 2017-18 season for Real Madrid. Zinedine Zidane’s side would go on to lift the trophy at the end of that campaign – which also happens to be the last time Ronaldo won the Champions League to date.
FIFA World Cup streaks
Most consecutive World Cup Finals appearances: 21 – Brazil (1930-2018)
Incredibly, Brazil has never failed to qualify for the FIFA World Cup since the very first edition in 1930. Germany is next on the list of finals appearances at 19, while Italy – who did fail to qualify for Qatar later this year – have been to 18.
Longest time without conceding a goal in the World Cup: 559 mins – Switzerland (1994-2010)
The streak began after the Swiss conceded an 86th-minute goal to Spain in the Round of 16 match-up at the 1994 World Cup. From there, they earned four clean sheets at the 2006 World Cup and one other clean sheet in South Africa four years later. However, Switzerland did not qualify for either the 1998 or 2002 World Cup Finals.
Most consecutive progressions from the first round: 16 – Germany (1954–2014)
The Germans are well known for their consistency when it comes to international tournaments. While there have been a few early eliminations in the European Championships, they nearly always reach the last 16 of the World Cup. This remarkable run ended thanks to a group stage exit in 2018, where a humiliating 2-0 defeat to South Korea sealed their fate.
Most consecutive eliminations from the first round: 5 – Mexico (1950–1966), Scotland (1974–1990)
Mexico have since improved their record, only now they habitually reach the last 16 before crashing out early. Scotland, meanwhile, haven’t qualified for a World Cup Finals since 1998, where they – rather predictably – were eliminated in the first round.
Longest goalscoring streak in a single World Cup: 6 games – Just Fontaine (1958) and Jairzinho (1970)
French forward Fontaine scored a stunning 13 goals in six games in 1958, a feat that hasn’t been matched since. This included a hat-trick against Paraguay in France’s opening match and a four-goal haul against Germany in the 3rd place playoff.
By contrast, Jairzinho’s contribution to Brazil’s iconic 1970 World Cup triumph was a tad more understated. The explosive winger scored in all of Brazil’s matches at the tournament, including a decisive strike against England in the group stage, which sent them through to the last eight.
Most Goals Scored By A Player In A Single Fifa World Cup Game
|Oleg Salenko||28/06/1994||Stanford Stadium (USA)||Russia 6 Cameroon 1||5|
|Butragueno||17/06/1986||La Corregidora (Mexico)||Denmark 1 Spain 5||4|
|Eusebio||23/07/1966||Goodison Park (England)||Portugal 5 N.Korea 3||4|
|Just Fontaine||28/06/1958||Goteborg (Sweden)||France 6 Germany 3||4|
|Sandor Kocsis||20/06/1954||St Jakob-Stadion (Swiss)||Hungary 8 Germany 3||4|
|Ademir||09/07/1950||Estadio Journalista Mario Filho (Brazil)||Brazil 7 Sweden 1||4|
|Ernst Willimowski||05/06/1938||De la Meinau (France)||Brazil 6 Poland 5||4|
Consecutive matches with at least two goals scored by one player: 4 – Sandor Kocsis (1954)
Often dubbed the greatest side never to win the World Cup, this particular stat goes some way to showing just how much firepower Hungary had in 1954. Despite not being their star forward (that was captain Puskas), Kocsis scored a brace or more in four consecutive World Cup games while in Switzerland.
Most extraordinarily of all, he netted four against West Germany in a group stage match – who would cause a massive upset by beating Hungary in the final two weeks later.