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Premier League gets fittingly fantastic finale
Title decider - Sergio Aguero
The battle for the league title between bitter rivals Manchester United and Manchester City was a prime example of the topsy-turvy nature of the proceedings. You could never quite tell what was going to happen next. There was the 6-1 slaughtering that City gave to United back in October that, at the time, seemed to send a very definitive message to the football world. That message was that there were some new kids in town and they were coming to take over and no one was going to stand in their way. At that point City had opened up a five point gap over United and, even so early on in the season, for many, it was game, set and match. But Sir Alex Ferguson’s side were not willing to give up the ghost that easily and managed to claw their way back to be level on points with their ‘noisy neighbours’ with a 5-0 demolition of Wigan on Boxing Day.
United then lost two games back to back when they were turned over by bottom of the table Blackburn Rovers and then thrashed 3-0 in the following game by Newcastle at St James’ Park. This handed the initiative back to City, who stayed at the top of the table until March 11th when they incredibly lost 1-0 to Premier League new boys Swansea City. This gave United a one point lead. Roberto Mancini’s side got back to winning ways with a win over Chelsea but they then embarked upon a three-game winless run, drawing with Stoke and Sunderland and then losing to Arsenal. Meanwhile, United had continued winning and, as a result, opened out an eight point gap at the top.
It looked like once again, United would triumph over the pretenders to their throne, as they had done many times before, but they then lost to relegation battlers Wigan and dramatically drew 4-4 with Everton at Old Trafford to reduce the deficit to three points. The two teams then went head to head at the Etihad in a game that was billed as the title decider, as, if City won, they would take the lead on goal difference. And a Vincent Kompany goal right on the stroke of half time was enough to secure the three points for City and put the title firmly within their grasp. All they had to do was win their last two games and the trophy would be theirs. What could go wrong? Well, the way this season had gone you had the feeling there were more twist and turns yet to come.
City moved one step closer with an impressive 2-0 victory over Newcastle at St James’ Park, which left them needing to beat QPR at the Etihad to win their first league title in 44 years. This should have been a fairly simple task on paper but it was destined not to be quite so straightforward. Once Pablo Zabaleta had given City a first half lead you could have been forgiven for thinking that City would make light work of their old boss Mark Hughes’ team. But Rangers hit back. A goal from Djibril Cisse levelled things up before Ian Mackie fired the Super Hoops into a 2-1 lead. This was a devastating blow for Mancini and his team. All that hard work they had put in this season and they were about to fritter it away on the last day.
As the clock ticked towards the end of the game, the realisation began to dawn on City that their title dreams were about to go up in smoke. They knew United were winning and were poised to steal the trophy away from them, until a minute into stoppage time when Edin Dzeko headed home to make it 2-2. This gave the Blues some hope but they were still aware they would need a second injury time goal to bring them the title. Then, three minutes into time added on, the moment came. David Silva put Sergio Aguero through and the Argentine smashed home to send the City fans delirious. In an instant they had gone from blubbering melancholy to joyful triumph. What a moment! And it really summed up the way the season has been and the tremendous drama that has unfolded.
The title was of course not the only thing at stake on the final day of the season. There was also a three-way battle going on for an automatic Champions League spot between bitter North London rivals Arsenal and Tottenham and the surprise package, Newcastle. Arsenal were in the driving seat to get the third sport that guarantees automatic qualification for the Champions League, as they had a one point advantage over Spurs with Newcastle a further point back. So the Gunners knew a win would be enough to secure their passage into Europe’s elite competition for a 16th consecutive year. But that would be easier said than done as Arséne Wenger’s side had not won in their last four outings, opening the door for Tottenham and Newcastle to come back into the race after, at one point, it looked like they would cruise comfortably to third place.
Harry Redknapp’s Tottenham side would have been kicking themselves for letting that third place slip, after at one stage themselves being 12 points ahead of Arsenal. It looked like there was no hope of their North London neighbours catching them up back in February. But then came the dreaded North London derby. Arsenal fans had been calling for Wenger’s head over recent weeks and they found themselves two down before the half-time whistle had gone. But when the two teams came out for the second half everything changed. The Gunners began to attack and go for the jugular and Spurs, unable to handle the fast-paced, flowing attacks, seemed to capitulate.
They ended up losing the game 5-2, and this was to be the turning point in the season for both sides. Arsenal won six of their next seven games, meaning over the past 10 fixtures they had taken 28 points out of a possible 30. For Tottenham, sadly it was the opposite. They fell apart, only winning one of their next eight games and embarking on a slippery slide that saw them eventually fall five points behind their arch enemies - a quite astonishing turn around.
Newcastle’s form had been good in the run up toward the last few games, having won six on the bounce before being humbled 4-0 at the hands of survival specialists Wigan. They also lost to Man City before the final weekend, which meant they would have to win and hope that Arsenal lost and Tottenham also failed to win if they were to get the coveted third spot. But it wasn’t to be and Alan Pardew’s side were beaten 3-1 by Everton on the last day. On that all important day, Tottenham and Arsenal both took the lead early on. Arsenal’s opponents West Brom responded well though, getting an equaliser and then, much to the frustration of the Arsenal fans, going 2-1 up after 15 minutes.
Tottenham were still in the lead against Fulham at this point and were heading for the Champions League. But on the half hour mark, Andre Santos drove the ball into the back of the net to put Arsenal level with West Brom at 2-2. Then, defender Laurent Kosciely gave Arsenal the lead after a third blunder from West Brom goalkeeper Martin Fulop to send the Gunners crowd into a frenzy. They knew that Champions League qualification was now in their grasp, but they could not afford any further defensive hiccups. It was a nervy last 36 minutes for the Gunners but they held out to take the third spot, despite Tottenham winning their game 2-0. Once again, it was immeasurable excitement and once again, the prize was decided in an incredibly exciting finale.
There was also the third and final relegation place still to be decided as well, with Bolton and QPR vying for survival. QPR had a two point advantage over Bolton going into the final game but unfortunately for them, they had the tough task of playing Man City at the Etihad. Bolton needed QPR to lose and they needed to win at Stoke to survive. At one stage it looked as it Bolton would stay up as they went 2-1 in front. But then QPR amazingly took the lead against City so that meant they would survive. Then Bolton conceded an equaliser through Jonathan Walters and that would prove to be the goal that would send the Trotters down, as QPR did of course, end up losing at the death.
All in all, it really was a fittingly exciting end to what has been an enthralling and unforgettable season in the Premier League. For many clubs, it was a gripping rollercoaster ride of ups and downs and peaks and troughs. But that is precisely why they say the Premier League is the best in the world. And for sheer entertainment value, it would be one hell of a challenge to find anything to better that end of season finale.
Contributed by richbrawn1
By prolifik on May 17th, 2012 in Blow the whistle
Premier League gets fittingly fantastic finale
22 May, 2012
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8 Jun, 2012
they didnt get a new manager acalltuy they have had arsene wenger for over 12 years now but the reak reason why they arent doing very well is because they sold two of their best players Nasri who went to play for the mighty man city and Fabregas who played for the even mightier barcelona but they might be relegated this season who knows its the premier league anthing can happen.
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13 Jun, 2012
for me l think this year is for the red devils.they will lift the trphoy come may 28 at wembly.all man u fans must pray hard to the almighty to make our dream come through.thanx
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14 Jun, 2012
they didnt get a new manager aclaltuy they have had arsene wenger for over 12 years now but the reak reason why they arent doing very well is because they sold two of their best players Nasri who went to play for the mighty man city and Fabregas who played for the even mightier barcelona but they might be relegated this season who knows its the premier league anthing can happen.
16 Jun, 2012
great success man with no snigings you got a champions league position .hope you reach the group stage .surely you will get much money for some top class players .
16 Jun, 2012
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