Top moments as Premier League signs off
Today marks the end of another exciting Premier League season, but in dramatic fashion, there is still plenty up for grabs. With the title race yet to be decided, the battle for a UEFA Champions League spot ongoing, and others’ survival still up in the air, football fans around the world will be tuning in to see the final results. As the Premier League takes its final bow, FIFA.com takes a look back at some of the moments that have made this campaign one of the most memorable to date.
City hit United for six – 23 October 2011
Manchester City left onlookers at Old Trafford completely stunned as they stormed to a 6-1 victory over United, bringing the Red Devils’ 18-month unbeaten run at home to a screeching halt. The champions had dominated early possession, but as they were unable to carve out any clear-cut chances, the Blues capitalised on their first real look. Mario Balotelli opened the scoring, and United’s hope was all but extinguished when, after the break, Jonny Evans was sent off. Balotelli went on to bag a double, while Sergio Aguero, David Silva and Edin Dzeko, with two, completed a dismal day for the champions.
Tottenham go unbeaten – 3 December 2011
After beginning their campaign in shaky form, suffering back-to-back defeats by Manchester United and City, Tottenham Hotspur seemed unlikely candidates to challenge for Champions League football. However, with Luka Modric and Scott Parker directing play in midfield, Spurs went on an impressive 11-match unbeaten run, ten of which were wins, between 10 September and 3 December. The streak not only included a 2-1 triumph over north London rivals Arsenal, but threw the men from White Hart Lane into early talks of title contention.
O’Neill revives Sunderland – 11 December 2011
Upon Martin O’Neill’s appointment as manager in early December, Sunderland had collected a measly ten points and just two wins since the start of the season. After watching a defeat by Wolverhampton Wanderers from the stands, what many deemed ‘the O’Neill Factor’ soon began, as he helped the squad to a 2-1 victory over Blackburn Rovers in his first outing at the helm. And, the triumph wasn’t just a fluke, igniting a run of four wins in six successive league games - one of which included a surprise 1-0 triumph over Manchester City.
Dempsey hits a hat-trick – 21 January 2012
Despite going into half-time down a goal, Fulham roared back to defeat an in-form Newcastle United side 5-2. The Magpies had looked on course for victory, with Fulham mustering little in a poor first-half outing, but the fans at Craven Cottage were soon treated to an incredible attacking display. Danny Murphy, Bobby Zamora, and Clint Dempsey proved a lethal trio in the second half, with each getting on the scoresheet. However, it was the latter who dazzled onlookers the most as he became the first American to hit a hat-trick in the Premier League. His first of three proved the most fortuitous, with the Texan kneeing home a deflected shot before firing across Newcastle goalkeeper Tim Krul and then latching on to a chipped pass to drive home the treble.
Five-goal Arsenal stun Spurs – 26 February 2012
Arsenal had been overcome by inconsistent form throughout the campaign, and a 5-2 derby win over north London rivals Tottenham was a result few had expected at the Emirates Stadium that day. With half-time approaching, the Gunners were down two goals, but Bacary Sagna and Robin van Persie levelled matters to spark an incredible fightback. Tomas Rosicky continued the onslaught on Spurs’ goal, while a Theo Walcott double completed a joyous day for Arsenal fans and one to forget for Harry Redknapp’s side.
Di Matteo reign begins – 4 March 2012
With Chelsea parting ways with Portuguese coach Andre Villas-Boas, so too came the interim appointment of former Blues player Roberto Di Matteo as manager. Villas-Boas’ time in charge at Stamford Bridge was cut short after just eight months, and the club continued to push for what then seemed an unlikely shot at winning the Champions League. Chelsea were not only slipping in that competition, but in the Premier League as well. However, upon assuming his post as temporary head coach, Di Matteo grabbed four successive wins in three different competitions to revitalise hope at Stamford Bridge.
Crouch’s long-range wonder – 24 March 2012
Entering the final stretch of the season, Manchester City visited the Britannia Stadium hopeful of bagging all three points to put the pressure on title rivals United. But City remained winless at Stoke for the fourth successive season as they were forced to rescue a draw after Peter Crouch struck with a moment of brilliance. After a goalless first period, the towering Englishman hit an unstoppable long-range volley from 25 yards beyond the diving reach of City goalkeeper Joe Hart. The lanky striker cushioned the ball with the inside of his right foot before swinging through it and, to his delight, finding the net from the most unlikely of angles.
Everton peg back United – 22 April 2012
After enjoying a strong lead at the top of the table, Manchester United set up for a grandstand finish to the season with a loss to Wigan Athletic and then a draw with Everton. United twice let a two-goal lead slip, scoring through Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck and Nani after Nikica Jelavic had opened the scoring for the Toffees. However, Everton put up a massive fight as they first reduced the deficit through Marouane Fellaini. The goals just kept on coming, though. Rooney seemed to put the match beyond doubt with his second, but in a final flurry, Everton roared back to level things at four goals apiece again through Jelavic and Steven Pienaar.
Sensational Cisse shocks Blues – 2 May 2012
In the penultimate week of action, the twists and turns of the title race were not the only spectacles on offer, with the likes of Arsenal, Tottenham, Newcastle and Chelsea battling for a highly-coveted place in the Champions League next season. Newcastle headed to Stamford Bridge looking to further stamp their place among the Premier League elite, while Chelsea’s top-four bid was hanging by a thread. It was the Magpies, though, who grabbed the points thanks to an incredible brace from Senegalese striker Papiss Cisse. The No9 scored a stunning opener on 19 minutes, but amazingly went on to better that effort. Just before the final whistle from the outside-left of the area, Cisse smashed a Shola Ameobi chest-down with the outside of his foot and watched it bend into the far corner of the goal.
The final matchday – 13 May 2012
In arguably one of the most thrilling seasons to date, some of the best moments are surely yet to come. The title race between Manchester City and United could be decided on goal difference for the first time in Premier League history, while individual accolades are still on offer with Van Persie needing just one more goal to match the record of 31 goals in a 38-match season. Add in Queens Park Rangers and Bolton Wanderers’ fight for survival, and the three-way battle for third and fourth place, and the anticipation for the 2011/12 season’s end is greater than ever.
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