City win the battle of Manchester
An incredible Premier League season of twists and turns at both ends of the table ended in fitting circumstances as Manchester City claimed their first championship for 44 years after almost wasting the opportunity.
Leading city rivals Manchester United by a significant goal difference before the final round of fixtures, Roberto Mancini’s side trailed 2-1 at home to relegation-threatened Queens Park Rangers with mere minutes remaining as United secured victory at Sunderland.
But two quickfire goals in stoppage time from Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero ensured the title was lifted at the Etihad Stadium, a feat which seemed so unlikely when the Red Devils led by eight points several weeks ago.
Arsenal recovered from their dreadful start to the campaign to claim third and guaranteed UEFA Champions League qualification while Tottenham Hotspur finished fourth but their participation in Europe’s elite club competition could be lost if Chelsea win this year’s edition on Saturday.
A 2-2 draw at Stoke City on the final day was not enough to save Bolton Wanderers, who joined Blackburn Rovers and Wolverhampton Wanderers as the three teams to be relegated.
Papiss Cisse (Newcastle United)
Magpies manager Alan Pardew had already proved his eye for a striker at the beginning of the season when he signed Demba Ba - who bagged 14 goals before the turn of the year - on a free transfer. But he went one better in January with the purchase of Ba’s Senegal team-mate Cisse from Bundesliga side Freiburg. The latter has dazzled the Premier League since returning from the CAF Africa Cup of Nations to make his debut, scoring 13 goals in 14 appearances as Newcastle neared a Champions League place.
Clint Dempsey (Fulham)
After five seasons of consistent progress in England, Fulham and USA midfielder Clint Dempsey enjoyed the finest campaign of his career in 2011/12. The stand-out performer of an attacking line-up, the 29-year-old was a pillar of reliability for Martin Jol, scoring a best-ever 17 Premier League goals - including his 50th in the division - and playing all but six minutes of the Cottagers’ domestic fixtures before the final day.
Yaya Toure (Manchester City)
Manchester City’s title triumph was undoubtedly built upon a collection of stars, but Yaya Toure shone brightest and was their catalyst to victory on many occasions. The Côte d'Ivoire midfielder was deployed in several different ways by Mancini, who often used Toure in a defensive position before unleashing the 29-year-old further up the pitch to devastating effect - as shown perfectly by his double during City’s vital win at Newcastle last Sunday.
44 - years ago was the last time Manchester City were crowned champions of England, in 1967/68. It is fair to say that the Citizens have had their ups and downs since then, having been relegated to the third tier of English football as recently as 1998. But City are now on top again for just the third time in their history.
The memorable moments
23 October 2011: The icing on the championship cake for Manchester City fans was their astonishing 6-1 victory at the home of eternal rivals Manchester United. The win at Old Trafford announced City’s arrival as serious contenders and went a long way to deciding the destination of the title.
2 May 2012: While Peter Crouch, Luis Suarez and Robin van Persie have genuine claims for goal of the season, no strike sparked quite the same reaction as Papiss Cisse’s second against Chelsea. The dipping, swerving volley will live long in the memory of Newcastle and football fans alike.
2 May 2012: For all the drama on the pitch throughout the 2011/12 season, football took a back seat when Bolton hosted Tottenham. Seven weeks earlier, Trotters midfielder Fabrice Muamba had suffered a cardiac arrest during an FA Cup tie between the two teams, but the 24-year-old made a miraculous recovery and had tears in his eyes as the Reebok Stadium gave him a standing ovation on his return.