Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Premier League: 2011/12 End of season review

It has been quite a season in the Premier League this year. We have seen some astonishing games and some quite brilliant goals. After an extroadinary last day of the season, it was the blue side of Manchester that took the title, and the bragging rights this year, over rivals Manchester United. The race for the final two Champions League places was another highlight of the season with four teams in contention for it over the final third of the season. The relegation battle was also taken to the final day of the season, with QPR and Bolton battling it out to avoid the drop. It was Bolton though, that followed Blackburn Rovers and Wolves to the Championship where they will play their football next year.

In the domestic competitions, Manchester United earned the first trophy of the season, beating rivals Manchester City 3-2 in the Community Shield at Wembley. Coming from two goals down, United winger Nani scored a late winner to claim victory and the first piece of silverware of the season. Despite a very poor season, Liverpool claimed the Carling Cup and a first trophy in six years. Victory came though after opponents Cardiff City forced a penalty shoot out after it had looked like Dirk Kuyt's goal would be good enough for the win. Liverpool were again present at Wembley after making it to the FA Cup final where they faced Chelsea who came out 2-1 winners thanks to goals from Didier Drogba and Ramires.

Focus back on the Premier League, the fight for Champions League place was one of the hottest contests for some time. Having finished the season poorly, Tottenham Hotspur claimed the fourth and final spot only for it to be taken away from them having seen Chelsea win the competition weeks later. Newcastle will have felt unlucky to have missed out on a Champions League place after having an excellent season which ended in a very respectable fifth place. Manager Alan Pardew was given manager of the season, and with Senegalese strikers Demba Ba and Papa Cisse producing the goods upfront, Newcastle were extremely consistent all year. Arsenal finished third having started the season poorly. Talisman Robin Van Persie guided the Gunners to a Champions League place finishing the season with a brilliant 30 league goals.

As always the relegation fight was as exciting as it ever is. Wigan Athletic were odds on to take the drop but after escaping it last season, they made a repeat performance after going on an excellent run in the second half of the season to keep them up. Victories on the road against Arsenal and Liverpool, and a home win against Man United enabled Roberto Martinez's club the opportunity for Premier League football next season. Despite drawing at Anfield and beating Man United at Old Trafford, Blackburn Rovers were relegated alongside Wolves and Bolton Wanderers. Bolton were still within a shout of staying up on the final day of the season, but a draw away at Stoke wasn't enough for Owen Coyle's side to stay up. Wanderers were fighting QPR on the final day for the final place and although Rangers lost to Manchester City, they remain in the Premier League for next season. Southampton, Reading and West Ham replace the relegated sides next season after being promoted from the Championship.

The title race was also as exciting this season with the Manchester clubs battling it out against each other for the top prize. It looked early on that City would be taking the trophy for the first time in 44 years, but as they always do, rivals United caught up and were eight points clear going into the final games of the season. But a small dip in results, and a derby defeat at the Etihad, saw City clinch title on the last day of the season. United's 1-0 away win at Sunderland and with City 2-1 down to QPR going into the final minutes, it looked like United would be taking their 20th title. But two late goals from Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero saw the blue side of Manchester snatch the trophy away from their city rivals and end a phenomenal season in the Barclay's Premier League.

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