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Race for the title – Key Games and Moments

15 May

This season, we have been witness to one of the closes title races in Premier League history, with the victor undecided, even till the very last seconds of the season. Here’s a look at the key games and moments, that defined this season’s title race.

Week 1 – West Bromwich Albion 1-2 Manchester United, Manchester City 4-0 Swansea City

In the opening round of games, the aim of both sides was to lay down a marker for the rest of the season. And, they did exactly that. Manchester United, running high on the back of a 3-2 Community Shield win against Manchester City at Wembley,  fought hard to win 2-1 at the Hawthorns, thanks to a late goal from new signing Ashley Young. A day later, Manchester City’s expensively assembled squad of superstars easily brushed Premier League debutants, Swansea City, with a brace from £38 million signing Sergio Aguero.

Points (GD) – Man.City – 3 (4), Man.Utd – 3 (1)

Week 3 – Tottenham Hotspur 1-5 Manchester City, Manchester United 8-2 Arsenal

In what was to be a North London vs Manchester showdown, Manchester crushed North London in ruthless fashion. In the early kickoff, Manchester City tore Spurs apart, with Boasnian striker Edin Dzeko in fine touch. He scored 4 goals, and with Samir Nasri and Sergio Aguero hitting top form, it looked like City were the early season pace-setters. However, Manchester United responded in typically emphatic fashion, with a 8-2 mauling of a crumbling Arsenal. Wayne Rooney got a hattrick, as the Manchester clubs proved their mettle to the rest of the league.

Points (GD) – Man.City – 9 (9), Man.Utd – 9 (10)

Week 5 –  Fulham 2-2 Manchester City, Manchester United 3-1 Chelsea

Manchester City suffered their first hiccups of the season, when they gave away a 2-0 lead at Craven Cottage, to a battling Fulham. Sergio Aguero scored a brace, but goals from Bobby Zamora and Danny Murphy ensured the Sky Blues returned with only a point. Meanwhile, Manchester United were still going strong. The Red Devils were 3-0 up by half-time, and despite a resurgent second half display from Chelsea, who got a goal through Fernando Torres, Fergie’s men moved 2 clear of City at the top of the table.

Points (GD) – Man.City – 13 (12), Man.Utd – 15 (17)

Week 9 – Manchester United 1-6 Manchester City

Manchester City painted the town blue, after crushing their neighbours, in their own backyard, in one afternoon of devastating football. Mario Balotelli opened the scoring, with a goal from outside the box in just the 20th minute, and he doubled it in the 60th minute. Matters for United had earlier worsened, after Johnny Evans was sent off early in the second half. Sergio Aguero was on hand to make it 3-0, and despite some brief Manchester United rallying, which saw them score in the 80th minute through Darren Fletcher, it was City who finished with a flourish, scoring thrice in as many minutes, Edin Dzeko getting 2, and destructor in chief David Silva getting the other.

Points (GD) – Man.City – 25 (26), Man.Utd – 20 (14)

Week 15 – Manchester United 4-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers, Chelsea 2-1 Manchester City

Having exited the Champions League, the focus of both Manchester clubs had now shifted to the league. Manchester United had a straightforward win over struggling Wolves, winning 4-1 on a subdued afternoon in Manchester, while Manchester City suffered their first defeat of the season, as they slumped to a 2-1 defeat to Chelsea. Having taken the lead as early as the 2nd minute, through Balotelli, they let that lead slip, through a Raul Meireles goal. Gael Clichy was sent off in the 58th minute, and Chelsea made full use of the man advantage, winning the game through a 76th minute Frank Lampard penalty.

Points (GD) – Man.City – 38 (34), Man.Utd – 36 (21)

Week 18 – West Bromwich Albion 0-0 Manchester City, Manchester United 5-0 Wigan Athletic

A Boxing Day mauling of Wigan saw the Red Devils move level on points with Manchester City. This was the Red Devils’ second 5-0 result in the same week, having achieved the same scoreline at Craven Cottage against Fulham. While a sublime Berbatov hattrick helped level the teams at the top of the table, West Brom managed to frustrate the Sky Blues for large parts of the game to deservedly earn a point.

Points (GD) – Man.City – 45 (38), Man.Utd – 45 (33)

Week 19 – Manchester United 2-3 Blackburn Rovers, Sunderland 1-0 Manchester City

In a surprising midseason round of fixtures, United fell prey to their own complacency as they lost to bottom-of-the-heap Blackburn Rovers. Rovers, having secured a draw at Anfield, took the lead on Sir Alex’s 70th birthday, through a Yakubu penalty, and he soon doubled the lead on 50 minutes, with a fine finish. However, United launched a comeback, with in-form Bulgarian striker Dimitar Berbatov levelling scores at 2-2, with half an hour left to play. It proved to be futile, as Grant Hanley scored the unprecedented winner in the 80th minute. The onus was on Mancini’s men to take the advantage in the title race, however they were up against a resurgent Sunderland, under the stewardship of Martin O’Neill. Substitute Ji Dong Won’s 93rd minute winner raised the roof at the Stadium of Light, as both Manchester City started the New Year with a defeat.

Points (GD) – Man.City – 45 (37), Man.Utd – 45 (32)

Week 20 – Manchester City 3-0 Liverpool, Newcastle United 3-0 Manchester United

Manchester City recovered from their shock defeat at the Stadium of Light, to trounce Liverpool 3-0 at the Etihad Stadium. It was a complete performance from the Citizens, with Sergio Aguero, Yaya Toure and James Milner helping themselves to goals. On the other hand, Newcastle United too put on a complete performance against the Champions, and deservingly won by the same margin of 3-0. Demba Ba and Yohann Cabaye scored for the Magpies and the misery of the Red Devils was complete when Phil Jones scored a rather unfortunate own goal.

Points (GD) – Man.City – 48 (40), Man.Utd – 45 (29)

Week 22 – Manchester City 3-2 Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal 1-2 Manchester United

The second installment of North London vs Manchester proved to be more competitive than last time around, but with the same result, as Manchester emerging victorious, just about. In a thrilling encounter at the Etihad, it took 55 minutes for the scoring to be troubled, with Samir Nasri banging in a delightful goal. Soon, it was 2-0, with Lescott scoring. However, Spurs were soon in the game, with Defoe making most of a defensive error by Stefan Savic. Gareth Bale equalized in spectacular style, in the 65th minute, It was City, however, who controversially landed 3 points. Balotelli was not booked for an earlier malicious tackle on Scott Parker, and he made full meal of a King challenge to win and convert a 94th minute penalty. Arsenal, struggling with injuries, took on a Manchester United team, in topsy turvy form. United looked the more compose outfit, and had the lead on the stroke of half-time, with Valencia outleaping Vermaelen to score past Szczesny. The second half was the opposite story, as Arsenal slowly drifted into the game, and much of it can be owed to the form of 18 year old Alex Oxlade Chamberlain, who provided the assist for van Persie’s clever 71st minute finish. Not much later, Valencia made most of Arsenal’s hesitant defending to set up Wellbeck, who scored the winner, with 10 minutes left to play.

Points (GD) – Man.City – 54 (42), Man.Utd – 51 (33)

Week 23 – Manchester United 2-0 Stoke City, Everton 1-0 Manchester City

Former Manchester United striker Darron Gibson helped his former club to go level on points with Manchester City, as he smashed in the winner on his Everton debut, against the Sky Blues. City were lacklustre for most part of the game, with Everton playing a good pressing game, which they maintained till the end, to take home all 3 points. It took two penalties, each scored 7 minutes on the either side of half-time, from Javier Hernandez and Dimitar Berbatov, for Manchester United to beat Stoke City at home.

Points (GD) – Man.City – 54 (41), Man.Utd – 54 (35)

Week 24 – Manchester City 3-0 Fulham, Chelsea 3-3 Manchester United

Manchester City recorded a straightforward 3-0 win at home against London side Fulham. For Manchester United, it was more a case of 1 point gained, rather than 2 dropped, as they came back from 3-0 down at Stamford Bridge, to escape with a 3-3 draw. Johnny Evans’ own goal gave the Blues a lead before half-time. A stunning volley from Spanish winger Juan Mata and a deflected header from David Luiz sent Chelsea into a seemingly unassailable 3-0 lead with 50 minutes played. Fergie’s men responded in typical fashion, as Wayne Rooney converted two rather controversial penalties, to make the score 3-2 with 20 minutes to go. The Chelsea bubble finally burst when Hernandez scored in the 84th minute to secure a valuable point.

Points (GD) – Man.City – 57 (44), Man.Utd – 55 (35)

Week 28 – Swansea City 1-0 Manchester City, Manchester United 2-0 West Bromwich Albion

Manchester City were toppled off the top of the table, as they lost to a determined Swansea in Wales. The Swans were completely dominant for most duration of the game, and even missed a penalty when Scott Sinclair’s timid shot was easily saved by Joe Hart. The sucker punch came 7 minutes from time, when late substitute Luke Moore headed in only his second league goal of the season. Buoyed by this result, Manchester United strolled on to a relatively easy 2-0 win, Rooney scoring both, over a Baggies side, who looked lively early on, but then deteriorated as the match wore on.

Points (GD) – Man.City – 66 (49), Man.Utd – 67 (41)

Week 30 – Stoke City 1-1 Manchester City, Manchester United 1-0 Fulham

Manchester City hiccuped again on the road, as they were held to a 1-1 draw at the Britannia Stadium, by a strong willed Stoke. The Potters took the lead, through a wonder goal from Peter Crouch, which, without a doubt, is a candidate for ‘Goal of the Season’. City required a deflected long range effort from Yaya Toure, to level matters. 2 days later, a Wayne Rooney strike seperated the Red Devils from the Cottagers in an edgy game at Old Trafford.

Points (GD) – Man.City – 70 (50), Man.Utd – 73 (47)

Week 31 – Manchester City 3-3 Sunderland, Blackburn Rovers 0-2 Manchester United

A 5 point gap developed between the two Manchester clubs after this weekend. Manchester City could only muster a point at home to Sunderland, with the Citizens self-destructing. Sunderland, looked on the verge of an upset, going into half-time with a 2-1 lead. Ex-Arsenal players Sebastien Larsson and Niklas Bendtner struck either side of a Mario Balotelli penalty. Larsson added on to the Black Cats’ advantage with a 55th minute strike. Balotelli then was involved in a fracas with his own teammate Aleksandr Kolarov, over the taking of a free-kick, and the two had to be seperated by captain Vincent Kompany. When it seemed to be spectacularly falling apart for the Sky Blues, it was infact Balotelli and Kolarov who scored a goal each, 70 seconds apart, to level the scores. On the other hand, the Red Devils knew that a win over Blackburn at Ewood Park would open up a 5 point gap at the top, and they did just that with two late screamers from Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young, sealing the points.

Points (GD) – Man.City – 71 (50), Man.Utd – 76 (49)

Week 32 – Manchester United 2-0 Queen’s Park Rangers, Arsenal 1-0 Manchester City

United kept marching on, with a controversial 2-0 win over relegation battling QPR. A ridiculous dive from winger Ashley Young, was enough to fool Lee Mason, who sent off Shaun Derry, despite minimal contact. Rooney scored off the resultant penalty, and Paul Scholes added a second in the 68th minute with a goal from 25 yards.  All pressure was on Mancini’s men, to win at Arsenal and keep the gap at 5. However, they rarely troubled the Gunners. Completely outplayed over the duration of the game, it took a 86th minute beauty from Mikel Arteta to land Arsenal the points. City’s woes increased when the clumsy Balotelli was sent off after picking up a second yellow card.

Points (GD) – Man.City – 71 (49), Man.Utd – 79 (51)

Week 33 – Manchester City 4-0 West Bromwich Albion, Wigan Athletic 1-0 Manchester United

Having conceded the title already to Manchester United, Mancini seemed to have relieved a bit of pressure from his players, as they eased to a 4-0 win over West Brom at the Etihad, to put an end to a torrid run of results. Sergio Aguero opened the scoring in the 6th minute, before adding a second in the 54th. Tevez and Silva scored 2 more in the next 10 minutes to seal an easy win. On the other hand, Wigan reignited, not only their survival hopes, but also the title race as they deservedly beat Manchester United, for the first time in their history. A Victor Moses header was wrongly ruled out, and it took a peach of a goal from Scottish striker Shaun Maloney to hand Wigan a vital win, in the 50th minute.

Points (GD) – Man.City – 74 (53), Man.Utd – 79 (50)

Week 35 – Manchester United 4-4 Everton, Wolverhampton Wanderers 0-2 Manchester City

After Wigan opened the title race narrowly, it was infact Everton who blew it completely open in a thrilling encounter at Old Trafford. Everton made the brighter start, and took the lead just after the half-hour mark, through a Nikica Jelavic header. United were pressed into action, and equalized, before half-time, Rooney nodding home a Nani cross. 15 minutes into the second half, and the Red Devils were coasting to victory, thanks to two well-taken goals from Danny Wellbeck and Luis Nani. Marouanne Fellaini, who was impressive all round, pulled one back, with a well taken volley. Before Everton could settle down, who else, but Rooney to make it to 4-2 and move 4th in the all time list of Manchester United’s top scorers. Everton had other ideas, though. Jelavic took advantage of some slack defending, to set up a grandstand finish, and couple of minutes later South African winger Steven Piennar made it 4-4. This result gave City a visible uplift, and they eased their way to a 2-0 over Wolves, which also relegated the latter from the top flight. Aguero and Nasri were the goalscorers.

Points (GD) – Man.City – 80 (60), Man.Utd – 83 (54)

Week 36 – Manchester City 1-0 Manchester United

In what was billed as the ‘derby game of all derby games’, Manchester City completed the double over their rivals, to go level on points, and ahead on goal difference at the top of the table. In a pulsating encounter, Manchester City enjoyed most of the chances, and took the lead on the stroke of half-time, through a thumping header from Vincent Kompany. The game boiled over, as Ferguson and Mancini got involved in a touchline tussle. City held their nerve against a toothless United attack to go top of the league.

Points (GD) – Man.City – 83 (61), Man.Utd – 83 (53)

Week 37 – Newcastle United 0-2 Manchester City, Manchester United 2-0 Swansea City

City moved so much closer to the title, with a 2-0 win at St.James Park. After being stifled for most of the game, Yaya Toure broke the deadlock in the 70th minute, and doubled the lead in the 89th minute, in what was a nerve wracking hardfought win. Manchester United, visibly subdued, after the City result, went about their task and dispatched Swansea 2-0.

Points (GD) – Man.City – 86 (63), Man.Utd – 86 (55)

Week 38 – Manchester City 3-2 Queen’s Park Rangers, Sunderland 0-1 Manchester United

Could there be a more dramatic end to a season? Manchester United took a lead at the Stadium of Light courtesy Wayne Rooney in the 20th minute, to kick Manchester City into action, who till then, seemed content knocking the ball around. Pablo Zabaleta scored, 39 minutes gone on the clock, with a chip, that went in off keeper Paddy Kenny. What happened next, was not in the script. A rare defensive error from City allowed Djibril Cisse to equalize, with just 3 minutes gone into the second half. QPR were then dealt a blow, when the stupid Joey Barton was sent off. However, this seemed to galvanize the away team, and, completely against the run of play, they went 2-1 ahead, on 66 minutes. City, had nearly 30 shots on target, and nearly 80% of the possession, but just couldn’t seem to get a goal, when they really needed two. With City fans resounding to the fact that they had bottled it, Edin Dzeko headed in the equalizer, with 3 minutes to go. By this time, Manchester United’s game was over, and they were winning the title. As they waited for the confirmation of that, news trickled in that Sergio Aguero, had, incredibly, scored in the winner in the 95th minute. City fans went wild, and a pitch invasion followed, even as Sunderland fans did the Poznan to mock United supporters. A classy trophy celebration at the Etihad followed, and a deserving one. The Blue Moon has finally risen.

Points (GD) – Man.City – 86 (64), Man.Utd – 86 (56)

Manchester City are crowned champions.

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Posted by on May 15, 2012 in General

 

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