Anyone who witnessed the concluding day of the Premier League's 2011-2012 campaign is sure to be in a state of shock. Storylines and surprises haven't been hard to come by this season, ranging from the wild to the ridiculous. From Tevez going AWOL to the race cases involving Terry/Ferdinand and Suarez/Evra, the chip papers have hardly been short of leads. But the best thing about this league is that it can usually be relied upon to do it's talking on the pitch. And today the PL definitely served up a verbal barrage of jaw-dropping action.
Across Europe the top league title races looked to be done and dusted going into their final round of fixtures. In Spain Real Madrid have already wrapped up La Liga, Juventus had assured themselves of another Serie A title before today's concluding win over Atalanta and in Germany, Dortmund finished the Bundesliga season a whooping eight points clear of runners-up Bayern Munich last weekend.
But in a crazy Premier League season the watching world was treated to the most insane of final days. At one time or another all the clubs jostling with one another for the title, third place and to avoid relegation, sampled each others positions. But in the end, there were always going to be winners and losers when such high stakes are involved.
In short, Manchester City, Arsenal and QPR were winners. And Manchester United, Spurs and Bolton the losers. It's difficult to comprehend the emotions that have been toyed with amongst fans over the nation today, but I guess that is what football is all about.
Martin Tyler nearly creamed himself in the commentary box, but who could blame him? Certainly not Gary Neville back in the punditry suite.
At the top of the table things could hardly have been any more dramatic. United went ahead against Sunderland early on, and the pressure seemed to emanate from the North-East and freeze City. The favourites did take the lead at the Etihad, but lapses in concentration from City's defence and QPR's attacking desire saw the West Londoners steal a 2-1 lead. As things reached boiling point, Joey Barton was sent off for QPR and he gave a cheeky John-Terry style grandad to Aguero as he left the field. City pressed and pressed, but couldn't find a way through. With United comfortably ahead, it looked like business as usual for the champions. But on came Balotelli, who ignited City, Dzeko scored to draw level, and in the very essence of Fergie-time, Mancini's side won the league with seconds remaining. Martin Tyler nearly creamed himself in the commentary box, but who could blame him? Certainly not Gary Neville back in the punditry suite.
It's a good thing Geoff Shreaves was stationed in Manchester rather than Sunderland today, because for a few minutes of City inspiration he would have been dishing out some pretty horrendous news. Considering how flat their attack looked with just ten to go, it's still unbelievable to comprehend that City actually fought back to win this title. But they did, and the rest will be history.
It's been a ridiculous Premier League season from August until May, and today was no exception. The results from this campaign mark it out as unique. Manchester United 8-2 Arsenal, Spurs 1-5 City, United 1-6 City, Chelsea 3-5 Arsenal, there has been some laughable scorelines in 2011-2012. But if this season has been a bit of a joke, City provided the punch-line by flooring United with a last-gasp winner from their Argentinian star Aguero.
Elsewhere Arsenal went 2-1 down after 15 minutes at West Brom to offer more fear to their fans after a tumultuous season. Spurs were plain sailing at White Hart Lane against Fulham, their 2-0 victory all but granting them third spot. But Arsenal managed to pull it back to 3-2 at the Hawthorns and luckily held on to achieve North London supremacy. Spurs supporters will now be anxiously awaiting the outcome of the Champions League final to see if they play in the competition next year. If Chelsea snatch their place it would be extremely cruel, but you just can't rule out further drama.
It’s a good thing Geoff Shreaves was stationed in Manchester rather than Sunderland today, because for a few minutes of City inspiration he would have been dishing out some pretty horrendous news
At the opposite end of the table Bolton suffered relegation, despite their rivals for 17th, QPR, losing at City. Bolton were down, then staying up, then down again during a 90 minutes that just couldn't make up its mind. At one point Fabrice Muamba tweeted: "I think watching or hearing about football today is not good for my heart." Very true, but unfortunately for him and Bolton fans there was no similarly miraculous escape for their club like Muamba experienced himself. Wanderers conceded late against Stoke to ensure that even City's unexpected comeback couldn't help them avoid relegation.
Everywhere you looked there was unbridled success for some but devastating failure for others. The rest of the league played out some decent games, with not a 0-0 in sight, but it was these six clubs that contributed most to a final day pile up of fixtures that left everyone involved needing a little sit down afterwards.
In Europe the Premier League's top clubs may have struggled, obviously with the exception of the freakish Chelsea. That has given fuel to the claims that other European divisions are catching up with English football's top tier. Maybe so in terms of quality, but you would be hard pressed to match the Premier League for all-out spills-and-thrills. It has not been a vintage season domestically, but it has been one that has refused to be boring or predictable. And at the end of the day isn't that precisely what being a fan is all about?
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