City Pip United on Thrilling Final Day
Manchester City picked up their first ever Premier League title at the end of an extraordinary 2011-12 season. It was the club’s third English championship overall, but their first since way back in 1968. On a dramatic final day, Man City, then managed by Italian Roberto Mancini, pipped Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United to the crown. It was the first and thus far only time that the Premier League has been decided on goal difference (though in the pre-Premier League era Arsenal of course pipped Liverpool on goals scored in 1989).
Blackburn Rovers’ long stay in the Premier League came to an end, as the 1995 champions finished a woeful campaign in 19th. All three promoted clubs from the 2010-11 EFL Championship stayed up for only the second time in Premier League history. Wolverhampton Wanderers finished bottom with just 25 points to their name, while Bolton Wanderers were also relegated. The 2011-12 season remains one of the very best and after 38 games it all came down to one moment, an “Aguerooooo” moment no City fans will ever forget.
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Sergio Aguero Makes City History
Rivals City and United were involved in a real ding-dong battle for top spot all season. Both clubs ended the campaign on 89 points after an identical record of 28 wins, five draws and five losses. However, City’s 93 goals helped them in the end, with the Citizens becoming the only club to win a Premier League title on goal difference.
The final day of the 2011-12 season will arguably go down as the best we will ever see, certainly if you like drama, late, late drama. United needed to better City’s result to become champions of England for a 20th time. Ferguson’s boys just about did their bit with a 1-0 win at Sunderland, which looked to be enough at the final whistle at the Stadium of Light as City were 2-1 down at home to relegation-threatened Queens Park Rangers. However, injury-time goals from Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero won the title for Man City in the most astonishing way possible.
Fans up and down the country must have thought that the title was United’s and the Red Devils themselves could only listen on after their match finished ahead of City’s. City actually led the crucial game 1-0 but despite having Joey Barton sent off, the Hoops somehow recovered to lead 2-1 after 66 minutes. City were desperately throwing everything at the London side but just could not score. The clash entered stoppage time and with the hosts needing to score twice, few would have predicted that they could somehow salvage their title hopes. Dzeko’s 92nd minute goal brought the scores level before, after more City pressure, the ball broke to Aguero inside the area.
In the 94th minute the Argentine’s drilled finish proved decisive and the rest is history, in the blink of an eye the title moving from the Red half of the city to the Blue. The “noisy neighbours” had well and truly arrived in a Premier League finish that will take some beating.
Manchester United 1-6 Manchester City
Earlier in the season, Man United recorded a memorable 8-2 win over Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal in one of the highest-scoring games in Premier League history. However, the Red Devils were on the wrong end of an embarrassing result just a couple of months later.
Mancini’s Man City headed to Old Trafford two points clear at the top. It was supposed to be a tight game between England’s top two sides, but City inflicted United’s worst home defeat since February 1955. The Citizens ran riot on their neighbour’s patch, with Mario Balotelli (2), Dzeko (2), Aguero and David Silva netting in a remarkable 6-1 romp. The scoreline proved to be pivotal come the end of the season, essentially representing a 10-goal goal difference swing from red to blue. Given City edged the title race thanks to a goal difference that was eight superior, it is clear just how big this win was.
Stunning Season for the Magpies
After winning the Championship title in 2010, Newcastle United had a steady first year back in the Premier League, finishing in 12th position.
However, the Magpies really kicked on in their second season, finishing just a handful of points away from the UEFA Champions League places.
Alan Pardew did an outstanding job at St James’ Park, guiding United to fifth spot.
Newcastle won half of their 38 Premier League fixtures to finish on 65 points.
As a reward, Pardew’s side earned qualification to the 2012-13 UEFA Europa League play-off round.
Former PL Champions Slip into Championship
The 2011-12 Premier League campaign proved to be a disastrous one for the 1995 champions Blackburn, who ended up dropping down to the Championship after 23 defeats. Rovers struggled for wins all season, with just bottom club Wolves and Aston Villa winning fewer matches.
Despite their problems, the Blackburn board kept Steve Kean in the dugout, which cost the club dearly in the end. The Lancashire side went on to finish in 19th place, collecting a mere 31 points in the process. They picked up a memorable 3-2 win at Old Trafford on New Year’s Eve but ended the season with eight defeats from their last nine fixtures.
20,000th Premier League Goal
Aston Villa’s Marc Albrighton made Premier League history this season. The Tamworth-born winger scored for Villa in a 2-1 home defeat to Arsenal on 21st December, which was officially the 20,000th goal in Premier League history. Albrighton netted just three times this term as the Villans finished in a lowly 16th spot but nothing can take his little piece of history/pub trivia away from him.
Van Persie Leaves Arsenal with the Golden Boot
In what turned out to be his final season at the Emirates Stadium, Dutchman Robin van Persie won the Premier League’s Golden Boot, netting an impressive 30 times for Arsenal. Van Persie’s goals took the Gunners to third spot and earned them a place in the 2012-13 Champions League group stage.
Wayne Rooney finished runner-up with 27 goals, while Aguero’s last-gasp winner on the final day took his tally to 23. Fulham and US midfielder Clint Dempsey, Emmanuel Adebayor and Yakubu, then of Blackburn, all netted 17 to share fourth place. Norwich City had a fine season on their Premier League return, and that was in large part down to Grant Holt, who helped himself to 15 goals.
Relegations & European Qualifications
For just the second time in Premier League history, all three promoted clubs survived relegation. 2010-11 Championship champions QPR kept themselves up on the final day despite finally succumbing to City, while Swansea City and Norwich finished in 11th and 12th, respectively, with 47 points each. Wolves, Blackburn and Bolton dropped into the second tier, while Aston Villa stayed up by the skin of their teeth, finishing just two points above Bolton.
The two Manchester clubs qualified for the Champions League with ease. Arsenal took third, while Tottenham Hotspur finished fourth but missed out on Champions League football after Chelsea, who ended in sixth, won the 2012 Champions League. At the time, only four English clubs were allowed to play in the Champions League. Along with Spurs, Newcastle and Liverpool also secured Europa League qualification.
Which Teams Were Relegated?
Wolves had a tough time in the Premier League to say the least, with the club sacking Mick McCarthy when they were 18th in February. McCarthy’s sidekick Terry Connor could not keep them up, with Wanderers finishing rock bottom with just 25 points to their name. Their goal difference was -45, some 14 goals worse than the next worst (Bolton with -31).
Blackburn also very much had a season to forget with Kean at the helm. Rovers suffered 23 league defeats and ended the season with a whimper to drop down to the Championship. In the end, Kean’s side finished six points adrift of safety.
Bolton were still in with a chance of survival on the final day. Even though QPR lost at Man City, Wanderers slipped out of the Premier League after only drawing 2-2 with Stoke City. They led with 13 minutes to go, but Jonathan Walters’ equalising penalty sent them down. Bolton won just one of their last nine and given what has happened to the club subsequently they have really paid the price for that terrible run.
Which Teams Qualified For Europe?
Man City won the league, with United finishing runners-up in the most dramatic fashion imaginable. The Manchester duo were joined by Arsenal in next season’s Champions League group stage.
Despite Harry Redknapp guiding Tottenham to fourth, which is usually enough for Champions League qualification, Spurs had to settle for a place in the Europa League.
Chelsea were the fourth and final English team to enter the 2012-13 Champions League, as Roberto Di Matteo’s men upset the odds to somehow beat Bayern Munich in their own back yard in the 2012 Champions League final.
Newcastle qualified for the Europa League via the Premier League route, while Liverpool made it to the third qualifying round after beating Cardiff City in the 2012 League Cup final at Wembley Stadium.