Barclays Premier League | What we learned from the weekend | 21.05.13

What We Learned From the Weekend | Colin Armstrong reviews all the action in the English Premier League. Do you agree or disagree? What were your highlights of the weekends action? Let us know in the comments section below, or tweet us @90minutecynic.

Another season has gone in a blink of an eye as Sir Alex Ferguson bowed-out on top by securing a record-breaking twentieth league title for Manchester United. The season has seen six managers sacked, one retiring and another moving to fill bigger shoes amid goals, controversy and drama.

Queens Park Rangers, Reading and Wigan Athletic were the unlucky trio to face the drop going into the weekend where the final Champions League place was all there was left to settle. Would it be Arsene’s Arsenal or Villas-Boas’ Spurs? There were 36 goals across ten games as the Premier League came to the end of the 2012-2013 season.

United we stand, divided we fall.

Fergie is off, it’s Fergie time, 1,500 games and it was all to end at the Hawthorn’s against West Bromwich Albion. Sir Alex’s lads faces Steve Clarke’s Albion in the final match of this season and the Old Scot’s long reign of success.

It didn’t take long for United to find the back of the net, in fact the Red Devils scored twice inside the opening nine minutes through a Shinji Kagawa header and an Jonas Olssen own-goal, 2:0. The third came shortly after as young left back Buttner out the visitors 3:0 up after half an hour as West Brom looked on in disbelief as the Manchester United machine went about it’s job with ease.

However the Baggies pulled one back before the interval, James Morrison giving the home side a sliver of hope sliding in the ball to make it 3:1. The introduction of Romelu Lukaku at half time for West Brom would be a turning point in the game, the Belgian substitute scored four minutes after coming off the bench with a curling effort to make it 3:2 at the Hawthorns.

But before the Baggies could really turn the screw, up popped Robin Van Persie who knocked in United’s fourth to make it 4:2. Yet it was to get worse for West Brom before it got better as Javier Hernandez scored to make it 5:2 to the visitors and surely it was game over?

Three goals behind and less than half an hour to go the Baggies rallied to fight back against the Champions. The powerful and talented Lukaku made it clean through on goal to slot the ball into the net to make it 5:3. Less than a minute later the ball fell the Mulumbu who placed the ball into the net to make it 5:4 with a full ten minutes still to play, stadium electric, game on.

The Baggies continued to push for the equalising goal and three minutes from time they were rewarded as Lukaku found himself in the right place at the right time to put the ball into the net to seal his hat-trick and steal a point back from Manchester United on Sir Alex Feguson’s last game as manager.

The man from Govan leaves the game behind having failed to win his first and last games as manager of the most successful English football team over the last two decades. David Moyes takes over the reigns and has it all to do and all to prove as the red half of Manchester will demand trophies in the years to come.

Arsenal unlock the door to the top four.

It was quite simple for Arsene Wenger and the Gunners, win and they will secure a Champions League play-off spot and pip a plucky Tottenham Hotspur to fourth place. Newcastle, a side who managed to steer themselves away from the relegation scrap marked the retirement of goalkeeper and one-club man Steve Harper who started in goal.

Arsenal started the game patiently finding a good rhythm but it was the home side who found themselves with the best of the chances as Cisse and Ben Arfa saw efforts sail wide of the target in the opening half. In the 37th minute the toon army saluted the long serving Steve Harper with a minute’s applause as the veteran keeper held back the tears as well he could as the game raged on.

With no news coming from White Hart Lane it was up to Arsenal to earn the win and put concerns of other results around the country out of their mind, it went in 0:0 at half time at St James Park. In the second half much of the same occurred, a good chance for Theo Walcott came and went as Newcastle remained well disciplined and defensively solid.

A free kick for a foul on Sagna allowed Walcott to swing the ball into the Newcastle box and after a flick-on from Podolski, Koscielny found the net with an unconventional finish to put the gunners ahead and in charge of their European fate, 1:0 at St James park.

Newcastle continued to attack to find an equaliser as nerves built among the travelling supporters. Nails bitten down to the bone Walcott struck the post with a late effort in stoppage time but the North London side hade done enough in the end as it ran out 1:0 in Newcastle as Arsenal sealed a top four finish and Champions League football at the expense of their great rivals.

Tenth in November to Fourth in May, it has been a tremendous run for Arsenal who have seen off Tottenham and the ever present Gareth Bale in the race for the Champions League. For the seventeenth season on a row, Arsene Wenger will lead his side out in Europe’s premier cup competition next season. A big summer in North London.

Player of the weekend: Romelu Lukaku (West Bromwich Albion).

Goal of the weekend: Gareth Bale (Tottenham Hotspur v Sunderland).

Team of the season: De Gea, Baines, Kompany, Vertonghen, Zabaleta, Carrick, Arteta, Fellaini, Bale, Van Persie, Benteke.

Goal of the season: Luis Suarez – Liverpool v Newcastle at Anfield 4/11/12: 

Bargain of the season: Michu (£2m > Swansea). However: Jussi Jaaskelainen (West Ham United) , Mohamed Diame (West Ham United), Claudio Jacob (West Bromwich Albion) were free transfers.

Honourable mentions: In order of importance: Sir Alex Ferguson, Paul Scholes, Steve Harper, Jamie Caragher, Michael Owen have all retired from the game.

Season Facts:

  • Chelsea played 69 games this season, an impressive feat. The much-maligned Rafa Benitez has done a great job and his stock is on the rise after a third place finish and a Europa League title win.
  • Arsenal forward Theo Walcott hit his highest goal tally for a season after demanding to be given a chance up-top scoring 21 goals, 14 in the league.
  • Liverpool loony Luis Suarez had an excellent season only to chomp it to pieces in a moment of madness – silly boy.
  • West Bromwich Albion’s loan star Romelu Lukaku is only 20 years old, god help us all.
  • Stoke City Goalkeeper Asmir Begovic kept 12 clean sheets this season, a quality goalkeeper.
  • Frank Lampard became the new record leading goalscorer for Chelsea before sealing a final contract with the club for next season.
  • In his first season in the Premier League Santi Cazorla hit twelve goals and provided seven assists in the league for Arsenal.

What are your thoughts on this seasons English Premier League? Comment below or tweet us @90minutecynic

You can follow colin on twitter @_ColinArmstrong

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