The final day of the Premier League saw tears of joy and tears of sorrow; it saw four teams play musical chairs with places in the drop zone and finally, the day turned out to be a season-defining one for many clubs.
Before the final day, the Bermuda Triangle did not scare the Wigan faithful. The relegation zone did. Wigan’s never-ending romance with the relegation zone finally ended in the very last few minutes of the season. Ironically, at the expense of Blackpool; a team that thrashed Wigan at the DW on the opening day. Who would’ve bet on Wigan pulling off the great escape when they were 2-0 down to West Ham last week?
Birmingham City, on the other hand, had been floating just above the relegation zone for a long time and were finally sunk to the championship along with Blackpool and West Ham; much to the delight of Birmingham’s local rivals Wolves who stayed up by the skin of their teeth!
Arsenal’s idea of a quadruple was a little disoriented; finishing 4th in the league. Manchester City took advantage of that and sealed a position in the Champions League group stage. Tottenham, on the other hand, wrapped up the final Europa league place ahead of Liverpool. And the Toon Army went into hiding after a dramatic draw saw them finish below their most-hated rivals Sunderland.
A fitting final day of Premier League to sum up an extraordinary season. Here’s our review of the final weekend.
Match of the weekend – Man Utd 4-2 Blackpool
Old Trafford witnessed a fitting end to United’s season, but at the expense of a club that is now the second-favourite of many fans across the world. The way Blackpool’s season has unfolded, it was perhaps best summed up on the final day – wrong end of an entertaining six-goal thriller that they could have won. The Tangerines went down fighting, though, as they have done all season.
Blackpool skipper Charlie Adam became the first away player to score a first half goal at Old Trafford, this season. His sublime free-kick that curled away from a rooted Van Der Sar went in off the post to put Blackpool level after Ji Sung Park had taken advantage of poor defending at the back to put United in the lead. What followed next was a short-lived dreamland after a sumptuous Blackpool move was concluded with an even more sumptuous finish by Gary Taylor-Fletcher to put Blackpool, quite unbelievably, in the lead and just over half an hour from safety.
Unfortunately, the ‘Theatre of Dreams’ isn’t for the away team. A wonderfully crafted Anderson goal, Ian Evatt’s unfortunate own goal and a rare Michael Owen strike sunk Blackpool back to the lower division; with lessons to be learned from their Premiership experience.
Player of the Weekend
Somen A. Tchoyi (West Brom) was not a name the Premier League was familiar with till his second-half hat-trick pulled off a brilliant comeback at St. James’ Park. Alan Pardew’s men got a taste of their own medicine this time around.
Goal of the weekend
Stephen Hunt (Wolves) may not have scored both, a better goal and a more crucial goal, all his life. While Wolves supporters would have taken a scrappy, thrice deflected goal to keep them up, Hunt delivered a sublime finish which left Blackburn’s player of the year, Paul Robinson, rooted to the spot. The icing on the cake was that Wolves stayed up at the expense of their hated rivals, Birmingham City. Till Hunt’s goal, McLeish’s men were comfortable playing for a draw but eventually lost the match as they were pushing forward in numbers.
Molineux was a place for great goals on Sunday. Before Hunt’s magic, Brett Emerton’s sweet volley and Junior Hoilett’s brilliant solo effort had made Blackburn virtually safe. At White Hart Lane, while Roman Pavlyuchenko’s smooth strike could be watched over and over again, Craig Gardner’s wonderful drive went in vain for Birmingham City.
Club(s) of the Weekend
There was no separating two teams, this Sunday – Wigan Athletic and Blackburn Rovers. Wigan traveled to the Britannia; a place where the mighty Arsenal tanks would fold under the aerial bombardment and if one is to be believed, the mighty Barcelona would struggle. This is why Roberto Martinez’s side’s 1-0 win at Stoke City is quite stunning. Hugo Rodallega’s priceless goal deep into the second half pulled off a Martinez masterclass, but not without luck on its way; how Stoke did not score in the first half is still a mystery.
Pulling off the great escape! (image : (c) [email protected] )
On the other hand, Blackburn Rovers simply made a mockery of the tough away trip to Wolves. An in-form Wolverhampton at the Molineux went into the game with the favourites tag were ripped apart by one of the best fist half performances by any team this season! In they end, they hung on for a 3-2 win but were generous in giving Wolves a Premiership lifeline on their way.
Miss of the Weekend
Gareth Barry (Man City) wins this infamous award after heading against the bar from three yards out, when missing looked tougher than scoring. Minutes later, teammate Joleon Lescott showed Barry how easy it is to score a goal with his head – stand at one place, at the correct angle and look like you don’t want to score. It works a charm!
GKing Save of the Weekend
Brad Friedel (Aston Villa) is one of the best goalkeepers the Premiership era has seen. And he isn’t finished yet! His incredible reflexes and movement to cover the whole goal, in order to deny a certain goal for Raul Meireles at the far post would go down as one of the best of the season. No wonder he is rumored to be coming to Liverpool next season.
Save of the Weekend
This weekend we had to separate a goalkeeping save from the general save of the weekend. Thomas Vermaelen (Arsenal) is responsible for that and how Arsenal have missed him this season. If only Arsenal had his never-say-die spirit, they would have had a successful season. Danny Murphy was a milisecond away from putting the ball in an empty net. After a little flash of lightning, Murphy was seen smacking the ground in frustration after an improbable rescue by Vermaelen edged the ball past the post for a corner.
Horror Deja-Vu of the Weekend
John Terry (Chelsea) hit the post, again, in a Chelsea defeat.
Quote of the Weekend
“If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.” said a proud Michael Owen on winning his first Premiership winner’s medal after his tiring, hard-working and season-long warm-up routines on the sidelines of Old Trafford that have potentially erased every bit of him in the heart of Liverpool supporters.
Owen’s hard training added to team unity (image: (c)[email protected])
Bad Boy of the Weekend
Chelsea’s to-be-announced new coach has already been dealt a major blow since next season’s projected superstar, and self-proclaimed ‘great’ partner for Fernando Torres, Daniel Sturridge (Bolton, Chelsea) will be out for the first three games of the new season after a horrible execution of a tackle that would make even Jose Bosingwa cringe. Chelsea’s season could fall apart due to this, since they are expected to rely on Fernando Torres for goals.
Howler of the Weekend
At times, style is out of place. This is not the first time this season a defender has tried to hook the ball away with the outside of one foot when clearance using the other foot was way simpler. However, none of them have been as costly as Ian Evatt’s (Blackpool) own goal that sent Blackpool on their way down to the championship.
Mr. Persistent of the Weekend
Jermaine Beckford (Everton) has a big heart. He missed two one-on-one’s against Cech; one of which was executed so poorly that it went square for a throw-in rather than forward and the other was a good save from Cech after Beckford cut through the Chelsea defence.
So, when Beckford picked up the ball in his own penalty area, ran the length of the field on his own, got a lucky break in terms of deflection and went through four Chelsea defenders, he once again confronted Petr Cech. This time, though, his little chip finish was characteristic of a striker that has been banging goals in. It was one of the most exciting moments of the season at Goodison Park.
Try, try and try till you succeed!
Best Banter of the Weekend
“Sacked in the morning” – Goodison Park to Carlo Ancelotti after his side’s loss to ten-man Everton. Ancelotti had the last laugh, though, since he wasn’t sacked in the morning. He was let go the day before.
Foolish Act of the Weekend
Security checks look for weapons. If they had searched for a lack of brains instead,we would have thousands of fans staring each other with no men on the pitch. At least, Zoltan Gera (Fulham) would definitely not be present. The lack of any brainy matter is the only explanation for why Gera would lunge in two-footed, thereby earning a red card that is likely to cost Fulham a place in the Europa League.
Blackpool might sneak into the competition instead, which isn’t a surprise since they don’t quite believe in the term ‘tackling’.
‘Balotelli’ of the Weekend
No bibs, red cards or school children involved this time. In fact, ironically, the Italian’s absence has caused a stir. Mario Balotelli decided he would rather be in Italy than parade City’s first major trophy in 35 years.
‘Don’t count your chickens…’ Message of the Weekend
This goes out to the Liverpool community, who have been gearing up for a title challenge next season. Since Kenny Dalglish signed on the dotted line to make his position permanent, there has been a major full-stop on the ‘King Kenny revolution’. Perhaps, ‘temp’ is the way forward at the club?
No Europe for Liverpool next season, but then again, who wants to be in a competition that features Birmingham, Stoke City and Blackpool?
Special Mention(s) of the Weekend
Dimitar Berbatov (Man Utd) and Carlos Tevez (Man City) shared the Golden Boot with 21 goals each in the Premier League. The award is expected to be handed over on neutral territory.
There isn’t a striker better than Robin Van Persie (Arsenal) in the Premiership, and that is a fact. There may be strikers that are equally good but none are better. With a goal at Craven Cottage, Van Persie broke the Premier League record for the scoring in the most number of consecutive away games – 9 games. He has been in red hot form and only injuries have prevented him from reaching greater heights this season.
Martin Skrtel (Liverpool) and the Leighton Baines (Everton) were the only two outfield players to play every single minute of the 2010-11 Premier League season. However, we are not sure whether Liverpool would like to see a repeat of that in the future.
TheHardTackle’s XI of the Weekend
It wasn’t a weekend for the big guns to dominate.
Congratulations to champions Manchester United.
Look out for TheHardTackle’s reviews next season.