For all intents and purposes, the 2012-13 season of the Barclays Premier League has come to an end. Manchester United, inspired by the contrasting styles of Robin van Persie, Rooney and Ryan Giggs stamped their authority on the rest of the league, wresting control of the title after last season’s agonizing last minute loss to Manchester City.
Headline Of The Week
The Red Devils sealed their 20th Premier League win in emphatic fashion, demolishing Aston Villa 3-0 thanks to a virtuoso performance from former-Arsenal hitman Robin van Persie. Any odd fears that Manchester United may let the occasion get to them, were soon allayed, after United raced to a first half 3-0 lead with their first coming in only the 2nd minute.
Manchester United have one more record in their sights: beating Chelsea’s imposing 95 point haul in the 2004-05 season, when Mourinho first took charge. With Fergie throwing down the gauntlet and insisting the magical figure of 96 points would be the icing on the cake, it would be uncharacteristic for United to take their foot off the pedal.
In a development that will undoubtedly please neutrals, van Persie overtook Luis Suarez as the current top scorer in the league with 24 goals. With Suarez, likely to miss the rest of the season, van Persie will see little in the way of competition.
The Pastmaster of Good Things
Rooney’s lofted pass to van Persie notwithstanding, it’s the iconic Ryan Giggs who walks away with all the plaudits today. Giggs set up the first and third of Manchester United’s and Robin van Persie’s goals. This is now Giggs’ 13th Premier League victory, having been arguably the most vital cog in all of Fergie’s seasons in charge.
You’d be forgiven for thinking Giggs was much younger than he is, as he left defenders nearly half his age in the dust. Those trademark sudden bursts of pace, the intricate weaving and his eye for the killer pass, seem to have inexplicably gotten better with age, as Manchester United look on gleefully. Aston Villa’s defense will certainly attest to that.
Shocker of the week
Sure, this isn’t precisely Manchester City’s ideal season, but the Sky Blue brigade have generally swatted aside all other opposition when they get going. Any suggestions their second spot on the table, was ripe for the taking was brutally brushed aside with the kind of clinical finishing that made you wonder why they weren’t giving Manchester United a closer run for their money.
They were expected to win against the Spurs, but 3 goals in around 6 minutes from the Lilywhites shook an already dour-faced Mancini. The clear winner of the day? Andre Villas-Boas for masterminding a tactical victory to be proud of. Having seen precious little to boast about for most of the game, Villa-Boas finally made a tactical switch that would’ve made Hiddink and Mourinho proud.
Replacing the ineffectual Parker, Sigurdsson and Adebayor with Huddlestone, Holtby and Defoe, Villas-Boas engineered a tactical shift that left Manchester City scratching their heads. If the former Chelsea manager can take his new team to a third place finish, behind Manchester United and Chelsea, his rehabilitation as a top-flight manager will be complete.
Biting the hand that feeds you
Luis Suarez must really hate Liverpool. They’ve stuck their neck out for him, quite a lot of times and all he’s done in return is drag their name through the mud at every opportunity.
If Evra-gate wasn’t bad enough, he then refused to shake the Frenchman’s hand after they met again. This after having given Kenny Dalglish his solemn word.
While Manchester United scorch the league, Suarez had been quietly amassing goals in enough numbers to see him become the top contender for the player with the most goals this season. Now all that promise of a Villa-Boasesque resurgence lies in ruins, thanks to the Liverpool striker’s newfound taste for human flesh. Instead of being sent off, he was gifted a very fortunate stay until the final whistle – that resulted in a game-equalizing draw for the Reds.
Ivanovic may have complained about his brush with the Liverpool striker’s teeth, but it’s Liverpool’s image and pride that Suarez has taken a huge chunk out of.
How the mighty fall
You might think Aston Villa have had a humbling season so far. But the greatest fall from grace, is Newcastle United’s honor alone. Having put in a terrific account of themselves last season, where they ended up 5th but not before scaring Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham Hostpur to within an inch of their lives.
How Newcastle fell from being one of just 2 undefeated teams in late 2011, to now squabbling with perennial minnows for scraps. The lowest point, assuming they stay up, is Alan Pardew earning the ignominous distinction of having to field a team without 11 of his senior players against Stoke in November 2012. Nearly 5 months later, and things are just as bad.
With Ba long gone, and Cisse having lost his touch, it’s upto Shane Ferguson and Sammy Ameobi to rise to the occasion. Perhaps unnerved by that, the young stars of the team have capitulated and thrown in the towel faster than anyone imagined. Newcastle earned a point against West Brom, and Alan Pardew was left defending himself against allegations that he wasn’t being arrogant at the prospect of avoiding relegation.
Quite the change in fortunes, that.
Team Of The Week
In honor of the newly crowned champions, Manchester United, we allot them a whopping 8 out of our 11 picks for team of the week. For the sake of the game, here’s hoping 2013-14 isn’t as kind to them.