As the Premier League brought the curtains down until August we were treated to a final match day to remember. While it may not have been as exciting as last season, when the league was won in the 93rd minute of a game, but there was plenty of things to see.
Games of the Week
Sir Alex Ferguson’s last game in charge for Manchester United proved to be one people won’t soon forget. They combined with home team West Bromwich Albion to produce nearly 40 shots, of which West Brom actually produced more of. United dominated possession of the game though and raced out to a 3-0 lead thanks to Shinji Kagawa, Alexander Buttner, and a Jonas Olsson own goal. The Baggies managed to pull one back before half time. It was then, at 3-1 down, that Romelu Lukaku was introduced as a West Brom player for the final time. The on-loan Chelsea striker will be returning to London now with his stock as high as ever. A quick goal cut the deficit down to 3-2 but United weren’t done. Robin van Persie and Chicharito both added a goal to make it 5-2. It seemed as if United were on cruise control at this point but there was more drama to come. Three goals in the last ten minutes, one by Youssuf Mulumbu in between Lukaku’s second and third, meant that this game ended in a draw with a score line that had never been seen before in the Premier League. Paul Scholes, who is retiring, was able to come on as a substitute one last time for United and, in true Paul Scholes fashion, managed to get a yellow card. This was probably the most action packed and exciting game all season, a fitting end to a legendary manager’s career. West Bromwich Albion 5, Manchester United 5.
The other half of Manchester also provided for a shock result producing an exciting game. A resurgent Norwich side came to town and put the damper on what was already a somber setting for Manchester City. Norwich had to take the lead three times to finally kill off City’s advances. Within five minutes of the first and second goal by Norwich, City were level. Seemingly only capable of playing well under adversity, it took City just five minutes to respond to the first and second goals. However, Norwich were looking to play the spoilers to end the season and did just that when Jonathan Howson fired them ahead, again, in the 65th minute. With all of the games being played at the same time to end the season and with Spurs and Arsenal trying to finish in fourth, this game didn’t get the most viewers. Those who did choose to tune in, though, got one of the most entertaining games of the weekend. Norwich, a team that three weeks ago looked the most likely team to replace Wigan in the drop, showed that they were not scared of City’s reputation or strength. On the other hand, City, this years runners-up, seemed to have checked out a little early. The individual skill of each of the players, though, meant that even on an off day they proved they can find the net. Manchester City 2, Norwich 3.
Players of the Round
- Romelu Lukaku scored a hat-trick off the bench to spur West Brom on to a 5-5 draw with Manchester United. Hat-tricks against United are rare enough to begin with, which makes this feat of one completed in 45 minutes all the more astonishing. The 20 year old Belgian scored 17 goals this season in the Premier League and was an integral part in guiding West Brom to this high of a finish. He bullied defenses all season long with his physical, direct style of play. He will now return from his loan spell at the Hawthorns to Chelsea, having written his name into the hearts of Baggies fans everywhere.
- Kevin Nolan also scored a hat-trick to give West Ham the edge in a 4-2 win over relegated Wigan. Nolan capitalized off a big mistake by the Reading keeper to get his first, would slot home after running onto a fantastic through ball for his second, and headed home to complete the treble. Nolan has not been at his best by any stretch of the imagination, but this game showed that he can still produce at this level.
- Jack Rodwell has largely been a forgotten man this season, only starting 6 games for Manchester City. He showed exactly why City splashed the cash for him over the summer, though, as he took his chance against Norwich to score two well worked goals. At times it seemed as if Rodwell might be the only City player who cared about the result. The 22 year old hardly put a foot wrong, playing a fantastic game that will be sure to impress whoever comes in as Roberto Mancini’s replacement. Whether or not that will lead to more playing time, though, remains to be seen.
- Laurent Koscielny’s goal was enough to give Arsenal a 1-0 victory over Newcastle, meaning they will play in the Champions League at the expense of fierce rivals Tottenham Hotspur. This is the 18th season in a row that Arsenal have finished above Tottenham. Tottenham, having finished in 5th place, will now play in the Europa League instead.
- Frank Lampard, having recently taken over as the top all-time scorer for Chelsea, was awarded a one year contract extension, putting to an end months of speculation about his future.
- Chelsea, Everton, Manchester City, and Stoke City will all need new managers before the 2013-2014 season starts. Chelsea manager Rafa Benetiz was only in on an interim basis. Everton lost manager David Moyes to Manchester United, where he will replace Sir Alex Ferguson. Manchester City relieved manager Roberto Mancini of his duties with two games left to go. Tony Pullis departed Stoke after the end of the season. All of these changes mean that Arsense Wenger, who has been in charge of Arsenal for 17 seasons, is the longest tenured Premier League manager. The second longest is Alan Pardew, who has been at Newcastle for three seasons now. Jose Mourinho, having just left Real Madrid, is the favorite to return to take the Chelsea job, while Manchester City are rumored to be in for Malaga manager Manuel Pellegrini.
- Edin Dzeko, apparently on his way out from Manchester City, is reportedly in discussion with Napoli about a possible move. It is believed that City would be interested in taking Edinson Cavani away from Napoli. The two players could be part of a swap deal.
- This season saw 1063 goals scored in the Premier League, 3 less than last year. Robin van Persie was the leagues top scorer with 26 goals.