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Tuesday 28 May 2013

Barclays Premier League season review: December

In the final month of 2012, Manchester United turned the screw and Sunderland improved

  • Theo Walcott signed off the year with a hat-trick in Arsenal's 7-3 win over Newcastle

  • Cameron Jerome struck a last-gasp wonder goal to earn Stoke a 3-3 draw with Southampton

  • Robin van Persie also scored late on in Man United's 3-2 derby win against Man City

  • Frank Lampard's double at Everton took him to within a goal of Chelsea's club record

  • Sunderland's Adam Johnson was mobbed after scoring the winner against Man City


The calendar year concluded in fittingly entertaining fashion as a 41-goal haul on the final weekend of 2012 meant that a staggering 1,100 goals were scored in the Barclays Premier League across the year – a record since the division was reduced to 20 teams in 1995.

Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard, who moved to within one goal of Chelsea’s second highest all-time scorer Kerry Dixon by the end of December, helped bring up the landmark with two goals as Rafael Benitez’s side fought off a spirited Everton side to win 2-1 and move to within four points of second-placed Manchester City after a fine end to 2012. After losing 3-1 to West Ham United at the start of the month and suffering defeat in the FIFA Club World Championship final against Corinthians, the Blues bounced back with three successive victories, including an emphatic 8-0 success against Aston Villa.

Manchester United led the way going in to 2013 though, and they opened up a seven-point gap at the top of the table after going through the whole of December unbeaten. Sir Alex Ferguson’s charges won 3-2 against Man City in the process, with Robin van Persie’s dramatic added-time winner inflicting City’s first home defeat in the Barclays Premier League for two years. United showed their never-say-die spirit again when they edged Newcastle 4-3 at Old Trafford on Boxing Day. Javier Hernandez was the hero this time, slotting past Tim Krul in the 90th minute to seal the win.

North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal occupied fourth and fifth place respectively going in to the new year, after edging ahead of Everton and Steve Clarke’s West Bromwich Albion, one of the surprise packages of the first half of the season. Arsenal certainly made a telling contribution to the record goal-haul in the final month of 2012. Theo Walcott scored a hat-trick as the Gunners beat Newcastle United 7-3 at the Emirates Stadium, after the Londoners scored five against Reading earlier in the month.

One side who gained many plaudits for their impressive defensive displays were Stoke City. Despite needing a Cameron Jerome wonder goal to secure a 3-3 draw against a spirited Southampton side on the final matchweek of 2012, the Potters managed an impressive nine clean sheets in their opening 20 matches, and moved up to eighth position after a month that included notable victories over Liverpool and West Brom.

Southampton and Reading joined Harry Redknapp’s Queens Park Rangers in the bottom three at the turn of the year, although a cluster of teams finished within touching distance of the drop zone at the half-way point, to set up another exciting relegation battle. QPR finished the year eight points from safety, and although they recorded their first win of the Barclays Premier League campaign against Fulham after securing two draws in the month, and their third in succession since Redknapp took over, when Luis Suarez inspired Liverpool to a 3-0 win at Loftus Road on December 30, the R’s suffered their third straight defeat.

In a season full of surprises, Sunderland produced one of the performances of the month to defeat reigning Barclays Premier League champions Man City 1-0 at the Stadium of Light. The Black Cats had moved up to 13th place in the table by the end of December.

December award winners

Manager of the month: Martin O'Neill (Sunderland)
Player of the month: Demba Ba (Newcastle United)

Key quotes

“It was a great result and a great performance. The response to going a goal down was fantastic. It is probably the best team we have had, but we have to improve year on year at our own pace.”
(Stoke City manager Tony Pulis praises his ‘best ever’ Stoke team off the back of a 3-1 win over Liverpool)

“It was such a good game – a special one. It was engrossing. It tells you about the quality of the Premier League, it’s such a great league.”
(Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson hails his side after defeating title rivals Man City 3-2 at the Etihad Stadium)

“I’m enjoying playing, I’m working hard in training, I’m loving being part of the team. That is all I can tell you for the minute and that is enough for me. I am happy with that – to keep playing well and to contribute to days like today.”
(Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard puts potential doubts about his future aside as he enjoys his goalscoring form)

For December's results at a glance, click here

How they stood then and now

Table on 30 Nov 2012                                Table on 31 Dec 2012

Position Club P GD Pts   Club P GD PTS
1 Man Utd 14 15 33   Man Utd 20 22 49
2 Man City 14 17 32   Man City 20 19 42
3 Chelsea 14 11 26   Chelsea 19 21 38
4 West Brom
14 6 26   Tottenham 20 10 36
5 Tottenham 14 2 23   Arsenal 19 18 33
6 Everton 14 6 22   Everton 20 8 33
7 Arsenal 14 10 21   West Brom
20 3 33
8 Swansea 14 4 20   Stoke 20 4 29
9 Stoke 14 1 19   Liverpool 20 5 28
10 West Ham 14 0 19   Swansea 20 5 28
11 Fulham 14 2 17   Norwich 20 -9 25
12 Liverpool 14 0 16   West Ham
19 -1 23
13 Norwich 14 -9 16   Sunderland 20 -5 22
14 Newcastle 14 -7 14   Fulham 20 -6 21
15 Wigan 14 -10 14   Newcastle 20 -11 20
16 Sunderland 13 -4 13   Wigan 20 -13 18
17 Aston Villa 14 -11 13   Aston Villa 20 -24 18
18 Southampton 14 -10 12   Southampton 19 -11 17
19 Reading 13 -7 9   Reading 20 -15 13
20 QPR 14 -16 5   QPR 20 -20 10

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Key Points

  • Manchester United move seven points clear at turn of year as Man City drop points
  • Chelsea's league fortunes improve after FIFA Club World Cup defeat in Japan
  • Arsenal find form and goals, while QPR manage first win of campaign