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Thursday 30 May 2013

Barclays Premier League season review: February

In the second month of 2013, Man Utd extend their lead while Gareth Bale shines for Spurs again

  • Wayne Rooney scores Manchester United's winner against Fulham

  • Play had resumed after a short delay because of floodlight failure at Craven Cottage

  • Gareth Bale celebrates his superb winner for Spurs against West Ham

  • Manchester City's title challenge suffered a big blow against Southampton

  • Liverpool's Steven Gerrard put his side ahead against Swansea City


There may have been a floodlight failure at Craven Cottage but it was Manchester United who continued to leave their rivals in the shade as they started the month with an entertaining victory over Fulham.

The lights went out just before half-time at Craven Cottage but it did not affect United, who claimed a 1-0 win thanks to a strike from Wayne Rooney. It was the start of an impressive month for Sir Alex Ferguson's men, who secured nine points from their three matches to extend the gap at the top from seven to 12 points.

Goals from Ryan Giggs and Robin van Persie gave them a straightforward victory over Everton while in their final match United beat Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road with right-back Rafael scoring with a ferocious shot.

While United were on the march, their title rivals lost ground. Nearest challengers Manchester City began the month dropping points in an entertaining 2-2 draw at home to Liverpool, Sergio Aguero rescuing a point with a sublime strike from an extremely tight angle, while their title challenge suffered a massive setback when they were stunned by Mauricio Pochettino's Southampton at St Mary's Stadium.

Chelsea lost at Newcastle United thanks to two goals from new signing Moussa Sissoko on his home debut, while they also were beaten by Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium. It left the door open for North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal to make ground. The two clubs made sure that the battle for a place in the top four of the League would go right to the wire with three wins from their three matches.

The month ended in thrilling fashion as Spurs moved up to third in the table with a last-gasp 3-2 victory over West Ham United at Upton Park. The hero was Gareth Bale, who unleashed a ferocious 25-yard strike into the top corner with only 10 seconds remaining to spark wild celebrations on the Spurs bench.

One of the memorable matches during February was at Anfield as Liverpool romped to a 5-0 win over Swansea City, who were without a host of key players ahead of their historic Capital One Cup final triumph over Bradford City.

It continued to be a fraught battle at the bottom of the table as Wigan Athletic, Aston Villa and Southampton all claimed only four points during February, while Reading picked up three. Basement club Queens Park Rangers were cut further adrift as their solitary point during the month arrived with a goalless draw at home against Norwich City.

For Sunderland, meanwhile, it was a miserable month as they slipped from 11th to 15th place after suffering three defeats.

February Award Winners

Manager of the month: Andre Villas-Boas (Tottenham Hotspur)
Player of the month: Gareth Bale (Tottenham Hotspur)

Key quotes

"It has been a privilege and an honour to represent this great club for as long as I have and I am immensely proud to have done so and thankful for all the support I have had."
Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher reflects after announcing that he will retire at the end of the season

"He is an unbelievable, super talent. You have seen him this season go to another level and make a difference every game. Tremendous talent for sure."
Tottenham head coach Andre Villas-Boas praises Gareth Bale after his winner against West Ham United

"I think [the players] understand that we played really bad. It's the worst game in the last two or three years, maybe. We have [a] 10 per cent [chance of winning the title], maybe."
Manchester city manager Roberto Mancini is not happy with the defeat by Southampton

For February's results at a glance, click here

How they stood then and now

Table on 31 Jan 2013                                Table on 25 Feb 2013

Position Club P GD Pts   Club P GD PTS
1 Man Utd 24 28 59   Man Utd 27 33 68
2 Man City 24 26 52   Man City 27 26 56
3 Chelsea 24 25 46   Tottenham 27 15 51
4 Tottenham
24 12 42   Chelsea 27 25 49
5 Everton 24 10 41   Arsenal 27 22 47
6 Arsenal 24 19 38   Everton 27 7 42
7 Liverpool
24 12 35   West Brom
27 2 40
8 Swansea 24 7 34   Liverpool 27 15 39
9 West Brom 24 0 34   Swansea
27 4 37
10 Stoke 24 -5 30   Stoke 27 -6 33
11 Sunderland 24 -4 29   Fulham 27 -5 32
12 Fulham
24 -5 28   Norwich
27 -14 32
13 West Ham 24 -9 27   Newcastle
27 -10 30
14 Norwich 24 -15 27   West Ham 27 -10 30
15 Newcastle 24 -12 24   Sunderland 27 -7 29
16 Southampton 24 -11 23   Southampton 27 -11 27
17 Reading
24 -15 20   Wigan 27 -18 24
18 Wigan 24 -18 20   Aston Villa 27 -26 24
19 Aston Villa 24 -26 20   Reading
27 -18 23
20 QPR 24 -19 16   QPR 27 -24 17

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Key Points

  • Manchester United extend their lead at the top of the Premier League table
  • Andre Villas-Boas and Gareth Bale win Barclays Manager and Player of the Month awards
  • Sunderland's relegation worries increase after disappointing month