Monday 31 December 2012
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 all-time top 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 newly-promoted 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 United 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 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 7-3 at the Emirates Stadium, and they 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.
Manager of the month: To be confirmed
Player of the month: To be confirmed
“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
For December's results at a glance, click here
|1||Man Utd||14||15||33||Man Utd||20||22||49|
|2||Man City||14||17||32||Man City||20||19||42|
|17||Aston Villa||14||-11||13||Aston Villa||20||-24||18|