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Wednesday 19 December 2012

2012 Barclays Premier League review: January

In our 2012 Days of Christmas review, we look at the year's football highlights, starting with January

  • Nikica Jelavic signed after strong displays for Rangers in the Scottish Premier League

  • Thierry Henry rejoined his former team-mates for a six-week stint at Arsenal

  • Mark Hughes ahead of his side's first win of his QPR tenure – a 3-1 defeat of Wigan

  • Mario Balotelli dispatches the added-time penalty that saw Man City past Tottenham

  • Yohan Cabaye curls in a spectacular free-kick as Newcastle sink Manchester United


The new year ushered in fresh and familiar faces as the opening of the transfer window enabled permanent deals for Nikica Jelavic to arrive at Everton from Rangers, Papiss Cisse to join Newcastle United from Bundesliga club Freiburg, Gary Cahill to sign for Chelsea from Bolton Wanderers and Djibril Cisse to become the latest component of Queens Park Rangers’ makeover, coming from Lazio.

Henry back

Loan deals also abounded as Roma's David Pizarro and Hoffenheim's Gylfi Sigurdsson dipped their toes in English waters to help strengthen Manchester City and Swansea City’s Barclays Premier League causes respectively.

Old faces returned as LA Galaxy’s Robbie Keane came back from across the pond to sharpen Aston Villa’s attack, Stephen Pienaar re-joined Everton from Tottenham Hotspur and, after revisiting to his old stomping ground to unveil his statue at the Emirates Stadium, New York Red Bulls striker Thierry Henry was unable to resist the temptation of turning out for his former club for a six-week stint.

United recovery

On the field of play, Newcastle United’s European aspirations were boosted as Yohan Cabaye’s stunning free-kick helped them to a 3-0 victory over Manchester United, who, four days earlier, had been shocked by Blackburn Rovers 3-2 at Old Trafford.

Sir Alex Ferguson's charges bounced back with three successive wins in January and finished the month on the same amount of points as league leaders Manchester City, who lost to Everton on January 31 after a Darron Gibson strike sealed the points at Goodison Park.

Last-gasp City

A week earlier, City's hopes of securing a maiden Premier League title were given a huge lift when Mario Balotelli’s composed 95th minute-penalty sealed a dramatic 3-2 victory over Harry Redknapp’s Tottenham Hotspur.

Redknapp's side recovered from two goals down to level proceedings within six minutes and nearly snatched a winner, which would have moved Spurs to within two points of the top of the table, when Jermain Defoe was inches away from connecting with a Gareth Bale cross. Two minutes later, Balotelli calmly stroked in the decisive penalty to give City a crucial victory.

First win for QPR

At the bottom, Mark Hughes secured his first win as Queens Park Rangers manager since succeeding Neil Warnock as they defeated fellow strugglers Wigan Athletic 3-1. QPR moved out of the drop zone with the success, while their opponents finished January at the bottom of the division.

Blackburn Rovers and Wolverhampton Wanderers completed the bottom three, while Premier League new boys Norwich City continued to impress, as victories over QPR and West Bromwich Albion lifted Paul Lambert’s team to 10th in the table.

What they said

"I think you still need 6 or 7 players to get 8/10 against the champions, and we had that. We controlled what we wanted to happen in the game and that’s the only way we can play. We had a good grip on the game tonight and we deserved to win.”
(Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew after his side’s 3-0 win over Manchester United)

"He will be getting a text message from me later to say well done. Gibbo's a quality player. We never expected that result, but we’ll take it."
(Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand after former teammate Darron Gibson scored Everton’s winner against Manchester City)

"I think it is going to be hard for both us and City to collapse in the run-in now. It was a disappointing result for Spurs today, they didn’t deserve that and at the moment we're [City and United] both ahead of our other rivals and we just have to keep on City’s coat-tails."(Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson after his side’s 2-1 win over Arsenal)

"I always am [confident]. It may be a bit of naivety at certain times, but I always think we will win and again I thought we were outstanding."
(Norwich manager Paul Lambert after his side moved to ninth in the Premier League with a win over QPR)

ACON test

A number of Premier League stars head off to the African Cup of Nations, including Newcastle midfielder Cheick Tiote, Chelsea striker Didier Drogba and Manchester City’s Yaya Toure, who helped Ivory Coast to the final of the tournament. Emmanuel Mayuka, who would join Premier League new boys Southampton in the summer, helped Zambia secure a shock victory.

Vital statistic

Seven players signed for Premier League clubs on loan, while 16 players moved in on a permanent transfer.

Barclays Awards

Manager of the month: Brendan Rodgers (Swansea City)
Player of the month: Gareth Bale (Tottenham Hotspur)

How they stood

Table on 1 Jan 2012  In full here                Table on 31 Jan 2012 In full here

    P GD Pts     P GD Pts
1 Man City 18 38 45   Man City 23 41 45
2 Man Utd 19 32 45   Man Utd 23 35 45
3 Tottenham 18 15 39   Tottenham 23 19 39
4 Arsenal 19 9 36   Chelsea 23 15 36
5 Chelsea 19 13 34   Liverpool 23 7 34
16 Wolves 19 -13 17   QPR 22 -15 17
17 QPR 19 -15 17   Bolton 22 -19 17
18 Wigan 19 -20 15   Blackburn 22 -12 15
19 Blackburn 19 -13 14   Wolves 23 -18 14
20 Bolton 19 -19 13   Wigan 23 -28 13

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Key Points

  • January 2012 saw major signings for Newcastle, Chelsea and Queens Park Rangers
  • Among short-term loan deals, Thierry Henry returned to Arsenal and Steven Pienaar rejoined Everton
  • Yohan Cabaye helped Newcastle beat Man United 3-0, Mario Balotelli sunk Tottenham and Mark Hughes made a winning start to life at QPR