Friday 21 December 2012
The Premier League was rocked by the cardiac arrest of Bolton Wanderers midfielder Fabrice Muamba during an FA Cup match against Tottenham Hotspur and the diagnosis of leukaemia for Aston Villa captain Stiliyan Petrov. The two incidents triggered an incredible show of support and unity from everyone connected with the Premier League and the global game.
On the pitch, the entertainment was as compelling as ever. A resurgent Wigan Athletic who had started the month bottom of the table ended it strongly with wins against Liverpool and Stoke City. Liverpool were also beaten 3-2 by Queens Park Rangers despite a stunning overhead kick from their centre back Sebastian Coates, to move to within touching distance of safety.
Coates's strike contested with a superb volley by Peter Crouch, who helped Stoke City to earn a 1-1 draw with Manchester City. Robert Mancini's men dropped to second in the Premier League by the end of March, with a defeat by impressive Premier League debutants Swansea City and a thrilling 3-3 draw against Sunderland among the results that allowed reigning champions Manchester United to gain a two-point lead with a game in hand as the title race approached its penultimate month.
Despite losing 2-1 to QPR at the end of the month, Arsenal occupied third position ahead of North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur, whose Champions League ambitions were dented with a 3-1 home loss at the hands of Sir Alex Ferguson's Manchester United side.
There was no shortage of drama as two of the fiercest derby rivalries came head-to-head in March 2012. Newcastle United had vastly experienced striker Shola Ameobi to thank as his injury-time goal salvaged a point for the hosts against Sunderland, who had enjoyed a successful start under the stewardship of new manager Martin O'Neill. Liverpool came out on top of the Merseyside derby, as Steven Gerrard scored a hat-trick to seal a 3-0 win over Everton at Anfield.
"The players responded well. Stan was in to see us before the game and everybody gave him a hug and we said to the players it would be nice to win it for Stan and they gave everything they had.
"[After applause during the 19th minute in Petrov’s honour] It was quite an emotional moment and a great show of strength and support from the Villa fans. - Aston Villa manager Alex McCleish just 24 hours after club captain Stiliyan Petrov was diagnosed with leukaemia.
"You've got to understand that football itself is very emotional and passionate and everything else. We know that we have the best game in the world. But when something like that happens to somebody you hold dear then football pales in to insignificance. And our thoughts and our prayers are with Fabrice, and the players have felt that. When they came in to that dressing room, they were out on their feet both physically and mentally." - Bolton Wanderers manager Owen Coyle after his side battled to a 2-1 victory in their first match since Fabrice Muamba’s cardiac arrest.
!I'm very proud, it’s a great day for Swansea City as a club and for the people. This was a massive game for us here and I thought the best team won. Over the course of the game we were outstanding." - Swansea City manager Brendan Rodgers after his side's 1-0 victory against Manchester City.
Player of the Month: Gylfi Sigurdsson (Swansea City).
Manager of the Month: Owen Coyle (Bolton Wanderers).
Table on 1 Mar 2012 In full here Table on 31 Mar 2012 In full here
|1||Man City||26||48||63||Man Utd||30||47||73|
|2||Man Utd||26||37||61||Man City||31||50||71|