Saturday 29 December 2012
Manchester United moved to the top of the Barclays Premier League table for the first time in the 2012/13 season after a rollercoaster month, in which the first managerial changes of the campaign took place at both ends of the table.
Chelsea, who had got off to a flying start with seven victories from their opening nine matches, failed to win in November and with doubts over their qualification for the UEFA Champions League knockout stages, Roberto Di Matteo was shown the door. Former Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez succeeded the Italian in an interim role at Stamford Bridge. Benitez’s side battled to goalless draws against Manchester City and Fulham in his first two matches at Stamford Bridge.
While the two Manchester clubs battled out at the top of the table, one of the early-season surprise packages West Bromwich Albion were among the league’s elite and finished the month in fourth position. West Brom earned victories over Southampton, Wigan Athletic, Chelsea and Sunderland during the month, and manager Steve Clarke won the manager of the month award. The only blemish on their fixture list in November was a defeat by Swansea City, who continued to impress under Michael Laudrup.
Marouane Fellaini was the outstanding player of the month, scoring four goals as Everton finished the month in sixth. The Belgium midfielder could not prevent Reading from enjoying their first Barclays Premier League victory of the season at the Madejski Stadium on November 17, however, coming from behind to win 2-1.
Southampton were another promoted side who finally gained momentum in November. The south-coast side were bottom after losing to the Baggies at the start of the month, but were unbeaten for the rest of November with successes over Newcastle United and Queens Park Rangers. The 3-1 win over the latter was followed by the departure of Mark Hughes from Loftus Road, marking the return to the Barclays Premier League of former Tottenham Hotspur manager Harry Redknapp.
One of the most eagerly anticipated matches of the month was Arsenal’s north London derby with Tottenham, and it certainly lived up to the billing. Spurs striker Emmanuel Adebayor opened the scoring against his former side but was sent off soon after as Arsenal won 5-2 at the Emirates.
Arguably the best goal of the month came from Liverpool’s in-form striker Luis Suarez. The Uruguayan expertly controlled Jose Enrique’s long ball on his chest before beating Newcastle goal goalkeeper Tim Krul in style. It was not enough to gain victory as Liverpool shared the points with Alan Pardew’s ten-man side at Anfield.
Manchester United went top but their wins did not come easily and they were beaten 1-0 by Norwich City. The Red Devils were forced to come from two goals down in the second half at Aston Villa as Javier Hernandez's double-strike helped them to victory, and they also came from behind to beat Queens Park Rangers at home. Manchester City kept up the pressure, enjoying an unbeaten month and a 5-0 rout of Aston Villa, to offset the disappointment of a failed UEFA Champions League campaign.
Wigan Athletic’s Jordi Gomez became only the second Spaniard to hit a hat-trick in the Barclays Premier League when he struck the winner in the 3-2 victory over Reading at the DW Stadium.
Manager of the month: Steve Clarke (West Brom)
Player of the month: Marouane Fellaini (Everton)
"Everyone was saying, 'You haven't won, you haven't won', and that can play on people's minds and I obviously know that. But all you can do is concentrate on playing the game, enjoying the games and then the results will come because I know with the group we have got there was never any fear that they couldn't do it." - Reading manager Brian McDermott after the victory over Everton
"The team's recent performances and results have not been good enough and the owner and the board felt that a change was necessary now to keep the club moving in the right direction as we head into a vitally important part of the season." - Chelsea statement on the departure of manager Roberto Di Matteo.
"We have shown quality, spirit and a lot of movement, and that is what we want from our team. It is always easier to correct the defensive side than getting your team to score goals. When you score goals you always have a chance. I am confident that the defence will be quite sound once everybody is used to playing with each other. We won many balls as a team and we want to continue to work on that." - Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger after the 5-2 defeat of Tottenham
For November's results at a glance, click here
|2||Man Utd||9||11||21||Man City||14||17||32|
|17||Aston Villa||9||-7||6||Aston Villa||14||-11||13|