2012/13 Season Review

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Man Utd win their 13th Premier League title in Sir Alex Ferguson's final season

The 2012/13 season signalled the end of an era as the retiring Sir Alex Ferguson signed off his 27-year tenure as Manchester United manager in fitting style with the Red Devils claiming their 13th Premier League crown by an 11-point margin.

The title was sealed when Golden Boot winner Robin van Persie - who joined from Arsenal in August 2013 - scored a hat-trick, including a brilliant volley from outside the box, in their 3-0 win over Aston Villa in April.

Champions Manchester United
Top goalscorer 26: Robin van Persie (MUN)
Most assists 12: Juan Mata (CHE)
Most goals 86: Manchester United
Most clean sheets 18: Manchester City
Player of the Season Gareth Bale (TOT)
Manager of the Season Sir Alex Ferguson (MUN)

Ferguson's final match was a remarkable one as West Bromwich Albion's on-loan striker Romelu Lukaku netted a second half hat-trick in a 5-5 draw at The Hawthorns. David Moyes was announced as Ferguson's successor after bringing his 11 years at Everton to an end in May 2013.

Long-serving United midfielder Paul Scholes called time on his playing career in 2012/13, while PL legends Jamie Carragher, Michael Owen and Phil Neville also hung up their boots. Aston Villa's Stiliyan Petrov retired too as he continued his recovery from Leukaemia and the Villa fans adorned Petrov masks on the final day of the season as a tribute to the Bulgarian midfielder.

There were plenty of new faces at the start of the campaign as Manchester City looked to defend the title they won in such dramatic fashion last time round. Brendan Rodgers was appointed as Liverpool manager after an impressive debut Premier League season with Swansea City, with Michael Laudrup replacing him at the Liberty Stadium, while Steve Clarke took charge at West Bromwich Albion.

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Robin van Persie's superb hat-trick against Aston Villa sealed the title for Manchester United

Chelsea's Eden Hazard, Arsenal duo Olivier Giroud and Santi Cazorla and Man Utd's Shinji Kagawa were among the headline summer signings along with Van Persie. Swansea's £2m addition of Michu turned out to be shrewd business as he netted 18 goals in his debut Premier League campaign, while new Aston Villa striker Christian Benteke found the net 19 times.

With Hazard in their side, Chelsea made the early running and topped the table going into November but they failed to win during that month and UEFA Champions League winning manager Roberto Di Matteo was relieved of his duties, with Rafael Benitez taking over until the end of the season.

One of Chelsea's defeats was down to a Manchester United comeback and those late rallies were the trademark of the Red Devils campaign. This was particularly evident during December, when Van Persie struck a stoppage time winner in a 3-2 triumph over Man City and they came from behind to beat Newcastle United 4-3. United went through the month unbeaten and opened up a seven-point lead over Man City at the top.

United continued their relentless form and, after newly-promoted Southampton stunned Man City at St Mary’s Stadium, they opened up a 12-point gap in February. City did beat the Premier League leaders at Old Trafford, though, thanks to a fine solo goal from Sergio Aguero.

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Tottenham Hotspur's Gareth Bale celebrates his goal in a 2-1 victory over rivals Arsenal

Away from the title race, Gareth Bale was the catalyst in Tottenham Hotspur's charge for a top-four place and he scored in a 2-1 win over north London rivals Arsenal, which put them seven points clear of the Gunners.

The Welsh winger won a host of honours, including the Premier League, Professional Footballers' Association and Football Writers' Association Player of the Season awards after scoring 21 times in the PL, including a series of long-range strikes.

But Arsenal were not to be denied a place in the top four and UEFA Champions League qualification for the 16th consecutive season as they overturned the seven-point deficit by winning 26 points from their last 10 matches.

Chelsea, with a new all-time top goalscorer after Frank Lampard broke Bobby Tambling's long-standing club record, finished above both sides in third, and interim manager Rafael Benitez also guided the Blues to glory in the UEFA Europa League final.

Laudrup and Clarke, in their debut campaigns as Premier League managers, both impressed for their respective clubs. Swansea won the League Cup and finished ninth under former Denmark international Laudrup, while Clarke led West Brom's early push for the top four before ending the season in eighth place - a record finish for the Baggies.

The season was a landmark one for Wigan Athletic, as they won the FA Cup for the first time after a shock 1-0 win over Man City at Wembley Stadium, but manager Roberto Martinez could not stop the Latics from dropping to the Championship after eight consecutive campaigns in the top flight.

Wigan were joined in the relegation zone by newly promoted Reading and Queens Park Rangers, both of whom were consigned to the drop when they played out a 0-0 draw in April.