13 of the Greatest Moments from the 2012-13 Premier League Season
After completing it's 21st season in existence, it's fair to say that the English Premier League is quite something, isn't it?
Too often does the phrase "the best league in the world" get thrown about without much thought for what is being said.
Perhaps it's not the best in terms of attracting the world's most talented footballers when you consider the Ballon d'Or top three—Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Andres Iniesta—all play in the Spanish La Liga.
Nevertheless, there can be no denying that some of the most entertaining and thrilling encounters take place in the Premier League. It is a league where any of the 20 teams can beat each other on their day. That's how competitive it is.
On the last day of the 2012-13 Premier League season, the 10 matches brought home 36 goals, an incredible total considering the only notable last-day action was for the last Champions League spot.
So maybe it's not the best, but certainly for entertainment value, it's the best to observe. And here we've compiled some of the most memorable moments of this enthralling campaign.
Believe us when we tell you it was not easy to limit it to just 13. Enjoy!
13. Luis Suarez Bites Branislav Ivanovic...and Scores a 97th-Minute Equalizer!
It doesn't quite fit with the rest in our glorious montage of moments we have given you to look back on, but this was one of most truly bizarre incidents in Premier League history.
And who else would be able to conjure up such a bittersweet moment to remember other than Liverpool's controversial striker Luis Suarez?
The Uruguayan became involved in a tussle with Chelsea centre-back Branislav Ivanovic, although the Serb appeared to do nothing to provoke his opponent as the 26-year-old striker set about committing his savage act of stupidity.
As the ball was cleared from danger, Suarez held onto Ivanovic's arm and opted to—in the words of Sky Sports pundit Alan Smith—"sink his gnashers" into his arm.
Ivanovic was clearly unhappy and made his concerns clear to Kevin Friend, who did not see the incident. Had he done so, Suarez would've been, without question, shown a straight red card, ending his involvement.
Unfortunately for Chelsea, the talented forward stayed on the pitch, and as the game went past the seven minutes allotted for added time, Daniel Sturridge's wonderful cross found Suarez unmarked as he headed home to deny the Blues all three points.
12. Fabrice Muamba Returns to White Hart Lane After Miraculous Recovery
Prepare yourselves, folks, because as you know, this was without doubt the most emotional moment of the Premier League season.
On March 17, a young and increasingly popular footballer who goes by the name of Fabrice Muamba suffered a cardiac arrest while playing for Bolton against Tottenham in an FA Cup tie.
With the game tied at 1-1 after 41 minutes, the 23-year-old collapsed to the ground with no other players around him, and the seriousness of the situation was confirmed as doctors and medical staff rushed to his attention on the pitch.
It was a terrible viewing as medical staff desperately tried to stabilize Muamba, who was not breathing, as they used a defibrillator in an attempt to revive him.
They spent six minutes trying to resuscitate the former Arsenal midfielder before transporting him to the London Chest Hospital and at that point, Muamba was reported still not to be breathing.
Thankfully, due to the excellent work by the club's doctor, medical staff on the pitch and at the hospital, Muamba remarkably survived and was kept in intensive care.
After completing his recovery period, it was advised to the midfielder that he retire from professional football and seemingly thankful just to be alive, Muamba obliged, ending his association with football after 167 Premier League games.
He made an emotional return to the pitch just eight months after his miraculous revival and was brought to tears by the reception the fans gave him.
11. Robin van Persie Scores the Best Goal of the Season vs. Aston Villa
Of all the facts about Robin van Persie's summer transfer from Arsenal to Manchester United, there are two which cause the most debate, but in reality are completely irrelevant.
The first is his age. Spending £24 million on a player with no sell-on value is something not seen often with Sir Alex Ferguson, who tends to focus on signing younger players with the view of nurturing them into world-class superstars.
But, as Manchester United stroll to their 20th league title, Van Persie's 26 Premier League goals have arguably paid back the fee already.
Second of all, many critics of the transfer say Van Persie is injury-prone. They may find it surprising to discover that the flying Dutchman has played in every game in the last two seasons.
And while he has scored some wonderful goals this season, the highlight has to be his incredible volley against Aston Villa. A superb 50-yard pass from Wayne Rooney finds the onrushing striker, and after judging the flight perfectly, the Dutchman unleashes a thunderbolt past Brad Guzan.
A superb goal from player who just oozes class with every touch he makes.
10. The Premier League Approve Hawk-Eye's Goal-Line Technology System
The Premier League will embrace arguably one of the biggest technological changes to the game since being founded in 1992 when it welcomes Hawk-Eye's version of goal-line technology into action next season.
FIFA finally approved the much-required system after Frank Lampard's goal was infamously disallowed in the 2010 World Cup quarterfinal clash against Germany in South Africa.
It comes after several incidents—some of which are impossible for the officials to see without a replay—have seen goals given or disallowed when the decision made is incorrect.
The technology has been praised by many as a major turning point for modern football, and with the hope of relieving pressure on referees, it could be a key determining factor for 2013-14.
9. Hillsborough Tradegy Given New Inquiry After Police Admit Cover-Up
It's one of football's greatest tragedies, and even more so when you consider that even 24 years on, it has still not found its path to justice.
The Hillsborough disaster in 1989 has had a massive effect on football and has been a controversial subject for many years. Now, 24 years after the initial inquiry had drawn up the verdict of accidental death, the High Court in December quashed the verdict and ordered a new investigation.
Since then, more shocking details have been revealed about the incident, which has led to several resignations in the police force and more importantly, a date in 2014 where the new inquest will be heard. There is now hope that justice can finally be served for those affected by the tragic incident at Sheffield Wednesday's home.
As a new opportunity for investigation came about, Anne Williams—who lost her 15-year-old son Kevin in the incident—sadly passed away. She was one of the key campaigners for the inquest verdict to be overturned and it proves her hard work did not go to waste.
In some ways, the decision to quash the original ruling may lead to a positive outcome. But football will never forget the Hillsborough disaster, no matter what the result might be.
8. West Brom 5-5 Manchester United: Sir Alex Ferguson's Final Game in Charge
Granted, many of you will be thinking why this has made it onto the best moments of the Premier League season.
But when you consider West Brom are playing for absolutely nothing other than pride, it makes me happy to see Steve Clarke's men push to grab a not-so-vital draw. Oh, and the fact it's Sir Alex Ferguson's final game before retiring? It might just have a factor.
It looked as if the Red Devils would make easy work of their mid-table opposition to give a winning send-off to their legendary coach, as they raced into an early three-goal lead thanks to Shinji Kagawa, a Jonas Olsson own goal and Alexander Buttner. But the Baggies fought back through James Morrison and substitute Romelu Lukaku.
The game appeared to be over when Javier Hernandez and Robin van Persie restored the three-goal advantage to make it 5-2. However, goals from Lukaku and Youssouf Mulumbu ensured a grandstand finish at the Hawthorns.
And the on-loan Chelsea striker stunned Ferguson's side with an 86th-minute equalizer to complete one of the most stunning comebacks the Premier League has ever witnessed. It also means the 19-year-old becomes just the third player to ever score a hat-trick against Manchester United in the Premier League.
Manchester United looked stunned. One must wonder if Ferguson was secretly delighted to instigate the hairdryer treatment for just one more time?
7. Roberto Di Matteo Sacked by Chelsea, Rafa Benitez Brought in as Successor
Roman Abramovich had certainly built up a rapport with the fans of Chelsea. After all, his reign at the club has seen trophies and world-class players come through the doors of Stamford Bridge. And it's all down to him.
But his relationship was under threat for the first time after his most controversial managerial change as Chelsea owner. His decision to axe Roberto Di Matteo from his role as manager just six months after winning the Champions League was brutal.
Even more so considering the Italian had led the club to just four points off the top of the Premier League summit.
The board wanted Pep Guardiola to succeed him, according to the Daily Mail but were left embarrassed when Guardiola refused to abandon his sabbatical year in New York, and as a result, decided to appoint Rafael Benitez as their "interim manager" until the end of the season.
The decision was heavily criticized due to Benitez's previous history with the club, and the outcome was not pretty. The majority of the fans opted to sing Di Matteo's name at home games and booed Benitez onto the field; it was a nightmare situation for Chelsea, who had also crashed out of the Champions League and saw their form slump alarmingly.
However, the Spaniard led the club to the FA Cup and League Cup semifinals, Club World Cup final and, of course, won the Europa League final against Benfica last week.
Chelsea fans may have forgiven Abramovich but will be hoping he may be slightly more cautious next time when he selects his new manager.
6. Wigan Become the First Side to Win the FA Cup and Suffer Relegation
Wigan had one of the biggest weeks in the club's history last week, and it definitely bordered on the horizon of a bittersweet end to the season.
Last Saturday, Wigan faced Manchester City in the FA Cup final at Wembley, and were massive underdogs for the game, with their opponents winning the trophy back in 2011.
However, the Citizens were under pressure to win their only chance of silverware, and despite their best efforts, Roberto Mancini's side crumbled while the other Roberto looked on with pride.
His Wigan side gave their all, and with the game locked at 0-0 heading towards extra time, Ben Watson headed home a superb corner from Shaun Maloney to send the Latics fans wild. It turned out to be the winner as they secured their first FA Cup in the club's 81-year history.
But the celebrations had to be kept to a minimum as Wigan's crunch clash against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium was just four days later, which they needed to win to stand any chance of Premier League survival.
Unfortunately, their opponents also needed to win, and despite Maloney's equalizer to make it 1-1, the Gunners proved too strong as they stormed to a 4-1 victory, condemning them to relegation and subsequently ending an eight-year association with the top flight..
The silver lining about being relegated to the Championship is that Wigan will be playing in the Europa League thanks to their cup triumph. And that's something we're all looking forward to.
5. End of an Era as Beckham, Neville, Owen, Carragher and Scholes All Retire
David Beckham probably deserved a lot more credit than he received, for the media world always viewed him more as a celebrity than a world-class footballer.
After 265 appearances for Manchester United and a much-publicized fallout with Sir Alex Ferguson, his £25 million move to Real Madrid brought about millions of shirt sales, and his reputation skyrocketed even further.
After his contract at the Bernabeu ended, he moved to Los Angeles Galaxy in 2007 and played a key role in raising the American league's profile. And after loan spells to AC Milan, he left in November and later joined Paris Saint-Germain.
In his five months at the Parc Des Princes, Beckham made 13 appearances and received a winners' medal after the club won their first Ligue 1 title since 1994. And after turning 38 earlier this month, it seems that Beckham feels it's the right time to retire as the only Englishman to win a major title in England, Spain, the U.S. and France.
And while world football says goodbye to the set-piece specialist, the Premier League also sees some famous names finally hang up their boots.
Paul Scholes, Jamie Carragher, Phil Neville and Michael Owen have all opted to retire from professional football, and it will be a shame to never see these four, as well as Beckham, grace the game again.
4. Laurent Koscielny's Goal Secures Champions League Football for Arsenal
It was a cagey match, as was Tottenham's game against Sunderland back in North London, but when one goal can mean the difference between Champions League football and playing in the Europa League, you can expect some nerves.
After dominating the first half and having several opportunities, Arsene Wenger's period of nailbiting were finally settled when Laurent Koscielny latched onto Lukas Podolski's header and fired past Steve Harper.
With Tottenham still struggling to find a way past a resilient Sunderland side at White Hart Lane, the Gunners looked comfortable, before Gareth Bale's late stunner gave Spurs some hope.
Theo Walcott had a chance to make it 2-0, but his effort bounced off the post and, despite showing early promise, Newcastle could not find an equalizer as Tottenham missed out on Champions League football once again.
3. Gareth Bale Wins PFA Player and Young Player of the Year Awards
The fact that before Tottenham's victory over Burnley in September 2009, Gareth Bale had never won a Premier League game is simply astonishing.
But it's a fact, I'm not lying to you. Because at that time, Bale was a young left-back who was struggling to make an impression under Harry Redknapp and was second-choice to Benoit Assou-Ekotto.
Until one day, his manager pushed him further up the field, and suddenly the Welshman felt at home and started to embrace his new position.
Some famous goals followed, including a stunning hat-trick against Inter Milan at the San Siro in the Champions League and a double against Manchester City.
And then, when Andre Villas-Boas took over, Bale took another step towards becoming a world-class player. The decision to move Bale into a more central role was a sublime tactical move and has seen the 23-year-old rise to the top of his game.
His total of 21 Premier League goals is by far his best return, and a tally that saw him reach the third highest in the top flight, beaten only by Luis Suarez (23) and Robin van Persie (26).
But his influence as Tottenham came ever so close to securing Champions League football for next season has been recognized by his fellow professionals, winning both the PFA Player and Young Player of the Year awards, as well as the Football Writers' Association Player of the Year.
Linked with a big-money transfer to Real Madrid, according to Marca, let's hope Daniel Levy comes up with a bumper offer to keep Bale at White Hart Lane for at least another season.
2. Frank Lampard Becomes Chelsea's All-Time Record Goalscorer
When a club signs a striker, the objective is simple: score goals and you will be remembered. But when Chelsea signed Frank Lampard from West Ham in 2001 for £11 million, Ken Bates surely would not have envisaged such a lasting effect.
In fact, Peter Risdale dismissed the £11 million price tag Chelsea paid and said that Lampard was "not worth the value placed on him" in this Evening Standard report. I wonder how he felt when Lampard netted his 203rd Chelsea goal against Aston Villa?
The England international, who turns 35 in June, has had an incredible season once again, scoring 15 Premier League goals in just 28 appearances.
For a striker to grab the goalscoring record of a club is no big deal, but for an attacking midfielder to score over 200 goals in 12 seasons highlights just how important Lampard is to Chelsea.
So much that, despite their initial claim that he would not be offered a new deal, the Blues finally gave the midfield veteran a new one-year extension after captaining the side for the Europa League final.
I, for one, am delighted and privileged to see such a pivotal player extend his stay at Stamford Bridge for a 13th year, and hopefully it's not the last.
1. Sir Alex Ferguson Wins Title and Retires After 26 Years in Charge
There are no words to describe just how much Sir Alex Ferguson has achieved in football. But here are some attempts: irreplaceable, magnificent, legendary, breathtaking.
Still, even those superlatives fail to do Ferguson justice. Love him or hate him, you can't help but admire him. The 71-year-old Scot is finally retiring for good after going back on his initial plans in 2002, and is leaving Manchester United after 26 years in charge of the Red Devils.
He won an astonishing 38 trophies while in charge, which included 13 Premier League titles, two Champions League triumphs, five FA Cups, four League Cups and a Club World Cup title.
Of his 1,500 games in charge, which concluded with an enthralling 5-5 draw with West Brom at the weekend, the 1998-99 UEFA Manager of the Year won 895, which is almost 60 percent of his games as manager.
The tributes have been pouring out from his players all the way up to FIFA president Sepp Blatter, but to win the club's 20th league title in his final season is something truly special, and the only way for one of the world's best ever managers to leave his post.
He may be leaving football, but football will never leave him. A true legend, we'll be sorry to see him go.
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