So that’s that. The 2012/2013 Premier League season has come to an end and, boy, was it special.
Yes, Manchester United romped to the title at a canter, Manchester City defended their championship as toothlessly as Shane MacGowan and even an inspired Gareth Bale couldn't turn Tottenham Hotspur into the most dominant side in North London, but there have still been a plethora of ups and downs to keep us entertained since August.
This season's last round of fixtures was no different. Here are the top three plays from the final Premier League weekend.
Gareth Bale vs. Sunderland
Some soccer fans were flummoxed by the decision to award Gareth Bale the PFA Players’ Player of the Year, the Young Player of the Year and the Football Writer’s Association Player of the Year Award, as Robin van Persie’s goals had almost single-handedly led Manchester United to the title.
But Bale has been truly phenomenal since the turn of the year. He has amassed 21 league goals this season and continues to look more and more like Cristiano Ronaldo with each passing performance.
With Spurs needing a victory to even threaten Arsenal’s fourth-place position, Bale once again took matters into his own hands by walloping Tottenham into the lead against Sunderland with only minutes left to play.
The Welsh wizard came in from the right-hand side and blasted a curling and dipping drive beyond the reach of Simon Mignolet to give Tottenham the victory. Unfortunately, that still wasn’t enough to get them into the Champions League.
Jack Rodwell vs. Norwich
Roberto Mancini’s poor summer signings are what ultimately cost the affable Italian his job.
Javi Garcia, Scott Sinclair and Jack Rodwell simply haven’t lifted City up to a higher echelon since their arrival, but the latter’s two goals—both of which were sublime—on the final day of the season against Norwich City have shown the Etihad faithful that he could still make a huge impact next season.
Sunday’s game was filled with great goals. Jonny Howson’s mazy run and Rodwell’s blast for his second were each a delight to witness, but it was Rodwell’s first that truly took the breath out of your lungs.
A fine one-touch buildup saw Samir Nasri feed the ball into Edin Dzeko, whose one-touch layoff fell wonderfully at Rodwell’s feet. He simply blasted it home with aplomb.
If City had played like that since August, the title might not have been wrapped up by April and they might still have their scarf-wearing leader in charge.
Jamie Carragher vs. QPR
You can’t help but respect Jamie Carragher.
Like Gary Neville for Manchester United, Tony Adams for Arsenal and John Terry for Chelsea, he is the epitome of Liverpool FC and players of his ilk are a dying breed in this game of foot.
Carragher has never been renowned for his goal-scoring ability—in fact he has actually gained a reputation for being an own-goal master—but against Queens Park Rangers he was millimetres away from scoring one of Anfield’s most famous goals of all time.
Gaining possession about 30 yards from goal, Carragher turned and found himself with enough time and space to take aim.
No Liverpool fan actually thought his impending effort would get anywhere near the goal, but he must have put Steven Gerrard’s boots on by mistake because he unleashed a pile-driver of an effort that beat Julio Cesar with ease only to ricochet off the post and back into play.
If it had gone in, Anfield probably would have imploded, as it would have been a sure-fire sign of the apocalypse.