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Premier League flashback - 2010-11 review: 19 not out for Manchester United

The Premier League is 20 years old and has enjoyed plenty of highlights. Here, Total Football continues its series, looking back at some of the highs and lows.

The 2010-11 Premier League season was one of the most unpredictable in history, although it ended with a familiar winner.

Manchester United successfully won their 19th English league title, surpassing Liverpool’s record as the most successful club in English football.

At the bottom of an entertaining relegation scrap, it was heartbreak for Carling Cup winners Birmingham City and Blackpool, both relegated on the final day.

Wolves, Blackburn Rovers and Wigan Athletic survived on the last day, as West Ham United went down too, sacking Avram Grant at the end of a nightmare campaign for the Hammers.

CHAMPIONS: Manchester United


THIRD PLACE: Manchester City

RELEGATED: Birmingham City, Blackpool, West Ham United

TOP SCORERS: Dimitar Berbatov (Manchester United) 20, Carlos Tevez (Manchester City) 20, Robin van Persie (Arsenal) 18, Darren Bent (Sunderland & Aston Villa) 17, Peter Odemwingie (West Brom) 15, Javier Hernandez (Manchester United) 13, Florent Malouda (Chelsea) 13, Rafael van der Vaart (Tottenham Hotspur) 13, Dirk Kuyt (Liverpool) 13, DJ Campbell (Blackpool) 13, Andy Carroll (Newcastle & Liverpool) 13, Clint Dempsey (Fulham) 12

BIGGEST WIN: Manchester United 7-1 Blackburn Rovers (27 November 2010)

HIGHEST SCORING GAMES: Manchester United 7-1 Blackburn Rovers (27 November 2010), Newcastle United 4-4 Arsenal (5 February 2011), Everton 5-3 Blackpool (5 February 2011)

PFA PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Gareth Bale (Tottenham Hotspur)

PFA YOUNG PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Jack Wilshere (Arsenal)

Wayne Rooney had a largely troubled season but his 76th minute penalty on 14 May, earnt Manchester United a 1-1 draw at Blackburn Rovers, good enough for United’s 19th league title.

They overtook Liverpool’s long-standing record, despite winning only five games away from home all season and with the lowest points tally to win the league since 1998.

In the summer, youth was behind the Red Devils dealings in the transfer market. Mexican international Javier Hernandez arrived from Chivas, along with Fulham defender Chris Smalling and the relatively unheard Bebe.

After winning the double the previous season, Roman Abramovich believed no major investment was required at Chelsea. However, they did add Ramires from Benfica for £19m and Yossi Benayoun also arrived from Liverpool, to bolster the midfield ranks.

Michael Ballack, Juliano Belletti, Ricardo Carvalho, Deco and Joe Cole were all released, with only Cole staying in the Premier League, joining Liverpool.

Manchester City’s recruitment drive continued, as they spent over £100m on new players. This included World Cup winner David Silva, Yaya Toure from Barcelona and for £24m, the colourful character of Mario Balotelli from European champions, Inter Milan.

Tottenham were relatively quiet in the transfer market, despite snapping up Rafael van der Vaart on deadline day from Real Madrid. William Gallas also joined from North London rivals Arsenal.

The Gunners continued the measured approach to signing players, although they did crucially retain the services of Cesc Fabregas. Laurent Koscieny was their main acquisition, a £10m buy from Lorient.

Former Fulham boss Roy Hodgson replaced Rafa Benitez at Liverpool and he added Danish midfielder Christian Poulsen, Cole, Raul Meireles and Paul Konchesky to the squad, although Javier Mascherano left for Barcelona.

Replacing Hodgson at Fulham was former Manchester City manager, Mark Hughes. Lastly, Aston Villa’s plans were thrown into disarray, as Martin O’Neill suddenly quit just five days before the new season. Disagreements over transfer funds signalled his departure.

Cool Chelsea start in destructive fashion

Chelsea started their title defence in emphatic fashion. They demolished Roberto di Matteo’s West Brom 6-0 on the opening day and then they thrashed Wigan by the same scoreline a week later.

Carlo Ancelotti’s side went top, winning their first five games, scoring 20 goals and conceding just one.

Premier League new boys Blackpool travelled to Wigan on the opening weekend and won comprehensively. Two goals from debutant Marlon Harewood helped them to an amazing 4-0 triumph.

A week later, reality hit the Tangerine fans, battered 6-0 by Arsenal, as Theo Walcott scored his first club hat-trick.

There was another 6-0 scoreline early season, as Newcastle ripped Aston Villa apart at St. James Park. Andy Carroll scored a hat-trick, as he started to get noticed by the top sides.

Manchester City completed the signing of James Milner from Villa and underlined the gulfing class between themselves and Liverpool and in a rampant 3-0 win. Carlos Tevez scored twice.

The big-spenders lost their first game of the season a week later, going down 1-0 to Sunderland, through a stoppage time penalty from Darren Bent.

Manchester United began their campaign with a routine 3-0 win over Newcastle, drew with Fulham and swept West Ham aside 3-0 at Old Trafford.

The Hammers were bottom, had conceded nine goals already and didn’t have a point on the board.

United’s trip to Goodison Park in September, saw them carelessly throw away a 3-1 lead in stoppage time, to draw 3-3 to strikes from Tim Cahill and Mikel Arteta. Sir Alex Ferguson said afterwards: “We’ve thrown it away, simple as that.”

Unique at the Britannia

Stoke’s home match with Aston Villa was the first Premier League game ever to begin without both permanent managers.

Gerard Houllier had been appointed Villa boss but was serving notice with the French Football Federation, whilst Stoke manager Tony Pulis was missing due to a family bereavement.

The Welshman returned at half-time, to guide his side to a 2-1 win and their first points of the season, after three successive defeats.

Manchester United got the better of Liverpool at Old Trafford, as Dimitar Berbatov stepped out of the shadows to score a sublime hat-trick in United’s 3-2 victory.

Manchester rivals City, abruptly halted Chelsea’s perfect start as Tevez scored the only goal to halt the West Londoners in their tracks.

Meanwhile, Arsenal had a charitable day at home to West Brom at the end of September. Albion raced into a 3-0 lead and despite two goals from Samir Nasri, held on for a famous 3-2 victory.

Spanish goalkeeper Manuel Almunia had a shocker and wouldn’t play regularly for the club again.

Arsene Wenger could only watch, as the Gunners lost their next match, going down 2-0 at Stamford Bridge. Drogba scored again against his side, with the game being sealed by a thunderous free-kick from Alex.

People began to take serious notice of Manchester City, when they moved second in October. They beat Newcastle 2-1, in a game overshadowed by a terrible Nigel de Jong challenge that left Hatem Ben Afra with a double leg fracture.

Tevez scored two more goals in a five goal cracker at Blackpool but while he was scoring, another top striker was about to hit the headlines for the wrong reasons.

Rooney stuns the Red Devils

Wayne Rooney stunned Manchester United, by handing in a transfer request after a diabolical World Cup, a loss of form at his club and issues within his private life.

Incredibly, he made a dramatic u-turn just 72 hours later, signing a new deal with a ridiculous salary, which many lamented, was the sign of player power dominance.

Liverpool had bigger issues, after a shock 2-1 home defeat to Blackpool, left them in the bottom three with six points from seven games and their worst start since 1953.

At least unpopular owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett sold the club, although that was through messy issues within the High Courts in the UK and America. Fenway Sports Group became the new owners.

On the final day of October, Sunderland’s seven match unbeaten run ended, after a hellish 5-1 defeat to local rivals Newcastle. Kevin Nolan hit a memorable hat-trick and Steve Bruce had no excuses afterwards.

He said: “We were second best from the moment we started. We have to accept we were thumped.”

Luckless Owen Hargreaves made his first start of the season for Manchester United at home to Wolves in November but only lasted six minutes, due to a hamstring strain. Ji-sung Park scored a stoppage time winner for Ferguson’s side.

Arsenal’s rocky home form continued, as they slipped up at home to Newcastle and conspired to throw away a two goal lead in the North London derby, to lose 3-2 to Tottenham.

It was Tottenham’s first away win at their rivals in the Premier League, since May 1993.

Chelsea also got beaten in this period, losing 2-0 at Liverpool, where Fernando Torres scored two brilliant goals. Their loss of form was only about to begin.

The champions become ex-champions

A week after the defeat at Anfield, the champions were soundly beaten 3-0 at home by Sunderland, which was the start of a calamitous run for the club.

Assistant manager Ray Wilkins was mysteriously fired and another defeat followed at Birmingham, where Lee Bowyer scored the only goal at St. Andrews.

They wouldn’t win any of their next seven games, which included a 3-1 defeat at Arsenal, sending them slumping from first to fifth and becoming ex-champions in the process.

Berbatov’s remarkable season continued, as he smashed in five goals, as Manchester United trounced Blackburn 7-1 to go top, a position they would rarely relinquish afterwards.

The Bulgarian scored another hat-trick later in the season at home to Birmingham, becoming the first player to achieve this feat since Ruud van Nistlerooy in 2003.

Ian Holloway defended his Blackpool team selection, after making ten changes for a midweek trip to Aston Villa in November. Villa won 3-2 and the Tangerines received a harsh £25,000 fine for fielding a weakened team.

The first manger to be sacked was Chris Hughton at Newcastle, following a 3-1 defeat at West Brom. The Magpies were still sitting 11th at his departure and he was replaced by former Southampton and Charlton manager, Alan Pardew.

Pardew’s reign began with an impressive 3-1 home victory over Liverpool. With every passing game, Roy Hodgson’s face expressed that he was a man on seriously borrowed time.

When they were embarrassingly beaten 1-0 at home to Wolves, it was the club’s eighth defeat of the campaign and had them right in the midst of a relegation battle.

Less than a month after going under Indian ownership, Blackburn’s clueless owners sacked Sam Allardyce and replaced him with first team coach, Steve Kean.

Keys and Gray disgraced

Respected Sky Sports presenters Richard Keys and Andy Gray were shamed in a sexist row in January, with offensive comments made about women in football.

They were aimed directly at line assistant Sian Massey and West Ham chief executive Karen Brady, ahead of a lunchtime kick-off between Wolves and Liverpool.

Further leaks on YouTube in the days afterwards revealed more disgraceful behaviour from the pair, with Gray being sacked and Keys resigning from their positions. They ended up presenting a regular sports show on TalkSport less than three weeks later.

At the turn of the year, an arctic freeze postponed many games over the festive period, which meant Manchester United were top, level on points with Manchester City but with two games less played. The bottom three contained Fulham, Wolves and West Ham.

At Chelsea, their problems continued into 2011 as they drew 3-3 at home to struggling Aston Villa. Ciaran Clark headed a stoppage time equaliser for the visitors.

They then lost 1-0 to relegation threatened Wolves, making it one win in nine. On the same evening, Hodgson’s miserable Liverpool reign concluded with a 3-1 defeat to Blackburn.

He was dismissed three days later, with Kop legend Kenny Dalglish returning on a caretaker basis.

Manchester United went five points clear on New Year’s Day, when they achieved a lucky 2-1 victory over West Brom. A poor performance at the Hawthorns prompted defender Gary Neville to call it a day.

They then came back from 2-0 down at Bloomfield Road, to beat a tiring Blackpool outfit 3-2, in one of the best comebacks of the season.

Torres breaks record

On transfer deadline day, the British transfer record was smashed as Fernando Torres left Liverpool for Chelsea, for a staggering fee of £50m. David Luiz also arrived in West London for £21m.

Liverpool replaced Torres with two strikers, splashing out £35m on Newcastle’s Andy Carroll and £22.8m on Ajax’s Luis Suarez. Manchester City also forked out £27m for Bosnian forward, Edin Dzeko.

Elsewhere, Aston Villa paid Sunderland £18m for Darren Bent, Steven Pienaar swapped Everton for Tottenham in a £3m deal and West Ham signed Gary O’Neil and Demba Ba in a desperate bid to beat the drop.

On Saturday 4 February, fans were treated to one of the most exciting days in Premier League history.

41 goals were scored in eight matches, as Manchester United lost their unbeaten record, surprisingly going down 2-1 at Wolves.

Newcastle produced one of the greatest comebacks in Premier League history, recovering from 4-0 down at half-time, to draw 4-4 with Arsenal.

Stoke beat Sunderland 3-2, helped by a late double from Robert Huth, while Niko Kranjcar’s stoppage time goal saw Tottenham edge out Bolton 2-1.

Aston Villa and Fulham shared a 2-2 draw, four goals from Louis Saha saw Everton beat Blackpool 5-3, Wigan defeated Blackburn 4-3 and Tevez bagged a first half hat-trick in Manchester City’s 3-0 triumph over West Brom.

With 13 defeats in 18, di Matteo was placed on ‘gardening leave’ by West Brom and Hodgson replaced him, only five weeks after leaving Liverpool.

To complete the amazing weekend, his former club beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Torres made his debut for his new club but failed to shine against his ex-employers and Raul Meireles scored the only goal.

Rooney’s remarkable goal

A week later, Manchester City’s faint title dreams ended with a 2-1 defeat at Old Trafford.

The game is best remembered for a remarkable bicycle kick goal from Rooney, which went onto be voted as the ‘Best Goal’ in the 20 seasons awards.

A stunned Ferguson said afterwards: “In terms of execution, it’s the best goal ever scored at Old Trafford. You’ll never see that again.”

Cracks did appear in United’s march to the title, when they lost consecutive games in March. First, they were beaten 2-1 by Chelsea, then 3-1 at an improving Liverpool.

In the latter match, Dirk Kuyt became the first Reds player since Peter Beardsley in 1990, to score a hat-trick against the Red Devils.

Despite United’s brief blip, nearest challengers Arsenal continued to screw up. They were held to a 0-0 home draw by Sunderland and a 2-2 stalemate at West Brom answered more questions about their mental strength and questionable defending methods.

A month later, it all went wrong for the Gunners. They met Liverpool in a tight game at the Emirates and led in the eighth minute of injury time, through a Robin van Persie penalty.

However, a clumsy challenge from Emmanuel Eboue on Lucas earnt Liverpool a penalty. With the last kick, Kuyt converted, leaving Wenger and Dalglish to have a fiery confrontation on the touchline.

Crushed by this latest setback, their mental spirit was destroyed and a 2-1 defeat at Bolton in late April signalled the end of their challenge, with just one win in seven games.

Six years without silverware and fading away to a fourth placed finish would mean Wenger would have to consider a squad reshuffle.

The history makers

Having been as much as 18 points behind during their crisis, Chelsea hit a rich vein of form, which took them to within three points of Manchester United.

In the title decider between the teams at Old Trafford, United showed more determination, more resolve and more passion.

Mexican Hernandez scored inside 40 seconds and skipper Nemanja Vidic doubled the lead after 22 minutes. The Red Devils won 2-1 to all but wrap up the championship.

A week later, there was a scare at Blackburn, when Brett Emerton opened the scoring but extended pressure led to Paul Robinson fouling Hernandez and the awarding of a penalty.

Rooney stayed calm and dispatched the spot kick on 73 minutes to make it 1-1. That’s how it finished and earnt the Red Devils their 19th league title, becoming history makers.

Chelsea’s campaign ended with a whimper, falling to defeat 1-0 on the final day at Goodison Park. Carlo Ancelotti was dismissed for failing to win any silverware afterwards.

Following on from their FA Cup success, Manchester City guaranteed Champions League football, with a third placed finish. It was their highest league finish since 1977.

Tevez ended tied for the Golden Boot on 20 goals with Berbatov but questions remained about the Argentine’s commitment to City, having handed in a transfer request in December, stating homesickness for his desire to leave.

Tottenham had to settle for Europa League football, earning that with a 2-0 away victory at Liverpool. The Reds rallied to sixth and Maxi Rodriguez scored two hat-tricks in three games, which included a 5-2 away demolition of Fulham.

However, they missed out on Europe for the first time since 2000, as Stoke City (FA Cup finalists), Birmingham City (Carling Cup winners) and Fulham (Fair Play award) took England’s remaining spots.

Survival Sunday II: The sequel

West Ham became the first club to be relegated, as they chucked away a 2-0 lead at Wigan on the penultimate weekend, to lost 3-2 at the DW Stadium. Straight after the match, manager Avram Grant was sacked.

It set-up a Survival Sunday battle, with two from Wolves, Birmingham, Blackburn, Wigan and Blackpool going down on the final day. Wigan and Blackpool started the day in the bottom three.

It didn’t start well for Holloway’s side, as Manchester United raced infront early, through a goal from Park. Captain Charlie Adam brought the scoreline level at half-time with a magnificent free-kick.

It was 0-0 at Tottenham v Birmingham and Stoke v Wigan at the interval but there were no issues for Blackburn, who charged into a 3-0 advantage at Molineux going into the break. Wolves were in big trouble.

Mick McCarthy’s side and Wigan were going down after 45 minutes but when unsettled Russian, Roman Pavyluchenko put Tottenham infront early in the second half, Birmingham dropped into the drop zone.

Gary Taylor-Fletcher stunned the champions, as Blackpool went 2-1 up at Old Trafford briefly before going 3-2 down, courtesy of Anderson and an own goal from Ian Evatt.

Then, Wigan earnt massive breathing space, as Hugo Rodallega headed home the decisive goal at the Britannia Stadium. Whilst Blackpool would be condemned to the drop, after Michael Owen made it 4-2 to Manchester United, the situation changed again elsewhere.

Craig Gardner brought Birmingham level at Tottenham, sending Wolves back into the bottom three. At Molineux, they needed a goal to pull it back to 3-2 and Stephen Hunt delivered, with three minutes remaining.

Birmingham had to score again and as they pushed forward, gaps opened up and Pavyluchenko punished them in stoppage time. The Carling Cup winners were going down, after just two wins in their last 12 matches.

It was agony for Birmingham and Blackpool fans but joy for Wolves, Blackburn and Wigan at beating the drop.

At the top, it was Manchester United who with an unbeaten home record, couldn’t be stopped again on their way to a record-breaking championship.

By Simon Wright – Follow me on Twitter @Siwri88

Follow Total Football on Twitter: @TotalFootball12

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