The 2012-13 English Premier League title was won by Manchester United in real style, the Red Devils ending the season 11 points clear of Manchester City, though their victory proved even more emphatic than tha margin of victory suggests. Bringing in Robin van Persie from Arsenal proved to be Sir Alex Ferguson’s final masterstroke in his last season at Old Trafford, with the Dutchman pairing with Wayne Rooney to decimate the competition and ensure that Ferguson departed with his 13th league title in 21 seasons - a truly enviable record.
It is not often that a season can be defined by one transfer, but it is clear that Robin van Persie, with a year remaining on his Arsenal contract, wanted a Premier League title on his CV, and felt a move to Manchester United was the only he would achieve it. United, in essence, paid £24m for the league; his 26 goals included a number of match-winning strikes and made United an unstoppable force that only eased off once the league was all but over.
Elsewhere Chelsea spent big, bringing in Eden Hazard and Oscar for a combined £57m, while Arsenal purchased Spanish playmaker Santi Cazorla and Olivier Giroud, fresh from a Ligue 1-winning season with Montpellier, joined for £15m.
City had an uncharacteristically low-key summer by their standards; well over £50m was spent but the acquisitions of Jack Rodwell, Scott Sinclair and Javi Garcia didn’t set the league alight.
The most notable managerial arrivals came in the form of Jose Mourinho acolyte Andre Villas-Boas, who joined Tottenham, while Brendan Rodgers was appointed at Liverpool, replacing legend Kenny Dalglish.
The promoted clubs were Reading, Southampton, making their return after consecutive promotions from League 1 and the Championship, and West Ham, who defeated Blackpool in the play-off final.
Sir Alex Ferguson, upon his United side losing the title on goal difference the season before, vowed that it would never happen again and aside from a few early aberrations in the form of defeats to Everton and Tottenham, his side pummelled the league into submission. 86 league goals, and a mid-season run of 18 matches unbeaten, created a procession to the finishing line as their various rivals struggled to maintain any kind of consistency.
City had roughly the same personnel as the season previous, but manager Roberto Mancini was never given the full backing of the board, and despite finishing runners-up he was replaced in the summer by Manuel Pellegrini.
Elsewhere, Arsenal endured a case of deja vu; on their day as good as any other side in the league, but a lack of killer instinct against bottom-half sides proved to be their downfall. After a run of one win in five in January, their challenge was over, though they managed to maintain their exemplary Champions League qualification record thanks to a final day win at Newcastle.
Everyone at the club and you the fans have been the most fantastic experience of my life. Thank you. I have been very fortunate to manage some of the greatest players in the country. These players have won the championship in fantastic fashion. Well done to them.Sir Alex Ferguson
Gareth Bale had a player-of-the-year winning season, dragging a decent Tottenham team beyond expectations and scoring a multitude of improbable goals along the way, while Luis Suarez similarly stood out for Liverpool until a bizarre incident at Anfield, where he bit the shoulder of Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic, saw the Uruguayan face a severe ban.
Chelsea were in a state of flux for much of the campaign. Having given the Champions League winning Roberto Di Matteo the position of manager on a full-time basis, he lasted just four months after failing to win in seven matches. He was promptly replaced, to great consternation, by Rafael Benitez, a manager not loved by the Blues’ support. The Spaniard did however reorganise the flailing team to finish third.
At the bottom, QPR were relegation-threatened from the moment Michu and Swansea tore them apart on the opening day, and it didn’t ever threaten to get better. They finished just below Reading, while Wigan, who had performed their fair share of great escapes under Roberto Martinez, couldn’t extend that run, departing with the joint-worst goal difference in the division.
Just above them, Sunderland, once again just escaping the drop and, in a poor season for the Northeast, Newcastle.
PLAYER & YOUNG PLAYER OF THE SEASON
A rarity, a player winning both accolades in the same season, Bale’s performances proved enough to convince Real Madrid to part with a world-record fee.
MANAGER OF THE SEASON
The Scot departed with his 11th manager of the year crown, a record never likely to be equalled.
ROBIN VAN PERSIE - 26 GOALS
Quite simply, Van Persie’s goals won United the title. A big-game player throughout.
TEAM OF THE SEASON
GOAL OF THE SEASON
ROBIN VAN PERSIE started the title celebrations with his hat-trick goal in a win over Aston Villa, a prodigious first-time volley.
MOST EXPENSIVE TRANSFER
Lille to Chelsea
KEY MOMENT OF THE SEASON
Robin van Persie’s last-minute free-kick to win the derby against Manchester City at the Etihad, to open up clear daylight between the clubs.