And…draw breath. After a ridiculous day of drama never seen before in the Premier League era, the season is finally over. Man City somehow clutched victory from the jaws of defeat to win their first title in 44 years, Bolton will join Wolves and Blackburn in the second tier next season, while Arsenal trumped their rivals to take the final Champions League spot, leaving ‘Arry to cheer on ze Germans next weekend.
But who were the real heroes (and villains) who made this Premier League season the best ever?
10) Scott Parker
At the tender age of 31, this season Scotty Parker decided to suddenly become brilliant. Not only did his workmanlike performances earn him the England captaincy, he also propelled Tottenham to the summit of the table. Until…
9) Harry Reknapp (and the FA)
At the turn of the year, Tottenham were flying. Then it all went a little bit wrong. Harry had to appear in court after sticking loads of money in a Monaco account named after his dog (Rosie), then after Capello got the boot, he was deemed a shoo-in for the England job. Cue a horrendous run of results which ultimately handed bitter rivals Arsenal third, followed by the FA finally giving the job to Hodgson. Ouch.
8) Roberto Martinez
On paper, Wigan shouldn’t still be in the Premier League. But their survival is mostly down to one man – 38-year-old gaffer Roberto Martinez. Faced with an almost insurmountable battle for survival, the Latics pulled off an incredible run of results, beating Man United, Arsenal and Liverpool. There’s talk of the big man taking over from “King Kenny” at Anfield this summer, but you can be sure Dave Whelan will do everything in his power to keep his man.
7) Fabrice Muamba
After collapsing on the pitch against Tottenham, Fabrice Muamba’s heart stopped beating. For 78 minutes. That means he was technically dead for more than an hour. It was an awful moment, but one that united football fans across the country and showed that for all its divisions, the beautiful game can still be a powerful force for good.
6) Papiss Cisse
After joining the Toon army this year, Papiss Cisse scored a ridonculous 13 goals in 14 appearances, including messeurs Hanson and Shearer’s official MOTD goal of the season against Chelsea. But without Champions League football next season, will Pardew be able to hang on to him?
5) Djibril Cisse
OK, so he didn’t have quite as prolific a season as his namesake, but he brightened up the Premier League with his ludicrous hair and five goals in seven appearances – a figure that would undoubtedly have been higher had he not racked up a stunning two red cards in his first five games.
4) Luis Suarez
It’s safe to say that Luis Suarez is not the league’s most popular player. After allegedly racially abusing Patrice Evra, the Uruguay international poured petrol on the flames by refusing to shake Man United defender’s hand in a repeat of Bridge-gate. Needless to say, this did not go down well with the Old Trafford faithful.
3) Robin Van Persie
Injury-free for the first time ever, RVP was finally given the chance to show what he was capable of, and he didn’t disappoint. He took home the golden boot after knocking in an impressive 37 goals in all competitions, racking up a handful of assists in the process. Listen out for a chorus of Arsenal fans praying he stays this summer.
2) Joey Barton
After becoming the unofficial King of Twitter over the past 12 months, Barton appeared to have cleaned up his act on the pitch, not getting sent off since New Year's Day (a personal record). But on the final day of the season Barton’s demons escaped from their cage, as the QPR captain elbowed Carlos Tevez and tried to wipe out the rest of the Man City team. Including none other than…
1) Mario Balotelli
Whether or not you think Balotelli is overrated, there’s no way to deny that he’s been brilliant for English football. Controversy has followed him wherever he’s gone – from red cards and leg-breaker tackles to fireworks, smashed cars, bibs, and that infamous ‘Why Always Me?’ T-shirt. But it’s Mario who has the last laugh – after coming on as a sub in City’s final game, he created the assist in the 94th minute for Aguero to slot in the goal to end 44 years of hurt for the blue side of Manchester.
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