Premier League 2011/12: Highlights

Last season in the English Premier League was one of the most insane seasons on record, there is no doubt about that.
We had goals and team performances that defied comprehension, moments of absolute insanity, animal pitch invasions, and inspiring stories of survival against all odds.

Out of all the stories from last season these are the ones I thought stuck out the most.

The Blackburn Chicken
What’s the best way to protest against your club’s owners? Boycott? Picket Lines? Petitions?
While those methods might be more effective in bringing about change nothing quite says “We don’t give a toss anymore” than setting loose a chicken onto the playing field and watching hapless players and officials try and catch it.
This came out of nowhere and made what was an extremely dull game between Blackburn and Wigan become really funny to watch. After a few minutes the chicken was caught and probably ended up in a KFC not far from the stadium.

Joey Barton’s “Moment of Madness”
Everybody knew that the last day of the premier league season was going to be a dramatic one but nobody could have foreseen the madness that would unfold during the do-or-die game between title contenders Manchester City and relegation fighters Queens Park Rangers (QPR). With the score sitting agonizingly at 1 – 1 tensions were running high between both sets of players and in a moment of sheer insanity Joey Barton of QPR lost his head and elbowed Carlos Tevez of Manchester City to the ground without much provocation. The referee swiftly reached into his pocket and produced a red card, dismissing Barton for the remainder of the game. Things went from bad to worse for Barton as he forgot he was playing football and not Street Fighter; He completely lost his temper and aimed a venomous kick at Sergio Aguero and a heavy head-butt at Vincent Kompany before he was forcibly removed from the pitch by players from both teams and his own coaching staff. Not only did this mean that QPR, who were desperately fighting relegation, had to survive the relentless and motivated Manchester City onslaught with 10 men, it also meant that Joey Barton would be handed the longest ban in premier league history for what would have been THREE separate dismissal offenses committed in under a minute.
Joey Barton unsurprisingly showed himself to the exit of QPR shortly after this incident and had to leave England entirely to escape his violent record, he’s now playing in the French league for Marseille… good luck to them.

The Medical Miracle of Fabrice Muamba
Easily the most horrifying but uplifting story of the season. Bolton player Fabrice Muamba having a heart attack in the middle of a game being watch by a packed stadium is a sight that will haunt players from both teams for years to come. When Muamba went into cardiac arrest players and spectators feared the worst; He was not moving and when the defibrillators came out everyone knew something was seriously wrong. Medical teams and a doctor present amongst the spectators did their best to revive him but could not do anything while he was not in a hospital. The game was suspended until further notice and Muamba was rushed off to hospital before it was too late. Muamba’s heart stopped for a staggering 78 minutes before it was restarted, a medical miracle. Muamba survived his ordeal with no lasting effects asides from being  fitted with a pacemaker but was forced to retire from football lest it happen again.
Muamba was literally on death’s door before being saved by the professional actions of the medical teams and the doctor from the spectator stands who rose to the occasion. Horrific story that had a good ending.

John Terry Racism Trial
Chelsea had problems staying out the headlines this year for both good and bad reasons. The trial of Chelsea captain John Terry over allegations of racially abusing QPR player Anton Ferdinand was plastered all over the media and tabloids. John Terry was no stranger to the media and had already been involved in a few scandals that had created a divide between people who liked him and those that considered him a disgrace to football. Anticipation for the verdict reached fever pitch; The media had assembled to heap as much dirt on their favorite villain as possible, the press prepared their scandalous headlines for the next day’s edition, liberal lefties prepared speeches condemning Terry for racism…
John Terry however was found not guilty after every single teammate and manager he has and had leapt to his defense with character references. The prosecution case also collapsed because lip-reading was their only form of evidence and besides Terry himself nobody knows what was actually said to Ferdinand. The media reaction was severe, clearly furious about being denied their pound of flesh.
Terry, who captains a team famous for having a culturally diverse roster, spent a good 6 months having his name plastered and slandered all over the place and ended up going to a court trial that cost the taxpayer £500,000… when the maximum penalty for Terry potentially being £1500. To make the media look like even bigger morons their persistent belief that John Terry was guilty before his trial resulted in the FA stripping him of the England captaincy without consulting then-manager Fabio Capello, which led to the Italian furiously resigning in protest months before Euro 2012.
The UK media should hang it’s head in shame for forgetting the cornerstone of our justice system; “Innocent until proven guilty”.

Fernando Torres kills Barcelona
Karma is a bi*ch.
Chelsea’s extremely controversial defeat at the hands of Spanish juggernauts Barcelona during the 2009 UEFA Champion’s League is a fixture that has haunted the London-based club for years. Because of the bad blood between Chelsea and Barcelona everybody knew that their clash in the 2011/12 Champion’s League Semi-Final would be a heated one. After a successful 1 – 0 victory at home Chelsea traveled to Barcelona’s turf; Camp Nou “Where teams go to die”. Things started badly for Chelsea in the first half; 2 – 1 down and down to 10 men after captain John Terry was dismissed for an off-the-ball challenge. What followed in the second half was the single greatest, resolute defensive display ever from an English club in the prestigious competition. Chelsea’s players were pushed to the limit by the endless stream of Barcelona attacks, if they conceded even one goal they would be out on goal difference and if they held fast they would win by the same rule. As the second half went on Barcelona’s players were visibly starting to get worried that they might not be able to break the Chelsea defense, shot after shot aimed at Chelsea’s goal hit posts/crossbars/players. For all their firepower Barcelona just could not break through.
Then in the 92nd minute this happened.
Barcelona had placed so many players up front to try break down the Chelsea resistance that they completely forgot to mark Fernando Torres and thanks to an excellent long ball from Ashley Cole the Spaniard was tearing up the pitch towards the Barcelona goalkeeper and netted a rare but important goal. It was a goal that sent Chelsea through to face Bayern Munich in the final of the competition and laid to rest the ghost of the 2009 encounter between these two teams.
Revenge, feels good man.

Chelsea win the Champion’s League
I did say that Chelsea could not stay out of the headlines didn’t I?
Following on from their incredible victory over Barcelona the London club found themselves against German heavyweights Bayern Munich, in Germany, in the final of Europe’s biggest competition. The history of English teams against German teams is pretty well documented but suffice to say we suck against them. After 90 minutes and 30 minutes of extra time the score was 1 – 1, it was time for the dreaded penalty shootout where countless English teams have died against their German opponents.
However, Chelsea defeated Bayern 4 – 3 in the shootout and finally claimed the biggest prize in Europe. There are many reasons why this was not just a huge moment for Chelsea but for English football at large. It was big for Chelsea because they had survived a journal of abject peril to even reach this stage, under the guidance of an “Interim Manager”, it meant that they automatically qualified for the competition next season (epically screwing over rivals Tottenham Hotspur in the process), and it was a prize Chelsea had been sorely lacking for so long. But what it meant for English football was this was a prominent GERMAN team losing a PENALTY SHOOTOUT, AT HOME, to an ENGLISH team from London – you can’t write it.

Manchester City: Champions of England
Wow, I mean wow… what a historic day this was.
The last time Manchester City won this award was in 1968 and since then they have had to suffer watching rivals Manchester United win it over and over again, the humiliation of relegation, and experience the agony of coming close to claiming the throne countless times. 44 years of hurt were wiped out on the final day of the 2011/12 season. City’s epic win in the dying seconds of their final fixture against QPR secured the points they needed to finally ascend to the throne of English football. Fans from clubs all over the country could not help but applaud the resolution of Manchester City, a rare show of unity against the common ‘whipping boy’ Manchester United. I distinctly remember losing my head completely when Aguero netted the biggest goal of his life in the 94th minute at the Etihad, I was not the only one either!

Here’s hoping we get an even more eventful season this year, a bit of an ask but it might just happen – this is football after all!

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