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Season review: England

Published: Wednesday 1 June 2011, 10.39CET
Manchester United FC moved one ahead of Liverpool FC by clinching their 19th league title with a fine home record while neighbours Manchester City FC also had reason to celebrate.
by Paul Saffer
from London
Season review: England
Manchester United celebrate their 12th title of the Premier League era and 19th overall ©Getty Images
Published: Wednesday 1 June 2011, 10.39CET

Season review: England

Manchester United FC moved one ahead of Liverpool FC by clinching their 19th league title with a fine home record while neighbours Manchester City FC also had reason to celebrate.

Manchester United FC moved ahead of Liverpool FC in England's all-time rankings by clinching their 19th league crown. They ultimately finished nine points clear of deposed titleholders Chelsea FC and Manchester City FC, who clinched a UEFA Champions League debut as well as a first FA Cup since 1969. Arsenal FC remain without a trophy in six years after a League Cup final loss to Birmingham City FC – who will compete in the UEFA Europa League from the second tier after relegation.

Champions: Manchester United FC
Chelsea set the early pace and Arsenal FC and Manchester City FC both had spells at the top but UEFA Champions League runners-up United proved a cut above in the second half of the season. They remained unbeaten until a 2-1 defeat at Wolverhampton Wanderers FC on 5 February, a result which contributed to keeping the West Midlands club up. Although United won only five league games away from Old Trafford, at home they were supreme, dropping only two points to West Bromwich Albion FC.

Cup final: Manchester City FC 1-0 Stoke City FC
Chelsea's bid for a third straight victory was ended on penalties by Everton FC in the fourth round, while Manchester United fell 1-0 to neighbours City in the Wembley semi-finals. The next day Stoke earned a final debut by beating Bolton Wanderers FC 5-0, the biggest last-four win for 72 years. They failed to repeat such a feat in the showpiece, however, a 74th-minute goal from Yaya Touré, also the scorer against United, winning City the game. For Stoke there was the consolation, thanks to City's top-four finish, of a first European entry since 1974.

European places*
Manchester United FC – UEFA Champions League group stage
Chelsea FC – UEFA Champions League group stage
Manchester City FC – UEFA Champions League group stage
Arsenal FC – UEFA Champions League play-offs
Tottenham Hotspur FC – UEFA Europa League play-offs
Birmingham City FC – UEFA Europa League play-offs
Stoke City FC - UEFA Europa League third qualifying round
Fulham FC – UEFA Europa League first qualifying round**

*Subject to final confirmation from UEFA
**Respect Fair Play entrant (tbc)

Player of the year: Gareth Bale (Tottenham Hotspur FC)
Bale's brilliant season on the Spurs left wing, not least in their memorable run to the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals when he was notably impressive against FC Internazionale Milano, earned the 21-year-old Welshman the vote of PFA Player of the Year from his fellow professionals. In the journalists' vote for FWA Footballer of the Year, West Ham United FC midfielder Scott Parker just pipped Bale despite his side's relegation in a season where he finally established himself in the England setup.

One to watch: Jack Wilshere (Arsenal FC)
Now alongside Parker in a new-look England midfield is 19-year-old Wilshere. The youngest player to make a Gunners league debut in September 2008, this season proved his real breakthrough. He started the opener against Liverpool FC in August – four days after his senior England debut – and was soon firmly established as a fine all-round midfield player. He further enhanced his reputation with a superb display in the 2-1 UEFA Champions League round of 16 first-leg defeat of FC Barcelona. It was no surprise that he was voted PFA Young Player of the Year.

Surprise package: Blackpool FC
In the end the club from the north-west coast were relegated with a 4-2 last-day loss at Old Trafford – having led 2-1 at one stage – but Blackpool's first top-flight season since 1970/71 impressed many. Tipped for instant relegation, they actually briefly led the league after an opening 4-0 defeat of Wigan Athletic FC and were still in the top half in January before a late decline. The positive football played by Ian Holloway's side – their 55 goals the same as fifth-placed Tottenham Hotspur FC – won many plaudits, while Scottish midfielder Charlie Adam was superb in his first English Premier League season.

Leading scorers: Dimitar Berbatov, Manchester United FC & Carlos Tévez, Manchester City FC (21 goals)

Number: 12
United's title victory was the 12th for both Sir Alex Ferguson and Ryan Giggs – an English league record for a manager and a player respectively.

Relegated: Birmingham City FC, Blackpool FC, West Ham United FC

Promoted: Queens Park Rangers FC, Norwich City FC, Swansea City FC (via play-offs)

Quote:
"It's not so much passing Liverpool, it's more important that United are the best team in the country in terms of winning titles." Sir Alex Ferguson reflects on United overtaking their rivals' record.

Last updated: 08/07/11 16.31CET

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