Results: Aston Villa 1-1 Everton, Blackburn Rovers 3-1 Fulham, Chelsea 1-0 Sunderland, Liverpool FC 0-0 Stoke City, Manchester United 3-0 Bolton Wanderers, Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers, West Bromwich Albion 1-2 Norwich City, Newcastle United 1-0 Queens Park Rangers, Swansea City 3-2 Arsenal, Wigan Athletic 0-1 Manchester City
Three teams seemed to be in the fight for the title race in the 2011-2012 Premier League season. The two Manchester clubs were covered by just three points after 20 matches, whilst Tottenham Hotspur had been on an incredible run of form, losing just once since late August to sit just three points shy of top spot.
The first signs though that the pace was going to catch up on Harry Redknapp and Spurs were evident on this January weekend when they dropped points at home to struggling Wolverhampton Wanderers. Steven Fletcher put the visitors infront after 22 minutes and despite having 28 shots on-goal and 68% possession, the hosts could only muster one goal through Luka Modric early in the second half. It was a missed opportunity for Tottenham.
Manchester United went to the top of the table for 48 hours after a convincing 3-0 success over Bolton Wanderers. It was a wonderful return to the first-team for Paul Scholes. Scholes retired from professional football in May 2011 but decided to reverse his decision in time for the FA Cup third round weekend. On his Premier League return against the Trotters, Scholes opened the scoring on the stroke of half-time. Second half goals from Danny Welbeck and Michael Carrick sealed the victory.
However, Manchester City responded on Monday evening with a hard-fought 1-0 victory away to Wigan Athletic. Edin Dzeko’s 22nd minute goal was the difference as Roberto Mancini’s side regained their three-point advantage at the top of the table.
Chelsea consolidated their position in the top four after a narrow 1-0 win over Sunderland. With new signing Gary Cahill watching on in the stands, Frank Lampard’s goal beat the Black Cats, who lost for just the second time since Martin O’Neill had succeeded Steve Bruce as manager in early December. The Blues were now four points clear of Arsenal who went down 3-2 to Swansea City. The Swans were enjoying a fantastic season under the guidance of Brendan Rodgers. This win lifted them into 10th position with Danny Graham scoring the winner. It meant Arsenal had lost back-to-back league games to start the 2012 calendar year.
Mark Hughes was back in the managerial dugout having succeeded Neil Warnock at Queens Park Rangers. It would be a losing start though for the Welshman as QPR lost 1-0 to Newcastle United, who moved into the top six and level on points with Arsenal. Leon Best scored the only goal of the game for the Magpies who were the surprise package of the season. QPR had lost six of their last seven matches and were now in the relegation zone.
They replaced Blackburn Rovers who still had the momentum from the fantastic New Years’ Eve victory at Manchester United. Despite having top goalscorer Yakubu sent off after just 23 minutes, Blackburn still had enough to defeat Fulham 3-1. However, just three points covered the bottom five in the table, so it was too close to call at this stage in the fight to survive.
What else happened in January 2012?
- There are 32 confirmed deaths when passenger cruise ship Costa Concordia sinks off the coast of Italy.
- Two men are found guilty of the murder of London teenager Stephen Lawrence, who was murdered in April 1993. They are jailed for life.
- Former CEO of the Royal Bank of Scotland, Fred Goodwin loses his knighthood as a result of the near collapse of RBS four years earlier.
- The Scottish Government announces that it plans to hold the referendum on Scottish independence in the autumn of 2014.
- Legendary EastEnders character Pat Butcher, played by Pam St Clement, makes her final appearance in the BBC soap opera. Her character dies in a cancer storyline.
- The FBI shutdown the Hong Kong-based file-sharing website, Megaupload.
- Nick Hewer takes over as presenter of Channel 4 teatime show, Countdown.