This season's Premier League campaign will go down in history as the most enthralling on all fronts. Since match day one, head spinning and chest thumping permutations ensued making its concluding outlook more intense.
Intriguing outcomes at both ends of the table eventually unsighted anybody's crystal ball as no walloper or old maid could be discerned even by the penultimate fixture. As the deafening crescendo of the coronation at the Etihad Stadium subsides, Manchester City once again underlined their mettle and how far ahead of the park they are by hitting the bullseye for the second time in three seasons.
As Martin Atkinson's 94th minute whistle at in Manchester drew curtains for the 2013/2014 season, modest calm ensued as City lived up to many's expectations by avoiding 2011/2012 QPR-esque drama, as goals in either half from French midfielder Samir Nasri and captain Vincent Kompany confirmed their status as the new rex in English football.
Liverpool hoped that their former boys Andy Carroll, Stewart Downing and Joe Cole could do them a favour by getting the better of City in the terminal fixture in order to detonate their
mathematical chance, but all ended in vain as City's enduring experience prevailed.
Perhaps Arsenal could be the most disappointed side considering their anticlimax crumbling in the closing stages of the campaign having spent the better part of the season at the tip of the
league pyramid. Arsene Wenger will rue a myriad on disheartening injuries to his key players as his only undoing for his initially promising and sparkling surge. Across the city the self proclaimed "Special One "- Jose Mourinho - is disillusioned after his impervious outfit failed to deliver any silverware and suffered humiliating losses by Sunderland and Atletico Madrid that consigned his side to being empty-handed.
At the opposite end the swashbuckling frenzy of the battle for survival flips open the most intriguing chapter of the campaign. Underachieving managers were heaved-ho for their disconsolate results but their surrogates proved to be worth the risk. No club could be tagged the "usual suspect" to be kicked downstairs as it has always been the case.
This time around the Christmas hex was bloody ineffective after Sunderland rebuked it to prevail for yet another season. The Black Cats successfully controverted all pessimism to stay afloat after an initially doomed display under Italian tutor Paolo di Canio. After garnering a single point from the opening four league encounters the petulant Di Canio was sent parking with former Brighton manager Gus Poyet being installed as a replacement.
Calling for every ounce of mettle, class and determination the Uruguayan transformed the pessimistic and negative aura to profound optimism and confidence as he embarked on "the highest achievement of his managing career" - avoiding relegation. Though so dreadful his tribulations seemed he quietly picked up the pieces, amalgamated the shambles to reproduce a team that could eventually collect a runners up medal in the Capital One Cup, play in the FA quarter finals and triumphantly rank 14th in the Premier League.
Their FA and League Cup ventures may appear to be impressive but their league survival story turned logic on its head. Nobody could bet even his worthless relic on a side languishing at the baseline after Christmas to survive considering that Portsmouth were the one and only fugitives to pull such a surprise before.
Stuck at the bottom on Boxing Day after their first away draw in the 0-0 stalemate against Norwich City at Carrow Road, Poyet's charges broke the shell of doom by capitalising on the Tim Howard - Leon Osman gaffe to collect and emboldening 1-0 scalp against a scintillating Everton to kick start their journey to revival.
Their survival bid hit a nadir when they suffered successive defeats - a 5-1 thrashing by Tottenham and 1-0 reverse loss against Everton - to leave them seven points adrift of safety. The of this resulted in a brilliant and remarkable turnaround in their fortunes having secured a hard fought 2-2 draw against the then-to-be champions Manchester City. They followed up this with unimaginable four wins in a row - their first in 14 years - thereby guaranteeing them a slot in next term's showdown.
Another success story is of a an anti-relegation practitioner, Tony Pulis. He inherited a Crystal Palace side nearly in ruins and many considered it as a poisoned chalice. Ian Holloway had mutually parted company with the Selhurst Park empire after expressing discontent with the validity of their redemption chances. Everything in South Norwood was a mess in totality with all stakeholders resigned to ply their trade in the Championship next season.
However the Welshman was reading from a different script. He was eager to justify his mettle and prove his unblemished credentials against relegation in 21 years of professional tutelage as no mere flash in the pan.
Pegged at the bottom of the table at the start of December having collected four points from 11 matches, Pulis brushed his diamonds by exerting his authority, suppressing potentially destructive egos amongst his outfit and pronouncing his policy that defeat is not disgrace and that the Eagles were riding on the right horse.
He soaked his elements in an elixir of confidence, purpose and determination and rebuked the abhorrent norm of capitulation and complacency as a deadwood. He injected solidity at the rear guard, superb counter attacking speed and guile crowned with precision and urgent vibrancy in the final third. His ploy paid dividends as Palace roared back to life.
After registering resounding victories over West Ham, and Cardiff City, Palace's ambition was clearly made known.Their 2-2 draw against relegated Fulham on the final day of the
campaign at Craven Cottage capped a worth mentioning quest having collected 12 wins and six draws thus culminating their season in 11th position with 45 points under the former Stoke City manager, thus evading demotion.
Finally it was a season to forget for the bottom three clubs who were tossed out into the second tier. Norwich City endured an indifferent adventure after operating above the drop zone for much of the season, however unsurmountable pressure from a cruel schedule on the stretch including encounters against Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal meant their survival pursuit was doomed.
Having stagnated in the drop zone for much of the campaign Fulham's 13 year stint in the top flight was certain to end. Cardiff City's return to the Premier League was summarily nipped by the ever present instability and turmoil in the club as a result of owner Vincent Tan's antics. What a season.
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