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Sunday, May 13, 2012
Prem's most dramatic ending ever

By Ravi Ubha

The wildest Premier League season ever just had to have Sunday's ending, didn't it?

In what has to be the most dramatic finale in British soccer history -- if not the history of the big three leagues in Europe -- strikes from Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero in injury time gave Manchester City a 3-2 victory over courageous QPR. Mario Balotelli deserves mention, too, showing unusual commitment to tap the ball in Aguero's path for the most important assist of his life.

Within seconds of the final whistle at Etihad Stadium, those who loathe Manchester United were already revelling in the look of disbelief on Alex Ferguson's worldly face when he seemingly got the news that the title slipped from his grasp.

Bye-bye 44-year title drought and hello to a possible dynasty, the kind United is used to delivering.

Given the nature of how the title was eventually won Sunday, some will argue that City was fortunate to emerge triumphant. Netting twice in injury time is a highly improbable occurrence, and hothead Joey Barton did City a favor by reverting to his old tricks and getting sent off.

That may be true, but even if only based on its head-to-head record with Manchester United, City was a deserving champ. Over its two league games, the Citizens outscored United 7-1, including the historic 6-1 drubbing at Old Trafford. An FA Cup loss, many would argue, was down to an early red card to City.

By the time the much-hyped Manchester derby took place on April 30, United's eight-point lead had dwindled down to three, and it appeared to strike fear into Ferguson, a rarity. Instead of showing up with real intent for the duel, he played it safe -- and paid the price. Not often does one say a Ferguson team bottled it, but how else to describe letting slip the eight-point advantage with a month remaining?

The game that United fans will say cost them the title was at home to Everton on April 22, when a 4-2 lead in the dying minutes concluded 4-4 at Old Trafford.

This will sting Ferguson, causing his red cheeks to get even redder, but the Scot is sure to turn the disappointment into something constructive. Maybe the dynasty for City will have to wait.

If it doesn't happen, some City supporters, with what transpired Sunday, will say they won't mind waiting another 44 years for the prized piece of silverware.

So, what now for RvP?

The race for third was almost as captivating. Arsenal's 3-2 win at West Bromwich Albion secured the third spot for the Gunners, while Tottenham -- which held a double-digit advantage over Arsenal earlier in the season -- had to settle for fourth, which doesn't guarantee Champions League football next season. If Chelsea beats Bayern Munich in Saturday's final, Spurs must settle for a spot in the Europa League. And we know how Harry Redknapp feels about that.

Arsenal has WBA backup keeper Martin Fulop to thank for the win, which might have been Robin van Persie's farewell in an Arsenal shirt.

Gael Clichy and Samir Nasri left Arsenal for Manchester City to win titles, and the goal has been realized. Van Persie had to have taken notice. He has a better chance of winning trophies -- and getting a raise -- by moving on.

And the question for Tottenham, especially if it's indeed out of the Champions League, is whether it can keep both Gareth Bale, linked with Barcelona and Real Madrid, and Luka Modric, who'll be seriously pursued by Chelsea and Manchester United.

Wanderers wander to Championship

Bolton's problem all season has been conceding goals, and Wanderers let in two more in Sunday's fatal 2-2 draw at Stoke. Had Bolton hung on to a late 2-1 lead, QPR would have dropped down to the Championship.

Thus, two Americans -- Stuart Holden and Tim Ream -- won't be in the Premier League next season, unless they move on. And unless Bolton wants the cash, it's unlikely that Holden would depart the team that, not too long ago, offered him a new contract when he was injured.

Last week's 2-2 draw against West Brom was the killer blow, as Owen Coyle's men surrendered a late two-goal lead. But not far from Bolton, in Manchester, there's no blues for the blue side of the city.

London-based Ravi Ubha covers soccer and tennis for You can follow him on Twitter here.