Chelsea were crowned English champions on Sunday after thrashing Wigan 8-0 in an emphatic finale to a season in which they pipped Manchester United by a single point and banged in a Premier League record 103 goals.
As well as denying United what would have been an unprecedented fourth consecutive title, Chelsea’s biggest ever top flight victory ensured Carlo Ancelotti’s first season in charge ends with the league trophy back in west London for the first time since Jose Mourinho masterminded back-to-back triumphs in 2004-05 and 2005-06.
Ancelotti thrilled with first season
“It’s fantastic, we did our best and I did my best for this club,” the delighted Italian said after delivering the title that had proved elusive for his predecessors Avram Grant, Luiz Felipe Scolari and Guus Hiddink.
“It’s been a great Premier League season and I think in the end we deserved to come out on top.”
United did their job by beating Stoke 4-0 at Old Trafford but there was never any prospect of Chelsea falling at the final hurdle.
Ancelotti’s men will now seek to complete a domestic double in the FA Cup final against Portsmouth on Saturday and the Italian believes his current squad can remain top dogs in English football for years to come.
“I think that this club will have a future because these players are not so old and we have a very good squad, for next year and the years after,” he said.
“We had a fantastic season, not only by winning the Premier League but because we showed a good style on the pitch,” Ancelotti said. “After the first year, I hope to stay here a long time and win a lot of titles.”
Anelka kicks off Fergie’s agony
Against injury-depleted opponents, it took Nicolas Anelka only five minutes to calm the Chelsea supporters’ nerves with the opener and any doubt over the destiny of the trophy disappeared just after the half hour mark when Gary Caldwell wrestled Frank Lampard to the ground inside the box.
The Scotland defender was given his marching orders and Lampard got up to fire in a textbook penalty for his 22nd league goal of the season.
“When we heard Wigan were down to 10 men all our hopes evaporated,” acknowledged Ferguson, who felt United, with a little more luck, could easily have claimed a fourth consecutive title.
“I am not going to agonise about where it went wrong,” Ferguson said. “Sometimes you get the breaks, on other occasions you don’t.
“But we applaud Chelsea winning the title and I applaud Carlo Ancelotti. We know how hard it is to win the league.”
Hat-trick for Drogba, Arsenal take third
Didier Drogba got involved in an unseemly spat with Lampard over who was taking that penalty but still finished the afternoon with a hat-trick, which ensures he takes the EPL’s golden boot with a total of 29 league goals, three more than Wayne Rooney managed for United.
Arsenal clinched third place with a 4-0 win over Fulham, ensuring another money-spinning season of Champions League football at the Emirates.
The Gunners enter directly at the group stage while Tottenham’s fourth place means they must come through a final qualifier to fully benefit from their elevation to a place among Europe’s elite.
Andrey Arshavin, Robin van Persie and Carlos Vela were on target for Arsenal, who also benefited from an own goal by Chris Baird against opponents who clearly had one eye on Wednesday’s Europa League final against Atletico Madrid.
A memorable season for Spurs ended in weary fashion and with manager Harry Redknapp fuming at his side for conceding a two-goal lead to lose 4-2 at Burnley.
“We’ve had a great season, I’ve been delighted with the performances during the year, but you always want to win,” Redknapp said. “I didn’t come here just to have a jolly up.”
A deeply frustrating season for Liverpool ended with a goalless draw at Hull that ensured Rafael Benitez’s side could finish no better than seventh in the table.
Above them, in fifth place, are Manchester City, who were held to a 1-1 draw at West Ham, and Aston Villa, who held on to sixth place despite a late Richard Dunne own goal resulting in a 1-0 defeat at home to Blackburn.
Those results mean Liverpool will have to come through a final qualifier as well as the play-off round to get into the group stages of next season’s Europa League.