The big difference between Chelsea's 3-2 defeat to Stoke last season and 2-0 win on Monday was Nemanja Matic's dominant display in midfield, writes Matt Stanger...
It's that time of year, when we look back with fondness and wonder. So, here for your delectation are Football365's top ten players of the year. Please don't get angry, okay?
It had been obvious for some time that Manchester United would be winning a record 20th league title this season. Now the achievement has been officially confirmed, it is time to pinpoint the key games en route to reclaiming the championship.
Southampton 2 Manchester United 3 (September 3)
Having already lost their opening game, United could ill afford to slip up again so soon. That was exactly what seemed to be on the cards as United trailed with just three minutes left - but that was just the right time for Robin van Persie to atone for his penalty miss as he struck twice to complete a memorable hat-trick.
Liverpool 1 Manchester United 2 (September 23)
United trailed to ten-man Liverpool when Steven Gerrard struck straight after the break, but Rafael equalised and, with only nine minutes left, Van Persie coolly slotted home the winner from the penalty spot. A massive win.
Chelsea 2 Manchester United 3 (October 28)
This was a crazy, crazy game at Stamford Bridge as United led early, only for Chelsea to hit back straight after the re-start. The dismissals of Branislav Ivanovic and Fernando Torres in the space of five minutes then killed Chelsea's hopes, with Javier Hernandez sealing the visitors' victory.
Reading 3 Manchester United 4 (December 1)
An outrageous game at the Madejski, as Reading led, then United, then Reading again and finally United. All in the space of 34 minutes. The least surprising thing about the game was that Van Persie should get the winner. He's been rather important.
Manchester City 2 Manchester United 3 (December 9)
United approached their task with a steely determination, deservedly surging two goals clear thanks to Wayne Rooney's double. But City woke from their slumber after half-time and when Yaya Toure and Pablo Zabaleta struck, a draw seemed certain. But in injury-time, Van Persie strode up to drive a free-kick into the corner. What a surprise.