The 2012–13 Premier League (known as the Barclays Premier League for sponsorship reasons) was the 21st season of the Premier League, the English professional league for association football clubs, since its establishment in 1992. The fixture schedule was released on 18 June 2012. The season began on 18 August 2012 and ended on 19 May 2013.
On 22 April 2013, Manchester United won their 13th Premier League title and 20th English title overall by defeating Aston Villa 3–0 at Old Trafford. This left reigning champions Manchester City 16 points behind with only 15 left to play for. It was the first time the title had been decided in April since Chelsea were the winners in 2005–06. It was also only the fourth time in the history of the Premier League that it had been won with at least four games remaining in the season, the last time being in 2003–04 when Arsenal were champions.England national football team manager, Roy Hodgson declared that United's manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, was a "magician" having won 13 titles in 21 seasons.
On 28 April 2013, Queens Park Rangers and Reading were both relegated from the Premier League after a 0–0 draw against each other. Queens Park had barely escaped relegation the prior season, and Reading's relegation reversed their promotion into the league one season earlier. Wigan Athletic were the third and final club to be relegated, after a 4–1 defeat to Arsenal on 14 May 2013. This brought an end to their eight-year stay in the Premier League, and came 3 days after winning the season's FA Cup. This made them the first ever club to win the FA Cup and suffer relegation in the same season.
The season opened the weekend of 18 August 2012. Defending champions Manchester City opened their season with a narrow 3–2 victory over Southampton, who had just been promoted back to the Premier League after seven seasons in lower divisions. Man City had taken a 1–0 lead, with Southampton turning it on its head to go 2–1 up with 20 minutes remaining. City eventually came back and Samir Nasri scored the winning goal with ten minutes left. In a Monday evening fixture at Goodison Park, Manchester United started their season with a 1–0 loss to Everton, the goal scored by Marouane Fellaini. The first goal of the season, however, was scored by Swansea City's Michu, whose team thrashed Queens Park Rangers 5–0 away from home.
Early leaders Chelsea had week three off, while a win by Manchester City over Queens Park Rangers left the defending champions two points off the pace. The game was a highly anticipated rematch between the two teams that squared off on the final day of the 2011–12 season, when Manchester City snatched the title on goal difference with a late goal by Sergio Agüero. This time though, it was less exciting, with Manchester City comfortably winning 3–1. Level on points with Manchester City in second place were Swansea City, who registered a 2–2 draw with Sunderland, and West Bromwich Albion, who defeated Everton 2–0.
The fourth week of the season began with controversy, as the Chelsea v Queens Park Rangers match was fraught with racial tensions when QPR's Anton Ferdinand refused to shake hands with Chelsea's John Terry, who was suspended for four games for using racial epithets against Ferdinand during the previous season. The teams would play out a 0–0 draw, however second place Manchester City could not gain ground as they also drew, with Stoke City.
Week five saw Chelsea extend their league lead to 3 points with a 1–0 win over Stoke City. A late goal in the 85th minute by Ashley Cole secured the win for the Blues. Everton and West Bromwich Albion maintained control of second place, with both teams notching a win in week five, though a draw by the Baggies in week six would drop them back to fifth place, which they would share with Tottenham Hotspur following their surprise 3–2 win over Manchester United at Old Trafford. Chelsea, Everton, and Manchester City would all win in week six. The results table after six games would have Chelsea in the lead with 16 points, followed by Everton and Manchester City with 13 points each, and Manchester United with 12. At the bottom of the league, Liverpool forward Luis Suárez scored a hat trick against Norwich City, leading Liverpool to a 5–2 victory. It was the second consecutive year that Suárez had scored a hat trick at Carrow Road.
The month of October saw a tightening at the top of the standings, with Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City all winning their first two of three games for the month, setting up a vital Sunday afternoon match at Stamford Bridge between third placed Manchester United and the leaders Chelsea. The game did not disappoint, as Chelsea went down 2–0 early on an own goal by David Luiz in the fourth minute and a goal by Robin van Persie in the 12th. Van Persie had also taken the shot that had rebounded off of Luiz, and thus was ultimately responsible for the Red Devil's one goal lead at half-time, following a late first half goal by Chelsea's Juan Mata from a free kick. Eight minutes into the second half Ramires equalised for Chelsea, and in the 75th minute United's Javier Hernández scored what proved to be the deciding goal via a rebound from a missed Van Persie shot. Replays showed that Hernández was in an offside position, generating a great deal of controversy. After the game, only a single point separated leaders Chelsea from second placed Manchester United. The rest of the standings were tightly packed in mid-table as 4 points separated fourth through ninth place. Another key match in October included a fixture between Liverpool and Reading, with Liverpool winning 1–0 (with winger Raheem Sterling scoring his first goal for the club) and giving manager Brendan Rodgers his first win over Reading, a team he formerly managed. The final week of October featured the longest match in the 20-year history of the Premier League, a 103-minute game between Manchester City and Swansea that featured two serious injuries, one to the groin of Swansea keeper Michel Vorm and the other to the knee of Manchester City back Micah Richards, both of which required stretchers to carry them off. City prevailed 1–0 in the marathon event with a goal from Carlos Tevez.
League leaders Chelsea suffered a dip in form in November. They opened the month with draws against Swansea City and Liverpool, dropping them to third in the standings. A loss to West Bromwich Albion on 17 November was marked by ineffective second half play, as the team was unable to capitalise on a late first half equaliser by Eden Hazard. The Blues closed out the month with uninspiring 0–0 draws against Manchester City and Fulham. The primary beneficiaries of Chelsea's slide were Manchester United and Manchester City, as the two rivals moved into commanding control of the first two places in the league table. Key November games included a 2–1 Manchester United win over Arsenal on 3 November, and a dominating 5–0 win by Manchester City over Aston Villa on 17 November marked by a pair of two-goal performances by Carlos Tevez and Sergio Aguero. West Bromwich Albion proved to be the biggest mover up the league table, moving from eighth up to joint third with Chelsea, on the strength of four wins over Southampton, Wigan Athletic, Chelsea, and Sunderland. At the bottom end of the table, Queens Park Rangers found themselves as the only team without a league win by the end of November.
The month of December saw minimal change in the standings at the top end of the table. The situation by New Year's Eve with the top three places was the same as it was at the start of the month, though Manchester United had extended their lead over second place Manchester City to seven points, with Chelsea four points back from City in third place. Tottenham Hotspur occupied fourth place with Arsenal, Everton, and West Bromwich Albion all tied for fifth. Chelsea stopped their November slide with a 3–1 win at Sunderland on 8 December on the strength of two goals by Fernando Torres. The Manchester derby was renewed on 9 December at the City of Manchester Stadium with first place on the line. United took a two-goal lead thanks to two goals from Wayne Rooney in the 16th and 30th minute. City responded with a Yaya Touré goal in the 60th minute, a goal that followed two saves in rapid succession by United keeper David de Gea. Pablo Zabaleta equalised in the 86th minute, but Robin van Persie once again proved to be the hero for United, scoring the winning goal two minutes into extra time to extend United's lead over City at the top of the table to six points. The last team without a league win, Queens Park Rangers, finally got their first win of the season on 15 December.
Reading (as Champions) and Southampton (as runners-up) secured direct promotion to the Premier League from the Championship. Reading returned to the Premier League after an absence of four years, while Southampton make a comeback to the highest tier after making two successive promotions and seven seasons in the leagues below. The third promoted team was decided in a four-team play-off between the Championship teams ranked third through sixth. Ultimately, third-placed West Ham United defeated fifth-placed Blackpool in the play-off final at Wembley Stadium on 19 May 2012. West Ham returned to the Premier League after one season of absence.