Premier League Round 26

26 Feb

Blimey, that was quite the match. I’m sure no one in the crowd could complain they didn’t get their money’s worth from that one. But that’s enough about Wigan 0-0 Villa (too obvious? It’s a numbers game i’m afraid).

He knew

Many had been writing off Arsenal’s season, and some crazy fools were even calling for Wenger’s resignation. What were they thinking? Well football certainly is a fickle game. The North London derby has certainly pulled up some classics in recent years and today’s was no different. Not only was it the show piece game of the round (in the league) but it was also what must be described as a big game. Spurs in 3rd, Arsenal in 4th. It gave all the players on show the chance to prove their big game mentality.

And how. Despite being on the losing side, Emmanuel Adebayor now has the Big Game Player crown after notching against his old club. After going batshit mental whilst scoring for Man City against the Gunners a few years back, this time the big fella showed a bit more stability. His goal against 4th placed Arsenal coupled with Mario’s goal vs 17th placed Blackburn has meant that we have our first change at the top since the creation of this site in round 13. I’m sure this won’t console him at losing though.

The derby also saw some movement in the Arsenal team. As expected, when Arsenal do well, it generally means van Persie has done well. His goal today took him clear in the race for goals against the Top 6. Today’s goal was in addition to strikes against Man Utd (2) and Chelsea (3). And he wasn’t the only Arsenal player carrying on the trend of performing in the big games. Although you won’t see it above, Theo Walcott scored his 4th and 5th league goals of the season with an average ranked opponent of………4.60! Despite getting a fair bit of stick this year, young Theo (and remember, he’s still only 22) has scored against Man Utd (then 1st), Chelsea (4th) and now two against 3rd placed Spurs. The only blot on his copy book is a goal vs 12th placed Swansea in round 21. Well played Theo.

Theo can’t hide his delight at hearing his Average Opposition rating

Elsewhere, it was very much a case of the old timers proving their worth. Andre Villas Boas may not like using the older fellas but he could learn from Fergie. Man Utd’s win against 8th placed Norwich was courtesy of goals from 37 year old Paul Scholes and Ryan “Giggsy” Giggs, at a spritely 38. After being dropped for the Champions League game, Frank Lampard came back into the starting line up and showed AVB that experience does count for something. It was his 150th league goal, and the first player to score 10 league goals in 9 consecutive seasons. Yesterday’s goal put him back at the top of the goal scoring midfielders list alongside Clint Dempsey:

Round 26 also saw Grant Holt’s fairytale season continue. This time he scored against 2nd placed Manchester United. Although the goal ultimately resulted in nothing, it was an equaliser at the time, and it was a hell of a finish. This goal helped increase his average opposition to 8.90 and it was his 3rd goal vs Top 6 opposition. Not bad for someone that was playing for Shrewsbury Town just two and a half seasons back.

And just to conclude, a quick look at the League Cup final. Although not a league game, and therefore out of the remit for my stats, it’s without doubt a big game. And although it was close in the end, the result went as expected with Gerrard lifting the cup. It continued a couple of trends we’ve seen. Firstly, Dalglish is the man for the big occasion. In the cups this season they’ve knocked out Man Utd (2nd), Chelsea (5th), and Man City (1st), whilst also clocking up league wins over Arsenal (4th), Chelsea (5th) and Newcastle (6th). Add to this the league wins last season against Man Utd and Man City, and in just over a year back in charge, Dalglish has taken some noticeable scalps. The League Cup is another big game tick, and they’re still in the hunt for the FA Cup.

Another trend continued in this match was that of Dirk Kuyt’s big game player tag. Although he’s played less than he would have liked this year, he’s scored a winner against Man Utd, and a League Cup Final goal. Looking back at last season, he had an average of 8.08 and looking back a little further, he also has a Champions League final goal to his name against AC Milan. Taking into account a decent record in the Merseyside Derby, and you start to see a pattern. The part time model may not be as prolific as was hoped upon signing (71 league goals in 101 games for Feyenoord), but he certainly has a big game mentality.

I’ll be publishing the next Player Comparison this week. As a hint, it involves 5 players with 9 World Player of the Year Titles between them.

Cheers,

Liam

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