Premier League Round 31

6 Apr

Plenty of movement in the Premier League since our last update, most noticeably at the top of the table – Manchester United are now 5 points clear at the top of the league after City drew two consecutive games – firstly a 1-1 at Peter Crouch’s Stoke (11th), followed by a last gasp point against Sunderland (8th) at the previously inpenetrable Eastlands. City’s 4 points from 12 available have come at the worst possible time, with Man Utd notoriously strong finishers. In that same time, the team from Old Trafford have chalked up 4 straight wins, as part of a run seeing 10 wins in 11 games. Considering this team has been written off as average, and the 6-1 humiliation at home to City, it’s been a hell of a come back. But what’s brought around the change in fortunes? Squad Management and fatigue.

As you can see from the above split of the season so far, whilst Man City burst out of the starting blocks, wowing everyone along the way, United were the model of consistancy. City scored 67% of their goals in the first 15 games of the season, and just 33% in the 16 games after. United in the mean time have a pretty steady 46%-54% split. The consistancy is best illustrated by comparing Rooney and Dzeko. There was just one goal between them at the half way stage, compared to 8 now. In fact the only player in the City squad to have scored more goals in second half of the season so far is Joleon Lescott, with 2. United also show the strength of their squad with three more scorers. If David Silva was the best midfielder at the start of the season, Antonio Valencia has taken on that title since. Both have 12 league assists – Silva in 30 games, and Valencia in 20. Silva has just 4 in the last 16 games, compared to Valencia’s 9.

There’s nothing wrong with City’s defence, with the split of 15/10 favouring the last 16 games (United’s split of goals conceded is a predictably even 14/13). It’s all about the goalscoring – perhaps it’s understandable that they’re turning back to Carlos Tevez now when they need some inspiration, and more importantly, a fresh pair of legs.

One interesting fact from the above tables is that there isn’t an outstanding goalscorer from midfield for either team. Think back to Title winning teams, and you’ve had Ljungberg, Lampard, Giggs, Beckham, Scholes, Pires etc. Of course the season still has 7 games left, so there’s still a chance for someone like Valencia or Young to step up. Both were on the scoresheet against 16th place Blackburn. Unsurprisingly, Paul Robinson was beaten by two more strikes from the edge of the area.

Elsewhere, the defeat for Blackburn has had an impact on the relegation fight. Whilst two rounds ago, Blackburn were 6 points clear and everyone was apologising to Steve Kean, two defeats and an unlikely turn around in form from Wigan, Bolton and QPR, has seen them fall back into the bottom 3. Strangely enough, Liverpool are having a bigger impact on the fight at the bottom, than their usual place at the top. Defeats to QPR and Wigan have helped breathe life into both team’s seasons. QPR in particular have reason to be pleased – beating 7th placed Liverpool and 3rd placed Arsenal at Loftus Road.

In terms of the average opposition index, it’s still Robin van Persie (11.27) leading the way against Top 6 teams – although he’s on something of a goal drought, with a barren three games. It points to Arsenal’s turn around in fortunes that five goals have been scored by other players in that time, whilst they picked up 2 wins in that time. It’ll be interesting to see how he does against 2nd placed Man City this weekend. In terms of the Big Game Player by average opposition per goal, that still belongs to Emmanuel Adebayor. His double against 10th placed Swansea, slightly lowered his average to 8.15, but he will welcome his first goals in five. He has still to score against Bottom 6 opponents, which isn’t a proble for Spurs, who also have Rafael van der Vaart and Jermain Defoe on the scoring charts. Spurs have lost 7 games this season – and 5 of them have been against Top 6 Oppositions – Man City twice, Man Utd twice, and Arsenal. It’s the results against the top three that has meant they’ve fallen to 4th, just weeks after challenging for first place.

Demba Ba’s goals have certainly dried up since his return from the African Cup of Nations, with just one goal in the last 11 Newcastle games. What do you do if your Senegalese striker’s goals dry up? You get your Senegalese striker to score them instead. Papiss (Demba) Cisse has 7 goals in 7 games since moving to Saint Sports Direct Park. Add that to the 9 goals he scored for Freiburg, and he has 16 goals in 23 league games – compared to Demba (Papiss?) Ba’s 16 in 27 games. Ba still remains in the Top 4 for goals scored, with a decent split of 4-9-3 of goals against the different ranges of opponents.

The Flat Track Bully remains Frank Lampard. His 10 goals have been against an average of 15th, with just one coming against the Top 6. He’s been left standing still in the midfield goalscoring stakes by Clint Dempsey, who’s goal against Norwich (11th) was his 13th of another good season in the Premier League. An average opposition ranking of 11.15 is the best of the three midfielders on the list (Bale has 13.11). Peter Odemwingie gets a mention in the Flat Track Bully commentary with no goals scored against the elite – the only player on the list without.

Want something you haven’t seen for a while? Well sure – he’s the top nationalities in terms of goals in the Premier League this season:

Despite foreigners apparently stopping English players coming through, it’s still England that provides the most goals – by a long way. Unsurprisingly, Ireland, Wales and Scotland are also flying high. Holland lead the way from out side Britain and Ireland, bouyed bt Robin van Persie’s 26 goals. French players seem to have the best temperament in the big games with almost a third of their goals against Top 6 opponents.

That’s all for now, there’s plenty going on over the next 5 days, with most clubs playing twice – giving us plenty more stats to look at.




One Response to “Premier League Round 31”


  1. Premier League Round 34 « average opposition index - April 16, 2012

    […] the last 16 – whilst the goals before the last two games have slowed considerably – as shown here in the Round 31 update. The defeats to Sunderland (9th), Everton (7th) and Swansea (14th) could […]

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