Premier League Round 34

16 Apr

It’s far from over in the race of the Title, with 5 points between United and City. If City win the Manchester Derby, they’ll have to win every game and hope that United draw one – and it’s down to goal difference. It’s not beyond the realms of possibility – Man City have only dropped 2 points at home all season, then United could be held to a draw by Everton or Sunderland. But you have to wonder what position City would have been in if Tevez had played the whole season, or rather from Christmas.

His time off wasn’t completely wasted, just look at that swing

Carlitos’ 4 goals in the last week have reminded City just what a good player he is, and also a prolific scorer with 43 league goals in the previous two seasons – more than any other player. And it’s been the goals that have been City’s problem of late. Their defence has actually improved – 15 goals were conceded in the first 17 games compared to just 11 in 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 have been avoided with Tevez in the team. Last season he scored 45% of his goals against Middle 8 teams.

Man Utd did of course shake off their surprise defeat (not so much given tonight’s score) defeat to Wigan with a 4-0 stroll against Aston Villa. Wayne Rooney had a pretty poor game, but still scored a double to take his tally to 24 for the season. As Villa were ranked 15th before the round kicked off, that’s another 2 for Rooney against the Bottom 6 teams – which means he’s now the most prolific player in the league against them. His average of 12.50 shows this. Danny Welbeck scored his 8th league goal of a promising season, though like Rooney he has specialised against weaker opponents – with an average of 14.5.

The surprise scoreline of the weekend came at the Emirates. Arsenal had the chance to cement 3rd place with a win over 17th placed Wigan to extend the lead over Spurs and Newcastle to 8 points, but Wigan are a different animal lately. Fresh from recent wins against Liverpool, Man Utd, and an unlucky defeat to Chelsea (assists for the linesman there), Wigan made an impressive trio of big scalps with a deserved win away at Arsenal. They’re last 4 wins have been against an average ranked opponent of 5.75 which is impressive for any team, let alone a team facing relegation. After many suggested Martinez would regret turning down Aston Villa last season, his Wigan team are now just a point behind the Midlanders, and more importantly, 4 points clear of the relegation zone. It’s hard to know what’s changed to bring around such a change in fortune. Certainly the 3-4-3 formation has played it’s part, but I’m certainly left baffled. Franco di Santo and Jordi Gomez scored within a minute of each other to leave Arsenal 2-0 down after 10 minutes. At that point, I decided a bet on Arsenal to win at an uncharitable 15-8 was worth a tenner. Oh well. Thomas Vermaelen got one back to score his 6th of the season (more than any Wigan player), but it was too little too late.

Aguero’s brace against 10th placed Norwich bettered his average opposition ranking to 11.67 – similar to Rooney, but with a greater focus on lower mid table teams rather than the Bottom 6 opponents. He’s still some way off the Flat Track Bully(s) of Frank Lampard’s 14.55 and Edin Dzeko’s 14.54. Papiss Cisse and Peter Odemwingie are the only two players on the Top Scorers list without a goal against Top 6 opponents.

From the other end of the scale, it’s Adebayor who remains the big game player with an average of 8.15, whilst Robin van Persie still has the lead in the goals against the Top 6 with a decent seven, ahead of Clint Dempsey’s 6.

Elsewhere, in a depleted fixture list, the main focus was on the bottom. Wolves ended their seven game losing streak with a decent point away at 11th placed Sunderland in what has been described as the worst game in the history of football. The point won’t keep them up, but at least it stops the rot. One win in twenty games explains why they’re going down. Sunderland are now well and truly out of the Honeymoon period with new manager Martin O’Neill. Under Steve Bruce they managed 11 points from 14 games, which was followed up with 26 points from the next 14 at a rate of 1.85 points per game. However, they’ve now taken just 6 from 6. They have nothing to play for this season, but O’Neill normally has no problem motivating players.

With one pretty much gone, it was an opportunity for Blackburn and QPR to move further away from QPR (not playing) and Wigan. Both failed. After many were suggesting Steve Kean for manager of the year, Blackburn have now lost five games in a row – with the latest a 3-0 defeat to 14th placed Swansea. These are no doubt the same people that were calling for Wenger’s head back in Autumn. QPR are a strange team, after beating Liverpool and Arsenal, they’ve lost in recent weeks to Bolton, and now 13th placed West Brom.

Just a quick mention on the FA Cup Semi Finals – Andy Carroll may well have had a season to forget for Liverpool, but he’s certainly not a stranger to scoring on the big occasion. Last season he was the leading scorer against the Top 6 teams. With two winning goals in a week, perhaps there’s more to come from the big Geordie.

I’m currently working on a feature looking at the best Premier League Partnerships. This should be up by the weekend, depending on when my wife goes into labour!

La Liga to follow.

Thanks,

Liam

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