Premier League Round 35

23 Apr

It’s on. And much like the Bundesliga and La Liga, an April match up between the top two teams in the league is going to decide the fate of the 2011-12 season. With the pressure off, Man City turned the clock back to Autumn with two great attacking displays against West Brom and Norwich. However, going into the game against relegation doomed Wolves, City knew that a win would put them back in the title race that only a few weeks ago was over. A slightly cagier performance saw them get the vital 3 points to give them a shot at the League Title. It’s not going to be easy, Man Utd have already beaten them at Eastlands this year and they also have Newcastle to face. But for the neutrals, it’s a great end to the season. And it’s been mentioned several times already, but Carlos Tevez effectively coming in for Mario Balotelli has been the spur they needed. Since his return, he’s scored four goals and created a further two.

And Everton did their part in the lunchtime kick off with an unprobable 4-4 draw at Old Trafford. Unprobable in the sense that the last time Everton scored 4 goals away was at the start of David Moyes reign, that it was at Old Trafford and that they were 3-1 and 4-2 down. However, they are a team in form in the Premier League, with just the top four teams in the table above them over the last 8 games (just 1 defeat). In fact, they’re joint third in the number of wins against the Top 6 teams:

Wins against Man City, Spurs and Chelsea since Christmas in their usual strong finish to the season means that a draw at Old Trafford wasn’t a complete shock – albeit in different circumstances. And that’s not all, their 13 wins have been against the 3rd highest average ranked opponent in the league, behind QPR and Wigan, who have recently been surprising everyone with the big scalps they’ve taken.

And as with every table, there’s two ends – unless of course, it’s a Round Table (or any non rectangular shaped table come to think of it). When looking at the lowest average opponents per win, there’s some surprising and some not so surprising teams. Wolves have beaten an average team ranked 17th – and there’s no surprise to see them relegated. The only other team with no wins against Top 6 opposition is second bottom Bolton Wanderers. Their 9 wins have been against an average ranked opponent of 15.89. But they’re to be expected. The 5 teams with the lowest ranked team per win:

It’s Chelsea and Newcastle that jump out on this list. Chelsea have at least had the decency to beat two Top 6 teams (Man City and Newcastle), but they as a team have been the Flat Track Bullies of the Premier League this season, with 11 wins against teams in the Bottom 6 at the start of play, and an average ranked opponent per win of a lowly 14.63. It’s the equivalent of beating Aston Villa 16 times. Not a massive achievement. Newcastle’s amazing 6 game winning run has been impressive, but an average opponent of 11.83 in that time actually improves their opponent average per win. Not that it’ll bother them one little bit. Their only Top 6 win was a 3-0 demolition of Man Utd (then 2nd), and whilst they’ve also beaten a 7th placed Liverpool and drawn against Chelsea, Spurs and Man Utd, their route to the Champions League spot that they currently occupy has been by beating the teams that they’re expected to beat.

And so on to the Top Scorers:

Wayne Rooney’s double against boyhood team Everton not only increased his average from 12.50 to 12.08, it also takes him within one goal of the previously untouchable Robin van Persie – The Players Player of the Year. Although van Persie still leads the way on goals against the Top 6 with 7 (ahead of Dempsey), he’s now scored just one goal in Arsenal’s last seven games. The 0-0 against Chelsea was only their second clean sheet against Top 6 opponents (from 13) and was useful in keeping the Blues at bay, and thanks to Spurs terrible run, they’re still favourites for that 3rd spot.

Sergio Aguero’s goal against Wolves sees him reach 22 league goals – one short of Carlos Tevez’ haul in his debut season for City. Aguero has done it in 31 games, compared to Tevez’ 35 games. I’ll be comparing the two of them at the end of the season. Emmanuel Adebayor continues to have the highest ranked opponent per goal with 8.15. The Flat Track Bully is still Frank Lampard with 14.55. Last season’s most prolific point scorer, Peter Odemwingie, hit double figures in the ‘difficult second season’ with the winner at Anfield as Liverpool’s disappointing league campaign continued. The Merseyside giants are now only 3 points ahead of 13th placed Norwich – although with two cup finals (one already won), they’re in a better position than most teams.

Elsewhere, it turns out that Wigan’s kryptonite is kept somewhere in West London, as they lost only their second game in eight – this time at Fulham after a recent defeat at Chelsea. QPR took up where Wigan left off with a win against Top 6 Spurs. Between them, Wigan and QPR have beaten six teams in the top seven in the last seven games – Liverpool, Arsenal, Spurs, and Man Utd have all been victims to the sudden and unlikely turn around in form.

With Robin van Persie winning the Player of the Year award, the points won table perhaps tells part of the reason why – no one has won more points this season:

A massive 22 points have been won from his 27 goals – compare that to Rooney’s 11 from 26 of Aguero’s 5 points from 22 goals, and you’ll see just how important he’s been. Yakubu continues to be the most important to his team in terms of percentages. His 13 points won are 42% of Blackburn’s total of 31 points. If they do stay up, then they’ll owe the big man a slap up meal or two.

Papiss Cisse’s fairytale start to his Newcastle career has seen his first 11 goals gain 11 points for the team – although his latest in a 3-0 win over Stoke wasn’t worth any. Lampard may be the Flat Track Bully, but his goals have been the most important to Chelsea than any other player this season – with 9 points.

I’ll try to get the La Liga, Bundesliga and Serie A stats up this week, but there may be a slight delay due to an expected addition to the Average Opposition family.

Cheers,

Liam 

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