Tag Archives: Man City

Premier League Round 10

7 Nov

Well it didn’t take long for the inevitable to happen, van Persie was always gonna score against Arsenal. Not only was it playing against his former club, but he thrives against big game opponents. And whilst Arsenal are down to 7th now, they were in the magical Top 6 category going into the game. Last season van Persie scored 7 goals against the best the league had to offer and in the last two games, he’s scored against both Chelsea (then 1st) and now Arsenal. Add in the goal against Liverpool (not currently in the Top 6, but a big game for United), and he’s carrying on where he left off last season. Along with Demba Ba and Juan Mata, van Persie leads the way with goals against the Top 6, whilst the best average opposition per goal belongs to Mata (5.00), whilst midfielder and Soul man, Marouane Fellaini, has a decent average of 7.20 for his five goals this term, after his brace against Fulham (7th) at the weekend.

Leading the flat track bully stakes as per last week are Michu, who has 14.83 and no goals against the decent teams, Jelavic (16.00) and Carlos Tevez with 16.50. None scored this weekend, so they’ll no doubt be there or there abouts again next weekend.

Did someone say clean sheets? Well okay then. It’s not the glamorous glory of goalscoring, but it does guarantee at least a point, unlike those fancy Dans up front. It tells an interesting story in terms of how the teams are performing. For instance, if you were to take the three promoted teams from last season:

Whilst West Ham were keeping a clean sheet against Champions Man City at the weekend, Reading and Southampton find themselves stuck in the bottom three, despite both keeping more clean sheets than West Ham last season. And perhaps that’s the biggest difference between the leagues. Both Reading and Southampton are scoring regularly but a lack of clean sheets has meant just one win between them. And so on to the rest of the league:

West Ham actually lead the way with four clean sheets this season, the same as West Brom, Stoke, Chelsea and Arsenal, though they have the highest average opponent per clean sheet. Interstingly, Arsenal kept three of their four clean sheets in the opening three games when everyone decided they now had the best defence around due to Steve Bould’s arrival as assistant manager. Not quite going so well since. The other stand out stats are that United only have two clean sheets from ten games, even though they’re top, and neighbours and champions City, have three. Everton have the highest average from their two clean sheets (Man Utd and a high flying Swansea in round 5).

 

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Premier League Review:2011-2012 Part 2

11 Jun

The second part of the Premier League Season Review will focus mainly on the team stats, as well as defences. Part 1 can be found here.

Premier League Season Review 2011-12 Part 1: Team Stats

The importance of beating those around you –

In what was a famous season for Manchester City, it’s no surprise to see them feature prominently in the team stats, and the way they won the title was by being the best of the best. Looking at the Top 6 mini league table, they were deserved champions:

City had the most wins, least defeats, most goals (along with United), best goal difference, joint most clean sheets, and only failed to score in one game – the 1-0 defeat to Arsenal that appeared to have ended their Title Challenge. To highlight the importance of beating those around you, the top three places in the Top 6 mini table is the same as the full table. What is surprising is just how many goals there were – Man City put 6 past United, who in turn put 8 past Arsenal, who in turn put 5 past Spurs, who in turn put 5 past Newcastle……you get the idea. Chuck in Arsenal’s 5-3 against Chelsea, and Newcastle’s 3-0 over United, and this season saw unprecedented 105 goals in the 30 games between them – at a rate of 3.5 goals per game.

Similarly, the relegation places were also largely dependent on how teams did against their Bottom 6 rivals:

Both Wolves and Blackburn stuttered against the Bottom 6 teams, with just 2 wins each – this contributed largely to their relegation, indeed Blackburn can point to defeats to Wigan and Bolton in the final run in that led to their demise. The odd one out is Bolton. They actually topped the Bottom 6 mini league with a decent 21 points – however, they lost out largely due to Wigan and QPR’s amazing run against the Top 6 teams.

Big Game Winners – Manchester City with 8 wins against Top 6 and QPR who beat an average ranked opponent of 10.20

Not a massive surprise after the tables above, but just to confirm that Man City were the best against the Top 6 teams, or more specifically – 2nd to 6th. Man Utd clocked up 5 wins, whilst 3rd placed Arsenal managed four, with defeats of Man City, Spurs, Chelsea and Newcastle). The two Merseyside teams also both clocked up 4 wins against the Top 6, whilst Wigan and QPR punched above their weight with three wins each.

QPR had the highest ranked team per win with 10.20. Whilst three of these were against the Top 6 (Arsenal, Spurs and Chelsea in a London treble), they also beat teams in the upper end of the Mid 8 with a 1-0 win against 7th placed Everton and a 3-2 home win over Liverpool. Mark Hughes may not be the most popular manager to the neutrals (ideas above his station perhaps?), but he certainly knows how to inspire his players. I for one gave them next to know chance of survival with 10 games to go but with 5 wins in that run, all against teams above them in the table, saw them stay up, and they very nearly showed their mentality for the big occasion on the final day of the season – 2-1 up at Man City with just minutes to go. We all know what happened then.

Bolton on the other hand were the Flat Track Bullies with an average ranked opponent of 15.10 for each of their 10 wins. In fact, they only won 3 games against teams outside of the Bottom 6 (Stoke, Liverpool and Everton). To confirm their status, they were one of only two teams not to record a win against the Top 6, along with Wolves who were also relegated. Man City won the most games against the Bottom 6 – winning all 12, but they certainly can’t be accused of being Bullies.

Big Game Scorers – Man City and Man Utd with 24 goals against Top 6 teams, Blackburn Rovers with an average opposition of 10.28 per goal.

Once again, it’ the big two that dominate the team stats in terms of totals – both hit 24 goals against the Top 6, with the famous 8-2 and 6-1 scorelines. Elsewhere, no surprise that Arsenal and Spurs are 3rd and 4th respectively, despite all of these teams having two less games against the Top 6 teams. Surprising a few teams were newly promoted Norwich with a decent 14 goals against the elite – as many as Chelsea and more than Newcastle.

Blackburn however, are a surprise. Despite getting relegated their 48 goals were on average against an opponent of 10.94. A lot of that is thanks to the 4-3 win over Arsenal and 3-2 win at Old Trafford. Their struggle to score against the Bottom 6 (14 was the joint lowest) meant that they suffered relegation, but at least they gave it a go in terms of attacking – unlike Aston Villa and Stoke, who both scored less than a goal a game.

In terms of Flat Track Bullies, West Brom had the lowest ranked opponent per goal of 13.44, just below Bolton. Whilst the Baggies scored 10 goals against the big teams, they scored almost half of their 45 against the strugglers in the Bottom 6. Man Utd had the most goals against the bottom teams, whilst Chelsea’s weighting of goals, leans very much to the poorer opponents.

Big Game Defences – City, Arsenal, Chelsea, Everton, Newcastle, QPR with 3 clean sheets vs Top 6, QPR with 9.57 Average Opponent per Clean Sheet

As seen earlier, there have been six teams to have kept three clean sheets against the Top 6. Surprisingly, one of them is not Man Utd who only managed one shut out against their rivals – the 3-0 win over an early season and weaker Spurs. Also surprisingly (If I hadn’t documented it above) is that QPR are one of the teams with three clean sheets against the Top teams – Chelsea, Newcastle and Spurs.

And those clean sheets for QPR helped give them the highest average of 9.57. Aside from the Top 6 teams, they also kept clean sheets against Everton (7th), Stoke (14th), Swansea (11th) and Wolves (20th). They actually had a worse defensive record under Mark Hughes, but he did keep them up to be fair to the former Welsh Wizard.

The teams with 10 clean sheets or more were led by surprise package Swansea who had an average ranked opponent of 11.29 for their 14 clean sheets. They were behind only Top 6 teams Man Utd, Man City and Newcastle in the number of clean sheets, and they managed shut outs against Liverpool (twice), Newcastle and Man City.

At the other end of the scale, Blackburn only kept three clean sheets (as did Bolton) but they had the lowest ranked opponent per clean sheet – with 15.00. Man Utd’s defence did have the markings of Big Game Bottlers – although they had the most clean sheets, they had the same number against the Top 6 as Bolton and Stoke. They had the most against the Bottom 6 with nine.

How about the goals conceded table I hear you ask. See below:

Man Utd had the best average ranked opponent per goal conceded – though that’s largely down to the seven they conceded against their beloved city rivals. City had the best defence in terms of goals conceded, and also the least against the Top 6 with just 9. Stoke had the worst record against the Bottom 6 with 20 conceded – to add to the worst attack – Go Stoke! The bottom three had the worst defences, with Bolton suffering particularly against the big boys.

Failure to Score – Man City only failed to score once against the Top 6, whilst Man Utd only failed to score in three games.

The barrel of laughs at Aston Villa is perhaps best illustrated by the number of times they failed to hit the back of the net – a whopping 15 times, even Wolves only failed to score on 11 occasions. Swansea matched Villa’s 15 but at least played some good football – much to Liverpool’s liking.

Not only did Bolton concede the most goals against the Top 6, they also failed to score the most times against them as well. Not gonna be a problem next season for them as they’ll undoubtedly be one of the big teams in the Championship.

And that’s just about that for the Team Stats and Premier League review. It’s fair to say that Man City were deserved winners based on how they performed against their rivals, whilst Man Utd showed that you can win it by beating the teams you’re supposed to beat – after all, they were only seconds away from lifting their 20th league title.

I’ll be adding the same reviews for the other league’s in the coming weeks.

Cheers,

Liam

Premier League Review: 2011-2012 Part 1

4 Jun

Well that was quite the season. Regarded by many as the best in the Premier League’s 20 year history, we were treated to goals galore, last day drama, and a few surprise packages (Swansea, Norwich, Newcastle), whilst there was still plenty of familiarity with Scholes, and Henry’s names returning to the scoresheet, and Joey Barton acting like a prat.

Throughout the season I’ve been attempting to identify who are the big game players and flat track bullies based on the opponent that they’ve scored against, provided an assist against, or kept a clean sheet against. Whilst the season has been in play, I’ve based the stats on the position of the opponent at the time of play. So for example, when Edin Dzeko scored 4 goals away at Spurs, it was against a Bottom 6 team as they had a poor start to the season. Now that the season is over,  we can now look at the performances based on both the final league positions and the time of play. Edin will be pleased about that.

For queries on calculations, please see the “Rules and Workings” section at the top menu. This explains the averages, the ranges and points per goal workings. It’s not rocket science, but should answer any questions.

Premier League Season Review 2011-12 Part 1: Goalscoring

Goals versus Top 6 TeamsWayne Rooney 8 goals based on final rankings. Robin van Persie with 7 goals based on positions at the time of play.

Robin van Persie won the golden boot with an impressive 30 league goals, and based on the opposition at the time of play, he also had the most goals versus Top 6 teams – big game mentality from a player in an often struggling team. However, based on the Final League Standings, it’s England’s very own Wayne Rooney that scored the most against the Premier League’s elite.

He started the season in blistering form as Man United won their first five games. In that five match run were big games against Arsenal, Spurs and Chelsea, and Rooney thrived. A hat trick in the famous 8-2 win over The Gunners, and a goal against both Spurs (3-0 at home) and Chelsea (3-1 at Old Trafford) meant that he’d already passed last season’s total of just three goals against the Top 6 teams. And it was still September. As with his team, his form dipped in the mid season, though a couple in the 3-3 draw at Chelsea (pens) kept up his goal record against the best teams. The last of his goals came in the 3-1 win at 4th placed Spurs. Well played Rooney.

But, it could be argued that van Persie performed to a higher level against the top teams. Whilst he got one less than Rooney, he scored all of his goals for a weaker team (19 points weaker). The hat trick away at Chelsea in the 5-3 win was when Arsenal were in 7th. He also scored home and away against Man Utd, as well as goals against Spurs and Newcastle. At the time of play, all of these goals were against Top 6 teams, whilst the early season Arsenal and Spurs that Rooney scored against were very weakened versions of the teams that finished 3rd and 4th. On top of that, two of Rooney’s eight were from the penalty spot, whilst van Persie’s were all from open play. Both players also scored a brace against Liverpool (van Persie away).

Elsewhere, Dzeko’s four at White Hart Lane gives his number a kinder gloss. Spurs were bottom at the time of play. As a player, he swang from one extreme to the other – hitting two at Old Trafford in the 6-1 win, and then failing to bother any other Top 6 team from that point on – preferring the Bottom 6 opponents (although the goal against QPR did have a big game feel to it).

Nikica Jelavic proved to be a great January signing for Everton with 4 goals against the Top 6 teams, including a brace at Old Trafford that had a massive impact on the whereabouts of the title. In fact, he’s such a big game player, that the worst team he scored against was 12th. Similarly, Ashley Young just couldn’t be bothered against the smaller teams, with 4 of his 6 goals, coming against the Top 6.

Honourable Mentions to –Yakubu, who almost punched above his weight, Clint Dempsey with 6 from midfield, and Grant Holt with 5 against the best in his debut Premier League season. Even if he has turned into a bit of a diva since. And Steven Fletcher managed to notch away at Spurs, Man Utd, Arsenal and Liverpool, whilst also scoring against 5th placed Newcastle – despite being in the worst team in the league.

Highest Average Opponent per Goal Jermain Defoe 9.27 (Final Positions), and Mario Balotelli 8.77 at the time of play

Last year’s winner was Rafael van der Vaart with a very impressive average ranked opponent of 7.46 for each of his 13 league goals. All of this in a debut season as well. This year, for those players with 10 goals of more (Jelavic had 7.33 on 9 goals). This year, there was nothing even close to that this year. But there has to be a winner, and despite not playing as many games as he would have liked, once again, it’s an England striker who has the big game player tag, with the highest rank opponent per goal – Jermain Defoe with 9.27.

Although he only scored three against the Top 6 teams, only two were against the stragglers at the bottom (Wolves and Bolton), whilst the majority of his goals against Middle 8 teams were in the top half of the table – Liverpool (8th), Fulham (9th). The goals that pushed his average up though were against 1st place Man City (3-2 defeat) and 2nd placed Man Utd – Peter Crouch is the only other player in the league to have managed that this season.

The only other player in double figures with an average under 10 was the Yak. Blackburn must have fed the Yak a lot (Chicken?) becuase he scored 17 goals for them this season, despite being relegated. The big striker scored twice in the unlikely wins against 2nd placed Man Utd, and 3rd placed Arsenal, as well as scoring against eventual Champions League winners Chelsea on the final day.

Mad Mario Balotelli had the highest ranked opponent per goal at the time of play, and with goals against Man Utd (2), Spurs, Chelsea and Newcastle, the only team he failed to score against in the Top 6 was Arsenal. His goals in the second half of the season slowed down (8/5 split) but he showed his big game temperement in the title decider against QPR, with an assist for Aguero. He’s been troublesome, audacious, hilarious and brilliant at times this season.

Honourable Mentions to – Jelavic just missed the cut with 9 goals, but his 7.33 was a great effort. That rating was matched by Ashley Young as well. Steven Gerrard only scored 5 league goals, but they were against an average of 6.80. Less goals but a better ranking were another Everton window signing – Steven Pienaar (6.50 – 4 Goals) and Wigan’s Shaun Maloney (5.0 – 3 goals) who specialised in the big games in that amazing escape from relegation.

Value of Goals – Robin van Persie, 30 goals – 24 Points

Last season saw West Brom’s Peter Odemwingie pick up this award with 17 points worth of goals. I can reveal that this season has seen a higher number of points won from a single player. And it’s really no surprise who.

Yep, van Persie wins another award, to go with the golden boot and the joint Top 6 Top Scorers. His 30 goals were worth a massive 24 points to Arsenal – 34.29% of their 70 points. That’s huge for a team in the Top 4 as you’d expect goals throughout the side as with United and City. It will be a real shame for the Premier League if he leaves England this summer, and it’ll be a complete kick in the nuts to Arsenal, for who he’s become so important. I wouldn’t go as far as to say they’re a one man team, but it’s hard to see anyone else in the four leagues I’ve covered this season get anywhere near that amount. 

But.

He’s not the most important player to team, as far as percentages anyway. Blackburn’s Yakubu’s 17 goals were worth a very decent 13 points, which was worth almost 42% of Blackburn’s points. They were relegated in the end, but he can lay claim to being more of a one man team than van Persie – albeit a far less successful team.

Honourable Mentions to – Grant Holt again, with a point per goal for his 15, in a debut top flight season. Papiss Cisse also won a point per goal, and his tally of 13 only began in January. Big things are expected of him next season. And once again, Steven Fletcher’s name pops up – his goals won almost 35% of Wolves points.

We’ve seen big game performances from Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney, Mario Balotelli and Jermain Defoe, but for every big game player, there’s a flat Track Bully or Big Game Bottler.

Premier League Bullies

Normally I’d only look at the players with a poor average opponent with 10 goals or more, and that’s to come shortly, but below is a list of players with 5+ goals, all of which have been against the lower tier of opponents:

Berbatov finished his Manchester United career with 7 league goals – only one of them was against a top half team (Fulham, won 5-0). This continues his knack of scoring against the lesser teams in the Premier League. Last year he was the joint top scorer, but the hat trick against Liverpool aside (they were outside the Top 6 at the time), he never bothered the Top 6. A hat trick against Wigan (15th), and further goals against Blackburn (2 goals – 19th) as well as a goal against Stoke (14th) meant that his average was also a very poor 15.14. Pavel Pogrebnyak somehow managed to get an even lower average with 17.33. Seen as being a good signing, his goals perhaps covered up that he only did it against poor teams. Sessegnon is the same, as is Adam Johnson – though at least he scored some goals (I’m looking at you Downing).

And so onto the Average Opposition Flat Track Bully award for 2011-12. Based on those players who broke into double figures:

What a difference a year makes. Rafael van der Vaart was last year’s big game player with an average opposition ranking of 7.46 and 8 goals against the Top 6 teams. Fast forward 12 months and he has the second worst average with 13.73, and just two goals against Top 6 opponents – Arsenal and Newcastle. Why? Well it was his second season in England, so his game and positioning was well known by opponents, he also played a few more games out wide, and perhaps most importantly, he lost Peter Crouch as a strike partner – several of his goals last year were from Crouch knock downs. Adebayor has replaced him as the lone striker in Spurs formation, and has undoubtedly had a better season, but it’s affected van der Vaart’s effectiveness. Still, hitting double figures in the league for a second successive season is not to be sniffed at.

And the same applies to our man with the lowest ranked opposition per goal – West Brom’s Peter Odemwingie. Last year, his 15 goals last year were against an average ranked team of 9.67, and also worth a league high 17 points. This year, like van der Vaart, he’s a known player for defences to watch out for. His one goal against Top 6 teams was against Newcastle (5th) in a 3-2 win. His average of 15.00 is predominantly down to the 4 goals he scored against bottom placed Wolves.

Pointless Goals

And as with every big game player, there’s flat track bully, the same can be said of the importance of goals – whilst van Persie’s goals have been worth 24 points to Arsenal, who’s goals have meant sod all, or very little?

Whilst Walcott had a pretty good season in front of goal with 8 from out wide, none of them mattered a great deal come the final scorelines of Arsenal matches. That is perhaps a little unfair on Theo as his goal against Chelsea was to put Arsenal ahead, whilst his brace against Spurs in the 5-2 win gave the Gunners a bit more breathing space, although it was already 3-2 by the time he scored. Berbatov’s inclusion is no real surprise – he tended to score in big wins, aside from the brace against Blackburn in a surprise defeat at Old Trafford.

Another big name is that of Fernando Torres, half of his goals came in 6-1 win over QPR, whilst he also got the consolation at 3-0 down against Man Utd (not gonna mention that miss). Even his goal against Barcelona in the Champions League semi final wasn’t really needed, they were already through on away goals – though it did give them breathing space.

And lastly in the goal scoring section, the men who make the goals.

Assists

David Silva was unsurprisingly the player with the most assists this season, creating a very impressive 15 goals. His split wasn’t too bad either, with three against the Top teams, and most importantly, assists in the crucials games – QPR and Man Utd, two games that decided the destination of the title.

Equally unsurprising were the players in second and third – Valencia and Mata. However, despite being regarded as one of the best right wingers in the league last season, Valencia was something of a Flat Track Bully with his assists. Of the 13, 10 of them were against the Bottom 6 teams, leading to a very high average ranked opponent of 15.85.  Also creating for Man Utd was Nani, with 10 assists. Despite spending far more minutes than he’d care for on the bench, he still managed a decent 10, but like Valencia, he only had one against Top 6 opponents.

Emmanuel Adebayor was the surprise big game creator, with 7 of his 11 assists coming against the best teams in the league. This is inflated by the 4 assists he was awarded against Newcastle in a 5-0 win, but he also created in both games against Arsenal. Elsewhere, despite being somewhat of a flat track bully with his goals, Stephane Sessengnon was happy to create against any team – and his three assists against Top 6 teams were all against Man City, as Sunderland took 4 points from the eventual champions.

That’s all for part 1, part 2 will contain the team stats, including defensive stats.

Cheers,

Liam

Premier League Round 37

9 May

Winning goal in the FA Cup Semi Final against best team in the country last year? Check.

Winning goal in the FA Cup Final after 35 years without a trophy? Check.

A brace to put your team top of the table going into the final day? Check.

Yep, it’s fair to say that Yaya Toure is a big game player. Although I don’t want to say that his goals against Newcastle (5th) have decided the whereabouts of this years Premier League, they’ve certainly been very important, and that was certainly in the high prerssure environment of a big game. I’ll admit that I had him down as a midfielder that scored a lot of goals (after his more defensive role in Barcelona), so it was surprising to see that his double at Newcastle were only his 5th and 6th (8.33) league goals of the season (matching last years 6). Either way, when the pressure was on, it was Toure Junior that stepped up. Though a nod must go to the defence who kept Cisse out, who had done this in last week’s game against Chelsea:

I know that was last week, but it was just awesome! And it’s worth noting that after 11 goals against average opposition (11.91), he’s now scored against a Top 6 team in Chelsea, taking his average up to 11.00. Add in his 9 goals (10.78) for Freiburg, and you have a very decent season.

But I digress (it was a good goal though). Man Utd made sure that the title goes down to the final day with their 2-0 win over Swansea, but it would take a brave man to bet a significant amount of money on them to win the title, given Man City’s home record, and QPR’s away form. But, QPR still aren’t mathematically safe, and Mark Hughes has the double aim of getting revenge on City for sacking him, and helping out his old team. He’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but he really has exceeded expectations at QPR. With the worst of the run ins, Hughes has managed to pick up 5 wins in the last nine games – with an average opponent per win of 8.40. Impressive stuff. Wigan’s six wins in the same period have been slightly better at 7.66. Both have proved a lot of people wrong, and that’s understandable given the previous average ranked opponent per win – Wigan had 4 wins at 15.25 and QPR had 5 wins against an average ranked opponent of 12.8. There were absolutely no indicators for the massive turn around in form.

Wigan’s latest win was not against good opposition. It was against fellow Bottom 6 teams Blackburn. And it was enought to gain survival whilst relegating Rovers. I bet those people calling for Steve Kean to be named manager of the year feel a little foolish now (one example here). So with Blackburn joining Wolves (Terry Connor for best new manager?) in the Championship next season, it comes down to the final day for one of Bolton and QPR. Aston Villa will be safe on goal difference, barring a massive swing.

With games in hand all being played now, there’s a been a good bit of movement on the Top Scorers list. Robin van Persie’s double against Norwich in the 3-3 draw sees him reach the magical 30 goal mark. It’s only the third time since 2000 that a player has reached this mark (Henry and Ronaldo), so it’s a great achievement. Before last season’s 18 goals, his highest league tally in his career was a paltry (for his talent) 11 goals. The last season and a half has crucially seen him stay fit, and it’s resulted in 48 strikes in 62 appearances in the Premier League. Quality. And although he has 10 goals against Bottom 6 opponents, he’s the leading scorer versus the Top 6 with 7 goals, meaning he’s a big game player.

However, the owner of that title based on the average opponent per goal is neither van Persie or last week’s leader Adebayor. He’s shown a complete lack of respect for my average opposition leader board by hitting 2 versus Bolton (18th) last week, and another against Villa (15th) this weekend. Manu you fool. That means, that despite all the flack he’s taken (some of it deservedly), Mario Balotelli looks set to win the Big Game Player tag for this year’s Premier League with an average ranked opponent per goal of 8.77. Think goals against Man Utd, Chelsea, Newcastle and Spurs, and he’s only missing Arsenal out of the other Top 6 teams. Not bad for someone who had supposedly ruined Man City’s season.

Strangely, Rafael van der Vaart looks like going from 2010-11’s big game player, to this years flat track bully. His latest strike (also in the win over Bolton) was his 11th of a disrupted season, taking his league tally to a very decent 24 in 60 games over two seasons as an advanced midfield role.

Just looking at the Bottom 6 and Top 6 goals season on season, it’s a quite stark difference, and begs an interesting question. What makes a big game player? Looking at van der Vaart as an example it’s pretty hard to tell why. Immediately I would have pointed to injuries but he’s actually played more games this season. Team mates? Well Spurs are looking likely to finish higher this season in 4th compared to last year’s 5th. There has been a change in personnel with Adebayor taking the lone striker role, but that doesn’t explain the disappearance in the big games? At 29, he’s in his prime, so it’s not age. You’d think that I’m building to a big conclusion now after ruling out other factors, but in all honesty, I don’t know what’s brought the change. Some may point to the difficult second season syndrome (dsss), but it’s spurious. Answers on a post card please.

Big weekend ahead, with several different outcomes. However, with Bolton on a run of 5 games without a win (after 4 wins in a row), it’s unlikely that they’ll win at Stoke (14th), although they have picked up 19 points away from home – albeit at an average of 17.83 ranked opposition. In terms of the race for 3rd (in case Chelsea win the Champions League),  Arsenal (3rd), Spurs (4th) and Newcastle (5th) are facing West Brom away (10th), Fulham at home (9th) and Everton away (7th) respectively. Due to the home venue, I’d say Spurs have the easiest game (just), but Arsenal have the points on the board.

Elsewhere, Chelsea’s Didier Drogba and Ramires backed up their big game player status’ with the goals in the FA Cup Final win over Liverpool. Both scored over the two legs against Barcelona in the Champions League Semi Final, and Drogba has now become the first player to score in a whopping four different finals. Andy Carroll has shown glimpses of hope for Liverpool fans, and his goal (almost a brace) in the final wasn’t completely unexpected. Like van der Vaart, Carroll had a Big Game Player tag from last season as he led the scoring against Top 6 teams with a decent 6 strikes (9 based on the time of playing). Last night, Liverpool got bittersweet revenge on Chelsea with a 4-1 home win – just their second win against Top 6 Opponents this season:

Wigan lead the way with the best teams beaten (on average), whilst Man City are deservedly top of the league and set to win it when you look at their 27 wins against United’s. There’s something of a big game team performance with 7 win against Top 6 opposition, and a Flat Track Bully air to United’s 13 wins against bottom 6 teams. This is all based on positions at the time of playing, i’ll be reviewing all the stats again based on final league rank at the end of the season. Aside from the teams at the top, Aston Villa fan will be glad to see the end of the season after just 7 league wins, against an average opponent of 13.57. Exciting.

Cheers,

Liam

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 

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

Premier League Round 33

11 Apr

It feels like only yesterday we were discussing the Round 32 action, and having to put up another update, I can almost feel some sympathy for Premier League footballers who have to play two games in such a short space of time. Well, not really, most of them get my annual salary in a weekly wage – so **** ’em. Anyway, the big news is that after the race for the title ended with Man City’s defeat to a very impressive Arsenal, it’s now back on after Man Utd’s defeat to a very impressive Wigan. Wigan fans must feel bitter sweet about their recent form. They beat Liverpool at Anfield, were robbed by two offside goals against Chelsea, and have just beaten Man Utd – but what on Earth have they been doing for the rest of the season? Shaun Maloney’s second goal in four games (vs Liverpool and Man Utd) was enough to win the match for Wigan, who also should have scored through Victor Moses’ header which was harshly disallowed. So United’s 8 point lead is now just 5 points because of Man City’s impressive win against 13th placed West Brom.

City walked into the last chance saloon with Carlos Tevez the first through the swinging doors. The tricky Argentinian was back in the starting line up for the first time since his 5 month intensive golf training. Man City were desperate and with Mental Mario unlikely to play for the club again, and Dzeko being pants since the Autumn, it was down to their former captain and last years top scorer to inspire them. And inspire them he did. Forming an all Argentinian front line with fellow trickster Sergio Aguero, they carved the midlanders open – playing with the freedom of a team no longer feeling the pressure of a title race. Encouragingly, David Silva also looked refreshed. With the surprising score from Wigan (they’d never even picked up a point from Man Utd in the Premier League), the gap is now 5 points, but crucially, City have to host United in what could turn out to be a massive game. Win that and it’s 2 points, and with City having a better goal difference thanks to this 4-0 win, a single draw by United will be enough for City to get back on top. There’s a lot of ifs, and as the saying goes, if my aunt had balls she’d be my uncle, but it’s still good for the neutral. Tevez has generally done well against United for both City and previously West Ham, so don’t be surprised if he still has a big say in the title race.

Just behind the top two sit Arsenal with a 5 point cushion over 4th place. Their 9th win in 10 games saw Wolves pretty much relegated (9 points adrift), and also showed what a waste their first half of the season was. Those who dounted Wenger are idiots (I know I certainly didn’t – honest), and it’s not as if they’ve just been steam rolling poor teams like Wolves. The recent run has seen wins against Liverpool (then 7th), Spurs (then 3rd), Newcastle (then 6th) and Man City (2nd). Add to those wins, other victories against resurgent Everton and Sunderland teams, and throw in a 3-0 win over AC Milan, and all of a sudden, Arsenal are showing the mental strength that Wenger has been referring to for so long. The turning point in the season was recovering from 2-0 down to beat rivals Spurs 5-2. That stopped a 13 point lead opening, and it became 7 points, also leading to Spurs poor run of form. Robin van Persie scored his first goal in 4 games, with midfielders Walcott and Benayoun completed the scoring versus 10 man Wolves. Interestingly, with the Euro’s approaching, Walcott (9.50) now has as many Premier League Goals as the greediest player in the league (TM) Daniel Sturridge (12.50) with eight each. Walcott has 4 against Top 6 opponents, compared to Sturridge’s 5 against Bottom 6. Read from that what you will.

Other love should also be dished out to Newcastle. All of a sudden they’ve somehow won 5 games in a row whilst everyone has been looking at Chelsea and Spurs. This leaves Newcastle level on points with Spurs (one win in eight) with 59 points, and they remain two ahead of Chelsea who were Dempsey’d against Fulham in a 1-1 draw. Papiss Cisse (12.0) and Ben Arfa (13.4) have been the catalysts for the winning run, and both were on the scoresheet against 16th place Bolton.

RvP’s cheeky penalty against Wolves takes him 5 goals clear at the top of the scoring charts, with 5 games left for him to hit the magical 30 mark. He’s now scored against 17 of the 19 teams he’s faced this season. He still leads the way with goals against the Top 6, and it’s ex-Gunner Emmanuel Adebayor that leads the way from an average opposition point of view with 8.15. He’s still yet to score against bottom 6 opposition this season.

Frank Lampard Junior looks likely to keep the Flat Track bully tag for the season with an average ranked opponent of 14.55 per goal. His penalty against 10th placed Fulham was his first goal since Round 26. His average opponent per goal is ranked 3 places lower than Super Clint Dempsey’s 11.38. The Texan midfielder has had an awesome season and has eclipsed his previous best of 12 last season. He’s one short of 50 Premier League goals. He’s surely above Cobi Jones as the best American to have played in England?

Cisse’s meteoric rise continues for Newcastle. His 10th goal in 9 games since joining has put him level with Premier League hot shots Jermain Defoe (9.50) and Javier Hernandez (11.60). You have to wonder if he’s somehow nicked Demba Ba’s shooting boots as he’s done sod all since his countryman joined. But these three are in the shadow of big Yakubu (12.81). His brace against Liverpool took his league tally to 16. This equals his best tally in England which he achieved with Portsmouth back in 2003-04. In that season he managed it in 37 games, this season has taken just 23 games. He had just 10 goals in his previous 53 Premier League games. Unfortuantely for Blackburn, his goals weren’t enough as big Andy Carroll made things interesting in his competition with Fernando Torres. Carroll’s winner was his 4th league goal of the season to Torres’ five. Also, why doesn’t Maxi play more? He always seems to score when he plays. I admittedly haven’t watched every Liverpool game, but i’m pretty sure he’s better than Downing/Henderson? I suggested Liverpool would have a big say in the relegation fight after defeats to Wigan and QPR and this win over Blackburn will have as big an effect.

FA Cup this weekend, and Everton go in on the back of their best form of the season with just two defeats in thirteen. Their 4-0 win over Sunderland was especially impressive after they fielded a weakened team. As shown in the last post, they always finish the season strongly, and although I had no answer for it then (yesterday), perhaps it’s down to each summer selling a key member of the squad (Rooney, Lescott, Arteta, etc….) taking a while to recover, and then getting a shot in the arm in the January window – Donavon, Jelavic, Gibson? Who knows.

That’s all for now, Spanish and Italian leagues to follow. The next feature is looking like a big one, so may take a little while longer.

Cheers,

Liam

Premier League Round 32 – Lite

10 Apr

Due to two sets of fixtures within a short space of time, i’ll just put up a very quick update before the main one later this week. With that in mind, something a little different – a look at the usual average opposition rankings at the time of playing, and then by way of comparison, another look at the same scorers, but measured against current positions in the table.

Based on opposition ranking at the time of play:

Based on opposition ranking in current table:

 Well well well, that’s a turn up for the books. It’s England’s very own Wayne Rooney who’s doing it most regularly against the Top 6 teams. After adjusting for current league positions, Rooney’s Top 6 goals are increased by his hat trick against a poor early season version of a struggling Arsenal (now 3rd), and a goal against Spurs who were poor, then really good, and now poor again – but they’re still in the Top 6 at the moment. The average rank of opponent he’s scored against has now jumped from 12.27 to a respectable 10.41 (over the 10.5 average). The only man with more goals than him is Robin van Persie – and there’s not much change for him. He still has 7 goals against the Top 6, but his average has improved to 10.69 from 11.27.

The biggest change is Edin Dzeko. Although he’s been as useful as a Chocolate Teapot of late, his 4 goals against an early season Spurs, are now transformed into Top 6 opposition, and his average has jumped 4 places from 14.54 to a decent 10.15. Steven Fletcher gets the nod for the best average – of 8.70. As mentioned earlier in the season, he’s scored against Spurs, Arsenal, Man Utd, Newcastle and Liverpool – big games one and all. Adebayor on the other hand see’s his average fall from 8.15 to 11.15.

Interesting, I’m sure you’ll all agree…..

A couple of talking points:

  • Clint Dempsey scored his 14th and 15th league goals of the season in round 31, away at Bolton. Cue questions about where he’ll be next season.
  • Arsenal got back to winning ways with their 8th win in 9 games against Man City. In recent weeks, they have wins against Man City (2nd), Spurs (then 3rd), AC Milan (then 1st in Serie A), Liverpool (then 7th). It’s fair to say that they’ve turned things around, and are no longer reliant on van Persie’s goals. Which is a very good thing, as he hasn’t scored for 4 games (thanks to some great defending by Vermaelen).
  • Is Papiss Demba Cisse the new Tony Yeboah? As of Round 32, he has 9 goals in 8 games (which got better in round 33). Yeboah joined Leeds mid season, and scored 12 in his first 18 games. His strike rate fell dramatically after 18 months. Time will tell.
  • Liverpool avoided 4 consecutive defeats with a 1-1 home draw against Villa. Suarez scored his 8th league goal of the season, with an average of 11.4. They’ll be hoping for a better return next season from the talented Uruguayan.
  • Stop the press, Man Utd are relentless.
  • Stop the press, Everton are finishing the season strongly:

You’ll notice that for the last 5 seasons, aside from a good start to the 2007-08 season, they have always finished the season in their highest league position. No one seems to be able to explain it, it’s just accepted – like the guarantee that England will always lose a penalty shoot out and Big Sam will believe that he doesn’t play the long ball game.

I’ll give a more detailed update once Round 33 ends on Wednesday – so far there’s been some decent talking points, and with Man Utd holding an 8 point lead over City, the focus could well be on the race for the Champions League spots (I’m looking at you Newcastle).

Cheers,

Liam

Premier League Round 29

22 Mar

Man Utd continued to turn the screw on City rivals City with an easy 5-0 away win at Wolves (19th). Whilst it isn’t going to win any Big Game Player awards, it was interesting that Javier Hernandez’ brace means that he’s into double figures for the league season once again. There’s always the fear of second season syndrome after a player comes in from abroad and has a great first season, but he’s showed consistency with 10 goals in 23 games (average opposition 11.6 per goal). Looking at the Man Utd strikers, it’s easy to remember back to the 1999 team when they had Yorke, Cole, Sherringham and Solksjaer. This season it’s been Rooney, Welbeck, Hernandez and Berbatov, and although not as prolific as their predecessors, they still have a decent 44 league goals between them. Man City’s forward line of Dzeko, Aguero, Balotelli and Tevez have 41 – though Tevez hasn’t played many games this season for some reason? So the pressure was back on City with the game against Top 6 Chelsea (the first team to beat them this season) at home last night.

Well they dealt with the pressure well. It was in fact a rare appearance from Carlitos that helped break down a resolute Chelsea defence, providing an assist for Samir Nasri to score his 4th league goal of the season late on (average opposition of 9.5). Although he hasn’t matched his goalscoring performance for Arsenal last season, his 4 goals have proved important, as they’ve gained 4 points for City. Chelsea’s decent recent run came to an end, but they’ve shown good form recently, and losing away to a team that have won 20 consecutive home games is no disgrace. It’ll be interesting to see what team Terry picks this weekend.

And so onto the usual Average Opposition Stats:

Very little change in the goalscoring charts – Kun Aguero’s penalty against Chelsea moved him one clear of Demba Ba on 17 games, and also increases his goals against the Top 6 to 3. As a result, his Average Opponent per goal is now 11.65. Javier Hernandez’s double against a poor Wolves team has moved him into the goal scoring charts. The two goals against 19th placed Wolves, lowers his average to 11.60, though he has a good scoring split of 3 against Bottom 6, 4 against Mid 8 teams and 3 against the Top 6.

As a result of the lack of activity from the leading goalscorers, it’s Adebayor who retains the best average opposition ranking of 7.82, whilst Frank Lampard’s 10 goals from midfield have been on average against 15th place opponents – keeping the Flat Track Bully tag.

Elsewhere, Arsenal’s meteoric rise up the table continues. Despite Robin van Persie’s goal drought of one game, the Gunners have now won 6 games in a row thanks to Vermaelen’s 5th goal of the season:

It’s been an impressive return from injury for the Belgian Centre Back, and he’s continued to show the goalscoring form that he first displayed upon signing. Gary Cahill also scored at the weekend, bringing his tally up to 3 for the season, though this was his first league goal for Chelsea.

Of course Arsenal’s rise up the table has been doubly sweet. Not only have they been in great form, but they’ve also done it at the expense of North London rivals Tottenham. After tricky games (and defeats) against Arsenal, Man Utd, Everton and Man City as well as draws against Liverpool and this time Stoke, have left Spurs with just 8 points from the last 24, whilst Arsenal have taken 19. They now sit proudly in 3rd.

Another team sitting proudly at the moment are 8th placed Swansea. A 3-0 away win against 10th placed Fulham was inspired by recent loan signing Gylfi Sigurdsson. His double took his season’s tally to 5 goals in 9 games, with 2 assists thrown in. Hoffenheim have apparently received enquiries for the talented Icelandic on the back of this form, though Swansea will certainly be hoping to keep him.

And lastly, a quick look at the bottom. Despite being written off by many due to their run in (including me), QPR surprised a lot of people by coming back from two goals down to beat 7th place Liverpool. Also doing well at the bottom were Blackburn, who continued their good form of late with a 2-0 win over Sunderland (8th at the start of the round), courtesy of Junior Hoillet and Yakubu’s goals.  The Yak remains the most important player to his team in terms of percentage of points won (46.43%), whilst Robin van Persie has won the most points – a whopping 22 points, which has already beaten last season’s highest of 17 (Odemwingie):

Rafael van der Vaart’s late equaliser for Spurs against Stoke mean that he has the best ratio of goals to points, with 10 points won from 8 goals. At the other end of the scale, Wayne Rooney’s 20 goals have only been worth 8 points to Man Utd this season.

That’s it for the Premier League this week, I’m currently working on a feature on Diego Maradona at the moment, and hope to have it up by the end of the weekend.

Thanks,

Liam

Premier League Round 28

15 Mar

After 21 weeks in 1st place, Man City are now experiencing what many a title challenger have – Man Utd’s second half of the season form. No one should be surprised, it’s pretty much a guarantee. Death, Taxes and Man Utd finishing the season strongly, are the only three guarantees in life. And maybe Lee Cattermole kicking someone or crying. There’s just four guarantees in life. And Gerrard being Liverpool’s best player. There’s just five things……

You get the idea.

There’s just six guarantees in life….Dutch Footballers arguing with eachother

The plan is for a very quick post as I’ve got things to do but so much has gone on, it’s hard to cover everything. So here’s a few bullet points to speed things up:

  • Rooney’s goalscoring in the league this season:
    • 9 in 5
    • 0 in 9
    • 4 in 3
    • 0 in 6
    • 7 in 5
  • Steven Gerrard is a big game player – he’s scored in 3 games this season, once against Man Utd (their most hated rivals), once against Newcastle (Top 6 rivals) and a hat trick against Everton (their local rivals). His average opposition per goal is ranked 7.2, which is pretty impressive, and would be enough to put him at number one, if he had more goals. Hopefully for England’s sake, he’ll continue this form into the summer.
  • Crisis? What Crisis? Arsenal have now won 5 league games in a row. They’ve come from behind in the last 4 of those, against 4 teams in the Top 8. All of a sudden, they look formidable again. Their average opponent for the last 4 wins is 6th.
  • Crisis? What Crisis? Blackburn are now ranked 12th in the form table over the last 8 games.Three wins, two draws and three defeats isn’t particularly eye opening, but for a team that’s been in the relegation places for pretty much the whole season, and only had three wins in their first 20 games. They’re now in the dizzy position of 16th on the back of a real six pointer against Wolves (18th). Junior Hoillet proving his importance with both the goals. His 6 goals this season have been worth 6 points. You can see why he’s been linked with a big move away. It was also their first clean sheet of the season – shame on you Wolves.

Robin van Persie’s goal against his compatriot not only helped Arsenal to another Top 6 scalp, but also increased his lead at the top of the scoring charts to 26, and also increased his lead at the top of the goals against the Top 6 to 7. And that’s without the brace against 7th placed Liverpool in round 27. Impressive stuff. Rooney’s great run of form (he also has three in the two games against Bilbao) has seen him fly up the scoring charts, and means he’s got 20 league goals for just the second time in his career. However, his average of 12.05 and a tally of 8 goals vs Bottom 6 teams leaves room for improvement.

Holding the titles for this week are Big Game Player Adebayor with 7.82, and (useful) veteran and Flat Track Bully Frank Lampard with 14.90. As mentioned before, the caveat is that he’s a midfielder, though Dempsey (11.17), and Bale (13.11) both have done it against better ranked opponents.

As it’s just a quick entry this week, i’ll add a few Team Stats up for your information and interpretation:

Clean Sheets:

Arsenal’s recovery hasn’t been built on defence, Blackburn will be hoping their first clean sheet of the season will lead to others agianst Bottom 6 opponents, and QPR maybe have some hope with the terrible run in they have – they face Man Utd, Man City, Spurs, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Sunderland and the “easy” games – in form Swansea, West Brom and Stoke. Their 4 clean sheets have included shut outs against Newcastle and Chelsea. It’s still looking bad for them though. Man Utd and Fulham make short work of the stragglers at the bottom, whils Everton have kept the most clean sheets against Top 6 teams – with 3.

Wins:

Liverpool have the highest ranked opponent per win with 11.36. They only have one win against Top 6 opponents as Arsenal were ranked 10th at the time of Liverpool’s 2-0 win, and Newcastle were ranked 7th when losing at Anfield. Man Utd prove that taking care of the simple things like beating bottom 6 teams, can get you to the top. The 9 wins clocked up against the bottom 6 have provided 27 of their 67 points. City lead the way against Top 6 teams, followed by a bouyant Arsenal, Everton and Man Utd. If Wolves do stay up, it’ll be becuase they’ve beaten 5 of the teams around them.

That’s all for this quick edition of the Premier League Update for now.

Cheers,

Liam