Premier League: 10 Standout Statistics From the Season so Far
Manchester United lacking fight?
Despite their poor run of form, Ole Gunnar Solskjær has commended the spirit of his Manchester United players. However, the numbers tell a different story. When a team is short of ideas and quality in attack, it is always a good idea to go back to the basics of defending to rebuild. But United simply do not work hard enough to regain possession. They have won fewer tackles and interceptions combined (125 tackles and 66 interception) than any other team in the division. They are not be far behind Manchester City and Liverpool in those statistics but, crucially, United are not keeping the ball as well or pressing as effectively. They have won the ball in the attacking third just 27 times compared to City’s 49 and Liverpool’s 57.
Leicester leading the tackles
It may seem poor timing to praise Leicester’s tackling but, Brendan Rodgers’ side have broken up play superbly this season. They have made more tackles than any other team in the division (22.1 per game) and they boast the two top tacklers in the division – Ricardo Pereira and Wilfred Ndidi, who have 35 each. To make it even more impressive, Leicester had received just five yellow cards before their game at Anfield on Saturday (when they picked up four more). What were we saying about timing?
Expect stoppages where Villa are involved
On the theme of duels, Aston Villa have shown they are definitely up for the fight in the top flight. Dean Smith’s men are not only the most fouled team in the division (14 per game) – a direct consequence of having Jack Grealish in the side – but they have also committed the most too (12.5 per game). Added time is never in short supply when Villa are on the field.
Don’t leave Wolves early
Wolves fans should be more than happy to stick around for added time this season. Their team has made a habit of leaving it late. Only Manchester City have scored more goals in the final 15 minutes of matches than Nuno Espírito Santo’s men this season; City have scored six of their goals in the last 15 minutes, compared to Wolves’ five. Adama Traoré continued Wolves’ run of late goals at the Etihad on Sunday. His second goal of the afternoon came in the 94th minute – making it the third goal Wolves have scored after the 90-minute mark in the Premier League. When their games in the Europa League are taken into consideration, Wolves have scored in the last 15 minutes of matches against eight different opponents this season.
Everton run out of ideas
While Nuno is bringing the best from his players late in games, his countryman Marco Silva is struggling to get a full shift from his players. Everton have only scored six goals in the league this season and just one of them has come in the second half – funnily enough, it was against Wolves. The fact that Everton have only scored two goals with their feet (the worst return in the league) also suggests the team are short of solutions in attack.
Blades need to sharpen up
Sheffield United sit 13th in the league after eight matches, having scored and conceded seven goals. Chris Wilder’s team is proving competitive at this level but he will have one clear concern: the speed with which they start matches. They have only scored one goal in the first half of a match and that was an own goal scored by Everton defender Yerry Mina.
Newcastle seeing pros and cons of Bruce-ball
Steve Bruce’s reputation precedes him wherever he goes in management and he has certainly been around the block. He returned home in the summer but Newcastle fans did not exactly hold a welcome party. Bruce is renowned for organising his teams well, which can lead to results such as Newcastle’s 1-0 wins over Manchester United and Tottenham this season. But there is a reason fans at his former clubs were generally happy to see him go. Newcastle have had almost 5% less of the ball (37.5%) than any other side in the league; they have taken the joint fewest shots (76, the same as Wolves); and they have only scored five goals (Watford are the only team to have found the net less often). Their results against Manchester United and Tottenham were memorable but their performances are usually forgettable.
Arsenal still can’t defend
Arsenal picked up a clean sheet at the weekend but Bernd Leno still needs more protection. Before the 1-0 win over Bournemouth on Sunday, Arsenal had conceded the most shots in the league. They still rank third in that regard (17 shots conceded per game), behind newly promoted Norwich City and Aston Villa. Leno has made more saves than any other keeper in the division (34), which is a testament to the German but another ringing indictment of the players in front of him.
If Watford do not find a goalscorer soon, they will be in desperate trouble. In their eight matches so far, they have scored just four goals – and none of their players has scored more than once. There is some hope for the club at the bottom of the league: creating chances has not been a problem. Only Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool have taken more shots (14.1 per game) than Watford so far this season. If they can’t find a finisher – either within their own ranks or during the January transfer window – it will all be in vain.
Tottenham are missing two former players
The Spurs team looks like a shadow of its former self. Along with a documented drop off in their approach to pressing, the departure of Kieran Trippier – and to a lesser extent Fernando Llorente – has stripped them of a trusted weapon. Tottenham scored 14 headed goals last season (only Liverpool scored more). But, without the same crossing ability from wide areas and an alternative target to find in the box, they now rank last for headed attempts, with just eight in as many matches. Manchester City, a notoriously small team, lead the way with 30 headed attempts this season, proving what (un)real quality can achieve – see Kevin De Bruyne.