EPL

Premier League data dive: Arsenal's Goodison gloom as Reds' rot continues

By Sports Desk February 04, 2023

Arsenal's assault on the Premier League title suffered a hit at Goodison Park as Sean Dyche provided the new manager bounce for Everton.

The Toffees secured a first league win since October to condemn the Gunners to defeat, opening the door for Manchester City to cut the gap to the leaders to just two points if they beat Tottenham on Sunday.

Sean Dyche's side were not the only relegation-threatened team to pick up a major scalp, as Wolves stunned Liverpool at Molineux to extend a miserable run of form for Jurgen Klopp's Reds.

There was no similar result for Southampton, who were picked apart by in-form Brentford, while Manchester United maintained their fine home run with a hard-fought win against Crystal Palace.

Here, Stats Perform looks at the most interesting facts to emerge from Saturday's Premier League action.

Everton 1-0 Arsenal: Goodison gloom for Gunners

Goodison Park is a ground that used to hold many happy memories for Mikel Arteta, who started his Premier League career at the club, but three consecutive league defeats for Arsenal at the venue may have changed that.

Arteta has lost all of his three Premier League away matches to Everton, the first Gunners manager to endure such a run, while the Toffees boast three consecutive home league victories against Arsenal for the first time since March 1977 to August 1978.

It handed Arsenal just their second defeat in their last 21 Premier League matches (won 17, drawn 2), with the loss ending a streak of 14 unbeaten top-flight games for the league leaders.

Dyche, meanwhile, became just the second manager to beat a side starting the day top of the table in his first Premier League game in charge of a club, after Alan Curbishley defeated Manchester United in his first match with West Ham in December 2006.

Wolves 3-0 Liverpool: Dawson delight amid Klopp rot

Craig Dawson is not a name that would usually strike fear for opposition defenders in the Premier League but the Wolves defender has established a habit of haunting Liverpool, his latest goal representing his third against the Reds.

Each of those goals have come for a different side (West Brom, West Ham, Wolves) and he has scored more goals against Liverpool than he has versus any other side.

Klopp's side have now lost three consecutive away games in the Premier League for the first time since a run of four in April 2012 and have lost back-to-back Saturday 3pm kick-offs in the competition for the first time since March 2012.

A horror start was their downfall against Wolves, with Liverpool conceding more Premier League goals in the opening five minutes of matches than any side this season (five), while Joel Matip's own goal was his first in 135 Premier League appearances.

Brentford 3-0 Southampton: Bees buzzing at home

Unbeaten in their last nine Premier League games (won five, drawn four), only Newcastle United are currently on a longer run without defeat – extending their streak to 16 with a draw against West Ham in the late kick-off.

The Bees' trio of goals against Southampton took their tally to 23 goals in 11 Premier League home games this season, already surpassing the tally of 22 last term. In fact, only Manchester City (38) and Arsenal (25) have scored more at home this term.

On target with a header yet again, 10 of Ben Mee's 12 Premier League goals have come in that fashion and no side has conceded more headed goals in the top-flight this season than Southampton (10), two of them being on Saturday.

Pressure upon Saints boss Nathan Jones continues to rise, with Southampton losing eight of their last nine in the Premier League, winning just once, while they have just a single clean sheet in their last 27 matches in the competition.

Manchester United 2-1 Crystal Palace: Penalties on point for United

With 13 consecutive home wins in all competitions, Manchester United are in their stride and are enjoying their longest such run at Old Trafford since a 20-match streak between December 2010 and September 2011.

While Marcus Rashford scored in five consecutive Premier League home games for the first time, it was Bruno Fernandes' opener from the penalty spot that sent Erik Ten Hag's side on their way – and took the Portugal midfielder's tally of penalty goals in the Premier League to 14.

Only Wayne Rooney (20) and Ruud van Nistelrooy (18) have scored more from the spot for United than Fernandes, with his latest effort being the club's 173rd all-time spot-kick in the Premier League – the joint-highest total alongside Liverpool.

The red mist descended on Casemiro, however, with the Brazilian shown a straight red card for the first time in Europe's top-five leagues; the dismissal coming in his 366th such appearance.

That provided a late charge for Palace, who saw eight of their 10 shots come in the final 20 minutes after Casemiro's dismissal, but Patrick Vieira's side remain winless in the Premier League in 2023 (drawn 2, lost 3), scoring just once in the process.

Related items

  • Atalanta v Bayer Leverkusen: Will Alonso's Invincibles complete second leg of treble? Atalanta v Bayer Leverkusen: Will Alonso's Invincibles complete second leg of treble?

    Back in 2001-02, Bayer Leverkusen earned the unwanted moniker of 'Neverkusen' as they saw a potential treble unravel in the space of 11 traumatic days, finishing as runners-up in the Bundesliga, Champions League and DFB-Pokal.

    Twenty-two years later, Xabi Alonso's Werkself have already gone some way to banishing those ghosts by making Bundesliga history, Saturday's 2-1 win over Augsburg completing their unbeaten title-winning campaign.

    This week, they have a chance to make it an unbeaten treble, heading to Dublin for Wednesday's Europa League final before taking on Kaiserslautern in the DFB-Pokal on Saturday. 

    Looking to deny Bayer one of the greatest achievements in recent memory are Atalanta, participating in their first European final following a memorable run that included a stunning quarter-final elimination of Liverpool.

    Ahead of the first of 2023-24's European finals, here's the key storylines and Opta facts surrounding the two contenders.  

    One down, two to go

    Wednesday's game offers Bayer the chance to complete the second leg of an unbeaten treble. 

    On Saturday, they became the first team in Bundesliga history to enjoy an unbeaten season, while only Arsenal (in 2003-04) and Juventus (2011-12) had previously achieved the feat in Europe's top five leagues this century. 

    Leverkusen are still unbeaten in 51 games in all competitions this season (42 wins, nine draws), with 12 of those coming in the Europa League (nine wins, three draws). 

    Three sides have previously won the competition without losing a game, with each of those triumphs coming within the last five editions – Chelsea in 2018-19, Villarreal in 2020-21 and Eintracht Frankfurt in 2021-22.  

    Wednesday's match will be the third major European final in Leverkusen's history, with Bayer beating Espanyol in a two-legged UEFA Cup final in 1988 and losing 2-1 to a Zinedine Zidane-inspired Real Madrid in the 2002 Champions League showpiece. 

    Alonso has taken Germany and Europe by storm with his brand of progressive, possession-based football, and Bayer's total of 6,622 successful passes in the Europa League this season is the most by any team in a single edition since 2019-20 victors Sevilla recorded 6,971. 

    Their passing accuracy of 89.5 per cent is the second highest on record (behind Nice in 2017-18, 90 per cent), while their 94.3 per cent success rate with short passes is the best ever recorded in a Europa League campaign.

    But even when Leverkusen have been less than free-flowing, they have found ways to avoid defeat.

    They squandered a 2-0 first-leg lead in the second leg of their semi-final tie against Roma, only to fight back for a 2-2 draw which saw them progress 4-2 on aggregate. Josip Stanisic scored a 97th-minute equaliser in that game, the sixth goal Bayer have scored in the 90th minute or later in the Europa League this term.

    That is the most ever managed by a team in a single major European campaign, and they also rescued their unbeaten Bundesliga record with last-gasp strikes against Borussia Dortmund and Stuttgart last month.

    If Leverkusen find themselves with their backs against the wall on Wednesday, viewers would be wise not to rule them out.

    Can the nearly men get over the line?  

    Leverkusen's Bundesliga triumph has allowed them to shake off their "nearly men" tag, but Atalanta are hoping it's a case of fourth time lucky for them in major finals under Gian Piero Gasperini.

    La Dea, whose only major trophy win came in the Coppa Italia in 1962-63, were beaten 1-0 by Juventus in the Coppa Italia final last week – their third loss in that competition's showpiece game under Gasperini.

    However, they bounced back with a 2-0 Serie A win over Lecce on Saturday, Gianluca Scamacca and Charles De Ketelaere scoring as they secured a top-five finish and Champions League qualification for 2024-25.

    A return to Europe's premier club competition is just reward for a fine campaign for the Bergamo club, who will finish a Serie A season with more than 65 points (currently 66) for the fifth time (with all seasons adjusted for three points per win).

    The four previous instances – in 2016-17 (72), 2018-19 (69), 2019-20 (78) and 2020-21 (78) – also all came under Gasperini. 

    While their free-flowing attacking play has returned this campaign, La Dea have also been excellent without the ball, facing just 2.8 shots on target per Europa League game on average. That is the lowest rate of any team in the 2023-24 competition, with opponents Bayer facing 4.1 per match.

    Their backline can expect to be tested on Wednesday, though, with Bayer's total of 232 shots in the Europa League this season the most by any team in a single edition since Chelsea tallied 247 in 2018-19.

    The coaches

    Fans can expect an intriguing tactical battle between two progressive coaches at the Aviva Stadium.

    Gasperini has overseen the most successful period in Atalanta's history since taking charge in 2016, though this will be his first European final as a manager. 

    At the age of 66 years and 117 days, he will become the oldest coach to take charge of his first major European final, and the oldest overall since Jupp Heynckes led Bayern Munich to glory in the 2013 Champions League final (68 years, 16 days).

    His counterpart Alonso – at the age of 42 years and 179 days – will be the youngest coach to manage a men's European final since Roberto Di Matteo oversaw Chelsea's memorable victory in the 2012 Champions League final at the age of 41 years and 356 days, beating Heynckes' Bayern.

    Having played for Liverpool in the 2005 and 2007 Champions League finals, Alonso will also become just the fourth person to play in and manage in a major European final this century.

    Zidane played for Madrid in the 2002 Champions League final then managed them in the 2016, 2017 and 2018 editions. Antonio Conte played for Juventus in the 2003 Champions League showpiece and coached Inter for the 2020 Europa League final, while Giovanni van Bronckhorst achieved the feat as a Barcelona player (2006 Champions League) and Rangers boss (2022 Europa League).

    Players to watch

    The likes of Alejandro Grimaldo, Victor Boniface, Granit Xhaka and Robert Andrich have played crucial roles for Bayer this season, but their key man is undoubtedly Florian Wirtz, who was named Bundesliga Player of the Year on Monday.

    Wirtz scored 11 goals and provided 11 assists throughout Bayer's triumphant Bundesliga campaign, also recording eight goal involvements (four goals, four assists) in the Europa League this term – the most of any Leverkusen player.

    Meanwhile, his total of 28 open-play chances created in the 2023-24 competition has only previously been bettered by five players in a single edition, most recently Amin Younes for Ajax in 2016-17 (30).

    For Atalanta, all eyes will be on Scamacca, who scored outstanding goals against Liverpool and Marseille in the last two rounds.

    The former West Ham striker has six goals in the Europa League this season, a tally only previously bettered by two Italian players in a single edition. Giuseppe Rossi netted 10 times for Villarreal in the 2010-11 tournament, while Ciro Immobile scored eight for Lazio in 2017-18.

    Prediction 

    Leverkusen enter Wednesday's game as favourites, with the Opta supercomputer rating their chances of victory within 90 minutes at 50.2 per cent.

    Atalanta, however, should not be ruled out, having won seven of their nine matches since losing 1-0 in the second leg of their Europa League quarter-final tie against Liverpool (one draw, one defeat).

    They are assigned a 24.4 per cent chance of victory, with 25.4 per cent of the supercomputer's match simulations finishing level, which would mean extra time and potentially penalties. 

  • Hojlund form gives Man Utd 'luxury problem' for FA Cup final, says Ten Hag Hojlund form gives Man Utd 'luxury problem' for FA Cup final, says Ten Hag

    Rasmus Hojlund's return to form presents a "luxury problem" for Manchester United ahead of this weekend's FA Cup final against Manchester City, says Erik ten Hag.

    Hojlund came off the bench to score United's second goal as they rounded off their Premier League campaign with a 2-0 win over Brighton and Hove Albion on Sunday, having also netted in last week's 3-2 victory over Newcastle United.

    He finished his debut Premier League season with 10 goals, becoming the youngest player to reach double figures in 2023-24 (21 years, 105 days old as of Sunday).

    Hojlund has battled injury problems and dips in form throughout the campaign, and in his absence, Ten Hag has often opted to deploy Bruno Fernandes as a false nine.

    The Portugal international started United's last two matches in that position, and Ten Hag says he has plenty to think about as he prepares to name his cup final lineup.

    "It is not a dilemma, it is a luxury problem," Ten Hag said.

    "I think both formations can be a success because, as you know, we can play with the set-up from the Etihad, where we were a threat with Bruno's movement in behind.

    "With Rasmus Hojlund in behind and in form, it is absolutely something we have to consider. 

    "Let's have a thought, but let's not say we only need 11 players. In a tough final, you need a bench as well."

    Hojlund failed to score in his first 15 Premier League matches before ending his drought against Aston Villa on Boxing Day, though he did score five times in United's unsuccessful Champions League campaign before Christmas.

    He has 16 goals across all competitions this term, which Ten Hag sees as a good effort when taking his fitness problems into account. 

    "It could always be better, but don't forget he had three injuries this season," Ten Hag said.

    "He came in with an injury and missed the start, then he got injured before winter, and then got another injury after winter. 

    "Every time that has broken his rhythm. If you score 16 goals for a first season, it is okay, and remember it is also not over. We have the final too."

  • Onana willing to take Man Utd criticism 'bullets' Onana willing to take Man Utd criticism 'bullets'

    Andre Onana says he is willing to take criticism "bullets" after a poor Premier League campaign for Manchester United.

    The Red Devils recorded their lowest-ever finish in eighth place, with the manager and players coming under scrutiny for some of their performances.

    One of those singled out was Onana, who joined United from Inter at the start of the season, after an error-strewn start to his life at the club.

    Asked how he deals with the criticism coming from fans, pundits, and former players, Onana said it does not bother him. 

    "For me, I don't pay attention to it. I have come into this team to take bullets because we are under construction – at the moment, we are not the best," he told the Overlap.

    "We have other teams who are doing better than us, and we have to be honest and recognise that. If things and when things are going wrong, don't go for the youngest player – I'm here to take it, Bruno [Fernandes], Casemiro and Harry [Maguire] are there, and we are used to it.

    "When it's people who were sitting where I'm sitting, who won everything, sometimes it's bizarre – we are in the same boat. We try to follow your thing and what you did. For me, I don't mind, but other people may be affected. For me, to be honest, it's just a part of the game."

    United conceded 84 goals in all competitions this season, their worst-ever tally in a single campaign.

    Erik ten Hag’s side also missed out on a European place due to their league finish but have another opportunity to get one if they beat Manchester City in the FA Cup final on Saturday.

    Onana is optimistic though as he views the season as a learning curve.

    "I'm happy because we have good people around us, especially at this club, who helped me so much," he added.

    "That's why I'm still smiling - because the first six months were difficult, but at the same time, it was a good moment to learn.

    "After playing the final of the Champions League and the final of the Europa League, you think you are the best – life gives you an opportunity to learn and says, 'You are never too big'.

    "You can have a good season, next year you have a bad season, but the year after an amazing season. The ups and downs and being here, you have to deal with them – especially being a goalkeeper."

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