EPL

Premier League data dive: Casemiro channels Vidic, Trossard claims rare treble

By Sports Desk March 12, 2023

Leandro Trossard and Casemiro were two of the standout players in Sunday's Premier League action – though for contrasting reasons.

Belgium international Trossard was inspirational as Arsenal's title tilt remained on track, while Casemiro was shown a second red card in three Premier League appearances as Manchester United slipped up again.

Miguel Almiron was Newcastle United's hero, Eddie Howe's men closing on the Champions League places again, and Ollie Watkins continued his fine form for Aston Villa in their draw with West Ham.

After the conclusion of the day's drama, Stats Perform highlights the pick of the Opta numbers.

Manchester United 0-0 Southampton: Another Casemiro red threatens to derail Ten Hag's men

Casemiro has undoubtedly been one of United's best players this season, but if they now miss out on the top four, the Brazil international will have to take part of the blame.

His sending off in the first half on Sunday for a heavy challenge on Carlos Alcaraz proved costly, with United only able to scrape a point thereafter.

That made him the first United player to receive two red cards in one Premier League season since Nemanja Vidic in 2013-14, and just the second to earn a pair of reds in his first campaign for the club after Darren Fletcher (2003-04).

He will now miss their next four matches – at the end of that run, he will have been suspended for eight games this year alone.

 

While some United fans might have had the perception this was always going to be the risk that came with signing a player like Casemiro, he had never been shown a straight red in his entire senior career before moving to Old Trafford.

Of course, for Southampton, Casemiro's dismissal proved helpful. While they could not get the win they might feel they deserved, Saints managed to keep a third clean sheet in four games under Ruben Selles – that is one more than in their previous 34 league games.

Fulham 0-3 Arsenal: Trossard inspirational as Gunners continue to deal out capital punishment

Arsenal's comprehensive win at Craven Cottage was their fifth successive away London derby win without conceding a goal.

That is a feat no club has managed previously in the Premier League.

Trossard played a vital role with a unique feat of his own, setting up all three of Arsenal's goals, with each one coming in the first half.

Thus, the Belgian became the first player to ever tally a hat-trick of assists in the first half of a Premier League away game.

 

Trossard's second was a looping cross that found Gabriel Martinelli for a close-range header, the Brazilian nodding in his 23rd top-flight goal for the club.

He is now only one away from surpassing Nicolas Anelka as the foreign player with the most Premier League strikes for the club before turning 22.

That first-half flurry keeps the Gunners on track in the title race, five points clear of Manchester City in second.

West Ham 1-1 Aston Villa: Watkins in a groove

Unai Emery has certainly managed to steady the ship at Aston Villa since replacing Steven Gerrard in the dugout, and the form of Watkins has been among the most notable improvements.

The striker netted again on Sunday, opening the scoring at London Stadium as he headed in from Alex Moreno's cross.

Since the World Cup, only Marcus Rashford (10), Erling Haaland (10) and Harry Kane (eight) have scored more Premier League goals than Watkins (seven).

That includes goals in each of his past four Premier League away games, which is the longest such scoring run by a Villa player since Dwight Yorke between March and May 1998 (also four).

 

Unfortunately for Villa, West Ham levelled just nine minutes later through Said Benrahma, who was lively throughout.

His penalty continued his 100 per cent record from the spot in English league football, with that his third from three for West Ham having also converted 4/4 at Brentford.

Over the course of the 90 minutes, Benrahma had 10 shots, which is the joint-most on record (since the 2003-04 season) for a West Ham player in a single Premier League game.

He could not single-handedly inspire a turnaround, however.

Newcastle United 2-1 Wolves: Almiron comes up trumps yet again

Almiron has stepped up this season, becoming a key player for Newcastle and a regular source of goals.

A recent dip in form saw him dropped from the starting XI for the visit of Wolves on Sunday, but he responded well.

 

Eleven minutes after his second-half introduction, he found space in the right side of the box and saw a deflected effort beat Jose Sa following Joe Willock's well-timed pass.

That was his fourth winning goal of the season – the most among Newcastle players – and his 11th goal in total in the Premier League, which is four than his previous four campaigns combined.

 

Earlier, Hwang Hee-chan had equalised just 57 seconds after coming off the bench, making it the second-fastest substitute goal of the season.

But the day belonged to Almiron as Newcastle ended a five-match winless streak.

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    Bayer Leverkusen were "not interested" in maintaining their unbeaten record, according to Granit Xhaka, who acknowledged his frustrations after Wednesday's Europa League final disappointment.

    Xabi Alonso's Bundesliga champions had not suffered defeat since the final game of last season against Bochum, but succumbed to their next loss in the decisive moment against Atalanta in Dublin.

    Ademola Lookman stole the headlines with a remarkable hat-trick, powering Gian Piero Gasperini's team to their first title in 61 years, when Atalanta won the Coppa Italia.

    A 3-0 defeat ensured Leverkusen will have to settle for, at most, a domestic double as they look to bounce back on Saturday in the DFB-Pokal final.

    Yet Xhaka insisted Alonso's side never had the undefeated streak in their minds as soon as kick-off arrived at the Aviva Stadium.

    "Honestly, we're not interested in the unbeaten record," the former Arsenal midfielder said to RTL. "We didn't care about that from the start.

    "It's about the game and unfortunately we lost a final today. That's football.

    "We said yesterday that it would be a difficult game. Compliments to Atalanta."

    Leverkusen's unbeaten streak spanned nine months and 51 games this season, starting their 2023-24 campaign with a first-round DFB-Pokal thrashing of lowly Teutonia Ottensen in mid-August.

    Alonso's impressive men triumphed in 42 of those matches during their historic unbeaten run across all competitions, drawing the other nine as Leverkusen coasted to their first Bundesliga title in history.

    Scoring 143 goals and conceding just 39 across that dominant period, not many would have expected Gasperini's side to shutout Leverkusen and beat goalkeeper Matej Kovar three times in the process.

    Leverkusen are the first league-title winners to lose the UEFA Cup/Europa League final in the same season since Benfica in 2013-14, and the first German side to do since Borussia Dortmund in 2001-02.

    In single-game only finals, this was also the biggest margin of defeat for a German team since Eintracht Frankfurt lost 7-3 to Real Madrid in the 1960 European Cup, perhaps explaining Xhaka's annoyance.

  • Europa League misery will not taint Alonso's Leverkusen pride Europa League misery will not taint Alonso's Leverkusen pride

    Xabi Alonso will not allow Bayer Leverkusen's Europa League final defeat against Atalanta to alter his pride, after their historic 51-game unbeaten run ended on Wednesday.

    The Bundesliga champions were eyeing an unlikely treble, with the DFB-Pokal final to come this weekend, but those plans came crashing down in a 3-0 loss to Atalanta.

    Ademola Lookman single-handedly powered Gian Piero Gasperini's side to their first title in 61 years, producing an individual performance for the ages with a decisive hat-trick.

    European heartbreak marked Leverkusen's first loss this season, with their last defeat coming to Bochum on the last day of the 2022-23 Bundesliga campaign, as Alonso's side were finally stopped.

    Yet the former Liverpool and Bayern Munich midfielder says nothing can take away from Leverkusen's memorable campaign.

    "For me the result today does not change one bit how I feel about my players or what we have been doing," the Leverkusen head coach told TNT Sports.

    "It hurts because we wanted to lift the trophy but you can't have everything. We lifted the Bundesliga and we have the chance to lift the DFB-Pokal on Saturday."

    Leverkusen are the first team to win the league title but lose the UEFA Cup/Europa League final in the same term since Benfica in 2013-14, and the first German side to do since Borussia Dortmund in 2001-02.

    "This season and achievements have surpassed all expectations," Alonso continued.

    "I was hoping and getting ready to maybe do something great but this has been so much more.

    "To achieve what we have for a club like Leverkusen is great. To be in the last week of the season having lifted the Bundesliga and then going for the Pokal too means a lot.

    "First year as a coach, it is going quite well!"

    A monumental occasion at the Aviva Stadium marked Atalanta's first-ever major European trophy as they became the 10th different Italian side to do so, second only to teams from England (13).

    Alonso was unsurprised by the excellence of Gasperini and his Atalanta side, however.

    "It is not something they have just done this year, they have been doing it for many years," the Spaniard said, acknowledging the work of 66-year-old Gasperini.

    "They are a special team. Normally we get in better positions ourselves but today we could not.

    "We were not able to come back and get that back. It was not meant to be.

    "The unbeaten run has come to an end but congratulations to Atalanta, they deserve it, so nothing more to say."

  • 'We wrote history' – Gasperini and Lookman cherish Atalanta's Europa League glory 'We wrote history' – Gasperini and Lookman cherish Atalanta's Europa League glory

    Gian Piero Gasperini and Ademola Lookman both cherished creating Atalanta history after ending Bayer Leverkusen's unbeaten run and securing Europa League glory.

    Lookman produced a performance worthy of the most important European moment in Atalanta's history, securing the club's first-ever major trophy on the continent after his dazzling hat-trick.

    The Nigeria winger is just the sixth player to manage a treble in a major UEFA final and the first since Jupp Heynckes’ for Borussia Mönchengladbach against Twente in 1975.

    Lookman will be the toast of Bergamo when Gasperini's side head home, boasting their first trophy in 61 years – after the Coppa Italia – following a 3-0 triumph to end Leverkusen's 51-game unbeaten run.

    "One of the best nights of my life," the hat-trick hero told TNT Sports in Dublin.

    "Amazing performance from the team, we did it, we did it, we did it! I haven't got much else to say, but fantastic."

    Lookman is also just the second player to score a treble for an Italian side in the final of a major European competition, after Pierino Prati for Milan against Ajax in the 1969 European Cup

    Preparing to leave the Aviva Stadium with the Europa League trophy in hand, Lookman could not wait to celebrate a seismic moment in the club's history.

    "We've got to celebrate, we made history tonight," he added.

    Gasperini, aged 66 years and 117 days on Wednesday, is the oldest coach to win his debut major European final, and the second Italian coach to win the Europa League after Maurizio Sarri in 2019.

    The veteran Atalanta mastermind echoed Lookman's sentiment, after securing just a second trophy in the Italian club's history.

    "I think we wrote history, also for the way we won it," said Gasperini, speaking to UEFA's official media channels.

    "It was just extraordinary, we defeated Liverpool, Sporting who won the championship. When we faced Liverpool they were first in the Premier League... And now the German champions.

    "Incredible. The boys were extraordinary, a memorable performance."

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