Premier League on course for record-breaking season after incident-packed start

By Sports Desk November 20, 2023

The Premier League will return to action this weekend following 2023’s final international break.

Here, the PA news agency takes a statistical look at how things stand through the first 12 games of the season.

Goals galore

With 370 goals in 120 games, this season is averaging more than three goals per game – a rate which, if sustained for the full campaign, would be unprecedented in the Premier League era.

Last season’s 1,084 goals in 380 games meant an average of 2.85 per game, the highest since rebranding. This season’s average of 3.08 would lead to a total of 1,171, surpassed only by the early seasons of the Premier League featuring 22 teams each playing 42 games.

There have been only three goalless draws along the way – two of them in consecutive Crystal Palace home fixtures, against Fulham on September 23 and Nottingham Forest two weeks later. Bournemouth held Chelsea in the other.

Erling Haaland has picked up where he left off, the Manchester City striker again leading the scoring charts with 13. Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah is also in double figures already, with 10 in 12 appearances, while Jarrod Bowen and Son Heung-min, on eight apiece, and Callum Wilson with seven, complete the top five.

An increase in stoppage time under stricter enforcement rules has played a part, with 50 of the 370 goals coming in the added minutes – 13.5 per cent of the total, up from 7.7 per cent last term when there were only 84 stoppage-time goals all season.

Competitive campaign

The current table sees five teams on at least 25 points, the most ever through 12 games of a Premier League season.

There were four such teams in each of the 2011-12, 2016-17, 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons but Manchester City, Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham and Aston Villa have made it a Premier League-era high.

Just three points separate those five teams while the league has already completed a ‘victory loop’ – made by arranging results so that team one beats team two, team two defeats team three and so on until team 20 beats team one.

The 73 previous teams with at least 25 points at this stage include 20 league champions, a further 42 top-four finishers and only 11 who finished outside that bracket.

At the other end of the table, Burnley have only four points and have been joined on that total by Everton following the latter’s unprecedented 10-point deduction for financial breaches. Sheffield United, just a point better off, complete the relegation zone.

Only three teams have previously had as few as four points after 12 games – Everton themselves in 1994-95, QPR in 2012-13 and the Blades in 2020-21, who had only one point.

A further seven have been on five points at this stage and eight of the 10 teams overall were relegated. The only survivors were the aforementioned Everton team, in a 42-game season, and Crystal Palace in 2017-18 when Roy Hodgson rescued a dismal start that saw Frank de Boer sacked just four games into his reign.

Tough start for promoted teams

With Luton also on only six points, the combined record of the three promoted clubs is comfortably the lowest in the Premier League era.

The trio occupied the three relegation places until Everton’s points deduction and their combined 15 points smashes the previous record worst of 26 at this stage.

That was in 2007-08 and saw Derby on six points on their way to a record low of 11 for a Premier League season. Sunderland had nine and Birmingham, who were eventually relegated alongside the Rams, 11.

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  • The talking points ahead of England’s Women’s Nations League trip to Scotland The talking points ahead of England’s Women’s Nations League trip to Scotland

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    Only table-toppers advance to the Nations League semi-finals, and England are currently second in Group A1, level on nine points with leaders the Netherlands, who the Lionesses beat 3-2 at Wembley on Friday. While the two sides are locked on head-to-head record, the Dutch have a goal difference that is superior by three – so it could be that Sarina Wiegman’s side need not only a victory, but a high-scoring one. The Netherlands face a Belgium outfit that are a point behind in third, while already-relegated Scotland have two points.

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    This is not only about trying to progress to the Nations League’s last four. England are the nominated home nation for securing a Paris 2024 Olympics qualification spot, something that will be achieved if they advance and then make the Nations League final or, if France are finalists, come in the top three. With England’s success on that front the only way Scottish players will be able to play at the Games, it is certainly an unusual situation heading into Tuesday – ahead of which Scotland captain Rachel Corsie has said it is “absolutely outrageous to question anyone’s integrity”.

    Relegation threat

    Relegation from League A is not out of the equation for England – should things go awry for the European champions and World Cup runners-up on Tuesday to leave them third in the pool, that will put them in the promotion/relegation play-offs. The draws for the finals and the play-offs will take place next Monday, with the matches set to happen in February.

    Mead’s return

    If England need goals, a significant boost is that they now have Beth Mead, the Golden Boot winner when they triumphed at Euro 2022, back in the fold. The fit-again Arsenal forward made her first international appearance since suffering an ACL injury just over a year ago when she came on at half-time against the Netherlands, a game in which Wiegman’s team battled back in the second half after being 2-0 down at the break. At the back, they are again without the injured Millie Bright – goalkeeper Mary Earps captained in her absence against the Dutch.

    Previous meeting

    The teams opened their campaigns in this inaugural edition of the Nations League by facing each other at the Stadium of Light in September, with England edging Pedro Martinez Losa’s Scotland 2-1. Lucy Bronze and Lauren Hemp netted for the Lionesses before the deficit was reduced in first-half stoppage time by Kirsty Hanson, who subsequently hit the bar after the break.

  • Scotland captain Rachel Corsie insists questions over integrity are ‘outrageous’ Scotland captain Rachel Corsie insists questions over integrity are ‘outrageous’

    Captain Rachel Corsie believes any questioning of Scotland’s integrity when England visit Hampden on Tuesday night is “outrageous”.

    Pedro Martinez Losa’s side are already relegated from League A1 of the Women’s Nations League ahead of their final fixture in the inaugural competition.

    England are the nominated side to qualify on behalf of Team GB for the Olympics and they need to beat the Auld Enemy in Glasgow to have any chance of going to Paris next summer.

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    With England success the only way Scottish players will be able to play at the Olympics, Netherlands boss Andries Jonker described the situation as “strange”.

    Corsie said: “A lot of people outside have spoken about it, and truthfully I think it is so disrespectful.

    “To have played for my country for as many years as I have, to know the girls that sit in there, the ones that want to be here, the ones who can’t be here through injury, I think it is absolutely outrageous to question anyone’s integrity and I think it is a huge insult to us.

    “I understand why the question is being asked, but for us, the motivation is playing for your country.

    “It’s difficult to understand that if you’ve never experienced it but when you have experienced it, you don’t need extra motivation, it is absolutely the pinnacle of the sport to represent your nation so that will absolutely be the motivation tomorrow, to be pulling on the Scotland jersey.

    “The format is something that players don’t really have any input or say on. The situation is unique, it’s difficult.

    “I think it is a game that we absolutely look forward to. The position that we are in in the group is difficult because it is not where we want to be, but at the same time we have the opportunity to finish the year against a team that is one of the best but also against one that in the history of this country and in the sport, is a huge rivalry.

    “The chance to play them here at Hampden Park, I know, is one that everyone is definitely relishing.”

    Martinez Losa was also keen to stress the integrity of his squad.

    He said: “I feel the situation is one we cannot change, it is a situation we have been brought into. I wish that it could have been anticipated or we could have changed.

    “What I do not feel happy about is the questioning of the integrity of the Scottish players.

    “Scotland is a wonderful country, with wonderful people, they are very passionate about everything and nobody for one second should question the integrity of the players and how much they want to represent their nation.

    “The feeling of this group is to represent thousands of girls and boys who are coming to watch and inspire all these people – that is stronger than anything. I feel the question is totally inappropriate.”

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