EPL

Pep's 200 not out and lack of clean sheets in Newcastle-Wolves - the Premier League weekend's quirky facts

By Sports Desk March 01, 2021

Another one bites the dust, as Queen once sang, with the latest weekend of Premier League action coming and going in the seeming blink of an eye.

There was controversy involving Brighton and Hove Albion's goal that never was thanks to referee Lee Mason in West Brom's win against the Seagulls – the Baggies' past five home wins have now been overseen by five different managers (Sam Allardyce, Slaven Bilic, Darren Moore, Alan Pardew, Tony Pulis).

Liverpool finally returned to winning ways in the Premier League by triumphing 2-0 at Sheffield United, becoming just the second side to rack up 7,000 top-flight goals in English football along the way (Merseyside rivals Everton being the other team to reach such a landmark).

And there were convincing wins for Tottenham and Arsenal against Burnley and Leicester City respectively.

But here are a few of the quirkier bits you might not have spotted, with a little help from the folks at Opta.
 

Raise your bat, Pep – 200 not out for Guardiola

For those of you not paying attention at the back, Manchester City are looking pretty unstoppable right now.

Saturday's 2-1 triumph over a West Ham side in decent nick themselves means the runaway Premier League leaders have racked up a mind-boggling 20 straight wins in all competitions.

For boss Pep Guardiola, it represented a 200th victory across all comps in only his 273rd match in charge of the Citizens, comfortably the best record by a manager of an English top-flight side to reach that landmark.

Jose Mourinho (Chelsea - 309 games), Kenny Dalglish (Liverpool - 333), Don Revie (Leeds United - 344), Bob Paisley (Liverpool - 351) make up the top five.

Fewer clean sheets than a one-star hotel in Newcastle-Wolves

Once upon a time, Newcastle United were the great entertainers of the Premier League – particularly in the revered 'Keegan years'. 

Nowadays, the goals don't flow quite as freely under Steve Bruce but their 1-1 draw against Wolves produced a fact more in keeping with the history of those Halcyon days. 

Both teams have scored in each of the 12 Premier League games they have played against each other - the most played fixture in the competition with neither side keeping a clean sheet.

Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo also oversaw his 102nd Premier League game at Wolves, overtaking Mick McCarthy (101) as the most matches in charge of the club in the competition.

Rare blanks in Chelsea-Man Utd but Red Devils' away-day joy continues

Chelsea' goalless draw at home to Manchester United on Sunday wasn't exactly one to remember.

The reverse clash also finished without a goal, marking only the second time this fixture had produced two 0-0 draws in a campaign – the other coming way back in 1921-22.

For the Red Devils, though, the draw means they are unbeaten in 20 away league matches (W13 D7), a run that coincidentally started in the corresponding fixture last term.

It is the joint-fifth longest run without an away defeat in top-flight history. Arsenal (27 and 23), Liverpool (21) and Nottingham Forest (21) have all boasted longer streaks.

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  • Bremer reveals Juventus crisis talks after embattled giants reach Coppa Italia semi-finals Bremer reveals Juventus crisis talks after embattled giants reach Coppa Italia semi-finals

    Gleison Bremer said his Juventus team-mates have pledged to ignore the Bianconeri's off-pitch woes after scoring the winner in Thursday's Coppa Italia quarter-final against Lazio.

    Bremer diverted Filip Kostic's cross home with a glancing header on the stroke of half-time as Juve clinched a 1-0 win over the Biancocelesti, teeing up a semi-final tie against Inter.

    The win provided welcome relief for a side sitting 13th in Serie A after being issued with a 15-point deduction last month, a sanction which has been compounded by a three-game winless run in the league. 

    Speaking after his goal sent Juve to their eighth Coppa Italia semi-final in nine seasons, Bremer admitted off-pitch issues had impacted the team in recent weeks, but revealed the squad's pledge to rediscover their focus.

    "I'm happy with this goal, but it was important to go through at this moment," the Brazil international told Mediaset.

    "We know we've played two games not up to par, but we talked to each other and what happens off the pitch cannot spill onto the pitch. The club will take care of it, we will take care of the pitch. 

    "Juventus are a top-level team, let's score as many points as possible and see where we'll be at end of the championship. 

    "At the beginning of the year we lost a little something, then we spoke and we found each other."

    Since the Coppa Italia quarter-finals became one-legged affairs in the 2008-09 season, Juve have won nine of their 10 such fixtures at home, the only exception being a 2011 defeat to Roma.

    Coach Massimiliano Allegri hailed Juve's mentality after the hard-fought victory, highlighting the improvements made since Sunday's shock defeat to Monza. 

    "The most important thing is the attitude, which was missing in the first half against Monza, where we conceded two easy goals," Allegri said.

    "The boys were good. They are responsible. They must understand that to win matches, in addition to tactics and technique, you need the right spirit. 

    "Today we won many tackles, we arrived first in duels, we defended well and played in an orderly and patient manner against good pressure from Lazio."

    Juventus were without Paul Pogba for Thursday's win, with the midfielder seeing his second debut for the club delayed once more after suffering another minor injury.

    Allegri does not expect him to return against Salernitana on Tuesday, saying: "Pogba is unlikely to be available in Salerno, because he's been doing little or nothing for a week. We hope to have him back as soon as possible because he's a player we count on. 

    "I've been in the world of football for 50 years. When things go against you, then you have to be patient to get out of it."

  • Courtois: We must protect Vinicius Courtois: We must protect Vinicius

    Thibaut Courtois declared Vinicius Jr needs to be protected after he was on the receiving end of a horrendous challenge from Gabriel Paulista on Thursday.

    The Brazilian defender kicked out at his compatriot, who had doubled Real Madrid's lead against Valencia to mark his 200th club appearance in style.

    Los Blancos emerged 2-0 victors at Santiago Bernabeu to edge closer to leaders Barcelona, yet it was the challenge on Vinicius that left the biggest impression.

    Courtois questioned why Vinicius was subject to such treatment, but praised the referee for taking the appropriate action.

    "I don't know why he was kicked in that way, we need to protect him," he told LaLigaTV.

    "He's a player who dribbles a lot, tries to go past defenders and defenders don't like it. It's the way he is as a player.

    "We need him to be that way, we need him to be like that against defenders.

    "He receives a lot of kicks and tonight I'm just happy the referee acted and had the bravery to give the red card. The ball is not there, there's no intent to get the ball.

    "Even if it was one of us had made that challenge then I would have said yes, it has to be a red card."

  • Benfica president Costa 'will not cry' for Fernandez after World Cup winner forced Chelsea move Benfica president Costa 'will not cry' for Fernandez after World Cup winner forced Chelsea move

    Benfica president Rui Costa has no regrets over sanctioning Enzo Fernandez's record-breaking move to Chelsea, saying the World Cup winner forced the transfer through his desire to leave.

    Chelsea made Fernandez the most expensive acquisition in Premier League history on the final day of the January transfer window, meeting the £106.8million (€121m) release clause in his Benfica contract.

    While Fernandez's arrival took Chelsea's spending to a reported £288.5m in January alone, the fee surpassed the £100m Manchester City spent to sign Jack Grealish from Aston Villa in 2021.

    Benfica coach Roger Schmidt said Fernandez was unsettled by Chelsea's interest earlier in the month, and Costa admits the player's desire to leave left the Lisbon giants powerless.

    "Everything was done to ensure that Enzo was not sold. I have a clear conscience and I am as sad as any Benfica fan," Costa told BTV on Thursday.

    "We tried everything. Enzo has always shown a desire not to stay at Benfica.

    "As a fan, I no longer wanted Enzo as a player. As president, he could not continue. I decided he had to leave.

    "Commitment to Benfica is not beating your chest. In Arouca [a 3-0 win on Tuesday] we played without Enzo. 

    "We lost a great player, but I will not cry for a player who did not want to stay at Benfica. I was raised at Benfica, knowing how to honour Benfica.

    "Respecting Enzo, he is free to choose and the choice was not to stay at Benfica. At Benfica, there will only be players who are proud to be here."

    Costa questioned Fernandez's unwillingness to remain in Portugal until the end of the season, saying any suitors would have waited for the 22-year-old.

    "Was Enzo going to lose value until the end of the season at Benfica? No," he continued. 

    "We tried to show him that if he stayed at Benfica until the end of the season, Chelsea and others would appear."

    While the last-minute nature of Fernandez's exit left Benfica unable to sign a replacement, Costa was ultimately pleased with the structure of the deal.

    Asked about Fernandez's record-breaking fee, Costa said: "It's in instalments. The value of the clause doesn't have to be paid upfront.

    "We reached what we wanted and came out five million above the clause. It was not by chance that this deal ran out of time, we did everything to keep Enzo."

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