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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  • Sean Dyche urges Everton team-mates to ease pressure on Dominic Calvert-Lewin Sean Dyche urges Everton team-mates to ease pressure on Dominic Calvert-Lewin

    Sean Dyche accepts pressure will continue to grow on Dominic Calvert-Lewin the longer his barren run continues.

    But the Everton manager has reminded the rest of his goal-shy side it is not just the principle striker who needs to find the net.

    Calvert-Lewin has not scored for the relegation-threatened Toffees in 19 appearances stretching back to October.

    However, he is not the only Everton player struggling in front of goal with the team having struck just 27 times in 25 Premier League games this season. Only bottom two Burnley and Sheffield United have worse records.

    “I think he knows where he’s at,” said Dyche of Calvert-Lewin. “There’s enough noise in football now.

    “Do you think he’s thinking there’s no noise about him not scoring? I’m pretty sure he knows that.

    “Whether fair or not, that’s strikers, isn’t it? That’s being a striker, that’s the reality of the role.

    “But all strikers, I’m sure, want the adulation of being a striker and scoring goals.

    “That’s part of the fuel that you’d have as a striker, that amazing feeling when you do score, especially at Goodison, because the crowd generally erupt.

    “So I think they know the responsibility. That’s part of their role.

    “Having said that, of course, it’s not just strikers’ responsibility to score goals.

    “We want them to work, we want them to defend, we want them to do the hard yards for the team. So therefore we’ve got to pay that back with other people scoring.”

    Conversely, in a difficult season, Dyche can take positives from his side’s strong defensive record.

    Everton have conceded just 33 goals this term, a figure equalled or bettered only by the current top four.

    Dyche said: “I’m pleased with that side of things and that’s the whole team. A lot is made about individuals in the back unit but I think we ask the players to defend from the front and I think they’re getting better at that.

    “The tactical shape and understanding the side, I think has improved and then finding that balance for scoring goals – we know that’s the biggest part of the challenge – transitioning the chances we’re making into actual finishes and actual goals. That’s obviously still a work in progress.”

    Everton, who clawed themselves out of the relegation zone on goal difference with a 1-1 draw against Crystal Palace on Monday, travel to seventh-placed Brighton on Saturday.

    Everton claimed an impressive 5-1 win at the Amex Stadium as they battled against the drop last May.

    Dyche said: “That was probably a hiccup in their season at that time. We made that happen, though, don’t get me wrong.

    “It wasn’t because they weren’t playing well or they weren’t a good side, because they are a good side.

    “They’ve shown again they’re a good outfit and the home record has been very good for a number of seasons.”

  • Shamal George eyes chance for Livingston to drag rivals into relegation fight Shamal George eyes chance for Livingston to drag rivals into relegation fight

    Shamal George knows bottom side Livingston have the opportunity to bunch up the relegation battle in the next couple of weeks as a crunch game against Ross County awaits.

    David Martindale’s side had won once in 18 games in all competitions – against Raith Rovers in the Scottish Gas Scottish Cup – before they came from two down to beat another Championship side Partick Thistle 3-2 in the next round of the competition in Glasgow.

    The Lions followed that up with a battling 1-0 win against St Mirren last Saturday which cut the deficit behind County to three points ahead of their meeting in Dingwall on Saturday, although the Staggies have played one game less.

    Livingston then face St Johnstone and Motherwell who are 10th and ninth respectively and goalkeeper George said: “That’s our main focus, catching the teams above us, but one game at a time and not get too ahead of ourselves.

    “We’ve obviously got Ross County, St Johnstone and Motherwell, three teams around us. One game at a time but it’s a good time to try to bring teams back into it with us.

    “Even though we haven’t been playing great lately I feel like Partick was a turnaround for us and fingers crossed we can go continue that going towards the end of the season.

    “We got three big games now, which we need to get points from to bring others back into the mix.

    “Like I said, one game at a time but everyone is focused on those three games because they’re three teams around us. Fingers crossed we can go to Ross County and get the points we need.”

    George revealed a night out in Glasgow organised by the Livi boss after the Partick game helped team bonding as the battle to avoid the drop continues.

    The former Colchester keeper said: “We went for some food and it brought the boys together and everyone had a good time.

    “I think it was needed. We weren’t doing anything together as a team so it was good for the boys to be out again.

    “It must have had some effect, it was a big win against St Mirren and everyone is still buzzing from it.”

  • Andrew Cole believes Sir Jim Ratcliffe will need time to turn Man Utd around Andrew Cole believes Sir Jim Ratcliffe will need time to turn Man Utd around

    Former Manchester United striker Andrew Cole believes it could take Sir Jim Ratcliffe longer than three years to turn the club into genuine Premier League title challengers.

    Ratcliffe has laid out his plans to restore United to their former glory at the top of English football within “two or three seasons” after becoming their co-owner earlier this week.

    Cole, who won five Premier League titles, two FA Cups and the Champions League during his eight seasons as a player with United, told the PA news agency: “It’s going to take time.

    “It could possibly take longer than three years, we have to be very honest.

    “We’re what, 11 years in now (since United were last crowned Premier League champions)?

    “If we look at ourselves now, we’re still in the same position and if he’s going to turn it around in three years he’s going to have to go some. But change is good.”

    Cole, attending an event held by United’s official hydration partner WOW HYDRATE, said it has taken both Liverpool and Manchester City “six or seven years to lay their foundations”.

    “They’ve had managers in place for the long term and have bought well in the transfer market. That’s what we have to do,” he said.

    “As long as Pep Guardiola stays at City it’s going to be very difficult for anyone to beat them to the Premier League title.

    “I think it could change at Liverpool due to the fact that Jurgen Klopp leaves at the end of the season.

    “They could find themselves in the same position as Manchester United are in, starting all over again, new manager, fresh ideas.”

    United won their first major trophy since 2017 last season under manager Erik ten Hag, but Cole is undecided on whether the Dutchman is the right man for the job.

    “You’re only the right man if you keep winning football matches,” the former United forward said. “Once you don’t win football matches, you’re not the right man. Football will never change.”

    Five straight wins in all competitions have eased the pressure on Ten Hag, with £72million summer signing Rasmus Hojlund playing a key role.

    Hojlund has scored eight goals in his last eight appearances after a slow start to his United career and Cole is delighted for the 21-year-old Denmark striker.

    “A lot was expected of him, but it was always going to take time in this United team,” Cole added. “But fair play to him. He took a bit of flak, but he never hid.

    “A lot is expected of a young man to come in and be Manchester United’s main goalscorer.

    “Many players have come before him to Old Trafford and failed and I like the way he’s gone about his business recently.”

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