EPL

Premier League data dive: Arteta doing worse than Emery, Tuchel's honeymoon ruined by Big Sam

By Sports Desk April 04, 2021

With the Premier League back following the international break, all eyes were set to be on the Emirates Stadium for a heavyweight clash between Arsenal and Liverpool.

Or, that's what the nostalgia of the Premier League wanted us to expect – the reality was rather different, as Arsenal's current status as Europa League-hopefuls at best was made brutally clear.

In fact, as it turned out, the day's most-compelling viewing came from elsewhere in London, as Chelsea suffered an abysmal home defeat by West Brom.

In the East Midlands, Manchester City took their customary step closer to the title, while Leeds United came out on top in an all-Yorkshire affair.

We have taken a look at all the best Opta facts from the four games.

Chelsea 2-5 West Brom: Blues bruised by Big Sam's Baggies in momentous defeat

It was a day to forget for Thomas Tuchel and Chelsea as their honeymoon period came to a bruising and humiliating end in a 5-2 home defeat by relegation-threated West Brom.

Chelsea did take the lead through Christian Pulisic, his first goal in 21 games across all competitions, but Thiago Silva's red card for two bookings in the 29th minute offered encouragement to West Brom.

Matheus Pereira's first-half stoppage-time brace – the goals separated by just two minutes and 46 seconds – put the Baggies in front, and Callum Robinson got a double of his own in the second period, becoming the first player in Premier League history to score at least twice home and away against Chelsea in a single campaign.

Mason Mount and Mbaye Diagne got the other goals, with Chelsea conceding five times in a home Premier League game for only the second time, the last being against Arsenal in October 2011.

Victory ensured Sam Allardyce became the first manager in Premier League history to win at Stamford Bridge with three clubs, while it was Tuchel's first defeat since replacing Frank Lampard in January.

The hard work starts here.

Leeds United 2-1 Sheffield United: Blades approaching new low

Sheffield United have looked doomed virtually all season – no win over Leeds United at this stage of the season was going to change that.

But in losing at Elland Road, it took them to 24 defeats in the league this term from 30 games – only twice in their entire history have they suffered more losses in a single campaign, 26 in 1975-76 and 2010-11, though on both occasions were from many more matches (42 and 46, respectively).

For Leeds, however, the win saw them complete a league double over their Yorkshire rivals for the first time since 1991-92 when they actually won the top-flight title.

While no one is expecting them to go close to repeating that title feat anytime soon, Saturday's visit of Blades did provide another reminder of the positivity Leeds have brought to the Premier League – it was the fifth time this term they have attempted at least 20 shots (23 this time) in a single game, with only Manchester City doing so more often (six).

Jack Harrison's opener was one of them, with the winger netting his seventh goal of the season to make this his best ever campaign in English football, while Raphinha teed him up to move on to a Leeds-high six assists in the Premier League in 2020-21.

They needed a helping hand, though. The seventh own goal of Phil Jagielka's career – only Richard Dunne (10) has more – proved decisive, making him the oldest outfield player (38 years, 229 days) to score in his own net in the top tier since Stuart Pearce in 2001 (38y, 252d).

Leicester City 0-2 Manchester City: Guardiola has the key to cleansheets

When you think about what Pep Guardiola the coach is associated with, 'tiki-taka', free-scoring teams and ball-playing centre-backs spring to mind immediately.

But now, perhaps we should add defensive solidity to that list?

Granted, Guardiola has coached great teams for the majority of his career, and they wouldn't usually have poor defensive records, but his runaway City side seems arguably one of his shrewdest ever.

After Saturday's 2-0 win at Leicester, who although third in the table were utterly subjugated, City have kept more clean sheets (28) and conceded fewer goals (26) in all competitions than any other side in Europe's top five leagues.

They prevented Leicester from mustering a single first-half shot for the first time in the league since December 2019 (against Liverpool), and the Foxes suffered just their third defeat in their last 17 top-flight outings.

Among the scorers for City was Gabriel Jesus, who continued his remarkable unbeaten run in games he's scored (41 – W39, D2), a record only James Milner (54) and Darius Vassell (46) can better.

It was the fifth league goal Jesus has managed against Leicester, making them his second-favourite opponent after Everton (seven goals against).

However, Sergio Aguero was unable to cross another stadium off his list. He's played four times at the King Power Stadium without scoring – only two other grounds has he a worse goalless record (eight games at Anfield, six at Selhurst Park). Following the announcement of his end-of-season departure, it seems Leicester have largely avoided his wrath.

Arsenal 0-3 Liverpool: Arteta questions mount with his record not standing up to Emery's

Mikel Arteta's 50th Premier League match as Arsenal coach was one to forget – though it feels like we could say the same thing about rather a lot of his previous 49 games.

Brought in as Arsenal attempted a hard restart, ushering in a new 'era' with fresh ideas, Arteta it was hoped would turn the Gunners back into title challengers, but it seems as though they're even further away from that than under much-maligned predecessor Unai Emery.

This was Arteta's 17th Premier League defeat, four more than Emery suffered in his first 50 games, and the game itself suggested there remains a significant gulf between Arsenal and a Liverpool side that is nowhere near what it was last season.

Nevertheless, it is true that Liverpool's issues have mostly been consigned to Anfield recently, with each of their last six league wins – including this one – coming away from home. This is only the second time they've ever achieved such a run, the first recording since 1955.

Perhaps results against Liverpool aren't the best barometer to measure Arsenal against given they've beaten the Reds once in their past 12 Premier League meetings.

But Arsenal appear to be treading water under Arteta, with their points-per-game dropping to 1.3 from 1.7 in his second 25 league matches in charge.

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    Cristiano Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes both refused to dwell on Manchester United's come-from-behind win against Arsenal as the Red Devils look ahead to life under interim manager Ralf Rangnick.

    With Rangnick watching in the stands, Ronaldo scored twice to lead United past Premier League rivals Arsenal 3-2 on Thursday before caretaker boss Michael Carrick announced his departure from Old Trafford.

    Carrick – who was placed in temporary charge after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's sacking, overseeing wins against Villarreal and Arsenal, and a draw at Chelsea – revealed he would not be staying on and serving as a coach under Rangnick.

    After helping to snap United's three-game drought in the Premier League, superstar Ronaldo quickly switched focus as Rangnick prepares to see the embattled giants through until the end of the season.

    Ronaldo, who scored the 800th and 801st goals of his illustrious career, wrote via his social media pages: "Our minds are already set on the next game, there's no time to celebrate!

    "Today's win was very important to get back on track, but there's still a long road to go until we reach our destination… Congrats to all my team-mates, great spirit tonight."

    United – seventh in the standings and 12 points behind leaders Chelsea – scored three goals in a home Premier League game against Arsenal for the first time since February 2016, with Carrick completing all 90 minutes that day.

    The Red Devils were forced to come from behind following Emile Smith Rowe's 13th-minute opener – Fernandes restoring parity a minute before half-time.

    Fernandes made his 100th competitive appearance for United. Since his club debut in 2020, he has been directly involved in more goals in all competitions than any other player for Premier League sides (79 - 45 goals, 34 assists).

    Ronaldo put United ahead seven minutes into the second half, only for Martin Odegaard to equalise two minutes later, though the Portuguese superstar sealed United's victory via a 70th-minute penalty.

    "Every win is important for us at this moment," Portuguese star Fernandes told Amazon Prime post-match.

    "We know that we have been through a lot of ups and downs, and it has been hard for us to come out of that.

    "Today we got a great win, but we cannot stop here and be satisfied because we beat Arsenal. The next game is coming quick, so we have to put our heads on that straight away and be ready for that one."

    On countryman and team-mate Ronaldo, Fernandes added: "What can you say about that? It's incredible.

    "He's proving game by game, year by year, season by season, that he wants to keep being the best, he wants to be the best and that's what he did.

    "He doesn't need anyone to motivate him, he knows how to do it and how to carry on scoring goals."

    Before players were told of Carrick's decision to step down, Fernandes hailed the former United midfielder.

    Carrick, winner of five Premier League titles and a Champions League crown among other honours during his 12 years as a player in Manchester, made 464 appearances for United between 2006 and 2018 before stepping into coaching.

    "Michael can be a really good manager in the future if he gets the chance," said Fernandes. "He knows how to speak, he knows a lot about football.

    "He was one of those great players that not a lot of people talk about but from what I know and what I have seen, he can be a top coach."

  • Grizzlies savour record-breaking 152-79 victory over Thunder: It feels great Grizzlies savour record-breaking 152-79 victory over Thunder: It feels great

    De'Anthony Melton and the Memphis Grizzlies could not hide their delight after embarrassing the Oklahoma City Thunder by 73 points to set an NBA record.

    The merciless Grizzlies broke the record for the largest margin of victory in league history thanks to Thursday's devastating 152-79 triumph.

    Oklahoma City were without star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Rookie of the Year contender Josh Giddey away to the Grizzlies in Memphis.

    The Grizzlies, who were without a star of their own in Ja Morant, took full advantage as they eclipsed the 1991 Cleveland Cavaliers (68 points) for the largest winning margin.

    "Man, it feels great. It feels great to be in the history books, especially in front of our home crowd,'' said Melton, who put up 19 points for the Grizzlies.

    "And we did it one through 15. Everybody contributed, everybody played hard and we all got to get in the game. So, it's always a blessing.

    "We knew with [Morant] going down what we had to do. We had to step up.''

    According to Stats Perform, 152 is the most points in NBA history by a team missing a player who was leading the team in total points and assists entering the game following Morant's absence.

    Jaren Jackson Jr. picked up the slack with Morant sidelined, pouring in 27 points for the Grizzlies – who shot 62.5 per cent from the field.

    Melton, Santi Aldama (18), John Konchar (17), Dillon Brooks (11), Jarrett Culver (11), Xavier Tillman (11), Brandon Clarke (11) and Tyus Jones (10) all had double-digit points for the Grizzlies.

    Memphis, who have beaten the Thunder in four straight games for their best winning streak against the franchise since 2013-16, were also 52.8 per cent from three-point range as Jackson made six of his seven attempts from beyond the arc.

    "Franchise records are obviously great. Obviously proud of our guys that they don't think about that,'' Memphis head coach Taylor Jenkins said.

    "We're just motivated by what are our standards every single night. Tonight was on pretty full display both offensively and defensively.''

    Lu Dort was the pick of the Thunder players with 15 points on three-of-eight shooting in 25 minutes – Oklahoma City are now amid an eight-game losing streak.

    The Thunder (6-16) – in the process of a rebuild – were just 32.9 per cent from the floor in a forgettable display.

    "Tonight is not necessarily who we are,'' Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault said. "I think we've definitely shown that from a competitive standpoint. This isn't indicative of who our team is.''

    "Obviously, it was a combination of things,'' Daigneault said. "They played with great force and pace. They made some shots. We didn't shoot it well early and just really couldn't get a grip on the game. Any part of the game.''

    Daigneault added: "When you compete, you have exposure to the highs and lows of competition. And competition comes with great joy, and it also comes with grief and frustration and anger. And when you step in that ring, that's what you expose yourself to is all of those things.

    "It's why the joy feels so good, because when you get punched and you taste your own blood, it doesn't feel right.''

  • Suns make franchise history with 18th straight win as merciless Grizzlies break NBA record Suns make franchise history with 18th straight win as merciless Grizzlies break NBA record

    The Phoenix Suns celebrated a franchise-record 18th consecutive win after taking down the lowly Detroit Pistons 114-103 in the NBA on Thursday.

    Phoenix – who reached last season's NBA Finals – eclipsed the 17-game record set during the 2006-07 campaign, despite the absence of All-Star Devin Booker.

    Leading scorer Booker sat out for the first time this season after suffering a hamstring injury in Tuesday's win over the Golden State Warriors, however, the Suns were still too good for the Pistons.

    The NBA-leading Suns – who improved to 19-3 – were fuelled by 19 points apiece from Cam Johnson and Cameron Payne, while Deandre Ayton had 17 points and 12 rebounds, and Chris Paul added 12 points and 12 assists.

    Phoenix also celebrated back-to-back wins over Detroit for the first time since 2014.

    Jerami Grant put up a game-high 34 points for the Pistons, who have lost eight straight games for their worst skid since 2017-18.

     

    Grizzlies in historic humbling

    The Memphis Grizzlies broke the record for the largest victory in NBA history after humiliating the shorthanded Oklahoma City Thunder 152-79. Memphis surpassed the 1991 Cleveland Cavaliers (68 points) for the largest winning margin thanks to their 73-point demolition. The Grizzlies were without star Ja Morant. According to Stats Perform, 152 is the most points in NBA history by a team missing a player who was leading the team in total points and assists entering the game.

    DeMar DeRozan (34 points), Zach LaVine (27 points) and Nikola Vucevic (27 points) combined to lead the Chicago Bulls past the New York Knicks 119-115. Julius Randle's double-double of 30 points and 12 rebounds was not enough for the Knicks.

     

    Milwaukee's streak over as Giannis sits out

    Giannis Antetokounmpo was held out by the Milwaukee Bucks due to a calf problem. In his absence, the defending champions lost 97-93 at the Toronto Raptors as their eight-game winning run was halted. Milwaukee shot just 37.6 per cent from the field.

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