EPL

Premier League data dive: Salah eyeing Vardy record, Man City edge towards calendar-year benchmark

By Sports Desk December 11, 2021

The Premier League provided its usual drama on Saturday with decisive penalties awarded in all but one of the fixtures.

Chelsea left it late against Leeds United in a game that saw referee Chris Kavanagh award three penalties, while Manchester United earned a narrow win thanks to another Cristiano Ronaldo spot-kick.

Liverpool also profited from the penalty spot as Steven Gerrard made his return to Anfield with Aston Villa, and another conversion from 12 yards aided Manchester City at home to Wolves.

Elsewhere, Arsenal cruised past Southampton, who are yet to win at Emirates Stadium in 23 Premier League attempts – the longest winless run for one club away to another in the competition's history.

With tons of action to unpack, Stats Perform takes an in-depth look at the pick of Opta facts from Saturday's clashes.

Manchester City 1-0 Wolves: Jimenez moment of madness gifts Citizens win

Raheem Sterling reached a century of Premier League goals as City scraped by 10-man Wolves, who could not hold on after Raul Jimenez's bizarre red card for two yellows in a matter of seconds.

Jimenez became the first ever Mexican player to receive a red card in the Premier League, making Mexico the 76th nation to have a player dismissed in the competition.

Sterling then scored from the penalty spot after Joao Moutinho was adjudged to have handled, becoming the 32nd player to 100 Premier League goals and the eighth-youngest at 27 years and three days.

Pep Guardiola's side held on to that slender lead and have now won 32 of their 40 league games in 2021 (D2 L6) – only Liverpool in 1982 (33) have won more matches in a single calendar year in English top-flight history.

Chelsea 3-2 Leeds United: Spot-kick drama condemns Whites to another London loss

Leeds have a miserable record in London and that was extended to just two wins in their past 33 matches in all competitions in the capital despite Raphinha finding the net when a first penalty was awarded in the visitors' favour at Stamford Bridge.

Mason Mount cancelled out that opener, before Raphinha became the 13th player – and first Leeds star – to both score and concede a penalty in the same Premier League game when he brought down Antonio Rudiger, allowing Jorginho to score.

Although Joe Gelhardt netted Leeds' first top-flight goal by a teenager since James Milner versus Everton in April 2004 to level the match again, Rudiger won a second penalty – the first Chelsea player to earn two in a Premier League game since Yuri Zhirkov against Aston Villa in March 2010 – deep into stoppage time.

Jorginho settled the result with his second from 12 yards after 93 minutes and 11 seconds, the Blues' latest winning goal in the competition since Florent Malouda's strike against Stoke City in September 2009 (93:36).

Liverpool 1-0 Aston Villa: Salah downs shot-shy Villans

Returning hero Gerrard was greeted with a standing ovation back at Anfield, but the latest king of the Kop ensured his Villa side went away empty-handed. 

Mohamed Salah again made the difference, the Egypt international converting his 15th straight Premier League penalty – the second-longest ever such run in the competition after Matt Le Tissier (23 between 1994 and 2000).

Salah is also now just one game away from Jamie Vardy's record of either scoring or assisting in 15 straight Premier League matches between August and December 2015.

This was Liverpool's 100th 1-0 win in the competition and their second in a row for the first time since December 2015, requiring just the one goal as Villa failed to register a single shot on target in a league match for the first time since December 2019 against Sheffield United.

Norwich City 0-1 Manchester United: Another Ronaldo rescue act for Red Devils

Ralf Rangnick has pinpointed United's defensive issues as a key area to fix and there were more positive signs on that front – at least on the stats sheet.

Rangnick became just the second Manchester United manager to register a clean sheet in his first two league games after Ernest Mangnall in 1903.

United were far from convincing in either defence or attack, though, again relying on David de Gea and match-winner Ronaldo, who won and scored United's 50th successful away Premier League spot-kick – only Liverpool (60) have netted more such goals in the competition's history.

Ronaldo also became only the third player to score for three different United managers in a single season after James Hanson and Joe Spence both did so in 1926-27.

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    World Cup chief Hassan Al-Thawadi admits "improvements have to happen" after estimating "between 400 and 500" migrant workers died working on projects related to Qatar 2022.

    The awarding of the competition to the Gulf state in 2010 has only grown more controversial in the years since due to its chequered past on human rights issues, its treatment of migrant workers and the illegality of homosexuality.

    The official count for those to have died on World Cup sites is 37 among non-work related deaths and three from work-related accidents. However, it was reported by The Guardian last year the overall figure may surpass 6,500 deaths.

    FIFA has constantly reiterated it is fully committed to protecting the rights of workers on projects such as constructing stadia, while president Gianni Infantino launched an impassioned defence on the eve of the competition.

    While the actual death figure is unknown, Al-Thawadi – who was responsible for ensuring infrastructure and development projects were delivered in readiness for Qatar 2022 – accepts it is a lot higher than the 40 previously reported.

    "The estimate is around 400, between 400 and 500," he told Piers Morgan in an interview with TalkTV. "I don't have the exact number; that's something that's been discussed. One death is a death too many, plain and simple.

    "I think every year the health and safety standards on the sites are improving, at least on our sites. The World Cup sites that we were responsible for, most definitely to the extent that you've got trade unions commending the work that's been done on the World Cup sites and the improvements."

    When asked directly if the health and safety standards were good enough at the beginning of the project, Al-Thawadi said: "I think overall the need for labour reform itself dictates that yes, improvements have to happen.

    "Just so we're clear, this was something we recognised before we bid. The improvements that have already happened aren't because of the World Cup. These are improvements we knew that we had to do because of our own values.

    "Improvements that had to happen whether it's our health and safety standards, whether it's in terms of improving the accommodation standards, whether it's in terms of dismantling the Kafala System.

    "The World Cup served as a vehicle, an accelerator, as a catalyst because of the spotlight which we recognised early on was going to be shed. It caused a lot of initiative not only in terms of improvement in isolation but in terms of enforcing it as well. 

    "That's where today we got to a position where our most ardent of critics consider us to be a benchmark in the region."

    Al-Thawadi addressed a number of other issues in the interview, such as whether Qatar is a safe place for people in same-sex relationships to visit.

    "It's safe for everybody to be in Qatar, yes. Unequivocally, Piers, yes. I think it's safe for everybody to live in Qatar, Piers. From our position, and my personal position, we've always said everyone's welcome.

    "We've worked hard to create an environment and to ensure that people from all parts of the world, all walks of life come into Qatar, engage and interact with people from the Arab world and the Middle East even though we might not see eye to eye on certain things, even though we might not agree on certain things, but everyone is welcome."

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    Wigan, who are currently 22nd and embroiled in a relegation battle, dismissed Leam Richardson after six losses in seven games earlier this month, just weeks after he signed a new contract.

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    Borjan is an ethnic Serb who was born in Knin in Croatia but fled with his family to Belgrade in 1995 during 'Operation Storm' – a Croatian offensive in its war of independence.

    He later moved on to Canada, the country he represents at international level, but has spent much of his club career in Serbia, where he now plays for Red Star Belgrade.

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    "I have nothing to comment on that, it only speaks about them," Borjan said after the game.

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