EPL

Premier League data dive: Man City move closer to title, Arsenal leave Leeds in the mire

By Sports Desk May 08, 2022

Manchester City edged closer to the Premier League title, while there was significant change at the bottom of the table on Sunday.

City were eliminated from the Champions League semi-finals in dramatic fashion by Real Madrid in midweek, but saw their domestic hopes boosted when Liverpool dropped points against Tottenham on Saturday.

Pep Guardiola's side subsequently breezed past Newcastle United to move three points clear of the Reds with three games remaining, while West Ham hit relegated Norwich City for four.

Elsewhere, Arsenal continued their charge for Champions League qualification with a narrow victory over 10-man Leeds United, who ended the day in the relegation zone after Everton triumphed at Leicester City.

Here, Stats Perform takes a look at the pick of the Opta data from the day's top-flight fixtures.

Manchester City 5-0 Newcastle United: Sterling provides as title charge continues 

Raheem Sterling was at the double as City strengthened their grasp on top spot with a 5-0 rout of Newcastle at the Etihad Stadium.

Sterling and Aymeric Laporte struck in the first half, with Joao Cancelo teeing up the England international's opener as the full-back became the fourth of Guardiola's players to reach 10 assists in all competitions this season (also Kevin de Bruyne with 13, Phil Foden and Gabriel Jesus - both 11).

City are the only team in Europe's big five leagues to have four or more different players reach 10 assists in all competitions this campaign, and Guardiola's men furthered their advantage after the interval.

Rodri then scored following a corner, as Laporte did in the first half, as City managed their 19th and 20th goals from set-piece situations this term in the league, excluding penalties. They have conceded just once from set-pieces themselves, with their plus-19 differential the best figure recorded in a single season in the Premier League since such records are available (2006-07 onwards).

Foden added a fourth before Sterling capped a fine victory with his 51st Premier League goal at the Etihad, becoming only the second player to pass 50 strikes for City at home in the competition after Sergio Aguero (106).

City have beaten Newcastle 28 times in the Premier League (D8 L8), more than they have any other side in the competition. In their league history, they have only beaten Everton (72 times) more often than the Magpies (68 times).

Meanwhile, Eddie Howe has lost all 12 of his Premier League meetings with City – 10 of those against Guardiola – the worst 100 per cent losing record a manager has against a single opponent or against another boss in the competition.

Arsenal 2-1 Leeds United: Ill-tempered Whites fall into relegation zone

An Eddie Nketiah double kept Arsenal on course for Champions League qualification as they triumphed 2-1 against 10-man Leeds, who dropped into the bottom three for the first time since October 30.

Nketiah fired the Gunners into a 2-0 lead as he became just the second Arsenal player to score twice in the opening 10 minutes of a Premier League game after Kanu (versus Sunderland in October 2002).

With Alexandre Lacazette out of favour, Nketiah has stepped up as Mikel Arteta's talisman, scoring four goals in his last four league games – just one fewer than he had managed in his first 52 top-flight appearances.

Luke Ayling was then dismissed for a mindless two-footed lunge on Gabriel Martinelli after 27 minutes, Leeds' earliest red card in the competition since April 1998 (when Lucas Radebe saw red after 17 minutes against Everton).

Tempers continued to flare before the interval as Leeds picked up their 95th and 96th yellow cards of the season, setting a new record for the most bookings for a club within a single Premier League campaign.

Diego Llorente offered Jesse Marsch's visitors brief hope as he poked home with Leeds' first shot on target, which marked the first home league goal Arsenal have conceded from a corner since February 2021 (also against Leeds).

However, Arsenal held on for victory to move four points clear of fifth-placed Tottenham, who they face on Thursday knowing victory will secure Champions League football next campaign.

Leicester City 1-2 Everton: Toffees move out of bottom three

Mason Holgate's second-half header proved the difference as Everton climbed out of the relegation zone with a battling 2-1 victory at Leicester.

Before this game, Leicester had won eight of their last nine top-flight matches against sides starting the day inside the relegation zone (D1), but the Foxes were caught cold by Vitalii Mykolenko's early volley.

That made Mykolenko the first Ukrainian to score a Premier League goal for Everton, the 39th different nationality to find the net in the competition for the Toffees, the sixth most of all clubs.

Patson Daka restored parity five minutes later, with all five of the striker's Premier League goals coming at the King Power Stadium – only Jamie Vardy (6) has netted more often at home for the club in the top-flight in 2021-22.

Holgate delivered the decisive finish in the 30th minute with his second league goal in his last five matches, one more than he had managed across his previous 109 top-flight appearances beforehand (one).

Brendan Rodgers will be left frustrated by the nature of Holgate's goal, given it was the 15th Premier League strike Leicester have conceded from a corner this campaign – the most by a side in a single campaign since Brighton and Hove Albion in 2017-18 (16).

Victory marked the first away league win in 15 games for Everton, ending a seven-game losing streak on the road as Frank Lampard's side moved a point clear of Leeds and Burnley having played one game fewer.

Norwich City 0-4 West Ham: Bowen and Benrahma on song to down Canaries

Said Benrahma scored twice as West Ham responded to Thursday's Europa League semi-final heartbreak by cruising past relegated Norwich 4-0 at Carrow Road.

Benrahma struck after 12 minutes before Michail Antonio ended his joint-longest goal drought in the top-flight with his fifth Premier League strike against the Canaries, only against Tottenham (six) has he scored more in the competition. 

Algeria international Benrahma doubled his tally before the interval, taking him to 21 direct goal contributions in the competition (nine goals, 12 assists). Since his debut in 2020, Jarrod Bowen (30) and Antonio (28) are the only other Hammers to register 20+ top-flight goal involvements.

Bowen assisted both of Benrahma's strikes as the former Hull City man became just the second player for West Ham to register at least 10 goals and 10 assists in a Premier League season, and the first since Paolo Di Canio in 1999-00 (16 goals, 13 assists).

Indeed, only Harry Kane (32) has been involved in more goals among English Premier League players in all competitions than Bowen this season (27 – 16 goals, 11 assists).

Manuel Lanzini's second-half penalty rounded off the victory as West Ham won a Premier League away game by at least a four-goal margin for just the third time, while it was the first time the Hammers have put at least four goals past a side in consecutive league visits since doing so against Tottenham in November 1966.

Meanwhile, Norwich have failed to score in 20 different league games this season, becoming the first side to do so in at least 20 matches in three different Premier League campaigns (also in 1994-95 and 2019-20).

Related items

  • Eddie Howe says Newcastle will push for best possible deal for Dan Ashworth Eddie Howe says Newcastle will push for best possible deal for Dan Ashworth

    Newcastle boss Eddie Howe has insisted Manchester United will not get sporting director Dan Ashworth on the cheap.

    Ashworth was placed on garden leave earlier this week after telling the club he wanted to leave St James’ Park after just 20 months to take up a similar role at Old Trafford.

    New Manchester United co-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe has made Ashworth’s recruitment a priority and has railed against suggestions that his release could cost £20million, describing the prospect of the 52-year-old facing up to 18 months in limbo under the terms of his contract with the Magpies as “completely stupid”.

    Asked how important it was that the hierarchy on Tyneside got the best possible deal, head Howe coach Howe said: “In these situations, it’s about Newcastle, from our perspective.

    “But that is for other people to make those decisions, I’m not involved in that in any way, shape or form. I’m preparing the team to play Arsenal.”

    Ashworth’s impending departure has come as a huge blow to the Magpies’ ownership group, which lured him from Brighton to oversee its plans for a successful long-term future.

    After the renowned administrator informed the club of his wish to leave, Howe, who had formed a close working relationship with the former Football Association technical director, voiced his fears over the intelligence he could take with him.

    Asked if he had spoken to Ashworth this week, he said, “No” before adding, “No, that’s a lie. I have, yes”.

    Although he declined to reveal what was said, Howe insisted they had parted on good terms.

    Newcastle launched the search for a replacement as they confirmed Ashworth’s decision and Howe, who revealed he will have an input but not the final say, is hoping the successful candidate will prove a long-term appointment.

    He said: “Ideally in that role, you are in the position for a long period of time. It’s a bit like being an academy manager, you’re not going to see the end result of your work for many years because you’re putting things in place.

    “That’s the same as a sporting director. It’s a longer term role, ideally.”

    In the meantime, Howe’s attention is firmly on Saturday’s trip to the Emirates Stadium and the prospect of trying to keep the Gunners and in particular in-form England international Bukayo Saka, in check.

    Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta left St James’ furious after a 1-0 defeat on November 4 with Anthony Gordon’s winning goal surviving three different VAR checks, although his Magpies’ counterpart does not believe there is any bad blood between the clubs.

    Howe said: “Mikel is a very passionate guy, he will defend his team. I am the same, I will defend my team. I like to think there is a lot of mutual respect between us both.”

    Former Gunners midfielder Joe Willock could be included in the squad for the first time since suffering an Achilles injury in November, while striker Alexander Isak has a chance of returning after a three-game absence with a groin problem.

  • 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.”

  • Sean Dyche admits points deduction may have psychological effect on Everton Sean Dyche admits points deduction may have psychological effect on Everton

    Everton manager Sean Dyche has admitted the club’s 10-point deduction may have had a psychological effect on his players.

    The Toffees are still awaiting the outcome of their appeal against the punishment they received for breaching the Premier League’s financial regulations last November.

    The sanction has effectively plunged the Merseyside club into a relegation battle and Dyche feels the uncertainty over whether or not they will get any points back could be having an impact.

    Dyche told a number of national newspapers: “It affects everyone – everyone is sitting around waiting and wondering.

    “They take those 10 points off immediately, so you keep looking at that table and you keep getting asked about being in the bottom three, four, five. They don’t leave you up there, so how do we know how that affects the psychology?

    “It changes the perception, it changes the feel, it changes the fan base, it changes the feel of performances. That’s just a fact. We all measure it differently when the team are there, top, middle or bottom.

    “Does that affect the team whilst the process is going? At first everyone says obviously not because you win four, but you could argue there is a delayed effect.”

    Everton’s appeal hearing was held at the end of last month and a verdict is now thought to be imminent but no exact date has been set for when it will be delivered.

    “We haven’t got a clue, or I certainly haven’t at the moment,” said Dyche at a press conference.

    “The guidelines that you (the media) suggest and we suggest have been for around about the end of the month, so we just have to wait and see.

    “I don’t know all the legalities of appeals, of course, but I think it’s in everyone’s interest, firstly our own of course, and for the greater good of football – I think everyone’s wondering – it would be helpful if it’s sooner rather than later.”

    After initially responding well to the points setback, Everton are now without a win in eight Premier League games.

    They are above the relegation zone only on goal difference after a 1-1 draw with Crystal Palace on Monday.

    Dyche, whose side travel to Brighton on Saturday, has at least been pleased with the attitude of his players throughout a troubled period.

    He said: “I think the players have been working very hard, very diligently. I’m very pleased with what they’re doing on a daily basis. I don’t think it is literally in the way of every day’s business.

    “I’m sure at the back of their minds they’re still wondering, ‘Come on then, when are you going to tell us where we’re at and give us more of a factual kind of view?’, but we’re in the same mindset – it is where it is and that’s it.

    “We look at where it is now and then see what comes. We can’t do anything about it until it’s done.”

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