EPL

Premier League data dive: Gundogan seals Man City glory as Liverpool fall just short while Burnley drop down

By Sports Desk May 22, 2022

Manchester City sealed the Premier League title in dramatic fashion as they came from behind to beat Aston Villa 3-2.

It meant Liverpool's own comeback win over Wolves was rendered meaningless, as Jurgen Klopp's team finished second, one point off the pace.

Chelsea capped an ultimately underwhelming campaign by beating Watford, who will be joined in the Championship next season by Burnley – the Clarets relegated by a defeat to Newcastle United, while Leeds United beat Brentford to stay up.

Already safe Everton were hammered 5-1 at Arsenal, but the Gunners' big win was not enough to get them into the Champions League as Tottenham thrashed Norwich City.

Elsewhere, Manchester United lost 1-0 to Crystal Palace to end a dismal season for them, but they did at least qualify for the Europa League, as West Ham were beaten 3-1 by Brighton and Hove Albion, meaning David Moyes' team will take a place in next season's Europa Conference League.

For the final time this season, Stats Perform looks at the best facts from across the Premier League's fixtures, using Opta data.

Manchester City 3-2 Aston Villa: Gerrard's dream dashed by Gundogan

Steven Gerrard never managed to win the league with Liverpool but he looked destined to give his old club a huge helping hand when Villa took a 2-0 lead at the Etihad Stadium.

Former Liverpool playmaker Philippe Coutinho put Villa 2-0 up midway through the second half, and he has now scored five goals against City in the Premier League, more than against any other team.

However, substitute Ilkay Gundogan became the first player to score twice from the bench for City since Sergio Aguero did so against Everton on the final day of last season, as he inspired a comeback for the ages.

Gundogan scored either side of Rodri's equaliser – there were just 12 minutes and 22 seconds between City going 2-0 down, and then leading 3-2 in the match.

City have now won a sixth Premier League title, with four of those coming in the past five seasons under Pep Guardiola, while it was the first time the club have come from two goals down to win a top-flight game since February 2005.

Liverpool 3-1 Wolves: Salah seals share of Golden Boot but Reds settle for second

There will be no quadruple for Liverpool, who nevertheless have a Champions League final to look forward to on May 28.

Liverpool have finished the season on 92 points, the second-highest total by a side that did not go on to win the title in English top-flight history, behind only their own 97 in 2018-19.

Sadio Mane cancelled out Pedro Neto's opener (the third-earliest Premier League goal for Wolves, timed at 02:11), with the Senegal star having scored six goals on the final day of the Premier League season for Liverpool, the most of any player at the club – three of those strikes have come against Wolves.

Mohamed Salah finally got Liverpool in front in the 84th minute to take him to 23 goals for the season, meaning he shares the Golden Boot with Son Heung-min. Andrew Robertson added a third, which means Wolves have now lost their last 11 league meetings with the Reds by an aggregate score of 24-3.

Arsenal 5-1 Everton, Norwich City 0-5 Tottenham: North London rivals go big

It has been a frustrating end to the season for Arsenal, who let a Champions League place slip out of their grasp and fall into Tottenham's lap.

The Gunners put five past a much-changed Everton team. Arsenal have now scored more goals against the Toffees than any other side has netted against another team in Premier League history (117).

Arsenal are also unbeaten in their final league game in each of the last 17 seasons (W15 D2), winning the last 11 in a row, while Everton have lost their final league game in five of the last six seasons (D1), conceding at least three goals in each defeat.

Only in 1993-94 (22) have Everton lost more games in a Premier League season than the 21 defeats they have suffered in the competition this term, but they have nevertheless stayed up. Norwich were not so lucky, and their place at the bottom was confirmed by a hammering at home to rampant Spurs.

Tottenham ended the season with 71 points, only in three previous Premier League campaigns have they had more points – 86 in 2016-17, 77 in 2017-18 and 72 in 2012-13.

Son Heung-min is the first Asian player to win the Premier League Golden Boot, while Harry Kane has scored nine goals on the final day of Premier League seasons, the joint-most in the competition's history.

Burnley 1-2 Newcastle United, Brentford 1-2 Leeds United: Another late show caps Whites' survival

Leeds defeated Brentford thanks to a last-gasp Jack Harrison goal, and only City (nine) have netted more goals in the 90th minute than the Whites have this season (eight).

That effort, combined with Burnley's defeat at Newcastle, ensured Leeds avoided the drop and it was Burnley who were relegated.

Burnley netted their 300th Premier League goal, the 32nd side to hit that milestone in the competition, but it was not enough to inspire a comeback after Callum Wilson's double.

The Clarets faced a team in form, with only Liverpool (51), City (43) and Tottenham (41) having picked up more points than Newcastle in 2022.

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  • Pep Guardiola savours ‘dream’ derby preparation Pep Guardiola savours ‘dream’ derby preparation

    Pep Guardiola feels having four clear days ahead of a Manchester derby is a “dream” at this stage of the season.

    Guardiola’s Manchester City host arch-rivals United at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday in what could be a key match in their bid to win a fourth successive Premier League crown.

    It is a crucial month for City with games against title rivals Liverpool and Arsenal to come, as well as the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie and an FA Cup quarter-final.

    City were last in action on Tuesday when they thrashed Luton 6-2 in the cup fifth round and Guardiola believes the derby preparations since have been ideal.

    “Tuesday to Sunday is enough (time), it is a dream,” he said. “We will recover well.

    “The problem is Saturday to Tuesday with trips, that is less recovery, but the players were extraordinary against Luton.

    “We had two days off with rest, not seeing each other, and then two days to prepare for United.”

    Yet despite opportunities for rest being minimal as last season’s treble winners again pursue glory on three fronts, Guardiola admits this time of year – with all its intensity – is what he relishes most.

    He said: “Absolutely, (these periods) are the best. How nice. I prefer that than the opposite.

    “It is so nice to have this fixture against United, to have the chance to qualify for the quarter-finals of the Champions League, then we have Anfield and then before the international break we have the chance against Newcastle to reach the semi-final of the FA Cup.

    “We worked so hard since we arrived here to live these kind of moments.”

    United’s form throughout most of the season has been unconvincing and they face a tall order to finish in the top four.

    Manager Erik ten Hag’s future has been the subject of recurring speculation but Guardiola refused to offer an opinion on the reasons for United’s failures to sustain momentum.

    The Spaniard said: “I expect the best from United but I don’t talk a word about what they do because I respect them too much and I don’t want my words to be misunderstood.

    “When I make comments people always say, ‘Pep jibe’ and it’s never my intention. That’s why it is better I don’t say anything.

    “I have a lot of respect for the institution, United, and the players and Erik, and when I see what we have to do my players will know it.”

  • FIFA president Gianni Infantino shows the red card to blue cards FIFA president Gianni Infantino shows the red card to blue cards

    FIFA president Gianni Infantino has emphatically ruled out the prospect of blue cards playing any part in a future sin bin trial.

    The cards were set to be the signal which would be used by referees to show that a player had been temporarily dismissed in sin bin trial protocols which were due for publication on February 9, and had been signed off at a board meeting of the game’s lawmaking body, the International Football Association Board, earlier that week.

    However, when reports about blue cards circulated on February 8 they received a largely negative reaction, and the IFAB pulled the plug on the day scheduled for publication, citing the need for further talks at the organisation’s annual general meeting this weekend.

    On the eve of Saturday’s meeting in Loch Lomond, Infantino said: “There will not be any blue cards used at elite level. This is a topic that is non-existent for us.

    “FIFA is completely opposed to blue cards. I was not aware of this topic. I’m the president of FIFA, and I think FIFA has a say in the IFAB. So, I don’t know if you want the title, ‘It’s red card to the blue card’!

    “Every proposal and every idea has to be treated with respect, of course. But, once you look at it, you also have to protect the game, the essence of the game, the tradition of the game, and there is no blue card.”

    The introduction of a blue card at the level initially envisaged in the trial would have been the biggest single change in the management of player discipline since the introduction of red and yellow cards at the 1970 World Cup.

    It is understood the trial itself will continue to be developed, but it is expected it will now take place at a much lower footballing level than was anticipated by the original February 9 protocol, which was set to encourage applications from all but the very top-level competitions.

    The Football Association, one of the five bodies which makes up the IFAB, had been understood to have been interested in running a trial in the men’s and women’s FA Cups in the future, before the furore around blue cards.

    The trial will also require a new signal to be used instead of the blue card. In grassroots football, referees show a yellow card and point to the touchline.

    There are also set to be further talks on Saturday about whether any sin bin trial should include tactical fouls, as well as dissent. Also under the original protocol, all players on the pitch, including goalkeepers, could be temporarily dismissed.

    Sin bin trials were one of four protocols set for publication last month before the blue card story broke.

    The IFAB is also seeking to trial allowing referees the option of creating a ‘captain-only zone’ around them when they feel threatened or intimidated, and a trial where referees can send teams to their respective penalty areas to cool off in the event of mass confrontations.

    All of these, including the sin bin protocols, are ultimately intended to improve player behaviour at higher levels, something Infantino has said is essential to set the right example to young players and ensure people still feel safe, and encouraged, to be referees.

    Another trial that had been set for publication on February 9 concerned how long goalkeepers can handle the ball, and how play should restart when they hold on too long.

    Currently keepers can hold on for six seconds and anything over that is supposed to be penalised with an indirect free-kick, but lawmakers are concerned this is not being properly enforced which is why a trial has been developed.

    The management of head injuries is also on the AGM agenda.

    The World Leagues Forum and world players’ union FIFPRO have again written to the IFAB asking for permission to trial temporary concussion substitutes, something which was again rejected at last year’s AGM in London.

    The player union and domestic league in Scotland, this year’s host nation for the AGM, are among those seeking the right to conduct such a trial.

    “From our perspective, we have a responsibility to those former players who are sadly living with dementia,” PFA Scotland chief executive Fraser Wishart said.

    “But we also have to take responsibility as a game – whether it’s the unions, leagues, the government bodies – for current players and future players, to minimise the chances, as much as we possibly can, of players getting dementia. We’re involved in this initiative because we do feel that temporary concussion subs are the next step forward.”

    Trials of permanent concussion substitutes were first approved by the IFAB in December 2020.

  • Carlos Corberan hails ‘important result’ as West Brom strengthen play-off spot Carlos Corberan hails ‘important result’ as West Brom strengthen play-off spot

    Carlos Corberan recognised the significance of West Brom’s win over Coventry as they moved seven points clear of the play-off chasing pack.

    Mikey Johnston’s stunning strike handed Albion an early lead before Grady Diangana put them two up at the break.

    Coventry came back and Haji Wright halved the deficit from the spot but despite late pressure Albion held out for a key three points to stretch their to-six cushion ahead of Saturday’s fixtures.

    Baggies boss Corberan said: “An important result, it was important to win today.

    “We were dominant in the first half, we found solutions to break the press and we controlled the ball in the middle of the pitch, without having too many opportunities.

    “But the opportunities we had we finished them with a lot of accuracy.

    “I knew the second half was going to be a challenge because they were aggressive in the middle in the first half and we lost the ball, and we needed to avoid that in the second half, it would be one of the keys of the game.

    “Little by little we started to lose control of the ball and control of the game. They found options to be more in our (half) than the way we wanted to play.

    “In the penalty they achieved an action in one minute when there was a lot of time to play.

    “We then rediscovered control of the game when we changed to play with a five.

    “We know that every game is going to be key with the value of every game being the same with three points.”

    Sky Blues boss Mark Robins said his side’s first-half display was a “nothing performance”.

    He said: “I think in the first half we were too passive. We couldn’t get out and gave them too much of the ball and they are a quality team, let’s face it.

    “They’re in the play-offs for a reason, they have a strong squad with players who have know-how and little bits of nous, good quality and confidence.

    “We did have three good chances in the first half but in the second we were more aggressive, the mindset changed.

    “We didn’t move well enough, it was a nothing performance in the first half.

    “In the second it was much, much better, we managed to get hold of the ball, got back in it with the penalty, and we had enough time to get back in the game but we conceded two poor goals.

    “We had bodies in there for Johnston’s goal and Diangana ghosts in too easily.

    “And we didn’t lay a glove on them in the first half – but Ben (Wilson) hasn’t had a save to make.

    “Then late on we didn’t have a calmness.”

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