EPL

Premier League Data Diary: Liverpool overcome Mane injury to make it 40 games unbeaten

By Sports Desk January 23, 2020

Liverpool's march towards the Premier League title shows no sign of slowing down, as the Reds claimed a hard-fought 2-1 win over Wolves.

Manchester United are clinging to a top-six position after they slid to a 2-0 home defeat to Burnley, the latest in a string of wretched results this season that have sparked an angry reaction from supporters.

While United toil, neighbours Manchester City ground out a 1-0 win at Sheffield United that continued their resurgent league form, with a winning combination delivering the goal for Pep Guardiola's side.

Leicester City might have expected a challenge from the big clubs behind them by now, but the Foxes continue to sit pretty in third place, and a 4-1 win over West Ham continued to make them look immovable from the top four this season.

The midweek Opta data offers detailed insights into the stories behind those results, revealing a string of telling trends and match facts.

 

MANE INJURY DOES NOT DERAIL LIVERPOOL'S CHARGE

Liverpool lost Sadio Mane to injury during the first half in Thursday's clash with Wolves, yet Roberto Firmino struck late on to claim the win as the Reds became just the fifth side in English Football League history to go 40 straight matches unbeaten.

Jurgen Klopp's side have amassed 67 points from a possible 69 in the Premier League this season; this is at least five more than any side in English top-flight history has ever previously had after as many games of a campaign.

Raul Jimenez drew Wolves level after Jordan Henderson's opener, and the Mexican's header ended a run of 725 minutes without conceding a Premier League goal for Liverpool since Richarlison scored for Everton at Anfield in December.

Jimenez also became the third Premier League player to net 20+ goals in all competitions this season, after Sergio Aguero (21) and Raheem Sterling (20).

Since the start of last season, Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold has assisted 22 Premier League goals, at least five more than any other player, with 10 of those coming from dead balls, also a league-high.

Firmino, meanwhile, has scored six goals in his last eight games for Liverpool in all competitions, as many as he had in his previous 32 appearances for the club, and all of his 10 Premier League strikes this season have come away from home.

UNITED IN TURMOIL AS CLARETS PUT NEGATIVE SPIN ON OLE REIN

Manchester United may sit fifth, but in terms of points tallies Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's are closer to 14th-placed Newcastle than they are to fourth-placed Chelsea after 24 games.

The league standing is highly vulnerable, given Tottenham, Wolves and even Sheffield United are breathing down United's necks.

Wednesday's 2-0 defeat to Burnley means United now have a negative Premier League win-loss record since manager Solskjaer was given the job on a full-time basis in March.

They had impressed during his caretaker spell, but since Solskjaer went from being a stand-in to the chosen one, their record shows 11 wins and 12 defeats in the Premier League.

United's Old Trafford setback followed their 2-0 loss to Liverpool at Anfield, meaning they have suffered back-to-back league defeats for the second time under their Norwegian boss.

Burnley looked to be in freefall just days ago and relegation was becoming a serious concern, but wins over United and Leicester City have lifted them to 30 points - just four adrift of the Red Devils.

PASSPORTS AT THE READY, LEICESTER LOOK BOOKED IN FOR CHAMPIONS LEAGUE RETURN

Catch them if you can! Leicester City had a wobble with defeats to Southampton and Burnley, but Brendan Rodgers' men now sit 14 points clear of fifth place and surely their destiny is a second season in the Champions League.

In the absence of anything approaching a charge from teams outside the top four, it would take a spectacular collapse for the Foxes to miss out, with a 4-1 win over West Ham on Wednesday emphasising their quality.

Leicester have racked up eight wins in 12 Premier League home games so far, their best record at this stage of a season, and the 52 goals they have banged in amounts to their most in the top flight from their first 24 games since the achieved the same tally in 1930-31.

Rodgers and West Ham boss David Moyes were once rivals on Merseyside, in charge of Liverpool and Everton respectively.

While Rodgers eyes success towards the top of the table, Moyes has taken on a relegation battle with a West Ham side who are outside the bottom three on goal difference alone.

Since the start of October 2019, no team have gained fewer points (11) or lost more games (11) in the Premier League than West Ham, and it gets no easier: Liverpool are their next opponents.

At least that game is a home fixture for the Hammers. Moyes' away record in matches against teams starting the day in the Premier League top four is diabolical, winning just one of 50 such games.

KEVIN KEEN TO HELP - DE BRUYNE IS KING OF THE ASSISTS

When Sergio Aguero turned in a cross from Kevin De Bruyne to give Manchester City a 1-0 victory at Sheffield United, it was more than merely two Premier League greats combining to deadly effect.

History, in fact, was made in that motion, with De Bruyne becoming the first player in the Premier League era to provide 15 or more assists in three different seasons.

The Belgian had 18 in 2016-17, 16 the following season, and after an injury-wracked 2018-19 campaign he already has 15 from 23 appearances this term.

The scale of De Bruyne's achievement can be better appreciated by considering the likes of Ryan Giggs, Cesc Fabregas, Dennis Bergkamp and his own City colleague David Silva have been unable to produce at that level so consistently.

Former Wolfsburg playmaker De Bruyne has entered the top 20 of all-time assist providers in the Premier League, and there is no keeping Aguero down either.

Aguero has been directly involved in 43 goals in 43 Premier League appearances against newly promoted teams - scoring 35 goals and assisting in eight more.

It took City until the 73rd minute to make their breakthrough at Bramall Lane, and a lot of the credit for the hosts' resilience went to goalkeeper Dean Henderson, whose first-half penalty save from Gabriel Jesus means he has stopped four of the last eight spot-kicks he has faced in English league football.

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    Dwight McNeil should be in no rush to leave Burnley despite reported interest from Manchester United, according to former Clarets defender Kieran Trippier.

    Winger McNeil has been one of Burnley's star performers this season, scoring two goals and providing five assists in 29 Premier League appearances.

    The England Under-21 international's form has prompted talk of a switch to United, among a host of other top clubs, in the post-season transfer window.

    However, Atletico Madrid defender Trippier, who left Burnley for Tottenham in 2015, would encourage McNeil to remain at Turf Moor for now.

    "Dwight has burst on to the scene, and when he trained with us last season for England, he was brilliant," Trippier said, as quoted by the Burnley Express.

    "He's got to stay focused, keep performing well while he's young, and his time will come.

    "I'd say, 'Don't rush anything, just keep playing.' And Dwight is at the right club to do that. He just needs to keep playing games, because that's the most important thing for somebody his age.

    "He's got the right manager to guide him, and he'll be in no rush to go anywhere. If I was him, I'd stay put and keep playing games.

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    "For somebody like him, who is doing really well, why would you move now? There's no point. Just keep performing well on the biggest stage and stay put.

    "I was in a different situation to him. I'd just been relegated, so I needed to go to a Premier League club.

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  • Ighalo yet to receive Man Utd extension offer Ighalo yet to receive Man Utd extension offer

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  • Fantasy Masters: Spieth, Floyd pull clear as Woods stirs & Nicklaus misses cut Fantasy Masters: Spieth, Floyd pull clear as Woods stirs & Nicklaus misses cut

    With the 2020 Masters postponed amid the coronavirus pandemic, we have drawn from the well of the tournament's rich history to produce something unique.

    From its inception in 1934 right up to last year's stunning triumph for Tiger Woods, this major has always delivered the goods.

    While the Augusta course may lay dormant for now, echoes of a glorious past still ring around its verdant fairways and greens.

    Using daily leaderboards from a selection of the most memorable editions of the event, we have created a Fantasy Masters.

    And here is how a thrilling second round went down...

     

    Jack Nicklaus (1965) remarkably failed to make the cut as Jordan Spieth (2015) and Raymond Floyd (1976) pulled clear of the chasing pack on day two of the Fantasy Masters.

    Spieth, who came up just short of an Augusta course record when he shot an opening 64, carded a 66 on Friday to maintain his one-stroke lead over Floyd.

    But there was a huge shock lower down the leaderboard as Nicklaus, two years on from claiming the green jacket, fluffed his lines on Amen Corner to ensure he will miss the weekend.

    Nicklaus bogeyed the 11th, 12th and 13th, ensuring his back-to-back gains at the 15th and 16th came in a fruitless effort.

    He was far from the only big name to drop out of the tournament, with Tom Watson (1977) and Gary Player (1978) also missing the cut, along with Ben Hogan (1953), Phil Mickelson (2010) and Charl Schwartzel (2011).

    The big movers were Tiger Woods (1997) and Patrick Reed (2018), who both signed for a 66, leaving them on eight and nine under respectively.

    Spieth and Floyd's relative comfort at the summit owes much to the fact Seve Ballesteros (1980) could not keep the pressure on, despite a late rally.

    After slipping below the cut mark with six holes left, the Spaniard birdied four of the next five to end the day third, but five shots from the top.

    Arnold Palmer (1964) survived an even closer call with the cut line, the 34-year-old keeping his nerve to make a decisive three on the par-four 18th.

    Other players who kept their hopes alive were Nick Faldo (1996), Fred Couples (1992), Angel Cabrera (2009) and Ben Crenshaw (1995).

     

    WHAT THEY SAID

    Paul Azinger: "He [Tiger Woods] didn't miss a putt inside 10 feet. If he's going to drive it great and not miss a putt inside 10 feet, he is going to beat you."

    Gary Player: "One of the things I am is an eternal optimist. I was playing excellent golf, and I hadn't made any putts. But you have to keep on aiming at them."

     

    LEADERBOARD

    Jordan Spieth (2015) -14

    Raymond Floyd (1976) -13

    Seve Ballesteros (1980) -9

    Patrick Reed (2018) -9

    Tiger Woods (1997) -8

    Nick Faldo (1996) -8

    Fred Couples (1992) -8

    Angel Cabrera (2009) -8

    Arnold Palmer (1964) -7

    Ben Crenshaw (1995) -7

    -CUT-CUT-CUT-CUT-CUT-

    Jack Nicklaus (1965) -6

    Phil Mickelson (2010) -6

    Tom Watson (1977) -5

    Ben Hogan (1953) -5

    Charl Schwartzel (2011) -4

    Gary Player (1978) Even

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