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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    Erling Haaland's competitive nature means he shows signs of frustration even in training, a mentality that has impressed Borussia Dortmund coach Lucien Favre.

    Haaland has enjoyed a remarkable start to life at Dortmund following his January arrival from Salzburg in a reported €20million transfer.

    The Norwegian striker has already scored eight times in just five Bundesliga matches and 11 in seven in all for his new club.

    The 19-year-old stunned Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League last 16 on Tuesday, scoring both of Dortmund's goals in their 2-1 first-leg victory at Signal Iduna Park.

    That brace took him to 10 Champions League goals in fewer games than any other player in history, having incredibly netted eight times in six group-stage appearances with Salzburg before the turn of the year.

    Favre is unsurprisingly delighted with the teenager's impact and shed light on his mentality, with Haaland seemingly taking training just as seriously as matches.

    "It's great what he is doing," Favre told reporters on Thursday, as Dortmund prepare for Saturday's trip to Werder Bremen.

    "As I have already said, he has a great mentality and always wants to look ahead. He always wants to train.

    "When we play during training and he is losing or not scoring, he is not happy at all. This is very, very positive.

    "We know what he is capable of, you [the media] realised this, too."

    Haaland is by no means the only young player to be impressing at Dortmund currently, however. Gio Reyna - son of former Bayer Leverkusen, Rangers and Manchester City midfielder Claudio - has also caught the eye of late.

    The 17-year-old has made seven appearances for the first team, scoring once, and was influential off the bench against PSG, his darting run and well-placed pass setting up Haaland's stunning winner.

    For Favre, the English-born American's ability is obvious.

    "We have kept out eye on Gio for a long time," Favre added. "He was with us in the US [during Dortmund's pre-season training camp] training and has been in [full first-team] training several times.

    "If you don't see his quality, you're blind. He is very clever, very intelligent. Bit by bit, he has to be playing more, or he has to play from the beginning.

    "Of course, at 17, he still has a lot ahead of him and can make great progress, but he already has a great mindset."

  • Ndidi to miss Leicester City clash with Man City Ndidi to miss Leicester City clash with Man City

    Wilfred Ndidi has been ruled out of Leicester City's Premier League clash with Manchester City on Saturday.

    The midfielder has missed his side's past two games - draws with Chelsea and Wolves - due to a knee problem.

    Manager Brendan Rodgers says he will not rush Ndidi back to face the champions and risk any setbacks in his recovery.

    "Wilf won't be available for the weekend," Rodgers told reporters on Thursday. "He's still in a process to try and get fit, so we'll see how he is next week. I'm not sure.

    "He's doing work inside, but you then have to progress that to outside and then when he can join the team. It's another intensity to join the team and then to play.

    "We just want to make sure he's right because he's such an important player for us. It's about the long term, too. There's no timeline on it. We'll see how he progresses."

    Ndidi's absence presents Rodgers with a problem in midfield, with Hamza Choudhury suspended for the game against Pep Guardiola's side and Nampalys Mendy also out with a knee injury.

    "They're three excellent players and obviously we have to find a strategy and a plan to come up with a game that can see us try and get three points," he said.

    "Wilf has obviously played more, but all three give you that defensive solidity, which is important for any team. They're not available, so we can't worry about that."

    Rodgers went on to distance Leicester from an approach for Adam Lallana, who is expected to leave Liverpool at the end of the season.

    "I've seen a lot of stuff around Adam and that we've approached Liverpool, which isn't the case," said Rodgers, who signed the player for Liverpool from Southampton in 2014.

    "He's at the stage of his contract where he will have options."

    Leicester, who are third, go into the game four points behind Manchester City in the table, having only won three of their past 10 league games.

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