EPL

Gunners' sluggish starts and Moyes hex breaking - the Premier League weekend's quirky facts

By Sports Desk February 22, 2021

Manchester City kept up their 18-match winning run with a 1-0 win at Arsenal on Sunday that maintained their 10-point lead at the top of the Premier League.

The Gunners have lost each of their most recent eight league games against City and saw the repeat of a familiar problem at Emirates Stadium.

Mason Mount tapped into an established Chelsea tradition in their 1-1 draw at Southampton – a sixth match unbeaten for Blues boss Thomas Tuchel.

However, David Moyes showed imposing records do not last forever as fourth-place West Ham beat Tottenham 2-1.

Here, we take a look at some of the quirks that revealed themselves over the course of the latest Premier League weekend.

City slickers catch sleepy Gunners napping

The scoring at Emirates Stadium started and finished after 75 seconds when Raheem Sterling headed home Riyad Mahrez's cross after 77 seconds.

It was the first time City had scored inside the opening two minutes of a Premier League game since Kevin De Bruyne did so in December 2019 – also at Arsenal.

Indeed, this has become something of a troublesome habit in these meetings for the north London club. When the sides met at the Etihad Stadium in February 2019, Sergio Aguero was on target after 46 seconds.

Sterling's goal is not even the earliest Arsenal have conceded this month, with Ollie Watkins netting for Aston Villa after 75 seconds at Villa Park. Similarly, that was the only goal of the contest.

Dominic Calvert-Lewis broke through 50 seconds in at Arsenal last season, although the hosts came back to beat Everton 3-2 on that occasion.

The quickest time recorded for a goal against Arsenal in the Premier League came when Peter Crouch gave Stoke City a 19th-second lead in December 2014 and set a 3-2 win in motion.

Mount adds to Chelsea penalty count

Mount cancelled out Takumi Minamino's opener – a goal that ended 572 minutes without conceding during Tuchel's fledgling reign – as the spoils were shared at St Mary's.

The England midfielder became the 25th different player to score a Premier League penalty for Chelsea, which gives them more spot-kick scorers than any other team in the competition's history.

Unsurprisingly, Mount's former boss Frank Lampard leads the way with 41 conversions – a sizable distance ahead of Eden Hazard (17) next up on the list.

Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink (12) and Frank Leboeuf (10) each boast double figures, although Chelsea's regular taker Jorginho is seemingly set to join their number as the Italy midfielder has nine penalty goals in the Premier League to date.

The list of players Mount is now alongside perhaps shows how hard it has been to get a go from 12 yards for the Stamford Bridge outfit.

Diego Costa, Andriy Shevchenko, Fernando Torres, Gianfranco Zola and Gianluca Vialli are among 11 players to have scored one Premier League penalty for Chelsea.

Moyes bests Mourinho at last

West Ham's hard-earned win at London Stadium was Moyes' first success over Jose Mourinho in 16 encounters between the two former Manchester United bosses across all competitions.

Within that was a 13-match winless run in the Premier League, although there have been worse stretches for managers against fellow tacticians they must have come to dread.

The joint-record stands at 17 games thanks to a surprisingly one-sided streak for Martin O'Neill at the hands of Harry Redknapp, with Steve Bruce's failure to beat Alex Ferguson over the same span of matches perhaps more expected.

Ex-Spurs manager Redknapp certainly knows what such a slump feels like, having gone 15 matches apiece without tasting victory over Ferguson and Arsene Wenger.

Ferguson unsurprisingly dominates the list, with Sam Allardyce (15), Alan Curbishley and David O'Leary (14) facing up to grim, fruitless runs when pitted against the all-time great.

Allardyce will hope to emulate Moyes soon enough by getting one over on Mourinho, having chalked up his 13th outing without success against the Portuguese earlier this month. Alan Pardew went the same number of games without beating the now retired Wenger.

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  • Chelsea boss Tuchel surprised by controversy: It wasn't a penalty Chelsea boss Tuchel surprised by controversy: It wasn't a penalty

    Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel said he is "surprised" at the reaction to Manchester United not being awarded a penalty in Sunday's scoreless Premier League draw.

    United were left aggrieved following the denial of a first-half spot-kick as Chelsea and the visiting Red Devils produced a 0-0 stalemate at Stamford Bridge.

    In the first half, referee Stuart Attwell checked on the pitchside monitor to see if a penalty should have been awarded to United when a bouncing ball struck the raised hand of Callum Hudson-Odoi, who was tussling with Mason Greenwood.

    Attwell stuck with his initial decision not to give the spot-kick and, much to the frustration of United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and full-back Luke Shaw.

    Afterwards, Tuchel – just the second manager to see his side keep a clean sheet in his first four home matches in the Premier League after Brendan Rodgers with Swansea City in 2011-12 – told reporters: "For me it was no penalty. I was surprised and I'm still surprised [at the reaction].

    "I didn't see it live where the penalty should come from, and when we checked on the pictures we have I couldn't see any incident that should qualify as a penalty. Until now I don't know why it should be a penalty."

    It was another 0-0 affair between Chelsea and United – both matches in a league season failing to yield goals for just the second time after 1921-22.

    Chelsea are unbeaten since Tuchel replaced Frank Lampard – the Blues in the midst of a 10-match undefeated streak across all competitions.

    Tuchel's Chelsea are fifth in the Premier League, one point adrift of the top four, six points behind second-placed United and 18 adrift of runaway leaders Manchester City through 26 rounds.

    "It would have been a big result. We tried everything to win, to be prepared for no other intention but to win," Tuchel said. "We are in the middle of a battle to the top four.

    "We have closed the gap quickly and now is the moment to hang in and to show performances every three or four days.

    "I feel the team is very competitive and difficult to play against. We will be able to win games. We are still in the battle and that's the good news."

  • Morikawa follows in Tiger's footsteps with WGC-Workday Championship title Morikawa follows in Tiger's footsteps with WGC-Workday Championship title

    Collin Morikawa added the WGC-Workday Championship to his growing list of achievements after triumphing by three strokes.

    Winner of last year's U.S. PGA Championship, Morikawa used a three-under-par 69 to seal victory at the star-studded World Golf Championships event in Florida ahead of Viktor Hovland, Brooks Koepka and Billy Horschel on Sunday.

    Morikawa holed four birdies and just one bogey to finish 18 under for his fourth PGA Tour crown – the most by any player currently aged under 25.

    He also joins Tiger Woods as the only player to win a major championship and WGC event before turning 25.

    Further to that feat, Morikawa is the seventh player to claim four or more PGA Tour tournaments – including a major – under the age of 25, following in the footsteps of Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas and Jerry Pate.

    The overnight leader by two strokes, Morikawa recovered from a slow start after bogeying his second hole of the final round – the 24-year-old American birdieing three of five holes before the turn as he ended the day without dropping another shot.

    Norwegian star Hovland mounted a serious title charge following a five-under par 67, but he was unable to stop Morikawa.

    Hovland finished tied for second alongside four-time major champion Koepka (70) and Horschel (70) at The Concession Golf Club.

    McIlroy's final-round 71 saw the former world number one and four-time major winner slip down into a tie for sixth, six strokes adrift of Morikawa.

    Defending champion Patrick Reed (72) ended the co-sanctioned PGA and European Tour tournament a shot further back.

    Justin Thomas (71) earned a share of 15th at eight under, a stroke better off than U.S. Open champion Bryson DeChambeau (69).

    It was a forgettable finish for world number one Dustin Johnson, who closed proceedings with a six-over-par 78.

    The two-time tournament winner plummeted 12 positions to T54 at five over the card.

  • Aguero to be managed closely as Guardiola hails seemingly outgoing Garcia Aguero to be managed closely as Guardiola hails seemingly outgoing Garcia

    Pep Guardiola will manage Sergio Aguero carefully, as he explained the difficulties of keeping each player in his Manchester City squad satisfied.

    City made it 20 successive wins in all competitions on Saturday, as they edged past West Ham 2-1 in the Premier League thanks to goals from defenders Ruben Dias and John Stones.

    Aguero made just his fourth start of the season in total – and his first since October – with the City great, who is out of contract at the end of 2020-21, having struggled with injuries through the course of the campaign.

    The 32-year-old failed to have an attempt and created just one chance before he was taken off in the 61st minute, having had 32 touches – less than any other outfield player to have started the game for City.

    Guardiola, however, insisted Aguero will need time to pick up his sharpness, though the striker's minutes will have to be managed precisely. 

    "Sergio has been out for more than a year, he played cup games but got injured again, then it was surgery," Guardiola told a news conference.

    "With Sergio, at this part of this season, having that special talent and special quality is going to help.

    "So it's good that he played 60 minutes, that's good for his legs. In the next games, we might need him for 10, 15 minutes or from the beginning. 

    "It's not easy for him but he just has to play better and better and he can help us in the sense of his ability."

    Guardiola concedes Aguero wants to play more, but reiterated that he has to balance his squad, namechecking Eric Garcia, whose stay at City is set to end at the culmination of the campaign.

    Barcelona have been heavily linked with a move for the 20-year-old, who ended last season as the club's first-choice centre-back alongside Aymeric Laporte.

    Garcia has made just three league appearances this season, and last featured for City in an FA Cup win over Swansea City in early February.

    "There are other players who want to play too, so I know Sergio is so important for us. What he has done for this club – he has scored the most important goal for us," Guardiola continued.

    "We want to help him and see him good but, at the same time, Raheem [Sterling] didn't start, Phil [Foden], Bernardo [Silva] didn't. So I try to handle it so everyone can be involved.

    "You cannot imagine how I feel about Eric Garcia, he's like a son. Last season, during lockdown he was the best defender that we had.

    "He'd never make a mistake like Ruben, John and Aymeric have not this season. He was the reason we qualified for the Champions League, clubs like Bayern and Barcelona wanted him and that's not because he was an average player.

    "In the last two games he was not selected, that's why it's difficult to put all of the players in. Players have to be patient and at the end all you judge is the performance. If the players are performing well they will have more chance to play again."

    Asked if sentiment will come into play with Aguero's game time as his time at City potentially draws to a close, Guardiola replied: "From day one, my message here is what happened before is over – we learn from this and onto the next one.

    "It's not just for Sergio, it's for everyone. I think about who is best in this position, who is in the best condition. If I am fair to one player, I am unfair to another one, that is the difficulty.

    "Now it's for him to prepare if we need him, at the end there will be games that are tough and difficult and we will need a goal! Who is the best guy to do that – it's him.

    "Every player needs time, especially him but everyone needs time. We have trophies to fight for, soon we'll be going to Goodison Park for a quarter-final, the second leg of the Champions League. 

    "Many nice things to fight for and everyone needs to be ready."

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