Archive for the ‘Football’ Category

Everton and City getting better at drawing conclusions at Arsenal and Liverpool

Friday, February 27th, 2015

By Brian Sears

27 February 2015

Sunday’s two big games in the Premier League throw up contrasting challenges for the two Merseyside clubs, with Liverpool outsiders at home against a team they have a brilliant home record against (Manchester City), and Everton outsiders away against a team that history says will thump them.

The history we are considering is the Premier League era, so the 23 years since the top division revamped in 1992-93, kick-starting the ‘monied era’ explained in greater detail here. It goes without saying that the circumstances in place 23 years ago have little bearing on what happens between teams now owned respectively by billionaires from Abu Dhabi, America and Uzbekistan (and by a millionaire from Lancs).

But there remain some strong and consistent patterns of outcome in certain fixtures over time, for whatever reasons. And whether we think they will have a bearing on what happens this weekend or not, it is worth noting statistically that Arsenal at home to Everton and Liverpool at home to City in the Premier League era have been remarkably one-sided contests.

Arsenal have lost just once to Everton at home in the Premier League era. Once in 22 games. That’s just 4.5 per cent of the time. They have won 16 times from 22 games. That’s 73 per cent of the time. The other five games have been draws.

Liverpool have also lost just once at home to Manchester City in the Premier League.  Once in 17 games; there have been only 17 because City meandered for a period to the lower divisions. That’s a loss rate of below 6 per cent. They have won 11 of 17 games. That’s 65 per cent. The other five games have been draws.

Nor have Liverpool seen a plunge in performance particularly since City were fortunate to come into money after Sheikh Mansour bought them in 2008. Their sole home defeat to City in the PL era was in May 2003. Everton have to go further back for their only PL win at Arsenal: 1996.

But. There is always a but.

Recent results have been getting closer for both Everton and City. Four of Everton’s five Premier League draws at Arsenal have come in their last eight visits (or in other words, half of their last eight visits have been draws) and four of Man City’s five Premier League draws at Anfield have come in their last six visits (or in other words, two-thirds of their last six visits have been draws).

The bookmakers are expecting a home win for Arsenal and an away win for City. Premier League history says two home wins. Value in betting terms is found in two draws. But this is not a tipping site so draw your own conclusions and think instead on this: only once before in the Premier League have both fixtures come on the same day. That was 4 May 2008, and both games ended in single-goal wins for the home team.

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AFC v EFC and LFC v MCFC

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To get some idea of how the financial situations of these clubs have changed over time – and finance is a big influence in success in football – further reading and related articles spring from Sportingintelligence’s annual global sports salaries reports, linked here..

2014 Report             2013 Report            2012 Report         2011 Report          2010 Report

 

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Aston Villa’s stupendously woeful scoring record puts ever-present status in peril

Friday, February 20th, 2015

By Brian Sears

20 February 2015

Aston Villa are enduring another horrible season, one from which new manager Tim Sherwood is expected to salvage Premier League survival. Villa remain for now one of just seven ‘ever present’ Premier League clubs, constant members of England’s top division since it revamped and rebranded from the 1992-1993 season. The other six are Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham and Everton.

So just how poor are Villa? How long have they been this poor? And can Sherwood lead them to safety?

In one sense, the scoring sense, Villa are on course to be as poor as any team in Premier League history. It goes without saying things can still change. But as of now, Villa have scored just 12 goals in 25 Premier League matches at a rate of 0.48 goals per game. Derby County hold the record for the fewest goals scored in any Premier League season: that was 20 in 38 games (0.53 per game) in the season they were relegated seven years ago. And after 25 games, Derby had 13 goals, or one more than Villa now.

So Villa are record-breakingly terrible at scoring this season.

In fact as the first graphic below shows, no other team among the  368 clubs in the 16 divisions in the top eight levels of the English pyramid system have scored as few goals per game as Aston Villa in the 2014-15 season. Only Bashley FC of the Southern Football League Division One South & West come close to Villa’s woefulness. And even Bashley’s 15 goals in 31 games represents a slightly better record in GPG terms than Villa’s 12 in 25.

And looking at other top divisions in leagues around the world to see which team has the worst GPG record this season, Villa are worse than pretty much everyone, aside from Niki Volos of the Greek Superleague. Niki Volos’s record of seven goals in 24 league games is worse than Villa’s. But then Niki Volos have had such a turbulent season because of financial crisis that were on the brink of extinction and expulsion from the start, and have effectively now folded.

(As statistician Constantinos Chappas points out, Niki’s GPG rate before ceasing was 0.5 goals per game, so actually not even as bad as Villa’s. Subsequent games have counted as ‘played’ while not having been so, reducing the rate in the table below).

So yes, Villa are bad, certainly in terms of scoring goals. But not as bad as they’ve ever been in terms of points, as we’ll see.

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Villa atrocious ii

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The second graphic considers Aston Villa’s record at this stage – after 25 games – for every season of the Premier League era, ranking the seasons from the best returns from 25 games in each of those seasons, to the worst.

Their best ever season after 25 games was in 2008-09 when they had 51 points or 2.04 per game, and went on to finish sixth after that form dropped off in the final part of the season. Their best-ever finish, of second place in 1992-93, came after their second-best start after 25 games, of 47 points or 1.88 per game.

One thing of note in this table is that Villa were actually worse off than now at this stage just two seasons ago, with just 21 points from 25 games, ie a point less than now. And two seasons ago they rallied to collect 20 points from their last 13 games for a total of 41 points, good enough for a 15th-place finish, five points clear of a drop zone eventually filled by Wigan, Reading and QPR. So it is certainly possible for Sherwood to turn things around and there is even a recent precedent at Villa.

But before we look at their remaining games it is also worth noting that Villa’s five worst seasons of the Premier League era, at this stage at least, have been the last five seasons, ie this current season and the four before it. The five seasons since Martin O’Neill left in summer 2010 in other words, after a hat-trick of seasons finishing 6th, 6th and 6th.

As we all know now, O’Neill wanted to push on above that, and Randy Lerner, probably knowing full well that the marginal cost of getting higher than 6th would be a cost he could not afford (background here and more here), saw his manager walk away. How ultimately costly that might be remains to be seen.

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Villa after 25 games

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So onto this weekend – and the rest of the season, comprising 13 league games where Sherwood needs to work his magic to keep Villa up.

Goals will be key. Elusive goals. Villa have failed to score in 15 of their 25 league games this season, more than any other team.

Their first league match with Sherwood in charge sees them play Stoke, against whom they won the reverse fixture 1-0. They then face 12 other opponents against whom they have only drawn or lost this season.

Villa's 15 no score games

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Spurs and Everton uncannily similar in underdog rivalries with Arsenal and Liverpool

Friday, February 6th, 2015

By Brian Sears

6 February 2015

Saturday’s matches in the Premier League begin with a major derby (Tottenham v Arsenal at lunchtime) and end with a major derby (Everton v Liverpool at tea-time).

Both home sides have found it tough against the neighbours over the course of the Premier League era as a whole. And they have uncannily similar records against their local rivals.

In the Premier League era:

  • Tottenham have most often finished below Arsenal, but not always; Everton have most often finished below Liverpool, but not always.
  • Tottenham trail Arsenal by 40-something points to 70-something points (45-72) in PL games; Everton trail Liverpool by 40-something points to 70-something points (44-74) in PL games.
  • Tottenham claim just a 20 per cent win rate against Arsenal in the PL era. Everton claim just a 20 per cent win rate against Liverpool in the PL era.
  • Tottenham have won seven of their nine PL victories over Arsenal at home and two away. Everton have won seven of their nine PL victories over Liverpool at home and two away.
  • The last time Tottenham played Arsenal in the league it was 1-1. The last time Everton played Liverpool in the league it was 1-1.

The graphic below summarises the similarities.

One difference is Everton fans have been longer for a win over Liverpool than Spurs fans have over Arsenal; more than four years and counting. And those Everton fans might worringly note not a single one of their wins over Liverpool in the PL era has taken place after Christmas.

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Derby days THFC AFC EFC LFC

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And another thing …

Aston Villa have become only the eighth in the Premier League era to go six full consecutive games without scoring. They last scored a league goal on the Saturday before Christmas in the 1-1 draw at home to Man Utd when Benteke gave them the lead after 18 minutes.  Since then six games and 612 minutes have elapsed without them finding the back of the net.

Of the other sides to do this Sheffield United, Everton sides twice and Reading scored in the 7th game. Villa fans will hope that happens when Chelsea visit Villa Park this weekend. Ipswich and Derby scored at their 8th attempts and Crystal Palace in 1994-95 had to wait until their tenth game.

That Palace goal famine went from the 87th minute of a 3-0 victory over Ipswich with John Salako scoring on 5th November 1994 until 14th January 1995 when Ricky Newman scored after 23 minutes of a 2-0 win over Leicester, after 836 goalless minutes.

Villa fans may or may not be encouraged by the fact that Everton survived their goalless runs and kept their Premier League status but the other five sides were all relegated at the season’s end.

AV mins no goals

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West Ham win at Liverpool: from the era of JFK, Nehru, She Loves You and the 5p loaf

Friday, January 30th, 2015

By Brian Sears

30 January 2015

West Ham are above Liverpool in the Premier League table and go to Anfield this weekend looking for a result that will keep them there and still in contention for a top-four finish. But it’s been a long time since West Ham won a league match at Anfield. A long, long, long, long, long, long time.West Ham win an Anfield 1963

The last time West Ham won there, The Beatles were at No1 in the charts with She Loves You.

Harold MacMillan was the British Prime Minister, John F Kennedy was the president of the United States and Nehru was the Prime Minister of India. Charles De Gaulle was the president of France, in the days before he became an airport. Georges Pompidou was the Prime Minister of France, before he became a Centre.

The average house price in Britain was £3,160 and the average weekly wage was £18.46, or £960 per year. The average footballer’s wage in England’s top division was £29 per week, or £1,508 a year, as opposed to a figure north of £2.2m per year now as can be seen on page 17 of the report linked here.

A loaf of bread cost 5p – or a shilling, in old money – while a season ticket for Manchester United cost £8.50. The Great Train Robbery, which had happened the previous month, was still occupying the police not to say the public imagination.

It was 14 September 1963, and Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters, still years away from winning the World Cup with England, were the scorers as West Ham won 2-1 at Anfield. Bobby Moore was also in the West Ham team.

The graphic on the right shows the top-division scores and table that day. (The table, click to enlarge, comes from the brilliant English National Football Archive (ENFA) website. For the results and tables for any given day in English league football since 1888, go to the website, click ‘Matches’ from the left-hand menu, and then enter the relevant date when the calendar appears.)

West Ham went on to complete a rare league double over Liverpool that season (not to mention won the FA Cup), although Liverpool still went on to be champions in a season that included a visit from the BBC’s Panorama programme, producing this memorable footage from 1964:

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Since that league win in 1963, West Ham have made 41 league visits to Anfield, losing 30 of them and drawing 11. In those games, the Hammers have conceded 85 goals and only scored 16 themselves. Within the Premier League era alone (the ‘monied era’ since 1992-93), West Ham have played 18 Premier League games at Anfield, losing 13 of them and drawing five while conceding 37 goals and scoring just five.

Let’s not pretend that it is easy to go and win at Anfield. It’s not. Liverpool have played 435 Premier League home games there since 1992 and have won 265 of them (61%), drawn another (25%) and lost just 63 of them (14%). That has helped Liverpool to win 902 Premier League home points in the era, a figure that has only been bettered in the same 23-year period by only Manchester United Utd (1,036 home PL points), Arsenal (933) and Chelsea (929).

But as our graphic below shows, 45 different teams have visited Liverpool in the PL era, and 28 of them have managed at least one win, including Barnsley, Blackpool and Watford. And among the 17 teams without a PL win there, West Ham’s zero wins from 18 games is a standout number that must surely change one day soon. Mustn’t it?

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Wins at Anfield in PL to 29.1.15

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… And another thing

As was covered in these pages a fortnight ago, about one in five regular match-goers for English league football turned their backs on the games involving their clubs in the third round of the FA Cup. Or in other words, the home crowds for the Cup were in total about a fifth down on the home crowds at the same grounds in the league this season. Some gates were up (mostly at smaller clubs with bigger visitors) and some were much more than a fifth down.

But now the fourth round has produced better news, with just one in 20 fans staying away, overall. As ever, there was a contrast in attendances at different games. Three in every five fans stayed away from the Blackburn game in spite of Premier League opponents in Swansea and a clear upset chance, and nearly one in two were missing at Sunderland and Cardiff.

But then crowds at Rochdale, Birmingham and Cambridge nearly doubled and some would have done even better had capacity allowed. Crowds at Chelsea, Man City, Southampton and Tottenham held commendably steady even if the results hugely disappointed their fans. Our graphic shows clearly those clubs with red numbers showing big falls, those in black with rises, and those in grey who were not far away from their usual league gates.

FA Cup 2015 4r crowds

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Most ‘slain’ Premier League team Liverpool face banana-skin FA Cup visit of Bolton

Friday, January 23rd, 2015

By Brian Sears

23 January 2015

The formation of the Premier League from the 1992-93 season marked a major change in English football as the gap between the new top division and the rest of football quickly became a gulf. At a glance the first graphic below pretty much sums up what happened in financial terms. If you want more background on that, this linked piece from 2011 will explain in more detail.

Suffice to say, when we talk about the ‘Premier League’ era, it is not because we think that’s when Sky TV invented the game, or because we think it only matters since then, but because the game changed fundamentally at that time – to become more and more dictated by money. The Premier League is the ‘monied era’ for good, or ill – and any Premier League VS The Rest comparisons should be seen in that context, not least in the FA Cup.

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Mind the gap

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Thus within the context above, the Premier League team in the PL with the worst FA Cup record against ‘The Rest’ is arguably Liverpool. And the prime evidence in that argument is that Liverpool have been eliminated from the FA Cup by lower-league opponents more times in the Premier League era than any other PL team.

It’s happened to them eight times since 1993, and perhaps even more worrying as they prepare to face lower-league opponents Bolton at Anfield this weekend, six of those previous eight defeats were at Anfield. Indeed in 1993 the victors were Bolton themselves at Anfield, in a third-round replay. Then in 1994 Liverpool lost to Bristol City at Anfield; then in 2000 to Blackburn, in 2003 to Crystal Palace, in 2005 to Burnley (at Burnley), in 2008 to Barnsley (at Anfield), in 2010 to Reading (at Anfield) and then two years ago to Oldham (away).

Here are the most slain PL teams in the FA Cup:

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FA Cup slayings in PL to 2015

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Five Premier League clubs have been eliminated from the FA Cup this season already, but only one so far at the hands of lower league opposition: QPR, who lost to Sheffield United, most often PL slayers in the PL era.

In the fourth round this year, at least two more Premier League clubs are certain to be dismissed after all-PL ties involving Southampton v Crystal Palace and Tottenham v Leicester.  The other 11 Premier League cup hopefuls are all up against lower league opponents: seven from the Championship, three from League One (Bradford, Bristol City and Rochdale) and Cambridge United from League Two.

FAC giant killing in PL era

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Arsenal’s task of winning in Manchester is harder as City step up to United standards

Friday, January 16th, 2015

By Brian Sears

16 January 2015

Arsenal visit Manchester on Sunday to play Manchester City and then return to Manchester for their last away game of the season in May to play United. Old Trafford has long been hard work for Arsenal, not only in the Premier League era but throughout all the post-war years.

In 67 league visits to Old Trafford since the war, Arsenal have won on just 10 occasions, with only three wins there in 22 Premier League games.

Arsenal have much more enjoyed their post-war visits to Manchester to take on City. The Gunners are in post-war points profit in their visits to City, gaining 87 points and allowing City only 60 points. Overall in the Premier League era too, Arsenal have remained in profit by 32 points to 17 on City’s turf.

But the enormous financial investment made by Sheikh Mansour since 2008 in City, Arsenal have found visits there so much tougher. City had to wait until the 10th Premier League visit from Arsenal before getting their first win on their own ground.  (Arsenal had won eight and drawn one before that). But in the last eight home games with Arsenal, City have won five, drawn one and lost just two.

Up to then Arsenal had only lost 10 times in 46 post-war visits.

Article continues below

Arsenal in Manc

 

Arse wins in Manc, PL

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… and another thing

Are you up for the Cup?

It’s no doubt a question that the Football Association will be interested in knowing from fans about their flagship tournament.

How can we find out? By comparing gates in the third round, when all the big clubs come in, with average league gates for the home sides to see how those attendances compare.

The answer: fans overall are 18.4 per cent down for the Cup, in the 32 ties as first played (without replays). And as many as four out of every five regular Cardiff fans for league games turned their backs on the Colchester tie while one in every two stayed away at Burnley, Millwall and Charlton.  This decline has been typical of FA Cup third-round attendances in recent seasons at some clubs.

But then there are the astronomic increases at non-league venues and the doubling of average gates at Yeovil and Tranmere. Encouraging too for the FA is the way gates are maintained at clubs like Arsenal, Chelsea and Man City.

The crowds at the seven replays in total fell a bit further than the earlier games, by 23 per cent overall. The FA should use Ipswich as their role model of keeping crowds up for the cup. Nearly one in two more fans attended the replay with Southampton than have attended league games so far this season.

FAC3R crowds 2015

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NUMBER-CRUNCHED: the best and worst of English league football in 2014

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

By Brian Sears 

31 December 2014

Of all the teams playing in the four main divisions of English football in 2014, Manchester City and Chelsea were the standout performers in the calendar year in terms of points per game. Both amassed 88 points from 38 league games in 2014 for 2.32 points per game on average, with City just pipping Chelsea on goal difference (+56 vs +55) for the year.

Each of those clubs have won 27 games in 2014, drawn seven and lost four and it is appropriate they head the calendar year table for England as they start 2015 as the two prime contenders to be champions of England this season.

Calendar year: bah humbug! That is a familiar refrain in some quarters when annual rather than season figures are produced but they serve a purpose beyond wrapping up a year and being a half-way marker in a season. When you look at the worst performing teams in particular, the calendar year data tends to highlight long-term problems that are not always immediate when looking at seasonal data. Certainly long-term issues are thrown into starker contrast.

In all, 94 different teams spent all or part of 2014 in those the four divisions. Of those 94 clubs, only four – City, Chelsea, Luton and Liverpool – averaged two or more points per game. Again, this reminds us what a magnificent first half of 2014 Liverpool had, and what a relative flop they have been in the post-Suarez period.

The star performers outside that trio include resurgent Wolves and Preston, with Arsenal not doing so badly in seventh ahead of Derby, Bristol City and then a pair of Premier League aspirants, Bournemouth and Brentford, both just ahead of Manchester United.

Article continues below (NB: this graphic was updated on 5.1.15 to correct an error over games played by Luton)

Top 20 Eng calendar 2014

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Next: the worst 10 performing clubs of 2014. Confirmation that Blackpool fans have good reason to be miserable. Thanks Oyston clan!

Also note that West Brom and Hull are the only Premier League clubs with less than a point per game. Their woes are long-term now. And Leeds fans see no signs of their struggles abating just yet.

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Calendar 2014 the 10 worst

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Before we move on to the divisional tables, here are some of the ‘most and least’ highlights among the 94 clubs in 2014:

Most wins: Man City, Chelsea, Luton, Wolves – all 27.

Fewest wins: Blackpool 5, Hull 7.

Most defeats: Blackpool 29, Hartlepool 28.

Most goals scored: Bournemouth 91, Man City 89.

Fewest goals scored: Blackpool 31, Aston Villa 32.

Most average team in England: The average points per game of all clubs is 1.38, so Accrington Stanley are closest.

Calendar 2014 GPG

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And while we’re on the subject of random stats:

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Calendar 2014 notable

 

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And here are the tables by division: PREMIER LEAGUE

Calendar 2014 PL

 

And here are the tables by division: FOOTBALL LEAGUE

(NB – Luton played 44 games, not 46, as per top graphic, so had 2.05 pts per game)

Calendar 2014 FL1

Calendar 2014 FL2

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QPR’s road woes keep them on course for ignominy … and relegation

Friday, December 19th, 2014

By Brian Sears

19 December 2014

Queens Park Rangers play at home this weekend – and that must be a relief. On home form alone, Harry Redknapp’s team would be eighth in the Premier League, just behind Arsenal, after winning four and drawing two of their eight home league matches at Loftus Road this season. On home form alone they would be above Liverpool, Everton and Tottenham among others.

But Queens Park Rangers play away at Arsenal on Boxing Day – and that, on the form of the past few years, must be a huge concern. They have played eight times away this season and lost all eight. The last time they were in the Premier League, in 2012-13, they won just twice away. In fact their woeful away record, over the past 40 away games in the Premier League, has led to just 13 points from 120.

If it carries on, it threatens to be reach levels of record-breaking badness, which in turn would carry a high probability of relegation, as detailed later. But first, the season so far and the games to come:

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QPR away woe in PL

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The table below details the worst 10 ‘away seasons’ in Premier League history, including the records of the six sides who went through entire PL campaigns without a single win. Coventry in 1999-2000 and Leeds in 1992-93 both fell into that category but both managed seven away draws and had good enough home records that they stayed up. The other four teams who were winless on the road all went down: Wolves in 2003-04, Norwich in 1994-95, Hull in 2009-10 and Derby in 2007-08.

As the table shows, a total of seven or fewer away points carries a strong chance of relegation, or a 70 per cent chance based on this sample. And six or fewer away points carries a virtually certain chance of going down.

It didn’t get much better for the teams (not displayed) who won eight or nine away points. Nine teams have won as few as eight away points – and all were relegated. Five sides have won as few as nine away points – and three went down.

The lesson for Harry Redknapp from all of this, bleeding obvious though it may be, is that he needs to change QPR’s extremely long-term Premier League travel sickness, and quickly, and significantly, or else QPR are going down. Merry Christmas, ‘Arry!

Article continues below

 Worst away seasons in PL

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And another thing …

Newcastle host Sunderland on Sunday in the north-east derby and this particular relationship throws up a Premier League statistical quirk.

Typically over a long period of time, you’d reasonably expect any one team to gain more points at home against any one opponent than you’d expect them to win away against the same opponent.

But Newcastle have won fewer points on their own turf against Sunderland, or 16 points from 12 meetings, at a rate of 1.33 per game, than they have away against Sunderland, or 20 points from 12 games, at a rate of 1.66. Being really good away in derbies would be one explanation – but it does not explain why Newcastle have been relatively so poor at home against the same team. Derby pressure and related tension, perhaps.

Here is Newcastle’s home and away record in the PL against all PL opponents, showing clearly the anomaly of their relationship with Sunderland.

NUFC v SAFC

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Man Utd look to repel raiders Liverpool to restore Old Trafford as fortress

Friday, December 12th, 2014

By Brian Sears

12 December 2014

Manchester United have the best home record across the Premier League era of any of the 46 clubs to have played in the Premier League, whichever measure is used.

They have played 432 PL games, won 320, drawn 70 and lost 42.

That’s more wins than anyone (320); a higher win percentage than anyone (74.1 per cent); a lower loss percentage than anyone (9.7 per cent, the only single-digit loss percentage rate of the era); more goals than anyone, and more goals per game than anyone; fewest goals conceded per game than anyone. And on and on.

Things have not been so brilliant in recent times, admittedly, with seven home defeats last season alone. But even with that anomalous season, United have, on average, lost fewer than two home games each season across the Premier League era as a whole. That’s fewer than two games a season for more than 22 years. And that is a large part of why they have won the Premier League so many times and been the dominant English team of the PL era.

Before we consider those teams who have been able to overcome them most often on their own turf, here is how United’s home record in the Premier League era compares to other teams.

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PL home records 1992-now

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United’s 42 Premier League defeats have come at the hands of 20 different opponents, with Chelsea winning at Old Trafford most often in the PL era (six times), then Liverpool (five times), Manchester City (four times), Middlesbrough and Arsenal (three times each), then six clubs on twice each and nine clubs on once each. Article continues below

PL wins at OT, 1992-Dec 12.2014

Of this season’s Premier League teams, seven started the season without any Premier League win at Old Trafford. Swansea put that right on the opening day. Four other teams have played there and failed to change that stat by losing: QPR, Crystal Palace, Hull and Stoke lost. Southampton (in January) and Burnley (in February) are the other current PL teams without any PL win at United but yet to have a chance to change that this campaign.

Sunday’s match at home to Liverpool gives United a chance to put one over on one of their most successful opponents. It took Liverpool nine seasons to get a first win at OT in the PL era, and they have added four more since 2002. In Liverpool’s five wins, Danny Murphy scored the only goal in 1-0 away wins in December 2000, January 2002 and April 2004; Liverpool got their best win there with a 4-1 victory in March 2009 and then Steven Gerrard (with two) and Luis Suarez (one) gave Liverpool another win in March this year.

United’s only home league defeat this season was that opening game to Swansea. Any sustained revival of fortunes will inevitably be reliant on turning Old Trafford back into a fortress. Repelling Liverpool’s raiders will be a sign that is already happening.

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From Chelsea to Arsenal via Tottenham: best season, worst and bang average

Friday, November 28th, 2014

By Brian Sears

27 November 2014

Chelsea’s storming start in the Premier League is their best ever start in the 23 seasons of England’s revamped top division. With 32 points from their first 12 games, they are a point ahead of their previous best-ever tally at this stage – and more than nine points clear of their average tally after 12 matches.

In stark contrast, everyone knows Arsenal have been struggling for consistency, but in fact it’s worse than that. This is their worst ever start to a Premier League season. Their current 17 points from 12 games means they are currently one point down on their previous worst tally after 12 games; that was back in 1994-95 when the Gunners ended the season 12th in the table. The following season they recovered to fifth and in the 18 completed seasons since they have never finished outside the top four.

Elsewhere in London, the perception is that Tottenham are struggling a little under Mauricio Pochettinho. But the reality is that by their own standards, Spurs are having a bang average campaign. On average at this stage over the past 22 years of Premier League football they have had 16.7 points. This season they are on 17. A bang average tally for a bang average team.

To be fair to Tottenham supporters, the current tally is some way short of their best haul of 28 points from their first 12 PL games. But it is also rather better than their worst haul of eight points at this stage.

As our graphic at the bottom of this article shows, three clubs this season are having their best ever Premier League starts: Southampton and Swansea join Chelsea in that category.

Manchester City, West Ham, Everton and Stoke are also having better than average starts when measured by their own standards in the Premier League era.

But three of the one-time “Big Four” clubs are way down on even their average points hauls at this stage: Manchester United are almost six points down, with Liverpool and Arsenal almost seven points down on their own average benchmarks. All of them are much further away still from their best starts, it goes without saying.

Our table is cruel on the current Burnley squad, being compared to a Burnley who have just the one previous PL season to be compared with. Five seasons ago that team collected 16 points from 12 games and then only 14 from the next 26 as they were relegated with Hull and Portsmouth.  Sean Dyche’s men will hope to play it differently this time round.

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CFC to AFC, best to worst PL seasons

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