Archive for the ‘Football’ Category

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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Upgraded Saints alive with potential … but now to handle the crunch

Friday, November 21st, 2014

By Brian Sears

21 November 2014

Fans of Southampton must have been pinching themselves over the last year or so, having built on the survival of their ‘return’ season to the Premier League in 2012-13 with two storming starts last season and this.

They were ever-present in the revamped top division between 1992 and 2005, and counting the 2012-13 season too they averaged a little under 10 points from their first 11 games in each of those 14 PL campaigns.

Then last season their haul from the opening 11 games shot up to 22 points, and despite the turmoil of the summer at St Mary’s, that has risen again this season to 25 points from 11 games. Before this weekend’s action commences that puts them in second place behind Chelsea (who are in amazing shape) and, for the moment, four points clear of last season’s champions, Manchester City.

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Saints after 11 in PL

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Southampton already have eight win from 11 league games this season – two more than last season and seven more than two seasons ago at the same stage. This is extraordinary stuff by the Saints ‘normal’ PL standards over the past two decades. Indeed in 1995-96, they kept their Premier League status while winning just nine games all season.

So what has changed?

Last season Mauricio Pochettino, in his first and only full season with Southampton, continued the work started by Nigel Adkins and helped to bring the best out of a group of players mostly already in the Saints system for a long time before he arrived. Adam Lallana, Luke Shaw, Rickie Lambert and Calum Chambers were among them. Dejan Lovren was one player bought in on Pochettino’s watch, for what turned out to be a bargain £10m, and he was a good counterpoint to a £15m waste of money that Pochettino also purchased, Dani Osvaldo.

The Saints then lost an executive chairman, Nicola Cortese, and Pochettino went to Spurs in the summer, replaced by Ronald Koeman. And the Dutchman, with the substantial assistance of the long-standing and highly methodical in-house recruitment unit, oversaw an extraordinary upgrade.

Why extraordinary? Because on the face of it Southampton sold all their best players yet replaced them with better players while spending tens of millions of pounds less than they received. This was no fire sale. A fire sale is “the sale of goods at extremely discounted prices, typically when the seller faces bankruptcy or other impending distress.” This was almost the opposite of a fire sale. This was the sale of goods at top-whack prices.

The graphic below tells its own story. Fraser Forster came in for £10m from Celtic as Artur Boruc went on loan to Bournemouth. Forster has been part of a defensive unit keeping seven clean sheets in the league.

Also playing key roles in that back line have been full-backs Nathaniel Clyne and Ryan Bertrand. Clyne was already at the club and Bertrand came in on loan from Chelsea with an option for Saints to make the deal permanent. Out went Luke Shaw and Calum Chambers, respectively to Manchester United and Arsenal, for £43m combined. Saints sold Lovren for £20m and re-invested £6m in Florin Gardos while also taking the La Liga-winning Toby Alderweireld on loan from Atletico with an option to buy.

The solidity of the Alderweireld-Jose Fonte pairing at centre-half ahead of Forster, in turn protected by shielding defensive midfielders, allows the progressive Clyne and Bertrand to get forward with confidence of cover.

The upgrading continued in midfield, where it might recently have seemed sacrilegious to suggest Lallana was anything less than Saint’s heartbeat and soul. But one of the more astonishing aspects of the summer upgrade is that Dusan Tadic – bought from Twente for £10.9m – has been better than Lallana was. And Southampton bought both Tadic and Senegal wing man Sadio Mane combined with the money they got for Lallana, and still had £4.1m left over.

And then there were the striking changes, Rickie Lambert sent with the good wishes and blessing of all Saints fans to boyhood club Liverpool. And there was even four million quid in it for Saints. In came Graziano Pelle from Feyenoord, as did Shane Long from Hull as the low-profile Billy Sharp went to Leeds.

The upshot? A pretty decent team from last season, dismantled, upgraded – and with a £37.7m profit.

Nobody would suggest this is the sort of thing any football club should be doing on a regular basis. Or perhaps at all. But that’s a taste of why Southampton are still doing pretty much as well this season as they were at this stage last year.

As we’ll come to in a moment …..

Article continues below (and click to enlarge graphic)

Upgrading at SM

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Southampton fans trying to keep their feet on the ground will not need reminding that from a situation similar to the current one, last season they went on to gain only two points from their next six games. In the terminology of the stats geek – and this is being penned while wearing the free anorak handed out at the StatsGeek2014 convention – the Saints might well be argued to have benefitted this season (and last season by the same stage) from ‘schedule bias’. Or in laymen’s terms – easy fixtures so far.

Thus Saints fans will be eyeing up their matches leading up to Christmas. And there are one or two or three eerie similarities. A year ago their next six games were Arsenal, Chelsea, Villa, City, Newcastle and Spurs. This year Arsenal also feature in the next six, after Villa and City in the next two games, then Manchester United, Burnley and Everton are far from gimme games. Chelsea lie just beyond those.

Saints alive! Alive with potential. But how Koeman’s upgraded team handle the crunch will be key to whether they push into the new year with something genuinely remarkable still on the cards.

Article continues below

Saints crunch

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… And another thing

This weekend’s fixtures have thrown up a remarkable set of contrasting ties – six at 3pm on Saturday with a Premier League head-to-head history of home dominance, then four from Saturday tea-time onwards where none of the home sides have won more than 40 per cent of home PL meetings with this weekend’s opponents.

The six fixtures at 3pm on Saturday have collectively been played 39 times in the PL era, with 29 home wins for a 74% win rate plus seven draws (18%) and just three home defeats. The tea-time onwards fixtures have been played 45 times in the PL era with just 15 home wins (33%), 16 draws (36%) and 14 away wins (31 per cent).

If history is our guide then it’s home wins for Chelsea, Everton, Leicester, City, Newcastle and Stoke this weekend while Arsenal, Palace, Hull and Aston Villa shouldn’t expect easy rides on their own turf.

The game-by-game breakdown is in the graphic below.

Home and away, contrasts 21.11.14

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Chelsea’s 10 unbeaten games keeps them on Invincibles course ….

Friday, November 7th, 2014

By Brian Sears

7 November 2014

The 2014-15 Chelsea vintage are the 17th side to get into double figures of undefeated games at the start of a Premier League season but how long will they go unbeaten? Fourteen of their 16 predecessors did not get beyond 15 unbeaten games, although famously, 11 years ago, Arsenal set the ultimate standard in this regard.

In the end their unbeaten run had lasted 49 games (including all 38 league games of 2003-04, read about that here) and, of course, they lost it at Old Trafford in October 2004.

Only three of these unbeaten runs have been ended on home territory and Manchester United have most often been the team to bring a run to its end. Surprisingly, perhaps, United appear only once in the table below, albeit on the second best such run in the PL era, four seasons ago on their way to be Champions with only four defeats all season.

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PL 10 unbeaten

If Chelsea are to get anywhere close to Arsenal then they will need, as a minimum, to get through all these matches unscathed:

November: 8 Liverpool (A); 22 West Brom (H); 29 Sunderland (A).

December: 3 Tottenham (H); 6 Newcastle (A); 13 Hull (H); 22 Stoke (A); 26 West Ham (H); 28 Southampton (A).

(From this distance out, the title decider at Southampton looks the biggest banana skin of those. He jested).

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And another thing …

Sunderland’s win at Crystal Palace on Monday consigned the three promoted clubs to the three Premier League relegation spots: Leicester with 9 points, QPR with 7 and Burnley with 4.  That’s a total of 20 points and each club has played 10 games.

In no previous Premier League season has such a small total of points been gathered at this stage by the promoted clubs. And in six of the 23 seasons promoted clubs have gained at least twice as many points. In the one season when all three promoted clubs were relegated, after 10 games 25 points had been managed: Palace had 11, Bolton 8 and Barnsley 6.

This season Burnley have found points most difficult to win; they are the only side in the top seven tiers of English league football yet to record a win. But history can provide them comfort and inspiration. Only one other promoted side has gained four points at this stage of the season and that was Southampton two seasons ago, and Saints then went on to collect 37 points from their next 28 games to finish 14th.

Only two promoted clubs have gained fewer points from the first 10 games. Last season Crystal Palace had three points at this stage but then they gained 42 points from 28 games to rise to 11th. The example that Burnley must seek to avoid is that of Swindon 21 years ago. They had three points from 10 games, added 27 from the next 32 games (42 games in a Premier League season back then) and still ended 13 points short of safety.

Low point for 3 promoted

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City host United in Manchester derby on crest of rivalry rollercoaster

Friday, October 31st, 2014

By Brian Sears

31 October 2014

The Manchester derby on Sunday reminds us how the pendulum has swung to the blue side of the city in recent years, and the graphic below charts the dramatic change over time.

Manchester City have only been in the same division as United for 17 of the past 22 years of course – because in the other five years they were playing below the Premier League.

But all the league meetings in those 17 years are mapped below, and we have created the chart on the right-hand side of the graphic to show the roller-coaster of respective dominance. The team winning the fixture at each venue is depicted for each season, and the points won in the league derbies each season are noted, and then a three-year ‘rolling’ total of derby points has been graphed.

Some observations from this data:

1: The gap between the two sides when they’ve been in the Premier League for any three straight seasons was biggest at the end of the 1995-96 season when United had won seven straight derbies and all six in that rolling period to lead it 18-0.

2: The gap was next in double figures when United led City 16-1 at the end of the 2010-11 season after five wins and a draw in the previous six derbies. And then the next time it was in double figures was at the end of last season; the pendulum had swung, and City led 15-3 after five wins and one defeat in the six derbies to then. City are on the crest of the rollercoaster ride now.

3: City have won six matches of 17 at home against United in the PL. They have drawn two at home. That leaves nine United wins at City in the PL era. In the last six derbies played at City, United have won three, City two and there has been one draw.

4: City have won the last three derbies they’ve played at Old Trafford.

5: City won just one derby in the first 11 years of the PL, a period in which United did derby doubles over them in three of the six seasons they met.

6: City have won nine derbies in the second 11 years of the PL, five at home and four away. City have only ever won consecutive home Premier League derbies once in the PL era, in the 2002-03 season followed by in 2003-04.

Article continues below

Manc derby in PL to 31.10.14.

And another thing …

Aston Villa made a bright start to the season with 10 points from the first four games but have now suffered five straight defeats and not scored a goal in their last 531 minutes of league football.

Now they face Tottenham who they have not beaten since 15 September 2008; that was at White Hart Lane when goals from Nigel Reo-Coker and Ashley Young were answered by Darren Bent’s consolation in the last few minutes of the game.

Villa have endured a non-winning run against Tottenham since then that is longer than the non-winning runs against all the other current PL teams, as today’s second graphic shows.

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Villa winless v Spurs

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And yet another thing …

In their four seasons as Premier League residents, Swansea have played 27 different clubs and got at least one draw from each and every club. They have won five of seven meeting against West Brom, and five of six against Fulham, and won four of seven plus drawn two against Newcastle.

But against both Tottenham and Everton they have just the one draw and no win in six PL games so far.

They play Everton this weekend.

Swansea PL record to 31.10.14

 

 

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Arsenal bedevilled by too many draws as trip to stalemate Sunderland looms

Friday, October 24th, 2014

By Brian Sears

24 October 2014

The two Premier League clubs with the most draws so far this season meet this weekend when Sunderland (five draws in eight league matches) host Arsenal (ditto).

Ten places separate those two clubs, with Arsenal in seventh and Sunderland in 17th before the weekend’s action starts. And three points separate them. So tight is the table at this stage, in fact, that two wins could theoretically move Newcastle from the relegation zone to the Champions League spots.

Before we consider the importance of draws (and they are especially important to get or avoid depending on which end of the table you operate), here are the amount of draws secured so far by the 20 Premier League this campaign.

Article continues below.

PL draws 14-15 to 24.10.14

Arsenal have converted two of their undrawn games into wins but Sunderland only one of theirs, and the eight goals Sunderland conceded at Southampton last week has damaged their goal difference severely. Sunderland will need at least a five-goal win against the Gunners to move above them in the table this weekend.

The bigger picture on the relevance of draws is that Sunderland are just managing to keep themselves out of the drop zone by drawing all those games instead of losing; and Arsenal are not nearly as high up the table as they would like because they are drawing too many games instead of winning them.

As the second graphic goes some way to illustrating, teams that draw the most matches tend not to pull up too many trees. (Let’s not be coy; they’re a bit dull). And those that draw the fewest games are a polarised bunch of excellent teams (who draw few because they’re winning many) and poor teams (who are too poor to draw too many and just keep losing).

On that basis, we might crudely say the bore-draw specialists in the Premier League include Aston Villa, Stoke and Leicester, while the best teams (Man Utd, Liverpool, Man City, Chelsea) are drawing similarly low proportions of games to the poor teams (like Burnley and QPR, and in years gone by, Barnsley, Reading and others).

Article continues below

Draws PL to 24.10.14

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The phenomenon of too many drawn games has bedevilled much of Arsenal’s Premier League history, not least in the days when they were trying to compete with United. That seems a long while ago now, doesn’t it, for more than one reason?

Long-term, United have set the example of turning draws into wins to put them 216 points ahead of Arsenal over the 23 seasons of the PL era – the ‘monied era’ that makes it appropriate separating from the ‘pre-Sky’ years before 1992-93.

Aspirations to top the Premier League seem to involve avoiding too many draws. While the avoidance of relegation often involves gaining more draws by changing odd goal defeats into draws. As the long-term table above shows, Arsenal have a higher share of draws in their Premier League history than Liverpool, Man City, Chelsea and even Tottenham as well as United.

But this season even Man Utd are slipping from their winning ways having already chalked up three draws from four away games played. That level of stalemate achievement should at least help keep them up ….

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Tottenham’s long-term dominance over City washed away by Mansour money

Thursday, October 16th, 2014

By Brian Sears

16 October 2014

When the Premier League resumes on Saturday after the international break it will do so at the Etihad Stadium as Manchester City hope to close the gap on leaders Chelsea. City will play in the only fixture of the weekend where two current top-10 sides meet each other, against Tottenham.

Aside from Chelsea and City, only other club remain unbeaten away this season so far in the league, and that’s also Tottenham.

City and Spurs have played each other 34 times in the Premier League era and Spurs have a comfortable head-to-head lead in that period overall, with 20 wins to City’s nine, and five draws. Spurs lead the H2H stats home and away, with 11 wins to three at White Hart Lane and nine against six in Manchester.

But there is a massive contrast in their recent meetings compared to the period as a whole, since City hit the jackpot of Sheikh Mansour’s money. As the graphic below shows, six of Tottenham’s nine defeats to City have come since the ‘monied era’ benefits of Mansour’s oil wealth has turned City into trophy-winners again. (Or since 2010-11 in other words, when City won the FA Cup, their first trophy of any significance since the League Cup of 1976, some 35 years earlier).

City’s turnaround against Tottenham culminated in 6-0 and 5-1 wins last season. Tottenham have a worse Premier League record against City since 2010 than they do against any other current Premier League team.

Article continues below

Tottenham v City

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And another thing …

Neutral fans wondering what many Newcastle fans have been moaning about in regards to Alan Pardew perhaps need look no further than the calendar year table below. Five wins all year; an average on 0.77 points per game; relegation form as well as bad to watch.

At the other end, only Chelsea and Man City have set the pace in 2014 as a whole, with Liverpool on their heels, although that was largely down to their 2013-14 form, not the 2014-15 start.  Arsenal are nine points off third over the 26 games of the calendar year, with Tottenham next, then Southampton, ahead of Manchester United, in turn ahead of Everton only on goal difference.

PL calendar year to 17.10.14

 

 

 

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Messi, Neymar, Suarez – bid to win a chance to watch them train and play

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

By Sportingintelligence

15 October 2014

Spanish giants Barcelona are among the sporting organisations contributing to a charity auction in aid of the late, great Bobby Robson, a former manager of the Catalan club as well as a former manager of the England football team. As Barca have detailed on their own website, the club have donated an exclusive trip for a winning bidder to watch the team train, and then watch them play at game at the Nou Camp.

The winning bidder will get to see Barca’s superstars – including Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luiz Suarez – behind closed doors and then in front of tens of thousands of fans. The auction, which is raising money for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH), is underway now  - click here to go to the home page – and has a range of ‘money can’t buy’ lots, including many from the world of football where Sir Bobby spent his entire working life. The auction ends on 19 October.

Other lots on offer include a trip to Fifa’s Ballon d’Or awards and gala dinner, tickets to the 2015 PFA awards, and seats at thiss season’s Champions League final in Berlin. There are also VIP experiences available at Tottenham, QPR, Newcastle, St George’s Park and the McLaren Formula One team.

Gina Long, the auction organiser, said: “We are indebted to the generosity of all those who have so kindly supported our special auction where 100 per cent of the money raised goes to the two charities. Words can’t express just how grateful we are for all the fantastic lots we’ve received.

“There really are some fabulous once in a life time opportunities to be had … Not only will you make a dream come true in meeting your heroes or getting your hands on signed merchandise, you’ll also be supporting the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and EACH – two fantastic charities who will change lives with the funds raised.”

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Sir Bobby Robson’s all-time foreign XI in English football

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Arsenal’s weakness at top-five rivals makes for daunting Chelsea challenge

Friday, October 3rd, 2014

By Brian Sears

3 October 2014

Arsenal’s away record against other ‘top’ Premier League teams has become a source of major concern in recent seasons. For the purposes of this article, ‘top’ is defined as any club that has finished in the top five in any given season. And the Gunners really have been woeful in this respect in recent years.

Their fellow top-five teams last season were Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea and Everton, and Arsenal lost away against all of them by respective scores of 6-3, 6-0, 5-1 and 3-0.

Arsenal did not win an away game against any of the teams finishing in the top five in the 2012-13 season either, or in the season before that, which included that 8-2 drubbing at Old Trafford. It was a long ago as October 2010 that Arsenal last beat a team who went on to finish in the top five that season, when they beat City 3-0.

Here is Arsenal’s full recent record away at fellow ‘top’ teams over the past four season, highlighting that solitary win in the past 16 such games.

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AFC away at top-5

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Arsenal’s opponents this weekend are Chelsea, a team most rational fans accept as a ‘top’ team who will finish in the top five this season, and the match is at Stamford Bridge.

Arsenal are pretty good in London derbies, in general, comparatively. There will be 30 of those capital derbies in the Premier League this season and five have been played already. Arsenal have played in two, winning at home against Crystal Palace and drawing away at Tottenham.

Arsenal came top in the inter-London Premier League table last season, as detailed here. But there is a ‘but’ …

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Inter-London PL 13-14.

In eight of 10 London derbies last season, Arsenal won.  And the only two blemishes came against Chelsea, with Arsenal only managing a 0-0 draw against them at the Emirates in December, before getting thrashed 6-0 away at Stamford Bridge in March.

It gets worse.

Arsenal spent the first half of the Premier League era (since 1992, aka the ‘monied era’) very much in charge against Chelsea, clearly ahead in the head-to-head meetings against them. Arsenal won 12, drew seven and lost just three of their 22 league meetings in the first 11 years of the Premier League, winning 1.95 points per game on average against Chelsea, who won just 0.73 points per game on average.

But in the last 11 years, since Roman Abramovich arrived and his cash transformed Chelsea, Arsenal have won just six of 22 meetings, drawn six and lost 10, for an average points tally of 1.09 per game, against Chelsea’s 1.64 PPG.

And in the past five seasons, Arsenal have won just two of 10 league meetings, and won none of the last five.

The good news, statistically, for Arsenal, is, erm, pretty thin on the ground. Then again, if they were able to produce a victory this weekend at the Bridge, it would be all the more significant because of what has gone before.

Article continues below

Red to blue, CFC v AFC in PL

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And another thing ….

On 15 December last year Manchester United beat Aston Villa 3-0 at Villa Park and thus became the first Premier League club to win 100 Premier League points against a single opponent. In March United went on to complete the double over Villa and have thus gained 103 points from them in total.

This weekend United are at home to Everton and a win would see United notching up the second ’100 point’ total. When United visit White Hart Lane at the end of December they will also have another opportunity for a century of points to come up.

The biggest tallies club v club so far are:

Most pts h2h PL games

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Only five PL teams haven’t won away. Eight are yet to win at home

Friday, September 26th, 2014

By Brian Sears

26 September 2014

The Premier League season is already 50 games old (of 380), or 13.2 per cent the way through. Early days, yes, but one statistic that already looks odd is the amount of away wins so far, 18 of them against only 14 so far at home. Eighteen games have also been drawn.

Only five of the 20 clubs have not yet won away from home. The five are Manchester United plus the current bottom four in the table: Sunderland, QPR, Burnley and Newcastle.

Eight teams have yet to win a home league game: Hull, Stoke, Everton, Crystal Palace, West Brom, Sunderland, Burnley, Newcastle. The latter three have yet to win at all.

Of the five teams yet to win an away game, only one of them are playing away on Saturday, and that’s QPR, who visit Southampton.

This is QPR’s seventh season in the PL in different spells and they have played 122 PL away games, winning 28 of them (23%), drawing 26 (21%) and losing 68 (56%). They’ve scored 126 goals away in the PL and Juan Mata’s goal against them for Manchester United recently at Old Trafford was their 200th away goal conceded in the PL.

Only against two current PL clubs have QPR won as many as three times away. Everton are one of those clubs. This weekend’s opponents Southampton are the other.

Article continues below

QPR away in PL

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And another thing …

How unusual was Manchester United’s defeat against Leicester? Pretty unusual, statistically: they had previously lost just 8.3% of games against promoted teams.

In the Premier League era United have played promoted teams 133 times including three in quick succession this season already.

They have now lost 12 of those 133 games, 11 of them in 21 seasons under Sir Alex, none last season under David Moyes (who steered United to five wins and a draw) and one defeat so far from three under Louis Van Gaal, against Leicester, following a win over QPR and a draw at Burnley.

The Leicester defeat was United’s first to a promoted club for five years since a single-goal defeat to Burnley on 19 August 2009.

Man PL losses to promoted

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Chelsea best against Manchester clubs … and winning start points to title push

Friday, September 19th, 2014

By Brian Sears

19 September 2014

Chelsea’s four wins from four Premier League games so far give them the only 100 per cent record this season. In winning their first four games, they become only the 16th team in 23 PL seasons to do so.

On four of the 15 previous occasions, it has been Chelsea themselves achieving this feat: in 2004-05 the run stopped at four wins on the bounce, in 2005-06 it went on to become a run of nine straight wins, in 2009-10 it became six, and in 2010-11 it became five.

Chelsea went on to win the title in three of the four previous seasons they started with four straight wins, with second place in 2010-11 being the only exception. Here’s a full list of the teams starting with four wins and what happened next:

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Four+ wins start of PL season

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Chelsea’s biggest test by far so far this season comes on Sunday when they visit reigning champions Manchester City, a club they have visited 17 times in the Premier League era (the ‘monied era’) in the league.

In those 17 games, they have won 11 times, drawn once and lost five. It needs to be noted that four of the five defeats at City were in the four consecutive seasons from 2009-10, with that losing run ended by Chelsea’s single-goal win in February.

Chelsea have an enviable record against both Manchester teams in the Premier League overall. In fact they have a better record against both City and Manchester United than any other Premier League team. They have inflicted 22 defeats on City in the era, 11 of them at City; and beaten United 15 times in the era, six times at Old Trafford.

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Chelsea v Man U clubs

.

And another thing …

Chelsea have the leading goal scorer at this early stage of the season in Diego Costa, who has netted seven league goals in four PL matches so far.

Costa is one of 22 Spanish players to have featured in a PL game so far this season, and one of four who have scored.

In total, 385 different players have made appearances for the 20 clubs and 22 of them (5.7%) have been Spanish. Of the 111 goals scored, 12 of them have been scored by Spanish players (10.8%) so they are punching above their weight as a group, underpinned by Costa.

The 17 Argentinean players (4.4% of players) have collectively scored nine goals (8.1% of goals) and so are also punching above their weight.

English players, 126 of them, have scored 33 goals between them, which is not many fewer than they ‘should’ have scored. Just under one in five of all players (72 of 385) have scored at least one goal, and just over one in five English players (26 of 126) have scored a goal so far.

Goals by nationality PL14-15 to 19.9.14

 

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