Archive for the ‘Football’ Category

Chelsea’s unique Premier League record against Man Utd tempers title upset

Friday, April 17th, 2015

By Brian Sears

17 April 2015

The Premier League season could still have significant twists and turns at both ends of the table. When Chelsea host Manchester United this weekend, there’s a real chance of one. Or is there?

Manchester United have been ever-present in England’s top division since it was revamped to become the Premier League from 1992-93. They have been the dominant club of the PL era. They have faced 45 different Premier League opponents in that time. And they have a positive head-to-head record against all of them in that period … except Chelsea.

As the graphic below shows, United have dominated most teams over the piece, for example winning 107 points in head-to-heads with Aston Villa against Villa’s 20 points (from 46 meetings) to winning 49 points in PL games against Coventry, as Coventry picked up a measly four points from 18 meetings.

United have lorded it over everyone from Tottenham to Everton, Bolton to Fulham to Leeds and Arsenal …. and everyone except Chelsea.

The records of all the clubs against United are below, ranked by the sheer number of points by which United have dominated each team in PL games on aggregate. Apart from Chelsea, that is, who have played United 45 times in the PL era and won 62 points from those games compared to United’s 56 points.

If United are to upset the apple cart and throw a spanner in the works of Chelsea’s title hopes, they will need to do so in the face of historical Chelsea dominance in this fixture.

And if United can win, they will still be in deficit to Chelsea by three points in the PL era.

Article continues below

Man Utd h2h in PL

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And another thing …

Stoke City can already look forward to an eighth consecutive season of Premier League football come August. On the way to that they will be hoping to register their first Premier League victory over Southampton when the Saints visit the Britannia Stadium this weekend. The first four PL meetings of the two clubs were all drawn but Mane’s goal gave Southampton victory last October.

Stoke will also be after a first Premier League win over Burnley when they visit Turf Moor in May. But first Premier League wins over Blackpool and Cardiff will have to wait a little longer ….

Stoke all-time PL

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…. And finally

The statistics in these pages will often be in relation to the Premier League era when they deal with English football. We know the game is a bit older than that. We know Preston won as Invincibles in the league’s first season in 1888-89. But the Premier League is a distinct era if only because of the money that has transformed the picture. This is the ‘monied era’.

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, are linked here:

2014 Report             2013 Report            2012 Report         2011 Report          2010 Report

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More on Liverpool / Man Utd / Arsenal (or search for anything else in box at top right)

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Resurgent United hope Manchester derby shows rivals City have passed peak oil

Friday, April 10th, 2015

By Brian Sears

10 April 2015

Manchester City have been brilliant at times in recent seasons, thrilling to watch as they’ve scored at will and won two of the past three Premier League titles.

But lately they’ve looked old, inconsistent and brittle, as well as costly in more senses than one.

The defeat at Crystal Palace was a case in point. It highlighted City have the oldest squad in England’s top division. Eight of the starting XI were aged 29 or older, and one of those under 29, Vincent Kompany, turns 29 today (10th April). If this XI isn’t quite on its last legs then it is creaking and in need of fresh blood. Joe Hart is one of those with good years ahead at 27, turning 28 this month, while Sagna is 32, Kompany is 29 today, Demichelis 34, Clichy 29, Navas 29, Toure 31, Fernandinho 29, Silva 29, Aguero 26 and Dzeko 29.

Costly? We all know City’s title-winning sides have been expensively assembled. City fans are hugely grateful to Sheikh Mansour’s largesse. The flip side is that when they lose to well-heeled rivals, they are open to jokes, costly jokes, at their expense. Palace’s starting XI combined at less than £19m cost less than half of the price for Eliaquim Mangala alone. He sat on City’s bench at Palace, his £42m price tag* weighing heavier by the week.

Brittle? Gary Neville opined City have a ‘mentality problem‘, saying they are a club who cannot sustain success. The result at Palace highlighted that they have lacked backbone in specific situations away from home …. for 20 years. One quite remarkable statistic arose from the Palace defeat: City have not won an away game in the Premier League since 1995 where they have trailed at half-time. Leaving aside the five years City went meandering to the lower divisions, that’s still a lot of away games with no comebacks after falling behind by the break.

As they prepare to face one of their most intense fixtures of the season, away at Old Trafford, it is certainly worth posing the question: Have City passed peak oil?

For now let us just restrict the question to the Manchester derby, a fixture they fared so badly in for many years in the Premier League era before dominating it of late. As we noted in October, City have won five of the past six Manchester derbies. That remains the case. United have not won a Manchester derby on their own turf since February 2011. Victory that day, courtesy of  Wayne Rooney’s spectacular late overhead kick, extended City’s dismal sequence of only one league win in their previous 27 visits to Old Trafford.

Since then, City have won at Old Trafford in the league in 2011-12, 2012-13 and 2013-14 as well as beating United on their own ground in three of the last four league meetings there.

City have been well and truly in control of local bragging rights recently, despite only 11 PL wins to 18 in the PL in total, despite 10 derbies without a win at the start of the PL era and despite United being the bigger, richer and better (higher-placed) club in every Premier League season bar the two in which City have won the title.

But United sense change. They are on a run of five consecutive Premier League victories for the second time this season. And City are trying to avoid a fourth successive away Premier League defeat, after losing to the mighty Palace, Burnley and Liverpool.

The last time City lost three PL games away from home in a row and went into a fourth seeking to stop the rot was the end of the 2005-06 season (when they lost at Blackburn) and the first games of the 2006-07 season, when they lost at Chelsea and Reading. Then the fourth game of that streak was at Blackburn. And they lost.

Article continues below

Manc derby PL to 10.4.15

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* On Mangala’s price tag, oft disputed by ill-informed City fans who believe ‘the media’ is out to ‘get them’, Porto released an official statement to the Portuguese Stock Exchange verifying their own take of €30.5m for 56.67% of the player (that’s here), while two third-party entities, Doyen and Robi Plus, have confirmed to journalists they received the proportionate sums for their own shares in the player. That means Mangala cost City €53.8m, or £42m at the prevailing exchange rates, plus agent’s fees to Jorge Mendes. For reasons unknown, City erroneously briefed some journalists last summer that Mangala cost £32m. It wasn’t true and isn’t true, as those same journalists now acknowledge and as official documents including the club’s own accounts now show. (The “post-balance sheet events” show spending on players since the accounts ended and any fan adding up the player purchases and sales can see Mangala must have cost a lot more than £32m to make this legal document stack up).

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And another thing … Swans find Toffees leave a bitter taste

Swansea are spending a fourth consecutive season in the Premier League and are guaranteed a fifth in August. They have already welcomed 27 different clubs to Wales for PL games but there’s only one club that has a 100 per cent record against the Swans on those visits on their own turf. That’s this weekend’s visitors: Everton.

Indeed, home and away the Swans have only managed to gain two points in total from seven games against the Toffees, both at Goodison, from goalless draw last November and another goalless draw there in January 2013.

Only against Tottenham and Chelsea have Swansea won fewer points per game than the 0.29 they have won in PL games against Everton. And the two points against Chelsea and one against Spurs have both been won at home.

The table below shows Swansea’s all-time PL record by opponent (current up top, former below), ranked in each case by points per game, and noting the percentage of points won against each opponent that were won at home. Swansea’s haul of 181 Premier League points from 145 games to date equates to 1.25 per game, with 108 of those won at home, or 60 per cent.

Article continues below

Swansea v Everton

 

…. And finally

The statistics in these pages will often be in relation to the Premier League era when they deal with English football. We know the game is a bit older than that. We know Preston won as Invincibles in the league’s first season in 1888-89. But the Premier League is a distinct era if only because of the money that has transformed the picture. This is the ‘monied era’.

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, are linked here:

2014 Report             2013 Report            2012 Report         2011 Report          2010 Report

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More on Liverpool / Man Utd / Arsenal (or search for anything else in box at top right)

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Man Utd v Aston Villa: the perfect Premier League example of lording it over a rival

Friday, April 3rd, 2015

By Brian Sears

3 April 2015

Manchester United play at home against Aston Villa this Easter weekend seeking a resurrection of their Champions League participation from next season. United could arguably not wish for better opponents when all-time Premier League records are considered. United have won more Premier League points against Villa – or 104 in 45 PL games – than against any other team since the top division was revamped in 1992-93.

That equates to 2.31 points per game for United from 31 wins in those 45 games, plus 11 draws. Villa meanwhile have taken just 20 points in total from those games, from three wins and 11 draws, equating to 0.44 points per game. Villa have only ever won once in the PL at Old Trafford, and that was back in December 2009, with their other two wins at home, and those back in 1995 and 1992 respectively.

It was on 15 December 2013 when United beat Villa 3-0 that United chalked up the first century of points from any Premier League head-to-head pairing. In March 2014, United completed the double over Villa for that season and then last December the 1-1 draw at Villa Park took United to 104 points.

Last October, United beat Everton 2-1 at Old Trafford to record a second century of Premier League points against another club. And two weeks ago, United’s 3-0 victory at Old Trafford over Tottenham completed the third century.

It is not mathematically possible for another century of this type to occur now until next season at the earliest, and that will only come about if Arsenal achieve the double over Everton next season. Here are the current biggest head-to-head tallies in the PL era.

Article continues below

Lording it ... MUFC v AVFC .

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And another thing …

Jose Mourinho first became manager of Chelsea in June 2004.  He remained at the helm until September 2007, famously not losing a home league game at Stamford Bridge in that spell. He did, however, have to settle for draws in 14 of the 60 home games played in the league. That set a pattern Chelsea have largely followed since: losing rarely at home but drawing a sizeable minority of their home games.

In the 11th season since Mourinho’s first advent and in 204 home league games in that time (with and without Jose), Chelsea have only lost 12 of them but home draws now total 44.  The pattern has persisted since Mourinho’s return. In his present spell he has had 33 home games with only the one defeat but six draws.

Over 11 seasons, Manchester United have gained 13 more home points than Chelsea, and more points per game, while suffering 22 home defeats. United have won 11 more home games than have Chelsea and drawn fewer. Only eight clubs have been ever-present in the PL since 2004-05. Here are their respective home records for the era.

Article continues below

Home in PL since 2004-05

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Chelsea are at home this Saturday to Stoke.  Stoke have visited Stamford Bridge six times in Premier League action and have lost all six games. Here is the Chelsea home record against all 45 clubs they have entertained at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League. Chelsea have only failed to win at least half of the possible points against two teams at the Bridge in PL games over the era: Oldham and Sheffield Wednesday, albeit from a limited number of games.

 CFC at SB in PL era

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And another thing …

There’s a big game in the north-east this weekend when Sunderland host Newcastle in the Tyne-Wear derby. Whatever happens it’s highly likely Newcastle will finish the season as the ‘better’ north-east club, higher up the table.

In the Premier League era as a whole Newcastle have been the ‘biggest’ and objectively the best club in the north-east.  They’re been in the PL for 21 of the 23 seasons, for a start. They’re finished as the best north-east side in 13 of the 22 completed PL seasons. They’ve won 1,142 PL points at a rate of 1.43 per game, which is far superior to Middlesbrough in second place in the north-east (1.19 pts per PL game) and Sunderland (1.04).

Sunderland have finished highest up five times, and Middlesbrough four times. Sunderland are on a par with Middlesbrough in terms of PL seasons played: 14. One of that pair, perhaps both, could be adding a 15th PL season next year. Then again, neither might. Before we look at this weekend’s match, here is a summary of the north-east clubs in the PL era.

Article continues below

n:e clubs in PL era

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Sunderland and Newcastle meet at the Stadium of Light this weekend. Sunderland have played second fiddle to Newcastle in their derby games until the most four meetings, all won by Sunderland; 1-0 at Newcastle in December, 3-0 at Newcastle in February last year, 2-1 at home in October 2013 and 3-0 at Newcastle in April 2013.

But overall, Newcastle still have a better head-to-head record in the PL against Sunderland than vice versa. Newcastle have won nine and draw nine of the 25 PL meetings to date; Sunderland have won seven and drawn nine, winning those last four on the bounce.

n:e h2h in PL era

 

 

…. And finally

The statistics in these pages will often be in relation to the Premier League era when they deal with English football. We know the game is a bit older than that. We know Preston won as Invincibles in the league’s first season in 1888-89. But the Premier League is a distinct era if only because of the money that has transformed the picture. This is the ‘monied era’.

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, are linked here:

2014 Report             2013 Report            2012 Report         2011 Report          2010 Report

 

More on Liverpool / Man Utd / Arsenal (or search for anything else in box at top right)

More from Sears

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Liverpool the form horse as Premier League heads for the home straight

Friday, March 20th, 2015

By Brian Sears

20 March 2015

Liverpool are not just the form team in the Premier League since the start of the year but have a better league record in 2015 so far than any team among the 92 in the top four divisions. Brendan Rodgers’ side have won eight, drawn two and lost none of their 10 league games this year, amassing 26 points at an average of 2.6 per game. No other team in England can top that.

The context of this is that Liverpool meet Manchester United this weekend with a place in the top four at stake. The outcome of that match could be hugely significant to which of those side qualifies for the Champions League next season. A Liverpool win would send them above United in the table and make them statistically more likely than United to finish in the top four. A draw would leave United as favourites. A United win would make United stronger favourites. It’s a huge game, in so many ways.

The first graphic below ranks the 20 Premier League clubs in order of their form (points per game) in 2015 so far. Liverpool top this table ahead of Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea, all of whom have won two or more points per game this year. Note Manchester City down in 10th place. The bottom three form teams are QPR, Sunderland and Leicester.

The graphic also shows each team’s position in the table on the last day of 2014, the position now and the number of places they have moved up or down. Crystal Palace under Alan Pardew are in top-6 form in 2015, whereas West Ham’s form in 2015 is only 16th best out of 20.

What might this mean? Well, if the 20 clubs continued their form of 2015 so far for the rest of the season then Chelsea will win the title with Arsenal second, Liverpool third, United fourth and City missing out on the top four altogether. It’s a big ‘IF’, of course. At the other end, the relegated teams on current form would be QPR, Sunderland and Leicester.

Article continues below

PL form since 1 Jan

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The next three graphs are the equivalent form guides for the 72 clubs in the Football League, by division.

Watford are the form team in the Championship, with Norwich, Middlesbrough and Leeds also doing well. Ipswich’s dip by contrast has come at the wrong time. Bristol City in League One are the form team and have kept their top slot because of that. Barnsley are the big climbers in that division while Notts County’s form has dropped off a cliff, causing their tumble. In League Two the notable upsurge in form of Northampton and Dagenham has helped those sides climb from relegation concerns and the form team in the division, Burton, have risen to top spot on the back of it.

Article continues below

Champ form since 1 Jan

League One form since 1 Jan

League Two form since 1 Jan

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…. And another thing

In 2015, West Brom have so far gained one more point than Manchester City, who they visit on Saturday. City have had a chastening week, stung by Bs, losing 0-1 at Burnley and 0-1 in Barcelona.

City might take some comfort from recent history as they prepare for the Baggies. This is the fifth consecutive season of West Brom’s current stay in the Premier League and they have found City to be their toughest opponents in this time, as the table below show.

WBA in PL h2h

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…. And finally

The statistics in these pages will often be in relation to the Premier League era when they deal with English football. We know the game is a bit older than that. We know Preston won as Invincibles in the league’s first season in 1888-89. But the Premier League is a distinct era if only because of the money that has transformed the picture. This is the ‘monied era’.

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, are linked here:

2014 Report             2013 Report            2012 Report         2011 Report          2010 Report

 

More on Liverpool / Man Utd / Arsenal (or search for anything else in box at top right)

More from Sears

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Spurs head to Man Utd looking for first ever hat-trick of Old Trafford wins

Friday, March 13th, 2015

By Brian Sears

13 March 2015

So here’s the thing: Tottenham Hotspur have been playing league football against Manchester United on and off since the 1909-10 season, when they first met in the old, old First Division. Spurs drew 2-2 at home that year and got thumped 5-0 away.

In more than a century since, the two clubs have been in the same division for 77 seasons, with only times apart being when one or other dropped briefly from the top flight.

And on Sunday, Spurs visit Old Trafford looking to complete a first-ever hat-trick of consecutive league wins at United.

Their all-time record at United in the league is 12 wins, 14 draws and 51 defeats. Only once before the modern era have Spurs gained consecutive victories there: 4-1 in 1972-73 followed by 1-0 in 1973-74.  In that 4-1 win, Martin Peters scored all four of Tottenham’s goals and Bobby Charlton replied for United. And in the following season the only goal of the Old Trafford game was scored by Ralph Coates.

Tottenham must be visiting Old Trafford these days in a much more positive frame of mind than they used to do. For the first 20 Premier League seasons (from 1992-93), Spurs failed to record a single win at Old Trafford, losing 17 and drawing three; indeed they only managed three wins against United at White Hart Lane in that time.

But in the last three seasons Spurs have gone five games unbeaten against United, including three White Hart Lane draws and a brace of Old Trafford wins: 2-1 last season and 3-2 the season before that.

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And another thing …

There are two London derbies this weekend in the Premier League, as Crystal Palace host QPR on Saturday lunchtime before Arsenal host West Ham. Derbies alone will not define a season but most people accept they are hugely important and in London it is often the case that there is a correlation between where you finish in the inter-London table and where you finish in the real table.

Here is the current inter-London PL table for this season (article continues below)

inter-London PL 14-15

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When the London clubs have played each other this season a gulf has emerged. From Chelsea who have lost just one of their seven derbies played (5-3 at Tottenham) down to QPR who have gained only the single point from their seven derbies played (0-0 at home to Palace).

QPR however, do, like Chelsea, have three derbies left to play starting with Saturday’s visit to Palace.  After this weekend there will be only four London derby games left in the rest of the season. Tottenham have already completed their derby programme of matches.

Currently QPR occupy the relegation spots along with fellow promoted sides Burnley and Leicester. Only in one previous season have all three promoted clubs been relegated that same season. That was 17 seasons ago in 1997-98 when it happened to Bolton, Barnsley and Crystal Palace.

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And yet another thing …

Stoke are enjoying their seventh consecutive Premier League season and are role models for Championship clubs with Premier League ambition. And West Brom have been up with Stoke for six of those seasons. Indeed three times the Baggies have finished higher in the final Premier League table than Stoke.

But on the 11 occasions the two clubs have played each other in the Premier League, Stoke have been the dominant force, winning seven, drawing three and only losing once. The results are below.

The upshot? Six points to West Brom and 24 points to Stoke. And more remarkably Stoke have been victorious on all five of their Premier League visits to the Hawthorns. They will be trying to make it six when they visit West Brom this Saturday.

The only crumb of comfort for West Brom is that at least they managed last May to score their first home goal in five tries against Stoke.

inter-London PL 14-15

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…. And finally

The statistics in these pages will often be in relation to the Premier League era when they deal with English football. We know the game is a bit older than that. We know Preston won as Invincibles in the league’s first season in 1888-89. But the Premier League is a distinct era if only because of the money that has transformed the picture. This is the ‘monied era’.

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, are linked here:

2014 Report             2013 Report            2012 Report         2011 Report          2010 Report

 

More on Liverpool / Man Utd / Arsenal (or search for anything else in box at top right)

More from Sears

Follow SPORTINGINTELLIGENCE on Twitter

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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.

Article continues below

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

 

More on Liverpool / Man Utd / Arsenal (or search for anything else in box at top right)

More from Sears

Follow SPORTINGINTELLIGENCE on Twitter

 

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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.

Article continues below

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.

Article continues below

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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