EPL

Premier League data dive: Pogba and Fernandes run riot as Salah breaks opening-day record

By Sports Desk August 14, 2021

Paul Pogba assisted four of Manchester United's goals as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side started their 2021-22 Premier League campaign with a 5-1 thrashing of Leeds United.

Bruno Fernandes netted three of them, with Mason Greenwood and Fred also getting in on the action as United issued a statement of intent.

Chelsea followed up that victory with a 3-0 win over Patrick Vieira's Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge, while Liverpool rounded out the day by beating newly promoted Norwich City by the same scoreline.

Leicester City, Everton, Watford and Brighton and Hove Albion also claimed wins to get their seasons started in style.

Using Opta data, we take a look at the key statistics from across Saturday's fixtures.

 

Manchester United 5-1 Leeds United: Pogba and Fernandes leave Whites reeling

Pogba became the seventh player in Premier League history to assist four goals in a single game on Saturday, as he and Fernandes helped United seal a record 20th opening-day win. 

Dennis Bergkamp, Jose Antonio Reyes, Cesc Fabregas, Emmanuel Adebayor, Santi Cazorla and Harry Kane had previously teed up four goals in a Premier League match.

Two of Pogba's assists were for Fernandes, whose hat-trick was the 10th scored on the opening weekend of a Premier League season, while the playmaker was the first United player to achieve the feat since Lou Macari in 1977.

Mason Greenwood benefitted from a sublime Pogba pass shortly after Luke Ayling's sensational equaliser – the full-back's first top-flight goal – and he is now the fifth-highest scoring teenager in the history of the competition with 18 goals.

United netted five goals in their opening game of a Premier League game for only the second time, after beating Fulham 5-1 in August 2006, while Leeds shipped five in an opener for the first time.

Norwich City 0-3 Liverpool: Records tumble as Salah stars

Liverpool might have relinquished their Premier League title last season, but Mohamed Salah picked up where he left off last term as he scored and provided two assists in Liverpool's 3-0 win at Norwich.

Salah teed up both Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino before netting himself in the 74th minute. It means he has scored on matchday one in all five of his Premier League seasons with Liverpool, while he is the first player in the competition's history to find the net on five consecutive opening weekends.

Norwich have now lost 11 successive top-flight games – only Sunderland have had a longer losing streak in the competition.

Firmino came on from the bench to score Liverpool's second. It was the 49th league goal scored by a substitute under Jurgen Klopp, the most of any side in the competition since the German joined in 2015, while the Brazil international also brought up the Reds' 8,000th league goal in the process.

Chelsea 3-0 Crystal Palace: Pulisic predictably punishes Eagles again

This trip to Stamford Bridge played out in painfully familiar fashion for Palace, who have lost more Premier League games against Chelsea (19) than versus any other side in the competition's history.

In a routine 3-0 opening-day victory, the Blues became the third team – after Tottenham (nine) and Liverpool (eight) – to win eight in a row against Palace in the Premier League era.

The nature of the first two strikes was predictable, too, with Marcos Alonso netting Chelsea's 50th direct free-kick goal in the competition – trailing only United (64) – before Christian Pulisic grabbed his fifth in five games against Palace, more than versus any other opponent.

The third was slightly more surprising, as centre-back Trevoh Chalobah's superb strike made him the second youngest Chelsea player to score on their Premier League debut for the club after Paul Hughes (22y 40d for Chalobah, 20y 274d for Hughes against Derby County in 1997).

Everton 3-1 Southampton: Benitez off to a winning start

Rafael Benitez was a contentious appointment at Everton but his tenure started with a 3-1 win over Southampton. It was the first time the Toffees have won a league match in which they trailed at half-time since September 2015.

On the other hand, since Ralph Hasenhuttl took over at Southampton in December 2018, they have lost 60 points from winning positions in the Premier League, more than any other side.

Adam Armstrong opened his Southampton account to put the visitors ahead at Goodison Park. Since the start of 2019-20, only Ivan Toney (55) has scored more goals in the top four tiers of English football.

Fresh from Olympic glory with Brazil, Richarlison scored the equaliser and has now netted in each of his last four league games against Southampton.

With Abdoulaye Doucoure lashing Everton ahead, Dominic Calvert-Lewin made it 3-1 with a diving header. He has now netted 12 headed goals in the league since the start of 2019-20, four more than any other player.

Elsewhere, Leicester City saw off Wolves 1-0 thanks to Jamie Vardy's first-half effort. The Foxes have lost just one of their last 25 home league games against the Midlands club.

Only Frank Lampard, Wayne Rooney and Alan Shearer (all eight) have scored more goals on the opening weekend of Premier League campaigns than Vardy (seven).

Watford 3-2 Aston Villa: Ings on the spot but post-Grealish era starts in defeat

Watford have now lost their opening league match in just one of the past 15 campaigns (W8 D6), after the Hornets overcame Aston Villa 3-2.

Emmanuel Dennis became the fourth different Nigerian player to score on his Premier League debut to put Watford ahead, with Ismaila Sarr registering his 20th goal for the club before Cucho Hernandez became the first Colombian to net on his debut in the competition.

John McGinn scored his second goal in the space of four league appearances, as many as he had in his previous 55, to pull one back, before Danny Ings converted a late penalty.

He is the 24th player to score on his Premier League bow for Villa, while his spot-kick was the 2,000th penalty scored in Premier League history.

Meanwhile, Burnley are now winless in their last 11 home league games (D5 L6) since beating Villa 3-2 in January, equaling their longest run without a win at Turf Moor, after Brighton came from behind to win 2-1.

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  • 'It's like coming home' - Lukaku thrilled to be back at Inter 'It's like coming home' - Lukaku thrilled to be back at Inter

    Romelu Lukaku declared "it's like coming home" after he returned to Inter from Chelsea on Wednesday.

    Lukaku completed a season-long move back to San Siro on Wednesday less than a year after leaving the Nerazzurri to become Chelsea's record signing for a fee of £97.5million.

    The Belgium striker only scored eight goals in 26 Premier League appearances for the London club in the 2021-22 campaign.

    Lukaku found the back of the net 64 times in 95 games during his first spell with Inter, winning the Serie A title last year before signing for Chelsea for a second time.

    The 29-year-old, who has picked 90 as his new shirt number, had made no secret of his desire to play for Inter again and feels he is back where he belongs.

    He told the club's official website: "It's like coming home. My family and I were so happy here thanks to the people, the fans and my team-mates. From the first day I arrived here, everyone helped me settle in.

    "I'm very happy. I kept my home here when I went to England, so that means something. I'm pleased to be back and now I can't wait to get out there with my team-mates."

    Belgium's record goalscorer is determined to put a miserable season with Chelsea behind him.

    He added: "It's an amazing feeling. What we achieved here a year ago was fantastic. That goes for the team, the fans and also me personally.

    "Inter have given me so much and I hope to do even better than last time. It's now time to work hard as a squad and hopefully do even better than before."

    Lukaku also expressed his gratitude to Inter president Steven Zhang for getting the deal done.

    "We spoke about so many things and how it seemed impossible for me to come back here, but we managed it and I'm grateful to him for the way he kept pushing and believing it was possible," he said. "We managed to do it in the end and I'm delighted to be back."

  • Shevchenko's struggles and El Nino's nightmare – Lukaku the latest high-profile striker to flop at Chelsea Shevchenko's struggles and El Nino's nightmare – Lukaku the latest high-profile striker to flop at Chelsea

    Romelu Lukaku's second spell with Chelsea lasted just one season.

    Inter have confirmed the return of Lukaku in a season-long loan deal just 321 days after selling him to Chelsea for just under £100million.

    It reunites Lukaku with the club with whom he won the Scudetto in 2021 and writes another chapter in the history of the Blues signing a high-profile striker, only for them to fail to produce.

    As the London club perhaps wonder what might have been with Lukaku, Stats Perform looks back at the string of forwards who saw their goals dry up after moving to Stamford Bridge.

    Mateja Kezman

    Kezman did not arrive for big money by today's standards, joining from PSV for a £5.3m fee in 2004, but he came with significant expectations after a goal-laden spell in the Eredivisie in which he plundered 105 in 122 league appearances and won the title twice.

    However, he came nowhere close to living up to the billing in his sole season in the Premier League, finding the net seven times in 41 games in all competitions. His most important goal was the ultimately decisive third in Chelsea's League Cup final win over Liverpool as the Blues did the double, going on to claim a first Premier League crown under Jose Mourinho.

    He was subsequently sold to Atletico Madrid and had spells with Fenerbahce and Paris Saint-Germain that delivered more trophies, though he never managed to recapture his PSV form.

    Andriy Shevchenko

    Few strikers in world football were as feared as Shevchenko during his golden years at Milan, for whom he remains the second-highest goalscorer in the club's history with 175.

    Chelsea's £30.8m move to lure him from San Siro in 2006, then a record fee paid by an English club, reflected his reputation. Yet Shevchenko's transition to the Premier League did not go to plan.

    In his final season in Serie A, Shevchenko averaged a goal every 116 minutes. Across two seasons with Chelsea, that dipped to one every 284 minutes in the Premier League. He netted 22 in 77 games in all competitions, with the appointment of Avram Grant as Mourinho's successor in 2007 limiting his game time. Shevchenko won the FA Cup and League Cup with the Blues but was an unused substitute as they lost the 2008 Champions League final to Manchester United.

    He was sent back to Milan for an unsuccessful loan spell before finishing his career back at boyhood club Dynamo Kyiv.

    Fernando Torres

    Torres' 2011 move from Liverpool to Chelsea was one of the most famous January transfers in Premier League history. As with a lot of January moves, it did not have the desired impact.

    In his final two full seasons with Liverpool in 2008-09 and 2009-10, 'El Nino' scored 32 Premier League goals from 166 shots that had an expected goals (xG) value of 13.3. In 2010-11, he scored nine for Liverpool from an xG value of 8.5. Across three and a half seasons with Chelsea, Torres scored 20 league goals from 217 shots with an xG value of 26.5.

    In terms of silverware, Torres was still successful with Chelsea, winning three trophies. His crowning moment came as he scored the decisive goal at Camp Nou against Barcelona to send the Blues into the Champions League final, where they beat Bayern Munich on penalties.

    But his overall output was never close to good enough, and he too had a brief spell at Milan before heading back to where it all began with Atletico Madrid.

    Alvaro Morata

    Of all the players on this list, Morata's relative lack of goalscoring success was the least surprising given he made the move to Stamford Bridge having never scored more than 15 league goals in a single season in his career.

    Moving from Real Madrid on the back of that career-best campaign in 2016-17, Morata was unable to live up to his reported £60m fee, scoring 11 goals in 31 games in his first season and five in 16 in the first half of his second before being loaned to Atletico, who he then joined on a permanent basis having won the FA Cup and Europa League with Chelsea.

    Timo Werner

    Werner still has the chance to turn his Chelsea career around, but the former RB Leipzig striker's time at Stamford Bridge has followed a very similar trajectory to Chelsea's high-profile misfires.

    Having scored 95 goals in 159 games for Leipzig, Werner has netted only 23 in two seasons for Chelsea since his £47.5m move, with his 191 shots carrying an xG value of 33.7, illustrating just how poorly the Germany international has performed in front of goal.

    He has brought value in other areas, serving as a high-energy focal point of the Chelsea attack, but Thomas Tuchel will surely want to see more in terms of end product for Werner to free himself from the 'flop' tag.

    Romelu Lukaku

    Unable to cement a place in the Chelsea first team during his first spell with the club, Lukaku's second act at Stamford Bridge was expected to be much more profitable.

    Chelsea forked out a club-record £97.5m on that proving to be the case but have now moved to cut their losses and allow Lukaku to return to Inter, if only on loan.

    Lukaku scored a goal every 120 minutes in helping Inter to Serie A glory in 2020-21 but managed just eight in the Premier League at one every 198 minutes.

    Between Werner and Lukaku, Chelsea could not afford to carry two struggling strikers, with the latter becoming the latest in a long line of misguided attacking investments to make a swift exit.

  • Chelsea striker Lukaku returns to Inter in loan deal Chelsea striker Lukaku returns to Inter in loan deal

    Romelu Lukaku has returned to Inter on loan after a disappointing first season back at Chelsea.

    The Belgium striker only scored eight goals in 26 Premier League appearances after his club-record £97.5million move back to Stamford Bridge last August.

    Lukaku's second spell at Chelsea took another turn for the worse when he said stated in an interview with Sky Italia late last year that he was not happy with his role at the London club.

    The  29-year-old declared: "I know I will return to Inter, I really hope so. I am in love with Italy."

    He has now got his wish, sealing a switch back to San Siro for the 2022-23 season less than a year after leaving for a huge fee.

    "We're back baby. I'm very happy, thanks for the compliments. Remember three years ago, we were here? We're back," he said in a social media video alongside Inter chairman Steven Zhang.

    Asked by Zhang whether he promises to 'score lots of goals at San Siro', he added: "That's what we're here for. I keep my promises."

     

    Lukaku will try and help Inter wrestle back the Serie A title from city rivals Milan after he played a huge part in their Scudetto triumph in the 2020-21 season, scoring 24 goals in 32 league games.

    During his previous two-year spell, no Nerazzurri player scored more goals (64), provided more assists (17) or created as many chances (133) in all competitions.

    The former Manchester United and Everton frontman formed a fearsome partnership with Lautaro Martinez under Antonio Conte as Inter lifted their first league title in 11 years.

    Lukaku is likely to also be joined by forward Paulo Dybala, who will reportedly join Simone Inzaghi's side after leaving Juventus as a free agent.

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