EPL

Man City nearly impenetrable, Man Utd issues masked by penalty miss, bad omens for Nuno – the Premier League weekend's quirky facts

By Sports Desk September 27, 2021

Manchester City made something of a statement in their 1-0 win over potential title challengers Chelsea on Saturday, whereas Manchester United seemed to take another step back as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's reign stuttered again.

But Solskjaer is certainly not the only top-flight manager feeling the heat – Nuno Espirito Santo's honeymoon period as Tottenham boss is well and truly over, with the Portuguese now among the favourites to be the first Premier League boss sacked this season following a 3-1 defeat in the north London derby.

Without any further ado, here are some of the more curious facts and stats from across the Premier League this past weekend…

City defence putting the 'guard' in Guardiola

It may not have been the thrill ride neutrals were likely hoping for, but City's 1-0 win at Stamford Bridge was another impressive indicator of just how good Pep Guardiola's team is as a unit.

Of course, they won the Premier League only a few months ago, so saying City are "good" probably won't cut it for analysis – but what is really making people sit up and take note at the moment is how their unity and cohesion is translating into defensive solidity.

City have conceded just one goal in their six Premier League games this term, the fewest they've ever shipped at this stage of any league campaign.

Let's not forget that Chelsea had been widely praised for their own start to 2021-22, yet on Saturday they were prevented from having a single shot on target in a home league game since November 2012, which coincidentally was also against City.

But even more impressive from City's perspective was the fact Chelsea's expected goals (xG) value was just 0.2, the worst they've recorded in a home Premier League game since Opta records began in 2008-09.

While Chelsea fans will understandably be frustrated, it would seem their struggles on Saturday were more down to City being in a groove defensively.

They've only faced six shots on target this season, a record no Premier League has bettered over the first six matches in a campaign since at least 2003-04. If they keep this up, the title will surely be staying at the Etihad Stadium.

Fernandes' penalty miss not Man Utd's big issue

It was another day to forget for United on Saturday as they lost 1-0 at home to Aston Villa.

They were presented with a great opportunity to equalise in second-half stoppage time, but Bruno Fernandes sent his penalty over the crossbar.

Much of the focus afterwards was on Fernandes and his miss, though it would be unfair to pin the blame on him – after all, of the 23 spot-kicks he has taken since his United debut, he's only failed to convert two.

In the same time period, Cristiano Ronaldo – seemingly Fernandes' main penalty rival now – has taken 22 and missed four. This is not a problem that United need to dwell on much.

Instead, they'd be wise to look into their glaring tactical inefficiencies, with Solskjaer's team sorely lacking identity, cohesion and a defined playing style. Too often they are bailed out by moments of individual brilliance, which is an unsustainable approach to solely rely on in a title challenge.

Against Villa, those instances of individual excellence never arrived, despite United mustering 28 shots. That was the most efforts attempted by United without scoring in a home league game since October 2016 (38 shots in 0-0 draw with Burnley).

They have now conceded in each of their past eight league games at Old Trafford, their worst such run in 49 years, and lost three successive home matches (all competitions) for the first time since 1962.

Norwich set new benchmark for worst start

With every match that passes, the light at the end of the tunnel seems to become ever dimmer for Norwich City.

A 2-0 defeat at Everton on Saturday leaves Norwich pointless and with a -14 goal difference after six matches – that makes their start to the season the worst after six matches in Premier League history.

Only twice before had a Premier League side begun a campaign without a single point from six games, the last of which was Frank de Boer's infamous Crystal Palace team in 2017-18 – the Dutchman was sacked after the fourth match in that sequence.

Norwich have at least been a little more patient than Palace, with Daniel Farke's record of overseeing two promotions seemingly ensuring he retains some good will at the club, even if he now has the highest loss percentage (75 per cent, 33/44) of any manager to take charge of at least 20 games in the Premier League.

Most would already consider Norwich to be doomed for relegation, though perhaps there is some reason for optimism.

There have only been nine teams to start a top-flight season (prior to 2021-22) with six or more successive losses, but four of them – including Palace – have avoided relegation.

Vardy joins exclusive club

Jamie Vardy ended up having a peculiar day when Leicester City drew 2-2 with Burnley on Saturday, the former England striker scoring three of the four goals.

It was his own goal that gave Burnley an early lead, while he also got both Leicester equalisers, including one late in the day.

That was his first own goal ever in 360 appearances for Leicester, while he became the first player to net at both ends for the club in a single Premier League game.

It's happened to some of the best, though. He joins an illustrious list containing 11 others who have scored at least 100 goals but also put past their own goalkeeper, with Harry Kane, Steven Gerrard, Paul Scholes, Frank Lampard and Wayne Rooney among them.

On top of that, Vardy is now only one of five players in Premier League history to score at least twice at the right end and an own goal in the same game after John Barnes (Liverpool v Spurs 1995), Niall Quinn (Sunderland v Charlton Athletic 2001), Rooney (Man Utd v Stoke City 2012) and Tammy Abraham (Chelsea v Wolves 2019).

But he is still doing more than his fair share at the other end, his brace in this game taking him to eight goal involvements in his past seven league games, which is 89 per cent (8/9) of Leicester's goals in that time.

Bad omens stacking up for Nuno

After three wins from his first three Premier League games in charge, everything was looking rather rosy for Tottenham boss Nuno.

Three matches and three defeats later, some will doubt whether he'll still be in charge this time next month, let alone this time next season.

Sunday's north London derby was his 10th in charge of Spurs and the 3-1 loss made him the first manager to lose as many as four of his first 10 matches at the helm of the club since Glenn Hoddle in 2001.

Hoddle was also the last Spurs boss to conceded at least three goals in three consecutive league games in September 2003, and he was sacked after that run.

Nuno will probably make it to the next match but the last team to begin a season with three wins and then lost the next three (Everton, 1993-94) finish as low down as 17th.

His future arguably rests on getting something out of Kane, who's failed to score in five straight league games for the first time since August 2016, but things aren't looking great given Spurs' 35 open-play shots is the second fewest in the division and their expected goals (xG) total is just 3.2, only higher than three teams.

While a lack of quality chances might usually be masked by Kane's excellence, he's not bailing them out any longer – if that continues, it's difficult to see Nuno keeping his job for the long term.

Related items

  • Lakers to retire Gasol's number 16 jersey Lakers to retire Gasol's number 16 jersey

    The Los Angeles Lakers will honour Spanish legend Pau Gasol when they retire his number 16 jersey next year.

    A ceremony will take place on March 7, 2023 when the Lakers host the Memphis Grizzlies.

    Gasol played for the Lakers between 2008 and 2014, having arrived from Memphis, appearing in three NBA Finals and winning two championships alongside Kobe Bryant.

    Three of his six All-Star appearances came during his time in Los Angeles, before he left for the Chicago Bulls in 2014.

    After time with the San Antonio Spurs and Milwaukee Bucks, Gasol returned to Europe for a second spell with Barcelona, where his career had begun, before retiring in October last year at the age of 41.

    Following the announcement, Gasol took to Twitter to thank his former franchise, writing: "Beyond thankful and honoured!!!"

    Gasol had an average of 17.7 points per game during his time with the Lakers, as well 9.9 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.4 blocks in 429 appearances.

    He will join a number of legends, including Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O'Neal, Bryant and Magic Johnson, in having his jersey retired by the Lakers.

  • Rodgers: Fofana not for sale Rodgers: Fofana not for sale

    Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers has reiterated that defender Wesley Fofana is "not for sale" as Chelsea reportedly remain keen to secure his services.

    The 21-year-old centre-back has been strongly linked with a move to Stamford Bridge after missing out on Jules Kounde, who joined Barcelona.

    The Foxes are said to have rejected two bids from Chelsea and it has been suggested that a world-record fee for a defender may be required to prise him away from the King Power Stadium.

    That record currently stands at £80million, which Leicester received from Manchester United for the signature of Harry Maguire.

    Fofana has played in Leicester's opening two league games of the Premier League season, and Rodgers expects him to stay at the club.

    "The idea is that he’s still very much a Leicester City player," Rodgers told reporters. "I’ve said a number of times that he’s not for sale.

    "The club have made that clear so unless anything changes, I would expect him to be here."

    Fofana is one of a number of players linked with a move away from Leicester, with midfielders Youri Tielemans and James Maddison linked with Arsenal and Newcastle United respectively.

  • 'It's right to stay in my place' – Conte confident he will be on touchline against Wolves 'It's right to stay in my place' – Conte confident he will be on touchline against Wolves

    Tottenham head coach Antonio Conte believes he should be allowed on the touchline against Wolves after being charged by the FA for his behaviour against Chelsea.

    The charge came after he was involved in multiple incidents with Chelsea counterpart Thomas Tuchel during and after a thrilling 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

    An altercation after the final whistle led to both Tuchel and Conte receiving red cards, and the subsequent FA charges mean it is unclear whether both will be allowed on the sidelines for their respective Premier League fixtures this upcoming weekend.

    Conte though believes he should be allowed in the dugout against Wolves, though, telling reporters during his pre-match press conference: "I hope so. It's right, it's right to stay in my place.

    "Then I repeat for sure after this type of situation you can learn a lot but at the same time I think from my situation I was good to keep calm and [I] didn't have an excessive reaction."

    Spurs sit fourth in the Premier League with four points from their opening two games, but will be without key defender Cristian Romero for Saturday's meeting with Wolves due to injury.

    "About Cristian, he had a little problem during the game against Chelsea in the final part of the game," Conte said.

    "It's a little problem and after the game he started to feel a bit of pain in his adductor [muscle]. We checked him.

    "The player wanted to give availability but in this situation we have a lot of games to play, it would be stupid to take risk. For this reason he is not available for Wolves."

    Spurs have beefed up their squad in this transfer window with Richarlison, Ivan Perisic, Yves Bissouma, Clement Lenglet, Fraser Forster and Djed Spence arriving.

    This week, Destiny Udogie signed from Udinese, though the defender will remain with the Serie A club for the rest of the 2022-23 season.

    Tottenham's focus will now be on trimming their squad, with Tanguy Ndombele set to complete a switch to Napoli, while Giovani Lo Celso has rejoined Villarreal on loan, though Conte did not rule out the possibility of further additions.

    He added: "If someone goes away then for sure another player has to come. Especially if some players want to go and play regularly and it's difficult to keep them here."

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.