EPL

Brighton can't shoot, Man Utd won't – the Premier League weekend's quirky facts

By Sports Desk November 29, 2021

Manchester United held Chelsea to a draw thanks to a positive defensive display and a little less inspiring performance in attack.

Champions Manchester City beat West Ham (again), and the weather, while Everton failed to win (again) as things turned frosty towards Rafael Benitez.

Brighton and Hove Albion, meanwhile, drew 0-0 once more to thrust expected goals back into the limelight, for which Stats Perform at least is grateful.

Read on for more of the weekend's weirder stats from the Premier League...

 

Oh, shoot

One of the first things Ralf Rangnick will need to do at United is the complex, tactical process of asking professional footballers to kick the ball at the goal at bit more often.

United's attacking output has diminished rapidly in recent games. They had five shots against Manchester City, nine in a 4-1 loss at Watford and just three at Stamford Bridge on Sunday. Liverpool's Diogo Jota had seven against Southampton the day before.

During November, United have had the fewest shots of all Premier League sides (17) and faced the most (60). That attempts tally is just two more than former Red Devil Dan James – now at Leeds United – has managed on his own this month.

Indeed, it is the first time since at least 2003 that United have had fewer than 20 shots in a calendar month. The most they ever had was 127 back in December 2005.

Snow point

It felt like the season of giving had arrived on Sunday, as the weather did its best to make Manchester City versus West Ham a more even contest.

That's no slight on David Moyes' team, who are enjoying an excellent season and only ended up losing 2-1 in a game for which Pep Guardiola assigned man-of-the-match awards to the ground staff who battled the snow. It's just that history was firmly against the Hammers even before a yellow-and-orange ball was kicked.

West Ham have taken just four points from 16 trips to the Etihad Stadium, their average of 0.25 their lowest at any ground they have visited at least 10 times in the Premier League. What's more, they have only managed five points from a possible 78 from Premier League away games against reigning champions.

In fact, it's very nearly 20 years since their one and only away win against the title-holders. On December 8, 2001, a Jermain Defoe goal in the second half sealed a 1-0 win at Manchester United. Recently departed United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer started for the Red Devils, while current caretaker boss Michael Carrick lined up in the visitors' midfield.

Moyes, meanwhile, was enduring a 3-2 home defeat to Burnley while in charge of Preston North End in England's second tier. His team would end the season in eighth place, 27 points behind the champions... Manchester City. 

 

Ragged Rafa

The banners are out, the boos have started: Everton fans are really not happy with Rafa Benitez (unless they were saying 'Boo-nitez'. We haven't asked them all).

A 1-0 loss at Brentford means the Toffees have failed to win any of their previous seven league games, their longest such sequence since April 2016 under Roberto Martinez (also seven).

Though a banner held aloft in the away end in west London was directed primarily at the club's board, not the manager, Ivan Toney's penalty stretched Benitez's run to just one win in 10 away Premier League matches against promoted sides, which is not the sort of record you need when you're ex-Liverpool and trying to win over the blue half of Merseyside, especially with the derby coming up.

What Rafa wouldn't give for the kind of love he had at Newcastle United. After 13 games at Everton, Benitez's record is four wins, six defeats, 15 points, 16 goals scored and 20 conceded. It's surprisingly similar to the first 13 Premier League games of his time at St James' Park: four wins, five defeats, 16 points, 16 goals scored and 15 conceded. And no boos in earshot.

And speaking of Newcastle...

 

Mags-nanimous

The Premier League shoo-in of the week was at Emirates Stadium, where Newcastle played a full game against Arsenal despite everyone knowing what was going to happen.

Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli scored to seal a 2-0 win and set a new record for the Gunners: they have now beaten the same side seven times in a row without conceding for the first time in their history. Newcastle, meanwhile, have lost more Premier League matches against Arsenal (33) than they have against anyone else.

A predictable result, then, and one that doesn't augur well for the rest of the Magpies' season. They are just the sixth side in the Premier League era to fail to win any of their first 13 matches of a season, and it should surprise nobody that four of the previous five were relegated (Derby County in 2000-01 pulled off a great escape).

Eddie Howe must get to work quickly if he's to stop the richest club in the world from spending next term in the Championship.

 

XG-stential crisis

The Brighton/expected goals narrative was thrust back into the heart of the Premier League storyline this weekend.

The Seagulls drew 0-0 at home to Leeds United even though there were 31 shots (20 to the home side) and an xG value of 2.7 in the whole game, the highest in a goalless draw in the league this season.

It was the 20th 0-0 draw Brighton have had since promotion to the top flight in 2017, which is at least six more than any other side has had. Overall, 20 of their 165 Premier League games (12 per cent) have finished goalless, a higher share than any other side in the competition's history.

It will surprise nobody, then, that Brighton have the worst differential between goals and expected goals since they reached the top tier: they have scored 160 from an xG figure of 186.91, with their difference of -26.91 lower than Fulham (-21.94) and Sheffield United (-18.14), both of whom no longer dine at the top table.

However, Brighton's expected goals on target figure – which takes into account the precision of the attempt itself, not just the quality of the chance – is 159.73, which is remarkably close to their actual goal tally. Get the mini-nets out – it's time for some shooting practice.

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