EPL

James the sharp-shooter, away days in 'God's own country' - the quirky facts behind the Premier League weekend

By Sports Desk September 21, 2020

The Premier League is in full swing after its second weekend of the 2020-21 season. How did we do without it for… about a month?

While fans remain barred from joining the players in the stadiums – which could yet be the case for much of the season – supporters are at least being treated to plenty of entertainment on TV.

The action certainly picked up where it left off from the previous week, as Saturday provided us with 21 goals across four matches, and that was followed by another 18 in Sunday's four – that's an average of nearly five per game.

Among those goals we saw James 'not Premier League proven' Rodriguez continue to impress and open his account for Everton, Wilfried Zaha down Manchester United and Son Heung-min score four, with each one set up by Harry Kane, remarkably.

An enthralling weekend brought about plenty of talking points and stats – read on for some of the quirkiest facts we could find with the help of Opta.

JAMES FINDS HIS RANGE

From the moment James arrived on Merseyside, the Colombian looked destined to provide plenty of excitement for Carlo Ancelotti's men.

His lovely 20-yard strike into the bottom-right corner during the Toffees' 5-2 win over West Brom meant 18 of his 53 goals scored in Europe's top five leagues have been from outside the penalty area. That's 34 per cent.

A fine record, though it's some way off the Premier League's deadliest from distance. Tom Huddlestone (10 of 12) has scored the greatest proportion of his top-flight goals (83.3 per cent) from outside the area among players to have reached double digits, while Frank Lampard (41) has the largest total.

 

DE GEA'S PENALTY WOES

When Zaha stepped up to a 74th-minute penalty in the hope of making it 2-0 to Crystal Palace at Old Trafford, few will have been banking on David de Gea's chances of making a save – not because the Palace star is great from the spot, but because of the Spaniard's shocking record in such scenarios.

Stopping a penalty is obviously tough, that's literally the point, but, after conceding Zaha's, De Gea has saved just 7.1 per cent (two of 28), with Paul Robinson (three from 49 for 6.1 per cent) the only goalkeeper to have a worse record among those who've faced 25 or more in the Premier League.

By contrast, Simon Mignolet faced the same number as De Gea but produced six more saves, giving him a 28.6 per cent save rate.

 

AWAY DAYS IN 'GOD'S OWN COUNTRY'

Yorkshire, or 'God's own country' as it is playfully dubbed by locals, is usually renowned for being friendly and welcoming – but perhaps less so when football's involved.

The omens weren't great for Fulham ahead of Saturday's trip to Leeds United, and as it happened they lost 4-3 in a belting contest, meaning they have lost eight successive Premier League matches away to Yorkshire clubs since their first – a 1-0 win at Elland Road in 2002.

Of clubs from outside the region, only Oldham Athletic (0) have a worse points-per-game record than Fulham (0.33). Newcastle United boast the best record of teams to have played more than 10 matches in Yorkshire, winning 1.76 points on average across their 29 games.

In a blow to religion fans everywhere, the Red Devils also tend to do pretty well in 'God's own country' - United have averaged 1.68 points in their 34 Yorkshire away days, losing just nine.

 

KNOWING ME, KNOWING UNITED (ZAHA)

Zaha had the decisive impact against his former club United on Saturday, with his brace effectively the difference in the 3-1 win Palace deservedly clinched.

Not only were they his first goal involvements against United in the league, he became the first player to net a brace against the Red Devils having previously represented them in the competition.

Zaha is now the joint-most prolific former United player in games against them, having drawn level with Fraizer Campbell, Keith Gillespie, Mark Hughes, Paul Ince and Danny Welbeck on two goals.

JAMAL LEWSES

Although Jamal Lewis impressed for Norwich City as they were relegated last season, he became rather familiar with home Premier League defeats and that has continued since moving to Newcastle.

A 3-0 loss to visitors Brighton and Hove Albion on Sunday means Lewis has lost 12 of his 16 home matches in the top-flight – that's 75 per cent, and a joint-record for players with at least 15 home games played in the Premier League.

Kevin Kyle (20 games, 15 defeats) is other player with a 75 per cent losing rate, while Tommy Miller (18 games, 13 defeats – 72.2 per cent), Bruce Dyer (21 games, 15 defeats – 71.4 per cent) and Terence Kongolo (23 games, 16 defeats – 69.6 per cent) round out the bottom five.

Related items

  • PSG coach Tuchel unfazed amid growing pressure PSG coach Tuchel unfazed amid growing pressure

    Thomas Tuchel insisted he was unconcerned about his future at Paris Saint-Germain amid pressure on the coach.

    Tuchel's position as coach of the Ligue 1 giants is again being questioned after Tuesday's 2-1 Champions League loss at home to Manchester United.

    The German has won the league in both of his seasons in charge and led PSG to their first Champions League final in 2019-20 before they fell to Bayern Munich.

    Tuchel is ignoring speculation over his future, telling a news conference: "I don't go on the Internet to Google my name. I know how difficult it is here. That's okay for me. I expect nothing else.

    "I can imagine how it looks from outside. I can rely on myself and on my staff, everybody here at the Ooredoo [PSG training ground] and my relationship with the team. This is what we are going to do and hopefully we will produce results. That's what is necessary.

    "We are part of this club and we keep on going."

    Tuchel, whose side are second in Ligue 1, is contracted at PSG until the end of the season.

    Ahead of PSG's hosting of Dijon on Saturday, the 47-year-old said he was unworried if the club decided against discussing an extension.

    "The situation is clear because I have a contract and for me it makes no difference. Personally, I work the same way," Tuchel said.

    "The situation in the world is complicated with this virus [COVID-19]. It is difficult to make plans for a person but at the same time it is impossible not to communicate. If we don't talk about contract extension, we don't talk about contract extension, that's good. We have to accept it there is no resentment.

    "I do my work with my staff in the best possible way. I will give everything to win. I'm with my team and I want to win everything, that's clear."

  • Gomez-Matip partnership is not rocket science - Klopp Gomez-Matip partnership is not rocket science - Klopp

    Jurgen Klopp is confident centre-backs Joe Gomez and Joel Matip will have little issue forming an effective partnership in the absence of Liverpool talisman Virgil van Dijk.

    Van Dijk is set to miss at least the majority of the current campaign after suffering knee ligament damage in a challenge from Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford during last week's Merseyside derby.

    Matip missed the midweek win over Ajax, meaning Fabinho stepped into defence, but Klopp's options are limited moving forward.

    Dejan Lovren left at the end of last season, leaving Gomez and Matip as the club's only remaining natural centre-backs.

    Klopp expects the duo to adapt and "fight together", although they are yet to start alongside each other in this role due to Van Dijk's dominance.

    "The reason for that is because I think Virg played pretty much all the games and one of them was injured," Klopp said.

    "As long as Dejan Lovren was still here and Dejan was in that moment fit, [he could play].

    "I didn't know they had never played together, I didn't know that, but they can play together – not a shadow of a doubt.

    "As I said for the Fabinho and Joe pairing, they need to get used to each other and the full-backs need to get used to them. The more stability you have in this line, the better.

    "We never had that really – especially one position was always with a lot of changes.

    "They will fight together, there is no doubt about that. It is football and it didn't become rocket science overnight. We can help them with information but then they will get tested every three days – that's the situation."

    Meanwhile, Klopp was asked for his thoughts on Marcus Rashford's work campaigning to end child hunger.

    The Manchester United forward spent Friday promoting offers of free meals from restaurants around the United Kingdom on his social media pages after the government voted against maintaining a scheme to serve this purpose through school holidays.

    "It's just nice to show in a time when obviously a lot of people who are really in charge of something and don't show any sign of proper leadership, that a boy grown up in difficult circumstances, blessed with a sensational talent obviously, never forgot his roots and where he is coming from," Klopp said.

    "That he has to do it then is a bit of a shame but is wonderful as well. I hope his mother is really proud of him. I don't know him but even I am.

    "He plays for United, which makes it really tricky. But it's really an absolutely wonderful, wonderful thing."

  • Guardiola reiterates defence of Aguero over Massey-Ellis incident Guardiola reiterates defence of Aguero over Massey-Ellis incident

    Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has reiterated his defence of Sergio Aguero over an incident that saw the Argentina striker put his arm around assistant referee Sian Massey-Ellis.

    Aguero placed a hand on the female official during City's 1-0 win over Arsenal last week and drew widespread criticism on social media and from pundits.

    Match of the Day analysts Alan Shearer and Ian Wright were among those to condemn the action, while ex-Manchester United defender Gary Neville called on Aguero to apologise.

    Guardiola defended Aguero in the aftermath of the game and once again backed his striker, who he said would have said sorry had Massey-Ellis complained.

    "I didn't speak to Sergio about this, but I'm pretty sure if she felt bad, he will apologise without a problem," Guardiola said.

    "All the people looking from outside judge, but I know the intention from Sergio. Sergio put his hands in a normal way, like he does many times to me, on or off the pitch.

    "Or when I hug him, when there is a substitution, or when sometimes he touches the referee as well or an opponent.

    "If I'd seen some aggression, maybe. But I think it was normal as I know him perfectly. He's been a huge star in the world, but he's humble, one of the nicest people I've met.

    "What is important is his intention, and his intention was normal, to talk to her in a normal way. It was not a bad word, it was just normal."

    Guardiola likened the reaction to the one Bernardo Silva received for a controversial social media post involving team-mate Benjamin Mendy last year.

    Silva apologised after posting a picture of a cartoon character promoting a chocolate brand in Spain next to a photo of Mendy with a caption reading: "Guess who?"

    The apparent reference to Mendy's race led to a one-match ban and a £50,000 fine, while Silva was ordered to undergo educational training.

    "It's the same with what happened with Bernardo. I know him perfectly well, it was a joke and this was a normal situation," Guardiola added.

    "I know perfectly, it's like Bernardo and what he had with Mendy. They are brothers and he was suspended."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.