EPL

Premier League data dive: Man Utd's 'big six' struggles continue, Liverpool return to winning ways

By Sports Desk February 28, 2021

Manchester United lost further ground to Premier League leaders Manchester City as they played out a 0-0 draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Sunday. 

The Red Devils are now 12 points behind Pep Guardiola's seemingly unstoppable side, who are well on their way to a third title in four seasons. 

Elsewhere, Liverpool returned to winning ways against Sheffield United and Arsenal came from behind to beat Leicester City at the King Power Stadium. 

A Gareth Bale-inspired Tottenham cruised past Burnley 4-0, while Crystal Palace and Fulham played out a dour 0-0 draw.

Chelsea 0-0 Manchester United: Red Devils' 'big six' struggles continue

While this result stretched United's unbeaten away run in the league to a whopping 20 matches – the joint-fifth-longest run in top-flight history – there was still a sense of disappointment at full-time. 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side have now failed to score in their last six league meetings with Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City or Tottenham, with each of their last four such matches finishing goalless. 

This fixture has now finished 0-0 in both matches in a single league campaign for just the second time, the other occasion coming back in 1921-22. 

It marked the first time Chelsea have drawn 0-0 against an opponent home and away in the Premier League in the same season for the first time since 2008-09 against Everton, while United last did so against Aston Villa in 1996-97.

Thomas Tuchel can at least toast becoming just the second coach to not concede a single goal in his first four home matches in the Premier League after Brendan Rodgers in 2011-12 with Swansea City. Including his final two such matches in charge of Paris Saint-Germain, Tuchel has gone six games without conceding at home in league competition.

Sheffield United 0-2 Liverpool: Klopp's men get back on track

After four consecutive top-flight defeats champions Liverpool got their top-four bid back on track at Bramall Lane. 

Curtis Jones opened the scoring with his second goal for the Reds. In doing so, he became the youngest Liverpool player (20 years and 29 days) to score an away Premier League goal since Raheem Sterling in December 2014 against Burnley (20y 18d).

Their second – an own goal by Kean Bryan – was their 7,000th in the English top-flight, becoming only the second team to reach that tally after Merseyside rivals Everton (7,108).

Adrian was in goal for Jurgen Klopp's men and the Spaniard has now been on the winning side in 10 of his 12 Premier League starts for the club, although this was only his third clean sheet. 

The Blades, meanwhile, have now lost 21 games this season. They are the first side since Newport County in the fourth tier in 1970-71 to lose as many as 21 of their first 26 matches in an English Football League season.

Tottenham 4-0 Burnley: Brilliant Bale torments sorry Clarets

Bale was at his best as Tottenham registered their biggest Premier League home win since they thumped the Clarets 5-0 in December 2019. 

His first came after just 68 seconds, which was the fastest goal Burnley have ever conceded in a Premier League match. The previous quickest was a Yerry Mina effort after 99 seconds for Everton in December 2018.

Harry Kane doubled Spurs' advantage to continue his fine run against Sean Dyche's side. No player has scored more Premier League goals against Burnley than Kane (eight, level with Riyad Mahrez), with the England striker involved in 10 goals in his last six league appearances against them (seven goals, three assists).

Lucas Moura added a third before Bale wrapped up the scoring to take his goal involvements to seven in his last four appearances in all competitions. 

At the back, Hugo Lloris celebrated his 100th clean sheet in the competition. He became the 16th goalkeeper to reach that landmark, while he is the ninth quickest to reach it (285 games).

Burnley, meanwhile, have now lost 12 of their last 15 away top-flight matches against Spurs, shipping 48 goals and conceding at least four goals in seven games.

Leicester City 1-3 Arsenal: Gunners storm back to end 'top three' hoodoo

Arsenal ended a four-game winless run against the Foxes in the Premier League, securing their first victory against them in the competition since October 2018. 

It started poorly for Mikel Arteta's side, though, with Youri Tielemans scoring his sixth goal of the season early on. That is as many as he had scored in his first two seasons at the club combined. 

David Luiz pulled the Gunners level before Alexandre Lacazette put them ahead from the penalty spot. The France international has converted all five of his penalties for Arsenal across all competitions, while only Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (13) has now netted more goals for the Gunners than Lacazette (11) this term.

Nicolas Pepe sealed the three points and has now equalled his Premier League goal tally from last season, scoring five this campaign in 13 fewer appearances (18 this term, 31 last season).

The result marked Arsenal's first away victory against a team starting the day in the top three of the Premier League since January 2015 (2-0 v Manchester City) – they were winless in their last 14 such games ahead of this clash (D3 L11).

Crystal Palace 0-0 Fulham: Lucky Eagles escape with a point

It should come as no surprise that this game ended goalless given Fulham's penchant for draws this season. 

Just one of the Cottagers' first 21 Premier League games under Scott Parker ended level, but the stalemate at Selhurst Park was their 10th draw in their last 15 top-flight matches. 

They were comfortably the better side and attempted 16 shots. Fourteen of those came in the second period – the most they have had in the final 45 minutes of a Premier League away game since 2003-04 without scoring.

Palace, meanwhile, have somehow managed to pick up four points from their last two league games despite attempting just six shots (facing 41), having only nine touches in the opposition box (compared to 70 by their opponents), and completing just 442 passes (compared to their opponents' 1065).

Indeed, they managed just 33 attempts in their five Premier League matches in February – the lowest recorded by a team in a single month of at least five games since the start of the 2003-04 campaign.

Related items

  • Pochettino unlikely to risk PSG duo Marquinhos and Verratti in Bayern return Pochettino unlikely to risk PSG duo Marquinhos and Verratti in Bayern return

    Mauricio Pochettino has confirmed Marquinhos and Marco Verratti are unlikely to start the second leg against Bayern Munich as Paris Saint-Germain look to reach the Champions League semi-finals.

    Verratti, along with fellow Italy international Alessandro Florenzi, missed the first meeting between the teams in Munich after testing positive for COVID-19.

    However, the duo have received the all-clear and are back in training ahead of the return fixture in the French capital, with PSG holding a 3-2 advantage at the halfway stage in the tie.

    Pochettino told the media on Monday he is yet to decide on his line-up, with Marquinhos remaining a doubt due to a thigh injury.

    "We haven't decided the team for tomorrow yet, but it will be difficult for Verratti to start," the PSG boss said in his pre-game news conference. "Florenzi will be assessed further tomorrow."

    On Marquinhos' status, he added: "We will see how he feels tomorrow. In theory, he could be involved in the squad, so we will see.

    "I don't think he will be able to start, certainly, but he may be able to be on the bench. We will decide that on Wednesday."

    PSG knocked out Barcelona in the previous round 5-2 on aggregate, though were held to a 1-1 draw at home in the second leg following a resounding triumph at Camp Nou.

    Pochettino is well aware that the tie with Bayern – who he made clear are the best team in the world – is much tighter, meaning his players must find the right balance between retaining their slender advantage and also posing problems in attack for their opponents.

    "At home to Barcelona, particularly in the first half, we found it very hard to keep the ball, even with Verratti and Leandro Paredes in the team," Pochettino said.

    "It is not about individual names but collective attitude. We have to have a different approach from the Barcelona game while understanding that we don't just need to defend but also to keep the ball to attack and hurt the opposition.

    "This is the challenge that lies ahead, and once again we have a positive first-leg result to build on."

    PSG have won all four of their previous games in which they have hosted the German side in European competition, while only three of the previous 50 teams to lose the first leg at home in a Champions League knockout tie have managed to progress.

    Pochettino, though, is well aware of the size of the task the hosts face against the defending champions, with Bayern having gone 16 games unbeaten in the competition under Hansi Flick prior to the loss on home soil last week.

    "The Barcelona game is the past, Bayern are the best team in the world at the moment so they will certainly make it difficult for us," the former Tottenham head coach said.

    "We need the strength and ability to manage those moments, just as we did in the first leg in Munich.

    "They are world champions who have won six trophies in recent months. We are the pretenders and contenders to win the trophy. We have to consider all the circumstances surrounding the tie.

    "If we get through to the semi-finals, it will be a big achievement for the club. PSG want to win every competition we are involved in, but beating Bayern Munich, in itself, would be a big feat."

  • Greenwood emulates Ronaldo, Lingard goes from strength to strength - the Premier League weekend's quirky facts Greenwood emulates Ronaldo, Lingard goes from strength to strength - the Premier League weekend's quirky facts

    Mason Greenwood emulated a feat last achieved by Cristiano Ronaldo and Jesse Lingard's astonishing purple patch continued in another enthralling weekend of Premier League action.

    Greenwood came off the bench to play a big part in second-placed United's 3-1 victory at Tottenham on Sunday.

    Lingard also starred in London earlier in the day, scoring twice in a 3-2 win over Leicester City to keep West Ham on course to defy the odds and seal a Champions League spot.

    Leeds United shocked champions-elect Manchester City 2-1 at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday, while Alexandre Lacazette brought up a half-century of goals in Arsenal's 3-0 success at rock-bottom Sheffield United.

    Using Opta data, we look at some quirky facts from the latest Premier League matches.

     

    Greenwood sets high sub standard

    As cameo appearances go, Greenwood's short time on the field against Spurs was right up there.

    The 19-year-old replaced Marcus Rashford after 72 minutes at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium with the game in the balance at 1-1.

    Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could surely not have wished for a bigger impact from the forward, who laid on a goal for Edinson Cavani before sealing all three points by finding the back of the net himself deep into stoppage time.

    Greenwood became the first teenager to score and assist as a substitute for United in a Premier League match since the legendary Ronaldo did so against Portsmouth in November 2003.

    Lethal Lingard outfoxes Leicester

    On the subject of big impacts, Lingard has been a revelation for the Hammers since his loan move from Manchester United in January.

    The England forward can do no wrong at the moment and helped himself to a first-half double in a huge victory over the Foxes, moving David Moyes' men back up to fourth.

    Lingard has now scored in four consecutive games for the high-flying London club, taking his tally in the Premier League to eight.

    That equals his best goalscoring return in a top-flight campaign and he has only made nine appearances. Lingard also netted eight times for his parent club in the 2017-18, but that was from 33 matches.

  • Greenwood and Rashford need another year of Cavani at Man Utd - Neville Greenwood and Rashford need another year of Cavani at Man Utd - Neville

    Edinson Cavani staying for a second season at Manchester United would benefit not just the team on the pitch but also the development of the club's young forwards, according to Gary Neville.

    Cavani scored his seventh league goal of the campaign on Sunday, heading in a cross from Mason Greenwood to put United 2-1 ahead against Tottenham.

    Substitute Greenwood added a third in stoppage time to wrap up the victory, with Neville believing the young England international's development - along with that of club and country colleague Marcus Rashford – can only be helped by working regularly with Cavani.

    The Uruguayan signed as a free agent and while United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer remains hopeful the player will remain at the club, speculation has suggested the striker wants to return to South America.

    "Tottenham had a throw with two minutes to go, and Cavani was moving between the centre-backs trying to stop the ball from being thrown in, and he's organising where Mason Greenwood should be," Neville explained on his podcast for Sky Sports. "I thought, 'Greenwood needs another year of Cavani being alongside him.'

    "It inspired us as young players when you saw great players like Bryan Robson and Steve Bruce and Eric Cantona and Mark Hughes.

    "You see the best players in the world, or those who have been the best in the world like Cavani, doing his work like that in the 94th minute, someone like Greenwood, who needs people who are mentors, good standards above him, who can coach him on the pitch, I just thought him and Marcus Rashford need another year of Cavani.

    "He's been a really brilliant example. I was a little bit nervous of him coming in, because of [Radamel] Falcao, Alexis Sanchez, showcase signings. This one has been different. He's really applied himself brilliantly and has been a big help to Manchester United.

    "He does the right things. The right movements. It's clockwork, that run across the defender, across the near post, the one you're always trying to get young strikers to do."

    Cavani has scored eight times in all competitions since his arrival at Old Trafford, averaging out at a goal every 195.5 minutes – only Bruno Fernandes and Rashford have managed more.

    However, the former Napoli and Paris Saint-Germain player has a better shot conversion rate (20.5 per cent) than both that pair, demonstrating his value to the side.

    Solskjaer made clear after the away triumph at Spurs that he remains hopeful the 34-year-old will be part of his squad for the 2021-22 season.

    "He knows my feelings; I know his feelings. He's not made up his mind yet," the United boss told the media.

    "I understand that it's been a difficult year for everyone, but for a new lad who doesn't speak English, not to feel the English culture, to go see people, have friends around... it's in the back of your head if this is what you want, you know you can't have your family over.

    "Fingers crossed, but if he decides that it's just this season, then we've been very, very fortunate to have him here."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.