London News & Search
A 90-minute match but only 47 minutes and 40 seconds of actual football.
That was the scenario for fans at Turf Moor on Saturday, as Burnley and West Brom played out a game in which the ball was in play for only 160 seconds more than it was out of play.
That figure is the lowest in the league so far this season.
And it is also four minutes and 53 seconds less football than was seen on average in 2016-17 at Crystal Palace, the club whose fans saw less actual action (52 minutes and 33 seconds) than any other team.
This figure comes two months after football’s lawmakers revealed they were considering scrapping 45-minute halves, instead introducing two periods of 30 minutes, during which the clock would be stopped every time the ball went out of play.
The proposal, the International Football Association Board said, was one of a number of options to deter football’s “negativities” – essentially it is a way of clamping down on time-wasting.
The idea prompted plenty of debate. Gianfranco Zola said the change would be “a good one”, while fellow former Chelsea player Pat Nevin added: “When they suggest an hour of playing time, they have obviously got it right.
“People might initially think: ‘Only an hour?’ But, in actual fact, it is exactly the amount of time that I would expect the ball to be in play anyway.”
So would the rule have benefitted supporters at Premier League matches so far this season? In a word, yes.
Of 19 top-flight games across the opening two weekends of the campaign, the ball has been in play for more than an hour in only two of them.
And no game has featured more than 61 minutes of play.
Food for thought for fans and lawmakers alike.
Rooney gives Shearer some company
It was a landmark weekend for Wayne Rooney as he joined Alan Shearer in the 200 Premier League goals club with his strike against Manchester City on Monday.
Here’s how and when he has scored them.
Rooney has some way to go to beat former Newcastle and Blackburn striker Shearer’s record of 260 goals, although his goal at Etihad Stadium was his fifth in his past eight Premier League games.
If he can keep that up then who knows…
If at first you don’t succeed…
… try, try again?
Well doing just that doesn’t appear to be yielding results in the Premier League so far this season.
Harry Kane must have some sort of pox on him that prevents him from scoring in August, and it’s hard not to sympathise as everything conspired to deny him a goal against Chelsea on Sunday.
He’s attempted 14 shots so far this term – no player has managed more – all without reward.
Liverpool’s dodgy defence – myth or reality?
“Obviously my decision not to read the British press was one of the best I ever made in my life.”
Judging by the above quote, Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp was perhaps getting a little tired of the criticism of his side’s defending before they beat Crystal Palace 1-0 on Saturday.
It was a welcome clean sheet after the Reds conceded three in their Premier League opener against Watford and then let in a late goal in the midweek 2-1 Champions League play-off win at Hoffenheim. But is their defence really a problem?
On the face of it, the statistics suggest it is. No team has made more errors that have led to goals than Liverpool since 2012, while the Reds have not managed to concede fewer than 40 goals a season since 2009-10.
A concern, no doubt, for a side with title ambitions. Only once in the past seven seasons has the Premier League been won by a side that has shipped 40 goals or more – Manchester United in 2012-13 (43).
However, things appear to be going in the right direction under Klopp. Liverpool conceded eight fewer goals last season than they did in the German’s first at Anfield, while Saturday’s result against Palace was a fifth clean sheet from their past six Premier League games, as many as in the previous 21.
The run of four clean sheets in Liverpool’s final four games of last season came with Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren in the side. When they are able to start together, Liverpool are generally rock solid at the back – of the 18 league games they started last season, the Reds lost just once and kept eight clean sheets.
Pass, pass, pass… goal kick!
Possession football. Two words that will have Arsenal fans shuddering.
The Gunners often come out on top of the possession statistics but their game at Stoke on Saturday perhaps took the biscuit. With 77.3%, Arsene Wenger’s side ‘enjoyed’ their highest possession figure in a single Premier League match since the 2003-04 season – yet lost 1-0.
|Top six wins by sides with least possession since 2003-04|
|20 August 2016||Burnley||Liverpool||19.62|
|2 May 2015||West Bromwich Albion||Manchester United||20.29|
|4 December 2013||Aston Villa||Southampton||21.20|
|10 December 2016||Leicester City||Manchester City||22.08|
|6 April 2012||Newcastle United||Swansea City||22.57|
|19 August 2017||Stoke City||Arsenal||22.74|
It was a similar story for Tottenham. Against Chelsea in their first Premier League home game at Wembley, they threw everything (possibly including the kitchen sink) at the opposition goal, dominating the possession statistics with 68% of the ball – but ended up on the wrong side of a 2-1 result.
Clearly Chelsea were taking a leaf out of Burnley’s books. Last weekend, the Clarets had just 38% possession compared with 62% for the Blues, but came away with the victory.
|Expected goals (xG) for this weekend’s Premier League games|
|Result||Home xG||Away xG|
|Bournemouth 0-2 Watford||1.00||2.39|
|Burnley 0-1 West Brom||1.28||0.91|
|Leicester 2-0 Brighton||2.01||0.17|
|Liverpool 1-0 Crystal Palace||2.55||0.72|
|Southampton 3-2 West Ham||2.08||1.96|
|Stoke 1-0 Arsenal||0.67||1.48|
|Swansea 0-4 Man Utd||0.40||3.05|
|Tottenham 1-2 Chelsea||0.73||0.74|
|Huddersfield 1-0 Newcastle||0.26||0.75|
|Man City 1-1 Everton||1.10||0.56|
The fox in the box is back
Javier Hernandez did what Javier Hernandez does best on Saturday – score from inside the box.
The former Manchester United striker returned to English football by joining West Ham in the summer and scored in the Premier League for the first time since April 2014 with a brace against Southampton. Just like his strike against Newcastle 1,232 days ago, both of those goals came from within 18 yards.
In fact, not one of Hernandez’s 39 goals in the Premier League have been scored from outside the area, making him one of the most lethal close-range finishers to have played in England’s top flight.
|Best 100% records of total goals in box|
|Player||Goals in the box|
Hernandez’s failure to score from outside of the box is not for the want of trying.
Against Southampton, the Mexico international had three shots on goal. Two from inside the box which ended up in the back of the net, the other from long range which, you’ve guessed it, went wide.
The fox in the box is very much in style. Of the 50 goals scored in the Premier League so far this season, only four have come from outside the area.
Young guns going for it
Life just continues to get better and better for Huddersfield fans.
The Terriers, back in the big time after a 45-year absence, made it two wins from two in the Premier League by beating Newcastle 1-0 on Sunday.
It means they are now only the third team in Premier League history to win their first two games following promotion. Bolton, in 2001-02, went to finish 16th and earn another stint in the top flight – but Hull City last season would go on to be relegated. A sign that the season is a marathon and not a sprint.
But perhaps youthful exuberance will see David Wagner’s men continue to upset the odds. Huddersfield have named two of the four youngest starting XIs in the Premier League so far this season – and average age of 25 years and 143 days at Crystal Palace and 25 years 331 days against Newcastle.
London News & Search