Why Conte should be fearing for his job

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A bad weekend for the Chelsea manager but a good weekend for a former Blues boss

No-one saw it coming.

Chelsea, the reigning Premier League champions, losing at home to Burnley (that’s Burnley, the team that won once away in the whole of 2016-17) on the opening weekend of the Premier League season.

It is, of course, very early days. But should Antonio Conte be worried?

History suggests he should.

It’s been eight years since a side staged a successful defence of the Premier League title, Manchester United under Sir Alex Ferguson in 2008-09.

And going back even further, since 2006-07 the Scot is the only manager to win the title and still be in his job 12 months later.

Carlo Ancelotti (Chelsea, 2009-10), Roberto Mancini (Manchester City, 2011-12), Manuel Pellegrini (Manchester City, 2013-14), Jose Mourinho (Chelsea, 2014-15) and Claudio Ranieri (Leicester, 2015-16) have all failed to last the year after winning English top flight’s biggest prize.

And then there’s David Moyes, who took over a title-winning side from the retiring Ferguson but failed to make it to the end of his first season in charge.

So unless your surname is Ferguson, it is pretty clear that even Premier League success is no guarantee of job security.

Might be worth Conte considering a trip to the Deed Poll office…

And if that’s not enough to worry Chelsea’s Italian manager, what about these stats?

Chelsea are only the second reigning Premier League champions to lose the opening game of the following campaign (after Leicester last season).

They are also the first title holders to concede three goals in the opening game of the next season, and the first side to pick up two red cards on the opening day of a Premier League season.

Worrying times.

Top tip – don’t pick Kane in Fantasy Football

At least, not in August.

There’s probably not a single person in your office who did not have Harry Kane in their Fantasy Football team, and why not? The Tottenham striker was the Premier League’s top scorer last season with 29 goals.

However, there’s a strange statistic about the deadly finisher – he has not scored a single goal in August in 11 Premier League appearances. Not one.

With six efforts against Newcastle, no-one had more shots on goal this weekend than Kane. The ball just would not go in the net.

Spend that Fantasy Football cash elsewhere…

A good night’s sleep for Wagner

Conte might have had a nightmare on Saturday but one manager certain to have slept soundly was David Wagner.

The Huddersfield boss led the Premier League new boys to a stunning 3-0 win at Crystal Palace, a result which meant the Terriers spent a night as the leaders of England’s top flight for the first time since 18 August 1970.

Only a last-minute goal by Paul Pogba for Manchester United against the Hammers on Sunday denied the Terriers top spot heading into the second round of fixtures.

But we’re sure Huddersfield fans will get over that disappointment when they read this statistic – of the 14 previous teams to win their Premier League opener following promotion, only four have gone on to be relegated.

Saturday’s Premier League action ended with Huddersfield top of the Premier League on goal difference
The Terriers last topped the top flight of English football for a night 47 years ago, in August 1970

Expected goals – what did it tell us?

If you watched Match of the Day on Saturday then you might have been scratching your head at the addition of a new statistic on the end-of-match stats – expected goals.

The metric is designed to assess every chance and determine how many goals a team should score in a game. Still confused? Head here to read more.

This weekend marked the first time “expected goals” had been rolled out for the Premier League, so what did it tell us?

What stands out from the table below is that Burnley and Huddersfield were clinical. Very clinical.

They both scored three goals in their respective games, despite their xG value being low. In fact, they are the only two teams to win their games despite having a lower xG value than their opponent.

What does that mean? Well, if your cup is half full it bodes well as they were clinical when they had half-chances.

But if you’re of a slightly more pessimistic persuasion, it also suggests they conceded the kind of chances that, ordinarily, other teams will capitalise on.

It also shows that Southampton should have beaten Swansea comfortably but wasteful finishing let them down.

Expected goals (xG) for this weekend’s Premier League games
Result Home xG Away xG
Arsenal 4-3 Leicester City 2.58 1.5
Watford 3-3 Liverpool 2.32 2.53
Chelsea 2-3 Burnley 1.53 0.64
Crystal Palace 0-3 Huddersfield 1.06 0.49
Everton 1-0 Stoke 0.59 0.35
Southampton 0-0 Swansea 2.02 0.3
West Brom 1-0 Bournemouth 1.28 0.47
Brighton 0-2 Man City 0.3 1.84
Newcastle 0-2 Tottenham 0.73 2.36
Man Utd 4-0 West Ham 2.0 0.45

Debuts to remember…

Speaking of taking your chances, Huddersfield’s record signing – Steve Mounie – had a debut that will live long in his memory.

The Benin international, signed from Montpellier in the summer for a club-record £12m, scored two goals from his first two shots in English football. Talk about a way to make an impression.

There was also double delight for Romelu Lukaku on his Manchester United debut. The Belgium international made an instant impression at Old Trafford by getting both goals in Sunday’s 2-0 win against West Ham. Lukaku now has 11 goals against the Hammers, more than against any other English side.

Arsenal’s Alexandre Lacazette, Manchester United’s Romelu Lukaku and Huddersfield’s Steve Mounie all scored on their debuts this weekend

Is it rare to score more than one goal on your Premier League debut? Forty-three players have bagged a double in their first appearance but only one has managed a hat-trick – Fabrizio Ravanelli for Middlesbrough in 1996.

The first debutant to score this weekend was Alexandre Lacazette. Arsenal’s record signing did so with his first shot, and his second touch, as a Premier League player; just one minute and 34 seconds into Friday’s 4-3 win at Leicester.

A debut to forget…

Unfortunately for Frank de Boer, his Premier League debut was not one he’ll want to remember for long.

The former Netherlands international was appointed Crystal Palace boss in the summer but the Eagles’ surprise defeat by Huddersfield at Selhurst Park makes it one of the worst home debuts for a manager in Premier League history.

Alan Smith will have sympathy, although probably not much. His Palace home debut in August 1994 ended with a 6-1 loss to Liverpool.

Biggest loss in debut Premier League home game (managers)
Date Team Opponent Score Manager
20-08-94 Crystal Palace Liverpool 1-6 Alan Smith
06-12-97 Tottenham Chelsea 1-6 Christian Gross
14-01-17 Swansea Arsenal 0-4 Paul Clement
18-08-01 Middlesbrough Arsenal 0-4 Steve McClaren
19-08-92 Man Utd Everton 0-3 Alex Ferguson
20-10-04 West Brom Chelsea 1-4 Frank Burrows
12-08-17 Crystal Palace Huddersfield 0-3 Frank de Boer
22-05-11 West Ham West Ham 0-3 Kevin Keen
02-04-01 Southampton Ipswich 0-3 Stuart Gray

Long wait over for true blue Rooney

Wayne Rooney’s goal (left) on Saturday was his first for Everton since scoring against Leeds (right) 13 years ago

Everton boss Ronald Koeman said Wayne Rooney was “still one of the best in his position” after he scored the only goal in his team’s win over Stoke. Rooney himself said it was a “special moment” full of relief and emotion”.

It also set a new Premier League record for the longest gap between goals for the same team.

His last league strike for the club he supported as a boy was in a 1-1 draw against Leeds on 13 April 2004. A few months later he was starring for England at Euro 2004 – before moving to Manchester United shortly before the transfer window closed.

His winner on Saturday came 4,869 days after his goal at Elland Road.

His header also means that he has now been involved in 300 Premier League goals – scoring 199 of them with a further 101 assists. Only Alan Shearer has been involved in more – with 324.

No opening-day blues for Red Devils

There was no Rooney at Old Trafford on Sunday, of course, but that did not affect Manchester United’s incredible opening-day pedigree.

The Red Devils’ 4-0 thumping of West Ham was their 17th round-one win in 26 Premier League seasons. Conversely, no top-flight team has lost more season openers than the Hammers (11).

The victory was also Jose Mourinho’s biggest as Manchester United manager and his biggest home win in the Premier League since Chelsea beat Arsenal 6-0 in March 2014.

Jose Mourinho has won nine league games against West Ham; more than he has against any other opponent in his managerial career

Seeing red

It’s a bit of a familiar sight for Newcastle fans – seeing one of their players sent off.

Jonjo Shelvey’s second-half dismissal against Tottenham was the fourth time a Magpies player has been sent off in their Premier League opener. Only Arsenal (six) and Charlton (five) have had more opening-day red cards.

In total there were three reds shown at the weekend, with the remaining two coming at Stamford Bridge as Chelsea’s Gary Cahill and Cesc Fabregas were sent off.

That’s quite a lot to kick the season off with, but not the most in Premier League history. The most red cards on an opening weekend is four, an unwanted record set in the 1994-95 and 2003-04 seasons.

Vive la France

From Eric Cantona to Florian Lejeune – France is the second most represented nation in the Premier League

Back when the Premier League was launched in 1992, Eric Cantona was the first, and only, French player involved.

Since then, 199 players have made the short trip across the Channel to play in English football’s top flight, with Newcastle’s Florian Lejeune becoming the latest on Sunday.

The defender was also the 27th Frenchman to play for the Magpies in the Premier League.

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