May 8, 2021

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Bale’s unsurpassed goal productivity, Mike Dean loves a red – Premier League weekend’s crooked fac


It was yet another Premier League weekend, with off-field cases dominating the headlines, with Manchester United’s home game against Liverpool being postponed as a result of anti-Glazer protests.

It also meant Pep Guardiola had to put Cava back on the ice for another week with Manchester City’s title parties on hold.

Nevertheless, there was still plenty to keep us busy with Mike Dean adding another to his red card for the campaign, and Gareth Bale proved he can cut it against the best with a hat trick against * checksed * relegated Sheffield United.

Using Opta data, we look at some of the quirky facts from recent Premier League matches …

Crystal Palace 0-2 Manchester City: Guardiola’s men unsurpassed going forward

That City and Guardiola are pretty good is nothing new, but in terms of how effective they are going forward, you may not know how much better than everyone else they really are.

During Saturday’s 2-0 win over Crystal Palace, which placed them within a win of the title, City reached 700 goals under Guardiola across all competitions.

To put it in context, Liverpool have in the same period scored the second best among English clubs – 543. Then there is Tottenham (532) and – perhaps surprisingly – Arsenal (522).

The only club among Europe’s top five leagues to have surpassed City during this time is Paris Saint-Germain (712), a club that spent around € 400 million on just two strikers back in 2017 and has – for the most part – dominated Ligue 1.

Of the 700, Sergio Aguero – who scored against Palace – has the most with 122, followed by Raheem Sterling (102) and Gabriel Jesus (81).

Chelsea 2-0 Fulham: Tuchel has the Blues on the back

Ever since Thomas Tuchel replaced Frank Lampard in January, Chelsea have been better almost across the board.

Probably their biggest improvement has been at the back, where the Blues suddenly look incredibly strong, even though Tuchel has the same pool of players to choose from as Lampard.

Under the former English international, they had conceded 23 goals in 19 Premier League matches this season, but they have only dropped eight out of 15 with Tuchel at the helm.

People may be interested in suggesting that it’s just luck, but the fact that the Blues’ xGA (expected goal against) is 7.8 shows that their eight concessions are okay.

Granted, Lampard’s xGA score of 18.4 was slightly lower than the 23 that came in, so they admitted perhaps to particularly notable finishing touches.

Nevertheless, xGA per. Games of the two coaches significantly different: Tuchel’s 0.5 is exactly half of Lampard’s 1.0, but why? What has changed?

One possible explanation is that Tuchel is causing Chelsea to press more intensely from the front, as shown in PPDA data. PPDA is the number of opposition passes allowed outside the pressing team’s own defensive third divided by the number of defensive actions from the pressing team outside their own defensive third.

Under Lampard, they had a PPDA of 11, while it is 9.4 under Tuchel, the lowest in the Premier League over that time. Chelsea now face fewer shots (7.4 per 90 minutes compared to 10.1), and that may be due to the greater off-the-ball intensity implemented by the German.

Newcastle United 0-2 Arsenal: Mike Dean loves a red

Few referees in the modern game have fascinated and furious fans like Mike Dean, who – due to lack of a better sentence – absolutely box office.

From his confident facial expressions and body language to his honestly astonishing manners and showmanship: when Dean is in charge of a fight, you are almost guaranteed a talk in one or another description.

But above all, it is his eagerness to pull out the red card that is the most notable aspect of his officers.

He was the man in the middle when Arsenal beat Newcastle 2-0 on Sunday and said his opinion right at the end when he showed Fabian Schar the red card for an ugly outing on Gabriel Martinelli.

It stretched his record as by far the most red card-loving referee in Premier League history. It was his 112. 45 more than any other official.

It was remarkable that it was the eighth he has only shown this season, which is at least double the next toughest referee in the Premier League, with Graham Scott and Peter Bankes next on the list with four each.

Tottenham 4-0 Sheffield United: Bale makes a statement

Bale was in inspiring form on Sunday when Tottenham smashed Sheffield United 4-0, with the Wales international scoring a hat-trick – his first in a league competition since January 2016, when he put Deportivo La Coruna in the sword.

Admittedly, making a treble against the magazines may not be as impressive as making it against … well, any other Premier League side for that matter.

But his overall performance combined with his “I play well when I’m happy” comments full-time seemed almost directed at former Spurs boss Jose Mourinho, who had Bale in and out of the team much of the season.

These three goals led him to 11 goal-scoring appearances (nine scored and two assisted) in 16 Premier League matches this season, averaging one every 66 minutes.

It is the best such record in the league this period. The second-best (among players with more than two involvements) is his teammate Harry Kane (34 involvements, one every 80 minutes).

Bale’s future is uncertain for the time being, but such a record must have club officials considering holding him for another year.