A statistical look at the opening Premier League weekend
The first weekend of the Barclays Premier League was one of surprises and overreactions. After one game it looks as though Chelsea and Manchester City will take part in a two horse race for the title. Swansea, Fulham and West Brom will battle it out for the remaining Champions League slots. Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal are deep in a relegation battle and their respective managers will all be looking for new jobs in the coming weeks. This is exactly what being a football fan is all about. Even the media got in on the act. I heard about Liverpool's disasterous start, Arsenal will never recover from losing Robin Van Persie. I now can't wait to hear what will be said about Manchester United losing to Everton. In no other business would such kneejerk reactions be so common.
I had a look at a few stats from the weekends games and there were a few in particular that stood out. Team A had 16 shots on goal and completed 465 of 523 passes (89%), Team B had 6 shots on goal and completed 389 of 456 passes (85%), Team C had 14 shots and completed 381 of 433 passes (88%) and Team D had 23 shots on goal and completed 637 of 702 passes (91%). From those stats Team D were the best, Team A, Team C and finally the very disappointing Team B. In reality, Team D (Arsenal) and Team A (Liverpool) are clubs in crisis while Team C (Swansea) enjoyed a 5-0 victory and the disappointing Team B were in fact Chelsea who can only be stopped by Manchester City in the race for the title according to some sources.
I listened to a radio show and for the hour it took me to drive home, they spent the vast majority of it talking about how poor Liverpool had been and asking were they a club in crisis? From what I saw West Brom scored an excellent goal in the first half to take the lead, Liverpool striker, Luis Suarez was extremely wasteful with several good opportunities, Agger got sent off and from then on the team with 11 men on the field playing against 10 were always going to look superior. Credit to West Brom, they took advantage of the extra man and scored two more goals to give a flattering look to the scoreline. Had Luis Suarez taken one of his chances it could have been a totally different game. The Uruguayan could have scored five but instead had a day to forget. Suarez had a fantastic goalscoring record at Ajax, netting 111 goals in 159 games. People will say that the standard is lower in Holland which is true but it's not as though he's not getting the chances. Suarez has been guilty in his Liverpool career of missing a lot of chances. The nets are the same size in Englad as they were in Holland so I expect Suarez to rediscover his scoring form in the coming weeks.
If Suarez had taken his chances perhaps the headlines and discussions would of been of a different nature. Another striker who may be going through the same emotions is Arsenals, Olivier Giroud. Giroud had a fantastic chance in the last ten minutes of Saturdays game at the Emirates. He made a great run to get into the end of Santi Cazorla's through ball but seemed to snatch at the ball and struck the shot wide. Had that gone in Giroud would have been an instant hero, nobody would care about Robin Van Persie and Wenger would be hailed as a genius for replacing RVP with the "new Thierry Henry." As it was the chance was missed and Arsenal are in crisis, Wenger is feeling the heat and it is absolutely necesssary that Arsenal sign a world class striker before the end of the transfer window. These are the margins we are dealing with.
In last nights game between Everton and Manchester United everyone was talking about RVP's debut but rather than it be the Dutch striker who made the headlines it was Belgian star, Marouane Fellaini who grabbed the limelight. United were suffering from injuries in the centre of defence and had to line up with the unorthodox pairing of Nemanja Vidic and Michael Carick in the heart of their defence. Everton took advantage of this and got Fellaini to attack the area Carrick was defending. By the end of the game Fellaini had gone for six headers in the Manchester United box and had won five of them including the game winning goal. It was a magnificent result for Everton who are normally slow starters in the league. If Everton can build on this result in their upcoming fixtures then a top 6 finish wouldn't be out of the question.
No review of the weeks Premier League action would be complete without mentioning Premier League new boys, Mladen Petric of Fulham and Michu of Swansea. Both grabbed two debut goals to help their new teams to 5-0 opening day victories. Both looked very impressive in their new surroundings and will be worth keeping an eye on in the weeks to come.
Goal Of The Week
3) Steve Davis (Southampton v Man City) - A smart finish from Davis to finish off a fantastic break from Southampton.
2) Michu (Swansea v QPR) - Michu's 2nd was a sublime finish, curling into the top corner from the edge of the box after a superb run from Wayne Routledge.
1) Zoltan Gera (West Brom v Liverpool) - A superb strike from the Hungarian who blasted into the top corner from 25 yards.
Man Of The Week
Michu (Swansea) - The new boy played a part in four of Swanseas five goals against QPR. He scored two, set up Scott Sinclair's goal and even blocked a cross which fell to Wayne Routledge who put through Nathan Dyer for his first and Swansea's third goal of the game. It is the stuff dream debuts are made of.
Moan Of The Week
Santi Cazorla (Arsenal) - Through no fault of his own Arsenal's new Spanish midfielder was the cause of much of my annoyance in the first weekend of the new season. Can someone please send out a memo to all commentators and football fans to let them know his name is Cazorla and not Car-Zola?