PL Stories - Ep 18Nov 30
Premier League stats review: Identikit centre-forward Calvert-Lewin, Arsenal's shot-shy attack and why Tottenham keep smash-and-grabbing against Manchester City
FootballCritic.com provides a statistical review of the big talking points from another sensational weekend of top-flight action.
The 2020/21 Premier League season continues to thrill with another set of huge clashes in Matchday 9 which saw twists and turns at both ends of the table.
From undermanned Liverpool delivering a dominant display against Leicester, to Jose Mourinho's Tottenham getting the better of Manchester City and Pep Guardiola, top-flight action really has been unmissable so far this season.
Why can’t City score at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium? It’s a bizarre record which spans all three times they have visited Spurs’ new ground, where they’ve played three, lost three, conceded five, and scored none.
City’s expected goals in those three matches is a total of 6.5, meaning on average they would be expected to score 6.5 goals from the chances they created, yet they haven’t found the net.
A total of 45 shots have been smashed in Hugo Lloris’ direction, 12 from Kevin De Bruyne alone, with no success. And yet a Tottenham smash-and-grab felt entirely normal and almost justified. Jose Mourinho did Jose Mourinho things, and Pep Guardiola simply had no answer. Indeed in those three games Spurs achieved just 1.6 xG, yet scored five times.
Pep Guardiola has signed a new contract until 2023, but the same endemic defensive - and offensive - issues are blighting a team that doesn’t look anywhere near as potent without David Silva and Sergio Aguero. Are City now in crisis?
A shock result was predicted here with Liverpool missing so many first-team players, but in the end it was the type of convincing performance that should have other title contenders worried.
Jurgen Klopp may be concerned by his lack of depth, but imagine when his key men are back? Auxiliary unsung hero James Milner was simply outstanding in place of Trent Alexander-Arnold, while Fabinho strolled through another match as if he’d played at centre-back all his life.
Roberto Firmino racked up an astonishing 2.4 xG all on his own, the highest of any single player this season, and he eventually found the net despite missing two glaring chances.
In total, Liverpool amassed 3.8 xG, their highest in a match for 11 months in what was a hugely impressive evening against an in-form side. And Diogo Jota, scoring for his fourth Anfield game in a row, has slotted in so seamlessly it makes his £40m switch look like the most obvious transfer they could have made.
After Nicolas Pepe’s red card, the Gunners did well to hold on for a point, with Leeds hitting 25 shots and striking the woodwork three times. But the bluntness in attack of Mikel Arteta’s side is becoming a real concern.
Arsenal are level with Newcastle on expected goals so far, with 10 - not exactly the type of team you want to be compared with. Their chance conversion is at 19% - 16th in the league, while their 77 shots attempted is also 16th.
Nine goals in nine league matches is miserable from a team whose last strike from open play came against Sheffield United on October 4 - nearly seven weeks ago.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s form since signing his new contract has fallen off a cliff. Playing from the left, Arsenal attack twice as often on that side than through the middle or the left, yet only 8% of their moves lead to a shot. Arteta looks like he doesn’t know how to solve this problem at the moment.
Only one forward in Europe’s top five leagues has more goals this season than Dominic Calvert-Lewin. He might not be in Robert Lewandowski territory just yet but he is fast becoming the identikit centre-forward, and it’s interesting that the two other forwards who join him on 10 for the season - Erling Haaland and Zlatan Ibrahimovic - are similarly excellent at leading the line and holding the play up.
DCL can thank the service he’s getting from Lucas Digne, James and the returning Richarlison, but his all-round performance was, once again, eye-catching.
Fulham are not a good team, but their back line was comprehensively bullied and at this rate it could be tough for England not to start him at the forthcoming Euros. Three shots, three on target, two goals - and another just chalked off for offside. This is supreme efficiency by the most improved player in the league.