Premier League stats review: Mourinho’s miserable Spurs, shell-shocked Sheffield United and Brighton finally get what they deserve

FootballCritic crunches the key numbers from another thrilling weekend of top-flight action.

Published: 15 March 2021 - 1.02pm

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Arsenal 2-1 Tottenham

Tottenham must be the most frustrating team in the Premier League for their fans to watch. Jose Mourinho has finally been convinced to play Gareth Bale, Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son together - but his afternoon started badly and got worse.

Son’s early injury led to him being replaced by Erik Lamela, who provided two of Spurs’ three shots on target, including a wondrous rabona goal. But he was then sent off in the second half and with Harry Kane clearly carrying an injury despite Mourinho’s insistence he was fit, Tottenham were utterly toothless throughout. 

Mourinho’s men recorded 0.7 xG total, but 0.55 of that was tied up in a Davinson Sanchez blocked shot in injury time, which shows the distinct lack of creativity. It must be perplexing to watch superb attacking players who are potentially being stifled by the overadjustment in negativity from their manager. 

And as for Jose, he has lost nine league matches this season - the joint-most of his career in a single campaign along with his Chelsea team in 15-16. From dreams of a title challenge in November, to now sitting six points off the top four. It looks like this will only end one way. Maybe the Europa League can save him?

Southampton 1-2 Brighton

Brighton’s ability to blow up expected goals models in all the wrong ways has been one of the stats stories of the season, but that pleasantly went in their favour away at Southampton. 

Brighton remain the team in the Premier League underperforming their expected goals the most, scoring 29 goals on an expected return of just over 42. But in this match they were able to overperform their xG quite considerably, scoring two goals on an expected return of 0.9. Lewis Dunk’s first half header carried 0.01 chance of going in - someone up there has indeed cut them a break. 

It will be refreshing to see for Brighton fans and proves that luck does turn - eventually - though they aren’t out of the woods yet at the bottom. This was their first win in six and next up they have a massive clash with Newcastle which will have a major role to play in deciding who goes down. 

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Manchester United 1-0 West Ham

Manchester United ground out the win to close the gap at the top of the table back to 14 points, but this was attritional stuff once again from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side. 

It’s clear by now that this team prefers underdog status, as they proved in winning at Manchester City last week. But Luke Shaw’s goal in that game is the only one scored by a United player in open play in their last four outings. It took a Craig Dawson own goal to settle this one and while United did rack up 1.7 xG that total is largely derived from an accumulation of low-tariff opportunities versus creating anything clear cut. 

And that’s United’s problem. When pressured into breaking teams down, they looked slow and pedestrian, yet against City they had everything that was missing here; pace, incision and a goal threat.

Will United fans accept this to ensure a second-placed finish and set up for next season? Probably. But Mourinho was hounded out for less and it remains to be seen whether this type of football will be tolerated once crowds return. 

Leicester 5-0 Sheffield United

Which team had the most passes, most completed passes, most shots, most shots on target, most touches and created the most big chances this weekend? It certainly wasn’t Sheffield United, that’s for sure. 

It’s difficult to grade Leicester’s utter dominance here because of the ineptitude of Sheffield United’s performance. With manager Chris Wilder departing, the players looked shell-shocked and once the floodgates opened, they were fortunate the Foxes stuck to just five. 

The 4.55 xG on their five goals was utterly deserved and Kelechi Iheanacho ran riot, scoring a brilliant hat-trick with two of those ably assisted by strike partner Jamie Vardy. Iheanacho’s treble moved him onto six goals for the season in just 724 minutes played and eight starts.

It seemed that Brendan Rodgers’ switch to 3-5-2 as a result of missing playmakers suits the Nigerian massively, and his five in three matches makes it difficult for Rodgers to even think about leaving him out. Next up - Manchester  United in the FA Cup.