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Did you know? Nine statistical gems to whet your appetite for the Premier League's return


Did you know? Nine statistical gems to whet your appetite for the Premier League's return

Jokes about David Moyes' record against the Big Four looking like a town in north Wales are not unfounded.

A HUGE week in store for the sort of people who like to share the Mitchell & Webb Football, Football, Football clip because the 29th Premier League is coming over the brow of the hill faster than a fully oiled Adama Traore. Much of the narrative is yet to reveal itself but there are plenty of things to keep an eye on and watch out for, so here are nine of them:

Surge Aguero

Lazio won’t care but it’s arguable that David Silva didn’t quite get the send-off he deserved when he left Manchester City this summer. There seems little doubt, though, that Sergio Aguero won’t be lauded if he departs the club at the end of his contract in 2021. Already the owner of the most hat-tricks in Premier League history, he needs 20 goals to reach 200 in 10 years at the club which would show neatness and consistency in equal measure. Only Alan Shearer and Wayne Rooney have ever cracked the 200-goal margin and they both played for considerably more than 10 seasons. Aguero’s also only six left footed goals away from becoming the Premier League’s top scoring player with his weaker foot so it really is up for grabs. If this does turn out to be Aguero’s final season at the Etihad, do make sure to drink it in.

Sweet 16

The possible arrival of Lionel Messi to the Premier League would bring a player who has steadily been scoring more from long range as his career has reached its latter years. That puts him at odds with an English top-flight that has relished tucking into scientific learnings in the past decade and adjusting its play accordingly. There’s no better example than the effect Expected Goals has had on shooting. The average distance of a shot in the division has reduced every season from almost 18 metres five seasons ago to just 16.3m last season. Could 2020-21 be the first campaign to see it dip under 16? We’ve come a long way from the long range heyday of the 2000s when house was deep, defences were deeper and five players hit more than 100 shots from outside the box in a single season (Frank Lampard, Cristiano Ronaldo twice, Jay Jay Okocha and Thierry Henry). Life’s not a goal of the month competition you know.

That’s What I Do

Keeping his side up is the minimum requirement David Moyes has as manager of West Ham United but to make that experience more fun he could try winning a game away at one of the artists formerly known as the Big Four (Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool & Manchester United). The fortunes of those four clubs have waxed and waned since Moyes first took a team to one of their grounds in 2002 but at no point as manager of Everton, Manchester United, Sunderland or West Ham (in two spells) has Moyes won away at one of those teams. The 59-game run, if you need it spelled out is: LLLDLLLLDDDLLLLDLLDLDDDLLLLDLDLDDLDDLLLLLDLDDLLLDLLLLLDLLLD

Trent assists

Trent Alexander-Arnold has assisted 25 Premier League goals from right-back in the past two seasons and has thus become the best player in the world in his position. That rate of creativity may not be sustainable for his entire career but let’s say he only manages another 10 in 2020-21, he’ll still end the season with 36 (he also got a single assist in 2017-18, if you were doing some adding up) which is as many as Joe Cole recorded in his entire Premier League career. Eight this season will see him draw level with Cristiano Ronaldo and Steve Guppy while just a single assist will see him match Premier League winning captain Tim Sherwood. Chase your dreams.

Hang Tough

Could 2020-21 finally be the season when Turf Moor’s long-term contract with the phrase “it’s a tough place to go™” comes to an end? Any big team facing an away game at Burnley has to contend with the concept that they’ll probably lose, if not the actual reality. The Clarets have won just one of their last 23 home games against the Big Six and have three home wins in 30 against those sides under Sean Dyche. “It’s a tough place to go, 10 per cent of the time” more like.

Triple Crown

VAR wiped out a few goals last season but a global pandemic helped put marginal offsides into some sort of perspective. Even so, on a few occasions we came close to seeing the first ever hat-trick from a Premier League defender, with Virgil van Dijk, Florian Lejeune, Yerry Mina, Antonio Rudiger and Marcos Alonso all scoring twice in matches. Some will try and convince you that Steve Watson’s hat-trick for Everton against Leeds in 2003 should count but he was drearily ensconced in midfield that day. It means the last top-flight defender to score three goals in a game is Gary Gillespie for Liverpool against Birmingham in 1986, a feat that came just five days after Alvin Martin had done the same for West Ham against Newcastle. Martin’s three goals even came against three different goalkeepers, something I am confident to announce will not be repeated in 2020-21.

Thrash mettle

Contemporary football seems to get more random glitch scorelines than older eras did. From Bayern 8-2 Barcelona to Southampton 0-9 Leicester to Liverpool 5-5 Arsenal, last season certainly threw up a few. Leicester’s failure to get to double figures against Saints when they had clear chances to remains a regret not just for the Foxes but for number enthusiasts worldwide. It may not surprise some people that the last team to score 10 goals in an English league game were Manchester City, but it was a different sort of City, because it was in November 1987. The Huddersfield goalkeeper that day was Brian Cox and managed to concede hat-tricks to three separate players. Things can only get better? Yeah pretty much.

Mike Dean, Producer

Ask yourself not how long Mike Dean can continue but how long we can continue when there is no more Mike Dean. His lockdown beard not only cheered a nation but made us think about what it means to disconnect from society in a crisis and Dean heads into 2020-21 as the only current referee to also take charge of Premier League games in 2000-01. If you want to taste the sheer longevity, consider this: the most recent top-flight season not to contain a Mike Dean red card began in the 1990s.

Epilogue

Football, and sport generally, showed its value in the summer restart by giving people something else to think about and a box fresh season that will see fans slowly start to return to stadiums is something to celebrate. The start of 2020 now seems like a lifetime ago and it is haunting to think that there will have been some people who saw that Connor Wickham had scored a Premier League goal on January 1 and then wondered how much stranger the year could get.

 

 

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