With another weekend of Premier League action been and gone, Dan Bright takes a look at some of the key numbers from the clashes in the run up to the festive season, that included big wins for Arsenal, Chelsea and Watford whilst Leicester’s victory ensured they occupy first place at Christmas this year.
Yaya Toure scored Man City’s only goal of the game against Arsenal on Monday night as they lost ground in the title race, succumbing to a 2-1 defeat at the Emirates. Toure’s exquisite finish, though, broke City’s goal drought away from home in the league as it was their first goal in 415 minutes of play. Astonishingly, their last away league goal came almost three months ago in the 4-1 defeat to Spurs at White Hart Lane, with Kevin de Bruyne scoring their consolation that day.
However, it’s not through a lack of trying; City have had the highest number of shots per game (16.1) away from home but have only managed to convert 6.2% of their chances, which is the lowest in the Premier League. If City want to seriously challenge for the title this season they’re going to have to become more clinical in front of goal away from home and will be hoping the return of star striker Sergio Aguero will add the finishing touch they’ve been missing recently.
Ozil, to Giroud… Goal!
Arsenal’s win against Man City on Monday night highlighted a flourishing partnership developing at the Emirates. Both Giroud’s success in front of goal and Ozil’s assist-making ability have been highlighted in the media recently but the stats suggest they are both thriving off each other’s form as ‘Ozil to Giroud’ is the most potent combination in the league at the moment, along with ‘Deulofeu to Lukaku’ at Everton.
Both partnerships have led to six goals from the strikers so far this term and underlines the understanding they share in the attacking third. Teams facing Arsenal and Everton in the coming weeks would do well to break down these partnerships by cutting off the main supply to the powerful target men and limiting their goalscoring opportunities.
Jamie Vardy (15) and Riyad Mahrez (13) have now scored more goals between them (28) than 15 of the 20 Premier League teams this season. Mahrez added two more to his season’s tally over the weekend as he coolly slotted home a couple of penalties in Leicester’s impressive victory over in-form Everton at Goodison Park.
The two Leicester stars have been in devastating form so far this season and will play a key role in Leicester’s title dreams in the second half of the season.
Crystal Palace secured their second win on the bounce last weekend with a stunning last-minute winner against Stoke but it was Connor Wickham’s penalty that caught our attention at The Britannia. Wickham lashed home from the spot to give the Eagles the lead just before half time but incredibly, for a team lying in 6th position, this was the first goal scored by a recognised striker at the south London club in the league this season.
Palace have relied upon goals from midfield and defence to get them this far but will be hoping Wickham’s first goal for the club will give him the confidence to push on and contribute more in front of goal.
Man United’s 2-1 home defeat to Norwich City means the Red Devils have now failed to win in their last six games, their worst run of form in 17 years.
This has put tremendous pressure on manager Louis van Gaal, as the Dutch veteran looks to turn things around in a bid to save his job, and with Jose Mourinho now available after parting company with Chelsea there will be even more speculation surrounding the manager’s role at Old Trafford.
Villa picked up a crucial point in their 1-1 draw with Newcastle at a rain-drenched St James’ Park last weekend but extended their run without a win in the league to a worrying 16 games.
Villa have only picked up four points since their opening day victory at Bournemouth and will need a miraculous turnaround in the second half of the season if they want any hope of surviving for another year in the world’s most lucrative league, having already drifted ten points from safety.
Dan Bright, Pundit Arena