EPL

Spot-kicks for Sterling and a Lloris landmark - the Premier League weekend's quirky facts

By Sports Desk February 08, 2021

There was more penalty drama for Manchester City as the Premier League leaders visited reigning champions Liverpool on Sunday.

Gundogan skied his spot-kick at an empty Anfield, although it would not prove a costly miss as City ran out 4-1 winners to extend their advantage at the summit.

Pep Guardiola will no doubt be keen to correct a remarkable failing in his outstanding side's game, however.

City's record from 12 yards features in our quirky facts from the weekend's top-flight action.
 

Sterling's penchant for pens wasted at City

As Gundogan, who later scored twice, blazed over in front of the Kop, it meant City have now accounted for four of the past six Premier League spot-kicks to miss the target - including three against Liverpool (also Riyad Mahrez in October 2018 and Kevin De Bruyne in November 2020).

City are five points clear at the top of the table with a game in hand but could be in an even more commanding position if they were more clinical from the spot.

In Raheem Sterling, City boast the player who has won more penalties (21) than any other in Premier League history, the latest seeing Fabinho trip the former Liverpool forward.

Sterling is unlikely to ease his side's penalty woes, however, having scored just one of his four attempts in the competition.

Only two players in Premier League history have a worse record after taking at least four penalties, with Mike Newell and Juninho Paulista each missing all their four attempts.

Nick Barmby, like Sterling, netted one of four. No player in the competition has ever taken five or more penalties and converted fewer than two.
 

Lloris longevity leading Ronaldo and Messi

Tottenham captain Hugo Lloris made his 500th top-flight appearance in the 2-0 win over West Brom, keeping his 173rd clean sheet.

Since his Ligue 1 bow for Nice in March 2006, no player has appeared more often in Europe's top five leagues than the World Cup-winning France goalkeeper.

Second on the list over that span is another goalkeeper still going strong in Inter's Samir Handanovic on 493 games, coincidentally also registering 173 clean sheets.

And the two biggest names of all sit third and fourth, Cristiano Ronaldo on 484 appearances just ahead of Lionel Messi's 480.

Karim Benzema (463) makes the top 10, while David Silva (448), Sergio Ramos (446) and Sergio Aguero (443) are all in the top 20.
 

Saints star not quite the free-kick king

James Ward-Prowse's latest free-kick goal came in a losing effort for Southampton at Newcastle United, but he nudged further up the all-time Premier League standings.

The spectacular effort at St James' Park was the England international's 10th direct free-kick strike in the competition, becoming the ninth player to that mark.

Ward-Prowse has scored with 13.9 per cent of his 72 direct free-kick shots, while 37 per cent of his 27 Premier League goals have come via this method.

Only Laurent Robert (11 of 23 goals for 47.8 per cent) and Sebastian Larsson (11 of 26 goals for 42.3 per cent) netted a greater share of their goals in the competition direct from set-pieces.

Ward-Prowse still has some way to go to match David Beckham's record of 20 free-kick goals, however. Thierry Henry (12), Gianfranco Zola (12) and Ronaldo (11), along with Robert and Larsson, are the others still above the Southampton star.

His tally of four this term trails only Beckham in 2000-01 and Robert the following season (both five) over a single campaign.

Related items

  • Tebas hopes Barcelona can complete Lewandowski signing Tebas hopes Barcelona can complete Lewandowski signing

    LaLiga president Javier Tebas says he hopes Barcelona are able to complete the signing of wantaway Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski.

    With just one year remaining on his contract with the Bundesliga champions, Lewandowski has repeatedly expressed his desire to join Barca, saying "something has died" within him and insisting his time in Munich is "over".

    While Bayern remain steadfast in their desire to keep the striker, who scored 50 goals and added six assists in all competitions last season, Barcelona have made no secret of their interest in the 33-year-old.

    Their attempts to sign him, however, appear to be subject to raising funds from player sales and salary cuts, with Tebas saying last month the Blaugrana must part with prized assets to complete the deal, declaring "they know what they have to do: sell assets".

    Barca president Joan Laporta reacted angrily to that suggestion, accusing Tebas of wishing to harm the club's interests, but LaLiga's chief now appears more open to the prospect of the Poland international moving to Camp Nou.

    Speaking at an event in Madrid, Tebas said: "I hope Lewandowski plays for Barcelona and has a good campaign.

     

    "I hope that the [economic] levers Laporta has activated will allow the player to make it to Barcelona, because he is a legend of Bayern Munich and European football.

    "If they execute what they approved in the assemblies, he will be able to play for Barcelona.

    "There is interest and if they execute those levers then they will be able to sign him."

    Among players in the top five European leagues, only Kylian Mbappe (60) and Karim Benzema (59) recorded more direct goal involvements than Lewandowski (56) last term, while no player to score at least 15 goals averaged fewer minutes per strike than the the Pole's 80.1 minutes.

  • Watford cancel Qatar friendly following complaints from supporters Watford cancel Qatar friendly following complaints from supporters

    Watford have cancelled a proposed friendly against the Qatar national side following complaints from supporter groups concerned about the country's human rights record.

    The Championship side, who were relegated from the Premier League in May, had pencilled in a friendly against Qatar during a pre-season training camp in Austria next week.

    However, news of the match was greeted with anger by fan groups the Proud Hornets and Women of Watford FC.

    The groups said they were "disappointed" by the decision due to Qatar's condemned views on homosexuality, human rights and women's rights.

    Qatar has also been criticised over its treatment of migrant workers building stadiums for the 2022 World Cup.

    In a statement released on Monday, Watford confirmed the friendly against Qatar will no longer be going ahead.

    "The game was never finalised and it became abundantly clear this was a game not to play; as such, the schedule was revised," a club spokesman said.

    A joint statement by Proud Hornets and Women of Watford added: "We are delighted that Watford FC has listened to our concerns and cancelled the game with Qatar.

    "We look forward to continuing our discussions with the club on all equality, diversity and inclusion issues."

    Qatar will stage the World Cup from November 21 to December 18 this year.

  • Di Maria and Juventus agreeing 'final details' as Bianconeri move nears Di Maria and Juventus agreeing 'final details' as Bianconeri move nears

    Angel Di Maria and Juventus are agreeing the "final details" of his contract as the Argentina international nears a move to Turin, according to the forward's agent.

    Di Maria joined Paris Saint-Germain from Manchester United in 2015 but will leave the French capital when his terms expire later this week.

    Barcelona were said to be interested in, but reports suggest the 34-year-old will sign a one-year deal with Juve with the option of an additional one-season extension.

    New Rosario Central head coach Carlos Tevez also expressed his interest in bringing Di Maria back to his former club, with the attacker said to want to return to Argentina after the World Cup in Qatar.

    That is said to have delayed the negotiations between Di Maria and Juve, but his agent Lisandro Pirosanto insists a move will soon be confirmed.

    "We are talking about the final details and we are waiting for Juventus to give us the okay on some things," Pirosanto said, as quoted by La Stampa.

    Massimiliano Allegri will acquire an experienced campaigner should Di Maria arrive as expected as Juve look to compete with Milan, Inter and Napoli at the Serie A summit.

    Di Maria appeared 295 times for PSG, scoring 92 goals and assisting 112 times in all competitions.

    He played 31 games in his final season in Paris and managed 13 goal involvements (five goals, eight assists), a tally bettered only by Neymar (21), Lionel Messi (25) and Kylian Mbappe (60) among PSG players.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.