EPL

Premier League data dive: Aguero's penalty woe, Liverpool maintain top-four push

By Sports Desk May 09, 2021

Manchester City will have to wait to get their hands on a third Premier League title in four years after they fell to a 2-1 home defeat against Chelsea on Saturday.

Sergio Aguero in particular will want to forget the game in a hurry after a failed Panenka attempt, which he later apologised for on social media.

Liverpool kept their first home clean sheet in nine top-flight games as they overcame Southampton 2-0, while Leeds United cruised past Tottenham 3-1 at Elland Road.

Elsewhere in Yorkshire, Crystal Palace inflicted yet more misery on Sheffield United, running out 2-0 winners at Bramall Lane.

Stats Perform News uses Opta data to take a look at the best facts from the four games.


Manchester City 1-2 Chelsea: Aguer-woe for leaders as Blues hit back

City suffered more penalty woe as they missed the chance to be crowned Premier League champions.

It had started well for the hosts, however, with Raheem Sterling giving them the lead with his 10th Premier League goal of the campaign. The England international has now reached that total in four successive seasons, with only Aguero (nine) hitting double figures more regularly in the competition for City.

Aguero should have doubled their advantage before the interval, but his woeful Panenka attempt from the spot was comfortably gathered by Edouard Mendy. City have now failed to score more penalties (four) than any other side in the Premier League this season, while they are the first to miss at least four spot-kicks in consecutive top-flight seasons since Tottenham in 1993-94 and 1994-95.

Hakim Ziyech made the most of that reprieve, levelling with his first Premier League goal in 18 appearances since scoring against Burnley in October.

There was worse to come for Pep Guardiola, who has now lost four home league games this season – twice as many as he had lost in any other campaign in his managerial career.

At 91 minutes and 54 seconds, Marcos Alonso's scuffed finish was the latest winning goal scored by the visitors in a Premier League game at City since Paul Scholes for Manchester United in April 2010 (92:41).

Liverpool 2-0 Southampton: Mane helps sink former employers

Liverpool kept their hopes of qualifying for the Champions League alive with victory at Anfield in the late kick-off.

Sadio Mane opened the scoring in the first half with his second goal in three Premier League games, having found the net just once in his previous 14 outings in the competition before that.

He was teed up by Mohamed Salah, marking the first time the pair have combined for a top-flight goal this season.

Thiago Alcantara added a second in the 90th minute to become the 140th player to score a Premier League goal for Liverpool, though the first to get off the mark for the Reds from outside the box since Divock Origi in December 2015.

Southampton, meanwhile, have now earned just 11 points from their 18 Premier League games in 2021, fewer than any other side this calendar year.

Leeds United 3-1 Tottenham: VAR bars Kane as Spurs suffer

Leeds' superb record against the Premier League's 'big six' continued.

Marcelo Bielsa's side became the first to remain unbeaten at home in the top flight against each of Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Spurs in a season since West Ham in 2015-16, and only the third newly promoted team to do so, after Ipswich Town in 2000-01 and Birmingham City in 2009-10.

Stuart Dallas broke the deadlock to become the first Northern Ireland player to score as many as eight Premier League goals in a season since Chris Brunt in 2008-09.

Son Heung-min equalised for the visitors, but Patrick Bamford restored Leeds' advantage to move onto 22 Premier League goal involvements this term (15 goals, seven assists). Harry Kane is the only Englishman to have been involved in more (34).

Rodrigo then added a third late on as Spurs suffered a fifth defeat in 10 top-flight away games in 2021 – more than they experienced in the entirety of 2020.

Sheffield United 0-2 Crystal Palace: Benteke helps Eagles deal with blunt Blades

After a run of three consecutive defeats, Palace could not have wished for more accommodating opponents than the already relegated Blades.

Christian Benteke opened the scoring after just 66 seconds, registering the club’s earliest Premier League goal since James McArthur's strike against Everton in November 2017 (51 seconds).

Benteke has now scored more goals this season (seven in 27 appearances) than he managed in his previous three Premier League campaigns combined (six in 71).

Eberechi Eze continued his impressive season with a second late on. Only Wilfried Zaha (12) has been directly involved in more Premier League goals for Palace this season than Eze (four goals, five assists), while no Eagles player has laid on more goals than the former Queens Park Rangers man.

The result meant United have failed to score in 20 matches within a single league season for the first time in their history, while in terms of the Premier League, only Derby County in 2007-08 (22), Leeds United in 1996-97 (21) and Huddersfield Town in 2017-18 (21) have failed to score in more games in a single campaign.

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    Ben White limped off the field shortly after half-time of Arsenal's 2-0 EFL Cup victory over Leeds United, but it was illness rather than injury that forced his early departure. 

    Mikel Arteta said the only reason the centre-back started Tuesday was because a bug circulating through the Arsenal dressing room left Pablo Mari unable to go. 

    The same issue compelled the manager to remove White in the 55th minute, but Arteta said White should be fit for Saturday's Premier League fixture against Leicester City. 

    "[Mari] was going to start and he couldn’t – he had a bug, something happened around here," Arteta told Sky Sports. "White wasn’t feeling great in the second half so we decided to take him off

    Arteta added that White had been dealing with the same illness the previous few days but did what he could. 

    White's departure proved fortuitous for Arsenal, as Calum Chambers came on to replace him and headed home the first goal of the game within seconds. 

    Asked if he had ever had a substitute pay off that quickly, Arteta said "I don't think so." 

    "I’m so happy in particular for Calum," he added. "He totally deserved it. It was a great moment because it helped us to win the game. He’s someone who deserves the best for who he is as a person and how he behaves as a professional."

     

  • Tuchel hails Saul's performance against Southampton as a 'huge step in the right direction' Tuchel hails Saul's performance against Southampton as a 'huge step in the right direction'

    Thomas Tuchel was delighted with the all-round display of Saul Niguez as the Chelsea midfielder impressed in Tuesday's EFL Cup tie with Southampton.

    Chelsea required a penalty shoot-out for the second round running in the competition, as Reece James' cool spot-kick ultimately sealed the Blues' progression to the last eight.

    James' penalty sealed a 4-3 shoot-out win after Theo Walcott and Will Smallbone failed to convert their efforts following a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge.

    The five-time champions have now won all three of their matches against Southampton in the competition. The last such meeting was back in 1997-98, with Chelsea going on to lift the trophy that season.

    Saul had played only once – against Malmo in the Champions League last week – since featuring against Aston Villa in the previous round, yet the Atletico Madrid loanee, who was taken off at half-time in his sole Premier League appearance, completed the full game.

    He went close to opening the scoring with an excellent header six minutes in, forcing Fraser Forster into a top-class save.

    Having seen another header saved just before the hour, Saul then had two attempts from the edge of the area in quick succession, with a crisp strike flashing just wide before Forster again denied the Spain international, diving to his right to keep out a shot that was dipping in.

    Saul finished on four efforts in total, with a joint game-high three on target, and along with midfield partner Mateo Kovacic, the 26-year-old went in for a game-leading six tackles, completing three, though he did concede four fouls.

    It was a performance that left Tuchel highly impressed.

    "[He had] a good match, a huge step in the right direction for him," Tuchel told reporters.

    "I am happy. We thought maybe he would be struggling with the intensity at the 70th minute but he got better and better, had chances and shots.

    "We thought let's keep him and give him the minutes. It was a good step for him."

    Tuchel explained that Chelsea's options were limited after three players who could have started – Cesar Azpilicueta, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Andreas Christensen – were unable to train ahead of the match.

    "Azpi injured his shoulder, let's see," Tuchel said. "We hope he will be fit, he is a tough guy. Maybe he will be fit Saturday [for the game against Newcastle United]. Ruben has a pain in his hip, in his joint. Andreas had tooth surgery and should be fine to train on Thursday."

    Chelsea had 23 shots in total, with 14 on target – Forster pulling off 13 saves in total and only beaten by Kai Havertz's header. Southampton, who equalised through Che Adams, had plenty of chances themselves, however, with Kepa Arrizabalaga making six stops.

    "It was an intense match of football, nice to watch for the spectators," Tuchel added. "It was an open fight, an intense match. We did a good shootout, a lot of quality. I liked the energy today, it was a good game."

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    Eddie Nketiah said he will continue to knuckle down at Arsenal to force his way into Mikel Arteta's Premier League plans.

    The 22-year-old striker scored Arsenal's second in a 2-0 win over Leeds United in the EFL Cup fourth round on Tuesday, which took his tally to seven goals in eight appearances in the competition.

    Nketiah, who had three shots with two on target in the match, has yet to feature in the league this season for the Gunners and is eager to press his claims with head coach Arteta.

    "It is always nice to play, it’s obviously been a while," he told Sky Sports.

    "I’ve been working hard, waiting for this opportunity. I was confident and ready and it’s always nice to score and help your team.

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    Nketiah said all of Arsenal's fringe players have to take their chance whenever they get them, especially given their recent upturn in form, which has seen them go eight games unbeaten in all competitions.

    "That’s what we’re trying to do," Nketiah added.

    "The manager picks the starting line-up but we have to work our hardest in training, and when we get the opportunities, we perform like we did today. I think everyone should be proud of themselves."

    Arsenal's opening goal was scored by Calum Chambers who headed home just 24 seconds after he had come on as a substitute following an injury to Ben White.

    The defender sprinted to celebrate with the Arsenal bench and one person in Arteta's backroom staff in particular after the ball was deemed to have crossed the line by goal-line technology.

    "Our set piece coach Nico told me, 'you’re going to score from your first touch', so that’s why I went running over to him. It was a nice moment," Chambers said.

    "I was pretty confident it went over, I saw the ball over the line so I was just waiting for the referee to give it. Luckily he did.

    "It's always going to be tough against Leeds. They're a very unique team in the way that they play so you have to be on it, you have to be at it and we knew that going into the game. 

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    Chambers claimed Arsenal's players are determined to go as far as they can in the EFL Cup, which they last won in 1993, even though it is down the list of priorities for other clubs.

    "Every competition is very important for Arsenal," he said, with the draw for the quarter-finals on Saturday.

    "We want to be competing for silverware, so as I said it's good for players like us who want to prove a point and get back in the team and when we do, we need to take it. Every competition is important to us."

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