EPL

Premier League data dive: Top three fail to win as Brighton lodge comeback and Chelsea close on Champions League

By Sports Desk May 18, 2021

Chelsea edged towards Champions League football for next season, but Leicester City's fate is now out of their hands.

The Blues gained swift vengeance for their FA Cup final defeat, running out 2-1 winners over Leicester at Stamford Bridge, meaning the Foxes are now reliant on results elsewhere as Liverpool have a game in hand to play.

Champions Manchester City surrendered a two-goal lead against Brighton and Hove Albion, meanwhile, and Edinson Cavani's stunning goal was not enough for Manchester United. Elsewhere, Leeds United defeated Southampton.

We take a look at the best facts, courtesy of Opta, from across Tuesday's Premier League games.

Manchester United 1-1 Fulham: Cavani delights Old Trafford crowd, but Cottagers hit back

United have now dropped 10 points from winning positions at Old Trafford this season – their highest ever such total at home in a Premier League season – after Joe Bryan cancelled out Cavani's sensational opener.

Cavani became only the third United player over the age of 33 to reach 10 goals in a single Premier League season, after Teddy Sheringham in 2000-01 and Zlatan Ibrahimovic in 2016-17, with a sublime 36.4-yard effort in the first half.

The Uruguay forward is the 25th different United player to reach double figures in a Premier League campaign, but it was not enough for the Red Devils as relegated Fulham gained a point from a losing position at Old Trafford for only the second time in their history in the competition, previously doing so in February 2014.

United have conceded 28 home goals in the Premier League this season – they last conceded more at Old Trafford in a single league campaign back in 1962-63 (38) – with Bryan's first top-flight goal, in his 43rd such appearance, snatching a share of the spoils.

Southampton 0-2 Leeds United: Bielsa's charge continues

There could feasibly still be a European place for Marcelo Bielsa's Leeds, who are just three points behind seventh-placed West Ham heading into the final game of the season after a 2-0 win over Southampton.

It was Leeds' 10th league win on the road this season, their best effort in a top-flight campaign since 1973-74, when they won 12 on the way to winning the title.

Southampton are without a clean sheet in their past 10 home league games (15 goals conceded) after keeping shutouts in six of the eight before that.

Patrick Bamford netted his 16th goal of the season, which is the most by a player from a promoted side since Charlie Austin scored 18 for Queens Park Rangers in 2014-15, with Tyler Roberts' maiden Premier League goal rounding off the success.

Leeds are only the second team in Premier League history to finish a campaign without a single away draw (W10 L9), after Tottenham in 2018-19.

Brighton and Hove Albion 3-2 Manchester City: Seagulls seal famous comeback

Brighton picked up their first ever Premier League victory over City, and their first in the league since 1989, as they came from two goals down to win 3-2 at the Amex Stadium.

Graham Potter's side fell behind to Ilkay Gundogan's early goal – the 10th City have scored in the opening two minutes under Pep Guardiola in the Premier League – but were buoyed by Joao Cancelo's red card.

Timed at 09:03, Cancelo's dismissal was City's second-earliest from the start of a Premier League game, after Dedryck Boyata was sent off after 04:28 against Arsenal in October 2010.

This was just the second time in Premier League history a team starting the day top of the table has led by two goals and lost, after City themselves did so against Man Utd in April 2018.

Their possession figure in this match was just 37 per cent – the lowest recorded by a side managed by Guardiola in a single top-flight match.

Phil Foden has scored 15 goals in all competitions this season. Among players in the top five European leagues currently aged under 21, only Erling Haaland (39) has scored more, but his stunning effort was not enough.

Leandro Trossard and Adam Webster pegged City back, before Dan Burn's first Brighton goal, and his first in the league for any team since April 2018, completed the turnaround.

Chelsea 2-1 Leicester City: Tuchel's team clinch Champions League qualification

After their FA Cup disappointment, Chelsea took a step towards Champions League football, getting revenge in the process.

Jorginho's penalty sealed the win, with Kelechi Iheanacho's goal ultimately proving a consolation, though the Leicester striker is the first player in Premier League history to score a goal on all seven weekdays within a single season. 

No player has scored more Premier League goals in a single campaign with 100 per cent of them coming from the penalty spot than Jorginho's seven this season (level with James Milner in 2016-17). 

Leicester have won just two of their past 30 away league games against Chelsea (D11 L17), winning 1-0 in December 2018 and 2-0 in September 2000.

And the win for Thomas Tuchel's men means that City, United and Leicester, the top three teams starting the day, all failed to win. It is the first time it has happened since January 2017 (Arsenal, Tottenham, Chelsea).

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  • Salah wins Premier League Goal of the Season award for Man City stunner Salah wins Premier League Goal of the Season award for Man City stunner

    Mohamed Salah has won the Premier League's Goal of the Season award for his fine solo strike in Liverpool's 2-2 draw with eventual champions Manchester City.

    Salah beat several City defenders to put Jurgen Klopp's team 2-1 up at Anfield last October, before Kevin de Bruyne's equaliser for Pep Guardiola's side, who went on the win the title by a single point.

    Salah picked up the ball to the right of the visitors' area in the 76th minute before weaving his way past Joao Cancelo, Bernardo Silva and Aymeric Laporte, eventually firing a fierce right-footed finish across Ederson and into the far corner.

    Liverpool ended up second in the league after a dramatic final day and lost the Champions League final to Real Madrid, leaving them with only the EFL Cup and FA Cup triumphs to their name.

    While the Reds may have felt disappointed with that haul after a quadruple was on the cards, Salah has enjoyed an incredible individual campaign, scoring 31 goals and adding 15 assists in all competitions.

    The Egypt international's latest award is the latest in a succession of individual gongs, after he shared the Premier League Golden Boot with Tottenham's Son Heung-min (both 23 goals) and edged out team-mate Trent Alexander-Arnold to register the most assists in the league (13).

    Salah fended off nine other shortlisted goals, from the likes of Son, Cristiano Ronaldo, Mateo Kovacic, and Rodri, to scoop the award.

  • Merseyside Police: Exemplary behaviour from vast majority of Liverpool fans in Paris Merseyside Police: Exemplary behaviour from vast majority of Liverpool fans in Paris

    Merseyside Police say the "vast majority" of Liverpool fans behaved in an "exemplary manner" in Paris and the force will fully support an investigation into chaos ahead of the Champions League final.

    The kick-off for the showpiece at the Stade de France on Saturday was delayed by over half an hour due to concerning scenes outside the ground.

    UEFA put the delay down to turnstiles being blocked at the Liverpool end of the stadium by thousands of fans who had purchased fake tickets, while a message on the big screen inside the stadium stated that the game was unable to start on time due to "the late arrival of fans".

    Police used tear gas to try and disperse the crowds outside the stadium before a final that ended in a 1-0 victory for Real Madrid courtesy of Vinicius Junior's second-half goal.

    Liverpool officially requested a formal investigation into the causes of the "unacceptable issues".

    Governing body UEFA vowed to review these matters urgently, together with the French authorities and the French Football Federation.

    Merseyside Police on Sunday released a statement passing on the observations from their officers who were in attendance in Paris.

    Assistant chief constable Chris Green said: "We are aware of a number of reports relating to incidents both before and after last night's Champions League final at the Stade de France in Paris.

    "We are also aware that Liverpool FC have requested a formal investigation from UEFA and we will be linking in with the club, UEFA and the UK Football Policing Unit to pass on the observations of our officers who attended the game and took part in the pre-match meetings with the relevant authorities.

    "As with all European matches officers from Merseyside were deployed in France to work in an observatory and advisory capacity with local officers, and they reported that the vast majority of fans behaved in an exemplary manner, arriving at turnstiles early and queueing as directed and their observations will be passed on to the relevant authorities as part of the debrief for the game.

    "Many thousands of fans have travelled throughout the season to matches across Europe and we have worked closely with our supporter groups, the club and European hosts to ensure the matches passed without incident and fans were kept safe.

    "Our officers returning today will conduct a formal debrief to ensure that we can fully support any subsequent investigation following last night's game.

    "We know that people would have witnessed a lot of distressing scenes last night and we wish everyone returning home from Paris a safe journey."

  • 'Close the votes' – Henry crowns Benzema Ballon d'Or winner after Champions League win 'Close the votes' – Henry crowns Benzema Ballon d'Or winner after Champions League win

    Thierry Henry declared the race for the Ballon d'Or over after Karim Benzema lifted the Champions League with Real Madrid on Saturday.

    Benzema became just the second French captain to lift the trophy, after Didier Deschamps with Marseille in 1993, following a 1-0 win over Liverpool at the Stade de France.

    Carlo Ancelotti's side were largely indebted to the heroics of Thibaut Courtois after the goalkeeper produced nine saves – a Champions League final record since Opta began recording data in 2003-04.

    Vinicius Junior may have scored the winner in Paris but a 14th European Cup for Madrid, which is double the tally of second-best Milan (seven), came down to Benzema's efforts throughout the knockout stages.

    The 34-year-old netted a hat-trick against Paris Saint-Germain, four goals across two legs with Chelsea and three in the tie with Manchester City, including an extra-time penalty to win the semi-final.

    Benzema has been involved in 59 goals this season (45 goals, 15 assists) in all competitions, with only France team-mate Kylian Mbappe (60) bettering that total across Europe's top five leagues.

    And Arsenal great Henry believes Benzema ended the debate for who should win the Ballon d'Or this year with his success in Paris.

    "I just wanted to say something for France Football or whoever is voting. Close the votes, Benzema won it. Bye," Henry said to CBS Sports after the final.

    France coach Didier Deschamps will hope Benzema can lead Les Bleus to more World Cup glory in November, and he echoed Henry's sentiments by suggesting the Madrid talisman should win the award.

    "The answer is simple: yes. This new title and the sporting season achieved with his team, and what he was able to do, he was so decisive," Deschamps told Telefoot.

    "Obviously, he was already one of the favourites and he deserves this reward."

    The Ballon d'Or has been won by Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi in 13 of the past 14 seasons, barring when Benzema's team-mate Luka Modric was named the winner in 2018.

    While Benzema may believe his achievements on a personal and team level are enough to stave off Liverpool's Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah, the Madrid forward insisted he will be satisfied either way.

    "Obviously, I finished my season, now I will join up with the national team," Benzema told Canal Plus.

    "I think at club level I can't do better. We'll see what happens but in any case I'm proud of what I've achieved."

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