EPL

Leaks at Old Trafford and managers bite the dust – the Premier League weekend's quirky facts

By Sports Desk November 08, 2021

The weekend's fixtures in the Premier League felt like they could be pivotal for so many teams, especially near the top of the table.

It proved to be a mixed weekend for the title chasers with Manchester City beating Manchester United with ease, Chelsea throwing away two points at home to Burnley, and Liverpool losing their unbeaten start to the season against an in-form West Ham.

Deeper impacts were felt at the other end of the table as both Aston Villa and Norwich City felt the need to sack their bosses, despite the latter actually winning their first game of the season.

Find all that and more as Stats Perform looks at the quirky Opta facts behind the weekend's action.

 

United soft and unstable

The Premier League's favourite Jekyll and Hyde team, Manchester United, were at it again on Saturday as they 'entertained' neighbours Manchester City.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men had dusted themselves down following their last home game against Liverpool where they were dispatched 5-0 to win well at Tottenham, and then rescue a vital late point at Atalanta in the Champions League. But the 2-0 defeat to City was another reminder of how far they are off the title contenders.

To emphasise the need for improvement at Old Trafford, Eric Bailly's own goal to open the scoring on Saturday meant that United are now without a clean sheet in their last 14 home games in all competitions. The only longer run in the club's history without a home clean sheet was a 21-game stretch between April 1958 and March 1959.

In the Premier League era, only under David Moyes (1.18) have United conceded more goals per game than under Solskjaer (1.13). 

Solskjaer may point to the fact that the away team has won nine of the last 12 meetings between United and City in all competitions (D1 L2), including each of the three games in 2021. Perhaps it would all have been fine for the Red Devils had Saturday's game taken place at the Etihad?

Villa hate Fridays

Aston Villa were a team on the rise and Dean Smith was doing a great job at his boyhood club, until they were not, and he was not.

The Villains began the season well enough, with notable victories at home to Everton and away at Manchester United. Then, before you knew it, they had lost five league games in a row, leading to Smith being relieved of his duties on Sunday.

Could it have been the day of the week's fault, though? Heading into the game, Aston Villa had won none of their previous 13 away top-flight matches played on a Friday (D3 L10), with their last win coming in April 1950, a 4-1 victory at Charlton Athletic.

Unlucky for some? It certainly was for Smith and Villa, with the record now at 14 games.

Newcastle cannot buy a win

Excitement continues at Newcastle United right now as the club eagerly anticipates the January transfer window, with an opportunity to finally flex their financial muscle.

However, that remains almost two months away and the Magpies could be in a bit of trouble by then as their 1-1 draw at Brighton on Saturday meant that they are now 11 games into the season and still waiting for their first league win, the only team yet to register a victory.

It is now their longest winless run from the beginning of a league campaign, and most concerning of all to the new owners at St James' Park will be that each of the last four Premier League sides to endure a similar start to a top-flight season have gone on to be relegated. Then again, none of those sides have the wealth Newcastle do now. Then again, is Eddie Howe the right manager to turn their form around? 

Only Norwich City (26) have conceded more goals than Newcastle (24) this season, while the Magpies' opponents have had a league-high 21.6 expected goals. Howe's Bournemouth side conceded at least 61 goals in each of their five seasons in the top flight. 

Norwich's unconventional response to first victory

Unlike Newcastle, the Canaries finally won their first league game of the season on Saturday, and then sacked head coach Daniel Farke immediately after.

The 2-1 success at Brentford was Farke's 49th and final Premier League game in charge at Carrow Road. His 12.2 win percentage is the second-worst of any coach to preside over 40 or more matches in the competition. Only John Gorman at Swindon Town in 1993-94 achieved a worse win percentage (11.9).

It seems the decision was taken before the game, with Norwich bottom of the Premier League table having lost eight of their first ten games since promotion back to the top flight.

One bright spot other than the three points though was the fact that it was the first time they have scored more than one goal in a game in 28 attempts in a Premier League match.

Hope for whoever comes in to replace Farke, at least.

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    Restricted to just four starts in all competitions this season, Martial has very much been on the periphery at United in what is his seventh campaign at the club.

    However, there are no shortage of suitors for Martial and it looks increasingly likely that the 26-year-old will spend the remainder of the campaign away from Old Trafford.


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    Sevilla had a loan bid for Martial rejected earlier this month, but Goal reports that the issues have been ironed out and the out-of-favour forward is now set to undergo a medical.

    Juventus are said to have been among a number of other European sides in the running to sign Martial, but Sevilla were always his preferred destination.

    The LaLiga club are expected to pay a loan fee for the former Monaco man, potentially as much as €5.96million (£5m), while the player himself will accept a cut in wages.


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    Newcastle United have made a fresh approach for Man Utd winger Jesse Lingard, according to The Telegraph. The Magpies are happy to pay a £6m loan fee.

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    Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has probably played his last game at Arsenal because the club never learnt "how to forgive", according to former Gunners striker Emmanuel Adebayor. 

    Aubameyang was stripped of the Arsenal captaincy in December for a disciplinary breach, which reportedly related to him returning late from a trip abroad. 

    It was by no means Aubameyang's first indiscretion, having also last year been reminded of his responsibilities after it was claimed he broke COVID-19 guidelines to get a tattoo. 

    The punishment did not stop at having the armband taken off him, though, with Mikel Arteta excluding Aubameyang from the squad for the rest of the month. 

    His exclusion led to Gabon asking for him to be released early for Africa Cup of Nations duty and Arsenal granted that request, only for him to return to his club without playing a single competitive game in Cameroon as he required medical follow-ups after contracting COVID-19. 

    Adebayor knows what it is like to have a fractious relationship with Arsenal and the club's fans, having hit out at both following his 2009 move to Manchester City. Two months later he scored against his former club and ran the length of the pitch to goad Gunners supporters, a celebration that has gone down in Premier League folklore. 

    Such have been his experiences with Arsenal, he seemingly sees no way back for Aubameyang. 

    He told reporters: "I know he's definitely going to go through a lot because that's Arsenal for you. You can't do whatever you do. 

    "They never learn or they never knew how to forgive. So, I know he will go through a lot. 

    "But he's a strong player, he's a good player, he's a fantastic player. I wish him all the best. 

    "I sent him a message already because we just want him to bounce back. 

    "He's our African brother and we want him to keep representing Africa the way he was doing it before the problem. 

    "This is what I know because it happened to me also. Not in the same way, but a way back? At Arsenal, I would be surprised. 

    "But as I'm telling you, he's a great player so let's see how he ends up." 

    Aubameyang has apparently rejected a move to Saudi Arabia, with the 32-year-old said to be eager to stay in Europe. 

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