EPL

Premier League data dive: Arsenal's red card milestone, Conte's Italian job and Lanzini's London pride

By Sports Desk January 01, 2022

Manchester City picked up from where they left off in 2021 by battling to a late 2-1 win over Arsenal, extending their lead at the Premier League summit.

A Riyad Mahrez penalty and a last-gasp strike from Rodri cancelled out Bukayo Saka's first-half opener after Gabriel Magalhaes received a needless red card for the Gunners in an action-packed game – the first top-flight match of 2022.

City's 11th league win in a row means they end New Year's Day with an 11-point advantage at the top, a tally bettered by only two clubs in the competition's history on January 1 – Manchester United in 1993-94 and City themselves in 2017-18 (both 12 points).

There were also victories for Tottenham and West Ham, the London pair seeing off Watford and Crystal Palace respectively to remain in firm contention for a top-four finish.

Here, Stats Perform unpacks the pick of Opta data from Saturday's action. 

Arsenal 1-2 Manchester City: Leaders recover to stretch winning run against Gunners

Saka's opening goal against City was only the second the Citizens have conceded in the first half of a Premier League game this season, and the first such goal they have shipped on their travels since May.

That was the England international's sixth league goal of the season and was the 36th goal scored by a player aged 21 or under for Arsenal in the English top flight since Mikel Arteta's first game on Boxing Day 2019 – eight more than any other team.

Mahrez converted a contentiously awarded penalty shortly before the hour mark at Emirates Stadium, the Algeria international scoring for a fifth game running in all competitions, and Gabriel's second yellow card – 78 seconds after his first – swung the game in City's favour.

That was Arsenal's 100th red card in the Premier League era, making them the first side to reach that milestone, with Everton (99), Newcastle United (90) and Chelsea (82) next on the list.

Rodri completed the turnaround with City's latest winning goal in a league game since May 2018 (92:28) as the Citizens made it 10 successive top-flight victories over the Gunners, an opponent Pep Guardiola has yet to lose against in the league in 12 encounters.

Watford 0-1 Tottenham: Sanchez stings Hornets in late Spurs win

Tottenham also left it late to overcome Watford and make it eight Premier League games without defeat under Antonio Conte, extending the longest unbeaten start by a Spurs boss in league competition.

Davinson Sanchez made the breakthrough with 95 minutes and 45 seconds played, with that the latest winning goal Spurs have scored in the top flight since Opta started recording such data from 2006-07.

Watford dug deep but could not quite hold on for a valuable point, meaning they have now lost more Premier League matches (nine) since Claudio Ranieri took charge in October than any other side in the division.

Sanchez's goal was his second in five Premier League matches for Spurs, which is more than he had netted in his first 108 in the competition (one), with the defender heading in from a Son Heung-min free-kick.

Watford boss Ranieri has now lost each of his last five Premier League games against Italian managers, whereas compatriot Conte has never lost against a fellow Italian in the competition in six meetings, winning all but one of those.

Crystal Palace 2-3 West Ham: Hammers survive Olise-inspired scare

Palace fell just short of pulling off a remarkable comeback as they lost a home league match on New Year's Day for the first time in their history, with this their 14th such match.

Michail Antonio's close-range finish and a Manuel Lanzini double gave West Ham a commanding three-goal lead, the latter having now scored 52 per cent of his 25 Premier League goals in London derbies (13) – the highest percentage of any player to have scored at least 20 times in the competition.

Michael Olise made a huge difference from the bench by setting up Odsonne Edouard and then scoring a second for Palace late on, making him the first Eagles player to score and assist as a substitute in the Premier League.

But the visitors held on to ensure boss David Moyes made it six straight away league wins against Palace as a manager, defeating a different coach on each occasion during that perfect run (Alan Smith, Iain Dowie, Tony Pulis, Sam Allardyce, Roy Hodgson and now Patrick Vieira).

Related items

  • Rumour Has It: Calvert-Lewin eyes move up Premier League Rumour Has It: Calvert-Lewin eyes move up Premier League

    Dominic Calvert-Lewin is reportedly finished at Everton – and he may have a chance to put himself in the shop window when his side play Arsenal in the last game of the Premier League season.

    After 13 goals in Everton's 2019-20 Premier League campaign, and 16 in the 2020-21 season, the 25-year-old struggled with injuries this time around, missing three months with a fractured toe and scoring five goals in 16 league appearances.

    Coming through Sheffield United's youth academy before moving to Everton in 2016, it appears unlikely Calvert-Lewin's next move will take him out of the country, with two Premier League clubs said to be leading the race.

     

    TOP STORY – CALVERT-LEWIN SET FOR ARSENAL AUDITION

    According to Football Insider, Calvert-Lewin expects Sunday's fixture to be his last appearance for the Toffees, and Arsenal are named as one of the two Premier League sides interested in making a move for the English striker.

    Newcastle United are the other interested party, although Calvert-Lewin is said to have communicated to friends that his preferred landing spot would be Arsenal.

    With the Arsenal futures of Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah up in the air, the Gunners have reportedly set aside £45million to be used on a young striker in the upcoming transfer window.

     

    ROUND-UP

    – Marca reports that Real Madrid have interest in Manchester City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan if he leaves in the next transfer window, although Pep Guardiola wants to keep the German international at the club.

    Newcastle are ruling out a move for Manchester United's Jesse Lingard, unless he lowers his wage requests from £150,000 per week, according to ESPN.

    – Sport reports that Barcelona have made centre-back Samuel Umtiti available to Arsenal, with a loan move more likely.

    – Eurosport claims Paul Pogba will choose between Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus for his next club.

    – According to football.london, 20-year-old Nottingham Forest winger Brennan Johnson has plenty of Premier League admirers, with Tottenham named as an interested party.

  • Giving Inter and Liverpool hope: When title races get dramatic Giving Inter and Liverpool hope: When title races get dramatic

    Title races are the best, aren't they?

    Months of games, so many ups and downs, goals scored and conceded, and yet it can all still come down to the finest margins in the closing minutes of the last day.

    To paraphrase Homer Simpson, the winner is showered with praise; the loser is taunted and booed until my throat is sore.

    With one matchday left, the title races in both Serie A and the Premier League are going to the final 90 minutes. Milan and Manchester City have their destinies in their own hands, but Inter and Liverpool are looking to respectively pounce on any stumble.

    There is the potential for exceptional drama in Italy and England, but can the Nerazzurri and the Reds have much hope of pulling off the improbable and wrestling the respective title from their rivals?

    Stats Perform has taken a look at some of the more dramatic title races from recent history that show anything is possible.

    Every goal matters

    The Eredivisie provided about as tense a finish as you could imagine in 2006-07, with PSV Eindhoven and Ajax unsurprisingly the main characters.

    A strong title defence from Ronald Koeman's PSV began with 18 wins from 21 games, and just one defeat.

    However, losing four and drawing four of their next 12 games coupled with Ajax winning five of six leading into the final day meant they were neck and neck on points heading into the last game.

    Despite being behind on goal difference, a tremendous effort from PSV saw them pip their rivals after an emphatic 5-1 win over Vitesse, while Ajax could only muster a 2-0 victory over Willem II, losing the title by a single goal.

    When goals made no difference in LaLiga

    In the same season, Real Madrid made a disappointing start in LaLiga, drawing their first game 0-0 with Villarreal at home before going on to lose seven of their first 21 league matches.

    After drawing four games in a row between mid-February and mid-March, title hopes seemed to be over for Fabio Capello's men, only for nine wins in 11 games to send them into the final day level on points with Barcelona.

    Barca thrashed Gimnastic 5-1 away from home to do their bit, but Madrid eased to a 3-1 win against Real Mallorca at the Santiago Bernabeu.

    The Blaugrana had a significantly better goal difference of +45 compared to Madrid's +26, but that mattered not as the tie-breaker came down to head-to-head record, which was in Los Blancos' favour having beaten Barca 2-0 at home and drawn 3-3 at Camp Nou.

    "Agueroooooo!"

    Following Sheikh Mansour's takeover of Manchester City in 2008, the club had grown year-on-year and by the 2011-12 season, felt they were ready to mount a challenge at the top of the Premier League.

    Roberto Mancini's side started well enough, winning 11 of their first 12 games, but three defeats across December and January dented hopes, while two losses and two draws in a five-game period in March and April all but killed them.

    That was until five wins in a row coincided with Manchester United losing to Wigan Athletic and dramatically drawing 4-4 with Everton at Old Trafford.

    City beating United on matchday 36 swung things in the Sky Blues' favour, and they went into the last day needing only a win against lowly QPR to seal it.

    In typical fashion, they made it hard work for themselves, finding themselves 2-1 down heading towards the 90th minute. United had won 1-0 at Sunderland, which meant City needed two goals or they would have lost the title in agonising fashion.

    An Edin Dzeko header made it 2-2, before Mario Balotelli slid in Sergio Aguero for one of the most famous goals in English football history, giving City their first top-flight title since 1969.

    The ultimate last day head-to-head

    It was like something out of a Hollywood film. All the previous nine LaLiga titles had been won by Clasico giants Barcelona and Real Madrid, but in 2013-14, Atletico Madrid believed they could spoil the party.

    Barca were the pacesetters, winning 13 of their first 14 games, while Real Madrid were struggling after losing to both Atletico and Barca.

    Diego Simeone led his team to an incredible 16 wins from their first 18 games, but a 0-0 draw with Barca made it look like it would be the tightest of run-ins.

    Indeed it was, with Real coming back to the party after an 18-match unbeaten run, though back-to-back defeats to Barca and Sevilla stopped them in their tracks.

    Gerardo Martino's Barca were wobbling too, losing three out of seven games between February and March, and then drawing with Getafe and Elche to give Atletico their chance on the final day.

    As if it could not have been more dramatic, Atletico went into the last game three points clear, but needing a point to clinch the title, away at Barcelona.

    Alexis Sanchez opened the scoring for the Blaugrana, but Diego Godin's header handed the crown to Atletico.

    When six were not on the beach

    You may not be as familiar with this final day, but it stands as one of the most remarkable in the history of the game.

    Never mind two or three, there were six clubs that could still claim the Ligue 2 title going into the final round of matches in 2016-17.

    Strasbourg, Amiens, Troyes, Lens, Brest and Nimes all in with a shout with one game remaining, all separated by three points at most.

    Technically, the drama was not really with the winner of the title, but the other automatic promotion spot that was up for grabs, with Strasbourg able to hold on to top spot following a nervy 2-1 win against Bourg-Peronnas, but it was a 96th-minute strike from Emmanuel Bourgaud sealing a 2-1 win at Stade Reims for Amiens that provided unbelievable drama, taking the aptly named Unicorns from sixth to second.

    I did not think I would be advising Inter and Liverpool to go into their games with an "Amiens mindset", but there we are.

  • Alaba will play in the Champions League final, Ancelotti confirms Alaba will play in the Champions League final, Ancelotti confirms

    Carlo Ancelotti revealed David Alaba will "100 per cent" feature for Real Madrid in the Champions League final next weekend. 

    Alaba has been dealing with a hamstring injury sustained in the semi-final first leg against Manchester City last month and did not feature in Madrid's last LaLiga game of the season against Real Betis on Friday. 

    Los Blancos came through the match unscathed with a 0-0 draw at the Santiago Bernabeu and Ancelotti confirmed afterwards that the Austria defender will play against Liverpool at the Stade de France on Saturday week. 

    "Alaba is going to play the final but it wasn't necessary to take risks," Ancelotti told Movistar+. 

    "He's going to play, 100 per cent. He hasn't played since April 26, it's true, but not only physical condition is taken into account for the match. Skill and experience are too." 

    The Italian coach expects to have Gareth Bale available for one more time before his contract expires at the end of the season. 

    Bale missed out on a place in the squad to face Betis having only recently stepped up his recovery from a back issue. 

    "He wanted to say goodbye and play if he was able. Bale has one last chance because he will be fine for the final," Ancelotti added. 

    Marcelo was sent on as a second-half substitute for what is anticipated to be his final outing at the Bernabeu, but Ancelotti hinted that the Brazilian could yet extend his stay. 

    "He hasn't said goodbye yet, he's still our captain and will be in Paris. If he does say goodbye in the end, of the best full-backs in the world will leave. I think he's talking to the club, I don't know," said the Madrid boss. 

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.