The Analyst Diary: January 24
Nature Abhors a Vacuum
The last Burnley Premier League game to contain a goal of any kind was their 3-1 defeat at Leeds on January 2. They next play a league game a week on Saturday, the omni-postponement clasico against Watford. So that will be at least 34 consecutive days mid-season that Burnley Football Club will have neither scored nor conceded. That’s the first time that’s happened in the Premier League era, but it’s one of those detested concocted stats because, as we know, the run actually only covers three games. That means the moral winners of the lack-of-action-vibes-scene remain Crystal Palace in 1994-95, who had a seven-game series of matches (in the space of 35 days) that saw a total of just three goals. Palace managed to post this set of results under the disappointing Alan Smith: 0-0, 0-1, 0-0, 0-1, 0-0, 0-0, 0-1. They then followed this up with a 1-0 defeat, just to mix it up.
In addition, that unexpected point at Arsenal means that the Clarets now have 12 points this season, once again guaranteeing that Derby County’s sacred record from 2007-08 will live on.
A drone significantly delayed play in the game between Brentford and Wolves on Saturday, which may have affected the rhythm of the match and/or Thomas Frank’s mood. What we do know is that Wolves’ total of 0.27 xG is the lowest recorded this season by a Premier League side who have scored two or more goals. The late VAR decision to rule out an Adama Traore goal affected this of course, but it’s still an impressive display, the sort of away performance that red wine-sipping managers love and cherish.
Overall it’s the ninth-lowest expected goals by a team with 2+ goals since the start of 2016-17. Unsurprisingly, the two lowest figures (0.13) were both recorded against Manchester City: by Tottenham in August 2019 and Leeds in April last year. Meanwhile, next on the list is Crystal Palace’s smash-and-grab win at Brighton last season (0.16). Before xG, every fan knew when their team had been robbed/been incredibly clinical but it was impossible to quantify. Now, though, we can, and that has improved life and narrative in equal measure.
Hoth Community Stadium
The aforementioned drone at Brentford meant that the total length of the match was extended to a monstrous 124 minutes, which is the same length as The Empire Strikes Back. That naturally leads to the thought: forget drones, will a Premier League game ever be disturbed by an AT-AT Walker, the classic Imperial four-legged transport and combat vehicle? We can only wait and see.
Draw Yrself Clean
Six of Brighton’s last nine Premier League games have ended 1-1, as the south coast club seemingly attempt to become the first side to take over and embody the concept of “played really well, some lovely stuff, ended one all.”
So far this season Graham Potter’s team have eight 1-1 draws, which is three short of the Premier League record, held jointly by three clubs at the moment. We all know Brighton play great stuff but are unlikely to cap this upbeat era with an actual trophy, so why not go for the most 1-1 draws in a single Premier League campaign? It feels right, it sounds right, it is right.
It’s that time of the year already.