Of the 380 Premier League matches in 2022-23, 293 saw a winner and a loser – some of those more unlikely than others. We look back at the data behind the season’s six biggest Premier League shocks according to the Opta supercomputer.
No.6: Chelsea 0-1 Southampton (18 February 2023)
Opta Supercomputer Pre-Match Chance: 14.2%
It wasn’t a good season for Chelsea, finishing in their lowest position in the league since 1993-94 and losing 16 league games, one more than in their previous two seasons combined.
Arguably the nadir and worst defeat of the campaign came at home to strugglers Southampton in February, with the Saints completing a league double over the Blues for the first time since 1987-88, a season in which Chelsea were relegated. Thankfully for the west Londoners, things didn’t get quite that bad in 2022-23, but losing twice to a team who only beat three other teams this season is not how any Blues fan would’ve seen the season going when they beat Everton on the opening day.
Southampton – who started the day of the game four points from safety and with just a 14.2% chance of victory – won 1-0 thanks to a free-kick from James Ward-Prowse, with the Saints becoming the first visiting side at Stamford Bridge to win despite starting the day bottom since Sunderland in April 2014. For the Black Cats, it was the start of a four-match winning run that saw them escape relegation that season. No such luck for the Saints, who followed up this implausible victory with a run of one win in 15 games, picking up just two points in their remaining seven away games.
The match was Ruben Selles’ first in charge of Southampton following the departure of Nathan Jones, and the Spaniard became only the second manager to win his first Premier League game when facing Chelsea in that first game, along with Duncan Ferguson at Everton in December 2019. Selles, however, remains the only to do so at Stamford Bridge.
Ward-Prowse’s direct free-kick in this game was his 17th in the Premier League, putting him one behind David Beckham in the all-time list, although it was his last such goal of the season. It is the only time a direct free-kick has been the only goal of a game in a Premier League win against Chelsea.
This win put Southampton just two points behind West Ham but by the season’s end, the Saints were 15 points behind the Europa Conference League winners and while the Hammers are dreaming of trips to Amsterdam and Rome next season, relegated Saints’ capital trips will be to Millwall and QPR.
No.5: Tottenham Hotspur 2-3 Bournemouth (15 April 2023)
Opta Supercomputer Pre-Match Chance: 12.1%
With the way the season panned out for Spurs, maybe giving Bournemouth just a 12% chance of victory against them seems a bit harsh.
It could be because before their meeting in April, Bournemouth had lost all five of their Premier League away games against Spurs by an aggregate score of 16-2. On top of that, Tottenham came into the match having lost just one of their last seven league games, and despite recently parting ways with Antonio Conte had picked up an impressive hard-fought victory against top-four rivals Brighton the week before.
Bournemouth were in good form of their own with three wins from their last five, but when Son Heung-min gave the hosts the lead after 14 minutes you’d have been forgiven for thinking the Cherries were in for a long afternoon. And despite Matías Viña’s equaliser before the break, Spurs still had greater than a 50% chance of winning the game. But they don’t care for supercomputers or predictions on the south coast.
Bournemouth mustered just four shots after the interval – all of them were on target and, most importantly, two of them found the back of the net. As Spurs threw everything but the kitchen sink at Bournemouth, they thought they’d rescued at least a point with Arnaut Danjuma’s 88th-minute strike, until Dango Ouattara popped up in the fifth minute of stoppage time to win it. It was a nice change for Bournemouth, who had conceded an even later goal to lose by the same scoreline on their last trip to north London a month earlier.
Spurs had 24 shots in total – their highest in a Premier League game all season – and their xG total of 2.23 was their fourth highest non-penalty total across 2022-23. This was the start of a run that saw them lose five times in seven games and slip out of contention for the European places.
No.4: Bournemouth 1-0 Liverpool (11 March 2023)
Opta Supercomputer Pre-Match Chance: 11.5%
Given Liverpool’s away form in the Premier League in 2022-23, you may think that giving Bournemouth just an 11.5% chance of a home win against them was somewhat of an oversight.
You may be forgetting of course that Liverpool had put NINE past the Cherries in the reverse fixture in August – their seventh straight league victory against them with an aggregate score of 28-1. Bournemouth had also won just one of their last 10 Premier League games, and despite a good performance had lost to a dramatic 97th-minute goal at Arsenal the week before.
Their indifferent away form has already been mentioned, but Liverpool arrived on the south coast on the highest of highs, having beaten rivals Manchester United 7-0 in their last match, their fourth win in five Premier League matches.
Alarm bells may have started ringing when Philip Billing put the hosts 1-0 ahead, but he’d also given Bournemouth the lead the previous week at the Emirates Stadium and that didn’t end so well for them.
Liverpool’s recent record of conceding first had not been kind to them – they’d lost six of their last seven – but surely, they weren’t going to lose to the team bottom of the table… again?
With just over 20 minutes to go, they were awarded a penalty. Mohamed Salah (who else) stepped up to take it, and having scored 18 of his last 19 spot-kicks in the division you’d have been mad to bet against him missing this one. But miss it he did – in fact he was the first Liverpool player to miss the goal and the frame of the goal completely from a Premier League penalty in over nine years, when Daniel Sturridge did so against Everton.
The Reds were restricted to just two more attempts after that. For Bournemouth, it was their fourth lowest xG total in a Premier League game all season, but as the old adage goes, there’s only one stat that matters.
No.3: Liverpool 1-2 Leeds United (29 October 2022)
Opta Supercomputer Pre-Match Chance: 6.2%
As the story goes, Don Revie changed the colour of Leeds United’s kit in the early 1960s to all white to emulate Real Madrid, as they were best team in Europe at the time. Apart from their kits, both being knocked out at the semi-final stage of the Champions League in 2000-01 and Jonathan Woodgate, there’s not much else the clubs have in common. That was until the 2022-23 campaign, when they were the only two clubs to win at Anfield against Liverpool in the entire season, with Leeds ending a 12-match winless run against the Reds to claim their first victory against them since April 2001.
Liverpool hadn’t lost at home in the league since a bizarre six-game losing run between January and March 2021 at an empty Anfield, a run of 29 unbeaten home games. In front of fans, they hadn’t lost at Anfield since April 2017 against Crystal Palace who were managed by Sam Allardyce, the coach that ended the season where Jesse Marsch had begun it: in charge of Leeds.
Going into the game at Anfield, Marsch was under serious pressure having lost the previous four Premier League games and, at that stage, had won just six of 23 games since replacing the popular Marcelo Bielsa in February 2022. It is fair to say that this surprise victory saved his job, at least for the time being.
Rodrigo gave Leeds a fourth-minute lead, his sixth Premier League goal of the season to equal his 2021-22 tally, before Mohamed Salah equalised 10 minutes later, his sixth goal in three league games at Anfield against Leeds. And that is how it stayed until the 89th minute, when Crysencio Summerville poked home the winner in front of the delirious travelling Leeds supporters, the latest winner by a visiting player at Anfield in the Premier League since Robin van Persie’s 92nd-minute goal in March 2012 for Arsenal. It was the second game in a run of four consecutively in which Rodrigo and Summerville both scored for Leeds and the result lifted Leeds up to 15th in the Premier League table.
In the end, the result appeared to be an anomaly. Leeds won just one more away Premier League game all season and were relegated, while Liverpool didn’t lose again at Anfield in the league.
It may be a while before Leeds are compared to Real Madrid again.
No.2: Manchester City 1-2 Brentford (12 November 2022)
Opta Supercomputer Pre-Match Chance: 5.8%
Manchester City very rarely lose at home. The recently crowned treble-winners have only lost one of their last 25 home games in the Premier League (W22 D2), however, the manner of that defeat was truly spectacular.
In what was the final round of games before the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, City hosted a Brentford side that had won just one of their previous eight games (W1 D4 L3), with victory seemingly assured, especially with Erling Haaland already on 18 Premier League goals heading into this contest. After all, the Opta supercomputer was giving the west London side just a 5.8% chance of winning.
Forget Haaland, it would be Brentford’s talismanic striker that would steal the show, Ivan Toney opening the scoring for the visitors in the 16th minute, with the Bees causing City problems with their direct approach after turning the ball over.
By the time Phil Foden scored on the stroke of half-time, however, a swell of relief resonated around the home fans – normal service had resumed, and Pep Guardiola’s side would eventually see the job through.
How wrong we were.
Fast forward to a counter-attack following City’s corner deep into added time in the second half, and Toney would stroke home Josh Dasilva’s low cross for his second of the game to confirm a stunning win for the visitors.
To put it in perspective, it’s just the third time an away side has scored a 90th-minute winner against the reigning champions after Robin van Persie in December 2012 and Harry Kane in February 2022, with both those occasions also coming against Manchester City.
Upstaged and nullified, that game was the first time Haaland for Manchester City played 90 minutes without recording a shot on target, while Brentford’s eight shots on target overall would prove to be the joint-most faced by City in the Premier League this season, with Manchester United also having eight shots against them in October.
Only Leicester (2.36) and Manchester United (1.67) have recorded a higher xG as a visiting side at the Etihad in the Premier League this season than Brentford (1.29), with Thomas Frank’s side going against the grain and upsetting one of the league’s ‘big six’, this time in their own back yard.
No.1: Nottingham Forest 1-0 Liverpool (22 October 2022)
Opta Supercomputer Pre-Match Chance: 5.7%
With Nottingham Forest’s pre-match win prediction at just 5.7% before a ball was kicked on the day, this victory over Liverpool in October was the biggest shock of the 2022-23 Premier League season.
Coming into the game off the back of successive 1-0 wins at Anfield against Manchester City and West Ham, Liverpool were comfortable favourites for all three points at the City Ground – instead, they left with nothing other than their first Premier League defeat to a side starting the day bottom since January 2018.
Nottingham Forest had only won one of their first 11 games of the season since returning to the top flight (D3 L7), but were very good value for the win, with their former striker Taiwo Awoniyi deciding the contest for Forest in the 55th minute.
Steve Cooper’s side were very much in the game despite seeing little of the ball, with Liverpool having 75.2% possession; their second-highest total in a Premier League game of 2022-23 behind only the meeting at Anfield in April (81.1%). Forest’s xG total (1.85) was higher than Liverpool’s (1.66), while both sides mustered seven shots on target each, both sides creating great opportunities over the course of the match.
An inspired Dean Henderson in goal for the newly-promoted side helped Forest over the line, doing well to deny Trent Alexander-Arnold’s header, before making a brilliant save to keep out Virgil van Dijk’s header right at the death and secure what was only their second league win of the season.
The City Ground proved to be a tricky test for most teams this season, with 79% of Forest’s Premier League points tally this season coming at home (30/38), more than any other side, while only Wolves (nine) had more home wins among sides that finished in the bottom half than them (eight).