The first international break of the season has given us at Opta Analyst a chance to reflect.
As you may have seen last month, we managed to coax the Opta supercomputer into giving us some predictor percentages ahead of the 2023-24 campaign, and it threw out some interesting numbers.
There may have only been a handful of games so far, but we thought we’d take a look at how those numbers have already changed, and our viz this week will show you how much there has already been some movement in the Premier League.
Speaking of which, let us begin as we always do with our stat of the week, which allows us to look ahead to the weekend’s return of domestic football, and one Premier League game in particular on Merseyside.
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STAT – Arsenal’s Good and Bad Everton Record
The Premier League is often described as the ‘most exciting league in the world’, and who are we to argue? World-class players, passionate fans, Iain Dowie; England’s top division has had it all in years gone by.
We wanted to look at teams who have beaten others the most often in history in England, and funnily enough, the combination that came out on top is also a fixture we will see take place this weekend.
Arsenal’s 4-0 win against Everton in March at the Emirates Stadium was the 100th time the Gunners have beaten the Toffees from 204 meetings (D43 L61). That’s the most one team has beaten another in the entire history of the English Football League.
That said, a 101st victory is far from guaranteed on Sunday. Despite their many struggles in recent years, Everton have had an excellent record against Arsenal at Goodison Park, winning their last three meetings there. In their last seven games against one another, Arsenal have won just once (a 5-2 victory in October 2017), with Everton winning five and the other ending in a 0-0 draw.
Another quirk is that each of those five Everton wins were by a single goal, and four of those saw the winning goal scored by a centre-back. So, should Mikel Arteta be paying attention to the finer details, expect to see James Tarkowski and either Jarrad Branthwaite or Ben Godfrey being heavily marked.
VIZ – A Lot Can Change in a Month
It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
However, the Premier League is an unforgiving beast, and just four games into the season, the Opta supercomputer has thrown out some notable numbers that we’ve explored further.
You can read in greater detail about exactly what the amended predictor numbers are after four games (three for Burnley and Luton Town) here. But we thought we’d share this exclusive viz with you here in SVQ, looking in particular at the race for the top four.
It promises to be quite the battle for the UEFA Champions League slots (though fifth place will also likely lead to a place in Europe’s top competition given its expansion from next season). Bumps in the road can therefore have a profound effect, and as you can see from the above viz, it has been an excellent start to life at Tottenham for Ange Postecoglou.
Spurs are second ahead of Matchday 5, having won four out of five games (D1). Their top-four chances were judged to have been less than 10% at the start of the season (9.5%) but now they stand at a comparatively mighty 31.7% (almost one in three).
Liverpool have also greatly improved their likelihood of getting back into the top four, with their four wins from five (D1) seeing their chances go up from 76.8% to 91.1%, while West Ham and Arsenal have also been rewarded for 10-point starts with an increase.
We’re afraid it’s bad news for Manchester United, though, whose two defeats from four games (W2) have dropped their chances from 63.2% to 28.4%, while Chelsea’s bumpy start to life under Mauricio Pochettino has shrunk theirs from 16.1% to just 1.3%.
Then again, nothing was ever decided in a 38-game league campaign after just four games, so fret not United and Chelsea fans. There is plenty of time to turn things around, and who knows? Next time we fire up the Opta supercomputer, your teams could be the ones with numbers to brag about.
QUIZ – Give Me (an International) Break
It’s quiz time, so get that thinking cap on. Or thinking jacket… or thinking pants. Whatever attire you use to help you get correct answers in quizzes.
As ever, answers are at the bottom of the page and let us know on X how you got on.
1. Hansi Flick was sacked as Germany head coach after losing a friendly to Japan, who also beat Flick’s side at the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Germany were knocked out at the group stage in Qatar, but who were the only team they beat during last year’s competition?
2. Pascal Groß made his debut for Germany in that game at the age of 32. He leads the way for chances created in Europe’s top five leagues this season (16), but which of his Brighton teammates is joint-third in that list?
3. England’s 1-1 draw in Ukraine on Saturday saw them keep up their record of scoring in all five UEFA Euro 2024 qualifiers so far. How many goals have they scored overall in this campaign?
4. Lamine Yamal became the youngest player ever to play for (and score for) Spain when he came on to play a part in the 7-1 demolition of Georgia at the age of just 16 years and 57 days old. Which Barcelona teammate previously held the record for the youngest player to win a cap for La Roja?
5. Neymar became Brazil’s record goalscorer with his brace against Bolivia in a 5-1 win. Whose record did he take?
This week’s question was sent to us on X by @Popman_Walker, who asks: “What is the shot conversion rate for Erling Haaland?”
Answer: We’re sure it will shock people to learn that Erling Haaland has a very good shot conversion rate. Notably, it has also been consistent throughout his goal-laden career so far.
Measuring his conversion rate in league games, at Salzburg, he scored from 30.9% of his total shots (17 goals from 55 attempts in 16 games).
At Borussia Dortmund, Haaland’s conversion rate in the German Bundesliga dipped ever so slightly to 30.0%, with 62 of his 207 shots finding the net across his 67 games.
At Manchester City it has dipped slightly again, but is still a tremendous 29.4% so far, with Haaland scoring 42 goals from 143 total shots in his 39 Premier League outings.
Let’s compare this to other elite goalscorers in the time since Haaland joined Dortmund in January 2020 (league games only).
Robert Lewandowski scored 91 goals from 358 shots at a conversion rate of 25.4% for Bayern Munich in that time, and so far has 25 La Liga goals from 150 shots (16.7%) at Barcelona. Kylian Mbappé has 96 goals from 456 shots for Paris Saint-Germain (21.1%), while Karim Benzema scored 78 goals from 410 shots for Real Madrid (19.0%) before heading to the Saudi Pro League. Harry Kane’s conversion rate at Tottenham in the Premier League was 18.0% in that time, while Mohamed Salah’s at Liverpool is currently 16.0%.
In the UEFA Champions League, Haaland had an incredible conversion rate of 47.1% at Salzburg (eight goals from 17 shots in six games), then 35.7% at Dortmund (15 goals from 42 shots in 13 games) and now 29.3% at Man City (12 goals from 41 shots in 11 games).
What Are We up to at Opta Analyst?
Here’s some of the latest data-driven offerings you can find on our website:
1. Costa Rica
2. Kaoru Mitoma (14)
4. Gavi (17y 62d)
5. Pele (who scored 77 goals for Brazil)
Before you go…
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