Stat, Viz, Quiz is the weekly Opta Analyst newsletter. Our latest edition includes numbers on Aston Villa, Pedro Neto and Barcelona’s expected goals.
The sweet familiar sights, sounds and smells of domestic football, how we missed thee.
If you’re an Aston Villa fan right now, it smells like team spirit as Unai Emery’s side put on another spectacular show at home to see off West Ham, and this week’s SVQ includes a look at just how difficult Villa have made it to visit the Midlands of late (that’s SVQ, not HS2).
Elsewhere, we move not that far down the road to see what Wolves are up to, and one exciting winger in particular, while our quiz looks back at the weekend’s Premier League action.
We also have an Ask Opta question that sends us over to La Liga in Spain, which will be a most welcome trip for those of us who have had to put up with the English weather in the last few days.
The sun is shining on Aston Villa, though…
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STAT: A Villa Makes a Cosy Home
Be honest, as Steven Gerrard’s Aston Villa were losing 3-0 at Fulham on a miserable Thursday night in October 2022, you would probably not have anticipated we’d be here 12 months later.
That insipid defeat was the end of Gerrard’s reign, with Unai Emery coming in and transforming Villa not just into a better team, but one of the best in England.
Only Manchester City have won more points (74) and games (24) than Villa in the year of 2023 (19 wins, 62 points), matching the points tally of Arsenal from the same number of games (31).
The stat for this week is more about their home form, though, with their 4-1 hammering of West Ham on Sunday the latest in a run of wins at Villa Park that almost defies belief.
Villa’s 11 Premier League home wins in a row is the third-best run in Europe’s big five leagues, with only Man City (14) and Atletico Madrid (13) on longer streaks.
They still have a way left to beat the Premier League record for consecutive home wins, with Liverpool winning 24 on the bounce between February 2019 and July 2020. But they have looked so comfortable in dispatching Everton (4-0), Crystal Palace (3-1), Brighton (6-1) and West Ham (4-1) in their four league games at Villa Park this season, they’ll presumably give it a good go.
Ollie Watkins will be key to that, having been directly involved in 26 goals in 33 appearances for Aston Villa in the Premier League since Emery’s first game (17 goals, 9 assists). Only Mohamed Salah (35) and Erling Haaland (33) have contributed more goals in the league in this time.
Their next four home PL games see them host Luton, Fulham and then Man City and Arsenal. Even if they can’t maintain their record through that gauntlet, we haven’t seen someone so at home at the Villa since [insert reference to a pair of Love Island contestants canoodling].
VIZ: Pedro Helping Wolves to Find the Neto?
Not to be outdone, Wolves might not be quite as successful as Villa right now, but they have a player their maroon and blue rivals might be jealous of (or at least, would be if it weren’t for Moussa Diaby).
Pedro Neto has hit the ground running this season, achieving the deadly duo of both looking very dangerous and actually being very dangerous with it.
After a couple of years blighted by injuries, the Portuguese winger is tearing it up in the Premier League this season, as we recently analysed ourselves.
His assist for Matheus Cunha in Wolves’ 2-1 comeback victory at Bournemouth on Saturday was his sixth of the season, and fifth from open play, putting him outright top of the charts for open-play Premier League assists in 2023-24.
Neto is ahead of the likes of Kieran Trippier, Mohamed Salah, Vladimir Coufal and Ollie Watkins, who are on four open-play assists each.
The 23-year-old seems to have put his injury issues behind him and is leading the charge for a Wolves team under Gary O’Neil that finally seems to have teeth. They were the lowest scorers in the Premier League last season with 31 goals, whereas the season before, only the three relegated teams scored fewer than their 38, clearly missing Neto’s influence as he was absent for the majority of both campaigns.
Wolves already have 11 in nine games, hardly a goal frenzy but they’re on course to score around 46 in total, with only 10 players across the league creating more than Neto’s 14 chances from open play so far (level with Bukayo Saka, Dominik Szoboszlai and Julián Álvarez).
With Neto around, Wolves can look forward to a bright future, assuming of course that in the January transfer window… sorry Wolves fans, we’ll let you live in the moment a bit longer.
The Data Day Podcast
On this week’s show, Matt Furniss and Graham Bell look at Aston Villa’s incredible run since Unai Emery took over at Villa Park and just why they are proving such a mouthwatering side to watch. Also, as part of our Premier League Review: Matchday 9 episode, the pair take a look at “The Good, The Bad and The Quirky” from the weekend’s action at both the top and the bottom of the table with rumours swirling of Andoni Iraola’s departure from strugglers Bournemouth.
And then for our weekly quiz, David Segar becomes the latest to try and uphold the podcast guests’ stellar record, but could this FINALLY be the time for Graham to record a win?
QUIZ: Goals, Red Cards and Long Rangers
With domestic football back we thought we’d test your Premier League muscle (we’ve all got one), so this week’s quiz is mostly about the weekend’s top-flight action. Answers are at the bottom of the page.
1. After their 4-0 win over Crystal Palace, Newcastle United have scored 24 league goals this season. Their most since which campaign at this stage; A) 1994-95, B) 1995-96, or C) 1996-97?
2. Ashley Young’s red card for Everton against Liverpool made him the third-oldest player to be sent off in the Premier League (38 years, 104 days). Who is the oldest? (Clue: He had a nickname that suggested he was likely to be in the running for this ‘accolade’)
3. Erling Haaland’s goal from outside the box against Brighton was his 61st strike for Manchester City, but how many has he scored from outside of the penalty area?
4. Leandro Trossard came off the bench to equalise for Arsenal at Chelsea, making it five goals by subs for the Gunners this season. Who are the only Premier League team to have had more?
5. Our final question this week is in honour of Manchester United legend, the late, great Sir Bobby Charlton. Across his 106 caps, how many goals did the 1966 World Cup winner score for England?
This week’s question came to us via email from José Ramón González, who asks: “I remember you mentioned Barcelona had a higher xG than goals scored. With that in mind, how are Barcelona doing this season compared to last season?”
Do you have a stat-based question you’d like Opta to answer for you (and everyone else) in a future edition of SVQ? Email us at email@example.com or message us on X @OptaAnalyst with #AskOpta and we’ll pick the best one.
Barcelona are indeed slightly underperforming their expected goals (xG), with 21 goals from an xG of 22.9 (excluding own goals).
Robert Lewandowski is out with a sprained ankle, so perhaps having him back would help? The Polish striker missed the 1-0 win over Athletic Club at the weekend, but it is hoped he will be fit for this weekend’s Clasico against Real Madrid.
That said, Lewandowski is perhaps the epitome of why underperforming your xG doesn’t matter all that much. He was undoubtedly a key part of Barcelona’s title win last season, scoring 23 La Liga goals, but that came from 24.6 xG.
Last season as a team, Barcelona scored 69 goals from 77.0 xG, so they have actually been very slightly more ruthless this season (underperforming by 0.19 per 90 as opposed to 0.21 per 90).
Where Xavi’s side won the league in 2022-23 was at the other end, though, conceding just 17 goals (excluding own goals) from 34.0 xG. They have been less efficient at the back in 2023-24, though, conceding 10 goals from 9.9 xG.
Whatever the numbers, Barcelona are mes que un xG.
What Are We up to at Opta Analyst?
Here’s some of the latest data-driven offerings you can find on our website:
1. A) 1994-95 (26 goals at this stage)
2. Stuart Pearce (for West Ham vs Everton at 38 years, 341 days old on 31 March 2001)
3. Two (his previous one came against Wolves in September 2022)
4. Brighton (7)
5. 49 – an England record that stood from 1973 to 2015 before it was finally broken by Wayne Rooney
Before you go…
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