Stat, Viz, Quiz is the weekly Opta Analyst newsletter. Our latest edition includes numbers on Liverpool’s red cards, Erling Haaland’s uneventful day at Wolves and Roy Hodgson.
Welcome to this week’s SVQ, where we’re hoping to make it a VAR-free zone (much like they did on Saturday at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Zing!).
Outside of the obvious controversy, there were some eyebrow-raising results in the Premier League, with Manchester City and Manchester United both losing, and Luton Town picking up their first ever Premier League victory.
Aston Villa maintained their momentum, winning a 10th consecutive home league game by hammering Brighton, while Arsenal, West Ham and Chelsea also notched up comfortable victories. We’ll be smug and take credit for motivating hat-trick hero Ollie Watkins as well as Chelsea to improve after referencing their xG underperformance in recent weeks (a ‘thank you’ card will be fine).
Speaking of cards, we start with that game in north London. Against all odds, we’ve managed to find something to discuss other than… well, y’know?
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STAT – Liverpool Seeing Red in More Ways Than One
Liverpool have been pretty well behaved in recent seasons, which is why it’s such a surprise that the weekend saw them make some unwanted Premier League history.
In just seven games, the appropriately nicknamed ‘Reds’ have already had four players sent off in the Premier League. It is the first time in the competition a team has received as many in the opening seven games (Leicester City were given four in eight games in 1994-95).
In fairness, Alexis Mac Allister had the ban for his red against Bournemouth overturned on appeal, while those dished out to Curtis Jones and Diogo Jota on Saturday both had their own reasons to be considered debatable – Liverpool have appealed Jones’ (they’re unable to do so for Jota’s as it was two yellow cards) – but the standout thing is just how out of character it is for Klopp’s men to be so regularly dismissed.
Since Klopp arrived at Anfield in October 2015, Liverpool had not received more than two red cards in a season in all competitions until this one, and the last time they had more than one in a campaign was in 2018-19. In fact, they only received two red cards in their previous 139 Premier League games prior to Mac Allister’s dismissal on Matchday 2 of this season. In all competitions, that extended to just two in 203 games. They have received twice as many as that in their last six league games.
It could have knock-on effects too, not just in the games in which they occur. Liverpool have already played a significant amount of time with fewer men this season, totalling almost 200 minutes already. How that will impact the squad’s energy levels through the campaign remains to be seen.
Curiously, only six teams in the Premier League have received fewer than their 13 yellow cards, so it doesn’t seem to be a general ill-discipline thing.
It follows the last few months when Klopp has had run-ins with multiple officials, while seeing one of his players appear to be elbowed in the face by one, not to mention all the weekend’s controversy around V… ah, we said we wouldn’t mention that didn’t we?
It’s probably safe to say that while cards may be getting handed out now, it seems doubtful Liverpool will exchange any with referees when Christmas comes around.
VIZ – Haaland Unable to Blow Wolves’ House Down
Sometimes you can become so certain of something that when that something deviates, it can make you fall off your chair.
Once we’d dusted ourselves down, we thought we’d take a look at the numbers from Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-1 Manchester City. Unsurprisingly, the visitors had most of the ball and the attempts at goal, but the hosts kept them at bay while nicking two goals for themselves.
However, despite Pep Guardiola’s men having 23 shots at Molineux, it was notable that the man you’d expect to have taken a lot of them, didn’t.
Erling Haaland is to goals what Garfield is to lasagne (nice up-to-date pop culture reference for you all there) and let’s not forget that in the recent 3-1 win at West Ham, the Norwegian had nine shots at goal all by himself.
He was kept supremely quiet by Wolves though, managing just one shot in the entire game, ending with a measly 0.06 xG for his efforts.
It wasn’t Haaland’s quietest Premier League game for City since arriving from Borussia Dortmund, though. He failed to have a single shot in the away defeat to Tottenham in February, while he only had one shot worth 0.03 xG in the home loss to Brentford last November, the only other time he has failed to have at least two shots in a Premier League game in which he has played more than 45 minutes.
Of course, before we know it Haaland will be back to plundering goals left, right and centre, and Man City will go back to making winning feel inevitable.
But for now, let us marvel at how Wolves left the most lethal striker in world football hungry like the, erm… them.
The Data Day
The latest edition of our weekly Premier League review podcast. Matt Furniss and Ryan Benson join Graham Bell to discuss the weekend’s action, including red cards, Manchester United’s struggles, and Ryan and Graham go head-to-head in another classic Pauline Quirke quiz. Can Belly get his first win against the podcast debutant?
QUIZ – Well Red
For this week’s quiz we thought we’d look at some red card trivia, so cast your mind back to those who have been given their marching orders.
1. Which team were shown the most red cards in the Premier League last season? It was twice as many as any other team.
2. Three players have the joint-most red cards in Premier League history. Who are they? (A point for each correct answer)
3. La Liga produced the most red cards of Europe’s top five leagues last season, but just how many? Was it: A) 57, B) 97, or C) 137? (For context, the Premier League saw 30 red cards in total last season).
4. Sergio Ramos is famous for collecting red cards like others collect football shirts, but how many has the World Cup winner received in his illustrious career? A) 24, B) 28, or C) 32?
5. Which two teams have received the most red cards in a single Premier League season?
This week’s question came to us on X from @6leany, who asked the following before the weekend’s action, but as it somewhat prophesised what would happen, we’ll answer it now:
“Can you compare Roy Hodgson’s last 10/12 games as Crystal Palace boss and his first 10/12 games since returning? Focusing on attacking output.”
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.
It’s always a pleasure to write about Roy ‘I’ll retire when I’m dead but maybe not even then’ Hodgson. He has indeed had a big impact on Palace since returning for a second spell at the club in March.
Palace’s 1-0 win at Manchester United on Saturday was a shock to many, but perhaps not to him. Hodgson became the first manager to go five games unbeaten in the Premier League as a visitor to Old Trafford (W3 D2).
For the sake of this question, we’ll look at the last 17 games of his first spell, as he has taken charge of 17 Premier League games in his second spell so far, so we’d be missing out five games if we limited it to 12.
While he was largely revered at Selhurst Park in his first spell between September 2017 and May 2021, as with most managers who leave, it didn’t end particularly well. His last 17 Premier League games of that spell saw Palace win five, draw three and lose nine, with six of those losses coming in their last eight games of that season. In terms of attacking output, the Eagles scored 16 goals in that period, taking an average of 8.9 shots per 90 and accumulating an xG per 90 of 0.84.
His second spell started with three wins, including a 5-1 drubbing of Leeds United at Elland Road. Across his 17 league games since coming back, Palace have won eight, drawn five and lost four. They have scored 25 goals in total from an average of 14.1 shots per 90, with an xG per 90 of 1.35.
It seems this version of Hodgson’s Palace are indeed more attack-minded, showing all of us that people in their mid-70s can still be trusted to take charge of elite football teams, so tell your Gran to update her CV.
What Are We up to at Opta Analyst?
Here’s some of the latest data-driven offerings you can find on our website:
1. Wolves (6)
2. Patrick Vieira, Richard Dunne and Duncan Ferguson (8 each – detailed marvellously on the Opta Analyst website)
3. C) 137 (40 more than any other top five league in Europe, and 107 more than the Premier League!)
4. B) 28
5. Sunderland (2009-10) and Queens Park Rangers (2011-12) – 9
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