Stat, Viz, Quiz is the weekly Opta Analyst newsletter. Our latest edition includes numbers on Newcastle’s strikers, upcoming fixtures and who is making the big chances.
Welcome to Stat, Viz, Quiz issue 13. Unlucky for some and sent on Halloween… excuse us while we grab our teddy bear and hide in the wardrobe.
It was a spooky weekend for certain teams, with Chelsea looking like a skeleton of the side they were expected to be this season as they were beaten by Brentford, Manchester City players ghosting past their Manchester United counterparts at Old Trafford, and Sheffield United wondering if they’ve had any black cats cross their path as they were walloped at Arsenal.
We have tricks and treats for you this week, looking at Callum Wilson’s knack for scoring, upcoming fixture difficulty in the Premier League and a quiz that hopefully isn’t particularly scary, but if you get a good score then by all means reward yourself with a toffee apple.
Anyway, enough laboured Halloween references. Let’s get to the football.
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STAT: Wilson Doing the Business Despite Bench Time
It hasn’t been the best week for Newcastle United. Beaten at home by Borussia Dortmund in the UEFA Champions League before twice losing a lead to draw at Wolves in the Premier League.
That said, it was another deadly showing from one man at least.
Callum Wilson is somewhat of an enigma. Just 21 of his 31 Premier League appearances last season were starts, yet he still managed 18 goals. So far in 2023-24, he has started four of nine league appearances, scoring seven. Wilson is just one goal shy of becoming the first player to score 20+ goals in a calendar year for Newcastle in the Premier League since Alan Shearer in 2002.
With Alexander Isak as his competition up top for Newcastle, maybe it isn’t a surprise that he doesn’t start more, with Isak excelling since arriving from Real Sociedad.
The Sweden international was injured for the trip to Wolves, though, and Wilson took his opportunity by scoring both of his team’s goals at Molineux.
Of players to score at least four goals in 2022-23 in the Premier League, only Erling Haaland (77) had a better minutes-per-goal rate than Wilson (105). So far this season, Wilson has seven goals from 420 Premier League minutes played, averaging a goal every 60 minutes. That is the best mins/goal rate of any player to have scored at least three goals, ahead of Chris Wood (3 goals at one every 78 mins) and Haaland (11 goals at one every 81 mins).
Isak isn’t that far behind either, showing that Howe really does have two potent options to call on. The 24-year-old has scored six goals in 495 Premier League minutes at a rate of one every 83 minutes.
While their finishing is impressive, it seems as if it really is a team effort. Wilson and Isak have not been taking lots of shots (21 and 18 respectively, well behind the likes of Haaland – 39, Mohamed Salah – 33, and Ollie Watkins – 31), but only Haaland (19) has had more big chances than Wilson (12), while only those two and Watkins (11) have had more than Isak (10). So, they aren’t having lots of chances, but those that are coming through to them are usually high-opportunity ones.
It has helped that two of Wilson’s goals have been penalties, while one of Isak’s has, but despite their recent wobble, Newcastle can look forward to both providing the firepower to keep them where they want to be in the Premier League.
VIZ: Is Chelsea’s Season About to Go From Bad to Worse?
The last thing you need when you’ve been punched on the nose is to then see an even bigger person next in line with an even bigger boxing glove.
That could be how Chelsea feel, though, as despite a recent upturn in form, their 2-0 home defeat to Brentford on Saturday indicated that Mauricio Pochettino’s team still have a way to go.
At the start of the season, our calculations estimated that Chelsea had one of the easier first 10 games of the Premier League campaign. Despite that, they sit in 11th place, and our latest look at upcoming fixture difficulty sees Pochettino’s men handed the hardest next five, with games against Tottenham (A), Manchester City (H), Newcastle (A), Brighton (H) and Manchester United (A). It feels like a potentially make-or-break run for the Blues.
As this week’s viz also shows, things won’t get any easier for Luton Town, while leaders Tottenham will have their title credentials truly tested with the third-toughest run coming up.
Things may get a bit easier for Man Utd, though, with the fourth easiest set of games, while Arsenal have a chance to fully ensconce themselves in the title race, though must navigate a tough-looking trip to Newcastle next week.
Crystal Palace are deemed to have the simplest next five, though you could argue that trips to Brighton and West Ham are far from routine while welcoming an in-form Everton to Selhurst Park could also be a challenge for Roy Hodgson’s men.
Of course, this is all based on Opta Power Ranking points, so is merely a guide to fixture difficulty. Some teams up their game for bigger challenges, while we continue to see surprise results week-in, week-out in the Premier League.
Who knows where we’ll be in five games time?
The Data Day Podcast
Ryan Benson joined Graham Bell to dissect the Manchester derby and compare the impact Erling Haaland and Rasmus Højlund are having on their respective sides.
Matt Furniss also popped in to provide a fact from each of the games as part of our Premier League Review Matchday 10, before Graham let his success in the Pauline Quirke Quiz last time go to his head as he turned quizmaster and put Matt in the hotseat. Could he maintain the co-hosts winning record?
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: Player Accolades
This week’s quiz looks at some of the notable landmarks that were reached in the Premier League at the weekend. Answers at the bottom of the page.
1. Since the start of last season, no player has both scored and assisted in more different Premier League games than Brentford’s Bryan Mbeumo, but in how many games has he recorded at least one goal and one assist in that time? A) 3, B) 4, or C) 5?
2. Four players have scored penalties for Arsenal in the Premier League this season, their most in a single campaign since 2008-09. Who are they?
3. Moussa Diaby had a fine game against Luton and became the first Frenchman to be directly involved in six or more goals across his first 10 Premier League appearances (3 goals, 3 assists) since who in 2015 for West Ham?
4. Mohamed Salah’s strike against Nottingham Forest made it 20 Premier League goals for the Egyptian in 2023, his fourth different calendar year with 20+ PL goals. Who are the other three players to have achieved that feat?
5. Jonny Evans (35y 299d) was the oldest defender to start in a Premier League game between Manchester United and Manchester City since who in November 2002 (also for United)?
This week’s question came to us via X from @TukaLetura, who asks: “What team has created the most big chances in a single game since the start of last season?”
For those unaware, a big chance is defined as one from which the attacking player would generally be expected to score.
Handily, the answer to this question ties in nicely with our look at Newcastle earlier. Eddie Howe’s side really are experts at creating very good chances.
In the Premier League since the start of the 2022-23 season there have been two instances of a team creating nine big chances in a game, both of which were this season, and both were by Newcastle.
The first came in their 5-1 win over Aston Villa on the opening weekend, and unsurprisingly, the second was their 8-0 thrashing of Sheffield United at Bramall Lane.
There have been three instances of teams creating eight big chances, one of which – yes – was Newcastle in their 4-1 win against Brighton in May. The others were Liverpool against Arsenal in their 2-2 draw at Anfield in April, and Manchester City in their 3-1 win at West Ham in September.
City also created seven big chances against Man Utd on Sunday, so it was a good job André Onana was in fine form or it could have been an even worse day for Erik ten Hag’s side.
What Are We up to at Opta Analyst?
Here’s some of the latest data-driven offerings you can find on our website:
Opta is excited to bring you two fresh, new and FREE weekly football challenges, with Opta Max and Opta Five.
Compare the latest player ratings and stats. Then put your player ratings knowledge to the test for a chance to win big prizes each week of the football season.
1. B) 4
2. Martin Ødegaard, Bukayo Saka, Kai Havertz and Fabio Vieira
3. Dimitri Payet (7 goal involvements)
4. Alan Shearer, Thierry Henry and Harry Kane (all 5)
5. Laurent Blanc (36y 355d)
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