Stat, Viz, Quiz is the weekly Opta Analyst football newsletter. Our latest edition includes numbers on the first and second halves of seasons, and the Opta Power Rankings.

We hope you’ve had a great holiday period, whatever you’ve been celebrating.

At Opta Analyst, we celebrate numbers and so for the final SVQ of 2023, we thought we’d take stock as we approach the halfway point of the 2023-24 Premier League season.

We will also look further into the Opta Power Rankings after our glance at Aston Villa’s rise last week.

This week’s quiz is in XL form for this special occasion, with 10 of the head-scratchingest stat-based questions to delight and frustrate in equal measure.

Let’s get going and sign off SVQ for 2023 in style… depending on your definition of ‘style’.

If you haven’t done so already, you can subscribe below and receive Stat, Viz, Quiz direct to your inbox every week.

STAT A Season of Two Halves

We all love to read as much as possible into results and league placings pretty much from Matchday 1.

However, it must be remembered that until you get past the halfway point of the season, at least as many points are still up for grabs as have been played for.

After everyone has played 19 games in the Premier League they will have challenged for 57 points, with another 57 still to play for. Form can go up and down through the months, so no team can take their position for granted or indeed, lose all hope before the turn.

Which teams have had the most drastic changes in fortune between the first and second halves of Premier League seasons, though?

So as not to complicate things, let’s just look at 38-game seasons (from 1995-96 onwards). The first of those campaigns – 1995-96 – featured the team with the biggest difference between their points-per-game in the first and second halves. Middlesbrough had won an impressive 33 points from their first 19 games in their first season in the Premier League (1.74 PPG). However, they won just 10 more points after that (0.53 PPG), finishing in 12th place.

In terms of fortunes going in the other direction, Newcastle United’s 2021-22 campaign improved drastically in the second half. Having picked up just 11 points in their first 19 games (0.58 PPG), the appointment of Eddie Howe proved fruitful as they won 38 points in their next 19 outings (2.00 PPG).

Biggest 2nd Half Season Improvement Premier League

Not to be left out, the north east’s other Premier League representative, Sunderland, have the record for highest percentage of points won in the first half of a season. In 2002-03, they won 18 points in their first 19 games. They finished the season with just 19 points, so you can work out how very bad their second 19 games were. Sunderland won 94.7% of their points that season before they reached the halfway stage.

The highest percentage of points in the second half of a Premier League season came from Sheffield United (78.3%), whose awful start to the 2020-21 campaign saw them on just five points after 19 games. They added another 18 in the second half of the season, but unsurprisingly it wasn’t enough to stay up.

So, there you have it. Don’t read too much into the first half of a campaign. It could all go very wrong, or very right, from here.

VIZ The Power Rankings’ Best: Where Were They Then?

Power Rankings Change Since 1 Jan Top 10

Last week, we looked at Aston Villa and their impressive rise up the Opta Power Rankings since the start of the year.

That inspired us to look at every team in the current top 20, and to check where they were on 1 January 2023. Which team came from the furthest away to rise to the best of the best in world football, according to the Power Rankings?

The Opta Power Rankings are a global team ranking system that assigns an ability score to nearly 13,500 domestic football teams on a scale between zero and 100, where zero is the worst-ranked team in the world and 100 is the best team in the world. The Power Rankings are updated daily and currently rank teams from 183 different countries and 413 unique domestic leagues.

On 1 January, Bayern Munich led the Power Rankings, ahead of Manchester City, Liverpool, Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain. As of 26 December, that order has changed around, with recently-crowned world champions Man City at the top, Real Madrid in second and Bayern third. Inter and Arsenal have forced their way into the top five at the expense of Liverpool (6th) and PSG (7th).

Premier League leaders Arsenal have risen to fifth from sixth, while Serie A leaders Inter have gone up to fourth from 11th, having also reached the UEFA Champions League final earlier this year.

Power Rankings Change Since 1 Jan Rank 11-20

It will be no surprise, especially not to us as we wrote about it a week ago, that Aston Villa have risen the most out of teams currently in the top 20. They started 2023 in 50th spot and now find themselves in 11th place, moving up 39 places during the calendar year.

The other big climbers in the top 20 are Bundesliga leaders Bayer Leverkusen, whose remarkable improvement under Xabi Alonso has taken them up to 9th in the Opta Power Rankings, having been 32nd on 1 January. Alonso’s former club Real Sociedad have also had an impressive year, moving up from 28th to 14th.

PSV have gone up 12 places, with Serie A giants Juventus matching rivals Inter by rising seven spots, though last year’s Serie A champions Napoli have fallen 13 places to 20th.

Which teams will climb the highest in 2024? That is for them and the Opta Power Rankings to decide.

QUIZ The Big Quiz of 2023

We’re at the end of another year (well, almost) and as a special treat because we’re always so good to our readers, we have a bumper 10-question quiz this week, with each question asking you to remember who has excelled or struggled in 2023. Answers at the bottom of the page (all numbers are correct as of 26 December).

1. Which team has scored the most goals in Europe’s top five leagues in 2023 (league games only)?

2. Which Spanish team has conceded the most goals in Europe’s top five leagues in 2023?

3. Which team has won the most points in Europe’s top five leagues in 2023?

4. Which player has scored the most goals in all competitions from those in Europe’s top five leagues… not including Erling Haaland (because that would be too easy)?

5. Speaking of Haaland, how many Champions League goals has the phenomenal Norwegian scored in 2023?

6. Which Premier League team has received the most yellow cards in 2023? A) Chelsea, B) Wolves, or C) Tottenham?

7. Six players have been shown two red cards in the Premier League this year. Can you name three of them?

8. Which player has created the most chances in Europe’s top five leagues in 2023?

9. Who has recorded the most assists in Europe’s top five leagues this year?

10. How many goals have been scored in total in the Premier League in 2023, up to and including Wolves vs Chelsea on 24 December? A) 954, B) 1,054, or C) 1,154?

Ask Opta

This week’s question came to us via email from Peter Khalil, who asks: “In this season and the last two, Luis Muriel was within the finest in Europe for stats like goals per 90, expected assists, dribbling and others. My question is why is he not a starter for Atalanta? Are the other Atalanta strikers more useful to the team?”

Do you have a stat-based question you’d like Opta to answer in a future edition of SVQ? Email us at or message us on X @OptaAnalyst with #AskOpta and we’ll pick the best one.


Luis Muriel was once so highly rated that he was linked with some of Europe’s biggest clubs. The Colombian has played for teams such as Udinese, Sampdoria, Sevilla and Fiorentina, and as Peter says, is now at Atalanta.

The 32-year-old has never really been a regular starter for La Dea, though, not starting more than 17 Serie A games in a season since joining in 2019.

This season, Muriel has started just two league games, coming off the bench on 12 occasions.

As for why he doesn’t start more regularly for Atalanta, that would be a question for manager Gian Piero Gasperini, who has generally preferred Gianluca Scamacca, Ademola Lookman and Charles De Ketelaere in the front two in his 3-5-2 formation this season.

In the 2021-22 season, Muriel scored nine goals in 27 Serie A appearances at a rate of 0.52 goals per 90 minutes, He recorded 6.1 expected assists (xA), and attempted 6.2 dribbles per game at a success rate of 58.5%. In Europe’s top five leagues, of those to attempt at least 100 dribbles, only 16 players attempted more per 90 minutes than Muriel, with only Alphonso Davies, Allan Saint-Maximin and Adama Traoré having a higher success rate. Just nine players with at least 6.0 xA did so with a better per-90 rate than Muriel’s 0.35.

Last season, he scored just three times in Serie A, but did only start 10 of his 29 appearances, racking up only 1,066 minutes in total. He again recorded 0.35 xA per 90 and 6.3 dribbles attempted per 90, though his success rate dipped to 46%.

As mentioned, this season has seen Muriel start even less, with only two starts in Atalanta’s 17 Serie A games. He has still managed to hit two goals, while he has scored another four in five games in the UEFA Europa League. His six goals make him Atalanta’s joint-top scorer in all competitions with Lookman and Scamacca.

Luis Muriel xG 23-24

In all competitions, Muriel is averaging more goals per 90 than any of his teammates (0.9, compared to Scamacca – 0.76, Lookman – 0.39, and De Ketelaere – 0.31), is having more shots per 90 than anyone (4.67, compared to Scamacca – 4.29, Lookman – 3.64, and De Ketelaere – 2.59) and is creating more chances from open play (2.56, compared to Scamacca – 0.76, Lookman – 1.56, and De Ketelaere – 2.28).

Why he isn’t starting more is up to Gasperini, though the Atalanta boss clearly rates Muriel, recently saying after the Colombian’s wonder goal against Salernitana: “Luis is going through a beautiful moment… He’s regained his confidence and even if he makes mistakes, he tries things that only few can attempt.”

Perhaps we’ll be seeing more of him before long.

What Are We up to at Opta Analyst?

Here’s some of the latest data-driven offerings you can find on our website:

🎁 Premier League Christmas Presents: One Potential Signing for Your Team

📉 How to Stop the Slide: Five Things for Nuno to Fix at Nottingham Forest

🟣 Ollie Watkins: The Premier League’s Most Complete Centre-Forward?

🔼 Top of the League at Christmas: Does It Mean Anything?

⚽️ Liverpool 1-1 Arsenal Stats

⚒️ West Ham 2-0 Manchester United Stats

Opta Player Ratings & Games

Opta Games logo

If you haven’t done so yet, check out and play Opta’s new and FREE weekly football challenges, Opta Max and Opta Five.

Both games are powered by the Opta Player Ratings, a measure that takes into account over 100 different metrics to provide an accurate performance score (out of 100) for every player in a single match.

The weekend’s top-performing player was Dominic Solanke (99.4/100) who scored a stunning hat-trick in Bournemouth’s 3-2 win at Nottingham Forest.

In Opta Max and Opta Five you can compare players’ latest players 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.

Head to the website to find out more and start playing Opta Games.

Quiz Answers

1. Bayern Munich (92 goals)

2. Almería (84 goals conceded)

3. Barcelona (88 points)

4. Harry Kane (43 goals, just one fewer than Haaland)

5. 12 goals

6. A) Chelsea (103 yellow cards)

7. Matheus Nunes, Casemiro, Cristian Romero, Yves Bissouma, Mario Lemina and Oli McBurnie

8. Bruno Fernandes (128 chances created)

9. Mohamed Salah (15 assists)

10. C) 1,154

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