Stat, Viz, Quiz is the weekly Opta Analyst football newsletter. Our latest edition includes numbers on the FA Cup and the Premier League.

After having Premier League football here, there, and everywhere in December, January has been a relative drought of English top-flight action.

With FA Cup, EFL Cup and the winter break, there have been just 12 Premier League games in January so far, but don’t worry; plenty more are on the way.

Tuesday saw the start of a midweek set of fixtures as the title race and relegation battle continue, and we’re going to see who has the hardest and easiest upcoming run of games over the next few weeks.

The magic of the FA Cup was well and truly on show at the weekend as plucky Manchester United overcame the irresistible force of Newport County… oh sorry, we mean Maidstone United managed to beat Ipswich Town. The achievement was incredible, the stats were even more so, and we’ll take a look at some of them right now.

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STAT Maidstone Magic

On your 2024 bingo card we bet you didn’t have ‘Ed Sheeran’s weekend is ruined by former Wolves left-back George Elokobi’.

That’s what happened on Saturday though as Elokobi’s Maidstone United remarkably beat Ipswich 2-1 at Portman Road to advance to the fifth round of the FA Cup.

An incredible achievement from the National League South (sixth tier) side, especially to beat Kieran McKenna’s in-form Ipswich on their home turf, something only previously achieved this season by Leeds United and Fulham.

Unsurprisingly, the Championship outfit dominated in terms of chances. Their 38 shots produced just one goal, though, while Maidstone’s two shots came with a 100% conversion rate.

Ipswich v Maidstone stats

Only one game in English football has matched that chasm in difference for shots this season, which was Sheppey United hosting Walsall in the first round of the FA Cup. The League Two side had 39 shots to just three from their Isthmian League opponents, though did run out 4-1 winners.

In fact, there is no game in English football on record where a team that has taken at least 36 more shots than their opponent has lost, though Plymouth Argyle were beaten 3-2 by Dagenham and Redbridge in League Two in April 2016 despite having had 30 more attempts at goal (36-6).

Liverpool had to rely on penalties to beat Carlisle United in September 2015 in the League Cup after a 1-1 draw despite having 52 more shots than their opponents (58-6), though that included 30 minutes of extra-time.

In the Premier League in January 2014, Chelsea were forced to settle for a 0-0 draw against West Ham despite having 39 shots against their London rivals, who themselves managed just one effort all game.

Maidstone’s achievement will go down in history, and though they weren’t rewarded with a fifth-round tie against Premier League opposition, will probably fancy their chances of repeating their feat against either Sheffield Wednesday or Coventry City.

We’ll keep an eye out for that, as well as Sheeran’s new album, titled: ‘Jammy Jammy Maidstone’.

VIZ Now is the Winter of Our Discontent… at the Fixture List

Premier League Fixture Difficulty
Viz by Jonny Whitmore

We’re a few games into the second half of the season and the Premier League is shaping up nicely.

Liverpool and Manchester City are threatening to make it another classic race for the title, while Arsenal, Aston Villa and Tottenham will still hold out hope of muscling their way in.

The relegation fight is also hotting up, with the three promoted sides still making up the bottom trio, but Luton in particular are close to dragging Everton, Nottingham Forest and Crystal Palace into the dark places of the Premier League.

Who is likeliest to rack up the points over the next few weeks, then? We’ve looked at the fixture difficulty for each team based on the placing of their upcoming opponents in the Opta Power Rankings.

Brentford have Ivan Toney back, which is just as well seeing as they have the toughest run of games coming up. They face Man City, Spurs and Liverpool in the next five games. In fact, thanks to their re-arranged game from December, they actually face City twice.

Burnley may find it difficult to improve their survival hopes as they also play City and Liverpool as well as Arsenal, while Everton could get dragged into the relegation zone given they have the fourth-toughest run coming up.

Man City and Liverpool are among those with a simpler-looking fixture list, though Jürgen Klopp’s men will no longer be hosting Luton on the final weekend of February due to their participation in the EFL Cup final.

The supposed ‘easiest’ run of games belongs to Brighton, who face four of the bottom six in their next five.

Championship fixture difficulty

In the Championship, new Swansea boss Luke Williams has his work cut out with the hardest run of games coming up, while bottom side Rotherham will need to drastically improve their performances to not be left even further adrift.

Ipswich may be able to console themselves after their shock FA Cup loss with a run of games seen as the third-easiest in England’s second tier, while Blackburn apparently have the simplest.

QUIZ Fourth-Round Facts

Things other than Maidstone’s win happened in the FA Cup fourth round, with enough ammo for us to tease your brain for another week. Answers at the bottom of the page.

1. Nathan Aké ended Manchester City’s goal drought at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, scoring in their sixth match at the ground against Spurs. How many shots across all games did it take City to score that goal? A) 62, B) 82, or C) 102?

2. Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy scored his first FA Cup goal since March 2018 when he headed in against Birmingham on Saturday. Who was his last strike in the competition against?

3. Since the start of last season, Dan Burn is just one of three Newcastle United players to score in the Premier League, UEFA Champions League, EFL Cup and now FA Cup, along with which two teammates?

4. Liverpool’s 5-2 win over Norwich on Sunday made it six wins in their last seven FA Cup games at Anfield (D1). Who was the last team to beat them on their own ground in the competition?

5. Antony grabbed a goal and assist in Man Utd’s 4-2 win at Newport. It was his 23rd appearance of the campaign and the Brazilian’s first goal for the club in 32 appearances since netting against who back in April 2023?

Ask Opta

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.

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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.

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Quiz Answers

1. C) 102

2. Chelsea

3. Alexander Isak and Sean Longstaff

4. West Brom in January 2018 (3-2)

5. Nottingham Forest

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