Stat, Viz, Quiz is the weekly Opta Analyst football newsletter. Our latest edition includes numbers on Arsenal’s win over Liverpool, Sheffield United’s latest defeat, and woodwork rattlers.
Another Premier League matchday is in the can, and boy there were a lot of goals.
Forty-five were scored in total, the highest scoring matchday in a 20-team season (since 1995-96) and the second-highest in Premier League history (after 53 goals on the final day of 1992-93).
That included five goals at Bramall Lane. Unfortunately for Sheffield United, Aston Villa claimed all of them, sending Chris Wilder’s men on course for a most unwanted record that we’ll delve a little deeper into here.
Arsenal blew the title race wide open again with a win over Liverpool, and in doing so, did something to the Reds that no-one else has been able to before.
We also have an Ask Opta question to answer, where we’ll find out just how often Darwin Núñez has tested the paint job on Premier League goalposts this season. Much like us, he seems very dedicated to his research.
If you haven’t done so already, you can subscribe below and receive Stat, Viz, Quiz direct to your inbox every week.
STAT – Sheffield United on Course to Concede the Most
When Sheffield United were thumped 8-0 at home by Newcastle United earlier this season, it was a real low point. The last thing they would have wanted would be to allow a moment where people could justifiably say: “Uh oh, it’s happening again.”
After just 30 minutes at Bramall Lane, Aston Villa were already halfway to Newcastle’s total and déjà vu was presumably setting in for the Blades.
Mercifully, just one more goal arrived and Sheffield United were only dispatched 5-0, but it did leave them in another ominous position.
Not only bottom of the table and 10 points from safety having played a game more than 17th-place Luton Town, but also having conceded 59 goals from their 23 games; the most a team has ever conceded at this stage of a Premier League season.
Relegation seems a near certainty, but what must they do to avoid the ignominy of breaking the record for most goals conceded in Premier League history?
That record currently sits with Swindon Town, who saw 100 go past them in their one and only Premier League campaign back in 1993-94. However, that was a 42-game season, with Swindon conceding 2.38 goals per game. That is the most goals per game (GPG) conceded in Premier League history, but Sheffield United’s GPG conceded currently stands at 2.56. If that rate continues, they will end the season having let in 97 goals.
In a 38-game season, Derby perhaps unsurprisingly hold the record, with their famous 11-point campaign in 2007-08 seeing 89 goals conceded at 2.34 per game.
So, in their final 15 games, Sheffield United must concede fewer than 31 goals. Doable, but you’d also be a brave person to bet against them taking the crown.
Still, it’s nice to have something to aim for, which must be what opponents think when looking at their goal.
VIZ – Arsenal Raise Expectations in More Ways Than One
It was a huge win for Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday. You don’t have your captain celebrate with the club cameraman for just any old victory, after all.
Their 3-1 win over Liverpool was not just impressive because it brought them back into the Premier League title race, though. The Gunners also achieved something else.
Arsenal’s expected goals (xG) total of 3.5 was the highest faced by Liverpool in a Premier League game on record. Not bad when you’re facing a team top of the league who had only lost one of their 22 games at that point.
It must be said that a good portion of their xG came from Arsenal’s first two goals. Bukayo Saka’s opener had an xG value of 0.44 after he was left with a simple finish following Alisson’s save from Kai Havertz.
Gabriel Martinelli making it 2-1 came after a howler from both Liverpool’s goalkeeper and Virgil van Dijk, presenting the Brazilian with an open goal at an xG of 0.75.
Leandro Trossard’s game clincher in stoppage time had an xG of just 0.04, but that may have been due to the fact it was at an angle, and it was the deflection off Van Dijk’s toe that took it into the net.
Arsenal had eight chances with a higher xG than Liverpool’s highest, which came from Luis Díaz in the opening minute of the second half (0.1). Gabriel’s own goal that drew the visitors level just before half-time did not record an xG amount, but it felt like it would take something like that for Jürgen Klopp’s men to find the net.
So, a good day at the office for Arsenal and a bad one for Liverpool. We appear to have a three-way title race on our hands, and we can expect an exciting three-and-a-half months ahead.
QUIZ – Leaky Spurs, Dunk’s Slam, and Fulham’s Rotten Road Run
There were oodles of goals scored in the Premier League this weekend, while there were also plenty of stats and facts to build a quiz from, which is handy. Answers at the bottom of the page.
1. Tottenham have now conceded more goals in the 90th minute or later this season than any other Premier League side, and their most in a single Premier League campaign. How many? A) 6, B) 7, or C) 8?
2. Since the start of 2017-18, only two defenders have scored more Premier League goals than Brighton’s Lewis Dunk, who claimed his 15th in that time in the 4-1 win over Crystal Palace on Saturday. Who are the two defenders to have scored more?
3. Fulham have won just one of their last seven Premier League games (D2 L4), while they’re winless on the road in 11 games in the competition since beating who in August?
4. Chelsea were losing at half-time for just the second time in the Premier League this season against Wolves on Sunday, before going down 4-2 at Stamford Bridge. When was the only other time the Blues have been losing at the break in the league in 2023-24?
5. Rasmus Højlund became only the second player to score on his 21st birthday in the Premier League when he netted against West Ham on Sunday. Which former Leeds, Coventry City and Middlesbrough striker is the only other player to do so (in December 1995)?
This week’s question comes from Silvestar Bistrović, who asks: “With Darwin Núñez hitting the woodwork like crazy, I wonder who has the most woodwork hits per season and overall?”
You’re not wrong, Silvestar. Liverpool striker Darwin Núñez has been hitting the post and crossbar so often you wonder if someone has played a trick on him by saying you get awarded two goals for doing so.
He hit the woodwork four times against Chelsea last week, the most in a single Premier League game by one player on record (since 2003-04).
For clarity, Opta defines the ‘hit woodwork’ stat as “When the ball hits any part of the goal frame but does not enter the net as a direct consequence,” so scoring after hitting the inside of the post or underside of the bar does not count.
Núñez has struck the woodwork nine times in the Premier League so far this season, at least six more than any other player (seven players have done so three times).
In fact, the only player to have hit the woodwork more often in a Premier League season on record is Robin van Persie, who did so 10 times in 2011-12, when he also scored 30 goals in his final campaign for Arsenal. Núñez has another 15 possible games to take that record, though presumably won’t want to.
Kevin De Bruyne in 2016-17 and Harry Kane in 2020-21 also recorded nine woodwork hits each in the league, but perhaps most notably, so did Luis Suárez in 2013-14 when he scored 31 Premier League goals in 33 games.
The Uruguayan has been a big advocate of his compatriot Núñez, and if the 24-year-old can develop into anything like the player Suárez did at Anfield, it’ll be quite something.
In Europe’s top five leagues this season, no other player has hit the woodwork more than four times, but generally there is quite a lot of proof that doing so with regularity is actually the sign of a high-quality player. There have been nine instances of a player doing so at least 10 times in a season, and Lionel Messi is responsible for six of those.
The others are Cristiano Ronaldo (2012-13), Van Persie and, erm, Bakary Sako. The former Wolves striker scored only four goals in 36 Ligue 1 games for Saint-Étienne in 2011-12, but he also hit the woodwork 10 times.
As for overall, the all-star top five list from Europe’s big five leagues (league only) since records began are Messi (116), Ronaldo (106), Karim Benzema (67), Robert Lewandowski (63) and Suárez (60).
What Are We up to at Opta Analyst?
Here’s some of the latest data-driven offerings you can find on our website:
Opta Player Ratings & Games
If you haven’t done so yet, check out and play Opta’s 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.
Matchday 23’s top-rated player was, somewhat unsurprisingly, Phil Foden after his hat-trick gave Manchester City a comeback 3-1 win at Brentford. The England international emerged with a near-perfect rating of 99.8.
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.
1. C) 8
2. Marcos Alonso (19) and Virgil van Dijk (17)
3. Everton (1-0)
4. Against Liverpool at Anfield just four days earlier (2-0, before losing 4-1)
5. Noel Whelan
Before you go…
Enjoying Stat, Viz, Quiz? Think it needs improvement? Send us your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.