Stat, Viz, Quiz is the weekly Opta Analyst football newsletter. Our latest edition includes numbers on Manchester United, Coventry City, and where penalties are placed.

This weekend showcased the magic of the FA Cup… unless you’re a defender.

There were 20 goals across the four quarter-finals, with drama aplenty. Three of the four games featured stoppage-time winners.

Coventry City kicked things off with an incredible turnaround at Wolves – which we’ll get to shortly – before Manchester City joined them with a routine 2-0 win over Newcastle United.

Chelsea thought they’d thrown it away against Leicester City only to finally overcome the Championship side, before Manchester United edged a seven-goal thriller against Liverpool at Old Trafford, which we’ll also get to in this week’s edition of SVQ.

Don’t worry, Premier League fans; we’ll include some data trivia from this weekend’s action in our quiz, while we have an Ask Opta question all about the direction of penalties.

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

STAT Sky Blues Roll Back the Years

It has been quite a rollercoaster at Coventry City since their triumphant FA Cup campaign in 1986-87.

One of the founder members of the Premier League in 1992 (when football was invented of course… Ah, it was a joke! Stop throwing things), they lasted nine seasons before being relegated to the second tier.

Owner disputes, stadium disagreements, points deductions and relegations would eventually see them all the way down in League Two in 2016-17, but Coventry have steadily risen back up to the Championship and came within a penalty shootout of finally rejoining the Premier League last season, losing to Luton Town in the play-off final.

Mark Robins has been in charge since March 2017, and he has overseen their rise all the way from the fourth tier.

Saturday will have been a particularly proud moment for the man who famously saved Alex Ferguson’s job at Manchester United in his playing days with a late FA Cup goal against Nottingham Forest back in 1990. His team created cup drama of their own as Coventry took the lead at Wolves.

Things looked bleak for them, though, as the Premier League side scored with six minutes of normal time to go, and then again in the 88th minute to seemingly end their cup run. A 97th-minute equaliser from Ellis Simms was set to send the game into extra-time, only for Haji Wright to curl in a winner in the 10th minute of stoppage time.

Wolves v Coventry xG race

Robins admitted he got carried away in the celebrations when he directed his glee at a Wolves ball boy who had refused to give his team the ball back when the game was still 2-1 to the hosts, for which the Coventry boss later apologised, but his team had booked their place in the FA Cup semi-finals for the first time since they won the competition 37 years ago, and only the second time in their entire history.

It was a deserved win for the visitors, too. Simms became the first Coventry player to score five goals in a single FA Cup campaign since Keith Houchen in 1986-87, the man whose diving header at Wembley took the final to extra-time that year.

Perhaps the most impressive stat from the clash at Molineux was Coventry’s expected goals (xG) total. The Sky Blues amassed an xG of 4.50, the most by any team in this season’s FA Cup, including games that have gone to extra-time.

In fact, the highest xG Coventry have recorded in the Championship this season was 2.91 in the 3-0 away win at Millwall in November.

Can they repeat the trick against Manchester United in the semis? With Robins in charge and Erik ten Hag’s job security still widely speculated, our narrative sensor might just explode.

VIZ A Turning Point for Man Utd?

Man Utd pass network v Liverpool FA Cup
Viz by Jonny Whitmore

Following on from that Robins/Ferguson story, there was a general feeling that Manchester United’s home game with rivals Liverpool on Sunday was make or break for Erik ten Hag.

With Champions League qualification looking unlikely – albeit likelier than it did after Tottenham and Aston Villa both dropped points over the weekend – an FA Cup triumph is United’s last chance to have something to celebrate this season.

Things didn’t look great for them when they trailed 2-1 at half-time, with Alexis Mac Allister and Mohamed Salah turning things around after Scott McTominay had given United an early lead.

However, a late equaliser from Antony sent it to extra-time, before Marcus Rashford also equalised after Harvey Elliott’s deflected strike, setting the table for Amad Diallo to win it for the Red Devils late on.

As you can see from United’s passing network above, it was an unorthodox shape from Ten Hag during a chaotic cup tie that swung one way and the other. Aaron Wan-Bissaka was seemingly playing as an attacking left-back, Alejandro Garnacho as a centre forward, and Rasmus Højlund was chiefly out on the right with no-one passing to him (he had just 13 touches in his 71 minutes on the pitch).

The below momentum chart also shows how frenetic things became as the game wore on, particularly in extra-time when it was the visitors who looked set to advance, only for United to fight back and snatch it at the death.

Man Utd v Liverpool FA Cup momentum

It was the first time Manchester United had conceded three goals in an FA Cup home game since their 1963-64 quarter-final against Sunderland (3-3 draw), but it ultimately didn’t matter.

They were good value for the win, too, recording 3.93 xG to Liverpool’s 2.25. They had 28 shots to Liverpool’s 25, with both having 11 shots on target. United had the better chances, though, with five big chances to Liverpool’s one.

It was the first time Liverpool had lost a match in any competition this season in which they had been ahead, and it will be interesting to see what happens when they run it back in the Premier League in just under three weeks from now.

This was a much-needed win and performance for Ten Hag, rewarded with a semi-final against Championship opposition in Coventry.

Can they go all the way this time? They may need to avenge the ghosts of last season when they lost to Manchester City in the final, with Pep Guardiola’s side potentially awaiting again if they can overcome Chelsea.

QUIZ Fofana’s Form, Tottenham’s Blank, and Palmer’s Productivity

We’ve gone for a hybrid quiz this week; part Premier League; part FA Cup. Answers at the bottom of the page.

1. Despite only playing in eight matches, no player has scored more Premier League goals for Burnley this season than David Datro Fofana. Who are the two Clarets teammates he’s level with on four goals?

2. Tottenham failed to score in their 3-0 defeat at Fulham, ending a 39-game run of finding the net in the Premier League. Which team now has the longest active scoring streak? A) Manchester City, B) Fulham, or C) Luton?

3. Cole Palmer has scored 14 goals for Chelsea in all competitions this season, the most by a player in their first season for the Blues since who in 2017-18?

4. Vladimír Coufal now has seven assists in the Premier League this season for West Ham, his joint-best tally in a single campaign (also seven in 2020-21). Who is the only defender in the league to record more assists this season?

5. Manchester United eliminated Liverpool from the FA Cup for the 11th time. Which is the only example of a team eliminating another more often in the competition’s history? Clue: It involves one of those two teams.

Ask Opta

This week’s question is from Matthew Archer, who asks: “After [Raheem] Sterling’s penalty miss [vs Leicester] I want to know how many penalties are saved when going down the middle compared to going to left or right corner?”

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.


Interestingly, we looked at this very topic just last month (Why More Premier League Goalkeepers Should Stand Still at Penalties).

This season’s Premier League has seen a rise in penalty success generally. When we wrote the above article it was up at 90%, dipping very slightly since then to 88.6%.

As Ali Tweedale discovered in his piece, before this season, the Premier League had never seen penalties scored at more than the 83.9% success rate seen in 2013-14. The seasonal penalty-conversion rate has dropped as low as 65.8% (2001-02) and has been beneath 75% in seven different seasons. One of those was last season, when just 74.8% of penalties were scored.

Of course, Raheem Sterling’s penalty miss on Sunday was in the FA Cup, but we’ll provide an update on our data for the Premier League. We can confirm, though, that Sterling’s spot kick was the 29th of this season’s FA Cup proper (first round onwards), with 23 of them finding the net (79.3%). Brighton and Cardiff City are the only teams to have been awarded more than one (two each), with the Seagulls scoring both and the Welsh side missing both.

As far as success for penalties down the middle of the goal (only considering penalties that were clearly aimed there deliberately), last season, 95% of Premier League penalties struck down the middle were scored, compared to 69.6% when aimed in the corners.

This season, 14 out of 15 penalties hit down the middle have gone in (93.3%) compared to 56 of 64 aimed at the corners (87.5%), with Mohamed Salah vs Newcastle in January the only failure so far. However, just 35 of 174 penalties since the start of last season have been aimed down the middle (20.1%).

So, as we queried last month, should more penalty takers be going down the middle? Sterling’s penalty on Sunday will not have inspired confidence, but statistically it’s usually a more than solid option.

What Are We up to at Opta Analyst?

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

⚽️ Substitutes Are Now More Important Than Ever in the Premier League

🏆 Harry Kane Now Has the Most Successful Bundesliga Debut Season, but for What?

🔥 Earliest Sub? Fewest Changes? Most Goal Involvements? Assessing Each Premier League Team’s Substitutions

🤔 Premier League Schedule: How Difficult Are Your Team’s Final 10 Games?

📈 Will Fifth Place in the Premier League Qualify for the Champions League?

💪 Who Have Been the Best Premier League Substitutes in 2023-24?

Opta Player Ratings & Games

Opta Games logo

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.

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. Lyle Foster and Zeki Amdouni

2. C) Luton (17). It is their longest ever such run in the top-flight, and their longest scoring streak in league football since a run of 18 between January and April 2018.

3. Alvaro Morata (15)

4. Kieran Trippier (10)

5. Liverpool have eliminated Everton 12 times.

Before you go…

Enjoying Stat, Viz, Quiz? Think it needs improvement? Send us your feedback to