Happy Tuesday, everyone. We hope you all enjoyed last week’s debut edition of Stat, Viz, Quiz. We’ve had some lovely feedback, including “Really good”, “Refreshing change” and “I am out of office until 21 August. Please contact Steve if your query is urgent”, so thanks for that.
The footy is back! Three of Europe’s top five leagues kicked off over the weekend, with some impressive performances, some concerning ones, and more ball-in-play time thanks to new directives.
In this week’s SVQ, we take a look at a notable stat from Manchester United’s opening game, review Harry Kane’s outrageous goalscoring record now that he has left Tottenham for Bayern Munich, and of course, bring you our weekly quiz to see how much attention you were paying over the weekend.
If you haven’t done so already, you can subscribe below and receive Stat, Viz, Quiz direct to your inbox every week:
STAT – Wolves Unable to Blow Manchester United’s House Down
Following Manchester United’s 1-0 win against Wolverhampton Wanderers on Monday, much of the talk was around the penalty that wasn’t. United’s debut goalkeeper André Onana clattered into Sasa Kalajdzic in second-half stoppage time but referee Simon Hooper and VAR official Michael Salisbury both decided against awarding a penalty to the visitors. It was a very lucky escape for Erik ten Hag’s men, who had already had their fair share of fortune during the game.
Heading into the fixture, many had United down as clear favourites – our supercomputer gave them a 52.4% chance of winning – partly because of their impressive home record since losing to Brighton on the opening day last season (unbeaten at Old Trafford in the league), and partly because Wolves looked a potential mess.
Gary O’Neil only took over from the departed Julen Lopetegui a few days ago, but whatever the former Bournemouth boss did in that short time, it really should have gotten him and his team a result in Manchester.
Wolves clocked up a total of 23 shots on Monday, which was the second most by a visiting team to Old Trafford in a Premier League game in recorded history (since 2003-04). The only team to have registered more were José Mourinho’s dominant Chelsea (25) in November 2005. Funnily enough, United also won 1-0 that day through a Darren Fletcher header.
Ten Hag’s men will take it as a warning and surely be better next time, but Wolves can at least take solace in the fact that chance creation shouldn’t be an issue for them this season. They just need to finish them… and also wear extra padding in the reverse fixture if Onana is playing.
VIZ – Harry Kane vs the Best of All Time
With Harry Kane swapping bacon butties for bratwurst (assuming Bayern Munich’s nutritionist is looking the other way), there has been much talk about what else he’ll be giving up by moving to Germany. Many have pointed to his quest to become the Premier League’s all-time top goalscorer.
Kane left Tottenham last week still 47 goals behind Alan Shearer’s record of 260, though at 30 years old, he still has time to come back after a few years in the Bundesliga and do it.
What all that talk ignores though is that football did not start in 1992 with the launch of the Premier League. Goalscorers existed in English football before then (ask your parents).
As our viz for this week shows, Kane still has a very impressive record for goals in England’s top flight (213 goals in 320 games) even when compared to the all-time greats, though it’ll be a while before he can move level with Tony Cottee (214 goals in 548 games).
Kane sits 19th all-time for goals in England’s top flight, with a ratio of 0.67 goals per game. Of the 18 players ahead of him, only four had a better ratio than that. George Camsell (0.69 – 233 goals in 337 games), Hughie Gallacher (0.69 – 246 in 355), Dixie Dean (0.86 – 310 in 362) and Jimmy Greaves (0.69 – 357 in 516).
The England captain teased that he is likely to return to the Premier League one day in his goodbye message to Spurs fans, and it’ll be interesting to see how much further up that viz he can go if he does.
QUIZ – The Premier League is Back
This week’s brain teasers come courtesy of the opening round of fixtures in England’s top flight. Answers are at the bottom of the page?
1. Erling Haaland has now scored 100 goals in Europe’s top five leagues (63 for Borussia Dortmund, 37 for Manchester City). Who is the only player to score more in the time since the Norwegian’s Dortmund debut in January 2020?
2. Eddie Nketiah has scored 14 goals in his last 16 starts at the Emirates Stadium in all competitions after his strike against Nottingham Forest. He was the first English player to score Arsenal’s opening Premier League goal of a season since 2016-17. Who did it back then?
3. Who was the only player to record two assists in the Premier League at the weekend, and indeed, in any of Europe’s top five leagues?
4. After Chelsea’s draw with Liverpool, how many Premier League home games have they now gone without winning?
5. Manchester United’s André Onana became just the fifth African goalkeeper to appear in the Premier League. Can you name two of the other four?
The Data Day
Check out our newest podcast, with Opta Analyst pair Graham Bell and Matt Furniss reviewing the weekend’s Premier League action.
This week’s question comes from Sodiq Adekoya, who asks “if there’s a correlation between a team’s passing accuracy and their league position?” Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like a stat query answered or would like to see a specific data viz and we’ll pick the best one.
In the Premier League last season, champions Manchester City unsurprisingly had the highest passing accuracy (89.2%), with Brighton second (85.9%), though they of course finished sixth in the league. More remarkably, Chelsea were third for passing (85.8%) despite their lowly finish of 12th. Only one of the bottom three for passing accuracy suffered relegation (Leeds – 74.9%), with the bottom two for passing being Brentford (74.8%) and Nottingham Forest (72.3%).
In La Liga, Barcelona beat Real Madrid to the title by 10 points, but Carlo Ancelotti’s men won the passing accuracy stakes (Real fans may argue that’s the real quiz), while none of the worst three teams for passing accuracy (Mallorca, Cádiz and Getafe) went down. In fact, like Brentford in England, Mallorca (75.5%) finished ninth.
In Serie A, champions Napoli led the way for passing accuracy with 87.8%, ahead of Inter and Lazio, while surprisingly 11th-place Monza were fourth for passing. The three relegated teams (Spezia, Cremonese and Sampdoria) were all in the bottom five, though Lecce and Hellas Verona were the two worst for passing and both stayed up, albeit in 16th and 17th respectively.
Finally, in the Bundesliga, Bayern Munich unsurprisingly had the best passing (87.1%) while mirroring the league table, Borussia Dortmund were second (84.4%) and RB Leipzig third (83.6%). Bochum and Augsburg were the two worst for passing, but both stayed up, though Hertha Berlin were third worst and finished bottom.
So broadly speaking, passing accuracy gives a good idea of where roughly you’ll finish, and the best team for it in the league will generally be in the title hunt, though being the worst at it doesn’t necessarily mean relegation.
What Are We up to at Opta Analyst?
Here’s some of the latest data-driven offerings you can find on our website:
⏱️ Matches Are Longer, But How Much More Football Are We Getting? – We look at how much stoppage time has increased in the early games of the season in England.
🛑 Sofyan Amrabat Is So Much More Than Your Average ‘Destroyer’ – The Morocco midfielder has been linked with a move to Manchester United, but was he just a World Cup wonder?
⚒️ Harry Maguire Needs to Revive His Career and West Ham Is the Place to Do It – The Manchester United and England defender could revive his career under David Moyes if a move materialises.
⚽️ Harry Kane to Bayern Munich: What It Means for Records Around Europe and How Spurs Can Cope – With the Tottenham legend now playing in Germany, we looked at what it means for all parties.
👑 Who Will Be the Contenders for the Premier League Golden Boot in 2023-24? – Sure, it’ll probably be Erling Haaland, but we looked at him AND some alternatives anyway.
🧤 Why Are Arsenal Signing David Raya? – With Matt Turner leaving, it seems Arsenal’s pursuit of the Brentford goalkeeper is going to provide Aaron Ramsdale with some unexpected competition.
1. Robert Lewandowski (114 goals in that time)
2. Theo Walcott (vs Liverpool)
3. James Maddison
4. Eight games – D5 L3, their longest run without a home league win since November 1994-April 1995 (12 games)
5. Bruce Grobbelaar, Richard Kingson, Carl Ikeme and Édouard Mendy
Before you go…
Enjoying Stat, Viz, Quiz? Think it needs improvement? Send us your feedback to email@example.com.