Stat, Viz, Quiz is the weekly Opta Analyst football newsletter. Our latest edition includes numbers on Liverpool and Manchester United.
Happy New Year, all. It’s 2024 and we are back with the latest edition of Stat, Viz, Quiz.
If your resolution was to consume some top-notch content that couples up data-driven football writing with silly puns that would make even your dad wince, you’ve clicked on the right newsletter.
Apologies in advance to Manchester United fans but we couldn’t ignore the increasingly statistically fascinating season witnessed in the red half of Manchester. Erik ten Hag will have wanted to repeat much of what he saw last season, but unfortunately for him, his side has already matched one particular stat from that campaign just 20 games in.
Liverpool were very much eager not to repeat their 2022-23 season, and so far they are heading well in the right direction, having won 16 more points at this stage as they did last time out and leading the Premier League heading into the new year. Against Newcastle on Monday night, they added an eye-opening record to their list of achievements.
Read on for all that, as well as our latest quiz as we dive into 2024 with another SVQ.
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STAT – Man Utd’s Unwanted Nine
To call Manchester United’s season a “rollercoaster” would be to do it somewhat of a disservice. If anyone had been on a ride as up and down as United’s 2023-24 they would surely be violently ill.
That may be how their fans feel after United suffered their ninth defeat of the Premier League campaign at Nottingham Forest on Saturday.
To rub salt into the wounds, former winger Anthony Elanga was one of the chief string pullers at the City Ground, providing the assist for Morgan Gibbs-White’s winner.
Nicolás Domínguez had given Forest the lead after nice work from Gonzalo Montiel, before Marcus Rashford took full advantage of a Matt Turner error to equalise.
Gibbs-White had the final say, though, leading to defeat number nine in the league for Ten Hag’s men. It means that Manchester United have lost as many as nine of their opening 20 league games to a season for the first time since 1989-90.
It is also as many as they suffered in the whole of 2022-23, when they finished third in the Dutch coach’s first campaign in charge at Old Trafford.
Coming just a few days after their impressive 3-2 comeback victory over title challengers Aston Villa, it was the latest down following an up in a season that has been far wackier than any United fan will have hoped for.
Their new year’s resolution will surely be to find more consistency. Their record in the league after 20 games shows them having won 10, lost nine and drawn just one, and that one solitary stalemate was the 0-0 at Liverpool when they faced 34 shots at their goal.
Speaking of which…
VIZ – Liverpool Break xG Record
When injury-hit Newcastle United came to town, you wondered if Liverpool might show them some mercy.
Instead, they broke the record for expected goals in a Premier League game. Pretty mean, really.
Jürgen Klopp’s side did not entirely have things their own way at Anfield in the Premier League’s first game of 2024, with Mohamed Salah seeing a first-half penalty saved, while both teams had goals disallowed for narrow offsides and Alexander Isak equalised for Newcastle shortly after Salah had given Liverpool the lead early in the second half.
Sven Botman threw more doubt on the outcome after Liverpool thought they had finished the game off when Curtis Jones and Cody Gakpo made it 3-1. It took a successful Salah penalty to finally put Eddie Howe’s men to bed as Liverpool eventually won 4-2 to go three points clear at the top of the table.
The hosts should probably have won more comfortably, though it was certainly not for a lack of trying.
Liverpool were awarded two penalties, which helped (penalties have an expected goals (xG) value of 0.79), but their total xG of 7.11 was the biggest on record (since 2010-11) by a team in a single game, and by some distance too.
The xG model/definition has altered somewhat over the years, which must be borne in mind, but according to Opta data, the next highest total xG from a team in the Premier League on record was Manchester City’s 8-0 win over Watford in September 2019, when they amassed 5.87 xG.
That is joint-second with, funnily enough, Liverpool. The Reds put up 5.87 xG in their 6-0 thrashing of Leeds United in February 2022, a game which also featured two penalties for the hosts.
It might shock Man Utd fans to learn that their team has the fourth highest, and fairly recently too. United’s 4-1 win against Chelsea in the closing days of last season saw them rack up 5.22 xG, while the fifth entry is back across to City, and their 6-0 hammering of QPR in May 2015.
Teams will always prefer actual goals over xG, but it is a useful indicator for how much threat a team created and the extent to which they deserved to win a game.
Safe to say, Liverpool just about edged it against Newcastle.
QUIZ – Fortress Etihad, Scoring Spurs, and Salah’s Latest Record
It’s our first quiz of 2024, and we have five more questions from the latest round of Premier League fixtures to help you blow off the Christmas cobwebs. Answers at the bottom of the page.
1. Manchester City’s 2-0 win over Sheffield United ensured they went unbeaten at the Etihad Stadium in all competitions in 2023. How many of their 28 home games did they win?
2. Manchester United’s 2-1 loss at Nottingham Forest made it 21 defeats in all competitions in 2023. When was the last time they lost more often in a calendar year?
3. Tottenham have scored in their last 32 consecutive Premier League games, the longest ongoing streak in the competition. Who are the only three teams to score in more consecutive games in Premier League history?
4. Arsenal’s 2-1 defeat at Fulham was the first time they lost a Premier League game in which they scored the first goal since New Year’s Day 2022 against who? (Clue: Bukayo Saka also put them 1-0 up that day.)
5. Mohamed Salah became just the third player in Premier League history to record 20+ goal involvements (goals and assists) in seven consecutive seasons in Liverpool’s win over Newcastle. Who are the only other two players to do so?
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 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.
This week’s top player (prior to West Ham vs Brighton) is Manchester City midfielder Rodri (99.5 out of 100), whose goal sent the defending Premier League champions on their way to a 2-0 home win against Sheffield United.
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. 25 (drawing three). Three of the last four instances of an English top-flight side going unbeaten in a calendar year at home have been Man City (2011 and 2017), along with Liverpool (2019).
2. 1972 (25)
3. Arsenal (55), Liverpool and Manchester United (both 36)
4. Manchester City
5. Harry Kane (9 successive seasons between 2014/15 – 2022/23) and Thiery Henry (7 successive seasons between 1999/00 – 2005/06).
Before you go…
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