The Analyst Diary – November 9
After falling 2-0 down, Brentford bombarded Norwich on Saturday, eager to get the sort of win that would have made Daniel Farke’s job untenable. As it turned out, the Norwich manager was fired shortly after the final whistle despite winning the game. That was a surprise, but less of a shock was the way that Brentford constructed their attempted comeback against the Canaries. Thomas Frank’s team are a notorious dead ball menace, and their 13 attempts from set-pieces in Saturday’s game is a Premier League record for a match this season. Overall, Brentford lead the Premier League for set play expected goals in 2021-22 with a healthy 6.40, 1.40 ahead of second placed Burnley and 1.70 ahead of Liverpool in third. If it works, it works. Except when it doesn’t quite.
After a relatively calm 2020-21 on the manager replacement front, 2021-22 has been a contractual bloodbath so far. This weekend saw both Daniel Farke and Dean Smith join Xisco, Nuno Espirito Santo and Steve Bruce on the scrapheap, meaning that this is only the second season in Premier League history where five coaches have departed up to and including the 11th round of games. It joins the infamous 2004-05, a season where Newcastle and Tottenham also lost their managers this early in the campaign in the form of Bobby Robson and Jacques Santini respectively, along with Gary Megson at WBA, Graeme Souness at Blackburn (who resigned to replace Bobby Robson) and the long-rumoured controversial fried egg bap scenario with Paul Sturrock at Southampton.
Alisson’s Starting to Repeat
The half-life on rating goalkeepers can be considerable. A keeper’s reputation can be boosted long after his form has faded, and vice-versa. Take Alisson, for instance. Criticised for an admittedly error-strewn performance for Liverpool at West Ham on Sunday but still regularly cited as one of the best glovesmen in the world, the Brazilian’s form is continuing to follow a pattern he’s displayed since moving to the Premier League from Roma in 2018. His debut season with Liverpool saw him save an additional 6.5 goals in the Premier League based on Stats Perform’s expected goals on target model, a superb first campaign and one that ended with Champions League glory. But then in 2019-20, despite Liverpool’s first league title for 30 years, Alisson was 1.6 goals under for the campaign, a regression that didn’t harm the team but was noticeable all the same. Then last season, a difficult one for Liverpool as a team, saw Alisson not only rediscover his form but also score an outlandish goal away at West Brom late on in the campaign as his team chased a top four finish. So far this season Alisson is about par on xGOT but you can be sure that other managers will have spotted how uncomfortable he was made by West Ham’s set-pieces, and more difficult games are surely in store.