The Analyst Diary – March 14
Soccer

The Analyst Diary – March 14

Help The Aged

Cristiano Ronaldo’s first Premier League hat-trick, on the 12th day of January 2008 took place in a world quite different from his second, scored on the 12th day of March 2022. That gap of more than 14 years has obliterated the record for time between first and last Premier League trebles by a single player, previously held by Wayne Rooney at just over 11 years. Ronaldo, meanwhile, is now up to 807 goals, which is the sort of total that triggers vague phrases like “lays claim” because it is apparently the case that he has now overtaken Austro-Czech goal machine Josef Bican for the (admittedly quite cool) title of “professional football’s all-time leading scorer”. As always with records that stretch back into the early mists of the game, no-one is quite sure whether it’s true or not, although that didn’t stop people magically remembering “Jimmy Dunne” when Jamie Vardy did something good in 2015.

So records galore for Ronaldo but the Manchester United veteran still has work to do if he is to become the Premier League’s oldest hat-trick scorer, a landmark held by Teddy Sheringham thanks to a classic three-goal salvo against Bolton in August 2003, the same month that Ronaldo made his Premier League debut. It’s interesting to look at the top five oldest hat-tricks and see just how frequent they were at the turn of the century, thanks to Sheringham and helicopter pilot Les Ferdinand. Furthermore, Ronaldo’s modern antics against Spurs at the weekend have pushed Ian Wright out of the top five, and as we all know, he will remain the top-scoring Premier League player to score all of his goals in the 1990s forever more. That’s one record Ronaldo can’t nab, at least.

oldest hat-tricks
no need for sleeves like that is there

Romeu & Not Sent Off Yet

In a disappointing Sunday afternoon for Southampton supporters, what with the club losing at home to relegation-haunted Watford, they did at least witness Oriol Romeu record a tiny bit of Premier League history. The midfielder, who still feels like a prospect despite the fact he turns 31 later this year, has now equalled Luke Young’s record of most-yellow-cards-without-ever-being-sent-off, both players with 62 each, 10 ahead of Ashley Westwood and 11 ahead of James McArthur. The ability to make sanctionable fouls when your team needs one, but never to do it so badly or regularly that the referee reaches ominously for his back pocket, is admirable. You would imagine that Romeu will be able to stretch ahead in the coming months but should he finally get a red card, listen carefully and you might be able to hear Luke Young, who collected a yellow card in his final ever Premier League appearance in March 2012, cheering in the background as he regains top spot.

Romeu booked
booking number 44 of 62. NFT available.

Keeper Capers

It was a good weekend for goalkeepers doing things a little bit differently. Firstly, in a development that was always theoretically possible but rated by experts as extremely unlikely, Wycombe actually took a short goal kick, with David Stockdale passing to colleague Ryan Tafazolli inside the box like some sort of Ederson figure. As you can see on the graphic below, Wycombe’s favoured tactic from goal kicks since the law was adjusted in 2019 remains achingly traditional.

wycombe goal kicks
there it is, the short one

And up in the Premier League on Sunday, Norwich’s eagerness to score at Leeds saw Tim Krul create a goalscoring chance for Teemu Pukki. Of course, it’s not unheard of for ‘keepers to trouble this metric – three of them have a total of three chances created so far this season – but they tend to be passes hit from deep or free-kicks near the halfway line. Krul, in contrast, did his business in the D, and you have to respect the craftsmanship on show.

Krul chances created

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