The Analyst Diary – May 9
Mind The Gap
Manchester United cannot wait for the season to end. A 4-0 defeat at Brighton means that Manchester United have conceded more away goals in 2022 than any other Premier League team. And this is Manchester United Football Club we’re talking about.
The game was Brighton’s biggest ever top-flight win, accounts for 2.2% of all the Premier League goals they’ve ever scored, guarantees United will finish on their lowest ever points total in a Premier League season and means, if they lose the final game at Palace by 2+ goals, United will finish with a negative goal difference for the first time since 1989-90.
With Manchester City winning 5-0 on Sunday, they now have a goal difference advantage of +67 over United and with three games to play it seems almost inevitable that they’ll extend that over the 70 goal mark. If they do so it will be the biggest ever goal difference gap in City’s favour over their local rivals, beating the +69 in 1936-37, a season which saw City win the league and United relegated.
It’s not quite that bad this season, but it must feel like it for United fans right now.
Ending With a Bang
Few seasons have ended as joyously as 2021-22 did for Bristol Rovers. Their 7-0 win against Scunthorpe saw them climb into the automatic promotion places for the first time all season, and at just the right time. Northampton were the incredibly unlucky team to drop out, and now must focus on the play-offs with whatever morale they have remaining.
Rovers became the 28th English club to score seven or more goals in their final game of a season, and the first since Tottenham beat Hull 7-1 in 2017, aka The Week When Harry Kane Scored Seven Goals In Four Days. Perhaps surprisingly, given their long dominance of the English scene, neither Liverpool nor Manchester United have ever done this. Seven clubs have done it twice: Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City, Mansfield Town, Plymouth, Reading and West Brom. With the EFL season now concluded in all divisions, that means only the first three clubs in that list can become the first to do it three times. So on May 22 watch out Everton at the Emirates, mind out Watford at Stamford Bridge and be very careful Aston Villa at the Etihad.
As mentioned above, play-offs aside, the EFL season is now complete which means we can confirm that Gillingham ended 2021-22 with the highest ratio of woodwork hits to goals this season. Now we all know by now that a woodwork hit is a shot off target, and players should simply aim (literally) to get the ball into the net, but even so, 19 strikes of the goalframe to a total of 35 goals in 46 games only illustrates the margins that can send teams down. With these numbers it’s impressive that Gillingham even had a chance of staying up on the final day, albeit one they didn’t take.
As you might expect, most of the teams in this list had poor or underwhelming seasons. The exceptions to that are Blackburn and Middlesbrough who both missed out on the Championship play-offs but both ended with exactly the same record of 21 woodwork hits and 59 goals. Meanwhile fans of the sound of ricochets might want to plan a visit to Cumbria soon, because both Carlisle and Barrow are represented here. Both clubs were in the League Two relegation battle this season but both survived, meaning they will both face Gillingham in 2022-23. Expect the woodwork to get rattled in those games.
Team Finishing Position Hit Woodwork Goals Gillingham 21 R 19 35 Carlisle United 20 20 39 Cardiff City 18 20 50 Stoke City 14 22 57 West Bromwich Albion 10 20 52 Salford City 10 22 60 Barrow 22 16 44 Barnsley 24 R 12 33 Blackburn Rovers 8 21 59 Middlesbrough 7 21 59
Potters Still Behind
Another Stoke City season is in the bag and that means another campaign of still having a cumulative negative goal difference. From losing 2-0 to WBA in September 1888 to the draw with Coventry last weekend, Stoke’s current all-time F/A numbers are: scored 6254, conceded 6564. Will they ever reach zero? I don’t know.