Stat, Viz, Quiz is the weekly Opta Analyst newsletter. Our latest edition includes numbers on goals; Chelsea’s lack of and Newcastle’s plenty in Sheffield.
Outside of a hot pie on a cold evening or someone else dropping their pint, goals are the best part of football… unless you’re conceding them, of course.
The weekend’s Premier League action included Manchester City winning again, Arsenal and Tottenham playing out an exciting draw, and a tale of two teams at either end of the goal spectrum.
Sunday saw Chelsea yet again make scoring goals look like the hardest thing in the world, ultimately leading them to another blank and another defeat in what has been a miserable 2023 for them. Just a few hours later, Newcastle went goal crazy at Bramall Lane, racking up eight as they dealt with Sheffield United like a road sweeper hoovering up a discarded bus ticket.
This week’s SVQ takes a closer look at both Chelsea and Newcastle’s extremes, before a quiz all about goals. Some of us wanted to do a quiz on pies, but we’ll save that for later in the season.
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STAT – 2023 Has Been a Year to Forget for Chelsea
You’d forgive Chelsea fans for feeling like Bill Murray in the film Groundhog Day, forever smacking the alarm clock as Sonny and Cher pipe up each morning.
Sunday’s 1-0 home defeat to Aston Villa was reminiscent of much of Chelsea’s 2023, creating chances, missing chances, and paying the price.
Of course, the club’s insistence on paying the price time and again in the transfer market is why there’ll be little sympathy from others. They have had a lot of injuries, but when you spend over £1 billion in less than two years and amass a squad so big that players might soon have to join fans on the waiting list for match tickets, there is little justification for such a poor return.
In the calendar year of 2023, Chelsea have picked up just 25 points across 29 league games, the joint-lowest of any ever-present Premier League team in that time (level with Everton).
This isn’t how football works, thankfully for Chelsea, but if you extrapolate that to a full campaign, it would see them finish with just 33 points from 38 games. If that were a full season, it would very likely see them relegated; only once in the last 13 seasons have three teams accumulated fewer than 33 points.
Don’t fear just yet though, Blues fans. The Opta supercomputer has run 10,000 simulations for the rest of the campaign and Chelsea were only relegated in 2.5% of them. In fact, the current projection has 13th place as the likeliest finish for Mauricio Pochettino’s men.
Against Villa, Chelsea recorded 1.33 expected goals (xG) but were unable to score from their 10 shots. They have now failed to score in 13 Premier League matches in 2023, more than any other side. It’s the most times they have not scored in a game in a single year in the league since 1995 (14 games), and there’s still more than three months left of it.
Only Brentford (15) have missed as many big chances as Chelsea’s 15 this season (a chance from which the attacking player would normally be expected to score), but with the sixth-highest total xG in the Premier League (11.61) ahead of Arsenal (11.38), Tottenham (10.94) and Manchester United (9.99), the underlying numbers suggest all is not lost.
Chelsea have underperformed their xG by 6.61, the most in the league ahead of Everton (4.53) and Luton Town (3.66); begin to correct that and they could soon get closer to the right path.
In the meantime, they’ll just have to hope they eventually stop waking up to: “Then put your little hand in mine, there ain’t no hill or mountain we can’t climb.”
It’ll be quite the mountain for Chelsea to climb to make something of this season, though.
VIZ – Gr-Eight Performance by Newcastle
It was a hard-earned point for Newcastle at San Siro last week as they struggled to create anything themselves against Milan. Their 0-0 draw owed much to strong defending and the Italian giants’ wastefulness.
Perhaps it was frustration at not being able to create a lot in their Champions League opener that caused Newcastle to go goal crazy against Sheffield United on Sunday.
The Blades were put to the sword by Eddie Howe’s rampant Magpies. They must have known this week was the eighth edition of Stat, Viz, Quiz, marking it with eight goals against Sheffield United. Newcastle recorded their joint-biggest win in the Premier League, coincidentally matching the 8-0 hammering they dished out to Sheffield Wednesday back in 1999.
As you can see from this week’s viz above, Newcastle racked up the shots and the xG. Having only recorded 0.28 xG in Milan during the week, they put up 3.9 xG in Yorkshire, and then doubled it in actual goals.
It was a ruthless showing from Newcastle, with eight different players finding the net, the first time eight players from one team have scored in a Premier League game. They could have had even more goals, with Callum Wilson missing the chance with the fifth-highest xG of the game (0.28) before half-time, and Anthony Gordon wasting the opportunity with the third-highest (0.55) just after the hour mark.
This was Newcastle’s biggest ever away league win, having only ever won by a greater margin once in their league history, a 13-0 victory over Newport County in October 1946.
By contrast, it was the heaviest league defeat in Sheffield United’s history, in what was their 4,988th league game. It was the first time they have conceded eight goals in a league game since a 10-3 defeat to Middlesbrough in November 1933.
Still, there’s always next week.
The Data Day
The latest edition of our weekly Premier League review podcast. Graham Bell hosts Matt Furniss and Ali Tweedale to discuss the weekend’s action, including Newcastle’s goals, the north London derby, and Graham and Ali go head-to-head in the world-famous Pauline Quirke quiz.
QUIZ – Score Blimey
Apologies to any Sheffield United fans but we’re going to take inspiration from Newcastle’s goal bonanza for this week’s quiz. Answers at the bottom.
1. Manchester United’s 9-0 win over Ipswich Town in the 1994-95 season remains tied as the biggest win in Premier League history. Which United player scored five goals that day?
2. Who is the only team in Premier League history to lose 9-0 on two separate occasions?
3. What is the highest-scoring game in Premier League history?
4. Which single game in Premier League history produced the most different scorers? (Clue: The game took place in 2004 and the two teams involved also played each other at the weekend)
5. Who were the last team to score 10 goals in a game in England’s top flight? (Clue: It happened on the fabled high-scoring Boxing Day of 1963)
This week’s question came to us on X from @eatsleepchelsea, who asked: “Chelsea had 10 offsides against Aston Villa. Would be good to know what the record is for offsides in a match for an individual team? And if Chelsea are in contention of being near an all-time high perhaps in PL era or before that.”
Do you have a stat-based question you’d like Opta to answer for you (and everyone else) in a future edition of SVQ? Email us at email@example.com or message us on X @OptaAnalyst with #AskOpta and we’ll pick the best one.
Firstly, we should note that data on Premier League offsides only exists from the 2006-07 season onwards.
Chelsea did indeed feel the wrath of the assistant referee’s flag, being punished for offside 10 times at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, which is the most by a team in any game so far this season.
Funnily enough, the Premier League record belongs to Aston Villa, who were given offside a whopping 14 times against Arsenal in their 1-0 defeat to the Gunners on 14 March 2007. Rumour has it the assistant referees from that game still have bad bouts of ‘flag-raising shoulder’ to this day.
Two teams have had 12 offside decisions given against them in a Premier League game, and both came within a couple of weeks of each other. Bolton Wanderers managed it away at Fulham in August 2007, before Blackburn Rovers did the same at home to Manchester City in early September 2007.
Six teams have recorded 11 offsides in single PL games, while another 16 teams have matched Chelsea’s 10, including Chelsea themselves on four other occasions.
However, it has been almost 10 years since any team had more than 10 offsides in a game, with the last time being Arsenal against Southampton in November 2013 (11).
It should be remembered that the statistic has likely been impacted by the change in approach from officials since the introduction of VAR, whereby they wait to see how play develops before indicating an offside.
What Are We up to at Opta Analyst?
Here’s some of the latest data-driven offerings you can find on our website:
1. Andrew Cole
2. Southampton (vs Leicester City and Manchester United)
3. Portsmouth 7-4 Reading (29 September 2007)
4. Tottenham 4-5 Arsenal (13 November 2004 – nine different scorers)
5. Fulham (10-1 vs Ipswich)
Before you go…
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