Stat, Viz, Quiz is the weekly Opta Analyst newsletter. Our latest edition includes numbers on Tottenham leading the Premier League, Manchester City’s latest defeat and late, late goals.
Like a family gathering where your drunk uncle momentarily forgets your aunt’s name, the Premier League title race got interesting at the weekend.
Manchester City, who looked unstoppable as recently as SVQ 8, are now in full-on crisis mode with Pep Guardiola wondering where the next point is coming from.
OK, that might be a tad hyperbolic, but City no longer top the Premier League after their 1-0 loss at Arsenal, with Tottenham taking up residence there heading into the international break.
Without Rodri or Kevin De Bruyne, City struggled again at the Emirates Stadium, and we take a look at why missing those two has been such a blow for last season’s treble-winners.
Don’t worry Manchester United fans, we haven’t forgotten you. This week’s quiz is inspired by Scott McTominay’s late heroics at Old Trafford against Brentford. Plus, for the second week in a row, our Ask Opta question of the week is about old(er) people.
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STAT – Tottenham to Join the 1,000-Day Club
Who’s top of the Premier League? Lads… it’s Tottenham.
Yes, after an unbeaten start to life under Ange Postecoglou in the league (W6 D2), Spurs sit top of the pile after eight games. Still another 30 to go, but the early signs are good.
They had another challenge thrown in their path on Saturday as they lost Yves Bissouma to a red card with the game at Luton still precariously balanced at 0-0, before Micky van de Ven’s goal sealed the three points at Kenilworth Road.
As a result, Spurs are about to join a (relatively) exclusive club. By the time Premier League action returns after the international break, Tottenham will have passed 1,000 total days at the summit of England’s top flight.
It won’t surprise people to learn that Manchester United lead the way in that particular all-time table, followed by Liverpool, with Arsenal a fair way back from there and Everton the only other club to have accumulated more than 2,000 days.
By the time domestic football resumes in just under two weeks, the only Premier League season in which Spurs will have spent longer in first place was 2020-21 (23 days) – all of which came consecutively between 21 November and 15 December 2020.
Their last title win came in the 1960-61 season, but they should probably have won more that decade. 549 of Spurs’ 1,001 days at the top of the league came in the 1960s (54.8%), and overall, they spent more days top of the First Division than any other team – 85 more than Liverpool and 186 more than Manchester United.
In that 1960-61 campaign, Spurs spent 248 out of 253 days top of the pile (including the final 246 days). Only Sheffield Wednesday, in happier times, briefly toppled them that year (5 days).
Postecoglou might not be quite as revered as the manager of that famous 60s side, Bill Nicholson, just yet, but continue to defy the odds at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and you never know. His picture could one day be hung next to the great man (and presumably the other side of a signed photo of his new best mate, Henry Winkler).
VIZ – No Rodri (or De Bruyne), No Party
We promise we’re not ganging up on Manchester City, having also devoted this section last week to Erling Haaland’s anonymous outing at Wolves, but there is no denying that City failing is always going to be statistically fascinating given the outrageous standards they have set in recent years.
Having had just one shot at Molineux, Haaland didn’t have a single one against Arsenal, who limited the visitors to just four in total, the fewest shots a Pep Guardiola side has had in a top-flight game since April 2010 with Barcelona against Espanyol (also four).
It’s a double viz for you this week, with the above one perhaps indicating why City struggled at Arsenal. As we pointed out last week, both teams were set to miss key players, and it was Guardiola’s team who clearly suffered more from absences.
Looking at their overall attacking sequence involvements in the Premier League last season, four of the top five did not play on Sunday. Kevin De Bruyne, Rodri, Ilkay Gündogan and Riyad Mahrez were pivotal to the treble-winners’ success, and City really struggled to attack against Arsenal without them.
Rodri’s suspension has been a bitter blow, and they have now lost six of the 16 Premier League games he’s missed since the start of the 2019-20 season, and three of the four he’s missed since the start of last season.
De Bruyne was integral to both of City’s victories against Arsenal last season (3 goals, 2 assists), while Rodri, Gündogan and Mahrez also played big parts in those wins and were generally important to City’s attack during the very successful 2022-23 campaign. But due to injury (De Bruyne), suspension (Rodri) or having left the club in the summer (Gündogan and Mahrez), none of those four played on Sunday.
Haaland cut an isolated figure and though he was able to record three attacking sequence involvements (two chances created, one involvement in the build-up to a shot), he was unable to register a shot of his own as the visitors failed to break down a resilient Arsenal.
New arrivals Josko Gvardiol, Mateo Kovacic, Matheus Nunes and Jeremy Doku are still settling in and struggled to assert themselves on Sunday. Should City continue to have off days when missing the likes of De Bruyne and Rodri, perhaps we could have an exciting Premier League title race after all.
Then again, Rodri returns after the international break…
The Data Day
Matt Furniss, Ollie Hopkins and Graham Bell dive a little deeper into that game as part of our Premier League Review Matchday 8, as well as discussing the rest of the weekend’s action, where it was good times for Chelsea and Everton, but there are growing concerns for Bournemouth and Sheffield United.
QUIZ – Better Late Than Never
When Scott McTominay turned another potentially bad day for Manchester United into a joyous one to seal a comeback 2-1 win over Brentford, he became the first player to score two goals in the 90th minute or later of a Premier League game since Steven Bergwijn for Tottenham in January 2022.
He also inspired this week’s quiz about late goals. You tell us which is the real achievement.
1. Federico Macheda scored one of Man Utd’s more famous late winners at Old Trafford in the 2008-09 season, but who was it against?
2. Which two players have scored Premier League goals after the 100th minute this season?
3. Who currently holds the record for the latest goal in Premier League history?
4. Which team has scored the most 90th-minute+ winners in Premier League history?
5. Which team has conceded the most 90th-minute+ winners in Premier League history?
This week’s question came to us on X from @Sam9nufc, who asked us to find the top Premier League goalscorers of all time if you only count goals scored by players over the age of 30.
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.
We have a range of ages here at Opta Analyst but suffice to say that writing about people the wrong side of 30 achieving things warms some of our wrinkled hearts.
We ran the numbers and the top goalscorer in Premier League history when only counting goals after players have turned 30 is none other than Jamie Vardy. The Leicester City striker has (so far) played 220 Premier League games since turning 30, scoring 102 goals, the only centurion on the list.
Much like defenders chasing him over the years, no-one is likely to catch Vardy any time soon. Every other player in the top 20 on this list has retired.
Ian Wright sits in second place on 93 goals from 169 games, ahead of Alan Shearer (84 goals), Frank Lampard (82) and Teddy Sheringham (77).
It is Vardy who leads the way, though, and the rate Leicester are going in the Championship this season, who’s to say he won’t add to that tally further in the 2024-25 campaign?
What Are We up to at Opta Analyst?
Here’s some of the latest data-driven offerings you can find on our website:
1. Aston Villa
2. Gabriel Jesus (100:15) for Arsenal v Man Utd, and Leon Bailey (100:09) for Aston Villa v Crystal Palace.
3. Dirk Kuyt (101:48) for Liverpool at Arsenal on 17 April 2011.
4. Liverpool – 42 (Arsenal and Tottenham joint-second on 31)
5. Tottenham – 26
Before you go…
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