Stat, Viz, Quiz is the weekly Opta Analyst football newsletter. Our latest edition includes numbers on referees, Erling Haaland, and the best of the birthday boys.

Good news everyone, we’re going to talk about referees.

With Gladiators star and former Premier League official Mark Clattenburg appointed as Nottingham Forest’s new referee analyst last week, we thought we’d point the data spotlight in that general direction.

Clattenburg’s role will reportedly include providing advice on what to expect from the league’s current officials (possibly including the likelihood of sandwich consumption during meetings, Chris Wilder) so what sort of data can he share with Nuno Espírito Santo and his players? We’ll delve into our refereeing numbers.

Also in this week’s SVQ, we’ll look at Erling Haaland’s rare profligacy at the weekend, we find out who has risen to the occasion on their birthday, and there’s a quiz to delight and frustrate in equal measure.

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STAT Ref Watch: SVQ Style

Firstly, we’re not here to throw any referees under the bus, merely to provide the numbers from this season’s Premier League so far.

We also must take into account context around decisions. Just because a referee has given more yellow cards, red cards, fouls, penalties, etc, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are more strict. It could just be they happen to have been in charge for games that featured more or fewer incidents worthy of those decisions.

With that out of the way, let’s get into the numbers.

Anthony Taylor has taken charge of the most Premier League games so far (19) in the 2023-24 season. He has averaged 21.9 fouls awarded per game and handed out 95 yellow cards, at least 21 more than any other referee, though he has taken charge of at least three more games than anyone else too.

Referee most fouls per game

Taylor has awarded Liverpool three penalties, the most by one referee for a single team this season. However, the referee to have given the most fouls against one team this season is also Taylor, against Liverpool (60).

Tim Robinson has taken charge of 16 games but has not yet produced a single red card, despite showing the third-most yellows (71). Somewhat ironic given his namesake is a comedian with a Netflix show called I Think You Should Leave. Every other referee to oversee at least six games has given out at least one red card.

Simon Hooper has overseen 15 games this season but is yet to award a penalty. Of the 25 referees to have taken charge of at least one Premier League game this season, seven haven’t pointed to the spot, though Hooper is the only one to have refereed more than three times.

By stark contrast, Michael Salisbury has refereed just 10 games and awarded nine penalties. Salisbury’s penchant for penalty-spot pointing has most affected two teams in particular; he’s given three against Bournemouth – the most by one referee against one team – as well as one for and two against Wolves.

Hooper also tops the table for fouls awarded to one team; 48 in favour of Tottenham, while Craig Pawson has dished out the most yellow cards to one team; 14 to Wolves players.

Graham Scott has been the most lenient referee so far, giving yellow cards out on average every 8.8 fouls, though he has taken charge of just two games, while Lewis Smith – who debuted this weekend in Aston Villa’s 2-1 win at Fulham – was keen to use his fresh new book as he handed out a yellow on average every 2.4 fouls. Of those to have refereed more than once, Stuart Attwell (12 games) averages the fewest fouls per yellow card (3.9), while David Coote (11 games) has handed out the most cards per game (5.5).

Michael Oliver (16 games), Robert Jones (15 games) and John Brooks (15 games) have shown the most red cards this season, with four each.

Finally, as for officials who have refereed games of specific teams most often so far, Chris Kavanagh has taken charge of both Liverpool and Newcastle games four times, Oliver has had four Arsenal games, Taylor has also had Liverpool games four times, while Paul Tierney took charge of his fourth Crystal Palace game of the season on Monday night.

We’ll be looking into this in further detail on the Opta Analyst website soon, so keep your eyes peeled and your whistle handy.

Good luck to Mr Clattenburg in his new role. Funnily enough, he’s taken charge of six Nottingham Forest league games in the past, with them unbeaten in all of them (W4 D2). We’re sure Derby County fans will be perfectly reasonable armed with that information.

VIZ Haaland’s Day of Woe

Haaland v Chelsea xG

We love to write about Erling Haaland here at SVQ. Whatever you think of the gigantic goal-getter, he is endlessly statistically fascinating.

We did briefly consider making an amendment to our expected goals (xG) descriptions, changing mere numbers and calculations whenever Haaland played to just say his resting xG is “lots”.

Saturday was not his best outing, though. If you’d been told he was going to have nine shots against Chelsea, you would have put good money on Haaland finding a way past Dordje Petrovic at some point.

However, have nine shots he did, and he didn’t score a single one. His personal xG ended up at 1.58, hardly earth-shattering but it was still surprising not to see him finally break through in what ended as a 1-1 draw.

Interestingly, there does seem to be a correlation this season between players having lots of shots in one game and a failure to score from them. Only the other week, also against Chelsea, Liverpool’s Darwin Núñez had 11 attempts without scoring, including a missed penalty, while the same man also had nine efforts at Luton Town without getting his name on the scoresheet.

Haaland had nine shots in City’s 3-1 win at West Ham and did finally score in the 86th minute of that game. That’s it, though. The other six examples of a player having nine or more shots in a Premier League game this season haven’t produced a single goal between them. As well as Haaland’s and Núñez’s examples, the others were Marcus Rashford vs Brighton in September, Dominic Solanke vs Tottenham and Bukayo Saka vs West Ham, both in December.

As for the most shots ever in a Premier League game on record (from 2003-04), that honour sits with former Manchester United pair Cristiano Ronaldo (vs Reading in December 2006) and Wayne Rooney (vs Fulham in March 2010), who had 13 shots in one game, both scoring twice.

The record for the most shots in a game without scoring is also shared by two former United strikers. Robin van Persie (vs Wolves in December 2011, though that was with Arsenal) and Zlatan Ibrahimovic (vs Burnley in October 2016) both had 12 shots in a game without registering a goal.

Chin up Erling, and we can’t wait to see this week’s SVQ age appallingly when you score five goals from three shots against Brentford on Tuesday night.

QUIZ Salah’s Return, Arsenal’s Pair of Fives, and Højlund’s Run

Plenty of this weekend’s Premier League action felt like continuation, with familiar faces returning or teams/players simply repeating recent feats. Can you show the same consistency? Answers at the bottom of the page.

1. Mohamed Salah returned to record a goal and an assist in Liverpool’s 4-1 win at Brentford. He became just the fourth player in Premier League history to both score and assist in 30 different games in the competition. Who are the other three?

2. Arsenal’s 5-0 win at Burnley made it back-to-back victories by 5+ goals in away league matches for the first time in the club’s history. Who were the last team to do the same in the Premier League back in October 2021?

3. Wolves have beaten Tottenham on three of their five trips to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in the Premier League (L2). Who are the only team to record more wins there as a visiting side in the competition?

4. Sheffield United’s 5-0 loss to Brighton means they have conceded 65 goals in the Premier League this season, the most ever by a side in their first 25 matches of a campaign in the competition. In fact, it’s the most shipped by any side in their first 25 games of an English top-flight season since who in the 1963-64 season? A) Ipswich Town, B) Bolton Wanderers, or C) Birmingham City?

5. In Manchester United’s 2-1 win at Luton, Rasmus Højlund became the youngest player ever to score in six successive Premier League appearances. Whose record did he break?

Ask Opta

This week’s question came to us via email from Silvestar Bistrović, who asks: “I think [Rasmus] Højlund scored on his birthday and I wonder who are the best birthday scorers?”

Do you have a stat-based question you’d like Opta to answer in a future edition of SVQ? Email us at or message us on X @OptaAnalyst with #AskOpta and we’ll pick the best one.


Højlund did indeed celebrate his 21st birthday by scoring against West Ham on 4 February, and he joined the list of those who have found the net in the Premier League on the special day (their own birthdays, not just Højlund’s!)

Overall, 81 different players have scored on their birthday in the Premier League. The top birthday scorers are Teddy Sheringham, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Carlos Tevez (three). The latter two are the only players to score Premier League hat-tricks on their big day; Hasselbaink for Chelsea vs Wolves on 27 March 2004 (32nd birthday) and Tevez for Man City vs West Brom on 5 February 2011 (27th birthday).

Sheringham is the only player to find the net on more than one birthday in Premier League history, scoring once vs Norwich on his 28th birthday and twice vs Southampton on his 29th birthday.

Højlund was the fourth to do so this season after Taiwo Awoniyi (12 August), Ross Barkley (5 December) and Julián Álvarez (31 January).

Let’s not stop there though because as well as presents, people want cards on their birthday, don’t they?

Well, maybe not. Les Ferdinand, Gerry Taggart, Dwight Gayle and Wilfred Ndidi are the four players with the distinction of being shown a red card on their birthday. That has to be the worst way to celebrate the occasion, right?

Red cards on birthday Premier League

Again, maybe not. Paul McGrath, Jlloyd Samuel and Noel Whelan are the only three Premier League players to have scored an own goal on their birthday.

It’s mad the things a bit of birthday cake can do to your performance.

What Are We up to at Opta Analyst?

Here’s some of the latest data-driven offerings you can find on our website:

🦅 Where It All Went Wrong for Roy Hodgson, and Why Oliver Glasner Could Be an Interesting Replacement

📈 Who Will Win the Premier League in 2023-24?

⚽️ The Richarlison Debate: Perfect for Ange-Ball or Too Limited for Spurs’ Next Step?

🔴 Arsenal’s Set-Piece Ingenuity Can Be Their Trump Card in the Title Race

⚫️⚪️ Why Bruno Guimarães’ Newcastle Future is Far from Black and White

🔼 Stuttgart Star Deniz Undav is Proving Brighton Right Again

Opta Player Ratings & Games

Opta Games logo

If you haven’t done so yet, check out and play Opta’s FREE weekly football challenges, Opta Max and Opta Five.

Both games are powered by the Opta Player Ratings, a measure that takes into account over 100 different metrics to provide an accurate performance score (out of 100) for every player in a single match.

This weekend’s top-rated player was Brighton’s Pascal Groß (99.3), who created eight chances in the 5-0 win at Sheffield United, completed 110 passes, and had a 97.3% passing accuracy. He is the first player on record (from 2003-04) to create that many chances, while also completing 100+ passes with an accuracy of over 90%.

In Opta Max and Opta Five you can compare players’ latest players ratings and stats. Then put your player ratings knowledge to the test for a chance to win big prizes each week of the football season.

Head to the website to find out more and start playing Opta Games.

Quiz Answers

1. Wayne Rooney (36), Thierry Henry (32) and Alan Shearer (31)

2. Liverpool (vs Watford and Man Utd)

3. Chelsea (four wins)

4. A) Ipswich Town (70 goals)

5. Joe Willock (21y 272d)

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