This weekend saw more errors leading to opposition chances than any other Premier League matchday in the last five seasons. We delve into the numbers to see which teams are most culpable when it comes to avoidable goals being conceded.

Last week on these pages, we asked whether individual errors were the main barrier to Arsenal’s charge towards the Premier League title. At the time of writing, 25% of the goals Mikel Arteta’s side had conceded were the result of errors – a higher proportion than any other side in Europe’s top five leagues.

In the end, Arsenal’s title chances took a major hit this weekend as they lost 2-0 at home to Aston Villa, but neither of the goals they conceded were the direct result of an on-ball error by one of their players.

William Saliba and David Raya might have done better to deal with Lucas Digne’s cross for Leon Bailey’s opener, and Jorginho’s pass was well intercepted by Youri Tielemans ahead of Ollie Watkins’ goal, but it was as much good work by the Villa midfielder as it was an error from Jorginho.

There were a couple of hairy moments, though. Villa twice hit the woodwork following lapses in concentration from Arsenal defenders; Watkins did so after Gabriel Magalhães’ wayward pass hit Oleksandr Zinchenko’s back, and Tielemans hit post and bar with a tremendous strike after Zinchenko got caught trying to dribble his way out of defence.

Elsewhere in the Premier League, though, there were a litany of costly errors. This weekend’s round of fixtures – Matchday 33 – saw more errors than any other matchday this season. Across the 10 games, there were 18 mistakes that led to an opposition shot, and eight errors that led to a goal. Both are at least two higher than any other Premier League matchday this season.

In fact, it was the most errors leading to a shot in the Premier League since MD 21 in 2018-19, while only one matchday has produced more errors leading to a goal in the last five seasons (MD 7 in 2022-23).

So, what happened this weekend?

Tottenham started things off with a dismal 4-0 defeat at Newcastle that included goals following mistakes from full-backs Pedro Porro and Destiny Udogie.

Manchester City midfielder Matheus Nunes gave the ball away on the edge of his own box to hand Luton a goal, although City eventually ran away with that game and Nunes’ mistake did not ultimately matter.

Meanwhile, Brighton and Burnley traded costly errors at Turf Moor. Carlos Baleba gifted Josh Brownhill an opener that looked like it might hand Vincent Kompany’s strugglers a vital three points, only for Arijanet Muric to let a Sander Berge backpass slip under his foot and into the net for what must be the most embarrassing gaffe of the season.

burnley 1-1 brighton stats

Later on Saturday, Willy Kambwala slipped to allow Dominic Solanke in for Bournemouth’s opening goal. On Sunday, West Ham centre-back Konstantinos Mavropanos handed Andreas Pereira Fulham’s opener on a plate, and then on Monday, Jordan Pickford passed the ball straight to Cole Palmer for his hat-trick goal.

With pressure building on every player as the Premier League run-in gathers pace, legs getting heavy, minds tiring, and every action scrutinised over and over from countless different camera angles and in super-slow motion, it is understandable that players – human as they are – might make mistakes.

The circumstances of the players who made errors leading to goals this weekend arguably shouldn’t be passed off as coincidental. Kambwala is still a teenager, while Baleba only turned 20 in January.

Udogie is only 21 and is, as well as 24-year-old Porro, nearly 30 starts into his first full season of Premier League football. Muric was making only his fifth appearance in the competition, and Nunes has barely played since joining City, clearly not yet entirely trusted by Pep Guardiola and so some way off full match sharpness. Mavropanos, at 26 years and 125 days, was the oldest and most experienced of the lot until Pickford’s mishap on Monday in what was a dreadful Everton performance.

With every team playing out from the back, and managers asking their players to be bold in possession and take risks deep in their own half, mistakes – and goals being let in off the back of them – are inevitable. They come with the territory.

Add into that sky-high stakes and scrutiny like we’ve never known, and you get costlier mistakes. With that, you get more memorable and hyper-analysed errors.

This season isn’t actually seeing more errors leading to shots and goals than other campaigns, probably because the overall technical quality of players in the Premier League is improving with every season.

But mistakes are more noticeable than they used to be simply because every action is watched and shared so much these days, and this weekend’s large number of such errors gives us yet more reason to discuss them.

With that in mind, we wondered which teams have been the most prone to errors.

Sheffield United, with what could become the leakiest defence in Premier League history, have been the architects of their own downfall all too much this season, making eight errors leading to an opposition goal – the joint-most in the Premier League. The problem is for Chris Wilder’s side that they have let in so many goals that they would be doomed even if they hadn’t committed all those errors.

It might come as a surprise to see Brighton level with Sheffield United at the top of the Premier League for goals conceded due to errors, having played their way into trouble to ship eight such goals.

Currently 10th in the table, those goals may prove the difference between European qualification and a mid-table finish for Roberto De Zerbi’s side.

Brentford are next, with seven goals conceded due to errors. Their win over Sheffield United at the weekend looks to have staved off relegation, but they could be well clear of trouble were it not for those avoidable goals they’ve let in.

Interestingly, though, Tottenham have allowed their opponents more and better-quality chances from their players’ mistakes than any other team in the Premier League. The 20 shots they have faced following an error is the joint-highest in the Premier League alongside Chelsea, but the shots Spurs have faced have been worth 5.5 expected goals – the highest in the league.

tottenham errors leading to goals

They have conceded six goals following errors – or roughly the same as their xG. Meanwhile, Sheffield United’s eight goals conceded have come from just 2.7 xG (5.3 difference) and Brighton’s eight have come from 3.7 xG (4.3 difference).

Arsenal (6 goals following errors from 1.8 xG), Burnley (6 from 1.9 xG), Luton (6 from 2.6 xG), Everton (6 from 2.8 xG) and Nottingham Forest (6 from 2.9 xG) have also all seen their opponents outscore their xG significantly following their errors. Tottenham’s Guglielmo Vicario has come to his teammates’ rescue time and again since joining last summer, and has clearly made up for their mistakes, too.

Wolves have conceded the fewest goals as a result of individual errors in the Premier League this season (two), but those have come from 3.1 xG – the seventh-highest xG against in the division – with keeper José Sá doing a solid job for them.

Brentford are conceding so many goals through errors due to the quality of the chances they are giving up rather than the quantity of them. They have faced 14 shots as the result of an individual error – the ninth-most in the league – but those shots have had an average xG value of 0.37, which is the highest in the Premier League.

Arsenal and Aston Villa are at the other end of the scale in these terms, having faced 15 and 10 shots, respectively, following their players’ errors, but those shots have averaged just 0.1 xG, so have been very low in quality.

Errors are unavoidable, have always been a part of the game and always will be. As the Premier League run-in hots up, the pressure on the players builds and the stakes get higher and higher, expect to see even more.

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