The 3rd round of the FA Cup has taken place and we’re just over the halfway point of the 2012/13 Premier League season.
Manchester United have a 7-point lead over their neighbours and defending champions Manchester City with 17 games to go. Chelsea’s midweek defeat to Queens Park Rangers may be the final nail in their coffin as far as the title is concerned. And Tottenham and Everton are giving Arsenal a good go at attempting to prevent Arsene Wenger qualifying for the Champions League for the first time in his Gunners career.
At the bottom of the table, both Reading and Queens Park Rangers have a lot of work to do if they’re to avoid the drop this season. Aston Villa and Newcastle aren’t safe and Norwich City could even be sucked into a relegation scrap if they’re not careful, despite already beating the likes of Arsenal and Manchester United this season.
Let’s have a look at the statistics for each of England’s top 20 teams to see how they have fared in their first 20-21 games:
Manchester United’s 54 goals scored this season are 13 more than the next best in the Premier League. The decision to pay £24 million to rivals Arsenal for Robin van Persie over the summer is so far paying off, with the Dutch striker topping the charts on 16 himself.
That’s only 1 goal less than Aston Villa and Queens Park Rangers have scored as a team, highlighting some of the problems those two teams near the bottom are facing this season. Christian Benteke has scored 6 of those for Paul Lambert’s side but the lack of creativity in the midfield is becoming a real issue.
Playmaking midfielder Adel Taarabt started as the furthest man forward for Queens Park Rangers in their last Premier League game; a 1-0 win at Chelsea. Harry Redknapp’s focus on improving the defence paid off in that game having been thrashed 3-0 at home to Liverpool prior. January is going to be an important month for the R’s who may wish to dip into their pockets during the transfer window.
The top teams fare well in this table; Manchester City are second on the list with 41 goals scored this season, led by Edin Dzeko’s 9 goals and Sergio Aguero’s 8. Arsenal have 40, Chelsea and Tottenham 39 and Everton’s good start is backed up by their 35 goals, making up for a lack of clean sheets.
Ordering the table by chance conversion, Manchester United also lead the way, converting 21% of their shots on goal (excluding blocks).
Arsenal and Chelsea have also been sharp in front of goal this season. Theo Walcott has converted 33% of his chances (8 goals) and Lukas Podolski 30% (6 goals) for the Gunners. For Chelsea, Frank Lampard has only had 6 of his shots saved this season as the Chelsea legend has converted 50% of his chances, Juan Mata 25% and Fernando Torres 20%.
At the bottom, things look bad for Queens Park Rangers who have only managed to convert 8% of their attempts at goal so far. And this doesn’t even include the 20 shots Adel Taarabt has had blocked. The ambitious Moroccan converts 10% of his chances, Shaun Wright-Phillips and Djibril Cissé just 9%, Junior Hoilett 8% and Esteban Granero has found the back of the net with just 5% of his shots.
Liverpool top the pile when it comes to creating chances for each other. Brendan Rodgers’ side have had no less than 302 passes that have set up an attempt at goal this season. Luis Suárez and Steven Gerrard have been the biggest contributors for the reds, with only Everton’s Leighton Baines creating more chances than each of those.
Tottenham Hotspur have created as many chances in open play as Liverpool, and are only behind Liverpool with total chances created. Aaron Lennon and Kyle Walker are having success down the right flanks in setting up opportunities for team mates, whilst Gareth Bale has been productive down the left.
Reading, Stoke City and Sunderland are all struggling to create chances in comparison to the rest of the Premier League.
Aston Villa have the best crossing accuracy through 21 games. Coincidentally, their target man in the middle, Christian Benteke has won the most aerial duels. Fellow West Midlands club West Bromwich Albion are second on the list in crossing accuracy.
Arsenal prop up the table, with the likes of Kieran Gibbs (17%), Theo Walcott (13%), Bacary Sagna (13%) and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (11%) all bringing their team average down. Olivier Giroud, Gervinho and Theo Walcott have all played the sole striker role this season for the Gunners.
Chelsea haven’t had much more success either. Eden Hazard has completed just 14% of his crosses to date, whilst Victor Moses is at an embarrassing 4% (1 from 26 attempts). Full backs Ashley Cole (12%) and Branislav Ivanovic (15%) also bring the team average down. Fernando Torres has been the man to aim for in open play as the club’s sole striker.
Barry Bannan is making a little reputation for himself as a sold set piece taker. The Aston Villa midfielder has taken the majority of his side’s set pieces this season and completed 54%. The team’s average of 49% is far and above the best in the league. Both West Bromwich Albion and Manchester City follow in the table and they’re only at 38% in comparison.
Manchester United became the first team to complete 10,000 passes this season in their last match, a 4-0 victory at Wigan. Liverpool and Swansea City have a reputation for maintaining possession and completing passes, the latter is backed up by both teams appearing in the top 5 of this list.
At the bottom end, Reading have completed more than 500 passes less than Stoke City; the side whom have a reputation for long balls and set pieces and play the majority of their games without the ball. Brian McDermott’s side are appearing near or at the bottom for the majority of these statistics now. And that is backed up by the Royals propping up the Premier League table.
As well as completing the most passes in the league, Manchester United also top the table for pass accuracy. They and Arsenal both complete 87% of their pass attempts.
Reading and Stoke have the lowest passing accuracy in the league, at 69% and 71% respectively.
Liverpool have got stuck in the most this season, winning 342 tackles. Steven Gerrard, Glen Johnson, Joe Allen, Jose Enrique are all amongst the team’s leaders in this category. Queens Park Rangers, Southampton and Sunderland, all in the bottom half of the table are the next three teams in the chart.
Stoke City have won more aerial duels than any other team this season and a much higher percentage of battles too. Ryan Shawcross has won 62% of his aerial duels, but this is still below defensive team mates Andy Wilkinson (65%), Robert Huth (66%), Geoff Cameron (73%) and Marc Wilson (80%).
Reading have won a league-low 43% of their aerial duels, whilst Wigan Athletic like to keep the ball on the floor and have only contested for 480 this season – less than half of Stoke’s 996.
12 defensive errors from Arsenal this season have led to goals against the Gunners. Vito Mannone, Bacary Sagna and Thomas Vermaelen have all been directly at fault for 2 each. Ali Al-Habsi has contributed to 5 of Wigan’s 11 errors, the most amongst all goalkeepers in the league. Southampton, as highlighted by Gary Neville before their Monday night game with West Bromwich Albion earlier this season have contributed to their own undoing’s in defence a number of times this season.
Sam Allardyce has only seen 3 errors from his team contributing to goals against West Ham this season. A joint league-low with Chelsea.
Stoke City have been the most prominent in committing fouls this season. Nicknamed by a number of football fans as a rugby team, Tony Pulis’ side don’t help themselves when they top this chart and come near the bottom of both the possession and passes completed tables.
Arsenal and Southampton have been the least cynical teams and have also been the recipients of the fewest cards this season.
Free Kicks Won
Everton have been the most targeted team this season, with Steven Pienaar being fouled more times than any other player. A number of fouls have led to Leighton Baines taking a free kick…
Aston Villa and Southampton have been awarded the fewest free kicks.
As well as committing the most fouls, Stoke City have received both the most yellow cards and red cards this season. Tony Pulis’ side’s lack of discipline have cost them points this season. Dean Whitehead’s red card against Reading on the opening day of the season lead to the Royals’ penalty from which the home side equalised from. Ryan Shotton was sent off in the second half of their 0-0 draw at Aston Villa, whilst Steven N’Zonzi saw red in a 3-3 draw with Southampton in the Potters’ last game of 2012.
West Ham’s Jussi Jääskeläinen leads the league with 82 saves amongst goalkeepers; 2 more than Sunderland’s Simon Mignolet. But the combined effort of Michel Vorm and Gerhard Tremmel mean Swansea City have kept out the most shots on target in the Premier League through 21 games.
Chelsea and Manchester City have conceded the fewest goals, and Chelsea are also averaging the highest number of saves per goal against.