Presenting some of the standout statistics from gameweek 13 of Premier League action, featuring Leicester City, Man United, Chelsea, Man City, Liverpool and West Ham.
Foxes on the hunt
Leicester City continued their incredible run of form with a 4-1 victory over Aston Villa this past weekend, extended their winning streak to eight league games. That’s a club record for the Foxes.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 8, 2019
Meanwhile, Jamie Vardy also scored for the eighth consecutive game, making him the first player to do so since, well, Jamie Vardy. The striker scored in 11 in a row in late 2015.
The Englishman is also only the second player in Premier League history to score in eight successive matches since Ruud van Nistelrooy did so for Manchester United.
Curiously, ever since Coleen Rooney outed Jamie’s wife Rebekah as a tabloid rat, Vardy hasn’t been able to stop scoring. Now they’re the closest challengers to league leaders Liverpool.
Solskjaer vs the Top Six
Just as the walls appeared to be closing in on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, with a host of other managers who had more achieved more in their careers getting the chop, he pulls out two remarkable results in the space of a few days.
Consecutive 2-1 victories over Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City means the Norwegian is the first manager to defeat Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola teams in the same week, but it also puts the Red Devils back in top four contention; they currently lie fifth in the table, five points behind Chelsea.
Solskjaer is also undefeated against the top six this season, having beaten Chelsea, Spurs and now City, while drawing to Arsenal and Liverpool. His overall record against the top six since taking over at Old Trafford is also impressive: played 13, won seven, drawn four, lost two.
Reporter: "Ole, can you just say what it means to you to beat a Jose Mourinho team and a Pep Guardiola team in five days?"
Solskjaer: "Three days."
— Abdel Rahman (@AbdelBeheri) December 8, 2019
Having also grabbed a 1-0 win over Leicester this season, Solskjaer’s side have seen off managers such as Brendan Rodgers, Mauricio Pochettino, Mourinho and Guardiola, while going toe-to-toe with Jurgen Klopp and Unai Emery.
Arguably his key player this season is Marcus Rashford, who equalled his best tally for a season against City with his 13th goal in all competitions. The 22-year-old, who has found the net 13 times in 13 starts for club and country, has been on fire lately.
Chelsea – 4 clean sheets in 24 matches
Following a shock 3-1 defeat to struggling Everton at the weekend, Chelsea have won just once in their last five games in all competitions. In the space of a few weeks they have gone from potential title challengers to having to worry about Man United and Wolves breathing down their necks for fourth spot.
One of the most worrying aspects for the Blues is their defensive frailty; they have kept just four clean sheets (Brighton, Crystal Palace, Newcastle United, Ajax) in 24 matches this season. But why has this been such a problem area for Frank Lampard’s charges?
Chelsea have a lack of quality defenders in their squad, for one. They sold David Luiz to Arsenal at the start of the season, Antonio Rudiger has been out with injury, and Cesar Azpilicueta isn’t getting any younger. Kepa Arrizabalaga, Kurt Zouma and Andreas Christensen were once viewed as promising young players, but have not developed as hoped. Meanwhile, Fikayo Tomori appears to be the real deal, but he’s a 21-year-old embarking on his maiden campaign as a senior pro, so there will be teething problems.
Chelsea have failed to keep a clean sheet without Fikayo Tomori in the Premier League this season.
Benched. 🤦♂️ pic.twitter.com/Vvij8TYL1F
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) December 7, 2019
N’Golo Kante has also been in and out of the team with injury, and his robustness in midfield cleans up a lot of problems. Even so, they have only kept one clean sheet in the nine league appearances he has made. The wider issue at play here is the team’s style of play. Lampard likes his players to press up high, which successfully creates high-quality chances to score (they find the net at a rate of almost twice per game) but leaves them wide open at the back.
This tactic isn’t uncommon in the modern game by any stretch, but Chelsea seem to play on full gear the entire time, even when they would be better off slowing the tempo down and controlling the match. This was most evident against Valencia when the scoreline was 2-2 late on. A draw at the Mestalla was an ideal result, but they continued to fly forward regardless. Predictably, the Spanish outfit had a golden chance to win the game in injury time, but the visitors got lucky and it ended up being a horrible miss.
Lampard has done a good job at Stamford Bridge thus far, but game management is an area he and his side could afford to improve.
Worst. Start. Ever.
It’s been a bad five weeks for Man City; since the beginning of November, the Premier League champions have won just three of their eight matches as their hopes of winning a third successive league title flew over the side of a cliff.
Having earned 32 points from the opening 16 games, this is the worst start Pep Guardiola has ever endured in his managerial career. In his debut campaign at City the team had accrued 33 points at this stage.
32 – This is Pep Guardiola’s worst points return after the first 16 matches of a top-flight season in his managerial career (32 pts). Sluggish. pic.twitter.com/Wvd8Uqzlzy
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 7, 2019
To make matters worse for the Sky Blues, who are as close to thirteenth-placed Burnley as they are to Liverpool, no team has ever won the league after being 14 points behind the leaders at the end of a day’s play.
That statistic will make Liverpool fans very happy and even more excitable than they currently are, as they chase a first title in 30 years. They continued that march towards glory with a 3-0 win over Bournemouth, which extended their unbeaten run to an incredible 32 league matches. That is the third longest run without defeat in Premier League history.
The Reds are now guaranteed to be on top of the league on Christmas Day, which is usually a good indicator of who is going to win the league. Eight of the last 11 teams at the summit on December 25 have gone on to claim the crown. The other three were all Liverpool in 2008-09, 2013-14, and 2018-19.
Will 2019-20 be any different? Last year felt like it was their best chance to do it, as they held a nine point lead over City, who eventually clawed them back. At this moment their lead is eight points over Leicester City.
- West Ham have been losing at both half time and full time in 5 of their last 7 matches (Premier League).
- Sheffield United’s 16-month run of not losing a game by more than one goal came to an end last Thursday, after they lost 2-0 to Newcastle United.
Sources: BBC, Opta, WhoScored.