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The best Premier League stats of the week: Penalties, Ole time and Vardy's timelessness

The The pick of the best statistics from gameweek three of the Premier League, featuring the onslaught of penalties, Manchester United’s late, lucky win, Jamie Vardy refusing to slow down, and Fulham’s leaky defence. 

The Penal Code

The opening three weekends of the Premier League season have seen 20 penalties awarded in 28 matches, a big increase on last season when just eight were awarded in 30 matches.

If that pace was to be maintained, then there would be a whopping 271 spot picks by the end of the season. That would absolutely smash the current record of 112 in a single season.

Why have so many penalties been awarded though? VAR is obviously one factor, with officials being able to pore over incidents in the box. But of course the biggest contributor is the implementation of the new handball rule, which punishes any contact with an outstretched arm regardless of context.

It is the same rule that Serie A adopted last season, where 57 penalties were awarded for handball infractions, compared to just 19 in the Premier League. A sign of things to come?

Better late than never for Man United

Manchester United came away from Brighton with a win on Saturday, but they could count their lucky stars for it after scoring a penalty to make it 3-2 in the 100th minute – the latest goal in the Premier League since 2011. The Seagulls outshot the visitors by 18:7, had more touches in the opposition box (30:18), and hit the woodwork a record five times.

Man United depended on individual brilliance, and luck, to overcome an impressive Brighton side in the end. Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford linked up for their second goal, the Portuguese playmaker laying on a beautiful through ball for the striker, who engineered the chance for himself with some exquisite skill.

Fernandes has now been involved in ten goals in his last eight away games in the Premier League, while Rashford moves to 32 direct goal involvements since the beginning of last season. That’s the most of any United player in that period, one ahead of Anthony Martial.

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Ageless Vardy

Jamie Vardy has started off the season like a house on fire, scoring five goals in the opening three games. Okay, so four of them were penalties, but it’s still impressive all the same. His hat-trick against Manchester City on Sunday brought his overall Premier League tally to 108 in 214 matches, which is good going for someone who didn’t debut in the top tier until he was 27-years-old.

The Leicester City talisman is clearly the king of penalties, having scored 21 of them since his top-flight debut – more than anyone else in that period. He’s won 18 of those himself, the second-most in Premier League history behind Raheem Sterling (19).

Vardy’s treble also continued his excellent record against City since Pep Guardiola took over, scoring nine times against the Catalan’s charges. The nearest goalscorers are Heung-min Son (5), Lionel Messi (4), and Mo Salah (4).

 

Leaky Fulham

Following a demoralising 3-0 defeat to Aston Villa, Fulham have conceded ten goals in their opening three league matches. If they continued conceding at the same rate, they would end the season with 126 goals against them, which would be easily the worst defensive record in Premier League history.

As per Opta, they are only the fourth side (alongside West Brom this season) in the Premier League era to concede three goals or more in their first three fixtures (West Ham in 2010/11 and 2017/18). We could be seeing two of the worst defences ever if this trend continues.

Sources: BBC, Sky Sports, Opta, FBref.

Read: Why Duncan Ferguson was the best and worst of us

See Also: The best moments from the Spurs documentary All or Nothing

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