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The latest round of Premier League fixtures threw up plenty of intrigue. Liverpool and Chelsea battled to an intense draw, while Manchester City and Manchester United encountered difficulty overcoming newly promoted opposition.
Newcastle United and Everton’s poor runs of form continued, but there were glimmers of light for West Bromwich Albion and West Ham United, who both drew. Meanwhile, Burnley’s unbeaten run ended at three games due to a controversial last-minute penalty.
Here we analyse all the major statistics from the weekend’s Premier League action.
BURNLEY 0-1 ARSENAL
A last-gasp penalty from Alexis Sánchez was all that separated Arsenal from Burnley on Sunday, with Sean Dyche fuming afterwards: “There is a lot of me inside that is raging a lot. It was highly unlikely it was not going to get given on a day like today, that's all I will say.”
Despite the late loss of a point, he will be delighted with the performance of his central defensive duo of James Tarkowski and Ben Mee. Despite attaining 64 per cent of ball possession and having 17 attempts at goal, the Gunners could only hit the target twice, and that had much to do with Burnley’s centre-back pairing.
In terms of blocks and clearances, the duo did more than any of their team-mates – together they blocked six shots and made 14 clearances. In addition, Tarkowski made three tackles and five interceptions.
CRYSTAL PALACE 2-1 STOKE CITY
Crystal Palace’s mini-revival under Roy Hodgson continued as they defeated Stoke 2-1 at Selhurst Park on Saturday. The win means they are now just three points off from safety, having previously looked dead and buried.
The turnaround has much to do with one particular tactical tweak from the former England national team boss: His decision to ignore Christian Benteke and go with a front two of Andros Townsend and Wilfried Zaha.
The new-look duet were once again their team’s most dangerous players against Stoke. Both completed three dribbles and two key passes, while Townsend set up the equalising goal for Ruben Loftus-Cheek.
HUDDERSFIELD TOWN 1-2 MANCHESTER CITY
Manchester City were given a real scare away to Huddersfield on Sunday evening as their hosts took the lead before half-time. However, Pep Guardiola’s men got their act together to seal a 2-1 win and maintain their lofty position atop the Premier League.
With 12 wins and one draw from 13 games, they are now eight points ahead of nearest challengers and fierce rivals Manchester United, and their manager’s footballing philosophy is increasingly evident in their success.
Against Huddersfield, their dominance was shown through the passing stats. They completed an astounding 731 passes to their opposition’s 185, meaning they made almost four times as many passes. Overall, they had 79 per cent of ball possession, while they passed at an accuracy rate of 88 per cent, which was 38 per cent higher than their opposition could manage.
The Guardiola revolution was doubted by many after an underwhelming debut campaign, but it is becoming increasingly clear that his ideas have been transmitted to the team.
LIVERPOOL 1-1 CHELSEA
Mohamed Salah continued his outstanding start to life at Liverpool by scoring his tenth goal in 13 Premier League games since joining the club in the summer. His latest strike sealed a draw with Chelsea, his old club.
To contextualise the Egyptian’s improvement over the years, he has now made the same number of league appearances for Liverpool as he did for Chelsea. However, with the latter he managed to score just two league goals.
His phenomenal form of late has led him to the top of the English top flight’s scoring charts, with a composed right-footed finish past Thibaut Courtois on Saturday evening taking him one goal ahead of Tottenham's Harry Kane.
MANCHESTER UNITED 1-0 BRIGHTON
Brighton and Hove Albion have shown exceptional levels of defensive organisation since their promotion to the Premier League, and this quality almost enabled them to pull off a surprise draw away to Manchester United on Saturday.
In the end an own goal from Lewis Dunk was all that separated Chris Hughton’s side from their title challenging opposition. And their team performance earned praise from none other than United manager and renowned defensive strategist José Mourinho.
“I think Brighton were very good,” the Portuguese admitted afterwards. “I want to be honest and give them what they deserve, for me probably they deserve more than the result they got. They had a good defensive organisation…They gave us probably the hardest match we've had this season.”
Brighton have yet to concede more than two goals in a single Premier League match this season. The only other teams to possess such a record are the two Manchester giants and Tottenham. When it comes to defending, Hughton’s side are in elite company.
NEWCASTLE UNITED 0-3 WATFORD
Newcastle sunk to four straight Premier League defeats as they lost 3-0 at home to Watford on Saturday. And, while the majority of attention will be focused on their loss of form and what that means for their chances of survival, Will Hughes’ increasingly prominent role is noteworthy.
Marco Silva’s Hornets have made a strong start to the campaign, and their midfield has been key to their resurgence. The likes of Nathaniel Chalobah, Abdoulaye Doucouré and Tom Cleverley have all come in for praise, though Hughes has now forced himself into the spotlight.
The 22-year-old scored the opener in Watford’s weekend win, ghosting into a dangerous attacking area before calmly stroking home a left-footed finish on 19 minutes. That strike meant he had scored in two consecutive games for the first time in his career.
SOUTHAMPTON 4-1 EVERTON
Everton’s poor run of form continued as they show no signs of awaking from their 2017/18 slumber. Ronald Koeman is long gone but his temporary replacement, David Unsworth, has had little success and Toffees fans will be desperate to see their club appoint a new manager soon.
The team’s latest debacle came away to Southampton on Sunday afternoon, where they lost 4-1 to a side that had previously scored just nine times in 12 league games. The result meant that Everton have now failed to win away on their last 15 trips, while they have won just once away from Goodison Park throughout 2017.
SWANSEA CITY 0-0 BOURNEMOUTH
Swansea are in serious trouble this season if their home form is anything to go by. They drew 0-0 against Bournemouth at the weekend, meaning they have won just one of their seven Premier League games at the Liberty Stadium, picking up four points from a possible 21.
However, they were not aided in their ultimately unsuccessful pursuit of three points by a resolute Cherries defence. Eddie Howe’s side have now kept three consecutive clean sheets in league action, with this draw following on from 4-0 and 1-0 wins over Huddersfield Town and Newcastle respectively.
Having let in just 14 goals in 13 games, Bournemouth possess the eighth best defensive record in the English top flight. That record will no doubt give them hope that they can once again avoid relegation to the Championship.
TOTTENHAM 1-1 WEST BROM
Tottenham struggled to break down West Brom as they sunk to a disappointing point at Wembley Stadium on Saturday. The draw had a lot to do with the fact that 16 of their 25 shots came from outside of the box. As the statistics suggest, they were unable to create consistent scoring chances.
And, disconcertingly, this isn’t an isolated incident. Spurs average more shots from outside the box than any other team in the Premier League (8), which perhaps explains why their shot accuracy of 45 per cent is lower than any other top six side. Not only that, but in all of Europe’s top five leagues, they come in third in this particular statistical category.
WEST HAM 1-1 LEICESTER CITY
In what has been a dire campaign for West Ham so far, Manuel Lanzini has retained his status as one of the Premier League’s finest technicians. The Argentine was at his creative best against Leicester on Friday night, completing five key passes and producing a beautiful in-swinging corner kick to set up his team’s goal.
It should come as no surprise that he was also the most accurate of the Hammers’ attacking starters, completing 86.1 per cent of his attempted passes. And, on top of all that, he got his only shot on target and completed one dribble.