Analysing another fascinating weekend of Premier League action with the Stats Zone app from FFT & Opta... try it today!
Different day, same result for Manchester United: winning impressively despite allowing the opposition somewhere north of 20 shots on goal. Three times they've welcomed big teams to Old Trafford, let them have 20+ attempts and sent them home well beaten. (On the road they also allowed Bolton 22 shots and West Brom 16, winning both those games too.) Before this campaign, United had conceded 20 shots on just two occasions in five seasons.
Chelsea gave the champions problems aerially too, completing 11 out of 25 crosses – and this without Didier Drogba up front. Fernando Torres was a willing recipient of 37 passes during the game, from a variety of sources – but Wayne Rooney received 55, many of them much shorter and deeper, as the home side's patient passing contrasted with Chelsea's evident desire to go "back to front" much more quickly.
Speaking of possession and short passes, Swansea's style succeeded on Saturday with a 3-0 win over West Brom. We told you last week how the Swans are outpassing Arsenal, and that is still the case – just; Swansea have 55.9% possession compared to Arsenal's 55.8%, beaten only by Chelsea (60.6%), Man United (56.8%) and Man City (56.3%). Indeed, as @Gingers4Limpar pointed out on Twitter, on Saturday Swansea completed more passes (481) than Wolves (227) and QPR (236) combined…
Interestingly, their possession play is largely without territorial advantage. As you can see by the blue chevron shape of their passes, they keep the ball in their own half and probe down the wings, perhaps waiting to draw opponents out and hit them with their pacy front men. Swansea have the highest proportion of passes played within their own half this season, 50.3% – Man United are next highest with 43.7%, the league average being 37.8%.
Speaking of Arsenal, in their defeat at Blackburn they followed Liverpool's example at Stoke last week – statistical dominance without end result. They enjoyed 68% possession and completed 468 passes – 86% of their 546 attempted, and two and a half times as many completed passes as Blackburn's 180; up the sharp end they had 23 shots to Rovers' eight, flinging in 42 crosses to the home side's 12 (but only completing 12 to Blackburn's four). Kudos to Steve Kean's side for their battling qualities, exemplified by eight blocked shots and 22 interceptions.
If Liverpool's Charlie Adam thought that trip to Stoke was a bad day at the office, it got much worse for him (and Liverpool) against the Tottenham team he could have joined in January. On the defensive side he committed two fouls, each yellow-carded; on the attacking he completed only seven of his 13 passes (54%), and only one of the seven forward passes he made. By the time of Adam's red card Luka Modric had completed two take-ons, completed 16 of 19 passes and scored a sizzler.
Spurs' domination was all but total. They had 26 attempts to Liverpool's three, and nine of the top 10 passers wore white. Spurs completed 558 of a notably high 614 passes – the second-highest number of attempted passes by any team this season, beaten only by Man City at Fulham (of which more later). Liverpool's only option was to kick out, and now only QPR (with 20) have conceded more fouls this season in their defensive third than Liverpool's 18.
Welcoming Emmanuel Adebayor into the fold has helped Spurs. Judging by the variety of passes Adebayor received compared to Peter Crouch in the same game last season, the Togolese has certainly helped give Spurs a flexibility they didn't demonstrate when knocking it long to Crouch.
Then again, Crouch is experiencing the same thing at Stoke – over the course of two games for the Potters he's fielded almost 100 passes, the huge majority of which seem to be long. Surely some mistake? Make your own judgements – that's what Stats Zone is for…
Finally, to Fulham for a true game of two halves. Manchester City passed their hosts to death in the first half, completing 364 of their 404 attempted passes (90.1%). In the second half, this plummeted to 181 of 215 – still 84.1% but half the pre-break frequency.
Why? Some might say City surrendered the initiative with moves like substituting David Silva for Pablo Zabaleta, but it's far from coincidental that Fulham doubled their tackle rate in the second half (from 6/6 to 11/12)…
…and we suspect the diminishing influence of Yaya Touré tells its own tale.
For all the tactics and stats, Fulham simply got in their opponents' faces more – and it shows not just in the result but on the Stats Zone screens. So, over to you: What points are you going to prove with Stats Zone? Share them below and/or tweet @StatsZone and we'll publish the best.
Fancy a go at Stats Zone? Try it today by downloading from iTunes – all last season's stats are free of charge.
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Vithushan Ehantharajah analyses another fascinating weekend of Premier League action with the Stats Zone
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