Premier League

Weekend in Stats: De Bruyne’s Unrivalled Creativity

 • by Matt Gault
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Another weekend brought with it another collection of interesting stats as Harry Kane continued his hot streak, Manchester City edged Chelsea thanks to the brilliance of Kevin De Bruyne in the headline fixture and Manchester United brushed hapless Crystal Palace aside at Old Trafford.

Elsewhere, Bournemouth and Leicester City played out a stalemate at the Vitality Stadium, Peter Crouch helped Stoke City to a late 2-1 win over Southampton, West Bromwich Albion and Watford drew 2-2 at the Hawthorns and West Ham United clinched a much-needed win over Swansea City.

In Sunday’s games, Arsenal beat Brighton & Hove Albion 2-0, Everton slumped to a disappointing home defeat to Burnley, while Newcastle United and Liverpool played out a 1-1 draw at St James’ Park.

Let’s dive into the weekend in stats.

Huddersfield Town 0-4 Tottenham Hotspur

It was business as usual for Harry Kane at John Smith’s Stadium. There has been a fascinating debate recently over whether the Spurs striker is world class or not. Frankly, it doesn’t matter in the long term, because if he continues to find the net with such startling regularity and ease, there won’t be a debate anymore.

A brace against Huddersfield lifted him to six Premier League goals this season. After a characteristically barren August, he’s erupted into scintillating form and doesn’t look like stopping. His double against David Wagner’s side brought him to 13 goals for club and country in September, his highest-ever tally for a single month.

The 24-year-old striker now has 36 goals in all competitions in 2017. Only Lionel Messi, with 43, has more. That’s the kind of level Kane has been operating at over the past year. He must be sad to see September end.

Bournemouth 0-0 Leicester City

Bournemouth are now unbeaten in all five Premier League meetings with Leicester, but both sides have started slowly this season. Craig Shakespeare picked up a maximum 15 points from his first five league games in charge of the Foxes, but has only accrued 13 in the subsequent 14 games.

Manchester United 4-0 Crystal Palace

José Mourinho was understandably content following United’s emphatic win over Roy Hodgson’s strugglers. Three points, four goals, a clean sheet and a solid performance. Job done. Move on. It’s difficult, though, not to draw attention to the continued contributions of Marouane Fellaini.

The Belgian scored twice – two simple close-range finishes – but he was rock-solid across the pitch, completing 90 per cent of his passes, winning three aerial duels, making three interceptions and winning ten duels in total.

One of the most interesting stats about Fellaini, though, was the revelation that 36 per cent of his league goals at United have come from Ashley Young crosses. That’s both a reflection on how Fellaini can convert a quality cross and how Young can produce quality crosses in the first place.

The only stat you need to know about Palace is that they’re scoreless streak continues. They are now the only top-flight team in Europe that have failed to score. It’s gotten that bad. The Eagles have also faced 44 shots on target this season, six more than any other team in the league. Suffice to say, there are major problems at both ends.

Stoke City 2-1 Southampton

The hero at the bet365 Stadium, and not for the first time, was Peter Crouch. His late strike lifted the Potters to three points after an engrossing battle with Southampton. Mame Biram Diouf fired Stoke into the lead before Maya Yoshida equalised in the 75th-minute.

That set the stage for Crouch to bundle home the winner, lifting him above Didier Drogba in the all-time Premier League scoring charts.

There was no such elation for Saido Berahino, though. The Stoke striker missed a first-half penalty, meaning he has now gone 32 games without scoring. His last goal came in February 2016 and has missed three penalties since then. The nightmare goes on.

Incidentally, that was Crouch’s 14th Premier League goals as a substitute. Jermain Defoe (23) and Daniel Sturridge (15) are the only active players who have more.

West Bromwich Albion 2-2 Watford

One of the biggest takeaways from the entertaining draw at the Hawthorns was that Watford have an excellent talent in Richarlison. The 20-year-old Brazilian scored a last-gasp equaliser to salvage a point, but he had enjoyed a fine afternoon up until that point, too.

Richarlison had seven shots, won six aerial duels, three tackles, completed two take-ons, notched an assist and, of course, scored an important goal. He’s now scored successive goals beyond the 90th minute, saving the Hornets three points in the process. He must enjoy playing on the road – all three of his goals have come away from Vicarage Road and only Kane has had more shots in away games.

Abdoulaye Doucouré, meanwhile, has now scored with all three of his shots on target this season. Clinical.

West Ham 1-0 Swansea City

Diafra Sakho scored his first home Premier League goal since May 2016, the last league game played at Upton Park. Slaven Bilić will also be pleased with another clean sheet as that’s three in their last four games.

However, keeping a clean sheet against this Swansea side is not such a remarkable accomplishment when you look at some of their stats. The front trio of Tammy Abraham, Wilfried Bony and Jordan Ayew, for example, managed only three touches between them in the Hammers’ penalty box.

Swansea have also conceded four goals in the 90th minute. That surely has to be a cause for concern for Paul Clement. They have also only managed three goals this season, two of which came against Palace.

Chelsea 0-1 Manchester City

Billed as the biggest game of the season so far, City’s impressive victory at Stamford Bridge to maintain their lead on goal difference at the summit had no shortage of interesting stats.

Firstly, match-winner Kevin De Bruyne has scored 14 Premier League goals since joining City, seven of which have come from outside the box. Of course, there was a hint of redemption about the goal as De Bruyne downed the side that had once deemed him surplus to requirements, silencing the fans who never got to see the best of him.

Well, we are certainly seeing the best of him now. De Bruyne created six chances on Saturday, that was two more than the entire Chelsea team. The Belgian is still the most productive player in the league in that department, having created more chances than anyone else with 24.

Chelsea, though, were poor. They didn’t create much and looked particularly toothless after Álvaro Morata went off injured. In fact, the Blues only managed four shots in the entire game, which is their fewest in any match under Antonio Conte.

Arsenal 2-0 Brighton

Arsenal continued their impressive run with a comfortable win over Chris Hughton’s Brighton, with Nacho Monreal and Alex Iwobi getting the goals. The Gunners have now won six and drawn one since losing to Liverpool in August, scoring 15 and conceding just three in that time.

Alexis Sánchez looked to be back to his brilliant best, too, producing a sumptuous backheel to tee-up Iwobi for his goal. The Chilean has now been involved in 35 Premier League goals since the start of the last season – that’s more than double what any of his team-mates have managed.

Everton 0-1 Burnley

One of the key takeaways from Burnley’s win over a poor Everton side at Goodison Park was just how impressive James Tarkowski and Ben Mee were at the heart of the Clarets’ defence. Between them, they made 31 clearances, won 13 aerial duels, won six tackles and made six blocks.

Burnley have already won more games and picked up more points on the road this season than they did in the whole of last term.

Also, Jeff Hendrick’s winner came at the end of an impressive, patient move that saw 24 passes in the build-up – the second-most of any goal this season.

They were simply too good, too strong and too organised for the Toffees, who once again looked bereft of ideas. The result leaves Burnley scaling the dizzying heights of sixth in the table, while Everton – despite their £150million summer investment – are languishing down in 16th.

He was already under pressure, but Ronald Koeman must surely now fear the axe. If results don’t improve quickly, he may join fellow Dutchman Frank de Boer in receiving his P45 early in the season.

Newcastle United 1-1 Liverpool

The worrying thing for Liverpool fans was another sloppy goal conceded from poor defending. The Reds have now failed to keep a clean sheet since that 4-0 demolition of Arsenal in August.

It was mentioned earlier that De Bruyne has a dead aim from distance. Well, so does Philippe Coutinho, as the Brazilian playmaker once again produced a moment of magic, curling home a brilliant 25-yard effort for the opener. Coutinho has now scored 17 goals from outside the box.

With two goals in the game, it kept this fixture’s streak of guaranteeing goals going. Newcastle and Liverpool have never played out a goalless draw in the Premier League.

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