Sunday, September 26, 2021

Guardiola streak ends, no capital gains for Palace, history for Firmino – Premier League quirky fact

SoccerNews in English Premier League 16 Aug 2021

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Manchester City saw their main rivals for the Premier League title get off to a flying start on Saturday before the champions stumbled at Tottenham on Sunday.

Son Heung-min continued his phenomenal recent record against City with the only goal, while Pep Guardiola’s men drew a blank for a third consecutive game in all competitions. Perhaps there’s someone in north London who could help them out with that?

Manchester United and European champions Chelsea revelled back in front of full houses and Liverpool gave newly-promoted Norwich City a reality check.

But those are the bare facts. Let’s delve a little deeper to examine some of the quirkier happenings on the Premier League’s opening weekend.

Stumbling start for City

Guardiola suggested his stars returning from Euro 2020 and Copa America duty might be undercooked and so it proved. The 1-0 loss at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium puts City in territory they are not used to.

You have to go back to 2008-09 and a 4-2 defeat at Aston Villa for the previous time City lost their opening Premier League fixture.

In that same campaign, Guardiola’s fledgling Barcelona tenure got off to an inauspicious start with a reverse against Numancia that indicated little of the treble win that was about to unfold. The Catalan had overseen 11 subsequent opening day wins since then.

Perhaps it was always going to be Spurs who halted his run, Guardiola has now lost more away games against Tottenham (five) in all competitions than any other opponent in his career.

It is also worth considering whether he is chasing the wrong Spurs forward. Only Jamie Vardy (nine) has more than Son’s seven goals against City since Guardiola took charge in 2016.

Home comforts for United

Starting with a win is also usually a habit on the other side of Manchester and United’s 5-1 demolition of Leeds United marked the 20th time in the Premier League the 20-time English champions had started with a win.

However, you have to go back to an August 2006 success against Fulham for the previous time they scored five in doing so.

Bruno Fernandes scored a hat-trick and you have to go even further back for the last time that happened on week one – all the way to Lou Macari claiming the matchball against Birmingham City in 1977-78.

Fernandes might be United’s assists king but Paul Pogba stole a march by setting up four of the five goals, surpassing the three Premier League assists he managed over the entirety of last season.

Vieira’s Eagles grounded at Stamford Bridge

New boss Patrick Vieira could not change Crystal Palace’s luck at Chelsea as a 3-0 defeat meant they have lost more often to the Blues (19) than any other side in the division.

If Vieira can improve Palace’s efforts in London derbies he might be onto something. They have kept just one clean sheet in their past 14 away games in the capital, conceding 32 goals at a rate of 2.5 per game in the other 13.

Marcos Alonso’s strike was Chelsea’s 50th successful direct free-kick in the Premier League, putting them second to Manchester United (64) overall. Call it the David Beckham variable.

Christian Pulisic certainly enjoys seeing Palace lining up in opposition. Of the USA star’s 14 goals in the Premier League, five have come against Palace – 36 per cent of his overall total.

Liverpool gr-8 and feeling grand

Roberto Firmino had the honour of scoring Liverpool’s 8,000th goal in English league football when he netted the second in a 3-0 win at Norwich. Manchester United (8,089) are the only other team to breach that mark.

Norwich are winless in each of their past five Premier League openers (D3 L6). It is the first time they have lost three in a row since 1976-77, back in Macari’s heyday.

Mohamed Salah made history by scoring for a fifth successive opening weekend, although those exploits can take attention away from the fact he is also one of the division’s finest creators.

Since he joined Liverpool in 2017, only Kevin De Bruyne (50) has managed more than the Egypt star’s 35 Premier League assists.

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