Handballs and substitutions were dominating the agenda for most of an action-packed weekend of Premier League football.
Joe Gomez and Max Kilman were among the latest “guilty” parties found to have handled in the area as the controversial handball rule continued to rear its ugly head among frustrated managers and pundits.
Another injury sustained by Liverpool, this time Trent Alexander-Arnold, led Jurgen Klopp to question why teams in England’s top flight can only make three subs per game while European counterparts are permitted five to help ease the pressure of fixture-list congestion.
But away from the major talking points to emerge, the great folks at Opta have helped pinpoint some of the quirkier talking points from the weekend.
BUK(AYO) OUT OF LUCK
It was a day to forget in general for Arsenal as they were outfought and outthought by a vibrant Aston Villa in a 3-0 defeat at Emirates Stadium on Sunday.
But it was a particularly luckless outing for Bukayo Saka, who put past his own goalkeeper to put Villa ahead against the Gunners.
Aged 19 years and 64 days, Saka is the fourth youngest player to score an own goal in the Premier League, some way short of Martin Cranie who was 17 years and 218 days when he netted at the wrong end for Southampton against Chelsea in May 2004.
Gareth Barry (18y, 74d), Rio Ferdinand (19y, 2d) and Gary Kelly (19y, 71d) also feature on the top-five youngest own-goal scorers.
At the other end of the spectrum, Shay Given is the oldest in terms of own goals scored at 40 years and 129 days when playing for Stoke City against Everton in August 2016. Stuart Pearce (38y, 252d), Dave Watson (38y, 56d), Chris Powell (37y, 232d) and Gary Speed (37y, 134d) also scored in their own net towards the end of their careers.
19y 64d – Bukayo Saka is the fourth-youngest player to score an own goal in the Premier League, and youngest since Southampton’s Martin Cranie in May 2004 (17y 218d v Chelsea). Bumps. pic.twitter.com/Tvps7lgBge
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) November 8, 2020
MARTINEZ STILL EXCELLING AT THE EMIRATES
Saka’s woe was not the only interesting thing to emerge from the Arsenal-Villa outing, but it is more bad reading for Gunners fans.
Emiliano Martinez stepped in for the injured Bernd Leno at the end of last season and helped Arsenal to FA Cup glory, only to be sold to Villa in a big-money deal once the German recovered.
Well, Martinez’s shut-out means he now has more Emirates clean sheets in 2020-21 than Leno does in a concerning stat for Mikel Arteta.
Despite having played a game less than Leno (seven to eight), Martinez also has more clean sheets (four to two), made more saves (22 to 21), and conceded fewer goals (nine to 10). His save percentage of 71 is also better than the 65.5 of Arsenal’s number one.
UNITED’S HALF-TIME HOT STREAK
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer eased some of the growing pressure on his shoulders after seeing his Manchester United side earn a fine comeback 3-1 win at Everton on Saturday.
United fell behind to Bernardo’s goal but were ahead at the break thanks to a Bruno Fernandes double (although Marcus Rashford may dispute the awarding of the second).
The Red Devils have now won 96 games in a row when they have led at the break in the Premier League, the third longest such streak in the competition’s history.
Indeed, United also own the top two runs at 154 (which ended in November 2001) and 113 (which ended in December 2007). Aston have had a run of 83 and Liverpool 81, while the Reds and Leeds United have had streaks of 77 wins when ahead at the break.
Conversely, Bradford City converted just 43.75 per cent of their half-time leads into victories and Swindon Town only 50 per cent (albeit they only led four times at the break). Hull City (51.43) and West Brom (58.43) also score lowly in this category.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) November 7, 2020
FULL HOUSE FOR A VARDY PARTY
Jamie Vardy’s penalty (well his first, anyway) was enough for Leicester City to defeat Wolves 1-0 on Sunday, meaning he has now scored against 27 different Premier League opponents.
It also means the Foxes striker has netted against each of the 19 other sides currently playing in the top flight.
No player has scored against more teams in the competition than Chelsea great Frank Lampard, who celebrated against 39 of the 44 teams he has faced.
Andrew Cole (38 of 40) is next on the list, while Alan Shearer and Jermain Defoe were the scourge of 37 opponents. Wayne Rooney and Teddy Sheringham scored against 36 and 35 respectively.
Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Thierry Henry, Michael Owen and Steven Gerrard each scored against 34.
TIME FOR A CHANGE?
One major talking point to emerge from Liverpool’s 1-1 draw at Manchester City was the consensus between rival managers Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola that the Premier League needs to allow the use of five substitutions per game, given the fixture pile-up caused by the coronavirus pandemic last term.
Interestingly, in a table of Premier League substitutions so far this season, Man City rank third from bottom for substitutions made – only Aston Villa and Burnley (both 12) have made fewer than their 14.
Klopp has made 22 subs for Liverpool, with West Brom, Tottenham, Wolves, Newcastle United and Arsenal each using all three of their allotted alterations in every game (24).
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