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Monday, 15 September 2014

Costa in seventh heaven, Manchester United showing old title spirit & Ozil on the edge at Arsenal - Opta's Weekend in Numbers

Costa in seventh heaven, Manchester United showing old title spirit & Ozil on the edge at Arsenal - Opta's Weekend in Numbers

SEVENTH HEAVEN

Views on how Diego Costa would do in the Premier League were definitely mixed when the Atletico Madrid striker signed for Chelsea.

Some saw his bullish performances in La Liga as ideal fare for England’s top-flight, while some looked at his lacklustre displays for Spain in the World Cup and shook their heads.


STAND-OUT STATS
Liverpool hit only one shot on target against Aston Villa. The only team that restricted them to a single shot on target in a game last season? Aston Villa.
Arsenal have already conceded four headed goals this season (one in each of their games), 25% of the league’s entire total.
Crystal Palace have never won a Premier League home game in September (D4 L5).
Villa did not register a single shot in the second half in their 1-0 win at Anfield.
Mark Hughes actually succeeded in making cliché true and the Britannia Stadium a fortress last season but now Stoke have lost consecutive home league games for the first time since April 2013.
Tottenham’s Nacer Chadli has three goals in three PL appearances this season after netting just one in 24 last term.
Southampton's Jack Cork has scored two goals in his last three games (all comps) after a run of 125 without a goal.
Well as much as anyone can tell after four games, Costa is definitely, undeniably, a unqualified success. Seven goals at this stage of a season is better than any other player has ever managed in their opening quartet of Premier League games, while only Wayne Rooney (with eight in 2011-12) has scored more in the opening four matches of a Premier League campaign.

With Chelsea recording only the fourth-ever Premier League start of four victories each with a winning margin of two+ goals and already enjoying an average points lead of 5.6 points over the rest of last  year’s top six, the title, somehow in September, is theirs to lose.

WIDE TO RECEIVE

There was much to admire in Arsenal’s play against Manchester City on Saturday.

Coming from behind to lead the champions is no easy feat and even the visitors’ equaliser and near-winner didn’t detract from a busy display from Jack Wilshere and some elegant running from Alexis Sanchez.

But a year on from his introduction to the Premier League, Mesut Ozil seems to be increasingly on the periphery. After assisting six goals in his opening 10 games last season, he has added just three more in the subsequent 19 appearances while his success rate in 50/50 encounters in the Man City game was lower than any of his team-mates; something not helped by his current position out wide, literally on the edge of matters.

POWERLESS

Newcastle supporters have endured a dismal 2014 alleviated only briefly by some promising transfers in the summer.

But with Siem de Jong already out injured for some time, the lack of goals that has plagued Alan Pardew all year doesn’t look like improving. In 23 Premier League matches from January onwards, Newcastle have scored 15 times, and three of those came in the draw with Crystal Palace two weeks ago.

To put it into perspective, at their current scoring rates, Diego Costa will overtake Newcastle for goals in 2014 on November 22. And he’s a single player. Who didn’t play until August.

SOMETHING OLD, SOMETHING NEW

Last season Romelu Lukaku was something borrowed, something blue. For the second season in a row he went out on loan from Chelsea and enhanced his reputation in the most traditional way – by scoring a hatful of goals.

On Saturday he faced the first of those clubs, West Brom, playing for the second, Everton. The Toffees secured the permanent signing of the Belgian in the summer and he duly scored his first Premier League goal for a club who owns him (yet his 33rd strike in total) at a ground where he scored 10 times for the Baggies two seasons ago.

In fact, it was his first non-loan league goal for over three years, the last one coming for Anderlecht in August 2011, shortly before Chelsea signed him and the whole process began.

THEATRE RENOVATION

It was Old Trafford that did for Manchester United last season. The Red Devils lost seven times on home soil, as many times as relegated Norwich City, and after another reversal on the opening day of the season, to Swansea, Sunday’s match against QPR was a must-win for Louis van Gaal.

And in a reasonably poetic twist, United scored three times before half-time at home in the league for the first time since that spring night in April 2013 when Robin van Persie scored a first-half hat-trick and Sir Alex Ferguson won his 13th and final league title with the club. 17 months on and the new era finally looks like it has arrived, with new signings Ander Herrera and Angel Di Maria scoring and Wayne Rooney reaching 175 Premier League goals, a total only Alan Shearer and Andrew Cole can better.

The last time United failed to win any of their opening three league games, in 2007-08, they won the fourth match and went onto claim the title.

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