The past week has served up plenty of talking points in the Premier League, not least the sacking of Frank Lampard by Everton and a potential injury to Wilfried Zaha. All the while, the closing of the January transfer window looms next Tuesday.
Focussing on matters on the pitch, here are 20 observations on each team using PFF's soccer data.
Mikel Arteta’s intent in the big clash against Manchester United was clear: crowd the penalty area. Wingers Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka both topped the rankings for possessions in the box, combining for 27, with Martinelli’s total of 15 being the joint-most recorded this season (Gabriel Jesus vs. Fulham in Gameweek 4).
The average number of possessions in the penalty area among wingers and strikers per-game this season stands at 4.2.
Danny Ings bid farewell to Villa Park last week to make a £15m ($18.6m) switch to Premier League strugglers West Ham.
His xG-per-90 rate of 0.4 is marginally better than first-choice striker Ollie Watkins’ 0.3, the latter having played almost 700 more minutes. Chances came in frequent fashion for Villa last week against Southampton with at least five players recording 2 or more chances created, a feat matched only by Manchester City and Brighton.
Bournemouth’s new £20m ($24.8m) signing Dango Ouattara claimed an assist on his debut for the Cherries, crossing for fellow winger Anthony to finish in what was Bournemouth’s first league goal since early November.
That was the one bright point in the match for Ouattara, who didn’t complete any of his four crosses or three dribbles. In Ligue 1 this season based on completion rates, Ouattara ranked 30th out of 32 wingers in crossing (min. 30 attempts, 500 minutes) and 20th in dribbling among 30 wingers (min. 20 attempts, 500 minutes).
Last month head coach Thomas Frank said midfielder Christian Norgaard was the ‘glue’ of his Brentford team and he showed that against Leeds.
Norgaard won 9 of 15 challenges to lead Brentford midfielders on win rate and rank fourth at his position in challenges won per-90 at 8.5 – Liverpool’s Thiago the leader at 9.1. The Dane also ranked top six in pressures applied (36) on passes and line-breaking pass attempts (12) among midfielders.
Brighton & Hove Albion
Evan Ferguson has done so much with so little over the last four matches for Brighton after getting some minutes under Roberto De Zerbi. A starter against Everton and Liverpool, the 18-year-old Irish striker has scored three goals in a mere 205 minutes.
Chelsea’s attack managed to register only three shots on target in the goalless draw against Liverpool, below their season average prior to the game of 4.4, which ranked 9th in the league.
Frontman Kai Havertz is yet to record a game where he has had at least three shots on target in 18 appearances thus far. On 52 occasions this season, a striker in the Premier League has managed to reach or better that number.
Crystal Palace are yet to disclose the extent of the hamstring injury which forced off Wilfried Zaha in the 0-0 draw against Newcastle. Should Zaha miss time, Palace could turn to Jean-Phillipe Mateta (1.1) or Odsonne Edouard (0.9) who rank 18th and 27th out of 44 qualifiers in our shots-on-target per-90 metric (min. 400 minutes played).
Frank Lampard’s hopes of saving his job with a comeback against West Ham were not helped by a lack of service for striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin. The Everton forward recorded 24 possessions, the second-fewest of the 11 strikers who played 90 minutes or more this weekend — only Leicester’s Jamie Vardy saw less of the ball (19), while Bournemouth’s Kieffer Moore ranked 1st with 50.
Andreas Pereira appears to be one of the bargain signings of the season at £10m ($12m) for Fulham. The Brazilian has received the most passes (562) outside of defenders Tim Ream and Antonee Robinson and has turned that possession into 46 completed line-breaking passes — the sixth-most of any attacking midfielder in the Premier League.
Luke Ayling was involved in the most challenges on any defender this week (25) in Sunday’s 0-0 draw with Brentford. It was a solid defensive display from Leeds, only conceding six shots in total and none on target.
Ayling’s 64.3% aerial duel win rate was an improvement on his season average of 56.9%, which ranks 18th for full-backs (minimum 10 aerial duels).
Youri Tielemans provided an assist and an additional key pass in the Foxes 2-2 draw with Brighton. The Belgian midfielder completed seven line-breaking passes (one breaking the defensive line) and had a pass completion rate of 85%. Tielemans’ 118 completed line breaking passes this season ranks 4th in the league for central midfielders.
Cody Gakpo totally embraced manager Jurgen Klopp’s philosophy against Chelsea on Saturday, racking up an impressive 99 total pressures (1st among all players this week). His 53 pressures applied was the highest number by any Liverpool player this season.
Erling Haaland’s dominance continued as he notched his 4th hat-trick of the season against a hapless Wolves.
Haaland’s possession metrics make for interesting reading; among outfield players his 19.9 possessions per 90 minutes was 4th lowest, while his possessions in penalty area percentage (35.7%) was the highest (minimum 20 minutes).
It’s been a similar story all season, Haaland’s possessions per 90 (23.0) is 5th lowest in the league (minimum 450 minutes), but 30% of his possessions are in an opponent's penalty area (1st).
Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s high profile defensive error before Eddie Nketiah’s goal will do little to quiet the rumours about his future at Old Trafford but he can at least take some solace from his performance in challenges against Arsenal.
The right-back won 81.3% of his total challenges, including all of his aerial duels, which was the highest win rate of any player in the Premier League this week involved in more than 6 challenges.
Despite a disappointing 0-0 draw with Crystal Palace, it’s now six clean sheets in a row for Newcastle. Kieran Trippier has been a key part of Eddie Howe’s backline this season, impressing both on and off the ball. The former Atletico Madrid man won the most challenges of any Newcastle player this weekend (11), including five of his 6 aerial duels.
Brennan Johnston only featured off the bench during Wales’ ill-fated World Cup campaign but the striker has been in-form since returning to England. The striker has created 7 chances in his last four games, including 2 assists, and leads all strikers in the league in shots on target in the last four games with 6.
Kyle Walker-Peters lead all full-backs this week in dribbles attempted (6) and in dribbles won (4). This season the right-back is 6th in the league in dribbles per 90 minutes among full-backs (2.3) and has the 2nd highest dribble completion percentage of all Southampton players (62%)
In terms of goals scored where no goalkeeper could have done anything about the shot, Spurs' Hugo Lloris ranks amongst the best at 3rd out of 18 keepers (min. 1,400 minutes). His conceded saveable goals rate of 31% is better than the average of 38%, with Newcastle’s Nick Pope the leader on 18% and Everton’s Jordan Pickford at the bottom of the pile on 54%.
Jarrod Bowen scored twice in a much-needed win for the Hammers over relegation rivals Everton. The midfielder also contributed a key pass in a performance that could prove key for a side that is a respectable 8th in chances created per game (10.2), yet ranks 17th in goals per game (0.8).
Wolves were well beaten in the end by Manchester City on Sunday and, while they were able to maintain possession well at times, they struggled to create chances, only producing 5 compared to City’s 13.
Wolves completed a decent 34 line-breaking passes against Manchester City on Sunday but did not complete a single defensive-line breaking pass and only attempted 2.