No surprise that the totals are up this week, particularly when considering Arsenal, Burnley, Southampton, Tottenham and West Ham all posted season high totals & the matches at the Etihad & Turf Moor are only superseded by week 4's Chelsea v Swansea game for total shot volume (39 to 40 FWIW).
Throw in season high weekly goals totals, season high league conversion rate and an insanely high shot on target rate (+1.3 per team against the season average) and we've got a week that justifies the league's not inconsiderable hype. And there's still West Brom v Man Utd to come.
Fun, fun, fun.
Unless you're Gus Poyet.
I wonder if Rickie Lambert has got the hump yet? He signs for his boyhood club just as their star striker is heading for the exit, they've spent much of the previous season playing with 2 forwards and only have Daniel Sturridge left in the ranks. Despite his age, he's played nearly a whole season leading the forward line at Southampton and has contributed a good tally of goals and assists.
Fast forward to now & despite Sturridge being injured, he can still barely get on the pitch. Mario Balotelli is playing and has shown a complete lack of intuition & the shooting accuracy of Bullseye's non-darts player. Even Borini is hovering around the first team squad and Lambert has 127 minutes of Premier League play to his name whilst Liverpool splutter along without conviction. In a fixture against a fragile QPR he warms the bench throughout! I bet he has got the hump.
In keeping with the weekend's 'Premiership Plus!' motif, the '0-1 to 2-3 in the blink of an eye' scoreline was entirely ridiculous and QPR were good value for a lot more than they got, ie: something rather than nothing. Liverpool in contrast, probably deserved very little from the game and seem to be suffering from a lack of options; it's not that they don't have players to choose from, it's just nobody has arrived with the flourish and comfort of a Tadic and hit the ground running.
Lambert looks on, all the while hoping he'll get the chance he craves, wondering 'what on earth happened to 2 up front?'
Villa & Leicester
Earlier in the week I had two conversations:
A non-statistically minded fan said: 'I really fancy Villa can get something at Everton, we've had a good start to the season' .
'They're struggling to create chances a bit' I replied with great sensitivity.
'Yeah, but they've got ten points already. Pretty good, I reckon.'
I stared skyward and the conversation fizzled out; it was easy to contemplate the deaf ears a barrage of statistics would encounter. Statistics that after this weekend's stuffing at Everton could now include:
- 13 shots on target all year
- 28% shots on target ratio
- League low shots per game
- 4 years for Alan Hutton
The second conversation was similar:
Me: 'Newcastle must be able to beat Leicester, they're not that bad and Leicester are very bad.'
Other person: 'Dunno, Leicester have shown a lot of spirit and I couldn't fancy Newcastle they've been terrible.'
Me: 'Well, I dreamt that Gabriel Obertan turned into the player Alex Ferguson always thought he was for thirty seconds culminating in a fine finish to secure a much needed three points and save the noble Sir Alan of Pardew who then rode his trusty steed through Newcastle in a full suit of armour whilst chanting 'I am your Oberlord!'
So: 'spirit' is seemingly defined as hoovering up the 'league worst' totals that Villa have left behind?
Hmm... Villa lack an attack; they have a small chance of remedying this with Benteke returning. Leicester lack a defence and are conceding 19 shots a game so far, come what may. I don't see any obvious remedy for them, they are horribly porous especially away from home. 9 points may seem okay for now but after only 8 games, the table hides the truth quite effectively.
- Aguero: 4 goals from 11 shots, 8 on target is as good as it gets. Robben had a similarly silly game the other week (10Sh, 5SoT, 8 DR, 2Gls & one woodwork) but otherwise this is Messi/Ronaldo territory.
- Tadic finally scored (supporting the theory I espoused last time) and had 7 KPs creating 4 assists. He lacks the profile of Costa or Fabregas but has to be a big contender for signing of the season so far.
- Alexis Sanchez is trying to do it all himself: 5 shots, 1 goal, 3 KPs, 1 assist & 5 dribbles.
- Sakho, always scores! And will continue to do so if he gets off 6 shots a game. Backed it up with an assist from 4 KPs too.
- Interestingly, most weeks the T&I maximum has been 10+; in this week of goals, shots and wild attacking it's nowhere near. Blog favourite Mile 'The Wall' Jedinak hit 7
The one thing Tottenham weren't going to do is go to the Etihad and try to match Man City. No way. The new pragmatism we've seen under Pochettino was here to stay: we were sure to defend and hit them on the break. Anything else would be suicide.
And with a positive and free outlook leading to a 1-4 scoreline, so it came to pass. Three penalties against, the obligatory red card, none of the breaks and surprise tactics had many of the hallmarks of a Tim Sherwood production. What couldn't be countered was Aguero having the type of performance that you might see a handful of times a season away from the insane lands of Messi and Ronaldo. Any team could have turned up here on Saturday the 18th of October and left chastened. The general media consensus seems to be that Man City 'haven't clicked yet' whilst all the while their underlying numbers have been very, very good. This time they showed it in the goals column too.
Yet strangely, despite being on the wrong end of another goal glut there was a lot of good stuff to take from this performance from a Spurs perspective:
- Lloris' form is currently outstanding
- We finally created a substantial amount of chances in a game
- Mason looks a real find; quick incisive passing combined with the Poch work ethic
- Soldado, despite his penalty miss, offered enough to suggest he has a role to play.
- This standard of performance will roll over the lesser teams & Tottenham will be favorite for each of their next 5 games until the visit to Stamford Bridge on December 3rd.
Thanks for reading!