Thursday, 21 August 2014

Premier League Review: Opening Weekend

After a summer in which English football only succeeded in disappointing us all on an international level this weekend saw the return of English top flight football and how we’ve missed it.

A lot has changed since Manchester City lifted the trophy in May, Liverpool have lost Suarez but replaced him with some quality signings, Louis van Gaal has taken charge at Manchester United and Southampton have lost almost half their team.  However, the opening weekend of the Premier League provided us with the drama we’ve come to expect it, and if the rest of the season continues in this vein we’re in for a treat.

A lot of that drama is attributable to late goals, I’ve heard the Premier League called the league of late goals and this weekend saw 5 goals scored after the 85th minute, that’s 19.2% of the 26 goals this weekend. But how does that compare to other leagues across Europe, only the French Ligue 1 and Dutch Eredivisie have kicked off so far, with La Liga, Serie A and the Bundesliga not starting until the coming weeks, but we can still compare the Premier League with those two.
 
Time of Premier League goals
In Ligue 1 there were just 2 goals after the 85th minute last weekend but the Eredivisie boasted 6, more than the Premier League but a smaller percentage (16.7%) of the 36 goals they had last weekend. So in terms of late goals the Premier League does eclipse it’s European neighbours, especially when you consider that 4 of those goals changed the outcome of games, compared to 1 in Ligue 1 and 5 in the Eredivisie.

The Eredivisie had more goals, more late goals and more decisive late goals than the Premier League and both teams scored in every match, whereas both teams failed to score in 4 of the Premier League games. However, the biggest defeat in the Premier League was by 2 goals, compared to 5 in the Eredivisie and 4 in Ligue 1, suggesting the teams in the Premier League are more closely matched. That’s more interesting considering you had a title favourite (Chelsea) playing a team tipped to be relegated (Burnley), perhaps it’ll just take the teams some time to find their rhythm, especially as not everyone was up to full strength. 


Time of Eredivise and Ligue 1 goals

The biggest shock of the weekend was Swansea winning away at Manchester United in Louis van Gaal’s first home game. Whilst United were understrength and still need to bring in a few 
new faces, the 3-4-3 system doesn’t seem to have worked to the extent it did for the Netherlands in Manchester.

Last season Swansea were criticised for having the majority of the ball but not doing enough with it. At Old Trafford, they surrendered the ball having just 40.8%, but still managed pass accuracy of 80.2%, so it wasn’t a complete change of philosophy from Gary Monk. Swansea also used the width well, playing just 22% of the game through the middle of the pitch. An astute tactic against a United side which had players playing wing back (or full back in the second half) who are more accustomed to attacking than defending.


Here's hoping for more of the same this weekend.

Statistics courtesy of whoscored.com

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