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Race for fourth, Fergie's changes and loads more

Martin Tyler - Martin Tyler Posted 5th January 2010 view comments

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Rooney and Manchester United: bad week, great decade

Rooney and Manchester United: bad week, great decade

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Tyler's starting stat - United we fall

I was at Old Trafford on Sunday to see Manchester United lose at home for the third time in their third different competition of the season. The FA Cup defeat to Leeds followed their Premier League loss to Aston Villa and their Champions League defeat to Beskitas.

In fact, in all of their seven defeats this season - the three mentioned above plus the losses to Burnley, Liverpool, Chelsea and Fulham - United have failed to score. So the message is Manchester United don't tend to score when they lose over 90 minutes. The last time they did so was last March's 4-1 defeat to Liverpool, although they did score in the Community Shield before losing on penalties to Chelsea.

Meanwhile, Leeds have now gone 16 games unbeaten and have lost just two of their 33 games this season, away to Millwall in League One and at home to Liverpool in the League Cup.

On a personal note, Jermaine Beckford is living the dream of all non-league players after his Old Trafford winner. The first time I met him was when I was coach at Walton & Hersham and we won 3-1 away to Wealdstone - although Beckford did score a late consolation goal for them.

TOP OF THE NOUGHTIES
Hi Martin. With the decade at an end, I'd be interested to see how the Premier League table would look if you took all of the games played in the Noughties. I'm sure Manchester United would be top, but I can't predict who'd be second. Would it be Arsenal, Chelsea or even Liverpool?
Craig, Cheshire

MARTIN SAYS: The boys at Opta have given us the table of the decade, which you can see below. As you guessed, Manchester United are clear winners with Chelsea in second place - although by a quirk of the fixture list in the first and last seasons of the Noughties they have in fact played three more games than their London rivals.

The table below tells the story, but here are a few observations about the decade:

Most wins: Manchester United (255)
Most draws: Aston Villa (125)
Most defeats: Middlesbrough (148)
Most goals: Manchester United (757)
Most goals conceded: Tottenham (513)
Best goal difference: Manchester United (441)
Worst goal difference: Sunderland (-160)

Premier League table - Jan 1 2000 - December 28 2009:

PositionTeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Manchester United3812556759757316441832
2Chelsea3822329258682294388788
3Arsenal3792269558748356392773
4Liverpool3802049482621333288704
5Aston Villa38013612511949346033533
6Tottenham Hotspur3811459214453051317527
7Everton3791411011374764760524
8Newcastle United360133991284814792498
9Blackburn Rovers32411388123403435-32427
10Middlesbrough361108105148410476-66429
11Manchester City32310879136403434-31403
12Bolton Wanderers32210491127381449-68403
13Fulham32310091132368431-63391
14West Ham United30510273130364444-80379
15Charlton Athletic2668570111301386-85325
16Portsmouth2487660112276346-70288
17Southampton209666084240289-49255
18Sunderland2666360143242402-160249
19Birmingham City210616188218273-55244
20Leeds United1706738652392372239
21Wigan Athletic171523782171251-80193
22Leicester City132323961144207-63135
23West Bromwich Albion152274184132251-119122
24Derby County132243375117236-119105
25Ipswich Town7629153298106-8102
26Reading7626133793113-2091
27Stoke City571715255378-2566
28Coventry City571412315795-3854
29Hull City5812172959106-4753
30Wolverhampton Wanderers5812163055113-5852
31Bradford City5710153253109-5645
32Sheffield United38108203255-2338
33Watford56717324794-4738
34Crystal Palace38712194162-2133
35Norwich City38712194277-3533
36Sheffield Wednesday196492225-322
37Burnley 2055102240-1820
38Wimbledon1832131539-2411

DECADE'S DEADLIEST
Hi Martin. I know Alan Shearer is the highest scoring Premier League player of all time. But who was the top scorer of the last decade? Many thanks.
Stu

MARTIN SAYS: From January 1 2000 to December 31 2009, the Premier League's top goalscorer was Thierry Henry. The former Arsenal striker hit 169 goals, which was 56 clear of his nearest rival Robbie Keane. The only other players to have hit triple figures in the Premier League in the Noughties are Michael Owen (102) and Frank Lampard (100), the highest scoring midfielder of the decade.

Most goals - Jan 1 2000 - Dec 28 2009

PlayerGoals
Thierry Henry169
Robbie Keane113
Michael Owen102
Frank Lampard100
Ruud van Nistelrooy95
Wayne Rooney94
Alan Shearer93
Jermain Defoe93
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink93
Mark Viduka92
Nicolas Anelka87
James Beattie86
Cristiano Ronaldo84
Steven Gerrard75
Emile Heskey74
Yakubu73
Louis Saha70
Andrew Cole70
Craig Bellamy70

TO GO FOURTH...
I have two questions for you Martin. After Liverpool's win against Villa the race for fourth is as tight as I can remember, but I'm only 15 so I guess you have one or two more seasons to remember! First what is the lowest number of points ever in the Premier League for a team finishing in fourth place? Maybe then you can find out what that season looked like at this stage so we can see if it's any tighter? Isn't it something like 60 points, so any of the top six or seven could still make it?
Ben Drotleff (Arsenal fan)

MARTIN SAYS: Liverpool managed to grab a Champions League spot with just 60 points in the 2003/04 season, finishing four points clear of Newcastle and Aston Villa but a huge 30 points behind Arsenal's invincible league winners. That is the lowest points total of any team finishing in fourth.

On New Year's Day that season, Liverpool were sixth with 26 points, but did have a game in hand on most of their rivals. This season's return of 33 points from 20 games is better than they achieved that year so that should provide grounds for optimism for Rafael Benitez's men.

Premier League table on New Year's Day 2003/04:

PositionTeam PlayedWonDrawn LostForAgainstPoints
1Manchester United191513381346
2Arsenal191360351245
3Chelsea191333361642
4Charlton Athletic19865272230
5Fulham19847302628
6Liverpool18756282126
7Newcastle United19685262226
8Southampton19757181526
9Birmingham City18756162026
10Aston Villa19667192324
11Everton19658232523
12Bolton Wanderers19586202823

Below, I have listed the points totals for the fourth-placed finishers every season since the Premier League began. Remember the 'top four' only gained its importance in 2001/02 when England's quota of places in the Champions League was extended from three to four.

08/09: Arsenal - 72
07/08: Liverpool - 76
06/07: Arsenal - 68
05/06: Arsenal - 67
04/05: Everton - 61
03/04: Liverpool - 60
02/03: Chelsea - 67
01/02: Newcastle - 71

-------Champions League qualifying for top four-------

00/01: Leeds - 68
99/00: Liverpool - 67
98/99: Leeds - 67
97/98: Chelsea - 63
96/97: Liverpool - 68
95/96: Aston Villa 63
94/95: Liverpool - 74*
93/94: Arsenal - 71*
92/93: Blackburn - 71*

* 42-game season

YEAR OF THE GOAL
My next question is which team has scored the most goals in 2009, as a calendar year? My guess would be either Arsenal or Chelsea but as a Gunner I'll go with the mighty Arsenal! Thanks Martin!
Ben Drotleff (Arsenal fan)

MARTIN SAYS: You'd be right Ben. The Gunners are indeed the Premier League's top scorers for the calendar year with 86 goals. That puts them two goals clear of Manchester United and 13 goals clear of current Premier League leaders Chelsea. The Gunners also had fewer defeats than any other side in 2009 with just five.

Of the 17 sides that have played in the Premier League throughout the calendar year, Hull City and Wigan have scored the fewest, just 31 goals in total - that's almost three times fewer than Arsenal.

Premier League goals in 2009:

1. Arsenal (86)
2. Man Utd (84)
3. Liverpool (79)
4. Chelsea (73)
5. Tottenham (67)
6. Man City (58)
7. Everton (54)
8. Sunderland (51)
9. Aston Villa (50)
10. West Ham (46)
11. Fulham, Bolton (45)
13. Blackburn (38)
14. Stoke, Portsmouth (35)
16. Hull, Wigan (31)
18. Burnley (22)
19. Birmingham, West Brom (20)
21. Wolves (17)
22. Newcastle (14)
23. Middlesbrough (11)

CHANGING OF THE GUARDS
Hi Martin. I've heard that Manchester United have changed their starting line-up in almost every game for the last couple of seasons. When was the last time they kept the same starting XI. And how does this compare to their rivals Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool. I'd be interested to know if Fergie rotates more than Rafa!
Mandy White

MARTIN SAYS: With Sir Alex Ferguson likely to make wholesale changes in their next match following their FA Cup defeat to Leeds United, it would be fair to assume that will be the 100th consecutive game in which Ferguson has changed his line up.

The last time he named an unchanged team was when he stuck with the eleven which beat Barcelona in the second leg of their Champions League semi final in May 2008. The following game was against West Ham in the penultimate league match of that title-winning season.

So how does that compare to the other members of the so-called big four? Chelsea have changed their team for the last 33 matches - a long way short of Manchester United. The last time they named the same starting XI in successive matches was last May when the same players started against Arsenal and Blackburn. Guus Hiddink liked a consistent team selection, but Carlo Ancelotti is yet to name an unchanged side.

Arsenal have only gone 16 games without an unchanged line-up. Arsene Wenger named the same team in successive games against AZ Alkmaar and West Ham last October.

Meanwhile Rafael Benitez - who also once went 99 games without naming the same team - has rotated in the last nine games of this season. However, at the end of November he named the same starting XI against Everton as he did against Debrecen in the previous match.

On average United make 5.6 changes to their team from game to game - more than half the starting eleven, which is more than all their rivals. Chelsea make 4.9 changes per game, Arsenal make 4.7 and Liverpool make 3.4.

It is worth pointing out that all these changes are often dictated by the Champions League group games and the need to prioritise different competitions. No manager likes to play the same players in three big games in a week. If the season went Saturday to Saturday I'm sure there would be far fewer changes.

REDS VS THE DONS
Hi Martin, I think I know the answer to Liverpool's recent problems - Aberdeen FC. I am a supporter of both Liverpool and Aberdeen and since Rafa's arrival they never seem to both win on the same day. Can you clarify my thoughts by letting me know the percentages of times when they have both won on the same day. I really feel the percentage will be extremely low. Actually I don't think they often lose on the same day either but every time one of my teams plays in an early kick off if they win I fear for the other team conversely I get quietly confident if they lose.
Scott Wheeler, Aberdeen

MARTIN SAYS: Since Rafa Benitez's first competitive match in charge of Liverpool on August 10 2004, the Reds have played on the same day as Aberdeen a total of 114 times in all competitions. Both teams have won on the same day on 30 of those occasions - a percentage of 26.3.

Both teams have only lost on the same day five times in that period. So the good news for you Scott is that if one of your teams loses, there is only a 4.39 per cent chance that the other will lose as well. In fact, the 2007/08 and 2008/09 seasons were a golden spell for you, Scott, because there was not a single day in either season on which both of your sides lost. In that sense, your theory holds up because they very rarely lose on the same day.

However, the numbers don't really support your theory about one team winning and one team losing on the same day. Here are the combinations:

Aberdeen win/Liverpool lose: 13 days out of 114
Aberdeen lose/Liverpool win: 16 days out of 114

Together that adds up to 29 days out of 114 - a fraction over 25 per cent of the games played.

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Comments (28)

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Kieran Murray (Chelsea fan) says...

Hi Martin, in the last few weeks Manchester United have got hugely over inflated amounts of added time when there wasn't huge amounts of stoppages like 5 against Leeds and 6 against Birmingham probably because they weren't winning. I want to know what is the average amount of stoppage time when they are winning, drawing and losing to see if Sir Alex is pulling strings with the 4th Official or not.

Posted 12:45 10th January 2010

Kieran Murray (Chelsea fan) says...

Hi Martin, as we all know Alex Ferguson has been around for a long time and a lot of current managers once played under him. I want to know what is his record against managers he has managed compared to managers he hasn't.

Posted 12:37 10th January 2010

Martin J (Liverpool fan) says...

Did you know that an English Player has not topped the Premier League scoring charts since Kevin Phillips registered 30 for Sunderland back in 1999/2000? I find that incredible. And in most seasons since, the highest scoring Englishman is a fair way off the Top Scorer of the League.

Posted 17:15 8th January 2010

Lukey Baby (Manchester United fan) says...

Hi Martin, In my opinion Dimitar Berbatov gets a lot of unfair criticism and whenever i fight his corner others argue he doesn't score goals and doesn't have enough assists to justify his starting place. That brings me to ask two closely related questions. 1. How many passes before the assist (the final pass before the assist is made) has Berbatov completed at hias time at Man Utd? 2. How many assists would he have made if his team mates had put away their chances? I'm assuming it's almost impossible to find the stats? Thanks

Posted 15:01 7th January 2010

Cain Bradley (Chelsea fan) says...

Hi Mr Tyler as an avid Chelsea fan i seem to be outnumbered on arguments so to settle an argument which premiership keeper has conceded the least goals on average this decade every game. Im sure it must be Ccech but my friends think Reina. Another topic of debate is the best right back currently in the premiership, Boswinga or Glen Johnson. So who on average each game is better. (Crosses, tackles, succesful runs, etc)

Posted 13:55 7th January 2010

Ben Flannery (Manchester United fan) says...

Anthony Carlin - that would be, becuase rooney is not a striker, he is a forward. there is a difference, Defoe is a goal scorer, Rooney is more of a creater, who also scores goals. i personally think Rooney would be better off as an attacking midfielder becuase he has such great vision, he likes a tackle and i really think dropping him in with berba off a main STRIKER, like a Dzeko or Eto'o, an out and out goal scorer, would offer united more than the way we play at the moment. but trying to compare Defoe and Rooney is bizarre?

Posted 12:58 7th January 2010

Andrew Workman (Liverpool fan) says...

Hi Martin, Fernando Torres broke the record for quickest Liverpool striker to 50 league goals but was 4th in the all time list behind Andy Cole, Alan Shearer and Ruud Van Nistlerooy - I'm curious what the result would be if you were to take out penalties and freekicks from equation as Torres doesn't take them for Liverpool.

Posted 11:31 7th January 2010

Wayne Linton (Arsenal fan) says...

I feel somebody has to mention arsenal as nobody has so far, ive got to tell u that it feels vey satisfying to be1 point behind chelsea providing we win our game in hand against bolton, especially after we where written of as no hopers after chelsea 3 - 0'd us, but one month later we have closed a huge 11 point defecit, baring in mind he have no rvp we sold adebeyor vela and eduardo havent been performing and bentdner is out injured aswell. Under these circumstances i feel weve done vey well indeed, and i know the word 'potential' has been mooted around for many years but i honestly feel that our sqaud will come into fruitation and win the league if not another competion this year.

Posted 11:06 7th January 2010

Alistair Norman (Manchester City fan) says...

Hi Martin, Carlos tevez wason fire for december with something like 8 goals in 8 games. Who has scored the most goals in december in the premier league since its inception?

Posted 10:08 7th January 2010

Mathew Markowicz (Blackburn Rovers fan) says...

Blackburn and Aston Villa will play each other 5 times this season, this got me wondering, What is the most amount of times two teams have played each other in one season?

Posted 09:16 7th January 2010

John O dwyer (Arsenal fan) says...

I find it funny i saw no Arsenal fan here saying how proud they are to be Arsenal fans at this time.Yes we have not won a league or cup in a few years.But tell me this are we worried .Are we throughing money on signings like Liverpool Man city and winning nothing.Are we playing excellant football.With the age of the Arsenal side when they win the league this season they will be in a position to dominate both medals and finance.Chelsea and Liverpools best players or 30+. Man U miss Ronaldo more than Arsenal miss Toure and Adebayor.So once this generation of Arsenal players win they will dominate and its only a matter of time.The only thing is time patience.....IN ARSENE WE TRUST

Posted 04:26 7th January 2010

Kojo Okudo (Manchester United fan) says...

Hey, Does anyone know which team in europe has the most penaties awarded in thier favour for the decade, the yr 09/10 thus far and of all time...i suspect it is A.C milan? pls get back at me cheers

Posted 01:23 7th January 2010

Blaine Fleet (Chelsea fan) says...

shame about anelka this season getting injured i think if he didnt get injured he would defiantly be up there in the top 3 goal scores also drogba is playing well but is not doing the job as striker at the moment which doesn't help in the climate chelsea are in.Still would put chelsea as premier league winners but will go down to last day united and man city and arsenal wont give up which is not suspected.As a chelsea fan though would still rather win europe then premier league but both would be amazing

Posted 00:52 7th January 2010

Malcolm Mc causland (Manchester United fan) says...

Point to Anthony Carlin. over the passed decade Jermaine Defoe has been involved in 270 premier league matches *roughly* compared to Rooneys 245 . so your point about Rooney playing soo much more couldnt be further wrong mate.

Posted 00:44 7th January 2010

Jamie Pattinson (Portsmouth fan) says...

Hi Martin, just congratulating Portsmouth, as we are offically better than Southampton. Pompey always knew we were, it just needed to be put into text!

Posted 23:37 6th January 2010

Michael Varty (Lyon fan) says...

Hi Martin, Can you explain to me why Louis Saha is stuck on Everton? Why is there not more interest in him? And why do they start Jo ahead of him? 70 goals surely should outweigh the injury issues.

Posted 21:48 6th January 2010

Mike Underhill (Bristol Rovers fan) says...

You have to remember Defoe has been around almost the whole of the decade. Rooney broke through late and didn't score many at Everton. I reckon Rooney would have as good, if not better goals per game ratio than Defoe

Posted 17:17 6th January 2010

Paul Spenceley (Chelsea fan) says...

Hi Martin, Peter Chec has been getting a lot of bad press recently. I would like to know how many goalkeepers currently playing in the premiere league, and how many who have ever played in the top division in England have a better ratio of goals let in per game played than Peter. Thanks

Posted 17:11 6th January 2010

Michael Betts (Liverpool fan) says...

HI Martin, I love your article. I was wondering how many points Steven Gerrard has won for Liverpool with his winning or equalising goals since he first broke into the first team? Thanks!

Posted 17:11 6th January 2010

Paul Sherlock (Aston Villa fan) says...

when villa played arsenal on the 27th december it was over one year since they had last played them (26th dec 08). Is this a one off or have their been other top flight teams that havent played each other for over 12 months?

Posted 16:35 6th January 2010

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